Review: Room

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: September 10th, 2010
Genre: Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Room is where Jack and Ma live. Jack was born there and it’s the only place he has ever known. In his whole life, Jack has never been apart from Ma. Together they fill their days by doing their exercises, cooking, colouring, reading, watching TV and playing. Ma tries to keep Jack busy throughout the day and keep him away from Old Nick at night by hiding him the closet until it is safe. Room has no windows, and the only glimpse of the outside world is through the skylight. For Jack, Room is the world. The things he sees on TV are just pretend, like Dora, stores and restaurants. Now that Jack is five, Ma thinks he can handle more grown up things. When Jack learns about the world outside of Room and that some of the things he sees on TV are real, his whole world begins to change.

It took me a while to get into this book, which is narrated by its five-year-old protagonist. As Jack was introducing the reader to his life in Room, I was a bit bored. However, by the time Ma had told Jack about the real world and her life outside, I couldn’t put Room down. The use of the child narrator was a good choice on Donoghue’s part. It did take me about 50 pages to get used to the style of narration, but choosing to tell this story through the perspective of a child added a lot to the novel as a whole. I feel that Room would have been too depressing if told through the eyes of Ma. In the beginning, the reader (like Jack,) doesn’t know the history of Ma’s confinement, which created suspense in my case (I had no idea what this book was about.) Jack’s understanding of the world is very interesting- how many times in realistic fiction do we get to see our world through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before?

In this case, I think that it would be a good idea to read this book with very little knowledge concerning the plot. I can’t go into great detail about this books faults without spoiling. Some things that happened were a bit far fetched, such as the events at the end of Part 3. Ma’s actions later on in the book were also unbelievable and seemed to go against her character established earlier on. Although these things annoyed me, they didn’t stop from enjoying Room as a whole.

This is the kind of book that’s hard to put down and even harder to stop thinking about, even weeks later. I thought it was an interesting, well thought out and creative take on something horrifying.


“The world is always changing brightness and hotness and soundness, I never know how it’s going to be the next minute.”

Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe

Back in early June, my family went camping in Orillia, Ontario for the weekend. While there, we saw a poster in a bookshop for Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe live on stage at the Orillia Opera House (above.) The Vinyl Cafe is a radio show on CBC. It features new Canadian music, essays and stories. The most popular stories heard on the show are about Dave and Morley, a fictional couple that live in Toronto. Dave has a knack for getting into trouble and works at a record store called the Vinyl Cafe. These stories are featured in a collection of books.

I bought tickets to the show for me and my Dad and we went last night. It was amazing and hillarious. After the first act my face hurt from laughing. When you go to a recording, two shows are recorded, with an intermission in between. The stories are brilliant. The most popular is "Dave Cooks the Turkey," and you can listen to that here.  Skip to 00:38, or it will skip to the next podcast, for some reason. 

It was cool to hear these stories being told live, but it was also amazing to be in a theatre full of hundreds of people who just want to hear the stories that they love. Some of these stories mean a lot to people, and some of the holiday stories are a part of a lot of people's Christmas traditions. Overall, we had a great time! 

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

When I was in high school I had a lot of friends who were also big Harry Potter fans. In one of our many discussions about the boy wizard, I found out that a large number of my friends loved Harry Potter the series but hated Harry Potter the character. Over the years, I've heard that opinion repeated and have never understood it. I am completely aware of Harry's faults but I love him all the same. He's brave, he's a natural leader, he's brilliant under pressure, he's modest and he's a hero. He's so loyal to his friends that he'd sacrifice himself for them. Yes, he's stubborn, impulsive and he has a bad temper. It would be unrealistic if he didn't have faults (and no one likes a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.) Overall, Harry's a good person, which is amazing when you think about how he was brought up and what he's been through. So, Happy Birthday to the Boy Who Lived!

Happy Birthday J.K. Rowling!

July 31st is a very big day in the Potter universe, since it's the birthday of Harry and J.K. Rowling, and we get to find out how to get a sneak peak of Pottermore.

