Wednesday, March 31, 2010


By Laurie Halse Anderson

240 pages
5 hours 1 minute listening time

Grade B

This will be one of the only books that I am giving away almost everything in, so the following contains spoilers. This is your warning. Turn back now if you want to find out what happens on your own. But really.....even if you do know, it doesn't ruin the book for you.

Melinda is a freshman in high school and she starts off really rough. Over the summer she attended a party where she was only 13, got drunk, wandered into the back yard and was raped by a guy that is now a senior. When she went back into the house she called the cops, but she was in shock so instead of her being able to turn him in, the cops showed up and broke up the party, which is why everyone hates her now.

Anyway, I thought it was very brave of her to go back to school, face all these people, and stay brave for herself. She didn't tell anyone about what happened which, really is no wonder seeing how selfish her parents were and just how disconnected they were with their daughter. Then with all her friends hating her for calling the cops for what they thought was to break up the party, she really lost all allies.

In the end she gains the courage to tell her ex-best friend about what happened, only for her ex-best friend to accuse her of lying since the friend is now dating the guy that raped her. I just felt so bad for this character, but I loved the end. Freaking loved the end which I will not spoil, but just know, it was a great ending.

Here is the thing with this book; Rape happens. It happens everywhere. In dark allies, in homes, and at school. It is a terrible terrible tragedy when it does happen. It can ruin lives, it does ruin lives. I don't particularly like reading things like this, but I will tell you, I like when the hero overcomes obstacles and prevails. This book is short enough that you could get through it in a few hours in paper form and only 5 hours on audio. This is NOT a light book, but in the end, it is a feel good book. It just takes you 5 hours to get there.

Garlic and Sapphires

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

By Ruth Reichl

352 pages
11 hours and 1 minute listening time

Grade C

Ok. First thing first. As much as I enjoyed this book, it could have been 4 or 5 hours shorter. It was a cute book, and I really liked hearing about her adventures in New York reviewing food and all, but holy crap, it was a LONG book. And she ate. A LOT. I found myself STARVING during the whole book, and where she was eating roast duck in saffron sauce with roasted garlic potatoes, three different fancy wines, and a dessert of vine ripened raspberries drizzled over cheese cake made famous by the city in which it was named after, I, was eating left over baked ziti with store bought sauce and an apple.

I really liked how she would disguise herself too in order to not be treated as a VIP. She wanted to see how she would be treated as a normal, regular person. The difference between going as herself and going in disguise was like black and white. It is sad to think that us normal people are being treated sub par when VIPs are treated so much better.

I think the author learned a lot about herself in her journey. I think that she did good in her job, but I could totally tell in the story when she lost her way and lost what she loved.

It was a good book, but again, I got really bored with it, and I hated that nothing I ate satisfied me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture
By Randy Pausch

224 pages
4 hours and 39 minutes listening time

Grade B

If you have not heard of the Last Lecture before, I suggest YouTubing it and watching it. Randy is amazing. He is a man that was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and is terminal. This story is about how him and his family cope and prepare for his imminent death. I guess I wasn't so into this book because I had previously seen an Oprah special about this, and so I knew about it, how it went, and so on. It is not something you forget easily.

Listening to this book, was just reliving the Oprah special. I wanted to cry, but it is hard to do things like that at work. It is also hard not to re-evaluate your life when you read this book or watch the special.

Anyway, I enjoyed this book, but am only giving it a B because it just made me sad, and I don't like books that make me sad. And I think I preferred the Oprah special more than reading the book because Randy is actually a really great speaker.

And for your watching enjoyment, the link to the Oprah special.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls

304 pages
11 hours and 14 minutes listening time

Grade B+

This book was the book selected for my monthly book club. I didn't read any reviews or had any idea what kind of book this was prior to reading it. I also didn't know it was non-fiction. What I did know, is that this book was terribly heartbreaking from the very first chapter.

The story is about a girl who is the second oldest of four. Her family lives in pure poverty, as in, when she went to school the only meal she ate was lunch and even that meal was just what she could find in the trash cans. Her father was some kind of super genius, and her mom was an artist with a teacher's degree, however, her parents moved around, were mostly homeless and although could have had the means to care for their children, preferred to live in squaller.

