Friday, February 29, 2008

Sweet, sweet contest!

Well, because the Page Flipper is so amazingly amazing, there is a contest to win books!

The books are:

The Unspoken by Thomas Farly
Fake Boyfriend by Kate Brian
Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Here, There be Dragons by James A. Owen and it's sequel, In Search for the Red Dragon
and Tweak by Nic Sheff

I personally am entering the contest to win these amazing six books. They all sound pretty-really good!

Go over to to check it out and for more info!

entering as we speak, thinking of a topic, and loving the page flipper,

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotsen (A review in which Caroline sheds her nice-girl image)

In my last review, I warned you that I would, eventually, review a book that I didn't like. I made certain to write this warning because I feared my previous reviews had gave me the facade of being too... charitable. Too kind. Sucking up to whoever likes or reads or writes the books, maybe. Just one of those happy, bunny-loving, "I HEART everything I read, even if it is utter crap!" types.
Au contrare, mes amis. I don't bullshit. It's not in my genetic code. I am honest, especially when it comes to books and writing. And, as was proved in my first ever book review (A seventh grade critical essay on my opinion of Carl Hiassen's Hoot) I enjoy being malicious.
A Countess Below Stairs looks like a good book. It has a nice-looking cover, at least, featuring pretty lettering and a girl with half-a-head. This, admittedly, is a bit ambiguous. I mean, an alarming amount of YA novels feature girls with half-of-heads, and they vary tremendously in quality. On one side of the spectrum, you have Maureen Johnson, and on the other side you have Gossip Girl.
Still, though. I was confident that A Countess Below Stairs would be closer to the Maureen Johnson end. It has that good book look. The description is good, utilizing phrases such as instant attraction and forbidden romance. I like that stuff. It's a bit overused, sure, but if it's written well then it never gets old with me. That stuff sucks me in.
So, I bought it. I bought it with eight dollars and ninety-nine cents that I so expertly weasled out of my mother, and- because I still do have a bit of that naive 7th grader in me- I just assumed it would be good. I'd read several good reviews. It looked good. It sounded good.
As it turns out, however, all of this suppossed goodness was a mere facade; perhaps even a conspiracy! I am here to warn you, dear reader, that "A Countess Below Stairs" is not a good book.
I should have realized this as soon as I opened the book to find the largest print I have had the misfortune of glimpsing since my last babysitting job- and the boys I sit for are six and four years old. This may sound nitpicky, I know, but I hate large print. It's so... patronizing. It inspires the same sort of feeling as being talked down to by people of lesser intelligence than yourself. I can handle large print, though. What I can't handle is the rest of "A Countess Below Stairs."
Anna, the main character of this monstrosity, embodies the most vexing of heroine stereotypes: the perfect girl. Anna is beautiful, intelligent, good-humored, graceful, charming, and loved by everyone. Everyone, of course, but me. Personally, I find Anna intolerably irritating. She's so sweet, you see, becoming a maid after fleeing her beautiful home in Russia. She's fascinated with Selina Strickland, the queen of the horrible maid, who somehow managed to publish a book. The other half of this couple is Rupert- who, like Anna, is beautiful, intelligent, good-humored, charming, graceful, and loved by all except for me. The saddest thing about A Countess Below Stairs is that I don't feel any sort of anything towards Rupert. This, above all, is a warning sign. I fall in love with book characters so often that I'd be likely to invent a way for me to transport myself into the fictional universe so that I could actually be with one. I've developed several plans regarding how to do so. But for Rupert? Eh, no. Give me flaws! I like flaws! Rupert and Anna's only flaws are that they are flat, stupid, poorly written characters in a flat, stupid, poorly written novel!
Poorly-written. See, what really annoys me are the run-on sentances. The comma splices. I'm talking eight participles in one sentence here. There is no way that this is grammatically correct! No way whatsoever! No way AT ALL!
Then, of course, there are the blatant lies on the back of the book. There is no 'instant attraction'. Anything but. Don't get your hopes up, though: there is no Darcy and Elizabeth reminiscent clashing, either. There are just two idiotic characters who spend an extremely minimal amount of time together througout the novel, and who are most certainly not in love. I'll give them 'mutual affection of flat, one-sided, horrifically perfect characters', but not love. They do not deserve love.
The one thing that I cannot stand in reading is being bored. Please, writers. Disgust me, or anger me, or make me want to throw your books across the room in frustration. Depress me, make me cry, make me scream, or make me throw up. Make me love you or hate you, but at least make me feel something. I felt nothing, reading this book, except for annoyance and regret because I actually spent $8.99 on it.
I wonder if I could scrounge up that gift receit from Books-A-Million and convince them that I have a profound fear of historical fiction and that I recieved this book from an evil cousin who knows about this fear and bought it for me just to terrify me out of my wits, thus recieving store credits and buying another book that hopefully doesn't completely suck?
I give "A Duchess Under Stars"(I couldn't even manage to remember the title, the entire time I was reading it. I mangled it so badly whenever anyone asked what I was reading. And yes, I did actually say, "A Duchess Under Stars" once or twice.) one-half cup of cold, broken-coffee-pot, black coffee with wierd plastic aftertaste.
And that's being charitable.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Looking For Alaska-(Caroline defends her new favorite author's honor)

John Green is NOT a pornographer...