Let me just say that I love this woman. She's completely brilliant. I saw an interview once in which she said that she was lucky to have had the idea for the Harry Potter series and owed everything to that. Which was so untrue- I could have had the exact same idea and I would never have been able to write anything like Harry Potter. The idea of a boy finding out he was a wizard and going to a school of magic isn't what makes Harry Potter great. It's Jo's writing, the characters she created, the world she built, the themes and the imagination that went into everything. It's not just the story that makes it great, but the way it's told. The books transport you to a world which you never want to leave. People love these books so much that they describe the end of Harry Potter as the end of their childhood. I've loved these books for the past 12 years and they are a huge part of who I am. Jo helped make my life magical and I am very thankful to her for that.

New Books = Happiness

After what felt like a very long dry spell, I finally went to Chapters and bought some new books today. I have a small list of some books I've read that I need to buy, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky topped it. I actually didn't really like Perks when I first read it in high school but I gave it another shot last month and loved it. Another example of me being completely wrong the first time I read something.

I had actually never heard of Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth by Chris Priestley until I found it in the YA section today. The cover looked so amazing that I felt like I had to buy it. Usually (especially when I'm not shopping used) I don't make impulsive buys, just to be safe. However, I'm really optimistic about this book. I was a bit worried when I came home and checked goodreads to find out that it's the third book in a series. Thankfully, the series is none sequential, so it shouldn't matter too much if I start at the end.

During the school year, I went book shopping/browsing one night every week (usually Thursday.) I'm awful with budgets, and always take money that's budgeted for one thing and spend it on another (books.) Most people I know do the same thing with alcohol. This is why I buy my groceries with gift cards, other wise I'd have a very full bookshelf and an empty fridge. I buy more books than I should, but I've slowed down recently. On my end of week trips to Chapters, I'd usually start at Starbs and get a latte, maybe read there for a bit, then look around for an hour or so. I'd nearly always run into someone from school and chat with them for a bit and then look around a bit more. This sounds like nothing special, but many a time one of these trips saved my sanity, whether I bought something or not. Simply being in a bookstore makes me incredibly happy (although buying things is a plus.) Lately, whenever I go to a bookshop, I feel a bit rushed, so it's not the same.

Review: Ten Miles Past Normal

Title: Ten Miles Past Normal
Author: Frances O'Roark Dowell
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2011
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

When Janie was younger, she was enthusiastic about a lot of things that have proved to be major dissapointments. Such as living on a farm and going to high school. Moving out of suburbia and into a farm was the idea of nine-year-old Janie, and the only one of her ideas that her parents have ever taken seriously. Five years later, she is known as the strange girl who shows up to school with hay in her hair or goat poop on her shoe. High school has proven to be much more difficult than she had anticipated, and has distanced Janie from her middle school friends, except for girl-with-a-cause, Sarah. After two months of high school, she is still eating her lunch quickly at her locker and spending lunch hour alone in the library. How is Janie supposed be a normal fourteen year old when she lives on a goat farm and constantly smells of manure? Normal doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Janie when she meets a boy named Monster, is introduced to the coolness of the bass guitar, befriends former civil rights activists and becomes involved with a hootenanny. Will she ever get the hang of high school?

Like Janie is too old to be enthusiastic about farming, I think I’m a bit too old for this book. I probably would have liked it more if I’d read it 7 years ago, when I was Janie’s age. Anyways, I read a good review for this book somewhere, and I really liked the cover. I was expected a really quirky book, sort of like Alice, I Think by Susan Juby. This book kind of fell flat for me. I never really warmed to Janie, who I found to be a fairly ordinary girl with family and friends that are more interesting than her. The beginning of the book was a bit boring, with a lot of complaining from Janie. She has a tendency to go off into a side story that distracts you from the main narrative. Which was very awkward. The second half of the book was more entertaining, with the introduction of some quirky characters and a subplot concerning the Freedom Schools and the civil rights movement (extra brownie points for the inclusion of history.) One thing I can say about this book is that it realistically portrays starting high school. As someone who was also seen as weird, I spent many a lunch in the library. Just like Janie, I soon found my footing and some friends, and learnt that being ‘normal’ is vastly overrated!

A good book for middle schoolers, Ten Miles Past Normal is a sweet story about growing up and finding your way in high school.


