Flashback to young love

Not Exactly
a Love Story
By Audrey
Couloumbis
Random House
Children’s Books
$17.99
Hardcover
$10.99 eBook
Publisher’s Summary:
It’s 1977.Fifteen-year old Vinnie isn’t having a good year. He’s recovering from the worst case of galloping acne his dermatologist’s ever seen. His girl moved to California without even saying good-bye. And the ink on his parent’s divorce papers is barely dry, when his mom announces that they’re moving from Queens to Long Island.

The silver lining in all this is that they move next door to Patsy—everyone’s dream girl. Not that she’d ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations. Under the cover of darkness, Vinnie becomes Vincenzo, Patsy’s mystery caller, and the two share a side of themselves they would never reveal in daylight and develop a surprisingly real connection (despite the lies it’s built on). As Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life though, it becomes clear both identifies can’t survive and he’ll have to find a way to hang-up the phone and step into the daylight. Fraught with complications and crackling with witty dialogue, and all the angst and electricity that comes with always being just a phone wire away from the one you want, it’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close.

My Review:
I thought this book was especially charming and cute. Told in the very real voice of 15-year-old, parents recently divorced, just moved to a new neighborhood, Vinnie, Love Story is witty, quick, and fun. Back before cell phones and computers, if a boy liked a girl, he had to steal her number and call her from the safety of his dark bedroom, anonymously.
Not really, but it adds to this story.
This is Couloumbis’ debut novel for young adults, and I must say, it is a grand success. A quick voice, plenty of smashing dialogue, a charming ending, and some surprisingly profound moments–like the one below–make up
this pretty pleasing package.
“No one tells you how things really are. Everything coming in waves, one rolling in after the other, and in case you’re thinking that doesn’t sound so bad, keep this in mind: that’s how huge rocks, boulders, become sand on the beach.” (pg 14, ebook)
Rating:
I really liked it. It’s deep enough to keep older readers interested and challenging and clean enough for your younger YA reader. I’d rate it a PG (content wise). There are a couple of mild fight scenes and some language.

A wonderful romance between two very damaged characters

Eleanor & Park
By: Rainbow Roswell
Genre: YA Contemproary
Content Rating: PG-13 for
some language and some sexuality (warning: best first kiss scene in a YA EVER!)
Rating: 5/5
Cover: Love how it captures
everything in the book
Instalove Factor: Nope, they
worked hard for their love
Favorite Line: “Park turned
toward the Plexiglas window and waited for a world of suck to hit the fan.” (pg 16, ebook)
Disclaimer I
received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.
 
Publisher’s Summary
“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
My Take I get so wrapped up in reading genre fiction in YA (paranormal, fantasy, dystopian, etc) that I forget how much I love contemporary YA fiction. It has a way of touching you as a reader and making you experience things in a realistic and emotional way that genre fiction could never do. While at times it can be a bit sad or depressing, it’s also refreshing and beautiful.
I just finished reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and this book is one of those refreshingly beautiful contemporary romances. Set in 1986, the book is told from alternating points of view written in the 3rd person, between (you guessed it) Eleanor and Park.
It opens with Eleanor starting a new school and walking on to the bus for the first time and seeing Park then flips to Park’s first impression of Eleanor. Let’s just say it’s anything but love at first sight. Life for Eleanor is hard. We aren’t given many details about her past, but we do know that she was kicked out by her stepdad for a year and is just now coming back home. She has four siblings and all of them share the same room. Her stepdad is an abusive drunk (although Rowell never goes into details about specific events) and she’s being bullied at school. But she is strong and tries to ignore everything.
Park is from a pretty functional family, although his dad wishes he were more….well, just more. Park is ridden hard by his tae-kwon-do teaching father and compared to his younger brother too much. He has friends at school, but he’s pretty quiet. And then he falls in love with the wrong girl.
This seemed like a long book when in reality it really wasn’t. I think that illusion was created by the fact that so much happens on every page; no space is wasted in telling the story and developing the characters.
I loved the snarky comments that constantly came from Eleanor and the fact that she was afraid to let Park get so close, constantly second-guessing that he could actually love her. Park had the patience of a saint in dealing with her insecurities, but he was also human, getting frustrated and making mistakes. They both do, and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes this book so real.
My Recommendation Definitely worth the read. Loved this book so much.
–Rachel

On Dublin Street, an emotional journey of passion, love and trust

On Dublin StreetOn Dublin Street by Samantha Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An emotional journey of passion, love and trust.

