First Line Friday #21 – The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith 

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“On the first day of September, the world went dark. But from where she stood in the blackness, her back pressed against the brassy wall of an elevator, Lucy Patterson had no way of knowing the scope of it yet.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan.

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The Girls of Atomic City has been on my radar ever since I read The Radium Girls by Kate Moore almost two years ago. Even though it took me a while to pick this one up, I’m glad I finally did!

The Girls of Atomic City is a non-fiction book that follows the lives of several women who worked and lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II. Oak Ridge was a secret government reservation where research and manufacturing of uranium was done for the Manhattan Project. Those who lived and worked at Oak Ridge knew very little about what they were doing, some know more than others, but they were not allowed to talk about it for fear that there were spies among them who might get confidential information and pass it along to the enemy. While there were men that worked there, there were a lot more women due to the fact that many men had been sent to fight in the war. This book follows the lives of the people of Oak Ridge and how almost everything they did was a secret, how they were willing to do what the could to help end the war and the shocking discovery of what they had been working on after the bombing of Hiroshima.

I enjoyed The Girls of Atomic City, I found it fascinating to learn more about one facet of the Manhattan Project and just how it affected the lives of those who worked on it. It was interesting to see how secretive everything was and just the effect it had on the people of Oak Ridge, especially marriages were the husbands were not allowed to share anything with their wives, and the wives struggle to trust that they are not being unfaithful.

While the book mostly follows what happened at Oak Ridge, Denise Kiernan also provides information about the various discoveries that were made regarding uranium, fission and atomic energy, as well as the women who helped with those discoveries.

Kiernan does a good job of discussing a topic that is controversial from a neutral point of view, but it is still compelling! There are times when the book slows down, but the payoff is worth it!

The Girls of Atomic City is non-fiction, but it is part scientific, part thriller, part mystery and even slightly part horror, however it provides the story of the women who’s only goal was to help bring the war to an end even if they didn’t know what exactly they were doing, or how their jobs contributed to the overall Manhattan Project. I recommend this for those who enjoyed Kate Moore’s Radium Girls, as well as those who are interested in World War II history and those who wish to learn more about the Manhattan Project.

I loved reading the story of these real-life women and I hope to visit Oak Ridge sometime and to learn more about life there. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

 

First Line Friday #20 – Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

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“Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat. The world was as dark as eyes closed, but perhaps the goats could smell dawn seeping through the cracks in the house’s stone walls.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

First Line Friday #17 – Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell

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“Miss Sweeney disappeared on the first day of March, and icy Thursday morning of gloves and boots and veneers of diamondy frost on the windows of Sacred Heart High School. Her classroom was not bathed in the stark yellow glow of school-issued lightbulbs; the only light came from the windows, and it was morning-soft gray and gave the classroom a surprising bedroom coziness.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Dual Power of Convenience

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About the Book

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Book: Dual Power of Convenience

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 28, 2020

When Richard Danforth inherits the family estate on Merriweather Island, he doesn’t have time to deal with it—especially not from halfway across the globe. He’s too busy working to become the world’s newest billionaire and avoiding the women who would detract him from his goals.

Enter Lyla Santana. Fresh out of Oxford University with a degree in antiques and a relationship that nearly killed her to leave, she’s eager for the isolation and treasure trove that is Danforth Hall. Lyla also is determined to avoid men at all costs. Forever.

It was supposed to be a match made on paper. With him halfway across the globe, they’d never have to see each other again.

So, what’s Richard doing on Merriweather just weeks after the wedding? And how will his arrival test Lyla’s faith, not to mention stretch their so-called relationship?

In a twist on billionaire romance and marriage of convenience, this “Merriweather book” kicks off a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Dual Power of Convenience was an interestign read. It is slightly different from some of Chautona Havig’s other works, but you know what, I liked that this was a book that you could take to the beach and read (which is kind of the point of this series).

I enjoyed getting to read more about Mallory – who was introduced in Christmas on Breakers Point – and seeing how she is getting along with her mobile book store. I loved how she befriended Lyla and was willing to give her advice when she needed it, even if she didn’t necessarily ask for it.

I also liked getting to know Lyla over the course of the novel, however even though we get brief details about what happened in her past, I really wish we had been given more details…but that’s just me, I like knowing all the details of a character’s past especially if it affects how they treat others. But again, I did enjoy getting to know her and even watch her grow throughout the novel, even with her troubled past.

