Friday, May 28, 2010

Books I really want to throw everything aside to read RIGHT NOW

I just learned of the existence of most of these books tonight while browsing the New in Fiction selections at work. Unfortunately, I have 6 library books that I am trying to work through at least a little before I let myself check a book out from work.

The Rhinestone Sisterhood by David Valdes Greenwood

The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (Just pretend that sucky Kindle is an awesome B&N nook, available from stores nationwide but particularly the awesome Shops at Fallen Timbers :)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Cum Laude by Cecily von Ziegesar

04/30/2015- I was looking at my old posts and came across this one again. I just thought I would update it. I actually two of these. Here's my reviews for The Summer We Read Gatsby and Cum Laude. They were both pretty meh. I don't remember much about the first, but Cum Laude was cracked up. Two things come to mind: that creepy artist dude huffing paint and making the girl one pose for him naked with a bag over her head. Also how he huffed paint a lot and went nuts but in an artistic way. Second, the greatest finale EVER when the townie student's sister was walking in the woods wearing a fur coat and she got mistaken for a bear, so someone shot her (Possibly the paint huffer? It seems like it should have been anyways). Sorry to spoil it, but it was very funny, both then and now.

As for the remaining three titles, I purchased both The Imprefectionists (From a library sale) and Sisterhood of the Rhinestone Tiara (From the Dollar Tree). I'm sure that I will get around to reading them someday. I borrowed The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake from the library's ebook site twice, but I never ended up getting past a couple pages. It wasn't bad, it expired before I could finish. I'll have to take that out again someday. Update over.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gossip Girl: Nobody Does It Better by Cecily von Ziegesar

Let's call this little bit of trash a palate cleanser. Who am I kidding, though? I love the "Gossip Girl" television show, and not even in the guilty pleasure way that I love "Glee." I'm kind of ashamed to watch "Glee" sometimes, but I love every second of "Gossip Girl." It's trashy, but from my first reading of the book series, I have to say that the book series is far, far worse. Everyone is horrible.

Gossip Girl is a blog that follows the lives of a bunch of high school students. On the show, GG is voiced by Kristen Bell and pretty much says catty/nonsensical things at the commercial breaks. In the books, she has her spottings of the big players and infers that she herself is involved in the world somehow, most likely a student the same age.

In this, the seventh installment of the series, we find the older kids in their senior year of high school. Blair Waldorf, my favorite character on the show and really despite all her bitchiness, the least despicable character in the book, is wait-listed at Yale. Yale is her dream school and she even named her baby sister Yale. Blair and boyfriend Nate have recently started having sex and she moves out to be able to have more sex with Nate. Unfortunately, Nate is too busy getting stoned, hijacking his parents' boat, and playing Oreos checkers for kisses with some French girl, so he and Blair break up again.

Vanessa Abrams, always my least favorite character, is looking for a roommate. She interviews some guy that she falls in love with. He wants to get to know her before committing to anything, and long story short, takes her to this house where artists have been putting on a party for months, a party involving performance art and cutting off fingers. Vanessa was this arty girl with a shaved head who instantly rejected any normal Constance Billard and upper east side stuff, but even she is weirded out.

Dan Humphrey was recruited by the Raves, this really popular band that makes me think of Vampire Weekend. He apparently got very drunk and started singing at Vanessa's 18th birthday, and they loved his horrid poetry. His plot involves shaving his neck, dressing like a little gangster rapper, and screaming, "Crack me like an egg." Oh, and throwing up onstage and getting kicked out of the band in favor of his little sister.

His sister, Jenny, has one...make that two characteristics and they are attached to her chest. Every chapter, pretty much every other paragraph, it's all about Jenny's boobs. So, Jenny is hanging out with the Raves (Underaged! Boobs!) and doing everything she can to disobey her father. Why would she be doing that? Well, Little J wants to go to boarding school to be just like Serena and to do that, she has to misbehave. It's dumb.

Serena VanDerWoodsen pretty much just exists in her immaculate perfection. She is trying to think of a way to tell Blair that she decided to go to Yale for college. (She got into Yale, Stoner Nate got into Yale, but poor straight-A Blair is wait-listed.)

Finally, the awesome Chuck Bass only showed up in a few scenes. He was wearing a jumpsuit and carrying a tote back containing a snow monkey (!) named Sweetie. And apparently, because he didn't get into college, his parents are sending him to military school. Can that actually happen? I really want to know.

The book ends with Blair and Vanessa becoming roomies and actually getting along, Vanessa dating Blair's step-brother, Blair and Nate broken up, Serena and Nate together, and Jenny on her way to boarding school.

It kind of amazed me how the lower class Brooklyn people were kind of worse than the UES people. The Humphreys are just awful people. (And I have never seen a man wear a barrette in my life, but it happened at least twice in this book.) There's brand names and designers flung around all over the place. Still, it was trashy and I liked it. This review was like when I would try to summarize the plots of "Passions," which I would only do in my head or in my online journal, but still, fun.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

I have never been so happy to finish a book! I almost gave up and quit so many times, but I hate not finishing what I started, and even though I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace, the pages were slowly increasing until I finally got through it all today.

