Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books People Tell Me I MUST Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books People Tell Me I MUST Read

If some of the books on this list seem familiar, it’s because some of them may have made my TTT for last week…as hesitant as I may be to read certain books.  Actually, consider this the list of books I need to read so I know what people are talking about, because that describes most of the books on my list this week.

  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  As hesitant as I am to read it, I feel like it’s one of those books I need to read so I know what people are talking about.
  2. Eleanor And Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I’m even more hesitant to read Eleanor And Park, but it’s another one that I want to at least try reading because so many people have loved it that I need to read it.
  3. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.  I have them so I’ll read them at some point, but people seem to love it more than Mortal Instruments, so I’m curious to see what else Clare has done in the Shadowhunter world (even if all of the planned series set in this world makes me nervous).
  4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead.  This is another series where people seem to like the spin-off more than the original (or, at least, they seem to like it as much as the original series) so I’m definitely going to have to read it eventually.
  5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman.  Again, a lot of people seem to love, so I’ll have to read it one of these days.
  6. A Discovery Of Witches.  I’m fairly certain this was recommended to me at some point (I wish I could remember who) and while I’m feeling too lazy to see what it’s about, I’ll definitely have to read it.
  7. A Confederacy Of Dunces.  It’s come up as a topic of conversation with some friends quite a few times, and while it wasn’t recommended to me specifically, I feel like it’s another one to read someday.
  8. Pretty much anything by Sarah Ockler.  Unlike my list so far, I’ve actually gone ahead and included an author as opposed to a specific book.  But again, she seems to be someone people love, to the point that I want to see why so many bloggers seem to like her.
  9. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  I’ve seen it reviewed quite a few times, and I’ve been curious about it, especially since it seems like reviews are mixed.  But it still seems right up my alley!
  10. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.  My friend Heather recommended this one a while ago (come to think of it, I’m pretty sure she recommended A Discovery Of Witches) and I’d really like to read it someday!

Gilmore Girls 3×18: Happy Birthday, Baby

Happy Birthday, Baby originally aired April 22, 2003.  This episode was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and was directed by Gail Mancuso.

Gilmore Girls Season 3 Graphic

This episode opens with Richard cooking Friday night dinner.  Rory and Lorelei tell Emily and Richard that Rory’s going to Yale, and Emily and Richard don’t react right away.  In fact, they act like everything is perfectly normal…until they are really happy, and go off to call their friends.

At the Inn, construction is underway, and has to be done in 10 days, when guests are scheduled to arrive.  Lorelei is having an emergency staff meeting with Sookie, Michel and Tobin, the night manager.  Lorelei is looking for ideas to keep the inn going, and Michel suggests a B & B.  Lorelei and Sookie shoot it down, but Tobin agrees with Michel and suddenly, Lorelei is willing to consider it.  Michel doesn’t want Tobin’s help, and Michel isn’t happy that Lorelei said she’d reconsider when Tobin agreed.  Tobin got Lorelei an early birthday present, and Michel and Tobin have this weird glaring/looking at each other weird moment.  Michel and Tobin try to one up each other throughout the episode with birthday gifts getting more awesome, and Tobin with a bunch of ideas on what to do with the inn that Michel doesn’t like.

Rory is busy planning Lorelei’s birthday party- from a cake at Westin’s, to the world’s largest pizza.  The pizza has some issues throughout the episode, and while Rory is getting soda, Jackson talks to Rory about how Sookie’s crying because Rory didn’t ask her to make the pizza, or ask him for vegetables for the pizza toppings.

While all of this is going on, Lorelei meets with Richard for lunch, where she gets a very large check.  Richard had made an investment in real estate when Lorelei was born, and got a letter saying that the complex was sold, so she is now getting the check.  She’s really excited, and we see her and Rory trying to decide what to do with the money.

