Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo Review

Love and Other Perishable Items

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Published Knopf Books 2010

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Kindle ebook

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400A wonderful, coming-of-age love story from a fresh new voice in YA fiction.

‘Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I’m open to all kinds of bribery.’

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost…head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he’s 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

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This was a total cover pick up. I was just looking for some cute young adult romance and this was the first thing that came up in the search results. I read the little summary and read it right away.

Amelia and Chris’ relationship is so confusing. There is a six year age difference, and it’s such a big time for both of them. One is in high school and the other is leaving college. Age gaps are always really hard to read about. As much as I loved the couple together, it was also hard knowing that it could never really happen. One thing I really liked about the book was how the alternative POVs were done – Amelia’s went first and then Chris’ all at once, in his journals. So you could see the same event happening from both people’s perspectives. Also, Amelia likes Chris a lot sooner than he likes her, so it’s fun to see that develop over time for both of them.

The story is really interesting. I read this book pretty quickly. Amelia is younger than all of her coworkers at the supermarket, so she has some adventures going to their parties with drinking and more adult problems. She also has some at home problems, that I was glad to see took a different turn than these types of problems normally take in young adult novels. Chris is dealing with some of these ‘adult problems,’ dealing with his friends moving away and getting married and finding jobs while he is still at work for a supermarket, not a steady income job. It’s hard to see him dealing with growing up as well, but in his own way. Both Chris and Amelia are stuck in a very similar position – being pressured to grow up.

The supermarket and all of the other coworkers also had very interesting stories that I enjoyed. This book is also set in Australia. I have never read a book set in Australia before this, so I really liked it! They have some different phrases and word order, but it was nothing too hard to figure out what was happening. Also I thought it was really funny how they have Christmas in the summer, so they all were sweating with the Santa hats on. There were some really cute touches. One thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was all the classic literature references, especially how many spoilers for those classics were in the book. It’s a classic, so I wasn’t taken too much aback, but it was just hard to find the connections when I hadn’t read that particular classic yet. But Chris is a literature major and Amelia is dealing with high school reading, so it was a good discussion for them.

The end was really sad, but I liked the way everything tied together. It was overall a very satisfying conclusion. I would suggest this book to all of you interested in a fun, quirky contemporary with some great characters and a complex relationship!

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Beneath the Glitter by Elle and Blair Fowler Review

Beneath the Glitter

Beneath the Glitter by Elle and Blair Fowler (Sophia and Ava London #1)

Published St. Martin’s Griffin 2012

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Buy this book: AmazonBarnes & Noble

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400From internet stars Elle and Blair Fowler comes a scintillating new novel that takes readers Beneath the Glitter of the glitzy L.A. social scene.

Welcome to a place where dreams are made. And where nothing—and no one—is ever what it seems.

After their make-up and fashion videos went viral on YouTube, sisters Sophia and Ava London are thrust into the exclusive life of the Los Angeles elite. Here fabulous parties, air kisses, paparazzi and hot guys all come with the scene. Sophia finds herself torn between a gorgeous bartender and a millionaire playboy, and Ava starts dating an A-list actor. But as they’re about to discover, the life they’ve always dreamed of comes with a cost.

Beneath the glitter of the Hollywood social scene lies a world of ruthless ambition, vicious gossip…and betrayal. Someone close to them, someone they trust, is working in the shadows to bring the London sisters falling down. And once the betrayal is complete, Sophia and Ava find themselves knee-deep in a scandal that could take away everything they care about, including the one thing that matters most—each other.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998I have never really read a book like this – one that I don’t really have a word to describe it. Sweet? Sugary? It’s like bubblegum pop music, but in a book form. I have never read any celebrity written fiction books before this one, but I’d probably imagine that this is how they all are. It’s a large heaping of the actual life with some names changed to make it fictional.

From the summary of the book, it seems to be mostly about this scandal that is happening to the famous London sisters, but really this has nothing to do with the book. Maybe the last two chapters show the beginning for a possible scandal, that I hope is the next book’s concern. However, the entire rest of the book is essentially two love triangles, one for each sister. Ava is between a celebrity a-list actor and the guy who runs the pet shop. Sophia is between an Italian bartender and a playboy. At the beginning, it’s just back and forth between the sisters as they try to figure out which guy they actually like more, which can get a little annoying (and confusing). They are also releasing a makeup line and dealing with publicity. That’s interesting, but I wish it took more of the focus. This book is so into all of the chick-lit/romance.