“Now it’s time to enter Farm World with my mental mixed bag of feelings. The farm is beautiful! (It smells.) It’s natural! (It makes me smell, naturally.)) It’s environmentally friendly! (It’s an environment that produces teenage girls who are shunned by their peers for smelling like their environment.)”

Happy Birthday Neville Longbottom!

Neville is 31 today! I've been a big Neville fan for a while- I definitely remember my friends crushing on Oliver Wood and Draco while I had it for (book) Neville. Neville probably evolved more throughout the series than anyone else: from the shy, blundering boy who was always losing his toad and was afraid of Professor Snape, to the badass old who stood up to Voldemort and destroyed the seventh horcrux. 

Review: The Book Thief

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 14, 2006
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

“It’s a small story really, about, among other things: *A girl *Some words *An accordionist *Some fanatical Germans *A Jewish fist fighter *And quite a lot of thievery”

In January of 1939 Liesel Meminger steals her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook, which she finds covered by snow on the day of her younger brother’s funeral. As the girl and her mother stand by the boy’s grave, Death watches from afar. The story takes place in Germany during the Third Reich and the Second World War, a time when Death, the story’s narrator, is especially busy. Liesel finds her life changing dramatically as she loses her brother as well as her mother, who leaves her at a foster home. Liesel is taken in by Rosa and Hans Hubermann, who live in a poor area outside of Munich. Her accordion playing foster father teaches her to read her stolen book at night, beginning her love affair with words. Liesel steals her second book from a Nazi book burning and begins her collection. She shares the stolen words with her neighbours as they wait in shelters during the air raids. Things take a dangerous turn in November of 1940, when a Jewish man named Max Vandenburg arrives at the Hubermann’s door with a copy of Mein Kampf.

You can see a very good trailer for the book here. The video is spoiler free, but the comments below are not.

The Book Thief is a beautifully written story about the lives of lower class German citizens throughout the Third Reich. This isn’t just another book about the Holocaust. Moving and thought provoking, this is the type of book that can be life changing. The writing style is different from anything I’ve ever read (in a good way) and I enjoyed Zusak’s creative approach. I love the characters in this book because they feel so real and can be so complex. Rosa Hubermann, for example, is a foul-mouthed woman who “possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anyone she ever met.” However, throughout the novel she proves herself to be a loving mother to Liesel. The most memorable character for me is probably Rudy Steiner, Liesel’s best friend who infamously coloured his skin with charcoal so that he could look like Jesse Owens. The characters and the story stayed with me long after I finished this book.

I’ve read The Book Thief twice- first in high school and again in January of this year. Maybe if I was writing this right after finishing the book I’d be able to think of more of its flaws. At the moment, all I can think of are the things that I loved. However, I’ve read some reviews and have heard people say that they thought the book was hard to get into, that they found Death’s narration annoying, and that they thought that the book was full of gimmicks. If you’re not drawn into the book at first and are tempted to give up, I’d really recommend that you keep going, or at least give it another chance another time. Personally, I really enjoyed the book’s narration and unique style. I never felt that Death’s narration was a gimmick, since he had a distinctive personality and offered a unique perspective that was appropriate for the story. Death as the narrator is part of what makes this book so memorable to me.

Overall, I found this book to be an original and engrossing read that I’d recommend to anyone.


“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1)
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication Date: June 7th, 2011
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Mystery

When Jacob Portman was a child, his grandfather would tell him stories about the orphanage in Wales where he grew up during World War II. The orphanage was home to many peculiar children, including a levitating girl, an invisible boy, and a brother and sister who both had super strength. Grandpa Portman had a collection of old photographs that supported his tales, which he shared with his grandson. As Jacob grew up, he came to realize that the photographs were faked and that his grandfather’s stories were just fairy tales. At fifteen, Jacob has just accepted that he will live an ordinary life, only to then witness something extraordinary. After his grandfather’s suspicious death, Jacob is haunted by the strange creature he may have seen and by his grandfather’s mysterious last words. Jacob begins to see a psychiatrist who encourages him to delve into his grandfather’s past, so that he will finally find closure about his death. This leads him and his father to a small island in Wales, where Jacob sets out to explore the orphanage and perhaps meet Miss Peregrine, the headmistress. Will exploring the old and abandoned orphanage help him understand his grandfather’s death and his last words?