Richard was also a great character, but there were times he could have had more gumption and ask some of the hard questions he should have asked especially when it comes to whether or not she is a Christian…that’s an important question that shouldn’t really be avoided…but again, that’s probably just me. But he was great and I loved how sympathetic he was of Lyla, even when she seemed to want nothing to do with him. I also loved watching their friendship blossom.

Overall, Chautona Havig once again provides an interesting concept and makes it work. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a fun beach read with a hint of seriousness. This is a perfect feel good book that has characters that readers will root for throughout the whole book! 4/5 Stars.

Thank you to the author and CelebrateLit for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

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Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

More from Chautona

Did I Really Agree to Write a Romance Series?

When my fledgling little idea for a single book transformed into a series that then transformed into a SERIES, I kind of missed the part where I agreed (and likely suggested, if truth be told), that the books should be contemporary romance.

I mean, beach reads. Romance. Duh.

There’s just one problem? I rarely write a straight-up romance. And if I do, it’s usually a short novella in a collection—often at Christmas.

Why?

Isn’t it obvious?

Despite nine kids and being married for almost thirty-two years, I am THE most unromantic woman on the planet. No habla amor. Or something like that.

So there I was, toodling down the 395 (a treacherous bit of road between my house and the publisher’s) when all of what I’d agreed to exploded in my brain. I’m still scraping brain matter off the windshield and trying to stuff it back in. I need every last one of those “little gray cells,” thank-you-very-much!

Romance. My heart sank. Boy meets girl. They like each other. They fight. They get back together. They live happily ever after.

It’s a thing, folks. A formula. And if you deviate, true romance readers get annoyed. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to write romance. Not really. I had ideas. The prequel book had been all about trying to bring a young woman back to the Lord. That’s more my speed, okay?

The wheels began churning.

The ones in my head, I mean. The tires still rolled along the ground. Fortunately, my cranial explosion hadn’t caused an accident or anything. Just in case you were curious.

I considered making each one loosely related to a fairy tale retelling. I’d have a Cinderella story, a Beauty and the Beast, a… nope. That made it that far and I just couldn’t. The minute we got to Sleeping Beauty, I’d have my readers in comas. No. Thanks.

Next came Rom-com. We’d make it funny. All the stuff that happens in beach romances gone wrong. Why not? We live once!

I was yawning before the thought finished forming.

Right about then, I think, is when I wondered what kind of tropes I needed to consider.

See, romance tropes are a thing. I even talk about them on my podcast. The tingling sensation that comes when a good idea is brewing happened. A grin formed.

Tropes. I’d play with tropes. I’d take all those familiar things and twist them somehow. Why not? It would be fun.

And it was.

Right about then is probably when I began recording my ideas. Creosote and sage whizzed past at breakneck speeds (let me dream. I’m not a speed demon, but c’mon… for the sake of poetic license and all?). And the ideas whizzed faster (no license needed. They really did).

Book 1. Marriage of convenience. I mean, those are always fun, right? So why on earth would someone need to get married?

Every idea I came up with has been done… and done again.

That’s when I upped the stakes. Authors do that, you know. We come up with a way to torment our characters, and then we say, “Okay, now how can I make this worse? Nope, I need it even worse. Oh, and…” Bam! The story goes from interesting to can’t-put-it-down. All because we’re not afraid to be cruel to non-existent people. Score!

How’d I do it with this one? I added in another trope. One I personally just can’t “get.” People love the things, and I’ve got no idea why. But it answered my first question of why someone might need a marriage of convenience or… as my gal puts it… “a paper marriage.”

My guy became the world’s newest billionaire.

Yep, you read that right. I wrote a “billionaire romance.” Sort of. Now, if I could figure out how on earth I’d take two people on opposite sides of the world and get them together.

*insert hands rubbing together in fiendish delight*

Oh, yeah. I did it. And even more than that, I love it. I made my characters do some stupid things. I really did (you know, like how two Christians didn’t even pray about their marriage decision? Like how they didn’t even ask if the other person was saved? Why should they? They’ll never see each other again… they said. Ha! The Lord had other ideas. Sorta. This is fiction, right? Oops! I suddenly feel like that crazy Kathy Morningside in Miss Congeniality).

From Adelanto to Kramer Jct., I planned out that first book—Dual Power of Convenience.

(the title gives away that reason for marrying, no? Also, links may be affiliate links that provide a small commission at no extra expense to you.)

It was almost too easy.

Then I started playing with the next ones, and the series became a reality to me.

