Nov 15, 2011

Review | The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Title: The Lover's Dictionary
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Fiction
Publication: 01.04.2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 211
Source: Library


basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Cover: It's very simple, but I like that the heart is made of words and that the hearts and letter "V" are in red around the cover.

May contain spoilers, but not really. Just proceed with caution.

Thoughts: I was pretty excited to pick this up because I have heard good things about the author from plenty of bloggers. This was probably not the best book to start off with because it didn't provide the feel for the author's writing that I expected. I was pretty entertained for the first few pages of the book, until I realized that there was no chronological order to the "story," if we can call it that. There is definitely two main characters whose names we never know and we can figure out the book is told through the guy's POV. The story is told only through words and their definitions but the story is out of order.

blemish, n.

The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in third grade. The scratch on your neck -- did I do that?

This brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read.

There were several times that I felt like I needed a dictionary to read this though because some words were new to me and for some reason, the tidbit that was supposed to "define" the word left me just as clueless about it. For example, the word "doldrums"...well what the heck is that?

doldrums, n.

The proper verb for depression is sink.

If you know what doldrums means, this might make a little more sense. I, in fact, had to look up what it meant because that definition did not help me whatsoever. But even that didn't stop me from wanting to know what would happen next, so I didn't put the book down until I was done.

Even though I was a little disappointed that there was no order, there were definitely connections between the words. It was evident right away what there is no way to know what is going on in regards to time, but about half way through the book it is easier to understand where the story is going. I am not sure exactly how the story ends and this sort of left me a little confused when I finally finished the book. I could literally write down the last word in the book and y'all would not know what happens. I know what happens from previous words, but I don't know how it really all ends. Does that make sense? If you've read the book, then maybe it does. If you haven't read it, maybe you should give it a try.

posterity, n.

I try not to think about us growing old together, mostly because I try not to think about growing old at all. Both things -- the years passing, the years together -- are too enormous to contemplate. But one morning, I gave in. You were asleep, and I imagined you older and older. Your hair graying, your skin folded and creased, your breath catching. And I found myself thinking: If this continues, if this goes on, then when I die, your memories of me will be my greatest accomplishment. Your memories will be my most lasting impression.

I definitely liked The Lover's Dictionary. It is a love story and I am a hopeless romantic. But it is also real look at relationships. Not all the words are cute and fluffy. There were several that made me cry because I could totally relate to them. My favorite word in the entire book is probably the most hurtful one. Whether you're a romantic or not, you should pick this one up. I know everyone will be able to find a bit of themselves in at least one word in this book.
Favorite quote [This quote has been hidden because it may contain spoilers. To view it, highlight]:

"livid, adj.

Fuck you for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he'd gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn't about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned."

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Nov 14, 2011

Review | The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

Title: The Year of Fog
Author: Michelle Richmond
Genre: Fiction - Contemporary
Publication: 02.28.2006 by Bantam
Pages: 466 (11 CD's)
Source: Library

Summary: Life changes in an instant. On a foggy beach. In the seconds when Abby Mason—photographer, fiancée, soon-to-be-stepmother—looks into her camera and commits her greatest error. Heartbreaking, uplifting, and beautifully told, here is the riveting tale of a family torn apart, of the search for the truth behind a child’s disappearance, and of one woman’s unwavering faith in the redemptive power of love—all made startlingly fresh through Michelle Richmond’s incandescent sensitivity and extraordinary insight.

Six-year-old Emma vanished into the thick San Francisco fog. Or into the heaving Pacific. Or somewhere just beyond: to a parking lot, a stranger’s van, or a road with traffic flashing by. Devastated by guilt, haunted by her fears about becoming a stepmother, Abby refuses to believe that Emma is dead. And so she searches for clues about what happened that morning—and cannot stop the flood of memories reaching from her own childhood to illuminate that irreversible moment on the beach.

Now, as the days drag into weeks, as the police lose interest and fliers fade on telephone poles, Emma’s father finds solace in religion and scientific probability—but Abby can only wander the beaches and city streets, attempting to recover the past and the little girl she lost. With her life at a crossroads, she will leave San Francisco for a country thousands of miles away. And there, by the side of another sea, on a journey that has led her to another man and into a strange subculture of wanderers and surfers, Abby will make the most astounding discovery of all—as the truth of Emma’s disappearance unravels with stunning force.