Despite the hype about his book (including a positive review from John Green) I was a bit hesitant to start it, mainly because my library classifies it as horror. I thought it was going to be a terrifying and morbid book, and was nervous about reading it. I’ve never read a horror book or seen a horror film before, and I get freaked out really easily. Anyways, I obviously gave it a shot (and I’m glad I did) and I’m not sure it actually is horror. I obviously don’t know anything about the genre, but the book is more paranormal, or even fantasy.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children exceeded my expectations. I thought it was amazing. Original vintage photographs appear throughout the novel, which was one of the things I loved. The photos make the book itself visually appealing and add to the over all mood and tone of the novel. The photographs are one of the first things that caught my interest, but they don’t overshadow the rest of the novel. The story itself is great- I don’t want to give away too much about what happens, since I think it’s important, in this case, that everything that occurs is unexpected. I was drawn into the plot and into the mystery behind the life of Grandpa Portman. I liked Jacob as the protagonist and was very interested in the children, especially Emma and Millard. I really wanted to know more about them and their pasts and I hope that that will be revealed in a possible sequel. I’ve heard some people say that they rather this book not be part of a series, since a follow up could fall flat. I think that Riggs could pull off a sequel just as good as the original. His fantasy world is well shaped and fascinating. I was engrossed in this book and found it to be well written and very imaginative.

Overall, this book was wonderful and unique. It was creepy in a good way, and very fresh and original.


"I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was."

Review: Shiver

Title: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. 
Publication Date: June 1st, 2010
Genre: YA, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

When Grace was eleven years old she was dragged from the tire swing in her backyard and attacked by wolves. Ever since then she has been fascinated with them, especially with the yellow-eyed wolf that saved her from the others. When a boy at her school is murdered by wolves and seen alive days later, Grace discovers that they are not what they appear to be. She soon meets a boy named Sam and discovers that he is the yellow-eyed wolf who has been watching her from afar since he saved her life. Sam becomes a wolf every year when the temperature drops and is able to be human in the summer. However, he fears that he has limited time before he will no longer be able to change into a human, and be a wolf forever. After falling in love with each other from a distance, Sam and Grace try to enjoy their time together, knowing that is it limited.

It seems like people either love this book or hate it. I think some people are really sick of the paranormal romance story line, and couldn’t look past that while reading it. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to Linger. I really like Stiefvater’s writing style and how the werewolves are portrayed. Stiefvater made changes to the traditional werewolf lore, and I think these changes were a good call. There’s no full moon or silver bullets. The wolves aren’t monsters, although angry people become angry wolfs. This book is definitely a romance and I think the reason that some people hated it is because they didn’t think it would be so focused on love. The plot centres around Sam and Grace and their relationship, and there is fairly little action. Their relationship was a bit rushed, but overall I liked them together. One of the big differences between this and Twilight (which everyone seems to compare it to) is that it’s the boy who is the vulnerable one, not the girl, which was a nice change. I was really drawn into Sam’s past and was interested in his life before he was a bitten, and what it was like when he was in wolf form. The narration shifts between each of their perspectives, which I really liked, although neither have distinctive voices. The one thing that really bothered me was Grace’s parents. They were too absent. It was really unbelievable that their daughter was attacked by wolves and they were never protective of her afterwards or worried about where they live. Also, what kind of parent forgets their sick daughter in the car in summer? The hospital should have called child services. Although that was a bit annoying, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Overall, it was an interesting take on werewolves and the paranormal romance. There were some flaws, but I think that the poetic language made up for that. If you like romance and are open to a supernatural love story, I’d give it a shot.


“And then I opened my eyes and it was just Grace and me - nothing anywhere but Grace and me - she pressing her lips together as though she were keeping my kiss inside her, and me, holding this moment that was as fragile as a bird in my hands.”

Bookshop Profile: World's Smallest BookShop, Kinmount, ON

For the last weekend of my February reading week this year, my family decided to go to a friend's cottage near Bancroft, ON for the weekend. On the way there we passed huge signs labeled "Worlds Smallest Bookshop." For some reason we couldn't turn around, but we stopped by on the way back.

More books are available in the main store inside, called Daniels Dandy Den, but the little shop by the road is open 24 hours, self serve and all books are $3.