Then, we have another Friday night dinner, where Lorelei pays back Richard and Emily for Rory’s tuition at Chilton.  She’s very thankful for what they’ve done, but Emily doesn’t take this well at all.  She thinks they don’t need her anymore, and that she doesn’t want the money.  Emily also thinks that Lorelei was unkind to use her birthday to tell them that Friday night dinners are over, and even though Lorelei never said it, Emily believes the check got the point across.  Richard never told Emily about the investment he made, and paying them back was one of the first things she thought of.  Richard told her that Emily wasn’t supposed to know, and Lorelei is confused, since he didn’t specifically tell her not to say anything.  However, meeting in secret was how Lorelei was supposed to know.  Emily tells her that they are released from their obligation of Friday night dinner.

In Stars Hollow, Rory wants to know why Lorelei did it the way she did it, and that Lorelei had to have known they wouldn’t want the money back and that Emily wouldn’t take it well.  According to Lorelei, Rory doesn’t know how hard it’s been for Lorelei to go to her parents for help with Rory’s tuition, because Lorelei decided that she didn’t want their help a long time ago. She did go to them for help because of Rory and doesn’t regret that.  Rory thinks she could have done it differently (but isn’t sure what that would be) and Lorelei talks about how her relationship with her parents is very different than the one that Rory has with them.  Lorelei isn’t going to let anyone make her feel guilty for paying back a loan that she always intended to pay back, and certainly doesn’t want Rory to judge her for doing so.  Rory apologizes but Lorelei says it’s fine.

The episode ends with Lorelei seeing the party Rory planned for her, and loves that Rory did that for her.

What I Thought:

The check that Lorelei gets…I have so many thoughts on this!  It’s one of those things where I get everyone’s side- well, mostly.  I get why Emily acted the way she did and I don’t blame her for not taking it well.  I do agree with Rory that Lorelei could have done it differently, and I get why Lorelei not only went to her parents for help but also why she wanted to pay them back.

I did find myself irritated with Richard for not explicitly saying “don’t tell Emily.”  It is very like Richard to have a meeting shrouded in secrecy where said secrecy implies that Lorelei not say anything.  But subtlety doesn’t seem to work well with Lorelei, and Richard really should have been more clear.

I also got annoyed with Lorelei when she and Rory were back in Stars Hollow after her birthday dinner with her parents. One thing I’ve thought since starting up with the re-watch ages ago is that we get a very one-sided picture of Lorelei’s relationship with her parents, and while I know the show mainly focuses on Lorelei and Rory, I really wish we saw more of what her parents side is.  I was definitely reminded of that towards the end of the episode.  I get she doesn’t have a good relationship with her parents, and I just really wish we got more of Emily and Richard’s side (instead of just what Emily says once in a blue moon).  And that Lorelei was more specific about why they were horrible parents.

I would like to randomly add that Rory didn’t have to go to a fancy, expensive private school that Lorelei really couldn’t afford.  I don’t know if Chilton offers scholarships, or if that would even be enough to cover tuition.  And I know it’s there so Rory can get to Harvard (at the time) and so that Emily and Richard are around, but still…it just seems weird to me.

Favorite Line:

Michel: “I don’t eat bagels.  They are like glue in your intestines.”

Pop Culture:

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Clash, Gangs Of New York

Let’s Rate It:

I liked this episode, especially given there are no more Friday night dinners.  I didn’t completely love it, because I found Lorelei and Richard to be slightly irritating, but overall, I feel like we’ve hit the point where the story line that leads up to the season finale is set in motion in this episode.  Happy Birthday, Baby gets 3 mugs of coffee.

Audio Book Review: Beholding Bee

Beholding Bee CoverBook: Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco, narrated by Ariadne Meyers

Published February 2013 by Listening Library|Run Time: 8 hours, 5 minutes

Where I Got It:

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

You can find Beholding Bee on goodreads & Kimberly Newton Fusco on Twitter & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won’t enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them.

Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world–if only she will let herself be a part of it.

This tender novel beautifully captures the pain of isolation, the healing power of community, and the strength of the human spirit.

What I Thought:

I have mixed feelings about Beholding Bee.  Liked, really mixed feelings.

