A BOOK : Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

Breakfast Served Anytime
by Sarah Combs
Published April 2014

When Gloria sets out to spend the summer before her senior year at a camp for gifted and talented students, she doesn’t know quite what to expect. Fresh from the heartache of losing her grandmother and missing her best friend, Gloria resolves to make the best of her new circumstances. But some things are proving to be more challenging than she expected. Like the series of mysterious clues left by a certain Professor X before he even shows up to teach his class, Secrets of the Written Word. Or the very sweet, but very conservative, roommate whose coal-industry family champions mountaintop removal. Not to mention the obnoxious Mason, who dresses like the Mad Hatter and immediately gets on Gloria’s nerves — but somehow won’t escape her thoughts.

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

This is one of those titles that really show me the power of blogging and sharing books. Wayyy back in April I read GRead’s post raving about Breakfast Served Anytime and since then this book has been sitting on my mental “READ THIS ASAP” list. FINALLY, I did.

And I’m really glad.

Breakfast Served Anytime is seriously one big emotional treat. Soon to be senior Gloria is at Geek camp for the summer and is at the cusp of trying to figure out where to go next in life. Should she go to New York with her best friend and try to become an actress as they had originally planned? Or should she stay in boring old Kentucky because she will be getting a really good scholarship? And of course, just because you have your eyes on the future doesn’t mean every day life stops. There are still infuriating boys to deal with, surprising friendships, and  trying to figure out your stance on the world.

This book largely exists in Gloria’s head, and as a result, I feel like it is a ball of EMOTION. She is gloriously sentimental and nostalgic. I think that is what stuck out to me the most, especially as an adult reading this. There are times when she seems to love the moment she is in so much, that she starts to fret about when it will be over. I get that. I really, really get that.

And that is pretty much the sum of my experience reading Breakfast Served Anytime. I kept saying, “I understand. I get that.” It’s one of those books that is very unique in some ways, and because of that it I can see this as very divisive emotionally. It’s either “I get that!” or “What the heck is she on about?”

Bonus: There is something really enjoyable about reading about someone that isn’t afraid to love things. Gloria loves things passionately and shares that love. She loves her dad, she loves the anticipation before things, she loves reading, she loves To Kill a Mockingbird, she loves music, and so many other things. One of my favorite quotes about reading:

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes you can love a book not so much because of what it’s about or what happens in it, but because it belongs to a certain time or person in your life- like you’ll always remember where you were when you read it for the first time, or who gave it to you, or what season it was, or who you were before you read it and how you were different when it was over.”

So for those looking for a quieter book about interacting with the world and change and growing up or for those looking for a young adult novel that strongly stands on its own, you should check out Breakfast Served Anytime.

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads

A BOOK: The F-It List

Hello!

I saw Frozen yesterday (on Saturday) and it was fannnnntastic. Everyone that I know (well, almost) kept telling me how much I would love it. I went in worried that my high expectations would not be met, but they were exceeded. This weekend I also finally finished reading…

The F-It List by Julie Halpern
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Alex’s father has just recently died and within a few months she learns that her best friend has cancer and has to undergo chemo. She finds solace in horror movies, the boy that she has been eyeing for like ever, and the promise she has made to her friend to work on crossing things off her friends bucket f-it list.

Thoughts! They are kind of scattered, but it is just one of those scattered days.

I like that it is the friend that is going through chemo and not Alex herself. As a result, Halpern was able to tell a story that needs to be told. What if you aren’t the person that is undergoing the cancer treatments? Your story is not less important, and your hardships are still valid.

There was wayyyyy more sex in this than I expected. I liked that it wasn’t in there just because, but it was done purposefully especially when a lot of the book dealt with feelings and being close to people. Also, I am pretty sure this is the first book that I have read that actually talked about female masturbation in a more flippant way. Again, it wasn’t there for shock value, but just a part of life.

When someone says bucket list, I tend to expect a crazy whirlwind of DOING THINGS AND LIVING like the movies Last Holiday and The Bucket List where they ended up doing exciting things and having wild adventures. This was not that book. This was more of a learning to accept that even though terrible things happen and people die, it is okay to simply live your life and actually enjoy it.

