Pub Writes

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Archive for August, 2011

Challenge Wrap Up: What’s in a Name 4

Posted by Caitie F on August 30, 2011

 

I finished a challenge for the year! Here are the books that I went with. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it next year!

1. A book with a number in the title: Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
2. A book with jewelry of a gem in the title: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
3. A book with a size in the title: Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley
4. A book with travel or movement: Across the Universe by Beth Revis
5. A book with evil: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
6.  A book with a life stage:  Boys and Girls Together by William Goldman

 

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Posted in Challenges | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Posted by Caitie F on August 29, 2011

Title: The Girl With the Pearl Earring
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year published: 1999
Ratings: +++

Summary (from goodreads):

Girl with a Pearl Earring centres on Vermeer’s prosperous household in Delft in the 1660s. The appointment of the quiet, perceptive heroine of the novel, the servant Griet, gradually throws the household into turmoil as Vermeer and Griet become increasingly intimate, an increasingly tense situation that culminates in her working for Vermeer as his assistant, and ultimately sitting for him as a model. Chevalier deliberately cultivates a limpid, painstakingly observed style in homage to Vermeer, and the complex domestic tensions of the Vermeer household are vividly evoked, from the jealous, vain, young wife to the wise, taciturn mother-in-law.

Review:

I have been wanting to read this book for a very long time. I love the painting and thought that the idea of telling a story about how it might have come about was really cool.

I am very glad I finally read it. The writing is beautiful. I loved the descriptions of all of the places. I felt like I was there, see the Papist Corner walking around the Market, every moment of the book. The beauty of the book is what made it special and what makes it work.

However, I did not enjoy the story like I thought I would. It just felt so far fetched. She felt a connection with her Master, but there seemed to be no real reason behind it. He wanted her to work there for him because of her skill and her talent with the colors, not because he had an attraction to her. It just felt like she was pulling out things that weren’t there, so it never really made sense. The relationship with the butcher’s son also felt very forced and unrealistic. Since I couldn’t buy the actions as being genuine, the plot fell apart for me.

That said, Vermeer’s family fascinated me. From his tough, but brilliant mother-in-law to his bratty daughter, they were all distinct characters that were very enjoyable to read about. It was also interesting seeing the relationship between maids in the household. It was one of the few relationships that felt real.

It was a book worth reading, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Posted by Caitie F on August 29, 2011

This book would make a great late summer read!

Title: Shut Out 
Author: Kody Keplinger
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette)
Date Published: 9/5/2011
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads and me):

A contemporary re-imagining of the Greek play, “Lysistrata,” in which high school senior Lissa decides it’s time to end her school’s ridiculous sports rivalry once and for all by starting a hook-up strike.

It is the football players against the soccer players, and no one really remembers why. Now, people are starting to get hurt. Can the girlfriends stop it before it is too late, or will they crack from the pressure before the boys?

Review:

This was a book I picked up the last day of BEA (I actually got to meet Kody and she was so sweet!)…and read that same day and passed to someone else who would love it!

I really enjoyed the issues and entertainment of the source material for this one, reading “Lysistrata” was a highlight of my Greek Literature class in college, so I knew that combining that with Keplinger’s honest and open dialogue about teenage issues would result in a book that I would love.

I did love it. Not quite as much as The Duff (Keplinger’s debut novel), but since I said that was the best book I read in 2010, it would have been very difficult to be better than it!

The characters felt so real. Lissa just wants peace in the school…and to come before a stupid feud that has been raging for a decade. People are starting to get hurt and she won’t stand for it anymore. And she does something. I knew someone in high school just like that. She didn’t just sit and wait for things to change, she made them change. What makes Lissa even better though, is that she really has to work to be a leader. She isn’t naturally a public speaker, she finds her voice over the course of the book, showing that all women can lead, especially when it is about a cause they care about.

This was another very honest book about sex and teens. That means this book is probably best for 16+. There is nothing graphic at all, but it is open to what is going on in high schools everywhere. But it is done in a really good way that shows all levels of sexual experience and can lead to young women being able to talk openly and honestly. Some of the girls are virgins. Some don’t like sex. Some love it and are not ashamed. Some love doing certain things, some hate it. Just like in life. They all learn how to talk about it, not only with each other, but also with their boyfriends. It also talks about how women shouldn’t use their bodies as a weapon. It is one thing to go on strike to end fighting, it is a whole other to use it to manipulate and deceive. I wish there were honest and open books like this when I was a teenager.

