4/30/13

Someday, Someday, Maybe - Lauren Graham

I never thought I'd dive into the world of e-books, never thought I'd actually read a full book on an electronic device, but I did.  And am I ever glad that I picked Lauren Graham's debut novel as my first foray into the world of iPad reading!

I have a tendency to shy away from books that are written by celebrities.  If an actor is talented at his or her craft, this talent doesn't necessarily translate into writing fiction.  I think that sometimes actors get picked up to write a book, simply because it'll sell well because of who they ARE, not necessarily how they WRITE.  (Note: this doesn't apply to ALL actor writers, but I've just noticed that celebrity books aren't necessarily the best-written).  Lauren Graham, however, CAN WRITE and tell a really, really good story.

It was hard not to imagine her as Rory's mom from Gilmore Girls while reading this book, even though it's fiction and not a memoir of Lauren's foray into the world of acting.  The way Franny Banks talks, and her brand of snark, was just SO Lorelei Gilmore that I just went with it, and imagined her as the lead character while reading.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is the story of Franny Banks who is struggling to make it as an actress in New York City.  She's given herself a deadline of three years to make it, or she'll re-evaluate and change her career goals.  The book opens with six months until her deadline, and things are not going according to plan. What follows is her heartfelt and amusing journey through auditions and agent hunting, as well as friendship and love.

The day planner pages of Franny's Filofax are also scattered throughout the book.  This was a cute touch, although Franny's handwriting is a little difficult to read at times.  One final word of caution: the book takes a little while to get going, but once it's going it's hard to put down.  If you choose to read this in e-format, make sure your reader is fully charged by the time you reach the three-quarter mark or you'll end up like me, crouched on the floor with the reader plugged into the wall, anxious to finish those last ten pages, even though my iPad's battery was completely drained.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and found myself laughing out loud quite a few times.  The love story is perfectly told, and Franny's friends are quirky and entertaining.  Someday, Someday, Maybe will make a fantastic beach read, so add this one to your summer TBR list!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.
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4/26/13

The Boyfriend List - E. Lockhart

First of all, I have to say thank you to Magan (half of the amazing blogging duo at Rather Be Reading) for her recommendation of this novel.  Magan wrote an amazing review of the entire series last month (seriously, check it out, it's in LIST FORMAT -- how cool is that?) and I immediately wanted to jump aboard the Ruby Oliver train.  I'm glad I did.

Before I express my love for the book, let's talk about the covers.  I usually post the cover of the edition that I read in my review, but I had to include both in this one.  The top picture, the one with the girl on the cover, is the version that I read, which is a newer cover release.  Although both covers were in the library, I chose the newer one because the book looked unread.  (I do make frequent use of my library, but I usually prefer to peruse the "new titles" section on the website and put books on hold that are still on order, so that I'm the first one to read them and other people haven't had their dirty paws on the book.  Have you ever read a library book where all of a sudden there's some smudge on a page and you have no idea what said smudge is?  Ew.  Ew ew ew.  The copy with the frog cover looked like it had been read a million times by LOTS of dirty hands, so I opted for the cleaner book).  I have to say that I prefer the frog cover for three reasons: 1) ceramic frogs are part of the title, 2) the frog is so freakin' cute and 3) I have issues when the cover design includes a real person, and therefore influences my thoughts on what I imagine Ruby to look like while I'm reading the book.  Does anyone else think so?  It's like reading a book AFTER seeing the movie, and you can only imagine the lead actor as the main character.  Kind of ruins the imagining part for me.

Although I loved the story, and Ruby's list making, there was one issue that I had with the story, which prevented me from giving it a five star rating on Goodreads: FOOTNOTES.  Footnotes in a novel drive me NUTS.  I think it's because I'm a fast reader, so I have a tendency to miss those little numbers and, when I get to the bottom of the page, I realize that I've missed a footnote reference, so I have to scroll back up through the story, looking for that little number so that I know where the footnote fits into the story.  I'm thankful that I read this in print format though, because some of the comments on my previous e-reader post expressed their thoughts on footnotes in an e-book, and I think it would drive me even more batty if I had to keep flipping to the end of the chapter.