Who would I suggest to read this book? Anyone who is interested in a snarky, smart, and funny narrator trying to come to terms with the death or her father, the potential death of her best friend, and boys. Anyone who wants to read something that talks about life and death. And finally, anyone who wants to read a book with a really attractive cover. 🙂

Review: A Little Wanting Song

A Little Wanting Song
by Cath Crowley
Published June 2010
Knopf Books

A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . . 

CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she’s good at it. But she only sings when she’s alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus’s Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie’s mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she’s visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She’s got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she’s not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie’s grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can’t wait to leave their small country town. And she’s figured out a way: she’s won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose’s ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose’s “little wanting song” is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

While I generally laugh and cry easily in life, it takes a lot for me to do both in a book. My goodness though, on one page I literally went straight from crying to laughing. This entire novel was laced with humor and sadness and soooooo much beauty!! Also, this left me cuh-raving music.

Other awesome things?

The characters are all sooooooo well-developed, even the secondary characters. You could tell that everyone, seriously everyone, had their own story. Even the teacher that made like a 2-minute appearance. AND there were so many awesome sentences and descriptors and feelings. My goodness. I am impressed with Cath Crowley’s writing skills. I think the only thing I would have liked to see a little more of is more distinction between Charlie and Rose’s voice. And you know, a way in which this book could be like 50,000 pages long without being too long. This is the kind of story you want to dwell in.

AND it has one of my favorite themes: finding your voice.

Pretty much what I am saying is Cath Crowley is one of my favorite authors now.

So, do I recommend A Little Wanting Song?

Yes, yes, yes!

Here are two of my favorite lines:

“I’ve got stars in my blood, burning light under my skin” (131). Actually this whole page, but the rest gives too much of the story away.

“I can almost touch the thought. It’s something to do with what happens when people die. A thought about patchy paddocks, dry, with nothing living underneath. Until something rises up and starts in them, and they get on with the business of living” (243).

Overall Review: This is a smartly written young adult novel, which I think will appeal to music lovers, word lovers, and anyone interested in contemporary novels. There is a little bit of romance mixed in too, and those scenes are completely swoon worthy!
One last quote: “I don’t play upbeat tonight. I strum ‘A Little Wanting Song.’ E-flat. Low and hollow. Soft and sad. I let the old voice of the guitar rise like the moon and it floats and dips around me.”

Review: Burn for Burn

Burn for Burn
by Jenny Han and Siobham Vivian
Published Sept. 2012
Simon & Schuster

BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY…
THEY GET EVEN.

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she’s ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. And she’s ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won’t stop until they each had a taste.

 

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

FOLKS. So you remember that one time that Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, you know, wrote a book? TOGETHER? AND IT WAS REALLY GOOD? Well, I DO!

Once I started Burn for Burn by these awesome ladies, I pretty much kept plugging through until my eyes started to burn and I was being mega irresponsible. Responsible people don’t let books with an awesome and intriguing plot ensnare you. Responsible people slow their reading down and don’t read like their life is depending on it (even if it feels like it, because you HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS). Responsible people actually stop after “just one more chapter.” Responsible people GO TO SLEEP before 2am when they have to be a functioning and capable person the next day!

Well, call me irresponsible, because Burn for Burn easily stole my heart away in the first chapter.

But seriously.

This book? It just sticks in your brain and your heart and you get so obsessed with the characters and what is going to happen to them and what they are going to do that it makes you write unbelievably long sentences.

I have to say Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han did a SUPERB job of co-writing. While each character had their own voice, the overall tone of the book was awesomely uniform. AND, there is an extra element to this novel, which COMPLETELY took me by surprise and I cannot wait to see how it pans out.

My last thought:

Honestly? The whole revenge thing makes me uncomfortable. I love strong characters kicking butt, but I generally prefer them to kick butt for the good of mankind, not to kick someone down whether they “deserve” it or not.

THAT BEING SAID.

Holy smokes, I got into this (if you couldn’t tell). Yea, I wanted everything to end up being perfect and everyone to get along. But MAN. The misunderstandings? The hurt feelings? Getting that feeling where you know everything is going to end horribly, but you don’t know for sure and you have this painful look on your face as you’re reading waiting for something to blow up in a character’s face? The main girl characters? The side characters? Everything about this one makes it worth your time.