Very cute little shop with a good selection of books. I find that some of the smallest shops often have the best books. I ended up going a bit overboard and bought 7 books for $21. Stopping there was a very nice end for my study break.

Review: Withering Tights

Title: Withering Tights (Misadventures of Tallulah Casey #1)
Author: Louise Rennison
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2010
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

Fourteen-year-old Tallulah Casey is spending the summer at a performing arts college in Yorkshire. After receiving some advice from her cousin Georgia (yes, that Georgia,) she heads up North to Dother Hall, which the brochure claims is “world-renowned for its excellence in the Arts. This magnificent centre of artistry is set amongst the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. With its friendly northern folk offering a warm welcome to visitors, think Wuthering Heights but with less moaning!” After applying too late for the dorms, Tallulah is staying with the Dobbins family in a very squirrely bedroom. Free for the first time from her parents, she quickly makes friends with a group of eccentric girls and meets some cute boys as well. Despite some disastrous acting attempts (including an Irish jig and a bicycle ballet) she finds herself loving Dother Hall, even though she only applied in the first place just for something to do. Some of the summer attendees will be selected to attend the college permanently, and Tallulah doesn’t know what she will do if she’s not chosen. But how will she possibly be selected when she’s not as talented as the other girls and has freakishly long legs and knobbly knees? Will she be able to prove her talent in a comedic production of Wuthering Heights?

Withering Tights is the first book in Louise Rennison’s new series, Misadventures of Tallulah Casey. Fans of Georgia Nicolson will not be disappointed by the antics of Tallulah and her mates. Like Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, this book is hilarious and bizarre in the best way possible. With a great cast of characters, I was quickly drawn into life at Dother Hall. I actually ended up liking the tree sisters better than the ace gang (although the boys in this book can’t rival Robbie and Dave the Laugh.) Tallulah’s friends are completely mad and I love it. When she was introduced as Georgia’s younger cousin, I was a bit worried that Tallulah would be a carbon copy of G. However, this wasn’t the case at all. I love Georgia, but Tallulah is a lot nicer than her. And less self involved. They have completely different personalities (despite the fact that they’re both insane) and I love them both. Rennison’s unique writing style and brand of humour is ever present in this book, and it definitely succeeded in making me laugh.

If you haven’t read any of Louise Rennison’s books yet, I should warn you that there will be a lot of slang used (there’s a very funny glossary in the US edition). This is one of the things I really liked, since some of the slang used really adds to the humour of the book. This book doesn’t have much of a plot, but it never really mattered to me. The characters and the humour were enough to keep me reading. One criticism I have is that it was a bit too similar to the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, with body troubles, crazy mates and boys. There were a lot of similarities, and hopefully the other books in the series will show more originality.

Overall, this was a promising start to a new series. Although targeted at younger teens, this book can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a laugh. I’m in my twenties and I loved it. If you’re looking for a fun and quirky read, I’d really recommend Withering Tights.


"He was soooo lovely. And well, gorgeous. He had everything a dream boy should have. Back, front sides. Everything. A head. And all in a boy shape."

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: December 2nd, 2010
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Romance

Anna has a great life in Atlanta, Georgia: she has a good job at the local cinema (she’s a film buff), a potential relationship with one of her cute co-workers, a cute little brother and an awesome best friend with a love for big words. However, her writer father decides to send her to a posh boarding school in Paris, to appear more impressive to his rich friends. Anna knows little about Paris, and speaks no French. She quickly becomes friends with her neighbour Meredith, and is introduced to Etienne St. Clair, who is smart, cute, British/French/American and unavailable. Together, they explore Paris and become friends, then best friends. Will their friendship turn into something more?

I’m not usually big on romance/chick lit, but I’d heard a lot of good things about this book and was curious about it. I really think that it lived up to all the hype. Anna was a really likable character- she reminded me a bit of Georgia Nicolson, actually. She wasn’t like a lot of the teenager girl protagonists that I’ve seen in YA novels, in a very good way. She’s one of the main reasons I liked this book. I think that Perkins did a really job at realistically portraying teens. It occurred to me while reading this that sometimes in YA novels the characters don’t really have any interests. It was cool how each of the characters have “their thing.” I.e. Anna is into films, St. Clair loves history, Meredith loves The Beatles and football and Bridgette collects big words. I liked how Anna and St. Clair had real chemistry, and how their relationship developed throughout the novel.