It was one of the hardest books I have ever had to listen to. So many times, I just wanted to reach through my headphones and hug the kids, or slap the parents. I, like my friend Claudia, found myself wanting to call CPS on the parents, only to having to remind myself that this all has already happened and the kids have all grown.

I was so heart broken while listening to this book. If you have a tough heart, I would say go for it, but you will need to be tough to listen to it because it is very very heart wrenching.

Regardless, even though there were many many times when I thought I would have to shut if off because I was just so angry at the parents, I am really glad I stuck with it.

Thanks Mandi for a nice book selection.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everyone is Beautiful

Everyone is Beautiful
By Katherine Center

256 pages
7 hours and 31 minutes listening time

Grade A

If you are a mom, you will love this book. If you are a friend who knows a mom, you will like this book. If you are a man that thinks your stay at home wife has it made, you will learn from this book.

There were many times in this book where I laughed out loud, and there are times when I wanted to cry. I related so much to what the main character Lanie was going through at times. How, as a mom, you feel like your body is no longer yours, especially when you have a nursing baby in tow. I also related to how, after finding my way back to the gym, my self esteem boosted, my confidence returned, and with it, I also got my energy back.

One of my favorite parts of the book is this paraphrased quote:

"You point to 100 cats, saying 'cat' only to find a few weeks later, your one year old, pointing to a cat and say 'mama'"

As Corky Romano would say, it's funny because it's true! There have been many a weeks where I point to daddy and say "daddy" only to have Lucy point to daddy and say "mama". Being a mom is the most fun job ever, but it is also the most challenging. The great thing about this book, is that it pointed out the challenges of being a mom and just how much fun it is in the long run too.

I really enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it, however, if you are not a mom, it might be hard to relate to it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
By Jay Asher

320 pages
6 hours and 24 minutes listening time

Grade A+

Clay is a senior in high school with a crush on a girl named Hannah. Hannah, the girl who recently committed suicide. Clay comes home from school and there is a package on his front steps with no return address. He opens it, and finds cassette tapes, all numbered. As he starts to play them, he realizes that they were made by Hannah, and each side of each tape is a story of the person and experience that touched her in a way that helped her in her decision to kill herself.

This book is AMAZING. It is compelling, it is heart wrenchingly wonderful. It is touching. It is by far, my FAVORITE book I have read so far. But can a book with such a terrible topic be a favorite? I say yes. There were so, soooo many things about this book that ripped apart my heart, make it feel like my very soul was being ripped apart, but in the end, I just felt, warmed.

The events and the correlation between Clay and Hannah, and the fact that it is told from BOTH stand points at the same time, made it so much better. Listening to how Clay felt about a situation, and how it actual played out by really makes you think, you never really know the whole story.

I wanted so many times, like Clay, to do whatever I could to save Hannah.

See, I have been effected by suicide. A very good friend of mine killed himself 9 days before my 23rd birthday. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him, or think back and wonder why....what was so bad? Listening to this book (which I totally recommend because it is narrated by a man and woman making it so much better), it made me look back at those times with Scott and think, what was the last thing I said to him, was that a sign of his depression, was there anything I could have done?

I will listen to this book again. I will listen to it more than just a few times. I will probably also buy this book and paper read it too. I recommend that everyone read this book. It is just so incredible, I cannot say enough good about this book.


By Lois Lowry

176 pages
3 hours and 38 minutes listening time

Grade C

Finally to be done with this series. And this will probably be one of the only books that I review and give most of it away in. Mainly because I think the only book out of this series worth reading is The Giver, I don't feel bad about telling you everything.

Lois wrapped up the first two stories in this book. And as much as I thought that was neat and all, it also really sucked. In the Giver, Jonas as the power to see beyond, but all that means in the first book, is that he can see colors. In the second book Kira can embroider really pretty. In the third book, all of a sudden Jonas can transport his mind to see what is happening in different places in the current time, and Kira can embroider the future. Then all of a sudden, one of the characters from the second book, Matty, gains some weird super power in his hands and cures the Earth. Yes. Cures the Earth.

