March 10, 2016

Book Review | A Little in Love

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Ever since I read The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet I’ve been looking for more famous literary stories told from the point of view of the secondary characters. It gives you the chance to see the story from a different angle. So when I was strolling through Books-a-Million and saw an adaptation of Les Miserables told from Eponine’s P.O.V., I automatically picked it up.

Anyone who has seen or read Les Mis knows who Eponine is. She is the daughter of thieves, a girl who is in love with a boy named Marius who is in love with another girl, a girl who Eponine herself grew up with.

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A Little in Love starts when Eponine was young. She talks about living with her parents in Montfermeil, the birth of her sister, and the life of thieving that she is forced into. Unlike her family, Eponine tries to be good. She never wants to steal or to kill. She only wants to do good, and it’s hard to do good when your family insists you do bad. She is teased by her family and scolded for not being as committed to their “family business” as her sister is. Eponine becomes friends with Cosette, a little girl who is brought to Montfermeil to stay until her mother can earn enough money to support the two of them. However, Cosette’s mother never returns, and she becomes the Cinderella of Eponine’s family until Jean Valjean adopts her. Later on we see Eponine meet Marius, whom she falls in love with, as well as see her reconcile with Cosette when they meet again in Paris.

I’ve never read the actual Victor Hugo novel. I, like I’m sure most of the general public, have only seen the movie that came out in 2012. It was my first introduction to the story. One of my favorite songs was “On My Own,” both because Samantha Banks has an amazing voice and because she put so much emotion into her performance. And it was her that popped into my head when I was reading this story.

From what I have heard about the actual Victor Hugo book, Eponine is not that big of a character. She’s just sort of there, but A Little in Love was her chance to shine.

I liked the way Eponine interacted with Cosette and Marius. Even though she knew Marius loved Cosette and not her, she was never spiteful. In fact she was the one who brought them together (don’t think that’s really a spoiler because they showed in the movie that Eponine knew where Cosette and Valjean were staying in Paris). She risked her life to bring Marius a note from Cosette in the barricades, and in my mind, that made her fearless. She didn’t care about the war, she cared about Marius and Cosette and their happiness. She put them before herself.

Overall I greatly enjoyed this. I would recommend this to fans of Les Mis, and really anyone that wants to see a classic story from a different perspective. Even if you know the whole story, you can still find something new from these types of re-imaginings.

Have any of you read this book before? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

 

March 2, 2016

Book Review | Hook’s Daughter

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Hook’s Daughter by Heidi Schulz is a middle grade novel that talks about, as the title suggests, Captain Hook’s daughter, Jocelyn. Jocelyn is an adventurer in a society where girls are expected to be prim and proper. Due to her wild antics, Jocelyn is sent to a finishing school, but after receiving a letter from her now deceased father, she runs away to avenge his death by the hand (or mouth, as the case may be) of the Neverland Crocodile. Along with Mr. Smee, Jocelyn gathers a crew and set sail on her ship, Hook’s Revenge, to find and kill the Crocodile.

I don’t read middle grade books very often, but this one was too good to pass up. I mean, t’s a Peter Pan retelling. I love Peter Pan so of course I wanted to read about the dear Captain’s daughter.

I thought the writing in this was great. It reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s writing style. The narrator of the story (possibly the deceased Captain Hook) will say very sarcastic things every now and again that remind me of passages from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Here’s an example from page 41:

“I have faced down some horrors in my day – ferocious animals, fangs gleaming and hungry for human flesh; fierce men with murder in their eyes; my own dear mother on wash day.”

This is the type of stuff you will find when reading this book.

As far as the characters go, Jocelyn is a great main character. Even though she is a little kid, she isn’t portrayed as being painfully immature. She is intelligent, caring, and has the makings of a phenomenal pirate captain. The secondary characters are also wonderful, especially Jocelyn’s crew on Hook’s Revenge. The crew is made up of these low-tier pirates who have fake injuries and battle stories, but she puts up with it/plays along with it.

