Book Review: Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell

summer and the citySummer and the City by Candace Bushnell is the sequel to The Carrie Diaries. The novel picks up right where the previous one left off, introducing us to the Samantha Jones, the one we all know and love from Sex and the City.

Carrie is meeting Samantha for the first time. Samantha is Donna LaDonna’s, a former schoolmate of Carrie’s, cousin. Carrie hasn’t even been in New York for more than 20 minutes and she has already had her purse stolen, which contains all of her money and the address to her apartment for the summer. Carrie is in New York to attend a writing workshop at The New School. After heading over to Samantha’s for the night, they head out to a party. The next day, Carrie figures out where she is supposed to be living and manages to get back on track for her summer in the city.

Throughout the novel, Carrie is introduced to life as a New Yorker. She meets influential men and women by attending parties and classes at The New School. Between partying, deciding when to lose her virginity, and making new friends, Carrie manages to write a play or two that she hopes will give her enough leverage to get out of going to Brown in the fall and continue her fabulous life in New York as a writer.

I really enjoyed the second installment of The Carrie Diaries. Not only are we introduced to Samantha in this sequel, we are also introduced to Miranda, and briefly introduced to Charlotte. Hey, hey, the gang’s all here! It’s really cool to imagine their lives before Sex and the City, but it’s even cooler to actually read about it. Samantha is only 25 in this novel, Miranda is a spunky feminist who is protesting porn, and Charlotte is just the same, dreaming of the perfect wedding.

True to fashion, Carrie falls in love with an older man, Bernard. She is overcome with love, just the way Carrie always is in Sex and the City, and obsesses over this guy day in and day out. It’s too funny to imagine Carrie falling in love with older guys over and over again, although I will always favor Mr. Big.

Carrie’s fashion sense in the novel is hilarious. She buys all of her stuff from a cheap vintage shop, borrows from Samantha, or gets stuff for free. Some of my oh-so-favorite outfits from the novel include: red vinyl pants, a Chinese robe, and hospital scrubs. I also love the fact that she basically has one cocktail dress and wears it everywhere. Somewhere between this novel and the show Sex and the City is where Carrie acquired money and a fashion sense, because in this summer adventure, Carrie is everything but fashionable.

I thought that the student/teacher relationship between Carrie’s friend and their New School teacher was kind of absurd. It was thrown into the mix of issues and was kind of awkward. I knew from almost the beginning of the novel that this relationship was going on, but it never really developed, it just came to a sudden halt and then disappeared off the pages.

Overall, I’d say this is one of the better sequels that I have read. I really like when a sequel picks up right when the first book ended. Not only did The Carrie Diaries leave me wanting more, but Summer and the City ended with a pretty big cliffhanger. I’m hoping that there is another book introduced into this series. In the meantime, I am going to watch Sex and the City, starting with season one. Maybe I’ll catch some similarities between the books and the show.

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent

Although it started out slow, Divergent by Veronica Roth turned into a page-turner very quickly. As I said a few days ago in my first thoughts post, I have wanted to start this series for a while now.

Babies are born into one of five factions; the factions their parents chose at age 16. Each faction makes up a specific personality trait. You can grow up in one faction, and switch to another when you turn 16, or you can stay in the faction you grew up in. Once a faction is picked, you must stick with it, or you become factionless. To most people, not having a faction is worse than being dead; it means that you have no place in society. Each faction has a set of rules and a set of beliefs. These rules and beliefs make society function without causing a war.

When I blogged about my first thoughts of Divergent, I had no idea where the book was heading. As the novel drove on, I was shocked by how the story unfolded. I can usually predict endings of books, especially YA books, but this one threw me for a loop. I was holding my breath for the last 100 pages of the book, hoping that it ended happily ever after. I can honestly say I am hooked on this series, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series.

I loved Tris and Four’s relationship in the book. I could see sparks flying between then when they first met. I am not going to lie, by the end of the book, I practically had a crush on Four; he’s one of those guys that protects you from everything, but also has a soft side. Their relationship kept me on edge the entire book because I knew there had to be something there between them, but I also knew that, at first, their relationship was probably forbidden.