But he is:

A nerdfighter, a list-maker, a possible genuis, a hilarious vlogger, made of awesome, the owner of a completely amazing library that is featured in all of his vlogs for fellow nerds to stare at in envy, and the writer of my new favorite book- Looking For Alaska.

In my review for the Bermudez Triangle, I mentioned my intense adoration for all things banned, especially if they happen to be over 200 book-scented pages of novel-ly goodness. And while I've read plenty of banned books that were called "disgusting", or "objectional", or "morally corrupt", I'd never tried one that had actually been referred to as "pornagraphic." That is hard core bannage, people. So, as soon as I saw the story on Maureen Johnson's blog and saw the video in which John Green defended his book, I knew. I had to read this book.

One unfortunate factor in the life of an unemployed teenaer is that vexing 'lack of regular income' factor. Oh, how I hate that. It is because of that that I did not get Looking For Alaska straight away from the local Books-a-IIllion, but from Amazon. For 2.57, plus 3.99 of shipping and handling. With my mom's money. In three to five business days. (Which actually means seven.)

But when I did, finally, lay my hands on the book yesterday, I was pysched. I had not been so excited to read one certain book since the most highly anticipated book... ever.... came out. Which, yeah, I know, was this July, but still. It was the most highly anticipated book ever.

For me, though, Looking For Alaska was a close second- and, unlike the first, it didn't dissapoint me in the slightest.

Looking For Alaska is about a guy named Miles Halter, but he's nicknamed Pudge 14 pages in and is referred to as Miles all of about six times throughout the book, so for all intents and purposes he is Pudge. The story opens at Pudge's very ill-attended going away party. He's going to his father's alma mater, Culver Creek, which is a boarding school. He's going not to please his father or because he has no friends. He, like the poet Francois Rabelais, goes to seek a great perhaps. Unlike Rabelais, Pudge will not be dying before he finds it. Pudge is completely fascinated by last words. He reads alot, but never fiction. He only reads biographies, and mostly for the last words. This is how he came across his reason for leaving Florida for Culver Creek.

Culver Creek is not one of those luxurious boarding schools that are featured in every other boarding school book ever in YA history- ahem. Sorry. But it isn't. It's one of those linoleum floored, slightly grungy, sucky shower kind of boarding school- it vaguely reminds me of Governor's School, only it's not pretty on the outside either. Anyway, it all strikes me as being very realistic and cool. But maybe it's only Southern boarding schools that are like that, I guess.

He meets his roomate Chip/Colonel who memorizes things on maps. He's in a towel for this meeting. He also meets Alaska who named herself and who rambles and who has the most incredible library in the entire world. I. Want. Her. Books. Anyway, Alaska is gorgeous and charming and Pudge is hopeless. Only, she has a boyfriend who she adores and he soon has a girlfriend who he... um, likes. Things happen. Things Fall Apart. And Pudge is catapulted into the Great Perhaps that he's been searching for.

Until everything crashes.

Looking for Alaska is gorgeously written, heartwrenching, hilarious, and it's remarkable in that it doesn't underestimate the intelligence of teenagers. It's pure amazing goodness, and if you don't go out and buy and read this book then I will send the swan and the Eagle after you.

I give it five cups of artisty, hardcore coffee. (eventually, there will be another book that I don't absolutely love. But this one is beyond the scale.)