Overall Review: I think Burn for Burn is great for teenagers and up. A great plot and great characters mixed with drama and intrigue makes for an absolutely exciting and fascinating read.
Fun fact: Every time I have started to write this review, I end up getting the urge to reread Burn for Burn, which is why it has taken me so long to review this book. It should come with a disclaimer.

Review: Only the Good Spy Young

Advice.

If you are going to read this:

Make sure you have this at your side!!!:

(this is the next book in the series in case you didn’t know)

Ally Carter is pretty much awesome. I started Only the Good Spy Young this afternoon and then I had to go to work and it was all.I.could.think.about. I just wanted to put up a do not disturb sign and sit in the middle of the floor and read. It could be like an art exhibit or something. Very classy.

As with her other books, Carter somehow managed to mix a super fun chatty voice with spying, adventure, and terrible mysteries that complete wreck your heart. Also, you get to actually learn more things about certain people in this one!!!

Super awesome:). This is a great book for girls and boys anywhere from middle school and beyond, which again shows the amazing talent of Ms. Carter. Being able to write a book series that spans age groups easily? Pretty awesome!

The details:

Only The Good Spy Young was published June 2010 by Hyperion. Mark it to-read (or as read) on Goodreads! This is the 4th book in the series, the first book being I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You

I have to be up in six hours to go walk two adorable little dogs, but of course you know what I will be doing? Starting the 5th book. This series is too addicting!!

Review: Where Things Come Back

Where Things Come Back
by John Corey Whaley
Atheneum
May 2011 

Just when seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. . . . 

In the summer before Cullen’s senior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct since the 1940s in Lily, Arkansas. His rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker sparks a flurry of press and woodpecker-mania. Soon all the kids are getting woodpecker haircuts and everyone’s eating “Lazarus burgers.” But as absurd as the town’s carnival atmosphere has become, nothing is more startling than the realization that Cullen’s sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother Gabriel has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. 

While Cullen navigates his way through a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young missionary in Africa, who has lost his faith, is searching for any semblance of meaning wherever he can find it. As distant as the two stories seem at the start, they are thoughtfully woven ever closer together and through masterful plotting, brought face to face in a surprising and harrowing climax. 

Complex but truly extraordinary, tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful. It’s about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances.

Summary and Photo from Goodreads.com

Have you ever written a paper defining a certain word?

In high school I wrote a paper about the word “passion” and I had to define it in various ways. In college my final paper involved discussing anthologies based on a concept or a word instead of a time period. I have always been a big fan of defining a word from multiple angles, because I am a firm believer that you can’t define anything with one simple definition. There are so many different types of love and hate and second chances and they all mean something a little different to everyone.

I have been typing and retyping this review trying to capture how I feel about this book. The thing is, yes, there is one “main” story when it comes to Where Things Come Back. There is one “main” narrator with his perspective of the world. But somehow, in someway, John Corey Whaley is able to capture so many stories in this one book. You have Cullen’s and Gabriel’s and Cullen’s aunt’s, and his mom’s story and his dad’s and Benton Sage’s, and John the bird guy’s and Cullen’s best friend’s story and that best friend’s girl friend’s story and so on! I feel like I was able to gain something from every. single. character. Even Cullen’s friend’s grandmother some how.

Please, forgive me for the amount of possession going on in the above paragraph!

But seriously. This book? Is like a real story about real people and real life, but with the added majesty of observed and acknowledged poetic life. I mean yea, you can read it as the story of a boy who lost something EXTREMELY important to him and then pursues surviving in this new life (while Benton Sage is being missionary extraordinaire confusing the bejeezies out of you (in a good curious way)). But, there is more to it, which makes this book totally beautiful (or handsome?).

So, if you haven’t read Where Things Come Back here are some tips.

1. Participate, yet enjoy. One of my favorite parts of Mr. John Corey Whaley’s writing is it kept me on my toes going nuts. Will this happen? How do these things correlate? IS THIS A CLUE?! Are clues in this book?!?!?! These were only samples of what I was thinking. Yet, even though my inner dialogue was going crazy, there were so many great parts for me to just sink down into and breathe in.

2. Read it. You know, get a copy of the book. Open it up. And read!

Those are my tips. 🙂 If you like books that are art, stories that make you slow down and consider life (yet aren’t boring), and/or books that involve intense action-packed fight scenes every other page, this one is for you.

(I was kidding about the intense action-packed fight scenes, although there is a bit of violence and there is intensity!)