My feelings for Tris in Divergent were feelings of awe and sympathy. I felt bad for her because she had to choose between family and her own feelings. She had to choose between being brave for herself and being brave for others, but most of the time she chose both. She had learn to trust people in a situation that left little room for that kind of behavior, and she had to do things that she never thought her life would bring her to do. At only 16, her life is a whirlwind of emotions that change from happiness to pure chaos. She is badass, yet still emotional; she is a true female heroine.

I didn’t like most of the other characters in the book. Tris’ friends were backstabbers, overtaken by jealousy, and her enemies were blown way out of proportion. Who stabs someone in the eye and then gets away with it? What kind of society is that? I think there should have been more respect between the initiates in each faction, instead of the leaders allowing such brutal acts of jealousy to take place. I also didn’t like Tris’ brother. He seemed to flip back and forth with what he believed in too quickly. I understand the confusion that must take place by turning 16 and picking a new facation or sticking with your old one, but I feel like he was too dramatic about it all.

While I was reading Divergent, I thought a lot about the Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Although many people try to compare Divergent to The Hunger Games, I truly believe that Divergent and Uglies are more similar. Both dystopian series’ encourage children to change their identities at a certain age and change their behavior. They also both encourage bravery to create a feeling of a natural high. I am still trying to figure out my feelings on which faction I would be in if I had to choose, but I’m leaning towards Amity. Amity seems like the most normal to me.

Kindle Daily Deal: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

the princess diaries

Today’s daily deal is one of my favorites. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot brings back fond memories from high school. I loved reading all of the Princess Diaries books, as well as seeing them come to life in the movies: The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

From Goodreads:

She’s just a New York City girl living with her artist mom…

News Flash: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that’s why a limo meets her at the airport!)

Downer: Dad can’t have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)

Shock of the Century: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material.

Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmére, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he’s royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty–no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what’s a girl to do when her name is Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?

Head over to Amazon and buy the original Prince Diaries for only $1.99(originally $6.99), today only, for your Kindle! This is a great book for anyone who loves YA literature, as well as any little princess in your life from ages 12 and up. After reading the book, check out the movie. This is one of those rare times where the book and movie are both great!

First Thoughts: Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent

I thought I might start a new series of posts that have to do with my first thoughts on a book. Lately, I have been reading longer novels, which makes my book posts further and further apart. I thought that maybe a “first thoughts” post for a longer book could make the gaps seem smaller, and also help me keep all of my ideas in order. Also, sometimes I stop reading a book after 50 or so pages, in that case, this post would be first and last thoughts.

Today, this is only a first thoughts post because I am really digging Divergent by Veronica Roth. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re JUST reading Divergent?” Well, it’s better late than never, plus I did intend on reading it back in April but didn’t have time to get to it before I left for my trip back to the States. I’m also determined to read Divergent and Insurgent before Allegiant comes out in October. The best part about how I am JUST starting this series is that I have convinced other people to read it, before I even started. I just figured since the hype was there, it had to be good.

I had a hard time actually starting this book over the past few days, not because it was “so big” but because I had just read Eleanor and Park cover to cover, and was exhausted. I finally started it two nights ago, and probably wouldn’t have stopped except for the fact that I was pooped from my day at the pool. My first thought about Divergent was that I love dystopian societys. Seriously, they make our culture seem so normal. I haven’t read a dystopian novel in a while; the last ones I read were the Uglies and Pretties by Scott Westerfeld, last year. I still have to finish Specials, I know I suck at finishing series’.

After getting excited about the dystopian genre, I thought, what the heck are these factions? Let me explain all of what I know thus far, I am only on page 76,  so this should not include actual spoilers. Babies are born into one of five factions; the factions their parents chose at age 16. Each faction makes up a specific personality trait. You can grow up in one faction, and switch to another, or when you turn 16, choose a new faction. Once a faction is picked, you must stick with it, or you’re factionless. Each faction has a set of rules and a set of beliefs. These rules and beliefs make society function without causing a war.