If you look at the tagline on the cover it says that “Peter Pan has met his match.” However, Peter isn’t in the novel very much. He appears maybe twice, although his name does pop up a lot. However, other familiar characters appear in Neverland, such as the Lost Boys and Mr. Smee.

I believe this is the first in a series of middle grade books. I don’t know if I will be continuing this series right now as I have other TBR books that are more of a priority, but maybe a little ways down the line, I will continue with it as I did enjoy the characters.

If you like Peter Pan as much as I do, action and adventure, and/or writing styles similar to Lemony Snicket, I highly recommend you check this out.

Thanks for reading!

December 18, 2015

Let it Snow

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Hello everyone!

I’m here with another Christmas book recommendation: Let It Snow!

This is a collection of short stories written by YA authors Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle that are set in a small town in Virginia during a massive snowstorm.

I first discovered this in 2009. I was at Borders (back when Borders was still a thing) with my mom and I was browsing in the Teen/YA section. This looked really cute and fluffy, which some might not like, but I actually enjoy that.

I had not read anything by any of these authors before. Heck, I didn’t even know who John Green was back then! But I enjoyed each of the stories immensely.

I think my favorite is the first story by Maureen Johnson. “The Jubilee Express” is about a girl named Jubilee who is on a train to Florida to see her grandparents after her parents are arrested during a riot at a store that sells collectible toy villages. She’s annoyed because she is supposed to be at her boyfriend’s house with his family where they would be celebrating their one year anniversary. She gets caught in a snowstorm and winds up hanging out with a guy named Stuart and his family for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This can’t get any fluffier, but it is easily the best book in the story (my opinion of course). I didn’t really like Jubilee’s boyfriend. He reminds me a lot of Amanda Seyfried’s boyfriend in Letters to Juliet (which is an adorable movie that you should watch if you haven’t). This was the perfect story to start off the collection, and I felt it established the town in the stories as well as the tone of the book vey nicely.

My second favorite was John Green’s story “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle.” This story is about a group of friends trying to get to the local Waffle House where there is a cheerleading team who they think they’ll have a shot with. I think it’s a great introductory piece of his that can show his humor where some of his novels might not (since we all know he has the ability to wrench our hearts out and toss them across the room). Is it a little cheesy and ridiculous at times? Yes. But it’s definitely worth reading.

I like some parts of Lauren Myracle’s story “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” but the main character, Addie, could be a little irritating at times. She made everything about her and that’s supposed to be something she fixes by the end of her story. I thought she made a bit of a headway, but the TV in her head was still tuned to The Addie Show. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the strongest closer to the book.

Like I said before, it’s a light and fluffy read, which some people might not like, but if you think it’s up your alley, then definitely check it!

Thanks for reading!

December 15, 2015

Skipping Christmas

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Merry almost Christmas everyone!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and one of my favorite times of the year, but if I’m honest, I’m not one hundred percent in a festive mood. I suppose it’s because I spent the first two weeks of the month worrying about finals and presentations for my second to last semester of college, which doesn’t leave much room for festivities. Then I can home and started watching Christmas movies, listening to music, staring at our family’s Christmas tree…and I still didn’t feel the way Christmas used to feel. I felt like Cindy Lou Who in the live action Grinch movie, wondering where the feeling of Christmas had gone.

That is until I picked up Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.


I’ve read Skipping Christmas every year since the fifth grade, so about eleven years now. It’s only 177 pages long, but the story is so captivating and told so well that it doesn’t really seem that short. I also adore the movie, Christmas with Kranks, which was based off of the book.

If you don’t already know, the story is about a married couple who decide to go on a cruise instead of dealing with the stress that Christmas tends to bring while their daughter is off in Peu with the Peace Corps. The book centers around them avoiding all the hullabaloo that comes with the commercialized expectations of Christmas.

The story itself is hilarious and that’s a big part of why I read it, but I think what I love most about this book is how many memories I have of the past Christmases where I read this, and through the pages of this I was able to relive all those moments.

If you have never read this novel, I highly recommend it. It’s just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit if you, like me, have been feeling less than festive.