If it's possible to agree one million percent, I do. I really, honestly do.No, wait. Scratch that. If it's possible, I agree infinity percent. With everything.
John Green creates a magnificently superb illustration of the labyrinth, of the Great Perhaps. Looking for Alaska explores and creates questions of philosophy, while simultaneously entertaining the reader to no end.
I warn you against reading this book in a public area. And by public, I mean anywher, anywhere that people are, I don't know, hanging out, talking, doing anything. You will be thought crazy for all the hysterical laughter you'll be doing. And, if you have a heart, and are the type to do so, you might even cry. I did. Honestly. For happy reasons, for sad. I cried.
Pudge, the Colonel, Alaska and Takumi (the four main characters) will entertain. They are the best character cast I've stumbled upon in a very long time.Pudge memorizes last words. He searches for the Great Perhaps.The Colonel memorizes evything. He's a genius (don't believe me, just ask him the population and capital of Azerbaijan)Alaska reads books; she's collected a 'life's library.' She searches for a way out of the labyrinth.
Takumi makes a great fox (;D). He provides constant hilarity.Together, these four make up what is now my favorite book.I concur and give it 5+ steaming cups of coffee (with a little vodka, or maybe Strawberry Hill in them)
Wanting a sexy fox hat, searching for the the Great Perhaps and a way out of this labyrinth, and wondering where 'there' is,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heather is...

wishing a happy, spectacular, fantasmic birthday to Maureen Johnson. Happy B-day!

Clearly, today is her birthday, February 16th.

I've decided this is gonna be a new thing. You know, wishing authors happy birthday? Yeah, I'm going to do that from now on, so if you know any authors birthday, let me know. I'll compile a list, mark them on my calendar, and create a post for each and every one. :D

And thanks to Libba Bray (being of awesome), I know that she loves cake, ice cream, party hats, confetti, pinatas, diamonds, unicorns, zombies, books, music, t-shirts that read, "Feel the power of my MOJO!", cash, credit cards, museum passes, real English tea, vegetarian goodies, M&Ms, bad eighties songs, dance videos, toe socks, monkeys, amusing air fresheners, mod bands, shoes, and sugar.

But no eggs. She doesn't like eggs.

Please go to MJ's blog @ and wish her a Happy Birthday! :D


Friday, February 8, 2008

Jinx (*giggles* 'pinch poke!')

You know those ridiculous handshakes you made up as a kid? The ones to get rid of jinxes and curses and such? You remember playing Jinx? And 'pinch poke, you owe me a coke'? This was all a joke. No one in this world needs those luck games. Or, at least, not as much as Jean Honeychurch.

She's lived her life with nothing but bad luck. It started on the day she was born. Not minutes of being in this world, something bad happened to Jean.* As her mother was giving birth (or right after, I'm not positive on the timing) the power went out in the hospital. A storm cell had passed over and caused a blackout so huge that people had to be airlifted from the hospital to the next county to be treated. If that wasn't bad enough, it resulted in one of the worst nicknames ever. One that she hates even more than her normal, boring name. Jinx.

Through her life, everyone in her family has come to know her as Jinx. Nothing else. Growing up a preacher's daughter, in a house-hold of 7, in Hancock, Iowa, Jean never has the best of luck. She breaks everything she comes into contact with.**

Her bad luck gets so extreme she has to move to New York City to live with her Aunt and Uncle--and her three cousins. One of which, Tory*** has changed an awful lot since the last time she saw her... five years ago. She enters into a new school, and, typical of her luck, things go wrong. All but one thing, that is: Her new friendship with the cute, adorable neighbor, Zach (who enjoys seals).

(At the risk of sounding cheesy) Through all this, Jinx learns to accept her bad luck and live with a secret she's been hiding. The secret that is the reason she left Iowa in the first place. And it comes back after her anyway...(ooh, being all cryptic and evil. Mwahahahaha!)

As is typical of Meg Cabot books (or at least from the extent of my knowledge) this story is written very well. Meg Cabot's ability to relate to teens (or teen girls, that is) still amazes me. The one thing I must criticize, however, is the lack of intelligence the main character always seems to hold. The whole way through the book, I just wanted to reach in and rip Jinx's hair out.

The plot starts out a bit sketchy (mimicking that of other Cabot books I've read) but quickly develops into a page-turning, can't-put-it-down novel. I found myself, more than once, verbalizing my opinion out loud. I became part of the story. I had to keep reading. The characters drew me in and held me. They are dynamic and entertaining, but sometimes quite predictable. You just can't help falling in love with them, though. They are your friends, family, neighbors. Just on a whole new level you never thought they could be on. They are realistically, unbelievably...wonderful.

But, this book may not be everyone's cup of tea...

Who am I kidding? How can you not love this book?

As I've said before, a good cover is usually (and here I emphasize the word 'usually') a sign of a good book. And I, for one, love the cover. It's beautiful and etherial. It fits the writing and plot of Jinx very well.

And that's why I give this book 4 perfectly hot, deliciously sweet Cups of Coffee--with just the right amount of that foamy milk.****


*Not Jean Marie, or Jeanine, or Jeanette, or even Jeanne. Just Jean.
**As her cousin Teddy so blatantly points out
***Or as she prefers, Torrance (*dramatic sigh*)
****Hey, not everybody likes the foamy milk...