This book was all around wonderful. The other characters sparkle, and the excellent retelling is full of twists and surprises. The male lead is swoon worthy and a great guy who makes the romance fun.

I cannot wait to see what Kody Keplinger writes next.

Posted in Review, Summer reads | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Good-Bye Irene!

Posted by Caitie F on August 28, 2011

So Irene has come and gone. We are lucky. Very lucky. We never lost power (though the grid next to us did for a couple hours).

We did have some water in our basement – the carpet is soaked and we will have to pull it up before mold grows (my allergies would be SO bad if that happened). Luckily there is nothing in that room that could be damaged, just CDs and some movies…but the discs will al be fine.

We won’t be leaving our house for a little bit though. The town next to us (less than two miles away) had major flooding – the lake flooded and there are feet of water in the streets. Yeah FEET. Those in that area can’t drink the water – even after boiling it and won’t be able to for several days. I just hope there isn’t too much damage to businesses since it is Main Street.

But we are okay. I am just tired because I could barely sleep. Hope everyone in the path got/gets through safely.

Posted in Misc | 1 Comment »

Floors by Patrick Carman

Posted by Caitie F on August 27, 2011

Title: Floors
Author: Patrick Carman
Hardcover: 272
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: Sept 2011
Rating: ++++

Summary (from goodreads):

Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel.

The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Leo should know most of them – he is the maintenance man’s son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him . . . boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake . . . and so is Leo’s own future!

Review:

The comparison to characters from Roald Dahl and Louis Sacher is not an exaggeration in the summary. If you love the creativity that all of Roald Dahl’s bring, you should really pick up this book!

The story is really cute, but what hooked me is the creativity of the hotel and the kindness of the main character.

The hotel is described so well. I felt like I was actually walking through the rooms with Leo. What I really enjoyed is that there are some details left to the imagination. I actually found myself pausing every time a new room was explored because I wanted to really picture it and add some details of my own. I think kids are going to LOVE this setting and have a lot of fun imagining they are in these cool rooms. I don’t want to spoil any of them since the discovery is part of the fun!

I also loved Leo. He was a sweet kid who had gone through some hard times, but he still worked hard and cared about other. He reminded me a little of Charlie (of the chocolate factory fame), but he was a little more adventurous and fun!

The story was a little predictable as an adult, but I don’t think kids will see it coming.

This is one of the best middle grade books I have read, and I look forward to seeing more of Carman’s creativity!

And remember, always bring a duck.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Posted by Caitie F on August 23, 2011

Great summer read!

Title: Only the Good Spy Young 
Author: Ally Carter
Hardcover: 265 pages
Publisher:  Hyperion
Year Published: 2010
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start during her junior year of high school. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when Cammie faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere, and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most-trusted allies is actually a rogue double-agent, Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.

Review:

I know, it was just a few days ago that I read the third book in the series and since then I read the second and the most recent. I feel like I could skip the first since I know what happened in it by now.

And now I have to wait what happens next. Cammie is not completely safe and I can’t find out what will happen until 2012! How can anyone stand it? I am usually okay with waiting for series. I think it is fun. Yet in this case I need to now! These books are so exciting to read that I want more!

If you like action and you like fun stories with great writing, seriously, check out these books today. Go put them on hold at the library or go to your bookstore and check them out.

If you need more convincing, this book had me on the edge of my seat. I never knew who was the good spy and who was the bad spy. It also allowed Cammie to find out more about her father and it felt like readers really got to see a new side of her. She and all of the characters have been developed incredibly well throughout the series. This book was no different.

Great series – cannot wait to read the next adventures of The Gallagher Girls!

Posted in Review, Summer reads | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Posted by Caitie F on August 18, 2011

This is a great summer read!

Title: Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Author: Ally Carter
Hardcover: 263 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Year Published: 2009
Rating: ++++

Summary (from goodreads):

When Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she’s there to watch Macey’s father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world’s best school (for spies), “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers’ plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can’t shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion’s corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.

Review:

So I jumped into this series in the middle. It isn’t something I do often, but I won the book in a giveaway with a bunch of others books and I thought I would try it.

First off, you don’t need to read the entire series to enjoy one of the books. There were a couple times when I knew that I didn’t get a reference to events from the previous books, but I was never confused.