ANYWAYS, that was a lot of bookish ranting.  Let me just say this: I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Ruby and I am super excited to finish this series.  When I go to the library this week, I'm hoping that book two is sitting on the shelf (and also hoping it's a non-grubby copy! *fingers crossed*)  Ruby is a really fun character and I loved watching her grow throughout the book.  Her character reminded me a little of Jessica Darling, but at the same time she's so uniquely Ruby that it's hard to fully compare her to anyone else.  I loved how she grew throughout the book, as she worked through the boyfriend list with her therapist, revisiting all of the boys that had played a role in her life.  Ruby's a sweet, funny and extremely likeable character and I'm intrigued to see how she grows as the series develops.

If you're looking for a fun, lighthearted contemporary, The Boyfriend List is a great book to add to your TBR list.
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4/22/13

Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi

I started reading this book last summer, but it was due back at the library before I had the chance to really get into the story.  Then, I read Hannah @ So Obssessed With's review, and knew that I had to give this book a second shot.

The world building is confusing at the beginning.  With so many other dystopian-type fiction, we're thrust into a world that's quite different from our own, but the author describes and explains things as the story unfolds.  With Under the Never Sky, we're dropped into this world, and things start happening, without that explanation stage.  It was a little disconcerting at the beginning, but the world did start to make sense as I read further into the book.  For anyone who hasn't yet read this book, I think this is a really helpful thing to know before you start reading -- otherwise, I definitely would have given up much, much earlier.

Once you're in the world, you are IN.  The story unfolds so perfectly as Aria takes off on her adventure and meets Peregrine, or Perry.  I absolutely LOVED the connection between the two of them.  It's so perfect and fitting.  When I heard about Roar, I was excited to meet his character, but also a little apprehensive that this was going to be the infamous love triangle.  I was relieved that Roar's in love with someone else, so I could just enjoy the wittiness that his character brought to the story, without the love triangle confusion.

The story in the book is great and has the perfect amount of suspense.  I like that the story wrapped up at the end, but still left me wanting to read the second installment.  Unfortunately, it's still on order at my library, so I might be waiting a while!  I'm definitely planning to continue reading this series, and I'm super excited for the next one, since I've heard it's even better than the first book!
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4/19/13

On Losing My E-Book Virginity

I honestly thought I'd never do it.  Read an e-book, that is.  It's not that I have anything against e-readers, but I just thought that it wasn't really my thing.  I prefer the texture of the pages, the physical act of flipping those pages ... and that new book smell.  Really can't go wrong with that new book smell.


So I just thought that the e-reading experience couldn't possibly be better than my experiences reading a physical book.

But then we got an iPad for Christmas, and it's just SO FUN.  Keeping up to date with Twitter is easier, rather than deciding to turn on the laptop in order to see what's been tweeted throughout the day.  (Yes, I still haven't jumped aboard the smartphone train -- so the computer has been my only means of checking into Twitter).  And then I started thinking about Netgalley, and the possibility of being able to review books before they were released.  So I decided to join, not really expecting to have any of my requests approved, since I'm still a fairly new blogger and all.

Imagine my surprise when my first four requests were approved!  For books that aren't even out on the bookshelves yet!  How cool is that?!?  I immediately started reading one -- excited to try out this e-reading thing.

Now that I have, it's fun and all, but I'm not sure that I'm completely sold on the idea.  I have this weird habit of always flipping forward into the book to see how long the chapter is, then tucking my bookmark into the end of the chapter.  Then, I read to the chapter end and decide at that time if I can read another chapter before baby needs my attention, or the washing machine is finished, or any other multitude of things that tear my attention away from reading these days.  But with an e-reader, I can't tell how long the chapter is, and that's throwing me off a little.

I also wonder how a book with footnotes would work on an e-reader.  I'm currently reading The Boyfriend List (a physical copy though) and there's footnotes added into the story, some of which start on one page and then continue onto the next page.  I find the footnotes a little irritating to begin with, and I know they would drive me MAD if I was reading this book in e-format.