Dual Power of Conveniencewhen a woman too afraid of men goes to work for a man who is too busy making money to want anything to do with that whole marriage and family thing.

Bookers on the Rocks— This couple’s marriage is on the rocks (that’s the trope, of course), and neither of them has a clue. They’ve been married for twenty-five years, neither is having an affair, no one wants a divorce, life is good, so why is it on the rocks? You’ll see…

Directing Hearts— The Crawforths got tricked into allowing a reality matchmaking show film on their islands. Brooks Crawforth tangles with the director until their verbal battles turn into a different kind—a battle for their hearts (enemies to “lovers”)

Just a Memory— In this one, Mallory Barrows (who makes appearances in all of the books) comes across an old journal that tells a story she’d never heard. It’s the old Patti Paige song “Go On with the Wedding” but over forty years later! Mallory knows something that might just create a (here comes the trope) second chance at romance.

Printed on Her Heart— After being instrumental in so many couples’ relationships, it’s Mallory’s turn in this dual-trope story. In this one, we get a mashup of friends to more and love at first sight. Can’t wait to share it. Squee!

Okay, that’s the deal. Yes, I really did agree to write a romance series.

And yes, it probably was my idea.

I might deny it to my dying day, but it is also a whole lot of fun… so far.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Inklings and notions, August 6

lakesidelivingsite, August 6

deb’s Book Review, August 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 7

Rebekah Jones, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 7

Artistic Nobody, August 8 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 9

21st Century Keeper at Home, August 9

She Lives To Read, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 11

Adventures of a Traverlers wife, August 11

Emily Yager, August 12

Stories By Gina, August 12

CarpeDiem, August 12

cultivating us, August 13

Connect in Fiction, August 13

Livin’ Lit, August 13

Read Review Rejoice, August 14

Quiet Workings, August 14

Blossoms and Blessings, August 14

Just Your Average reviews, August 15

Rebekah Reads, August 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 15

Lis Loves Reading, August 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 16

Splashes of Joy, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Captive Dreams Window, August 17

Spoken from the Heart, August 17

Lots of Helpers, August 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book (winner’s choice of eBook or paperback format)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ff14/dual-power-of-convenience-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

First Line Friday #15 – Ink, Iron and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

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“Elsa crouched beside the tide pool, the hem of her skirt gathered over her arm to keep it off the algae-slick rocks. A new species of starfish had emerged, but whether it would persist in the world or not was an open question.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Tempting Tait

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About the Book

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Book: Tempting Tait

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release Date: July 30, 2020

 

He chose to be a dad before he realized he’d need a wife, too.

When Tait took in an abandoned girl, he had no idea it would change his life.

Tait Stedtmann–accountant, fledgling do-it-yourselfer, and all-around nice guy. He’d been more than a little interested in Bentley Girard and had finally worked up the courage to ask her out. That was before that fateful day at the rest stop when he saw a girl shoved from a car and abandoned there.

She’s not like any girl he’s ever met, and now she’s given him an ultimatum. Adopt her baby, or she’ll abort it.

Eden doesn’t think he’ll do it. She can have the abortion and move on with her life–far away from these creepy Christians in Fairbury. But when Tait agrees, she finds herself keeping her word… and the pregnancy.

Nine months later, Tait is wracked by guilt as relief sets in when Eden leaves and terrified as he decides he can’t do this daddy thing alone. Bentley figured out how to make marriage happen for her.

Would she help him, find someone, too?

Tempting Tait is the second in the Marriages of Conviction series.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I was a little bit skeptical about picking up Tempting Tait because I really loved Blessing Bentley and I wasn’t sure if there was a way that it could be topped. However, I was proved wrong. I loved Tempting Tait, in fact it’s probably knocked Blessing Bentley out of the top spot of one of my favorite Chautona Havig books, as well as favorite Christian fiction book!

I enjoyed the premise of the story which tackled a topic that is prevalent in the society, and was convicting to read for someone who is pro-life, however, in true Chautona Havig form, it tackles this serious issue in a light-hearted way…or rather it was infused with light-heartedness that while the story is convicting, it is still a fun read.

Tempting Tait is almsot like reading two books. The first half deals with Tait as he tries to save an unborn baby’s life by agreeing to adopt her. We also see how Tait tries to be an example to the baby’s birth mom, even though she wants no part of anything to do with Christianity. The second half of the book follows Tait as the father of a newborn and realizing that he can’t do it on his own and he needs a wife. And he enlists the help of Bentley to help him find a wife – who, in my hoenst opinion, even though they didn’t get together under “normal circumstances”, is perfect for Tait.  Will his search be successful? You’ll have to see for yourself.

