26 September 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Yay! It's MHLit's first Waiting on Wednesday!* Waiting on Wednesday, if you are unaware, showcases a book we can't wait for.

This week, we can't wait for THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling.

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. 

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. 

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. 

And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?**

Marketed as "blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising," I'm actually nervous for this book. J.K. Rowling wrote the story that not only defined my childhood and shape my personality, but the story that defined and shaped my generation. We - those who were born 1987-1990 at least - literally grew up with Harry. Personally, my age group (23-year-olds) began reading Harry Potter in 4th grade and finished as we graduated high school. Harry has been apart of my life for about 10 years -  longer for so many of my friends.

We are all going to read this book. We know it. J.K. knows it.

Personally, I think that's a lot of pressure.

While I can't wait to read it, I also do have to wait until December due to some must-read library books. Although. I may just spend Thursday trapped in my room reading it non-stop. That's what I did with Harry. While this is no Harry, it's still J.K and SO MANY people I know will be reading it.

I'm nervous. I'm nervous for the story and for the fandom and whether or not it will be good and if we'll like it.

There's a reason J.K. almost decided to write her next story under a psudoname. There's a lot of pressure.

I'm also REALLY curious about this story. The cover is... well, the cover. We don't understand it yet. The title is confusing to what we know. The summary is vague and our only known character is dead. J.K. has, ONCE AGAIN, messed with our head. And for that, I'm excited.

So now I ask you, what will you be doing at midnight?

Me? Yeah, I'll be cuddled in bed with my Nook, reading a J.K. book.

*Waiting on Wednesday is a blog meme started by... someone. Not us. Someone else started it. Thanks!
**Summary provided by Amazon.com

24 September 2012

Kelly *finally* Reads: Anna and the French Kiss

WARNING: This post kind of contains spoilers. This is not a normal review - this is a blog about a book.

For the past two years, I have heard nothing but AMAZING things about Anna and the French Kiss. I heard so many AMAZING things, that I even bought it last year and put it on my TBR bookcase. When friends and other book nerds found out that I haven’t read Anna yet, I would get yelled at. This wasn’t just, “what?! you NEED to read it!” This was, “WHAT!?! YOU NEED TO READ IT. RIGHT NOW. GO HOME AND READ IT.” So on my vacation, it became the first book I opened. Well, maybe it got too much hype over the past two years, but I wasn’t amazed as my friends clearly were. Granted, it has been hyped for me for TWO YEARS. I was expecting near-perfection. Everyone told me how realistic it was and how it was such a perfect love story. “Perfect” and “amazing” is what they were saying, but I didn’t think it was perfect or ah-maz-ing. I thought it was a good, and yes, realistic, romance novel - naive girl, “perfect” boy and all.

Anna Needs a Logistical Lesson

Okay, seriously, was Anna born minutes before the book started? I couldn’t believe some of her dumbness. Are girls this dumb now a days? How could you not think there would be movie theatres in a WORLD CITY? I’m sorry, do you know how to use the internet? That bothered me.

I was also SO ANNOYED at how naive she was about St. Clair’s feelings for her and what was going on in Georgia while she was gone. Maybe it’s because I’m older and a little more worldly than her, but she annoyed me a LOT. I would KILL to spend a year in France. Sure, I wouldn’t want to miss my senior year either, but this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I think my age plays a huge part in me not liking Anna. I'm 23 and she's 17. There is a maturity difference. But I think 17-year-old Kelly would have been pissed at her, too, for being that upset about this opportunity.

Overall, Anna was VERY believable. I liked - no, loved that. She didn’t have a great relationship with her parents, but she didn't hate them. Her relationship with her best friend was almost identical to how Laura and I talk. I loved that she didn’t just like movies, she was passionate about them and ran a blog - every aspect of her was whole, down to her brother’s obsession with Star Wars. She was so real that the story felt more like a movie or television show than a book. John Green does that for me and I’m glad Stephanie did that, too. Her writing is truly fantastic.

But St. Clair...

Just let me roll my eyes at all the cheesiness that came along with St. Clair.

Okay, I’m done.

That’s all I’m saying on the subject.

Where is this damn french kiss?

First of all, I loved Dave. I wanted Anna to GET IT TOGETHER with her brain so badly and date him sooner. Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but what 17-year-old is? I loved him. I love how he flirted with her and asked her out and he was so great, until he was a 17-year old. Stephanie’s story had perfect realism (except for how dumb Anna was sometimes and even that is debatable realism). The ups and downs of the story were 110% possible for Anna and her life. Except how pretty she was. I don’t think she was pretty with the gap in her teeth. But maybe that’s just me. Whatever. She was the main character so OF COURSE the guys liked her.

Still, the french kiss is in the freaking title. I don’t think Stephanie could have waited longer for this damn kiss. I was SO HAPPY every time Anna and St. Clair got closer to being together. At the very end, I was so upset at Anna for being mad that St. Clair ran after Meredith and then still didn’t come to her. I knew what he was doing. So why was she so DUMB? I’m sorry, but she was DUMB.  

Yes, I liked it, so hand me Lola.

I did enjoy Anna and the French Kiss. It was everything I love in a contemporary YA romance. There was a cute (and British! -ish) boy, there was a girl, there were complications and there was an awesome kiss in a french graveyard. Plus, Stephanie Perkins can write. I always appreciate an author who can write round characters in believable situations set in awesome cities. I laughed, I teared up, and I screamed when we FINALLY got that french kiss. I will recommend it and I may even read it again one day. I’m excited to get and read Lola, as I think it will be better. Stephanie’s stories have an originality to them that’s hard to come by these days. I see contemporary YA becoming so much more realistic than it was ten years ago. I’m glad I read it. Was I amazed as you all seemed to be? No. But that’s hype for you.