So, I liked that Bee found people who care about her after leaving the carnival she worked at, and how much she learned about herself over the course of the book.  One interesting thing is that the book takes place in the U.S. during World War 2, and when she starts going to school for the first time in her life, she’s placed in a class that would be considered special ed today.  That was actually really interesting because you see how cruel kids are to them because they’re different, and that they have several teachers who are there just to be there, and don’t seem to care about them.  Until they get the one teacher who believes they should be able to be around the other students (at least during recess) because it’s not fair to keep them separated from the other kids.  This doesn’t go over well with the principal, who’s basically doing it so they won’t get bullied.

I found that part so interesting because for some reason, I wasn’t expecting kids back then to be so cruel, but at was actually really important to see why they shouldn’t be separated from the rest of the school- at least in terms of recess.  And I liked Bee learned how to stand up for herself, even if I didn’t like she did it.  It made sense and I get why Bee acted the way she did, but I couldn’t help but think less of Bee after that.  (Not a lot, but just enough that I was a little put off by it).

One of the biggest reasons why I didn’t like Beholding Bee was the mysterious women who take her in.  I felt like it really took away from the rest of the book, because I wasn’t expecting 2 women that only Bee can see. I just found it to be annoying, and I think I would have appreciated/liked their role in things if they weren’t so…ghostly.  It really did take me out of the story, and I wish their own history, especially in relation to Bee, were explored more.

I also expected Bee to be a little bit older.  It’s hard to believe an 11-year-old could take care of herself , with the help of her two “aunts,” and slightly more unbelievable that a young woman in her earlier twenties would be willing to take care of Bee, even if she had been doing since she was in her teens when she took Bee in. Then again, I have no clue how these things worked in the 1940’s, so it could be related to that.

Let’s Rate It:

I did like how Bee learned to stand up for herself, and to not hide herself away because of her birthmark.  And I liked how she realized that people will care about her if she let them.  However, I felt like Bee seemed a little too young at times (understandable, given how she grew up) and her aunts really took me out of the story. Beholding Bee gets 2 stars.

Book Talk: Introducing Book Talk

Book Talk

I came up with the idea for Book Talk a while ago, and I thought I’d actually (and officially) introduce this feature!

Book Talk is my way of talking about non-book review bookish things.  How I feel about different things (like movie adaptations of books) and I how approach and think about reading has changed so much over the last 3.5 years, and my reading life is so different now than it was when I first started book blogging.  I do a lot of reviews (okay, mostly reviews) and lately (like, pretty much all year) I’ve wanted to do something bookish but not the book review kind of bookish.

My reading life before the blog is a bit of a blur, but it’s been such a positive experience for me.  I get to talk what I’m reading and I’m so much better able at talking about what I’m reading and why I feel the way I do about books.  I feel like I’m better able to pick out books I’ll like and put down the ones I don’t.  I feel like I’m more open to different ways of reading- I feel like I’d try an app like Oyster (or similar apps) and different formats (switching between print, e-book and audio book is no problem now) and even genres that I don’t normally read (which isn’t as often as I want it to be).  I feel like I’m more aware of what I’m reading, and am more open to reading things outside of my reading comfort zone, even though I have a tendency to go for what I know I like, instead of truly making an effort to diversify my reading.  I’m more likely to check out an author’s other books if I like what I’ve read by them.

I could go on and on about how much my reading life has changed because of the blog, and I’m hoping to talk about all of these things and more.  There are so many things I want to talk about, but I have a tendency to get scared about sharing my opinions. I’ve started so many posts that I end up deleting because I’m worried that what I’m trying to get across isn’t coming out right or that I’ll come across as stupid (or some combination of the two).  Sometimes, I don’t chime in, because other people have (and have said it much better than I can) or because I’m not sure what my opinion is.  And often, it’s because I feel like I don’t have anything to add to the conversation.  But I really want to get over that, and I feel like this new feature will help with that.

Another big reason why I’ve wanted to do something like this is some of the things that came up in a recent Top Ten Tuesday list where we shared some bookish/book blogger confessions.  I talked about how I feel guilty for not doing more discussion posts but I also shared how I wanted to do some non-review posts.  That post has really motivated me to get this feature going, because one thing that came to mind while working on that post was how I really do want to start talking about other book-related topics, and how I want to get over my fear of being a bit more open.