Tempting Tait was entertaining, thought-provoking and humorous all at the same time. There were some great one-liners in it, especially towards the end of the book. It was a beautiful story that deserves to be read by many. And all I can say is that I am  looking forward to reading the last book in the series, Charming Chloe, when it comes out next year! 5/5 Stars.

About the Author

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Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

 

 

More from Chautona

How One Man Turns A Mess into a Miracle

It’s been ten… maybe fifteen years since Eden Pohl waltzed into my brain and settled in. Despite my focused attention on other books, her taunts never strayed far from my hearing.

If you really believed what you say about abortion, you’d tell my story.

You just don’t want to have to write the messy stuff.

Ouch. Worst of all, she was wrong. And she wasn’t.

I don’t mind attacking the hard things when it’s the right time, but I only had half a story. I knew what would not happen but not what would.

So, she languished there in what is probably the longest pregnancy in fiction.

After my friend, Sandy, killed my dreams of combining Tait and Bentley’s stories and added Tait’s (and therefore Eden’s) into a series, things clicked. Duh. Tait would need a wife. Being a single parent is hard. It isn’t how God designed things, you know? We’re supposed to have help. A spouse, extended family, the church.

But sometimes things don’t work in this fallen world. Sometimes we find ourselves parents—even by choice—without the daily support of another parent. Not only that, sometimes our own parents aren’t in a position to be able to help. Age, illness, or distance can remove us from the God-given networks we should have and don’t.

Finally, our decisions sometimes cause us to isolate ourselves even from God’s family, and the result can mean we don’t have that help that we otherwise would.

One verse came to mind over and over when I planned out the rest of Tait’s story.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Sometimes the words tried to transform themselves into, “It is not good for a father to be alone, so God will find him a helper parent suitable…”

And I had to silence that voice.

First, because we don’t just change Scripture to suit our purpose. Or rather, we shouldn’t.

Second, because that’s even more out of order than having a baby before marriage. It happens sometimes—sometimes by choice, as in Tait’s situation. However, the healthiest marriage will usually put a strong emphasis on the marriage relationship first (after the Lord, of course) and then focus on the children. Why? Because it is best for the children if their parents are in unity. Children find security and strength in knowing their parents love and are committed to each other.

So many times, I started to put that emphasis in the wrong place struggled to get it right. Then one day I realized that this was the very thing I needed to do. Show that struggle. I needed to show that Tait’s focus was wrong—that he created problems he could have avoided simply by being a good daddy… but also by being an even better husband.

I hope you’ll enjoy Tait’s story, and I pray that his heart for the unborn will touch your life in a real and tangible way.

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, July 29

Godly Book Reviews, July 29

Among the Reads, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 30

Texas Book-aholic, July 31

Book of Ruth Ann, July 31

Inklings and notions, August 1

Cultivating Us, August 1

For Him and My Family, August 2

Read Review Rejoice, August 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 3

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 4

Aryn The Libraryan 📚, August 5

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Older & Smarter?, August 6

Back Porch Reads, August 6

Through the Fire blogs, August 7

Daysong Reflections, August 8

Pause for Tales, August 8

She Lives To Read, August 9

Spoken from the Heart, August 9

Artistic Nobody, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 10

Lots of Helpers, August 11

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of Tempting Tait and an original watercolor of “Tait’s Wedding”!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fe37/tempting-tait-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

First Line Fridays #14 – Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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“The boy and the girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the True Sea. They were the vessels of stories, magic ships with masts hewn from sweet cedar and sails spun by maidens from thread of pure gold. Their crews were white mice who sang songs and scrubbed the decks with their pink tails.”

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1) by Meg Cabot

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

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The Princess Diaries movies were a favorite of mine as a kid, and I remember when started reading the book in about 5th grade and being excited to finally read it… and if I remember correctly, there were several of us in the class who were reading it at the same time.

Before Is tart this review, I think it is important to note that there are some huge differences between the book and the movie, but both are good in their own way.

The Princess Diaries follows high school freshman, Mia Thermopolis, who feels like a freak and is failing Algebra. Then her father, who is a diplomat in the small (fictional) country of Genovia, drops a bombshell, not only is he a prince, but Mia is a princess! Her life just got turned upside down. She now has to take princess lessons with her Grandmere (who is not as sweet and kind as in the movie!) and hopefully keep a low-profile about the whole princess thing. But then the story is leaked to the press and now everyone knows about her royalty status, but on the plus side her crush, Josh Richter, is paying her some attention.