Jocelyn Butler (Joss) has kept everyone at arm’s length for years, ever since her parents and sister, Elizabeth died in a car crash and then a year later her best friend, whom she had relied on while in foster care, was killed in an accident that Joss blames on herself. So for eight years she never let anyone close, as she spent her teenage years rebelling from everything, it was only after one scary incident when she was eighteen that she decided to change her life, yet still keeping her emotional walls up.

She moves to Scotland, the country her mother was from and with dual citizenship Joss is able to go to college and escape. Now, newly graduated from college she is ready to make her way as a writer. The problem is that she is in need of a new place and roommate since her best friend moved to London to continue her own education.

Joss is very frugal when it comes to her inheritance, as if it spending as little as possible would lessen the reason she has this money. Joss decides she needs to spend more for the kind of place she wants, something that will help the creative juices flow for her writing. She finds a great place and wonderful roommate in Elle; unfortunately it comes at a price: becoming friends with Elle, meeting and liking her family and feeling even more for her brother Braden, causing Joss to have panic attacks as she realizes she has not dealt with her family’s death after so many years.

We follow Joss as she works through her sorrow and begins to live again with the help of Elle and Braden. Braden pushes all her buttons and makes her live again and by falling in love with him she lets him break through the walls she has constructed around her emotions. This is an angst filled touching story about trust, love and letting others in. Although written in first person (something to get use to) I thoroughly enjoyed the story, as it kept me involved to the end to find if Joss completes her journey with the help of Braden.

View all my reviews

The Christmas eReader battle: Nook vs. Kindle

It took me a LONG time before I finally caved and bought myself an ereader. I was being stubborn and indignant about technology’s progress when it came to books. By golly, I would hold a physical book in my hand and read it or not read it at all!

That was silly.

When Pam was deciding whether to get a Nook or a Kindle, I helped do the research. That’s when I realized they weren’t so bad after all. And they aren’t, they’re really quite remarkable with everything that’s been pumped into them. From HD streaming movies, to full color games, internet, social media, email, and of course, books.

So, with Christmas coming around, and Santa’s list beckoning to you from your purse or wallet, an ereader just may be on your mind. The next question is, which one should you get? Especially with the introduction of the HD models and all the tablets available, which one is truly best?

I’m going to try and help you with that. Please know, I’m not a tech-savvy guru by any means, nor do I know everything there is to know, but I have done a bit of research and have personal experience with my Nook, so that is what I’m going to enlighten you with.

I’m going to focus my info on the two main ereaders on the market: Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Kindle’s Fire. I’m not going to touch the tablets or the mini tablets because they’re tablets that can be used as ereaders. Their first function isn’t reading. Plus, that would be way too much for me to tackle. So, here we go. There’s a lot of information.

Nook Family

Kindle Family

Back when I purchased my ereader, I chose Nook for a couple of reasons:

1)      The Silk browser on Kindle really wasn’t any faster than the Nook’s browser

2)      I could side-load apps and the Nook had external storage

3)      There was a brick and mortar store I could walk into and get help with my Nook and

4)      My Nook could accept almost any format of ebook imaginable, whereas Kindle can only do only a couple

Looking at the new ereaders available now, and going off of what I’ve been using my Nook Tablet for (which they don’t offer anymore. I think the closest thing would be the HD+), and what I wish I could do with it, I would be tempted by the Kindle.

I feel dirty saying that.

Here’s why I’d be tempted:

1)      The selection of books and music and movies via Amazon is, undoubtedly far superior to that of B&N. There are millions of self-published authors you have access to

2)       The pricing tends to be more competitive, especially if it is a self-published author

3)      The 4G capability, a true tablet-esque feature

4)      The app store has FAR MORE choices and there are more free apps here than with B&N (not that I really use that many apps on my reader)

5)      I like the classic look of the Kindle over the new Nook HD

But in the end, I’d still go with my Nook. I haven’t had any real problems with my Nook that going into the store didn’t fix. And the extended warranty I purchased was painless when I had to implement it the day my Nook decided to go for a swim in a mug-full of coffee at the bottom of my purse.

So why buy the Nook over the $600 Kindle when it seems there are so many more reasons to pump out a hefty price? If you’re going to spend that much money on something that’s “close to” a tablet, throw in a couple hundred more dollars and buy an actual tablet. That way, you can do everything under the sun on it, and not pay a tablet price for a fancy ereader.

There you have it. A bit of info and my two cents to help you make your decision. Whichever way you go, though, they’re all pretty comparable and you’re going to get a good product with great customer service. If you know someone with either reader (or any ereader, actually; Kindle and Nook aren’t your only options), ask to play with it a bit and get a feel for it. See which setup you prefer and why. Then, make your purchase and help make a very merry Christmas.