19 September 2012

The Diviners: This Book Has Shirtless Boys

The Diviners by Libba Bray
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 18, 2012)

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls ad rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. and through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first. (summary courtesy of amazon.com)

Laura: So, Kelly...What did you think of The Diviners? Wasn’t it just perfect?

Kelly: I read 137 pages. *hides*

Laura: WHAT?

Kelly: IT IS LONG (578 pages long, in fact).


Kelly: I have this thing about backstory... it tends to bore me. I *know* it is necessary, but it bores me. I will say that Libba properly puts you in the 1920’s though.

Laura: She does indeed! And while there is a lot of backstory, you do end up needing all of it. Which you will find out...When you FINISH THE BOOK.

Kelly: Yes, yes. OTHER BOOKS were calling my name. But the backstory is all necessary. I see that. Libba does a great job of introducing all the characters and the occult... THINGS that occur.

Laura: And you do need all of that. It is VITAL later. You cannot forget who your characters are, because each independent storyline ends up intertwining as the book progresses.

Kelly: Sometimes I thought she jumped a little too quickly. I had to remind myself that Memphis was in Harlem while Evie was Upper East Side with Theta.

Laura: And I have to say, it really helped that I read this book right after visiting New York City, because I would have had no idea where people were. And I would have thought they were a street away from each other, and it is actually a bigger city than that...

Kelly: Oh, yes! It is a BIG ISLAND. There should have been a map in the book.

Laura: We both have the ARCs...so it possible that there is a map in the finished copy. Someone with the hardcover will have to tell us if that is so in the comments (Imagine, Reader, I am staring pointedly at YOU). Maps are good. I like maps in books. Especially when I have never been to a place! And when walking across my hometown is barely a two mile trip.

Kelly: I am not a map person. I tend to just WANDER. But sometimes I need them in books, because I cannot see the place where I am. Even in The Name of the Star, though I have been to London, the map helped. There was a map. Right?

Laura: I think maps should be standard literary practice. Although I hate them and can barely read them in real life. And there is totally a map in The Name of the Star. I just checked for you.

Kelly: And that is why I love you. Sometimes there should be maps! Not always. But sometimes, the map helps. Especially when you have multiple characters scattered around the city.

Laura: Also if you are Thomas Hardy and you make up your own geography, despite the fact that you use real settings. Stupid Hardy, ungeography-ing England to suit his evil purposes...

Kelly: Um... okay. We should focus. Characters! Evie! She is so 1920’s it almost hurts. I loved it, but I could never have been friends with her.

Laura: I spent the first half of the novel wanting to hit her with an occult antiquity in the museum. She really needs a good clout in the head with a heavy object. It will ground her, and cause her to maybe be less...airheaded. Or traumatic brain injury. We don’t want that, though.

Kelly: No. Because she is very important. I see that. Libba did well in the backstory showing how the characters relate to their powers. I’m excited to see how they’re going to use them to solve the murder.

Laura: YES. You will love it. You will love watching all their stories intertwine. And you will love Henry, who is my favorite. KEEP READING FOR HENRY!

Kelly: I will! Henry seems sweet, but it seems out of place that his character is so openly gay. I feel like that wouldn’t happen in the 1920’s.

Laura: You’re probably right about that. But the reason he’s so open with Theta will become CLEAR as the story progresses. My mystical powers of foresight tell me this.

Kelly: So tell me more about the plot! I feel like Libba has primarily concentrated on the character’s backstory and I have only graced the surface of what’s going to happen.

Laura: NO SPOILERS. But you are right. The focus of this book seems to be primarily to introduce you to everyone and show you how their powers are going to make MAJOR THINGS happen in the coming books. However, you will get to enjoy lots of SCARY MURDEROUS OCCURRENCES and eventually, you will find sleep impossible.

Kelly: Oh, my goodness, yes! The murder was VERY SCARY! I just kept screaming at my book. It’s like what you do while watching a scary movie. But then we get the Law & Order side of the story, which I always love!

Laura: Get used to the scary feeling, Kelly. IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE. You will stop sleeping. And you will jump at small noises and never walk alone anywhere ever.

Kelly: I do not do well with scary. This is why I read romances. NOTHING BAD HAPPENS IN ROMANCES. Or John Green books. Except for killing amazing characters.

Laura: Nothing bad happens in romances? Like Romeo and Juliet, that was a happy story for you?

Kelly: TRUE LOVE! HE KILLED HIMSELF TO BE WITH HER. But in my teenage love stories, there is rarely brutal murder. I like it this way.

Laura: Brutal murder/suicides, Twin. Murder/suicides. But really, you will get your love story as you continue reading. There is a fantastic love triangle. Well, love QUADRANGLE, as the story continues. All the peoples, they love each other.

Kelly: I LIKE THE LOVE STORIES. I see it already. Sam Lloyd and Evie. Mabel and Jericho. LOVE. I NEED THE LOVE.

Laura: Now what you need to do is take those names, and throw them in a hat, and shake the hat around, and dump the names on the ground. Because it is not so simple. LOVE QUADRANGLE. Plus hot and shirtless boys, Twin.

Kelly: Shirtless boys? YOU DID NOT TELL ME THIS. I need to carry on now. Any story that has a shirtless boy is a GOOD STORY.

Laura: I AGREE. Now go read!!!

Kelly: OKAY!! *flies away*

Laura: Since Kelly is now... gone, you guys should watch this amazingly funny (drunken) review of The Diviners.