The writing is really annoying and hard to get past. It is written in third person, but I feel like it would have been better with first person, alternating points of view. Ava’s voice was very easy to tell because she had certain ways of speaking and phrases she would use. But Sophia just felt really bland as a character. She just seemed to be the older sister who was following along for Ava’s ride (and of course, dealing with her love triangle). Between the two girls, it seemed like they relied upon being sisters so much in this book. I guess that would be the ‘moral’ of the story, but I really wish there was something else between them. Other than that, they were just really boring characters with no real depth.

Since the book does focus on the romance, I’ll take a little about how that went now. I guess, sometimes, it was a little cute. But I wasn’t really in love with any of the four couples. It took a really long time for anything to happen with any of them, although they would meet these guys almost immediately. It was just a very strange dynamic.

Overall, I really wish that this book had focused more on the scandal aspect of Los Angeles life. The love triangles and romances just weren’t written very well, so it moved very slowly. There was some potential for a good story, but it just fell flat.

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Published 1850

Genre: Classics

Format: Paperback

Buy this book: AmazonBarnes & Noble

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne’s concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale, trapped by the rules of society, stands as a classic study of a self divided.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998This is such a huge book for American classic literature, most kids even reading it in school, yet I have never read it until now. Like, it wasn’t even assigned to us for school or anything. But the story of Hester has been said so many times that I felt like I knew what I was getting into, and I expected not to like it. Most of the reviews on Goodreads are not very positive – many people don’t like the way it is written. I understand that. I had to read sections of this book multiple times to understand it, or go over the sentence a few times, looking for a verb. But overall, I felt like this pushed me as a reader. I read mostly young adult – and while there’s nothing wrong with that – it isn’t always the most challenging for me. The tropes are used all the time, the vocabulary is pretty basic, and for me, a fast reader, it’s easy to pick up a book and finish it in a day or two. I’m cool with this most of the time, but every once in a while, I need a classic. For me, it’s almost essential to pick up a classic as a ‘mood read.’ If I’m not up for interpreting old language, it’s not going to go that well. But, I guess the stars aligned for me and this book.

BECAUSE I LOVED IT.

The Scarlet Letter is such a dark book, although not classically in a way we would see a dark book. It doesn’t have any particularly supernatural or terrifying in it, but the Puritans had such a strict community. Hester is punished with the Scarlet A for her sins. I felt like there were so many themes throughout this entire book (and themes not just imposed by literature teachers). There is a lot in here about sin, government, and just the overall way we treat people. It deals with some dark subject matter, but it’s really interesting to see the way that the community deals with Hester, and how she deals with them.

Hester is such an interesting character. I loved the times she was almost proud of her scarlet letter. She could get a little confident and sassy during those times and I was so proud of her for that! But as Pearl grows up, she gets a little more ashamed of it. Pearl was a great character for helping Hester expand as well. Pearl is so curious, just like any child, and she asks so many questions about the Scarlet Letter. One point that really got me was when Pearl said that she wanted one or when Pearl didn’t recognize her mother without the A.   That really shows the effect of the letter on even the people closest around her.

The problem Dimmesdale had was also a really interesting conflict. I liked seeing him deal with what he did and also his religion. This balance was such a struggle for him, as it would be for any person. Hester’s will to protect him at the beginning was also very interesting. It would have been so much easier for her just to say who Pearl’s father was, but she just refused. Dimmesdale and Hester had a very unique relationship as well that I really liked reading about. It showed all the conflict between what he did, but also living in sin, which at the same time he would preach against. The restraints of the Puritans were so restraining for him.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing could be a little hard to understand, but it pushed me as a reader. I loved the story and everything that happened to the characters. The conclusion was just perfect!

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Review

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Published Knopf Books 2006

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Format: Kindle ebook

Buy this book: AmazonBarnes & Noble

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998This book took me a while to finish. I picked it up last summer, but I put it down for some new release. Anyway, I decided that I would finish the last forty percent or so. That’s my little disclosure for the rest of this review. There was a whole year in between, so I don’t remember too much of the original book, but I did remember all the characters and people even though I did start it halfway through a while later.

Overall, this book was so powerful. I think the ending is one of the most beautiful endings that I have ever read. I really appreciated the way it ended. It was so sad and I cried through pretty much the entire last chapter. And of course, I read it on public transportation… Liesel was such a fun main character. She had a great, fun little personality of a curious young girl growing up in this time period. I think it’s really great when a character in  a historical figure seems very realistic to the time period and all of the characters in this book really seemed to be quite in the time period. I loved the relationship with her foster parents, Rudy, and Max. They were all so important to her and it was great to see her appreciation for them.

