Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher : Knopf
Pages :  260
Series : N/A
Rating: 3/5

I've left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please.

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist.  Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept it's dares.  But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York?  Could their in-person selves possible connect as well as their notebook versions?  Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions.

In Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, when Dash looks up his favorite author he is surprised to discover a red moleskin notebook hidden away.  He is ever more surprised to find dares in the notebook.  These dares lead him to picking up books like The Joys of Gay Sex and Fat Hoochie Prom Queen.  Once he’s finished the dares he leaves the mysterious Lily with a dare of his own creation.  Soon Dash and Lily are trading dares and learning about each other.  But will their romance work in real life or is it restricted to the written word?

This is only one adjective to describe this book, adorable.  That one word perfectly sums up how I felt about this book.  It wasn’t sexy, hot, fantastic, amazing or cute, it was adorable.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was much more innocent and contained then Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.  In my mind, Nick & Norah’s is a huge rollercoaster that you rip right through with lots up ups and downs and circles where as Dash & Lily’s is more like the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland, calm, serene, thought provoking, and has a few surprises.

By far my favorite aspect of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was the setting.  I loved the feeling of Christmas time in New York, especially because you get to see it through two very different sets of eyes, Lily who loves Christmas and Dash who couldn’t care less.  I loved everything from the Santa at Macys to the street of crazy decorated houses.

In the end, I liked Dash & Lily but didn’t fall in love with it.  It was adorable and real, everything it should be but it was missing the spunk I’d be expecting from Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.  If you’re looking for a cute, young novel, give Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares a try.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
Publisher : Bloomsbury
Pages :  273
Series : N/A
Rating: 2/5

     Sometimes you just know everything is about to change.  That you'll finally get your own moment in the spotlight.  This is that year for perennial good girl Lacey Anne Byer.
     With her driver's license in hand, Lacey has a little freedom from her protective parents now - or at lease more than she had before.  And as a junior, she is eligible to try out for a starring role in Hell House, her church's annual Haunted House of sin.  But it turns out Lacey doesn't need to play a role to have her moment.  What she needs is Ty Davis.  He's smart, cute, and best of all, new.  He doesn't know sweet, shy, good girl Lacey Anne.  With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself and maybe get her first boyfriend.
     As her feelings for Ty grow, and conflicts surrounding Hell House intensify, Lacey finds reason to test her own boundaries - to question the faith she's always known to be absolute.

Small Town Sinners is the tale of Lacey Anne Byer who lives in the small town of West River.  Lacey’s Christian upbringing and pastor father have cemented her as the good girl in town.  Then she meets the new guy, Ty Davis.  Ty is perfect boyfriend material in Lacey’s mind.  The only thing standing in the way is Ty’s persistence of making Lacey think with her own words.  Ty, and other events, are making Lacey question her faith.  Suddenly Lacey has changed from seeing the world in black and white (right and wrong) to varying shades of gray.  What will this church girl do when forced to think about abortion, teen pregnancy, bullying and drunk driving without the input of faith?

I don’t know if I’m right but I keep coming back to the fact in my mind that I wasn’t raised in a faith driven house hold.  I have no idea what Lacey is going through, I can’t relate.  Therefore, I want to read about extremes.  I want to be told that growing up Christian is worse than growing up like I did.  I want to see the problems and I found the normalcy in Small Town Sinners tedious and boring.  I wanted Lacey to fight back and rebel because I would have found it interesting, not because it would help her character grow.  I don’t know if this is a hurtle I’ll ever be able to overcome but it definitely stopped me from enjoying Small Town Sinners.

Even with my own mental road block I still found Small Town Sinners okay.  I loved the exploration of Hell Houses.  Before I’d read this book I had no idea what a Hell House was. (A Hell House is like a haunted house but they scare you with grossly hyperbolized images the church believes are wrong.  For example in Small Town Sinners one scene in the Hell House is a Gay Marriage where after getting married one of the husbands dies of AIDS and it is implied that only gay sex results in AIDS.)  I found the whole idea of a Hell House shocking and at times unbelievable.  I wish the topic and the rights and wrongs of it had been explored in more depth.

Overall, I found Small Town Sinners to be an okay read.  I wish I could say it was fantastic and made me question my own morals but it really didn’t.  If you’ve read Small Town Sinners and were left with a different opinion, let me know! I want to know what others thought about this book.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher : Knopf
Pages : 183
Series : N/A
Rating: 5/5

     Nick’s just seen the girl who dumped him walk in with a new guy.  What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his new girlfriend for the next five minutes?
     Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick…and to get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never really totally dumped.  What else can she do but answer Nick’s question by making out with him?
      With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an uncharted adventure called the “first date” that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, and maybe in and maybe out) of love.  Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore.  And of course a killer soundtrack.
     As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you never want to end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster.

I LOVED AND DEVOURED THIS BOOK! I started it last night around midnight and couldn’t stop. I loved everything about this book.  Everything, from the queer band members to Caroline’s drunken state to Tris’s nice but not attitude.

I think what I loved the most was that it was a love story but it wasn’t predictable.  And finding that is really hard for someone who has watched every romantic comedy on Netflix.  I find that whenever I read or watch a romance I can always tell when the inevitable fall apart then come together is going to be and I couldn’t predict that in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

This book has been on my shelf for years now and I’m so glad I finally picked it up.  Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is the only book I’ve ever read where I just wanted to reread it over and over and over again.  Don’t let this book pass you buy.

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

Raise your hand if you have read The Hunger Games.  Keep your hand up if you consider yourself a big fan of Suzanne Collins.  Okay, now keep your hand up if you have heard of The Underland Chronicles.  I bet you put your hand down and that isn’t right.

Before I go any further I suppose I should include what The Underland Chronicles is about.  But instead of trying to write a synopsis myself which will leave you confused I’ll just give you the synopsis on the back of the first book in the Underland Chronicles, Gregor the Overlander:

     When eleven-year old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York City apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats – but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.
     Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. He just wants to find his way home. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland’s uncertain future, he realizes it might be the only way to solve the biggest mystery of his life. Little does he know his quest will change him – and the Underland – forever.

For those of you who don’t know, The Underland Chronicles is a series Suzanne Collins wrote way before The Hunger Games. Yet you can still tell that it is the same author. The Underland Chronicles deals with many of the same issues and has the same themes that are present in the Hunger Games.  Gregor (protagonist of The Underland Chronicles) and Katniss both struggle with what they must do.  Gregor must become a warrior and Katniss is slated to be the picture girl of the rebellion.  Both do their fated jobs in the end, but with a sense of unease and dislike.

The most common theme in both of these series is tendencies of humans.  More specifically the human tendency to fall into historical patterns and believe that the best way get rid of your enemy is to kill them.  

1.       Historical Patterns
      ·         At the end of the Hunger Games, District 13 decides to have another Hunger Games, but this    
             time using Capitol kids. 
      ·         In The Underland Chronicles the humans can’t get over past differences with the rats and so they   
             are always on the brink of war.

2.       Killing Your Enemy
       ·         The Capitol believes that the best way to keep the Districts from rebelling is to kill two teenagers 
              from each District once a year.
      ·         The humans are known to the other animals as Killers because whenever they have a problem 
             there solution is to kill it.

Don’t let the giant bugs and slightly younger characters scare you away from reading this series.  You will be surprised at the level of intensity found in the later books.  I promise you that if you liked the Hunger Games you will like the Underland Chronicles.