Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: I was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison, illustrated by Susan Hellard

Description (from Goodreads):
When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip and romance that Jane inhabits. But Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship, and when Jenny falls utterly in love with the dashing Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this most eligible of men?

My thoughts: The reader is introduced to Jane Austen's cousin Jenny Cooper who is a little older than Jane. The book begins with the girls going into a boarding school in which Jane has got ill. In order to get Jane out of the school to home to get better Jenny has to leave the school during the night and wonder in nightly South Hampton where she meets Captain Thomas Williams which who she falls in love right at the first moment even though she does not know it then.

Jane and Jenny are taken away from the horrible boarding school to Steventon parsonage, to the home of Jane Austen. There Jenny gets to meet Jane's siblings, from which at least Henry gets a lot of attention from Jenny and Jenny gets it back from Henry. But with Captain Thomas Williams in her thoughts she cannot concentrate on any other men. And all the time she also has to worry about the fact that Captain Williams is the one who can destroy her reputation by telling what happened at South Hampton. Will Jenny get her Captain Williams or will she be ruined? Find out by reading this wonderful YA novel by Cora Harrison.

From the moment I heard about this book I was interested about it. Since I love Jane Austen and Young Adult fiction I knew this would be the perfect mixture for me. Some parts of the book are fiction, some true. Jenny Cooper really was a cousin of Jane Austen. Her name was really Jane but the author changed it to Jenny in order to make a distiction between Jane and Jenny. There are not much reported information about Jenny, so the author has really got free access to make up a character. It is know that she fell in love with Captain Thomas Williams and eventually they married. 

I really liked this book since the reader really gets to know what Jenny thinks about situations of her life since the book is written in a diary format. There are some nice illustrations in the book made by Susan Hellard which really add a nice mix to the story. The lively characters, especially Jane Austen, made me laugh. This book makes you just want to fall in love for the first time again. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: Love Letter of Great Men and Women by Ursula Doyle (editor)

Description (from Goodreads):
From the private papers of Jane Austen and Mozart to those of Anne Boleyn and Nelson, "Love Letters of Great Men and Women" collects together some of the most romantic letters in history. For some of these great men, love is a 'delicious poison' (William Congreve); for others, 'a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music' (Charles Darwin). Love can scorch like the heat of the sun (Henry-VIII), or penetrate the depths of one's heart like a cooling rain (Flaubert). But what about the other side of the story? What of the secret hopes and lives of some of the greatest women in history? Taken together, these love letters show that perhaps little has changed over the last 2,000 years. Passion, jealousy, hope and longing are all represented here - as is the simple pleasure of sending a letter to, and receiving one from, the person you love most. This title includes letters by: Anne Boleyn; Beethoven; Edith Wharton; Mark Twain; Mary Wordsworth; Nell Gwyn (mistress of Charles-II); Elizabeth Barrett Browning; GK Chesterton; Queen Victoria; Napoleon Bonaparte; The Empress Josephine; Mary Wollstonecraft; Amadeus Mozart; and, Katherine Mansfield.

My thoughts: First of all, I just want to note that this book does not include love letters by Jane Austen even though the description says so. But even though I always love some Austen, this book was pretty good without it. 

Since I watched the Sex and the City movie I've been wanting to buy one of those love letter books there are in the bookstores. When I was hanging around at the Waterstone's at London I found this one and had to buy it since it looked so good. And I am happy I did since this was delightful, a lot different read. I don't really read that much of nonfiction and I think this was actually the first letter book I've ever read. 

The fact that these letters were actually written by someone is amazing. Some of the letters are so full of emotion, especially love. I just wish I could receive letters like the letters in this book. My favorites were the letters by John Keats, Lord Byron and Amadeus Mozart. From my favorites it is evident that I enjoyed more that part with letters from men to women even though the both parts of the book were good.

If you are looking for a light non-fiction read, this book is a perfect pick for you. And I never thought reading old letters could be that interesting. I have this book called "800 years of women's letters" or something like that in my bookshelf and I think I will pick it up soon. And I also have Jane Austen's collected letters which I haven't read yet. 