The five factions are:

Abnegation: selfless leaders in government; they always put others before themselves

Candor: trustworthy and sound leaders in law; they never lie

Erudite: intelligent teachers and researchers; they are required to have debates with others amongst their faction

Amity: counselors and caretakers

Dauntless: fearless protectors from troublemakers inside and outside of the faction society

If you had to choose, which one would you pick to stay in forever? Would you choose to stay with your family, even if the faction you were born into didn’t suit you? I don’t think I would stay in the Dauntless faction, or switch into it. I am not fearless, and have no desire to work in a job that requires me to jump on and off trains, literally. I have to read a little more to determine which one I could potentially fit into.

Book Review: eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell

e & p

Eleanor and Park could not be any different, but at the same time, they could not be any more alike. Park is half Korean and has lived in Omaha his whole life, in a nice house with the perfect family. Eleanor has had a broken family for most of her life,she has moved around a lot and doesn’t really have a place to call home. Eleanor is quirky, has a head full of hair that she doesn’t know what to do with, and wears weird clothes are always too big. Park likes to read comics and listen to his walkman. Eleanor has a walkman, but doesn’t have any batteries. She loves to read and has a perfect voice for reading poetry out loud.

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus, in a very Forest Gump like way. No one will let Eleanor sit next to them, except for Park. This doesn’t mean Park is happy about the situation, but he does it because he feels bad. Eventually, Eleanor and Park begin to read comics together on the bus, as in Eleanor looks over Park’s shoulder while he reads. Not too long after, Park begins to lend Eleanor his comic books and starts to make her mix tapes with her favorite band, The Smiths. They soon realize that much like Romeo and Juliet, they’re destined to be together, even when the world is trying to tear them apart.

eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell gave me butterflies the entire time I read it. I was over the moon in love with how Eleanor and Park’s friendship turned into love. It was like being in high school all over again. The novel is written in third person alternating between Eleanor and Park. Throughout the story, you are able to feel what each character is feeling: their triumphs, their failures, and their love for one another.

When I went to the library, I was surprised to see a copy of eleanor & park sitting right next to Divergent by Veronica Roth, the book I actually went to the library to get. eleanor & park has been on my to-read list for a while, but I didn’t think our tiny library had it. I went home and read it from start to finish, only putting it down to eat dinner and walk the dog. It was the perfect book for the rainy day that we were having. I was immediately sucked into the high school love affair between two teens that were created for one another.

I really enjoyed the buildup of Eleanor and Park’s relationship. They didn’t jump into being friends, and they certainly didn’t jump into being lovers. Their first kiss was well into the novel and it had me holding my breath, just like Eleanor was holding hers. I was waiting for the kids to do more than just hold hands, and when it finally happened, I could breathe again. I didn’t even know a book could give me the feelings of first love all over again. And that’s exactly how I felt during this moment, like I was reliving my first kiss all over again.

I loved how the author switched perspectives between Eleanor and Park so frequently. I didn’t have to read a 20 page chapter about Park, constantly wondering about how Eleanor was feeling. True love has no boundaries, and in Eleanor and Park’s relationship their thoughts and feelings became inseparable. The perspectives switched so often that you didn’t have time to process the thoughts as two different people, they became one entity.

I felt so bad for Eleanor throughout most of the novel. Life dealt her a bad hand making it very difficult to live a happy and normal life. She became an adult much earlier than most children should and she wasn’t able to have everything she needed, let alone wanted. I really didn’t understand the issue between her and her father. Her mother and father got divorced when she was younger and her father basically disowned her and her other siblings. The author really didn’t elaborate on why the divorce happened and why he was such a bad father. She only alluded to drugs and alcohol. It seemed as if the absentee father was thrown into the story and then never really brought up in great detail. Her step father, on the other hand, is a huge jerk/creepo and he eventually gets what he deserves.

I feel like a broken record in my reviews saying how so many endings disappoint me, but once again, this ending left so much to be desired. The end of the book was rushed and the last line of the novel left me thinking, “Huh?” I can assume what the author meant, but that’s NOT enough for me. I need more, I want more. At the end of Romeo and Juliet, there is definite ending. Romeo and Juliet commit suicide and their families realize what horrible people they have been. But at the end of Eleanor and Park, it’s just over, leaving you with many unanswered questions.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to fall in love like they did in high school. Be warned, there is a lot of unnecessary cursing, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone younger than 8th grade, and that’s even pushing it a little. I cannot wait to read more from Rainbow Rowell, she is a great author and eleanor & park exceeded all of my expectations.