I also think it would be interesting to go back and look at it in a few years to see how much things have changed.  And I have so many ideas for what I could talk about- like not finishing books or what I think about series and or movie adaptations or even fun bookish events like when I went to a book launch party for The Kiss Of Deception.  Or even what I think of any adaptations, like The Giver (which I’m seeing this weekend) and If I Stay, which I plan on seeing next weekend.

Now I’m actually get really excited about it!  I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting the Book Talk posts, but for now, it’ll probably be once or twice a month.  Maybe more, but it depends on how chatty I’m feeling.

Book Review: Conversion

Conversion CoverBook: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Published July 2014 by Putnam Juvenile|402 pages

Where I Got It/Format: a print copy from Barnes & Noble

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller with a splash of historical fiction

You can find Conversion on goodreads & Katherine Howe on Twitter, Facebook & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prepmeets The Crucible. 

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago…

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

What I Thought:

I really liked Conversion!  What’s really interesting about Conversion is that it’s inspired by a real-life event- one that seems vaguely familiar.

I really liked the progression of what caused the Mystery Illness- from a reaction to the HPV vaccine, to weird symptoms that pop up after having strep throat to possibly Tourette’s to environmental concerns before the actually diagnosed conversion disorder.  I liked how everything came together, but there were times I got really frustrated at the characters and some of the events!

I’m actually really curious as to how the school nurse became the spokesperson for St. Joan’s.  That’s really how it came across, and while I understand her role in things, given she’s a nurse and there’s this mysterious illness, it also got to the point where it seemed really odd.  Weren’t there other school officials who could make statements?  Then again…she also seemed to be approached to write a book about what was going on, and as the book went on, someone would come out as the one writing a tell-all book about the odd goings on at this school.

The characters and some of the events are definitely are predictable- from the school nurse to the concerned parent making appearances on local news stations threatening to take action if the school doesn’t figure it out to the parent to the upper school dean getting fired.  Actually, the dean getting fired made me angry!  I get someone had to get fired in the wake of things taking months to get figured out, and someone had to be blamed, but it’s horrible that someone had to get fired.

There was one point in the book (where the environmental factors were brought up), where I seriously stopped reading, looked at the book, and wondered this: “Seriously?  Where are we, Night Vale?”  Some of the parents reported a glow coming from the athletic fields…and I know it’s ripped from the headlines and all, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the glow cloud has a distant relative in Danvers.

I’m not trying to make light of what these students went through, and I get how concerned the parents are.  I know it’s frustrating that they didn’t get the answers they wanted in the way they wanted.  It just brings up so many questions and thoughts for me.  At what point do we stop blaming the school, and at what point do we start going to the Department of Public Health for help on figuring this out?  Why is the school nurse the one who’s appearing on t.v., and why didn’t the school seem to be the ones bringing in experts?

More importantly: what about the pressure we put on ourselves, to the point that we exhibit physical symptoms?  It makes me sad that these girls are under so much pressure and stress themselves out to the point that they lose their hair and have verbal tics and can’t walk and swallow pins but can’t remember swallowing them in the first place.

As far as the Salem Village interludes, I wasn’t sure about it at first.  It’s one of those things that become really clear by the end of the book, and I liked the parallel because two events- one several hundred years in the past, and one that happened recently. It’s strange how looking back, it seems crazy and that in the 1690’s, it really was seen as witchcraft/the devil’s work.  And how several hundred years later, mystery symptoms start appearing, and parents are sure that something is physically wrong with their daughters.  To a certain extent, it was, but in the book, the physical symptoms were a manifestation of stress.  I thought she did great at showing how time and technology can change things.

