Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park

Author: Cindy Jones
Pages: 319

Rating: Sadly, R. There are two sex scenes. The first one is not a problem because it's pretty vauge, but the second one is pretty descriptive. I had to skip it. If you still want to read the book, then skip the first three pages of Chapter 20. All you need to know is that she regrets it.

Summary: Lily has squeezed herself into undersized relationships all her life, hoping one might grow as large as those found in the Jane Austen novels she loves. But lately her world is running out of places for her to fit. So when her bookish friend invites her to spend the summer at a Jane Austen literary festival in England, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself.
There, among the rich, promising world of Mansfield Park reenactments, Lily finds people whose longing to live in a novel equals her own. But real-life problems have a way of following you wherever you go, and Lily's accompany her to England. Unless she can change her ways, she could face the fate of so many of Miss Austen's characters, destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

My Thoughts: I often have a hard time with adult novels because they often have too much sex, and they are SOO dramatic! Lilly is such a ridiculous character. She has serious problems. It makes sense, and you feel her pain, but it's almost depressing. I felt depressed when I was done with reading the book for the day. Here's the situation. Lilly has just lost her mother after a brief bout with cancer. Only a few weeks later, her father already has a new girlfriend, who moves into the house and begins to erase Lilly's mother from existence. Lilly's boyfriend of over a year dumps her, she gets fired from her job, and then she finds out that her father is getting married to this new woman, who happens to be quite a bit younger. Life is really sucking for Lilly. So, when an opportunity opens for her to go to England and participate in a Literature Event that reenacts Jane Austen novels, she is all over it. However, life just keeps getting more complicated.

The book would probably be better if you are more familiar with Jane Austen novels, especially Mansfield Park. There is a brief synopsis of Mansfield Park at the beginning, so I wasn't totally lost, but I felt like some of the arguments presented in the book were over my head. It wasn't really that great of a book in my opinion. It was well written. I felt for Lilly, that is for sure, but I didn't really like how I felt at the end or while I was reading. It was just so depressing and confusing. And I'm not sure if the ending was exactly happy either. If you're a die-hard Jane Austen fan, go ahead and read this one, but like I said, skip the sex scene in the first three pages of Chapter 20.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Series: 1-800-Where-R-U

Author: Meg Cabot

Books in Series: When Lightning Strikes, Code Name Cassandra, Safe House, Sanctuary, Missing You

Rating: PG-13 for some mild language and frightening scenes

Pages: Book 1 -272
Book 2- 272
Book 3- 272
Book 4- 231 (thank goodness, I was beginning to think the author made them ALL 272 pages.)
Book 5- 288

 Book 1 -When lightning strikes there can only be trouble - as Jessica Mastriani finds out when she and best friend Ruth get caught in a thunderstorm. Not that Jess has ever really avoided trouble before. Instead of cheerleading there are fistfights with the football team and month-long stints in detention - not that detention doesn't have its good points - like sitting next to Rob - the cutest senior around! But this is trouble with a capital T - this trouble is serious. Because somehow, on that long walk home in the thunderstorm, Jess acquired a newfound talent. An amazing power that can be used for good...or for evil.

Book 2-  Jess Mastriani was dubbed "Lightning Girl" by the press when she developed a psychic ability to find missing children after she was struck by lightning during a huge storm. Now Jess has lost her miraculous powers...or at least she would like the media and the government to think so. All she wants is to be left alone.

But it doesn't look like Jess is going to get her wish -- especially not while working at a summer camp for musically gifted kids. When the father of a missing girl shows up to beg Jess to find his daughter, Jess can't say no. Now the Feds are on her tail again, as is one ornery stepdad, who'd like to see Lightning Girl...well, dead.
Book 3- When cheerleader Amber Mackey goes missing and is later found dead, many blame Lightning Girl, Jess Mastriani, for not stopping the brutal killing. But when Amber went missing Jess was on holiday. It wasn't her fault! How could Jess have found her when she didn't know that she was missing in the first place? When another cheerleader disappears, Jess has a chance to redeem herself. But just how is she supposed to keep her psychic powers secret from the feds, while at the same time tracking down a murderer - especially when the number one suspect turns out to be living in Jess's own house?