All in all, I'm happy that I'm giving this e-reading thing a go.  For those of you that have e-readers, is reading on an actual e-reader (like a Kindle) better than reading on an iPad?  I downloaded Bluefire for the iPad -- any recommendations on another app to try?  Anything that might solve my minor chapter length irritation?
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4/18/13

The Madman's Daughter - Megan Shepherd

Book hype can go one of two ways: either it's just as incredible as everyone says it would be, or it's so over-hyped that it's a disappointing read.  The Madman's Daughter didn't quite fit into either category for me, but sat somewhere in the middle.

I'd heard of several bloggers saying that they couldn't put this book down, and just raced through the pages. When I picked it up from the library, Jaime @ The Perpetual Page Turner told me that the book had a slow start, but it would pick up.  I'm glad that she warned me, otherwise this book likely would have ended up on my "gave-up" shelf.  It took over a hundred pages to really get going, and I generally give up if the book hasn't captured by attention by page 50.

The story is good, and the plot is well-developed.  There's a few good twists to the story, but some of them are a little predictable.  Perhaps that's simply because I've read so much Shakespeare during my undergrad degree -- most of the twists I figured out before they were revealed.  I didn't know much about the H.G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau, the story that this book is based upon, but I imagine that the premise is somewhat similar.  In some ways, this is an excellent way of bringing a taste of a classic novel into a more contemporary reinterpretation.  A young adult of today may not pick up the classic tale, but would enjoy a more contemporary retelling of the story, thus ensuring that these classic stories don't completely fade into the woodwork.

There were a few things about the book that irritated me, hence the fact that I didn't fall head-over-heels for the story.  Juliet's character was a bit irritating, and I had to keep reminding myself that she was a Victorian girl.  The way she pines over both Edward and Montgomery, then chastises herself for having feelings, then pines again drove me a little crazy.  I understand that it's the way the Victorian era was; however, there were some points in the book where she would long to feel the touch of one boy, then imagine kissing the other boy in the very next sentence.  It got to be a little much after a while.  The second thing was the animal cruelty in the book.  I had to skip over some sections of the descriptions, because I just can't stomach people mistreating animals, even if it is a fictional account.

On the whole, The Madman's Daughter is a good book, and the pace of the story definitely picks up about a third of the way through the book.  I liked the Shakespeare allusions, and enjoyed the majority of the book even though there were certain things that irked me a little.

Sidenote: I am left confused by the fact that this is the first book in a trilogy?  Not sure how the story will continue on, or whether I'm interested in reading on.  I suppose I'll wait and see what the reviews for book two are like, and make up my mind at that time.
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4/16/13

Just One Day - Gayle Forman

I was excited to dive into Just One Day, but also a little hesitant.  Some of my favourite, and trusted, bloggers (Jaime @ The Perpetual Page Turner and Magan @ Rather Be Reading) had RAVED about this book.  Since their favourite reads are usually guaranteed wins for me, I checked the library to see if they had this book in the collection.  No luck.  So then I contemplated purchasing a copy, but I was hesitant to do so because I didn't LOVE Forman's other book, If I Stay (I know, I know -- SO many of my favourite bloggers have this book in their lists of all-time faves, but it was just okay in my opinion).  So, for that reason, I opted not to purchase a copy and just wait and see if the library would acquire it at some point. And they did, finally!

From the first few pages, I was hooked.  The story line almost reminded me a little of the adventure of Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but with a Stephanie Perkins-esque love story.  Pure magic.  Allyson's character was memorable, and I loved how she grew throughout the book.  The love story unfolded perfectly, and Allyson's heartbreak was so real and heartfelt.  I felt each emotion with the characters, which is testament to Forman's writing skills.

And that ENDING -- yowza!  I cannot WAIT for Just One Year to come out so that I can find out the rest of the story.  I was so impressed with this story that I may just give If I Stay a second shot.  Maybe I'll like it better the second time through?
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