Let’s Rate It:

I have so many more thoughts about Conversion, but this review is a lot longer than I ever expected it to be! My thoughts are still sort of scattered and all over the place, but I really liked Conversion.  There were times when I expected more connections between Salem and Danvers, and there were a couple things that I wish were explored more that felt a little glossed over, but overall, it’s a really interesting read.  Conversion gets 4 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read

Today is all about books we’re not sure we want to read!  Sometimes, you want to read something, but you’re not quite sure about it for a number of reasons.  Hopefully, I’m not the only one who’s unsure about some of the books on our TBR-pile!

  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is one of the first books that came to mind.  So many people love it that I’m really scared to read it for fear I’ll be the weirdo who doesn’t like it.  (Especially since that’s what happened with The Book Thief).
  2. 50 Shades Of Gray is the other book I immediately thought of.  I mean, I want to know what everyone’s talking about, and I also want to form my own opinion about it, and I can’t properly do that if I haven’t given it a try.  But I also have a pretty good idea of public opinion about it, and I don’t want people to think less of me just because it’s something I may or may not read one day.  (I also need to worry less about what people think of my reading choices, but that’s a completely different post).
  3. Pretty much any Cassandra Clare series that’s not The Mortal Instruments series.  I’m enjoying that series, but I’m hesitant to read what seems like an overwhelming number of books set in that world.  I don’t know that I enjoy it enough to give her other books a try (although I’ll probably read the Infernal Devices series since I actually own them), and part of me is already kind of sick of this particular world.
  4. The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard.  Mostly because I’m concerned that it’ll drag on for too long (which is how I felt about Pretty Little Liars) but part of me is intrigued enough to at least read the first on.
  5. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  Partly because I bought it ages ago, and now I’m not sure if I’m intrigued enough to actually read it, but enough people seem to like it that I’m worried it won’t live up to the hype.
  6. Working Stiff by Rachel Caine.  I love her other series, and I’m worried that this will be the one series of her I hate.
  7. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson.  What if I don’t love it the way I love her other books?
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  Actually, I’ve already read it (back in high school), but I’m scared to re-read it! Mostly because re-reading books I read as a kid kind of scares me.
  9. Eleanor And Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I almost forgot to include this one, but I’m also not sure about it!  My biggest reason for not being sure is the hype, and how much people seem to love it (which seems one of the themes for today). And it’s something that makes me really nervous, because then I get disappointed when it doesn’t meet the really high expectations for it.
  10. Just One Day by Gayle Forman.  Like several other books I’ve already talked about, the hype surrounding it makes me unsure about reading.  And I loved If I Stay/Where She Went, and I’m worried I won’t love it like I loved those books (also like some of the other books I’ve talked about).

Gilmore Girls 3×17: A Tale Of Poes And Fire

A Tale Of Poes And Fire originally aired April 15, 2003.  This episode was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Chris Long.

Gilmore Girls Season 3 Graphic

This episode starts off with Rory and Lorelei working on a pro-con list in Luke’s Diner- the pro-con list that will determine which college Rory should go to.  Luke is confused is to why they’re working on a pro-con list when everyone knows it’s going to be Harvard.  Kirk is also selling t-shirts that have a topical headline of stuff he’s seen around town.

The Poe Society is in town, and Jess gets Employee Of The Month At Wal-Mart.  Luke is confused about how Jess is working a 40 hour shift, and after talking with Lorelei, Luke isn’t sure if Jess is going to school- between the diner, Rory and school, how is he picking up so many extra hours?

The Poe Society is having an event at Miss Patty’s studio and there’s a weird vibe in the room.  Lindsay (Dean’s girlfriend) gives Rory weird looks, and Nicole (Luke’s girlfriend) gives Lorelei weird looks.  Lorelei tells Rory that Yale has a good drama department, so that’s a pro for Yale.  Lorelei needs a pen, and ends up borrowing one from Nicole.  Lorelei thinks Lindsay needs to mellow, and Rory points out that Nicole definitely has Lindsay’s attitude.  Miss Patty wants to know why they’re wasting their time on the pro-con lists when everyone knows it’s going to be Harvard. Lorelei says that if it’s Harvard, the lists will reflect that.