It really seemed like Lois wanted to make something wonderful, she wanted a little series that was just incredible, but I say big fat FAIL.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gathering Blue

Gathering Blue
By Lois Lowry

240 pages
5 hours and 27 minutes

Grade C

Try to stick with me on this review. I am not feeling so hot today, and have a terrible headache so this just might not make any sense.

I thought this book was terribly slooooooooooooooow. I did not much care for this book at all, but I have a desire to read this series because I loved the Giver so much. This book, like The Giver, is about a utopia, however unlike The Giver, their little community is not perfect. It is far from it. It is a very primitive community and each person has their little parts, gatherers, hunters etc. There is a part in this book that reminded me of "The Village" the terrible movie that make all their villagers think there were terrible beasts in the forest.

Anyway, I drifted in and out of attention on this book. The narrator was good, but she read it super slow, and because the story for me just dragged on anyway, I had a real difficult time staying awake.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Giver

The Giver
By Lois Lowry

208 pages
4 hours and 41 minutes listening time

Grade A

I have read this book a million times. I count this book towards my count this year however, because it has been a few years since I have read it. That and I just recently found out that it is apart of a trilogy. So to complete the trilogy, I started at the beginning.

If you haven't read this book yet, you should. It is a great book that really makes you think. Although it is a young reader, it really still is amazing. I will say though, I HATED it on audio. I really didn't like the stupid little music bits that were included, and I really didn't like the narrator's voice, although I do think he did a good job at catching the innocence of Jonas.

This is the first time that I have read this book with it making me cry. And I was almost bawling too at my desk when they released the twin. I was so sad. I am sure it has a lot to do with the recent events in my life where we lost a baby, but it was just so devastating for me.

I forgot how much Jonas struggled with everything, and how much he wanted to save both him and Gabriel. I found myself wanting to stand up and shout "HOORAY!!" when he was running away and saving himself and Gabriel. It is so strange the different take I took on this book now that I am an adult.

I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

ETA: I just re-read what I posted here tonight...and all I can say is that I am exhausted so this review isn't making much sense. I apologize for that! :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hex Hall

Hex Hall
By Rachel Hawkins

336 pages
Not available on audio at this time

Grade C-

If you were to combine the ideas and greatness of Harry Potter, the terrible writing of Twilight and the fictional characters from both, you would get Hex Hall. The author had a good idea, but I just didn't think it held up well in this book. Maybe I have just put so much stock and love into Harry Potter and Twilight, that the thought of yet another fictional world containing both just doesn't feel right to me. As I didn't hate this book, I didn't much LOVE it either. I thought that the ending was summed up way to quickly (in like the last 20 pages) and that it was just blah.

Looking on Amazon, it looks like this will be the first of a series. I will probably read the next book because frankly I do want to see what happens to the characters (once I read about a character I always want to finish it, even if it drives me crazy. It is probably why I like LA Ink so much because I like watching the drama even though the show is pretty boring). I am hoping that, like Twilight, the book gets better with the second in the series.

Anyway, it is a terribly quick read. Had I sat down and just read it without interruptions I probably would have had it completed in about an hour or two. Is it worth buying? No. Is it worth borrowing from the library? Maybe. Is it worth more than just a few short paragraphs on my blog? No......

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love the one you're with

Love the One You're With
By Emily Giffin

368 pages
11 hours and 15 minutes listening time

Grade C-

I was wrapped up in the story, and totally into this book. I thought it was going to have nice pleasant ending, and then, I looked at my iPod and still have 6 hours of listening time.

Then I got totally bored. I floated in and out of boredom for about the last three hours of the book. I liked what the book made you think about. Basically Ellen is married to Andy, but runs into her ex boyfriend Leo one day. After a bunch of stuff that was heartbreaking, and then just boring, it ended.

I guess, after finishing this book, you as the reader are supposed to think, "Did I make the right choice in who I love", "Did my one true love get away?" I did not feel this way after reading it. I could see how you would though. However, there was a time long long long ago, where I thought maybe "the one" got away. Then I met Matt, and then I realized, "the one" didn't get away, I ran away, because he wasn't "the one." At. All. In fact, he was so far from "the one" that I have never had thoughts of "what if" or whatever.

I got so annoyed with the main character in this book because she had EVERYTHING, and thought she was so unhappy she was going to let it all go. But then in the end, she pulls her head out of her ass.