The plot sounded a bit boring to me at first, and I’m sure another author could have written the same story and it easily could have been cheesy, predictable and boring. However, Perkins pulled it off. It was really well written and the kind of book you can’t put down until the last page. I thought this book was fun and charming, and my intense jealousy of the characters did not decrease my enjoyment of it (I want to go to Paris). I enjoyed every page and I’m looking forward to Stephanie Perkins’ next book.


"The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you."

Novel Appropriate Snacks?

I bought this lovely copy of The Chronicles of Narnia a month or so ago and I wanted to take a picture for my tumblr, to show off my new copy. Anyways, I ran to the Bulk Barn and bought some inexpensive Turkish Delight for the photo (and to eat). It got me thinking about other snacks and drinks that could be good companions to certain children's books. 
  • Treacle tart, butterbeer and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. The list of food in Harry Potter is never ending, but these two stand out for me. I made butterbeer for the little party my friends and I had before we saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and it was a minor success. I thought it was delicious, but it was too sweet for everyone else. When I was younger, you could get a lot of the candy from the books at our grocery store, but I haven't seen any in ages. 
  • Onions, canned peaches and Holes by Louis Sachar. Maybe skip the onions, actually.
  • Pancakes and Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Although, you don't have to make them exactly like Pippi would.
  • Wonka candy and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I love runts, nerds and chewy gobstoppers. 
  • Salmon and The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket. If you want to go all out and be just like CafĂ© Salmonella, you can make salmon ice cubes, salmon ravioli, salmon pie and salmon ice cream. That might be overkill, though. 
  • Tea and Alice and Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Extra points if you drink from a pretty tea cup.
  • Marmelade sandwiches and A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond. To be honest, marmalade is the main thing I remember from these books. 
  • Raspberry cordial and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryTo my Dad's disbelief, they actually sell this at Green Gables in Cavendish, PEI. It's delicious and it came in a nice bottle (which is still in my closet.) Skip the current wine. 

Review: Just Listen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: February 28th, 2008
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance

Annabel Greene seems to be the girl she portrays in commercials and modelling shoots: the girl who has it all. However, Annabel’s life is not as simple as it appears. She begins the school year friendless, having to eat lunch with Owen Armstrong, the “angriest boy in school.” One of her older sisters suffers from a severe eating disorder that stemmed from her modelling career. Annabel herself has grown disinterested in modelling, but feigns interest for the sake of her mother. She is also keeping a secret about what actually happened the night that Sophie and her ended their friendship. As the school year progresses, Annabel begins an unlikely friendship with Owen, an intense music lover who vows to always tell the truth. Although Annabel thought that she could hide from her problems, she learns the importance of speaking the truth and being honest with others, and most importantly, with herself.

I read this book in May, and it was the fourth Sarah Dessen book I've read (I have also read The Truth About Forever, Someone Like You and That Summer). I’m not really big on romance/chick lit, but overall I liked this book. One of the themes of the novel is simply “Don’t think or judge, just listen.” Very simple, but also something a lot of people could benefit from learning. Music is a big part of Just Listen, which is one of the things I liked. I was first interested in this novel because I liked the idea of two people getting to know each other through sharing music. I thought Owen was a really believable character, similar to a lot of the people I knew in high school. He’s an outsider who underwent anger management after receiving a court order for fighting another boy at school. I’m not a fan of the typical perfect heartthrob you sometimes see in romance novels, and Owen is far from that. I thought Annabel and Owen’s relationship was really believable, especially since it began as friendship and developed over time. Owen is very insightful and some of the best quotes in the book are from him. I was also really interested in the subplot between Annabel’s older sisters, Kirsten and Whitney, who had a falling out after Kirsten told their parents about Whitney’s eating disorder. I felt like Annabel was actually over-shadowed by Owen and her sisters, who I found more interesting than her. Two things that worked really well in this novel were the use of flashbacks and the suspense created about what actually happened to Annabel. A lot of serious issues are addressed, and I think that Dessen did a good job at portraying all of these issues accurately. Her books may not be highly original (a lot of people complain that the plots are too similar in her novels) but she is a good enough writer that this doesn’t matter too much.

Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it to someone looking for a good lighter read. I’ve only read four of Dessen’s books, but I find that when I have no idea what to read next, I can always count on one of her books to be a enjoyable.


“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”

Review: Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2005
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

I first read this book in late December and thought it was pretty good. However, I also thought that it didn’t quite live up to the hype. I was kind of like, “Sure, there’s some pretty quotes, but that doesn’t make it a great book.” Later on, all the love for this book made me doubt my judgement, and I decided to re-read it (when I first saw Pirates of the Caribbean I didn’t like it that much. I saw it again a few months later and thought it was crazy amazing. Since then I always give things another shot and assume that I could be wrong, or could have been in a bad mood and taken it out on the book/movie). I just finished reading it for the second time, and I loved it. A lot. Last time I gave it 4/5, this time I’d say 5/5.

I don’t think I could write a good enough synopsis, and I really like the one from the back of my book:
“Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She throws Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.”

Overall, Looking for Alaska was heart wrenching, but it was also beautiful and funny at the same time. I think that this book was amazing and that John Green is absolutely brilliant. I feel like no one but him could have possibly written a book like this. There’s a reason his next book was on Amazon’s Top Seller list for six days before it even had a cover. If anyone ever tells you that they hate YA, or that YA is no good, make them read this book. I just finished reading it for the second time, and I’d now say that it’s one of my favourite books, and a must read for anyone.


“I found myself thinking about William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and toward the end, his wife started crying and screaming, “I want to go, too! I want to go, too!” And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words:  “We are all going.”

An Introduction...

Something strange happened today.
The day started off when I woke up fairly early, since my dad's cell phone went off and woke everyone up (it actually interrupted me from a strange dream, involving WWIII and my family becoming war time refugees that were forced to leave North America for the UK- Catherine Tate actually made an appearance. Apparently we were friends). Anyways, I got a head start on writing a book review, the idea being that I'd finish it quickly and be able to start a new book as a reward. Here's where the strange part comes in: once I finished writing, I didn't feel like reading at all. First I thought it was because of the book, since I couldn't get into it, but as it turns out, it's me. Today, I am not in the mood to read, which is practically  a first in my 21 years of life. Today, whenever I start a book, I get bored almost instantly (sometimes I get like this with music, where I'll be skipping through every song on my iPod and not finishing one). Everything on TV was just as boring (even Merlin! I love Merlin) and I didn't feel like a movie either. And all my friends are either on vacation or at work (I'm jealous on both accounts). Anyways, one thing lead to another, and I decided to make a book blog, via blogger. I already have a book tumblr, and I love it, but tumblr is more pictures and quotes, while blogger seems to have more room for the ramblings of a bored twenty-something. Although it might take me a while to get the hang of it, I thought I'd give it a shot. 

#210: The Enshrinement Festival & Grand Parade

Some things don't last forever: College Football Hall of Fame is slated to leave South Bend.  This is all the more reason you should come out to Enshrinement Festival Grand Parade, before the museum (and associated festivities) relocates to Atlanta, George in 2013. 

If you have never attended the festival, here are some other reasons to see what this weekend is all about:
  • the chance to see football greats Desmond Howard, Mark Herrmann, Barry Alvarez and Gene Stallings, and all others who are being enshrined in the Hall of Fame
  • 100 units in Saturday morning's parade, including giant helium balloons, fabulous floats featuring this years class of Hall of Famers, marching bands, antique vehicles and specialty units ( if standing in the sun is a deterrant, there are bleachers set up on the parade route)
  • five dollar entry to the FanFest, which offers autograph opportunities and a clinic for the kids, as well as the ability to see the presentation of the official enshrinement blazers at noon
  • a simple reason to come downtown, support local businesses, and spend some time enjoying the lovely summer weather
And although the event has passed, all day yesterday, there was a ribs cookoff and downtown block party.  Put it on your calendar for next year, the last year the festival will be held.
A view from last year's festival (Photo credit SB On)

For all event details check out the Enshrinement Website at  Today's parade starts at 9:30am and the festivities continue all day.