Then, Lorelei gets a call in the middle of the night that the Inn caught fire, and she and Rory rush over there.  No one was harmed, but Lorelei promises to make arrangements, and she, Sookie and Michel get things going.  Sookie is cooking for guests at Luke’s, and Michel set up emergency headquarters at Miss Patty’s. The nearby inns are all booked, so some of the townspeople offer up their houses for guests to stay at if they can’t get home.

At Chilton, Rory asks Madeleine and Louise if they’ve heard from Paris, since Paris has missed a few days of school after the meltdown speech.  They didn’t even know Paris was absent, so Rory goes to see Paris, to drop off her assignments.  Paris is in bed, watching soap operas, and knows Rory got into Harvard.  She hasn’t talked to her parents or to Jamie, and knows where she went wrong in her interview.  Being Paris, she recorded the interview, and even plays a clip for Rory.  Rory, by the way, hates that Paris is torturing herself, and starts telling Paris what to do.  Paris says there’s no alternative to Harvard.

Rory and Lorelei are getting Rory’s room for their house guests, and are talking about Rory’s big decision.  Lorelei believes the pro-con lists have changed, and that Yale is where Rory should go.  Rory isn’t done collecting data, and her wall very much says Harvard.  She also knows Lorelei was resistant to Yale, and doesn’t want Lorelei to hate the school she’s going to.  If it’s right for Rory, it’s right for Lorelei.

Some new guests show up at Lorelei’s, so she goes to stay at Luke’s.  We learn that Nicole is sensitive where Lorelei is concerned, because of Luke’s first date with her, where he kept talking about Lorelei.

The next day, Lorelei gets a call, saying that she can get into the inn.  She and Sookie meet Michel and the fire chief at the inn. They go inside to find the inn pretty destroyed.  While you see Michel, Lorelei and Sookie at the inn, Rory is in her room, looking at her Yale wall.

What I Thought:

We finally get Rory’s college decision!  This is easily the most interesting thing in the episode.  I know Harvard is something they’ve wanted a long time, and in particular, Lorelei really seemed to want it.  As a fan of the show, I knew Rory would go to Yale, but this time around, it seemed really obvious that once Yale came up, Rory would be going there.

I thought everyone’s reaction to the pro-con lists to be annoying.  Yes, Rory has talked about Harvard her whole life, but deciding which college to go to is a really big decision!  I actually thought the pro-con lists were an interesting way to think about the good and bad things about each school.  And honestly?  Just because Rory has talked about one school her whole life doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right school for her.  People change, and things change, and sometimes, a school that Rory has talked about her whole life isn’t going to be the right school for her.

As for the inn, which is the other big thing going on…it hit me a lot more this time around.  Especially in contrast to Rory’s decision…and it really got me emotionally.  The scene at the very end, where you know Rory’s going to Yale, and where Lorelei is in the middle of the lobby…I have no idea how to explain how it made me feel.  I definitely felt like Rory’s story had a new beginning, while things at the Inn are up in the air.

I also wanted to touch on the Lindsay/Nicole stuff for a second.  I get why Nicole is sensitive where Lorelei is concerned, because it is a very Luke thing to talk about another woman (especially one who is not a relative) on a date with someone. And I did get this vibe that maybe Lindsay and Nicole (okay, definitely Nicole) feel threatened by Rory and Lorelei.  I know Rory’s moved on with Jess, but…she was with Dean for a long time, so maybe there’s something going on there that we don’t see.

Favorite Line:

Courtesy of Michel: “I’m looking for my cyanide capsule, have you seen it?”

Pop Culture:

Edgar Allen Poe, Trekkies, Gumby

Let’s Rate It:

Overall, I liked this episode.  It definitely resolved the college decision, while starting an issue with the inn, leaving it’s future up in the air.  I didn’t love it, but it’s what I’ve come to expect for pretty much any Gilmore Girls episode.  This episode gets 3 mugs of coffee.

Book Review: What I Thought Was True

What I Thought Was True CoverBook: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Published April 2014 by Dial Books|410 pages

Where I Got It: It’s the hardcover from Barnes And Noble!