BOOK ADDICTS CALENDAR

Dec. 16 – Jan. 5

One Time Events:

E-Books for the Confused Reader: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 7-8 p.m., Library! At Hillcrest, Boise.

Taproot Book Club: 6:30 – 8 p.m., in conjunction with Boise Novel Orchard, Hyde Park Books, downtown Boise

Books to Film Movie Nights: Wednesday, Dec 19, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (with the Muppets!), Library! at Collister

Author Event: Thursday, Dec 20, 6 – 8:30 p.m., Eve Chandler, author of Building Bogus Basin and Brundage Mountain will be discussing and reading from her book at Hyde Park Books in downtown Boise

Story Time with Justeen!: Saturday, Dec 22, 11 – 12 p.m., Hyde Park Books, Boise

All libraries closed: Christmas Day, Dec. 25

BLiP: Tuesday, Dec. 25, 7 – 9:30 p.m., a screenwriting reading, Hyde Park Books in downtown Boise

Story Time with Justeen!: Saturday, Dec 29, 11 – 12 p.m., Hyde Park Books, Boise

Early Closure: Monday, Dec 31, 6 p.m., Main Library! closes early

All libraries closed: New Year’s Day, Jan. 1

Writing Group: Tuesday, Jan 1, 6:30 – 8 p.m., Boise Novel Orchard meets at Hyde Park Books in downtown Boise

Night Owl Story Time: Wednesday, Jan 2, 7 – 7:30 p.m., Main Library in Boise

Saturday Storytime: Saturday, Jan 5, 11 a.m., favorite Storytime books will be revisited today

Story Time with Justeen!: Saturday, Jan 5, 11 – 12 p.m., Hyde Park Books, Boise

Reoccurring Events:

Writers’ Block:  Tuesdays, Noon – 1p.m., Boise Community Radio, KRBX 89.9. Hosted by Jennifer Sanders Peterson and Amanda Turner

Poet’s and Writer’s Open Mic: Every first Thursday, 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Idaho Falls

Nook Tablet Class: Saturdays, 10 a.m., Barnes & Noble, Boise

Nook HD/HD+ Class: Saturdays, 11 a.m., Thursdays, 6 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Boise

Reoccurring Contact Information:

·         Library! At Collister: 4724 W State St, Boise 83703, (208) 377-4995

·         Library! Main: 715 S Capitol Blvd, Boise 83702, (208) 384-4076

·         Library! At Cole: 7557 W Ustick, Boise 83704, (208) 570-6900

·         Library! At Hillcrest: 5246 Overland Rd, Boise 83705, (208) 562-4996

·         Barnes & Noble: 1315 N Milwaukee Rd, Boise 83704, (208) 375-4454

·         Rediscovered Books: 180 N 8th St, Boise 83702, (208) 376-4229

·         Hyde Park Books: 1507 N 13th St, Boise 83702, (208) 429-8220

·         The Cabin: 801 S Capitol Blvd, Boise 83702, (208) 331-8000

 

Life of Pi

Author: Yann Martel

Genre: YA-ish (old man telling of his adventure at 16 years old)

Coffee Beans: 4/5

Content Rating: PG-13 (there’s some extreme, graphic violence)

Favorite Line: “The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.” (pg 71, printed copy)

Cover Love: Simplisticly awesome

Instalove Factor: None present.

Personal Recommendation: Read it, but it’s an investment of time and brain cells. But worth it.
Life of Pi is a very unique book written in so many layers about
religion, survival, right and wrong and at a very collegiate level. The
writing is fantastic (almost hypnotic at times), the details both
captivating and repulsive, and the overall story so imaginative, I can’t
help but wonder, What was the point?

Let me explain.

The
book is a lot like the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks, but on a boat
instead of an island and with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker
instead of a volleyball named Wilson.

But there wasn’t any real
storyline or significant plot in the traditional sense. This boy is lost
out at sea for 227 days before he’s found (and you know he survives
because this book is an interview, you find that out in the beginning).
The first quarter of the book is about his childhood growing up, how he
got his nickname Pi, his schooling, and what it was like to grow up
living in a zoo (his father was the head man at the Pondicherry Zoo in
India). While it was fascinating to learn the ins and outs of zoos and
the different animals, the narrative was almost written like a
nonfiction, collegiate fashion that somewhat bored me and I ended up
skimming a little.

He also goes into theology. Pi, as a young boy
(he’s sixteen through most of this), constantly says that he just wants
to love God. As a result, he starts to follow not one religion, but
three. Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Needless to say, this was a
bit of an ordeal for his agnostic parents and the religious leaders of
the different houses of worship he was attending when they all found
out, but you couldn’t help but want to encourage young Pi in his journey
of seeking God. After all, he just wanted to love God, so why did he
have to pick only one religion to do so. While that vein of his life
story was interesting, going into the dry, theological details of each
religion was not, so I skimmed some of this, at times, as well.