Ultimate Review: Fannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnntastic! Once it comes out in paperback I’m going to be buying this just to own and keep. Or depending on if I cave I just might get this in hardcover:).
Random tidbit: I borrowed this from my library, and once I started it I was really intent about reading it ASAP so other people could check it out. This is one of the reasons why I don’t name a lot of names in the possession nightmare paragraph– I don’t have my copy to refer too and I’m too stubborn to look it up on the internet.

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon
by Cath Crowley
Published by Knopf Books
Coming out February 12, 2012!
Format: digital ARC 

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for.

Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

 

Remember that time when I got really excited and wanted to read Graffiti Moon asap? GUESS WHAT! I got to read it and it blew allllll expectations away. I thought the story sounded good, but the writing. The questions. The mind. Ahhhh, Cath Crowley be my friend. Well, the type of friend that does all the talking, because I’m pretty sure all I would do is stare and giggle in awe. It’s something I’m working on.

So anyway, let’s get into this.

1. The narration is fannnntastic. Cath Crowley decides to tell the story switching between two perspectives: using Lucy, a quirky smart girl who just graduated year 12 of school, and Ed, a lost boy who dropped out of school and lost his job. We do get bonus narration from Poet too, who shares a little bit from his present and his past. One of the reasons I love all of these perspectives is that the way Cath Crowley does this means we get to read the whole story of pretty much everything. There are moments where Lucy and Ed misread each other and I misread them too because I don’t get the whole story. Also, it makes for quite a few moments where one or the other entirely misinterpret the other’s feelings. You get to see those moments and get angry or laugh at them or be a little surprised.

2. I think YA fiction gets a bad rap for being just light, fun reads, but Graffiti Moon has an enormous amount of depth to it. There’s a lot of talk about art between the characters, and while I was reading this I kept thinking to myself, “this book is a prime example of writing being an art form.” It got to the point where I forgot I was even reading, and I was just experiencing these people and their stories and it was sad and it was happy and I finished this book feeling changed in some way.

3. Personally? I am a HUGE fan of reading books where the characters have unique hobbies. Graffiti Moon features glassblowing (!!!), graffiti (well, obviously), drawing, fortune telling, and poetry from an unexpected character. One of the perks about reading is getting to experience in some manner things that you wouldn’t normally be able to experience. I’ve never graffitied (I don’t even know how to say it. I’ve never done graffiti? I don’t graffiti things? Is there some graffiti verb that spell check won’t tell me about?) and I’ve definitely never blew glass before. I have however now experienced glassblowing through Lucy’s eyes and the art of graffiti through Ed’s eyes [[okay, sorry to be distracting, but for some reason originally I wrote Ed’s house instead of Ed’s eyes. Whhhaaattt?]], and while it is not the same as doing it myself, I’m one step closer to understanding.

4. Speaking of the characters, the families in this were really interesting. I’m pretty sure my favorite people ever were Lucy’s parents. Minor spoiler alert: **You learn Lucy’s dad moved out of their house and into the shed so they could have their own space to get the work that needed to get done done.** I just like it, because growing up I always had this clear idea of what a family should be like, and what love is like, and how the world should be set up. I’ve learned that my visions of life and love were not always necessarily true and everything is a lot more gray and fuzzy in some ways. Lucy gets to learn that too. I also liked Ed’s mom’s ability to make the seemingly bad appear magical. Actually, I just really liked her.

5. I can’t put my finger on another “point” as to why I think Graffiti Moon is the bee’s knees. It’s just every single thing about it. The people and the moments and their goofiness and the friendships and the adventures and the jokes and their personalities. Pretty much magical is the word I would use to sum up this book. Without saying it, in one facet it’s all about the magic of life even when it’s dark. The love and loyalty between friends. Looking past what people appear to be. Being unsure about someone and starting to like them more and more and more. I wish I could say more. This is just one of the books where it feels like it  has a part of you inside of it.

Overall Review: To put this review short? Graffiti Moon is pretty much the sum of everything that I love in young adult novels. This is definitely something that I’m planning on owning. Only one month and 6 days until it comes out in the US!!!!
Graffiti, Graffitti, Grafitti: Graffiti is the worst word ever for me to spell. It has been sooooooo completely hard for me to not mess up the spelling every time. I’m thankful for the red squiggly lines!