The book was just great! I loved the setting of the school. I felt like I was exploring a secret spy central. Training the girls to kick butt was awesome, especially because of the origins of the school.

I loved the writing style. The action scenes were actually exciting and had me gripping the book, nervous about what would happen next. There is a great mix of typical teenage wants and needs and the special issues that only spies would encounter.

If you are looking for a fun and fast read with plenty of drama and excitement, pick up this series! I have the next two books on hold at the library and can’t wait  to read them!

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The Help: The Movie

Posted by Caitie F on August 15, 2011

I saw the movie version of The Help this weekend. I read the book back in 2010 and adored it. I was a little nervous about the movie, since I didn’t know how it could live up to the book.

Then I heard that Emma Stone would be playing Skeeter and I was thrilled. She looked perfect for the part and I saw some of her acting and I knew she could handle that part. I saw the rest of the cast and was hopeful.

Yeah…the movie was absolutely perfect.

Yes, I said perfect.

Things were changed from the book, but I always understood why it was changed, and all of the changes made sense and made it a better movie.

It was as emotional watching the movie as it was reading the book. There were several points where I teared up (when Constantine was kicked out….the acting was amazing and it broke my heart). There were parts when I wanting to stand up and cheer.

The entire cast was absolutely wonderful. I have a feeling they won’t get Oscar nominations, but I think at least Emma Stone and Viola Davis deserve it.

Did you see the movie? What did you think?

Posted in Misc | 1 Comment »

TSS: What Do You Do With ARCs?

Posted by Caitie F on August 14, 2011

Hope everyone is doing well this rainy (well, at least in NJ) Sunday! I spent 10 wonderful days visiting my parents in Ohio. Jason and I had a great and relazing time. Of course, we got home and things automatically got stressful, but it was still nice!

But I have found an issue. I got some great ARCs at BEA and from winning contests. I liked reading the books, but I don’t really want to keep them.

I have been giving them away on here, but there are so many that it is getting expensive. I am okay with giving away some, but there is not enough benefit and too much cost.

Yet I still don’t want them on my shelves and cluttering up our house! My library won’t take them (since they can’t lend them out) and the used bookstore can’t sell them. Where else can I donate them? I give some to my husband for his classroom, but I can only give him MG books. I try to give them to friends who might enjoy them, but sometimes…I can’t find anyone!

Do you know of any hospitals, shelters, or other groups that will take donations or ARCs? I obviously do not want to throw the books away. I want to give them to a good cause. It is okay if the place isn’t near me, I can send a box.

Thanks for the suggestions!

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Misc | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil

Posted by Caitie F on August 8, 2011

Title: The Woman Who Fell from the Sky
Author: Jennifer  Steil
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books
Year Published: 2010
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

In a world fraught with suspicion between the Middle East and the West, it’s hard to believe that one of the most influential newspapers in Yemen–the desperately poor, ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, which has made has made international headlines for being a terrorist breeding ground–would be handed over to an agnostic, Campari-drinking, single woman from Manhattan who had never set foot in the Middle East. Yet this is exactly what happened to journalist, Jennifer Steil.

Restless in her career and her life, Jennifer, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the staff of The Yemen Observer in Sana’a, the beautiful, ancient, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the challenging prospect of teaching a free speech model of journalism there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper’s editor-in-chief. But she is quickly confronted with the realities of Yemen–and their surprising advantages.  In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that included plagiarists and polemicists, she falls in love with her career again. In confronting the blatant mistreatment and strict governance of women by their male counterparts, she learns to appreciate the strength of Arab women in the workplace. And in forging surprisingly deep friendships with women and men whose traditions and beliefs are in total opposition to her own, she learns a cultural appreciation she never could have predicted.  What’s more, she just so happens to meet the love of her life.

Review:

Thank you to Amanda for giving this book away! I have wanted to read about other cultures and the second I saw her review, I knew this book would be a great way to do that!

I will admit that I have my personal beliefs and stereotypes about the Middle East. This book showed me how wrong I was. Every page had something fascinating and eye opening.

I was shocked to see how some men treated the women. Yet, the women who stood up for their rights and did it in their own ways were an inspiration to people everywhere.

If you are interested in reading about other cultures, I highly suggest that you read this book! I am going to be watching Yemen in the international news more often.

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