I did like this book, it was a fun read, however it is very different from the movie. I feel like Mia is more overdramatic, but again we are actually reading her diary! I do not have much say except that it was a fun read. However, I do want to note several differences between the book and the movie:

  1. In the book Mia lives in New York, whereas in the movie she lives in San Francisco.
  2. Her dad is still alive in the books.
  3. Her mother dates her Algebra teacher, whereas in the movie it is her Debate teacher.
  4. Grandmere is awful in the books, however she is very endearing in the movie (especially since she is played by the amazing Julie Andrews!).

There are probably other major differences that I have mised, but these seem to be the main ones. I’m looking forward to continuing my reread of The Princess Diaries series in the days to come. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

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I feel like Stargirl is one of those books that was really popular when I was in middle school, and then it gained popularity again when it was announced that Disney was making an adaptation of it. For whatever reason, I never picked it up as an adolescent, however after watching the movie trailer, I knew I wanted to read the book before watching the movie. Also, shout out to my husband for waiting to watch the movie until I finished reading the book.

Stargirl follows Leo Borlock, who lives in sleepy Mica, Arizon, where it seem like everyone just exists and sticks to the status quo. That is until the day Stargirl Carraway arrives at Mica High School, and immediately she stands out, she is unique inside and out. With her effervescent personality and her unique outfits, Stargirls starts to shake things up, mainly by bringing school spirit to Mica High. Everyone seems to love her until one day she does something that makes everyone turn on her. Even though Leo loves Stargirl, he tries to pressure her into being ordinary – even if it could destroy her.

Stargirl is one of those books that while it is short, it does pack a punch. It explores topics such as non-conformity, fitting in, bullying, standing up for what is right, being kind and being yourself. It also shows how sometimes we meet people that are larger than life, and/or seem magical.

As far as characters go, Stargirl is good, especially since she tries hard to remain true to herself, her only seems to be to bring joy to others with random acts of kindness.

While the title of the book seems to make out that she is the main focus of the book, while she is, it is not her character development that we follow…rather we watch the impact that she has on Leo throughout the novel.

Leo is an interesting character in that at girst he is enchanted by Stargirl and sticks with her when she “falls from grace” with her peers. However, he is kind of a jerk when he askes her to be ordinary in order to fit in, even it kills the very essence of who Stargirl is. However, in the end he learns the importance of individuality and how sometimes you need to be willing to stand by those who might be social outcasts because they do not fit into the status quo.

One other character, I really liked was Archie – one of the only prominent adults in the novel. I liked him because he does not talk down to Leo, but yet he passes on some great nuggets of wisdom to Leo.

Overall, I really enjoyed Stargirl, although I found that I had a lot more questions than I did answers when I finished reading, namely about Stargirl. However, I do know that Jerry Spinelli did write a sequel called Love, Stargirl that follows what happened to Stargirl after the events of this book. Stay tuned for a discussion post/review of the movie in the next week! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Mini-reviews #6

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of my series of mini-reviews. Here are some books that I’ve enjoyed in the last few months!

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Wray Gregoire

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As a newly wed I am really appreciative for this book. Not only does it have good information about the wedding night and early days of marriage about sexual intimacy. I also loved that it emphasized the need to have a good friendship with your spouse in order to have good/great sex. I also appreciated how this book covered issues that can affect both women and men when it comes to sex. This was from a Christian perspective without being to preachy. I recommend this for every Christian bride-to-be and wives! 5/5 Stars.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

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I picked up this book because I was in the mood for something light-hearted and funny, and told in epistalory format. However, I found it really annoying, the humor often grated on me (and it wasn’t because it was British humor either!). I found Georgia to be rude and obnoxious and just not a great character. Honestly, I was kind of disappointed. 1.5/5 Stars.

Goldie Vance Volume 1 by Hope Larson 

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This was a cute introduction to what seems like a great graphic novel set during the early 1960s. It follows 16 year-old Goldie Vance who works at a hotel in Florida that is managed by her father. She helps out with the on-site detective agency, as well as a valet driver. She has to help find a missing necklace, but when the ownder of the necklace disappears, Goldie Vance is on the case, even if it means going up against Russin spies in order to find him. 5/5 Stars.