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

You can find What I Thought Was True on goodreads & Huntley Fitzpatrick on Twitter, Facebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

What I Thought:

After loving My Life Next Door, I was really looking foward to What I Thought Was True.  I was expecting to love it, but sadly, I’m wavering being it being okay, and liking it.

Fitzpatrick does sleepy, coastal beach town really well.  She also does the class divides really well.  She does a great job at writing a novel set during the summer, by the beach.  My Life Next Door had these things, and What I Thought Was True (WITWT) had these elements.  I think it might be her thing, and she does it well.

But I thought the story was slightly confusing.  Everything between Cass and Gwen still makes no sense to me.  You know something happened between them, and she keeps thinking about the summer when they were 8.  All you get is snippets scattered throughout the book, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what on earth happened between them for her to initially have a lot of issues with him spending the summer in Seashell.  I honestly felt like I was missing something, because she kept referring to past mistakes that you saw in bits and pieces.  And so I felt really disconnected from the story, because I had no idea what she was referring to most of the time.

You do get little flashbacks, but they felt really random and out of the blue, because there was no way to differentiate the flashbacks from what was presently going on.

To further add to the confusion, I could never figure out what was going on with her family.  It seemed like her parents were married, but living in different houses.  She lives with her grandpa, her cousin, her younger brother and her mom, but I could never figure out what was going on with her parents- her dad has a house, and it’s clear they have financial issues, and have to pool their resources for when it’s not tourist season.  But it’s never clearly explained what’s going on with her parents.  And as for her cousin Nico, it’s quite a few chapters in before you learn that Nico is living with them because his parents suck.

Overall, the story felt really disjointed because things are hinted at but never explained outright.  Instead, you get things in snippets and flashbacks, and I kept waiting for a big revelation that never came.

I didn’t really get the romance.  It was not really there, and Cass and Gwen just didn’t work for me as a potential couple.  I’m not sure how I feel about Gwen as a character- she was funny at times, but she didn’t seem to learn from her mistakes.  Then again, she’s young, and maybe it’s just not clicking for her.

Let’s Rate It:

I’m really torn on my feelings about What I Thought Was True.  On the one hand, it was really disjointed and I spent a lot of the book confused about what was going on.  At the same time, I liked that class divides and sleepy, coastal touristy beach town during the summer really shone.  What I Thought Was True gets 3 stars- I did bump it a star, even if I’m hesitant to do so because Fitzpatrick does the sleepy East Coast beach town so well.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Princess Bride

Books I Couldn’t Finish is a very sporadic feature where I talk about the books I couldn’t finish.

Today’s book is The Princess Bride, which I was going to include in my last Books I Couldn’t Finish post.  I decided not to (well, clearly, because it is its own post) because 1- that post was getting a bit lengthy, and 2- I actually have some things to say about why I couldn’t finish it, so it definitely warranted its own post.

The Princess Bride CoverWhat’s It About?

The Princess Bride is a true fantasy classic. William Goldman describes it as a “good parts version” of “S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.” Morgenstern’s original was filled with details of Florinese history, court etiquette, and Mrs. Morgenstern’s mostly complimentary views of the text. Much admired by academics, the “Classic Tale” nonetheless obscured what Mr. Goldman feels is a story that has everything: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”

Why I Couldn’t Finish It:

First, I have to start off why I read it.  It was basically a required reading that some friends “assigned” to me back in May, and since I’ll read pretty much anything someone recommends, I figured I’d at least try it.

And promptly failed.  I did give it a good effort, and actually kept going a bit longer than I really wanted to.  I really wanted to like it, especially since it’s a favorite of one friend.  And actually, I’ve seen it on a bunch of Top Ten Tuesdays, so that was another reason why I wanted to read it.

The biggest problem is that I’ve seen the movie.  I actually didn’t know there was a book.  I don’t remember how I found out there was a book, but somehow I did.