The
next section was the majority of the book, and consisted of his story
being stuck out at sea. This was the most interesting part of the book,
obviously. And while it didn’t have any on the edge of your seat
action/peril/look out! moments, it was still very interesting. Martel
has a subtle way of telling the details of a story that seep into every
pore of your body. As Pi was baking from the sun and his skin getting
tortured by the salt spray, I could have sworn my skin tightened with
dehydration. I really could taste his victory of food and fresh water
when he found it, and was scared for him being exposed in the wild
Pacific ocean. This, to me, was the best part of the book, but I
couldn’t help but wish for more of a story arc.

The last section
of the book (about twenty pages or so) takes place when his ordeal ends.
Even though this was the smallest section, I almost liked this the
most. I got more personality from Pi, and this was where the most
thought provoking element of the book comes from. You are presented with
a question, and given the background of the book, and everything we
learn about Pi, it’s not the question I thought it was going to be when I
started reading the book. As a reader, you are given two very plausible
outcomes or paths to choose that come from the question. It’s almost
heart wrenching, the different possibilities. One is so real, and so
tragic, that you don’t want to pick that answer, you’re more willing to
pick the more fantastical option, however absurd it may be.

But in the end, the answer I chose to believe, I hope that is the truth. Because it is a sad and beautiful possibility.

I
would love to get a discussion group together to talk about this book
to see what everyone’s thoughts were, how they reacted to the storyline,
which answer they believe to be correct and why, and just to hear their
overall impressions. I also am planning on going to see the movie. I
heard it was fantastic and very beautifully filmed and followed the book
masterfully.

In the end, I would recommend this book. It’s not an
easy read, nor is it a light read. And you may end up like me at the
end, wondering what the whole point was, while still understanding what
the whole point was. But all-in-all, it was worth my time.

Happy reading, my friends!

–Me

Interview with Garden Valley author, Philip Arnold

Philip Arnold lives in Garden Valley and is the author of the middle grade novel, Suicide Plunge.

How long have you been a teacher? And what subject do you teach?

I have taught for 27 years, from 3rd grade through 8th grade. I currently teach 6-7-8th grade History and English at Garden Valley School.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had written and published about a dozen stories for outdoor magazines and had come to a dead-end there, so I decided to write a book.

How much of an inspiration were your kids?

They were a tremendous inspiration. I gave each of my 8th grade English students a copy of the rough draft of my book. We went through it page by page to spot my errors and add elements that they thought would be relevant to young adults. It was a great project because they were so in to it. They would come in every day full of ideas and angles of how to make the book better. We would discuss any potential changes as a class, although I had the final say. We focused on making this a book that the reader could easily picture in their mind as they read it. That is an important aspect of the creative writing that I teach.

Do you have any other projects you’re working on right now?

I’d love to say I am writing the sequel to Suicide Plunge, but I have yet to come up with an idea that is as good as the original. So my next book is still evolving.
Is the Suicide Plunge an actual race? Or a race based loosely on a real horse race?

It is based loosely on the “Suicide Race” a native American horse race that is run every August in Omak, Washington.
I, being a horse gal, noticed you had a lot of, what seemed to be, firsthand knowledge of racing and ranch work. Do you have a lot of experience in these areas? Or did you just do your homework?

I know a little about horses and ranch life but that only went so far. Luckily for me, there are a lot of horse savvy people here in Garden Valley. I had two students and one teacher in particular I went to for any questions I had about horses.

You’ve written two endings to your story. Personally, I prefer the one that’s in the physical book to the Kindle version. Why did you choose to write the ending both ways and which do you prefer?

I had always intended to have the main character die in the end. But when my youngest daughter was typing up the draft and got to the end where he died, she hated it. So I gave in to her and wrote an alternate ending which she loved. Ironically, I ended up liking the alternate ending better too.
When you’re not writing, what would we find you doing?

I do love teaching which takes up most of my time. When I have spare time though, I like doing anything outdoors. I am very lucky to be able to live in Garden Valley where I hunt, fish, snowmobile, hike and just enjoy the outdoors.
Last book you read?

Wild Men, Wild Alaska: An Alaskan Guide’s Story by Robert McElveen

Favorite holiday ritual or tradition?

EVERY year on the day before Christmas break, I sit down with my students and we all watch the movie, “A Christmas Story.” I have yet to have a student who disliked it.