July 27, 2015

Band Geek Book Recommendations

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Music is a big part of my life. I started playing clarinet when I was ten years old all the way until my second year of college. You can’t spend nearly a decade of your life doing something without it affecting you, especially when six of those years were dedicated to marching band, the most nerdy and intense activity on the planet.

Music is also what led me to meet my best friends in the entire world. This can be said for any group/organization, of course, whether it be drama or lacrosse or what have you, but with music you are connected by something so unbelievably powerful.

Like all band geeks who are/were ever deeply involved within their band program, whether it be marching or concert only, I used to get very excited about all things band related. Even now I sometimes still do. Old habits are hard to break :)

The biggest thing I got excited for was when I stumbled across several marching band themed novels and poetry books targeted for young adults. As band camp is kicking off around this time, I thought today I would share with you a few of the books that I enjoyed back in my high school marching days.

 

Band Geek Love – Josie Bloss

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This is the very first YA marching book I ever saw. The title reached off the shelf and dragged me in.

Band Geek Love follows Ellie Snow, a senior who is the section leader of her band’s trumpet section. She is also a soloist for the upcoming season. Band is Ellie’s whole life; nothing can distract her from it. That is until a sophomore named Connor transfers to their school and joins Ellie’s section. Ellie fights her growing feelings for Connor to avoid any bad breakups and awkwardness in the section, but is it worth it if the price is denying herself a shot at love?

The sequel, Band Geeked Out, continues Ellie’s story and shows her struggles with deciding if she should go to the university close to home and study music, or go off and explore new things.

 

Notes from an Accidental Band Geek – Erin Dionne

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Elsie Wyatt was born to be a French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather. Wanting to one day be as great a player as her father, Elsie wants to attend a prestigious summer music camp, but in order to qualify she must broadened her musical repitore and join her school’s marching band. Elsie’s journey is not easy; she struggles with making friends, learning to play a mellophone, and not tripping over her feet, but as the season goes on she learns to have a bit of fun, and begins to wonder she should focus on being another family legacy or simply be Elise.

 

 

 

 

majorcrushMajor Crush – Jennifer Echols
Ex-majorette and pageant princess Virginia Sauter gets rid of the glitter and auditions to be drum major of her high school marching band. She wins the slot, but has to share with Drew, a boy whose family has held the drum major position for generations. The two do not see eye-to-eye about anything, but as they start to spend more and more time together, they realize that maybe they share more than just the title of drum major.

A friend lent this to me a few years ago. I planned to read it as a joke because it sounded super cheesy and hilarious, but it turned out to actually be pretty good once you get past the description.

*This particular book is no longer in print, but you can get it as an eBook.

 

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren – Wendy Toliver
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Roxy desperately wishes she could get the cute guys in school to notice her, but being a band geek isn’t exactly the most alluring thing in high school. On her sixteenth birthday, Roxy’s grandmother reveals a secret: she is a siren. With a few notes on her flute, Roxy is able to snag dates with any guy she sets her sights on. But there are two rules if she wants to remain a siren: don’t tell anyone the secret and don’t fall in love. Keeping the secret is simple, but can Roxy really stop herself from falling in love?

 

 

 

Band Nerd series – DJ Corchin and Dan Dougherty

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Get ready for 152 pages of marching band stereotypes and general geeky goodness summed up in rhyme. DJ Corchin paints a great portrait of what it’s like to be in the band, whether you are in it now or were a member twenty years ago. Any band nerd will love it.

A third book was released in October 2014 entitled Band Nerds Confessions and Confusion, which no doubt contains even more silly anecdotes and quotes of general geekiness.

 

Three more band related books that I personally have not read, but do have on my eReader are Major Pain, Confessions of a Teenage Band Geek, and The Line series, all by Courtney Brandt. I don’t know too much about them apart from Confessions and The Line being about a girl on the drum line. I really want to start these soon as they appear to be quite quick reads that I could knock out in a day or two.