Anyway, my point is, I probably will not be reading any other books by this author. I had a couple of other books on audio by this lady, but I really don't think that I am going to go through with them. I am so afraid they are going to be like Nicholas Sparks books where they are ALL the same story, but with different names for the characters. So that is my take on this book.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


nightlight (a parody)
by The Harvard Lampoon

154 pages
Not available on audio

Grade B+

I loved this book for little snippets like this:
"I get my lack of coordination from my dad, who always used to push me down when I was learning how to walk"

and this:

"I typed in the word: Vampre. Google asked, 'Did you mean vampire?' I said, 'yes.' I felt overwhelmed and confused by the results: 'Nosferatu,' 'The Buffy Summers Workout,' 'Kristen Stewart's Onset Romance,' 'Midnight Sun leaked,' 'Robert Pattinson Excellent Blues Singer.' Weird. What did any of this have to do with vampires?"

I laughed so hard while reading this book I LOL'd for real at work sitting at my desk on my lunch break. And then I was made fun of because I told someone that I LOL'd and she couldn't believe that I actually said LOL instead of laughing out loud.

The only reason why this book is not an A for me is because it was too much like those "Not Another Teen Movie" movies. It did seem a little forced, and just plain bazaar, but it was funny.

As a matter of fact, I am going to give my copy away to a random person, if and only if, I have 50 followers by the time I reach 50 books.

And so there you have it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Animal Farm

Animal Farm
By George Orwell

128 pages
3 hrs and 13 mins listening time

Grade B+

This was a required reading in high school, and I dreaded it. Not because it was a bad book, but because I was being assigned to read and I hated to be told what I needed to read. Although I thought it was a "cool" book when I was in high school, I think it is a great book now.

There really isn't much to say about this book because I am pretty sure everyone and their dog has read it. However, I do suggest to keep this book away from your dog, so as to prevent a hostile take over.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Girl who Played with Fire

The Girl who Played with Fire
By Stieg Larsson

656 pages
18 hours and 38 minutes listening time

Grade B

I enjoyed this book, however, I totally liked the first book in the series much better. I didn't really feel like this book ended well. It kinda just cut off. All the action happened in the end of the book like within the last hour. There was about 5 chapters in the beginning that probably could have been deleted giving the author more time to wind the book down at the end.

I am not saying I like a book that drags for the last 5 chapters, but I am saying that I hate when a book is all "And the main character runs into the house guns and golf clubs flailing and hits the main villain over the head causing major skull damage. Then all of a sudden the main villains BFF blows up the nearest car, almost killing the main character. As the main character throws a nuclear bomb into the mix, her and her lover escape the scene without a scratch, and live happily ever after."

I really loved how the book progressed though. Once I got passed the first 5 or 6 chapters, I was really into it, and could not put it down. I stayed up until 12:30 the other night reading it (I listened and read this book). I loved the crime solving, although I am not a murder mystery book type of gal.

Good book, but I did like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo better. I kinda feel like this author just rushed through this book kinda like how Stephenie Meyer did on Breaking Dawn, except there isn't any crazy half vampire spawn with stupid names involved.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Year that Nick McGowan Came to Stay

The Year that Nick McGowan Came to Stay
By Rebecca Sparrow

208 pages
3 hours 40 minutes listening time

Grade C

I enjoyed this book, mainly because I do like young adult books. I don't really know how to give this book a review though because it was really about nothing. Rachel, the main character, doesn't know how to feel about her parents "adopting" Nick McGowen, one of the hottest guys at school. Nick McGowen had some issues in the previous year in his prep school, and so his dad opted to have him stay with another family. Rachel had issues with this because she felt that she was not cool enough to have Nick McGowen living at her house.

After making lists of what her parents were and were not allowed to do, and hiding all the things she thought was embarrassing as well as adding a few Ramon's posters to her walls, she was still very standoffish to Nick. However, after a few incidents, Her and Nick become pretty good friends.

It was a cute book. It was a very quick listen (I finished it in an afternoon) but it wasn't anything that you should add to your MUST READ lists. maybe something though to just listen to on your daily commutes.

