Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: College Girls (Sweet Valley University, #1) by Francine Pascal

Description (from Goodreads):
In this first story of the Sweet Valley University series the twins and their friends begin their lives as college students. 

My thoughts:
When I was younger I religiously read "Sweet Valley High" novels. I remember going to the library and borrowing 10 of them for a weekend to read. At that time I did not understand to put books and Internet together, so I never heard about "Sweet Valley University" series. Other reason for that might be that they have not been translated to Finnish.

In the first book of Sweet Valley University series the familiar character from SVH are again introduced to us. Wakefield twins, Jessica and Elizabeth are on their way to SVU to begin their first year of university. Elizabeth's boyfriend Todd is also going to attend the same university along with Elizabeth's best friend Enid and Winston. 

When they get to SVU Elizabeth notices that things have changed a lot from the high school years. Enid has changed her name to Alexandra and she has decided she won't be a sidekick for Elizabeth like she was in high school. Todd is busy with university athletics and Elizabeth feels that he is pushing her to a stage in their relationship she is not yet ready to take. Jessica is running around the campus looking for guys and Winston has joined a group of guys from a sorority. Elizabeth notices that she is really alone, and she feels like she is actually the only one who is studying and not partying 24/7. 

I think finding about these series came at the right time for me. I am going to attend university next fall, so it was interesting to read something which fits into a university environment. I was able to identify with Elizabeth because I feel like I will be like her in university; I am not much of a party girl, so I won't spend that much time partying etc. as I know that some students will. 

I really liked this book, and it sucks I was not able to find the second book from anywhere (well, from Amazon, but the shipping to Finland costs so much). My friend had the third book, so maybe I just go straight into that.

Actually, you can help me. Do you know any books which are set into university? I was trying to think of some, but I did not get any into my mind.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Description (from Goodreads):
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
From the Publisher (Penguin)

My thoughts:
The day Clay receives the Hannah Bakes tapes is not like any day before in his life. And no of the days after that will be the same.

Clay has had a crush of Hannah for years. But because of this shyness his chances with Hannah are on the past now. And there is only one reason for that. Hannah killed herself. But before her suicide she recorded 13 tapes explaining why she took her life away. The tapes are sent to the people who made the list. When Clay gets the tapes and listens to the first tape, he gets to know that he is one reason why Hannah did what she did. 

The story is told through Hannah's tapes and Clay's thoughts. Having these two very different narrators gives a nice, interesting twist to the book. Hannah has been hurt and disappointed. When Clay receives the tapes he is hurt too. And scared. He cannot understand why he is on Hannah's tapes. 

The style Jay Asher uses in this book builds suspense and you just have to keep reading and reading. Some events are foreshadowed which makes the reader want to know more about events which eventually are explained with more detail. Hannah's tapes are disturbing, but what I really like about them is the honesty. And as my Finnish teacher said; If a novel does not make you disturbed/fall in love/emotional etc. the writer has not really succeeded in his/her work. In that area, Asher has succeeded extremely well. I think "Thirteen Reasons Why" tells about very important, and in a way, taboo issue. I recommend "Thirteen Reasons Why" to readers of all age (but maybe not under 13 because of the issue and some disturbing images). 

I promire this book will stay in your mind for weeks after reading it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Description (by Goodreads):
A big success in hardcover, this novel by New York Times bestselling author of Princess Academy is sure to find a new and substantial audience in paperback.
Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man—perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

My thoughts:

My thoughs after reading the first pages of this novel: "DOES THIS SCARELY SOUNDS LIKE MY LIFE?!?!?!?!??!?!" I showed those pages to my friends as well and the thing was quite evident "Milka, this girl in this book is like you". So I must say that all the way from the beginning, I loved this novel.

Jane lives in New York City. She has been in several relationships but no of them has been something she has looking for since her teenage ages; love like Darcy and Elizabeth's from Pride and Prejudice. Her obsession to Mr. Darcy makes her embarrassed; she hides her BBC Pride and Prejudice adaptation with Colin Firth to different places in her apartment and tries to deny her obsession. But without success. When Jane's wealthy relative dies she testaments a holiday in England for Jane. Jane takes the holiday as a change to end her obsession. She promises herself that after the holiday she will forget her obsession and start to live her life without looking back to Pride and Prejudice. 

When Jane, who has always dreamed about life in Regency England, is whisked into it in this weird English resort she realizes that maybe the life and men of Jane Austen aren't exactly like they are put on the pages of the novels. Is the face Regency house with actors playing different Regency people something that will end Jane's obsession for good? Or will it be something which introduces her to her own Mr. Darcy?