I hope my fellow band geeks enjoy this little list! Even if you were never in band, you should think about picking up one of these, if only to give you a look into what exactly makes band kids so amazing and wonderfully geeky ;)

March 20, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole | Wonderland Reads

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Wonderland. A curious place full of time-crazed rabbits, talking flowers, and kooky characters who ask unsolvable riddles over tea. Lewis Carroll’s world has captivated children and adults for generations, and has inspired some wildly imaginative retellings. Pay a visit through the looking glass and see how the classic story is repainted in these vibrant and captivating series :)

 

The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy – Frank Beddor

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What if Wonderland wasn’t pretend? What if it was a real place, and the characters were not the characters we know, but real people? This is what Alyss Heart tries to explain when she stumbles into Victorian London. Everyone believes she is making up stories the way all children do, except for an aspiring author who is willing to write it all down. Except he gets it wrong. He turns all the people in Alyss’ life into nothing more than frivolous characters. The only part he gets right involves her evil aunt Redd, who is out rule Wonderland and our world with Dark Imagination. Alyss must find a way back home and save both our world and Wonderland from Redd’s tyrannical rule before it’s too late.

The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy consists of The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, and ArchEnemy.

 

Splintered Trilogy – A. G. Howard

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Splintered follows Alyssa, who is the great-great-great granddaughter of the original Alice whose stories inspired Lewis Carroll’s infamous works. Alyssa is able to hear the whispers of bugs and flowers, a curse passed down through the generations, and the very thing that landed her mother in a mental hospital. Alyssa soon learns that Wonderland is a lot darker than Lewis Carroll let on in his stories. Upon arriving in Wonderland, Alyssa is put to the test to right all of Alice’s mistakes and save her family from the madness that has plagued them for so long.

The Splintered Trilogy consists of Splintered, Unhinged, and Ensnared.

 

The Queen of Hearts Saga – Colleen Oakes

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Dinah’s days as Princess of Wonderland Palace is less than glamorous. Things go crumbling down when a stranger arrives at the palace. Suspicious and sinister events begin cropping up, and Dinah is left to unravel the mysteries around her before it’s too late.

The Queen of Hearts Saga currently consists of The Crown, and The Wonder. The third book, The Fury, is expected to be published sometime in 2015.

I mentioned another Wonderland-themed novel coming out this year by Marissa Meyer entitled Heartless. This is the first book in a duology revolving around the Queen of Hearts, which I am highly looking forward, too.

 

Got any more Wonderland suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

February 6, 2015

Valentine’s Reads

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Everyone loves a good Nicholas Sparks book/movie at this time of year, but if you are looking for something a little different to read this Valentine’s Day, check out these cute, light reads with delightful characters and romances that will leave your heart racing.

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A Little Something Different – Sandy Hall

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Lea and Gabe are perfect for each other. They like the same Chinese takeout food, laugh at the same jokes, and are even in the same creative writing class. See, perfect? What’s not so perfect? They are both too shy and aloof to pursue their mutual crush. Something has to be done, and the people who see them every day take it upon themselves to get Lea and Gabe together. Sandy Hall’s debut novel gives us a glimpse at Lea and Gabe’s relationship and how sometimes you need a little push to get what you want.

This story is told from fourteen viewpoints, like classmates and teachers and even a bench. However, neither Gabe nor Lea narrates, which makes it really unique.

This book is so cute and funny and I highly recommend it.

 

The Girl Who Invented Romance – Caroline B. Cooney

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Sixteen-year-old Kelly Williams has spent her life watching from the sidelines as her friends, her brother, and her parents play the game of love. Kelly takes notes of all their attempts and failures and decides to create a board game that really captures how people behave when they are struck by Cupid’s arrow. Caroline B. Cooney captures all the complexities of romance and love in this cute, page-turning story.

 

Love Story – Jennifer Echols

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Erin Blackwell is ecstatic to be majoring in creative writing at the school of her dreams. She plans on starting a new and exciting life in New York City that will help her forget about her past life in Kentucky. An unwanted reminder of that life appears in the form of Hunter Allen, a stable boy from her family’s ranch, who Erin has vowed to despise…so why does Hunter keep popping into her mind and become the main romantic man in her writing assignments for class? Jennifer Echols gives a sweet and sexy story that will hook you in from the first sentence.