One of the main parts of this book is that it is narrated by Death. This point of view threw me off a couple of times, just assuming that it would be Liesel’s perspective, but it was a really unique way to write the book. I understand why it was written from this perspective and I think it added a lot to the book. It allowed for him to move around the world and tie some things up later or move around Europe to see various other characters.

The plot of this book – stealing the books in the Nazi Germany – was really interesting. I liked the moral about the power behind words. One of my favorite quotes from this book was, “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” That little sentence just makes the entire book in a short summary. This book was written really well and beautifully. The story was nice. I wish there was a little bit more historical information in this, especially dealing with Nazism, although I did like the main point about how they were able to take over control through words and how powerful they really can be. I think that’s a lesson especially important to today as well.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Lies We Tell Ourselves

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine, featuring books that are yet to be released! Here is my pick:

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

This book sounds really moving and beautiful, plus I really like books from this time period!

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Broke and Bookish! This week is for book cover trends I like and dislike. The first five, on a positive note, are going to be trends that I like.

  1. Really basic, simplistic, minimalist covers.
  2. Red covers.
  3. Sunglasses.
  4. Speech bubbles.
  5. Title only covers.

Here are some examples of each type, in order.

IncineratorTsarinaWhere'd You Go, BernadetteWhen Mr. Dog Bites 

Now, onto the trends that I really don’t like on book covers.

  1. Feathers.
  2. Illustrated covers/people on the cover.
  3. Puzzle piece covers.
  4. The backs of people.
  5. Awkward romance covers.

And the examples, in order:

White Space (Dark Passages, #1)Wish You Were Italian (If Only . . . #2)MILA 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1)Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)

So those are my favorite and least favorite book cover trends! What are yours?

Burned by Sara Shepard Review

Burned (Pretty Little Liars, #12)

Burned by Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars #12)

Published Harper Teen 2012

Genre: Young Adult Mystery

Format: Hardback from the library

Buy this book: AmazonBarnes & Noble

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400It’s spring break, and the pretty little liars are trading in Rosewood for a cruise vacation. They want nothing more than to sail into the tropical sunset and leave their troubles behind for one blissful week. But where Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna go, A goes, too. From scuba diving to tanning on the upper deck, A is there, soaking up all their new secrets.

Emily is smooching a stowaway. Aria’s treasure-hunting partner is a little too interested in her booty. Spencer’s going overboard trying to land a new boy. And a blast–or rather, a crash–from Hanna’s past could mean rough waters ahead for everyone.

The liars better tighten their life jackets. A perfect storm is brewing, and if they aren’t careful, A will bury them at sea. . . .

e9da6-coollogo_com-9181998Okay…this book wasn’t totally terrible, as par with the last couple of books in this series. This one was actually kind of okay…There was such a lack of felonies committed by the girls in this book and it felt almost like one in the original four. But, let’s recap each of our Pretty Little Liars’ experiences:

Aria: Proved, once again, that she is the brains of this friendship. And maybe everything else about it too. She made some good decisions in this book. Anyway, she meets a guy named Graham (like the cracker. That was all I thought about every time I read his name, sorry) while playing a scavenger hunt on board the cruise ship. Noel, her amazing boyfriend and my favorite thing about these books, thinks that he likes her. Which he maybe does. We don’t know. Ever. But they have a really good scene at the end that reminded me a lot of something the television show would do, so that was nice. Other than that, she had a pretty good run in this book.

Spencer: Likes Reefer, but Naomi (the villain in this book) also likes him. She also has some crazy scenes with Reefer, just little annoying things that aren’t life threatening or anything. Of course, she takes each one as the end of the world. Anyway, she gets kind of off base toward the end too, but her plot line didn’t really contain much, which was probably for the best.

Hanna: I need more time with her and Mike! Okay, that little relationship input over, the main part of her story was about her friendship with Naomi. Earlier in the book, she gets in a car crash, probably the most ridiculous part of the book. She’s doing a good thing, driving her drunk friend home on a rainy day on a twisty road, but she gets in a crash. Instead of just calling the police like a normal person, she gets her friends to stage the accident like the drunk friend was driving the whole time…and it turns out that Naomi is her cousin. Because everyone seems to be related in these books.

Emily: Has a new girlfriend. I’m going to leave it at that, because it may just be the best part of the book. It was my favorite for sure, but I’ll just leave it with this girlfriend is a stowaway and it builds from there.

The conclusion is super fun and I really liked it because it gives so much more space for the next books. I’m not excited about reading the next one, nor am I optimistic about what is to come – but this one was okay. It’s getting better. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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