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre
By Charlotte Bronte

256 pages
3 hrs and 10 mins listening time

Grade A

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved that it was a love story, and I loved how it started, how it continued and how it ended. I really hate when book reviews give away too much information, and this book is so short that I am afraid I will give away too much. However, I loved that Jane ended up with everything.

I chuckled in parts, I wanted to cry in others. It was beautifully written. I was sad when it was over because I wanted more. I don't know what else to say about this book other than, it is a very quick read, and I think everyone should read it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

If I Stay

If I Stay
By Gayle Forman

208 pages
5 hours 2 minutes listening time

Grade C

I am only giving this book a C because it is terribly depressing. I mean sobbing kinda of depressing. In the first 5 minutes of this book 17 year old Mia, the main character is involved in a car accident with her parents and 7 year old brother. The accident kills her parents at the scene and Mia is rushed to the hospital and taken by flight for life to a bigger city hospital to get the treatments that she needs.

She is a soul, or a spirit, or a ghost wandering around the hospital watching her loved ones as they wait to see if she will make it. One of the nurses tells her grandpa that it is Mia's decision if she will stay with them, or decide to pass on. The rest of the book is her journey on her decision to say to go.

It is a very compelling book. I am glad now that I read it, however while I was reading it, I was questioning why I kept listening, since I swore I was going to stay away from sad books for a while.

If you are looking for a sappy book, go for it. It is NOT a sappy book like Nicholas Sparks though. It is just terribly plain depressing.

So there you have it. I depressingly depressing book, that may or may not make you feel good or happy in the end. It might just very well leave you wondering why you read it to begin with.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
By Stieg Larson

608 pages
16 hours and 19 min listening time

Grade B

On Tuesday I was very excited because it looked like I was going to be finishing this book, the same day I started it. Well when I was 8 minute from my iPod saying I was done, I thought, there is no WAY the author can sum this book up in 8 minutes. Well I was right. When I got home, I realized that only HALF THE BOOK had downloaded on my iPod. So I downloaded the second half and finished it this morning.

The first 45 minutes of the book was incredibly boring. I really struggled. I almost turned it of and not starting again. I read a review on a book discussion board that I partake in and everyone said if you could get through the boring financial parts the rest of the book is amazing. And I agree. The rest of the book was incredible. I am usually not one for murder mysteries, but this one was great.

There are so many sub-stories that eventually turn into one story. I really liked how the author kept you going the whole time. My favorite character was Elizabeth. She is an incredibly strong character. She has an undiagnosed condition, possibly a form of Asperger syndrome. She is just a really cool character, and she is also, the girl with the dragon tattoo.

I did not like the end. Not one freaking bit. but I really did like the book, but the ending, and I mean the very ending, like the last 5 minutes of it, I hated.

PS Your Cat is Dead

PS Your Cat is Dead
By James Kirkwood

224 pages
unavailable on audio

Grade C

I totally judge books by their cover. Completely totally 100% guilty. I have had a very long streak of bad luck in my life this year, and wanted something funny, and light to read to keep my mind off of things. I found everything I was looking for in this book. The only character that died in this book was obviously, the main character, Jimmy's cat, Bobby Seale.

Jimmy's stream of bad luck sounds a lot like how mine has been, of course with different situations, but it kinda made me feel a little better. There were many times when I really actually LOL'd. There were also times in this book when I kept thinking WTF?!?

Jimmy, a now out of work actor, breaks up with his girl friend on New Year's Eve. When she leaves, he finds a burglar under his bed, robbing him for the THIRD time. Vito, the burglar, is a bi-sexual part time comedian, who robs people as a side business.

I am just going to say, it's strange. The entire book takes place over about three days, but mainly on New Year's Eve. If you are looking for something quick, funny, light, and all around odd, pick up this book.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild
By Jack London

100 pages
3 hours 40 minutes listening time

Grade C

Had I read this book during a different time of my life, or even maybe at a different time this year, I might have enjoyed it more. So many things happened in February that it made it hard for me to really get into this book or honestly really care what happened to the dog Buck. I was, however, terribly distraught when he was being beaten. I wanted to reach through my headphones to the character in the book and just strangle him. It made me so angry.

It was a cute book, but just not what I needed at this time.