Posts tagged ‘christmas’

January 7th, 2011

Let it Snow by John Green; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Let it Snow

Author(s): John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Published: October 2nd, 2008

Number of Pages: 400

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

Instead of a quote here, I’ll include a quote for every story below.

Synopsis:

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses. [From Goodreads]

Review(s):

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson; Review

Quote:

“Maybe you’ve never fallen into a frozen stream. Here’s what happens.

1. It is cold. So cold that the Department of Temperature Acknowledgment and Regulation in your brain gets the reading and says, “I can’t deal with this. I’m out of here.” It puts up the OUT TO LUNCH sign and passes all responsibility to the…

2. Department of Pain and the Processing Thereof, which gets all this gobbledygook from the temperature department that it can’t understand. “This is so not our job,” it says. So it just starts hitting random buttons, filling you with strange and unpleasant sensations, and calls the…

3. Office of Confusion and Panic, where there is always someone ready to hop on the phone the moment it rings. This office is at least willing to take some action. The Office of Confusion and Panic loves hitting buttons.

I’d never read anything by Maureen Johnson before cracking open Let it Snow on Christmas day, but I’ll definitely do so now!

Though the story was a bit cliche and predictable, I found myself totally invested in it and just as anxious and full of anticipation as the main character. Actually, due to the predictability, I was probably filled with more anticipation than Jubilee (who, as she would want me to tell you, is not a stripper).

The story reminded me quite a lot of Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever, primarily because the boys are very similar. Jubilee begins her journey totally in love with the focused, popular, and busy boyfriend, Noah, only to meet a stranger who later proves to be a very nice fellow. She also meets a handful of people along the way who are intriguing and likable, namely the heartsick and polite Jeb. (Heartsick and polite? Goodness – what a bad description. Just, um, read the story.)

In the end, “The Jubilee Express” is enticing, cute, and though cliche, very very likable. I was so excited for things to wrap up at the end just the way I wanted them to.

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green; Review

Quote:

When I caught up to them, all of out hoods where scrunched shut against the oncoming wind as we walked up the street parallel to Sunrise. We had to shout to be heard, and the Duke said, “I’m glad you’re here,” and I shouted back, “Thanks,” and she shouted, “Honestly, hash browns mean nothing without you.”

I laughed and pointed out that “Hash Browns Mean Nothing Without You” was a pretty good name for a band.

“Or a song,” the Duke said, and then she started singing all glam rock, a glove up to her face holding and imaginary mic as she rocked out an a cappella power ballad. “Oh, I deep fried for you / But now I weep ‘n’ cry for you / Oh, babe, this meal was made for two / And these hash browns mean nothing, oh these hash browns mean nothing, yeah these HASH BROWNS MEAN NOTHING’ without you.”

First of all, JOHN GREEN!

Ahem.

Anyway… this was by far my favorite of the three stories in the book! While the others were just as cute and enjoyable, there’s this certain feel to John Green’s writing and a sort of irresistible cleverness to his characters that is definitely present in this short story.

An interesting thing about this one, however, is that I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I finished. I was so engrossed while reading that there was no possible way I’d be able to determine what my own feelings were – I was too preoccupied with feeling exactly what the characters felt.

Another remarkable aspect of the story was the fully developed arc. I’m always impressed when people manage this in short stories, as I can’t write anything short and decent to save my life! Tobin learns to open up and take a chance if only to enjoy a “happy middle.”

“A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” is a hilarious, topsy-turvy adventure in which, as a reader, I literally got to cheer. The characters and the relationship between friends that develops into something more is precisely what every reader wants. I wish I could have spent more time with JP, Tobin, and especially the Duke!

The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle; Review

Quote:

“Tell us your good news,” I said.

“My news is about Gabriel,” Tegan said. She smiled. “He’s coming home tomorrow! …

“I have his bed all set up,” Tegan said. “I have a special Piglet stuffed animal to make him feel comfortable, and I have a ten-pack of grape Dubble Bubble.”