Book 4- Jess knew she wasn't going to be able to hide her psychic powers from the U.S. government forever. But she never thought that she and Dr. Krantz, the special agent brought in to convince Jess to join his elite team of "specially gifted" crime solvers, would have something in common.
When a local boy's disappearance is attributed to a backwoods militia group, it turns out that Jess and Dr. Krantz have the same goal. Suddenly Jess finds herself collaborating with one enemy in order to stop a far worse one. In an atmosphere of hate and fear, Jess and Dr. Krantz must work together to unite a community and save a life...without loosing their own.

Book 5-  Ever since a walk home on a particularly stormy day, Jessica Mastriani has had an ability like no other. She became known worldwide as Lightning Girl—a psychic who could find the location of anyone, dead or alive. Jess finally had no choice but to embrace her newfound talent, and ended up lending her skills to the U.S. government.
But her work for them has taken a terrible toll, and Jess resurfaces months later a shadow of her former self, her powers gone, Lightning Girl no more. Her only hope is starting over in a new place, a big city where nobody knows her. It's only when Rob Wilkins unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep that she's forced to face her past. Rob, all the way from back home, needs her help. But how can Jess, her powers gone, find anyone, let alone the sister of a man she once loved . . . when she can't even find herself?

My Thoughts: If you've ever read anything by Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries...) you know she's a fantastic author with a sharp wit. I always end up laughing when I read her books, and they're hard to put down. These are no different. I loved them because they aren't terribly long, but they are almost thrillers, since they deal with disappearances and sometimes murders. And they aren't really THAT creepy. I'm a huge wuss when it comes to anything frightening and I was able to get through these without having nightmares, but there was still PLENTY of suspense. There are really no good stopping places.

Just a brief rundown...Jess is not a very popular person and she has a tendency to lose her temper and get in fights pretty often. Usually with football players three times her size. But then one day when walking home from school, she gets hit by lightning, and ends up being able to find missing people. All she has to do is see their picture and know they are missing, and their location just pops into her head. However, she runs into some trouble when she finds out that some people went missing for good reason and aren't very pleased to be found. This new talent also makes her famous with the press AND the US government, who basically want to use her as a secret weapon. It's very entertaining.

If you're not interested in reading the whole series, the first book stands on its own pretty well, and the last one does too. The background from the other books is nice, but since the setting is several years past book 4, it's not super important.

The only problem you may have with these books is that they are hard to find. My sister ended up buying them online because she couldn't find more than the first book anywhere else. But if you do come across them, they are fantastic! I don't know why they are so hard to find, because I liked them better than the Princess Diaries.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Are We There Yet?

Author: David Levithan (a side note about this author, all of his other books have strong homosexual themes and are usually about gay teens. If that is something you are interested in, he's an author for you. If not, then this is really the only book by him that I can recommend.)

Pages: 215
Rating: PG-13, for several drug references, slight language, and vague references to sex.

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it’s no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? Soon, though, their parents’ perfect solution has become Danny and Elijah’s nightmare as they’re forced to spend countless hours together. But then Elijah meets Julia, and soon the brothers aren’t together nearly as much. And then Julia meets Danny and soon all three of them are in a mixed-up, turned-around, never-what-you-expect world of brothers, Italy, and love.

My Thoughts: I have read this book at least three times, not because the story itself is particularly moving, but because Levithan is a master of words and language. The sentences he strings together never cease to amaze me. Here's an example. "He feels the antithesis of alone, because he is in the company of circumstance." Or "The buildings line the canals like sentences—each house a word, each window a letter, each gap a punctuation." It's just....deep the way he writes. And the story really isn't bad either. Two brothers, so far apart, sent on this random trip to Italy together, somehow manage to come to terms with each other by the end. It's a good one. And I love it.