Seeing the movie isn’t a problem.  Well, normally, it’s not a problem.  I try to see the movie first and then read the book whenever possible.  That did not work with The Princess Bride.  I haven’t seen the movie in forever, but I found that a lot of the book made it into the movie.  I kept picturing the movie whenever I was reading the book.  I just found myself skimming…and skimming…and skimming to get to the parts that I didn’t remember from the movie.  I dreaded picking up, and pretty much had to force myself into reading it.  I was bored…and I had my moments where I was wondering why I was reading the book when I had seen the movie- to me, that’s how closely they matched.  The two did seem identical, but please take that with a grain of salt, as I haven’t seen the movie in a while.  But that really is how it seemed to me.

And…the book really seemed like it came after the movie, so I was quite surprised to learn that the movie was based on the book.  To me, it read like a cute tie-in.  Like, with the t.v. show Castle.  Now, I don’t watch Castle, but I remember something about an actual book written by the fictional character.  Or even Meg Cabot writing a romance novel as Mia Thermopolis. That’s kind of the feel I got from the book- let’s write the book the grandpa was reading in the movie.  And it’s not a bad thing at all, that’s just my impression of what I read.

I will say that I like the idea of the book- a guy hunting down his favorite childhood book and re-writing it so that only the good parts are in the book.  It’s an interesting way to tell a story, but I could have done without the side-notes.  And, I kind of hate to say this (but not really) but The Princess Bride worked so much better as a movie than a book.

To Sum Up:

The Princess Bride didn’t work as a book for me, and I think the structure of it worked better in the movie than in the book. Even though I couldn’t get into, I’m still glad I gave it a try.

Book Review: Tarnish

Tarnish CoverBook: Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Published June 2913 by Penguin|334 pages

Where I Got It: the Nook store

Series: None, but it’s set in the same world as Gilt and Brazen

Genre: YA Historical Fiction- Tudor England

You can find Tarnish on goodreads and Katherine Longshore on Twitter, Facebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court–and to convince the whole court they’re lovers–she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice–but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.

What I Thought:

After reading Gilt a couple years ago and really liking it, I knew that I would really like Tarnish.  Which I did!

Tarnish focuses on Anne Boleyn, well before she gets involved with Henry VIII.  Which was actually really refreshing, since so much out there seems to focus on her time with him.  I really liked seeing Anne as a teen, and her time at court, especially since she’s newly arrived at the English court after coming over from France. Knowing how everything ends for Anne made Tarnish so much more interesting, because I feel like it starts at such a good place for Anne, and how she became the woman she was.

I thought Longshore did such a great job at showing how Anne really was a product of her time, and how marriage really was her only choice…and that her marriage prospects grew dimmer, because of some decisions she made.  I did like how her relationship with Thomas Wyatt progressed, and that it went much deeper than anyone else seemed to realize.  I think it allowed Anne to figure out what she really wanted, and how much more confident she was by the end of the book.

The family dynamics of the Boleyn family were really interesting in Tarnish.  I don’t typically think of her family, and how her relationship with them shaped her, but through her relationships with her sister, brother and father, you that some of what Anne has done has been influenced by them.  Her sister being the mistress to the king likely had a big impact on Anne’s relationship with Henry, and you have to wonder if that’s why she held out for so long with him.  I’m still not sure how her brother or father influenced Anne as a person, but by the end of the book, you start to see hints of how manipulative Anne could be.

I loved how Henry’s court was portrayed, and how much innocent flirtation there was.  One thing that I noticed in Gilt- which also really came through in Tarnish- was that Longshore took some liberties with history while creating this world and story that seemed really accurate.  She has a way of writing about people we all know and showing how complicated they really are, while making them easy to relate to.  I felt like I was transported back to Tudor England and dropped right in the center of Anne’s world.  I also really liked the author’s note at the end of the book, explaining where she got her inspiration and why she wrote the story the way she did.

Let’s Rate It:

I didn’t fall in love with Tarnish, but I really liked that Tarnish focused on a teenage Anne Boleyn who was insecure.  I also liked that it was at the very beginnings of what would be her relationship with Henry VIII. Tarnish gets 4 stars.