A profoundly original novel of family, loss, and hope—of the choices we make and the choices made for us—The Year of Fog beguiles with the mysteries of time and memory even as it lays bare the deep and wondrous workings of the human heart. The result is a mesmerizing tour de force that will touch anyone who knows what it means to love a child.

Cover: I love the grainy, textured look it has. It was what caught my attention and made want to read this book.

Thoughts: I don't know. I want to say I loved it because part of me did, but there were also a few things that bothered me.

What I liked:

• Abby is one determined woman. This could possibly because of the immense guilt she feels after losing Emma. But it could also be because of love. She wasn't too sure about it, but Abby might have loved Emma like a daughter. And she wasn't ready to stop searching.

• Part of the story takes place in the past. Before Emma and before Jake. We get to learn about Abby from small glimpses into her childhood, things she learned in her teens, how she got along with her parents and relationships that changed her life. I really was able to appreciate how well the author transitioned from the present into the past, connecting each moment in the present to a moment in from the past that would show why each thing happened the way it did.

• The secondary characters. Abby's sister, neighbor, client, and her first love, Ramon. They are not in the book all that much, but they each have an important role to play that sort of changed the outcome of things. For example, Ramon was a photographer. When he died in a tragic accident, Abby picked up his hobby in honor of his life, and it turned into her career. If she hadn't looked away for those few seconds to take a picture that day maybe Emma wouldn't have disappeared...

• The writing. Yes, I thought it was a little bit of a long story, but Richmond's writing is beautiful. Each scene is described in an almost poetic way and I could really feel and see the things I was reading. I really like when I can "see"  what is going on in a book, and The Year of the Fog definitely provided that for me.

• The setting. San Francisco and Costa Rica. The beach. Like I said above, described in great detail that I could see them perfectly.

• The ending. Sure, it was sad and left me feeling sorta empty and alone but I think that was a good thing. Part of me also felt hopeful and that alone changed my mind about not liking the ending.

What I didn't like:

• Probably the only thing that really bothered me was the length. I listened to this but it took me weeks to get through it. It felt like we were going in circles, never really moving on. But that could have just been the author's intention. After all, Abby can't seem to move on and accept that Emma is gone forever.

• Jake. He's Emma's father and is devastated that Emma is lost. So why does he give up so quickly? Okay, maybe not so quickly. But it seemed that Abby had more of a connection with Emma. Abby was so sure that Emma was out there waiting; she could feel it. Not Jake though. And sure, it might make sense that he might just want to move on with his life, but the way he seems to just return to "normal" bothered me. The way he accepted Emma's mom back into his life like she was totally an okay person was not okay either. Not liking Jake could have also been the authors intention though, so I don't think it was a bad part of the book.

• The ending. It made me feel sad and alone. This is something I liked and didn't like. I have mixed feelings about how this book ended and sort of wished the author would've pushed it a bit further.

Overall: The Year of the Fog was a great story, there is no denying that. Sure, it felt lengthy but was also full of amazing details, great characters, and I never really felt like I wanted to give up on reading it. It made me feel mostly sad, but definitely hopeful. And always thinking that love can overcome anything. There were many more things that I liked about this book than not, so I give this book 4 stars. I recommend it to others who are looking for a powerful contemporary novel. This one might be a bit difficult to get through, but not at all disappointing.
Favorite Line: “We take pictures because we can't accept that everything passes, we can't accept that the repetition of a moment is an impossibility. We wage a monotonous war against our own impending deaths, against time that turns children into that other, lesser species: adults. We take pictures because we know we will forget. We will forget the week, the day, the hour. We will forget when we were happiest. We take pictures out of pride, a desire to have the best of ourselves preserved. We fear that we will die and others will not know we lived.”

Nov 10, 2011

Bookish Thoughts | Consistent Reviews?