“Ah, yes, because Gabriel loves grape Dubble Bubble,” Dorrie said.

“Do pigs eat gum?” I said.

“They don’t eat it, they chew it,” Tegan said.

I wasn’t surprised when this story came along, as it was developing behind the scenes in the others as well. I knew from the moment we learned what Jeb was after in “The Jubilee Express” that I wanted to see him to the end of his journey, and in a way, that’s what this story is all about.

Though we’re introduced to this through Jeb, the POV character is Addie, Jeb’s ex-girlfriend. Reluctantly-ex-girlfriend, I suppose.

My main issue with this story was Addie – she certainly comes off as selfish and undeserving of Jeb (who is clearly awesome from the moment we meet him) – but that’s the whole point. “The Patron Saint of Pigs” might be a bit ridiculous and light-hearted, but it deals with an important problem – What do you do when you know you’re wrong and need to change? Change isn’t easy. It’s not fun. Some people believe it’s as impossible as purple cheeseburgers (although I haven’t heard that exact comparison before). This book is about Addie’s epiphany (Epiphany = Whoa. I’m a jerk.) and her struggle to evolve into a better version of herself.

This story was a little over-the-top for me, but I absolutely loved that it was one of growth and confronting yourself, and it was also super fun to run into characters from the other stories. This is the one that wraps the collection up and gave me a feeling of closure.

Throw all of that together, and Let it Snow is a funny, dramatic, enjoyable collection of stories about people confronting various bits and pieces of themselves and taking worthwhile chances. I’d definitely recommend it!

P.S. Don’t forget to join Google Friend Connect! (Sorry, but I’m only human, and I have my obsessions.)

December 29th, 2010

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephenie Perkins

Published: December 2nd, 2010

Number of Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

Quote-that-Is-Super-Long-Due-to-Infinite-Goodness:

Oh my. He’s English.

“Er. Does Mer live here?”

Seriously, I don’t know any American girl who can resist an English accent.

The boy clears his throat. “Meredith Chevalier? Tall girl? Big, curly hair?” Then he looks at me like I’m crazy or half deaf, like my Nana Oliphant. Nanna just smiles and shakes her head whenever I ask, “What kind of salad dressing would you like?” or “Where did you put Granddad’s false teeth?”

“I’m sorry.” He takes the smallest step away from me. “You were going to bed.”

“Yes! Meredith lives here. I’ve just spent two hours with her.” I announce this proudly like my little brother, Seany, whenever he finds something disgusting in the yard. “I’m Anna! I’m new here!” Oh, [Gosh]. What. Is with. The scary enthusiasm? My cheeks catch fire, and it’s all so humiliating.

The beautiful boy gives an amused grin. His teeth are lovely – straight on top and crooked on the bottom, with a touch of overbite. I’m a sucker for smiles like this, due to my own lack of orthodontia. I have a gap between my front teeth the size of a raisin.

“Étienne,” he says. “I live one floor up.”

“I live here.” I point dumbly at my room while my mind whirs: French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.

He raps twice on Meredith’s door. “Well. I’ll see you around then, Anna.”

Eh-t-yen says my name like this: Ah-na.

Synopsis:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited? [From Goodreads]

Review:

Let me tell you – this book took the abilities of my innards to the extreme. I believe my gut twisted, wrenched, flipped, pirouetted, and did all sorts of flexible things its usually incapable of doing. My grief at the idea of having to go to bed before finishing was so great that I begged my mother to let me finish (it was after midnight). It was either begging or having to confess and halfheartedly apologize the next day!

Anna and the French Kiss is a book that I’ve had my eye on for months, after having heard about it on Kiersten White’s blog. Knowing me, I probably would never have given it a chance if it weren’t for Kiersten, SO THANKS TO KIERSTEN. And, also, thanks to my dearest little brother who happened upon my wishlist post and then proceeded to buy me the book.