What Jane experiences in this novel is something I want to experience as well. I am still young, but I feel that already my obsession to Mr. Darcy and other Austen men take me apart from many guys my age and bit older. And I have noticed that what I look for in guys is the same elements Darcy, Edmund Bertram and e.g. Mr. Knigtley have. Many times I have heard from my friends that "you have been born a couple hundred years too late". Reading this novel made me want to read and watch everything Austen-y once again, for like the 100th time. By reading this book I was able to say, once again, that there is nothing better than Jane Austen. She is simply amazing. 

I recommend this one to EVERYONE. To the ones who already love Jane Austen. To those unfortunate ones who have not yet been introduced to Jane Austen but who are ready to fall in love. This novel had everything I was looking for; Austen, humor, love, romance, happy ending... Shannon Hale is currently writing some type of sequel/prequel/attachment to this book. I am very curious to see what Hale will do in that novel and how she will continue to delight the lovers of Jane Austen including me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay

Description (from Goodreads):
Marriage of convenience or a love for life? It's 1732 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and strong-willed Jess van Sandt knows only too well that it s a man's world. She believes she's being swindled out of her inheritance by her stepfather and she's determined to stop it. When help appears in the unlikely form of handsome Scotsman Killian Kinross, himself disinherited by his grandfather, Jess finds herself both intrigued and infuriated by him. In an attempt to recover her fortune, she proposes a marriage of convenience. Then Killian is offered the chance of a lifetime with the Swedish East India Company's Expedition and he's determined that nothing will stand in his way, not even his new bride. He sets sail on a daring voyage to the Far East, believing he's put his feelings and past behind him. But the journey doesn't quite work out as he expects...

My thoughts:
A novel set in Sweden... This probably was the first one I have ever read. As a Finn, I probably should not say this, but I am completely ignorant when it comes to Swedish language or history. So the accuracy of the historical facts in the novel; I believe them to be right since I do not have any factual knowledge about that.

Jess is a strong willed heroine living in Sweden with her mother and step-father. Jess father started a traiding company, but now, after his father's death, Jess believes her inheritance is tried to be swindled away from her. Jess also hates her step father and is pretty sure he turns all her suitors away so he does not have to pay the dowry for the coming suitors. Then here is Killian. A handsome gambler from Scotland. Jess does not really know what to think about Killian; she is both intrigued and infuriated. In order to recover her fortune, she proposes a marriage of convience. What either Killian nor Jess understand is that they are the perfect match.

What I liked about this story was the fact that it took place in different places. To be honest, the whole Swedish thing did not sound very good to me at the beginning, but I was positively surprised about those parts. Some action also happens in Scotland, which I saw as very interesting because I am probably moving there next year. So reading something about 1700's Scotland was interesting. Then there is a sea voyage to China, which must have been long and dull during the 1700s.

Other thing I really liked was the fact that Jess and Killian just don't magically fall in love. It takes time and they both need to do decisions and fight to get to the point where they realize that they love each other.

I am not really a big fan of historical romance, but I think that the ones that like that type of books will love this one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Description (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey
dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in
town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

My thoughts:

This is one of those novels I wanted to read because of the fact that some of my favorite book bloggers had hyped about this. I actually went as far as making a request for the local library to order this one in English (I don't know is the going to be a Finnish translation...)

Lennie and Bailey. Bailey and Lennie. 
When Lennie suddenly loses her big sister Bailey her whole world feels like it is crashing down. They have been seen together forever, and Bailey has been the one Lennie has been able to trust in everything. What will Lennie do now when she feels like she has lost a part of herself?

Toby. Bailey's boyfriend, who knows something Lennie does not. When Toby and Lennie start to spend time together, they notice that when they are together, they can feel Bailey's presence. But their friendship turns out to be something more when they both, under grief, try to get help for the grieving process. 

Joe. A new boy in town. An amazing musician who has moved from Paris. Joe's long eyelashes, outlook and musical talent catch Lennie's attention, and as their relationship develops, Lennie notices, that when she is with Joe, she does not feel grief over Bailey.

Lennie is between two guys; Toby who feels as she does and Joe, with who she is completely in love with. What happens if Joe finds out about the weird connection between Lennie and Toby?

I really liked this novel even though it wasn't as good as I expected it to be. I liked Lennie as a character, but at points she just really annoyed me. I don't know how to explain why. If I need to state my favorite character, I would say Joe, since he seems to fill most of the traits of my dream guy. 

What I really liked about this book was the little notes written my Lennie. Those really told something about Lennie as a character and in that way I was able to get into the story better. As the goodreads synopsis says, if you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, I bet you would like this one as well. 

"The Sky is Everywhere" is a beautiful and effective debut novel which will leave you thinking about loss, love and second chances.