I haven't written a review for about a week, even though I have a few books waiting to be reviewed, because I was debating changing my reviewing style. A few months ago I stumbled upon Alison Can Read's discussion post: How to Write a Review. It's a great post about the basic idea on how to write a good review that includes great content and will attract more readers. She included that blog reviews should be consistent. This is what she had to say about it:
"Here's where I don't follow my own advice. I think the best blog has a standard format for reviews, so the reader knows what to expect when she looks at your blog. My reviews are definitely not consistent. As I said above, my reviews range from multi-paragraph essays to numbered outlines to good v. bad. How I write my review depends on what comes to me in the moment."
I've had my blog for quite some time now and my reviews have always followed the "standard paragraph" format. I have always been okay with this and really didn't feel like changing it until now. Recently I read some books that I just felt like writing reviews in list form: good vs. bad, numbered lists, etc. I checked out many blogs and found that not many ever really change up their reviewing style. Most bloggers stick to one style. So I became a little hesitant about actually changing my style because I thought this might steer readers away.

But there are also blogs that mix up their reviews all the time. For example, Juju at Tales of Whimsy writes her reviews a little different all the time. Gianna at A Neverending Fantasy, a fairly new book blogger, recently wrote a book review in a Dear Author format that I really liked instead of her usual paragraph form. Cara at Chasing Words also has changed her reviews over time. Lately her reviews have been paragraph form but here's an example of a review describing what she loved and didn't love. Heather from Proud Book Nerd also writes out what she loved and didn't love in some of her reviews, instead of keeping it her usual paragraph form.

After some thought, I did decide to start to change up my reviews a bit. I like the paragraph style, but I also like the many other ways of writing reviews out there and I try a few new ways of writing. I don't know if this will affect anyone who reads my blog but I will do it because it will make a happier reviewer/blogger. I still want to know what you think about it though.
Do you prefer consistent reviews? Do you/would you steer away from blogs that had different review writing styles every time you read their reviews? Does it make a difference to you at all?

Nov 9, 2011

Author Event | Becca Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Miles & Moira Young

About a month ago, I got the opportunity to meet author's Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush saga) Elizabeth Miles (Fury) and Moira Young (Blood Red Road.) It was an awesome event to attend at one of my local B&N store. I arrived a little late so I had to sit all the way in the back.

All three planned to read from their books, but since Becca figured maybe a good chunk of the crowd might not have read the second or third books in her saga (and she was right!) she told us a sweet story on how one of the scenes was inspired from her teen years. Pretty funny stuff that involves a hot dog and peer pressure :)

Elizabeth did read from Fury and it sounds like such a creepy book! I definitely need to get to reading that. I bought the HC of the book even though I had an ARC copy.

Moira told us how she was an actress and a few other things before deciding to write, so when she read from Blood Red Road it was so awesome. She "acted" out some of it by changing voices and moving around a bit. It was such an intense scene too; another book I am dying to read!

After they answered some questions from the audience, there was signing. The line for Becca was the longest, so I got to take pictures and chat with Moira and Elizabeth. This resulted in being one of the last to meet Becca. By then I was tired and anxious to get homebut it was definitely worth the wait. Becca was super nice and she was handing out signed posters to everyone who wanted them. Overall, it was awesome!

Nov 1, 2011

\\ Blog Tour \\ Review | Lead Me On by Lauren Hawkeye

Title: Lead Me On by Lauren Hawkeye
Series: Erotic Me #3
Genre: Erotic Fiction
Publication: November 1, 2011 by Spice Briefs
Format: eBook
Source: Bewitching Book Tours
Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Linda doesn’ t know why she agreed to attend an old friend’ s wedding, or the after party where she encounters her old flame, Eric. She’ s as attracted to him now as she was in college…and even more aroused when she meets his captivating friend Nate.

Unlikely as it seems, Linda can’ t deny the two sexy men are interested in her—and that she wants them both, too. She’ s determined to follow the night through with them, wherever it may lead…

Thoughts: So far, I have enjoyed this series. Tie Me Up and Take Me Down, were both fun to read and I was looking forward to reading this one next. It threw me off a little because it involves a ménage, something that is new to me and, unfortunately, I didn't find it as entertaining as the last two.

Linda runs into Eric and meets Nate, as well, during the wedding that is running throughout the series. The wedding night seems to hold lots of different encounters for the characters, so it's fun to see what is happening around the house. The attraction between the Linda and the guys is great, but a little weird because it involves three people

I really wanted to like Lead Me On as much as the rest, but again, this one was a little different because it involved two men and one woman, something I am not used to. I recommend this to other erotic fiction lovers out there who have enjoy similar sexy situations.