I don't think I really understand the appeal of Chuck Palahniuk, though my entire opinion of him is based on this one book. I like the Golden Age of Hollywood feel of Tell-All and it reminds me a lot of Sunset Boulevard, which is an awesome movie. Still, I have so many objections to all the things weighing the narrative down, such as how every celebrity name appears in bold type.

The book is written as though it were a movie, including film directions for flashbacks and jump cuts. The focus of the movie is Katherine Kenton, the aging film star and Norma Desmond of our story. She is a bag full of crazy fries with crazy sauce on the side, as most Hollywood starlets seem to be when they get up there in age. She has a collection of "was-bands" and dead dogs in her mausoleum, where she also keeps her diaphragm (Don't ask!).

Katherine Kenton is fully reliant upon Hazie Coogan, narrator of Katherine's story. Hazie serves as maid, nanny, etc, and claims to have made Katherine everything that she is. Hazie and Katherine have a ritual of scratching all her wrinkles and imperfections into a mirror right before Miss Kathie gets botox or surgery again.

Katherine eventually takes up with a new man, the young Webster Carlton Westward III. Web makes her want to be young again, dust off the old diaphragm, even go shopping for a baby to adopt. Hazie, on the other hand, sees everything she has worked for falling apart. A young man might cozy up to a once-famous woman and wait until she dies before ruining her legacy with some scandalous memoir.

Sure enough, Webster encourages Katherine to accept a role in a WWII musical in order to get her back in the spotlight. Katherine finds a manuscript for Love Slave: A Very Intimate Memoir of My Life with Kate Kenton in Webster's suitcase. They keep finding more manuscripts that change her means of death from electrocution in the bath to mauling by grizzlies, all with astoundingly bad language and sex scenes involving such words as "meaty shaft" and "love essence." Oh my dear sweet pancakes, those were horrifying.

Anyways, I think anything else would be giving it away. It's pretty much a story of boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy kills girl, as it says in the foreword. It's also a story of celebrities, having fame, keeping fame. It's a story of living as a celebrity and dying as a celebrity. Fade to black. The End.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon

Godmother was a book with a twist ending. There was moderate foreshadowing that hinted at the ending. I guessed it might end that way at some points. It's a little disorienting that the author presented something as reality through pretty much the whole book only to take it all back in the last chapter. I hope I didn't give too much away there.

So the book is the story of Lillian, a former fairy godmother. She had been tasked with getting Cinderella to the ball to meet the prince. Because fairies obviously control the destinies of all humans. Lil screwed up and fell for the prince herself. As punishment for falling in love with a human and failing to unite Cinderella and the prince, Lil was banished from the fairy world and forced to live among humans.

One day, a young woman named Veronica comes into the bookstore where Lil works. Veronica is a very magnetic, outgoing, in my opinion, a wee bit annoying. Lil decides that she will play matchmaker with Veronica and her boss, George. George owns the bookstore and has rich parents who invited him to a ball, the perfect first date for the second Cinderella and her prince. By initiating this match, Lil hopes to repent for her past mistakes and return to the fairy world.

I enjoyed the narrative style of the book. Lil gives little bits and pieces of exactly what happened on the fateful night when Cinderella didn't actually go to the ball. For instance, we learn that Cinderella was actually a suicidal cutter. I honestly wanted to like this book more than I did. They were asking me to believe an old woman was a fairy and I did. They asked me to belive that everyone has the Cinderella fairy tale wrong, and I believed that too. Somewhere around emo Cinderella, fairy deities, winged old ladies, and winged old lady fairy masturbation, I have to stop believing. That's just gross.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson

Darren Bennett likes to draw. One day while drawing in class, he is approached by Eric Lederer. They bond over the drawings and soon expand them, creating a universe of time traveling scientists and android cavemen. It sort of reminds me of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, or rather my interpretation of Kavalier and Clay because I haven't read that yet. So, I will stick with Seth Cohen and Zach the water polo player from "The O.C." In both scenarios, the characters have attended school together for a while, then they bond over a shared interest in comic drawing. The difference would be the secret that Eric soon reveals to Darren: he can't sleep.

Eric asks Darren not to tell anyone about his secret. He fears that some government agency will take him away to be a guinea pig, like E.T. Even after the revelation, things stay pretty much the same with Eric and Darren. They hang out, eat lunch, draw. Then, Darren starts a relationship with Christine. He has difficulty balancing his romantic relationship and his friendship, often abandoning Eric for Christine. He figures it out in time and they eventually include Eric.

Then, something horrible happens. Eric and Christine betray Darren. Seriously, has he never heard the phrase, "Male heterosexual friends before female floozies?" (My interpretation of what I consider a less-than-savory phrase) To retaliate, Darren betrays Eric in the worst possible way. This betrayal leads to the third act of the book, and an even more amazing revelation from Eric.

I really loved this book. Despite the slightly paranormal subject matter, it was an incredibly realistic view of high school. As unimpressive as the actual power is, there's something intriguing about super powers. Both Darren and I agree that Eric represents potential. If someone like Eric can exist, then anything is possible.