I know there are many different collections of love letters at bookstores and since I haven't read any other ones I cannot compare this to anything. But I think that the variety of the type of letters and the variety of writers made this an interesting read.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman

Description (from Goodreads):
With Roz and Eva everything becomes a contest—who can snag the best role in the school play, have the cutest boyfriend, pull off the craziest prank. Still, they’re as close as sisters can be. Until Eva deletes Roz from her life like so much junk e-mail for no reason that Roz understands. Now Eva hangs out with the annoyingly petite cheerleaders, and Roz fantasizes about slipping bovine growth hormone into their Gatorade.

Roz has a suspicion about Eva. In turn, Eva taunts Roz with a dare, which leads to an act of total insanity. Drama geeks clamor for attention, Shakespearean insults fly, and Roz steals the show in Lauren Bjorkman’s hilarious debut novel.

My thoughts: The description of this book sounds so good. So why did not I like it? I was so excited to read this one, I kept it to be the last one I read from the 3 books I received from Lenore. I really thought that this one would be the best of those three books. But no. I was extremely disappointed with this book. I read it for about 1 month, always putting it back to the shelf and picking up another book. It was just so hard to finish this one.

The reader is introduced to Roz and Eva, sisters who apparently were close before. Now Eva has started to hang around with cheerleaders and Roz's best friend has moved to other city. Eva has a boyfriend call Bryan, who has also catched Roz's attention. It is not the first time that Roz is in love with someone who goes out with Eva. She has dated at least two previous boyfriends of Eva.

Roz starts to think that Eva is a lesbian when she finds a book telling a story of two girls falling in love from Eva's room. Roz becomes really curious since she sees that if Eva is lesbian, she herself can start to go out with Bryan. But Eva denies everything and Roz decided to tell everyone that she herself is lesbian to show for Eva that it is okay to be different. What I really disliked about this book was this whole "lets pretend I am a lesbian" thing. No one really believes that Roz is lesbian but she just keeps "acting" that role and it gets really annoying. She really does not know what she wants which makes this book an annoying read. Her thoughts just jump from one to another and it is hard to follow what happens in the story.

I normally like a story in which I can identify with at least a little with one of the main characters. While reading this book it was extremely hard, even impossible to do. Roz tries to be funny, but is not, and Eva is just this angsty teen who spends most of her time locked in her room. Both of the sisters don't know what they want to be and they search themselves by all weird ways.

The thing is that I really wanted to like this book. I stopped reading it for a while in the hopes that I would like it when I go back to it. But no, I want to be honest with my opinion and say that I really did not enjoy this one at all. But if you have this in your shelf, you should give it a try, maybe you might like it. There were nothing I could identify with in this book and I did not feel any sympathy for the characters of anything, so I really did not get into the story.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

Description (from Shelfari):
Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . . Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it's still hard for her to believe it. She'll never be able to forget, even though she's trying to lead a normal life--she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice's past is dangerous, and violent, and sad . . . and it's about to rip her new life apart. A gripping and emotionally searing novel by accomplished British author Anne Cassidy, Looking for JJ infuses a terrifying subject with humanity and hope.

My thoughts: I randomly picked this up last Friday from the closest library from my home. It was literally the only young adult book in English they had in their shelves. Since the description sounded somewhat interesting I decided to give it a try. I started to read it already at the library while I waited for my mom. I was so into the book that I did not notice that the time was flying and it was already time to close the library. Luckily my mom works in the library so I did not get into any problems since I was still sitting in the chair reading the book when my mom switched the lights off and locked the doors so no more customers could come in.

At the beginning of the book the reader is introduced to Alice Tully, a 17 year old girl. It seems like she is just like any other 17 year old girl; working in a cafe shop, dreaming about university and dating a guy from one of the schools of the town. But Alcie has something she has to hide, something she is not proud about.

At the beginning of the book we are also intoduced to JJ, Jennifer Jones who is one of the girls associated with the Berwick Water scandal; three girls left the cottages at Berwick Waters to go to the reservation-- only two of them came back. Alice has an obsession about Jennifer Jones since Alice also knows what happened that day at Berwick Waters. Maybe Alice and Jennifer have something in common? Maybe Jennifer is closer than most people would think she is?

I really liked this book. It was something different I've read before. The story builds up and the reader is kept of the cliff. You just need to keep reading. From page to page you learn something new about Alice and Jennifer and what really happened. I really suggest this book to fans of Young Adult Fiction and mystery.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Review: Miles to Go by Miley Cyrus

Description (from Goodreads):
Three years ago, Miley Cyrus was a virtual unknown. Her life in rural Tennessee was filled with family, friends, school, cheerleading, and the daily tasks of living on a farm. And then came a little show called Hannah Montana.