The moment you start reading, it’s clear that you have a clever, funny, and relatable main character. Anna is without a doubt someone I would want to hang out with, and I had no problems whatsoever cheering her on, despite some decisions that made me cringe. It was like she was my avatar and I was living through her, and the only way that could possibly be is if I were unusually comfortable with her. She’s the sort of person who’s willing to learn and grow, yet she’s not just a hunk of Play Doh – She won’t be changed by people stepping all over her. I was pleased that she was the sort of girl who actually seemed deserving of the love interest.

Étienne St. Clair. The romance in this story isn’t the sort that’s just fun. You don’t want them to be together because you know that’s what’s supposed to happen. St. Clair is not just a pawn in another love story, really only significant because there has to be a guy somewhere. He’s St. Clair. (You can tell I’m dazzled when I start emphasizing the obvious in italics.) This is the sort of guy that makes people swoon for all the right reasons, who would be perfect even if he wasn’t gorgeous, who is perfectly imperfect. He’s three dimensional, clever, intelligent, and, overall, loving. I was so glad to see that he was flawed and just as mortal as the rest of us. He can be wounded and stupid and make really dumb decisions more than once, but still struggles to be a good person, a better one. And now that I’m done writing that paragraph, it’s painfully obvious that I’ve failed to express how purely awesome he is. Please, just read the book.

The supporting characters, namely Rashmi, Mer, and Josh, are all crucial to the story. They say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, be what they need to be, but they manage to do it with a flare that is entirely theirs. Rashmi is kind of a harsh and “I don’t put up with crap” sort of person, but I absolutely loved her. She was strong and sensitive. Stephenie Perkins should create a guy version of her for her next love interest (a British guy version of her). Mer was sweet and precisely what the group needed to soften them all up and keep them in line, and Josh was adorable and funny.

Who am I kidding? They were all funny. This book made me laugh out loud, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t read. Most books don’t reach that degree of hilarity. Speaking of which, this book made me do a lot of odd things. For example, it’s been a long time since I panted in panic at the thought of having to go to bed before finishing.

The book did pass into a sort of chick-flicky territory near the end (perhaps the last quarter of the book). I was upset and definitely disappointed, but there was no way I was going to quit reading. The characters made some stupid decisions that I simply couldn’t get behind, but I kept reading – I wasn’t there to hold grudges, I was there to see them make things right. I tend to tweet thoughts as I read, and here’s one that I tweeted last night:

You can’t go all chick-flicky on me, ANNA! You & I are too close for this kind of betrayal. (But I still love you. We can get through this.)

Ultimately, this book was amazing. In regard to my five star rating, I said:

If only because it takes a lot for a book to drive me THAT crazy.

So, while there were things that got on my nerves, there is no doubt whatsoever that this book is unique, hilarious, and will make your heart pound. I am not exaggerating. I probably squirmed when I read particular scenes. For example, there’s a scene in a movie theater, and I couldn’t get rid of the jitters for at least five minutes.

So please, dear readers, read Anna and the French Kiss, if only for the gift of living within such an enticing story and admiring all that makes it special – the writing, the voice, the people.

If you’re still having doubts, don’t take my word for it – take John Green’s…

realjohngreen: @maureenjohnson have you read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? It’s like you and me and Sarah Dessen had a really sexy baby.

 

December 25th, 2010

Who's Delirious?

by Madeleine Rex

First of all…

Merry Christmas!

I wish that I could give everyone my copy of Delirium, but, unfortunately, taking it to Kinkos and sending you all the book as a Christmas gift would be illegal. Though I sympathize, getting arrested isn’t worth it.

On the other hand, congratulations to Krista Mckeeth of CubicleBlindness Book Reviews! I hope you enjoy it!

Now, feel free to watch a YouTube video that is totally unrelated. Many of you have probably scene this, but it’s still neat and splendidly Christmas-y:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE]

*Psst! To those of you who didn’t win, I’m hosting another giveaway in just a few weeks, so don’t bother uncrossing those fingers (and toes, if you’re more flexible than I am)!