What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? – pg. 301

I leave you with a lovely book trailor for this wonderful love story:

 

Book Review: Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

love rosie

Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart are meant to be together. At the very early age of five, they become best friends. Their friendship strengthens through good times such as birthdays, weddings, births, and bad times such as broken dreams, lost jobs, divorces, and funerals. No matter where they are, they are always there for one another.

Alex and Rosie grow up in Dublin, Ireland.  When Alex is 17, his parents decide to move to Boston so that his father can pursue a better job. Rosie plans on following Alex over to Boston after graduation so that she can attend Boston University and become a hotel manager, something she has always wanted to be. After being accepted into college, and graduation from high school, Rosie makes one move that changes the course of the rest of her life: she gets pregnant.

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern, author of P.S. I Love You, is told through a series of correspondences between all of the characters in the novel. Characters write through snail mail, email, instant messages, and cards. The only part of the story that is told through prose is the epilogue. If you ever wanted to read a story and watch the main character grow from ages 5 – 50, this is your chance.

I really enjoyed this book because of the way it was written. I liked all the goofy cards sent throughout the Dunne family, the instant messages sent between Alex and Rosie during class, and the wedding invitations sent via snail mail from one country to another. I looked forward to the letters between Alex and Rosie the most, but also enjoyed reading letters/emails/instant messages from Rosie’s family friends, and eventually letters written by her daughter.

As you may have already guessed, even though Alex and Rosie are meant to be together, that doesn’t mean this is a book about their budding romance. Love, Rosie is about every single missed opportunity that they had to fall in love. To say this book is frustrating is an understatement. Everything that could keep soul mates apart in life, happened to Alex and Rosie. If they weren’t so stubborn, their love could have overcome many of these obstacles, but they were both too set on not hurting other people’s feelings by putting their own feelings aside.

I picked this book up because I thought it would be a light read compared to the heavy subjects I have been reading lately. Although the story is supposed to be light, I felt stressed for Rosie, stressed for Alex, and stressed for every other character in the novel. No one could catch a break: characters lost hope, lost jobs, and lost each other.

The plotline I hated the most had to do with Katie’s father. He should have just stayed out of the entire novel, then I would have enjoyed the second half of the story much more. The most frustrating part of the story, though, was the ending. I was finally happy with where Rosie and Alex relationship was heading and then BAM: no more letters, no more emails, no more instant messages, just an epilogue. Really? I had to read a whole bunch of nonsense just to get to the good stuff and then be let down?

Love, Rosie will soon come alive on the big screen. For once, I hope they DON’T put every fact written in the novel, in the movie, because if they did, it would be the longest, drawn out movie ever. I would recommend this book to someone who had a lot of time to kill, like a long plane ride, a long day at the beach, or a whole week of rainy days. You won’t want to put it down, but that’s only because you just want to get to the end and see what, and if, anything good happens.

Rosie’s Favorite Quotes: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

quotes

The Storyteller

You can lose your keys, your glasses, your virginity. You can lose your head, you can lose your heart, you can lose your mind. You can relinquish your home to move into assisted living, have a child move overseas, or see a spouse vanish into dementia. Loss is more than death, and grief is the gray shape-shifter of emotion. Pg.8

That’s the paradox of loss: How can something that’s gone weigh us down so much? – Pg. 11

Although there was nothing written on the page, I pulled word after word from my core, like silk for a spider’s web, spinning a make-believe life. That’s why we read fiction, isn’t it? To remind us that whatever we suffer, we’re not the only ones?

The weapons an author has at her disposal are flawed.. There are words that feel shapeless and overused. Love, for example. I could write the word love a thousand times and it would mean a thousand different things to different readers. What is the point of trying to put down on paper emotions that are too complex, too huge, too overwhelming to be confined by an alphabet? Love isn’t the only word that fails. Hate does, too.- Pg, 357

…I do believe in people. In their strength to help each other, and to thrive in spite of the odds. I believe that the extraordinary trumps the ordinary, any day. I believe that having something to hope for – even if it’s just a better tomorrow – is the most powerful drug on this planet. – Pg. 373