Almost overnight, Miley would rocket to superstardom, becoming a television and singing phenomenon. Quiet days were replaced with sold-out concerts, television appearances, and magazine shoots. But through it all, Miley has remained close to her family and friends and has stayed connected to the Southern roots that made her so strong.

In Miles to Go, Miley offers an honest, humorous, and often touching story of one girl's coming-of-age—from private moments with her pappy to off-roading with her dad, Billy Ray, to her run-ins with mean girls. Miley talks about suffering through drama and heartbreak and coming out the other end unscathed (relatively). And now for the first time, she will discuss it all-the milestones still left to reach (driver's license! voting!), dreams to live out (travel to Asia! find true love!), and the lessons to be learned (remembernig to enjoy every moment!).

This is a truly unique look inside the world of one of today's biggest and brightest star as she tackles looking back and moving forward.

My thoughts: When I noticed that the library of my city had a copy of this book I decided that I want to read it, just out of interest. I became quite familiar with Miley Cyrus while I lived in States. For a 10 months I lived in a same house with two little girls who basically worshipped Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. I watched the show with them daily and LOVED IT! So funny, you don't have to think anything while watching it.

I did not have a lot of expectations towads this book. I must say that I was pretty suprised from the outcome. I've never been the biggest fan on Miley Cyrus but reading this book really opened my eyes in some sense and I started to respect her more. She was only 12, if I remember right, when she got the part of Hannah Montana and in a short time came to be known in the whole world. I would have never been ready for something like that in age of 12. But she had a dream, something she knew she really wants to do more than anything and she did everything to achieve it. I always believed that she got famous only because of her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, but while reading this book I discovered that she actually did several auditions for the role of Hannah Montana and that her father was not involved in any way.

In the this book Miley also discusses her first love to "prince charming" (I would guess this prince charming is Nick Jonas from Jonas Brothers). I liked the fact that she did not address this Prince Charming by his real name, she just tells what she felt towards him and why he was (and still is) such an important person to her. Miley also tells about the hell she went through in middle school and tells about her family in such a positive light. She really must love her family A LOT.

After reading this book I understood that deep down, she is also a young girl who just wants to hang around with her family and friends. She does not feel ashamed for her faith to God, which I really feel respect for. I am not religious myself, sometimes I wish I could be, but I really respect people who are proud of their faith and beliefs. Miles to Go by Miley Cyrus is a great book about a ordinary girl who with a hard work achieves something she has been dreaming about since she was a little girl.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Review: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Description (from Goodreads):
Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

My thoughts: You can imagine how happy I was when I noticed this book on the bookshelf at Waterstone's last Thursday. Finding this book totally made that Thursday one of the best days ever. First Macbeth at Globe and then finding this from Waterstone's. I couldn't wait to get back to the hostel to spend rest of the night with this book. I was rushing my friends to get out of our room for a while so I can start reading.

Since I heard about this book last year I had waited to read it. And I must say that I really enjoyed it. Carrie is my favorite character in Sex and The City after Samantha and it was great to read about her as a teenage. The best thing is that the book is written my the same author than the original Sex and The City so I really got this image that Bushnell has thought all of these things already when creating Carrie for the first time.

Carrie Bradshaw is a senior at High School. She has lost her mother and lives with her father and two younger sisters. She dreams about a career as writer. She has been writing since she was a little kid, but still she feels really insecure about her writing. Her father, a scientist, has always hoped that Carrie would also become a scientist, but Carrie knows that it is something she really does not want to do.

High school. Everyone knows what problems it brings up. Guys. Mean girls. Laying and cheating. Broken hearts. New beginnings. Revenge. Finding out who your real friends are. During her serior year Carrie has to experience a lot. She falls in love and gets disappointed. She loses her best friend. She learns something about her old friends. She gets new changes. Eventually she gets to New York City, the place she has been dreaming about.

This book was funny, witty and really entertaining. Just like Carrie Bradshaw. It got better and better towards the end. I especially loved the conclusion of the book. At least Goodreads description says that there will be a second Carrie Diaries book. If that is true, I cannot wait for it since the end of this book really suggests that something great is going to happen in the second book at least one of Carrie's friends we all know so well would be introduced to us.