Children of the Whales Volume 1 by Abi Umeda 

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Children of the Whales is an interesting fantasy post-apocalyptic manga. This was a great introduction to the series, I loved getting to know Chakuro and the rest of the people that live on the Mud Whale and how their lives are shaken up by the arrival of Lykos, who’s existence is surprising to the people on the Mud Whale and could be a threat to their very existence. 5/5 Stars.

Children of the Whales Volume 2 by Abi Umeda 

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This was a great follow-up to the first volume, which ended with the Mud Whale being attacked. Once the attack is over, we learn some more about Lykos and some of the history of the Mud Whale – especially since there are some things that the elders are keeping from the rest of people. We also discover that these elders are insane and see the only way out of their situation is to destroy the Mud Whale, but Chakuro and his friends try to stop them before it’s too late. I cannot wait to read the next volume. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

Movie Review: The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is a little bit different because it is a movie review. I’ll be the first to admit that I am still learning on how to write movie reviews, so this will probably be a little bit rough. But please enjoy this review on Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of The Virgin Suicides.

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Shortly after I finished reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Euginedes (in fact that night) my husband and I watched the film adaptation.

In order to review the movie, there will be spoilers for the book, so if you don’t want to be spoiled do not read any further!

The Virgin Suicides was released in 1999 and was Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut. The film is almost a word-for-wrd adaptation of the book,save for a few minor changes. One minor change (or major?) is the secne with Joe, a young man with Down Syndrome. Now the book is pretty deragotry about him, but in the movie it shows the other characters including him, rather than making fun of him, unlike the book.

The Virgin Suicides follows the Lisbon family whose five daughters committed suicide in the space of a year and shows how it affected a group of adolescent boys and the neighborhood that they live in.

The story is narrated by one of the boys as an adult – although it is never indicated who it is – who is reflecting back 0n the events surrounding the suicides, The flim starts when the youngest daughter, 13 year old Cecilia, attempts to commit suicide by slitting her wrists. By the way the movie does a good job of showing what happened without showing the gory details. This event serves as the catalyst for the rest of the movie. While she is healing, the Lisbons are told by Dr,. Hornicker (played by Danny DeVito) thsat Cecilia just needs more social interaction, especially with males. So they have a party and invite the neighborhood boys. Cecilia excuses herself from the party and commits suicide by jumping out of her bedroom window and impaled on a spiked fence. The Lisbons are distraught and become more protective over their remaining four daughters.

The new school year begins and the girls return to school, along with their father (James Woods) who is a Math teacher at their high school. Lux, the second youngest, and more rebellious one of the family (played by Kirsten Dunst), captures the interest of the school’s heartthrob, Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) who does what he can t get a date with her. He devises a plan to take her to homecoming by getting dates for her sisters. However, at Homecoming he goes off with her shortly before she has to be home for curfew and they hookup on the football field. He abandons her and forces her to find her own way home where her distraught parents (Mrs. Lisbon is played by Kathleen Turner) welcome her back. However, her actions make her parents go into overdrive of restricting and protecting their daughters by pulling them out of school and keeping them shut up in the house.

The imprisonment starts to make the girls stir crazt and spiral into hopelessness. Lux rebels by hooking up with various men on the roof of her parents’ house, but each encounter just leaves her more empty than before. Everyone starts to wonder what is going on and whether the girls are alive – the only indication is the various catalogs that they receive in their mailbox.

The boys then start receiving random notes form the Lisbon girls, eventually with a note with a vague cry for help. The boys communicate with the girls by playiing records over the phone (each song being a message they are conveying), and the girls reply the same way (the first song being Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again, Naturally” which is heartbreaking).

Eventually they receive a note telling them that the girls need help escaping that night. The boys go to help, however only Lux is ready and tells them that she will get th family’s station wagon  ready for them to make their get away. After waiting for the other girls for several minutes, the boys go down into the basement, after hearing a strange noise, and discover Bonnie’s body hanging from the rafters. The boys leave the house and soon discover that all four Lisbon girls committed suicide. This has a long lasting effect on the boys, while all the adults (except for the Lisbons) seem to go on about their lives.

Overall, this was a great adaptation, it follows the book word for word -however, I do think there times when some artistic lincese could have been taken. Almost all the actors were great in the roles that they were in, my only complaint is that the narrator (voice by Giovanni Ribisi) was too monotone and seemed to lack the emotional depth that seemed necessary in telling the story. Other than that it was a fantastic movie! 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading (and, er, watching),

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.

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There are two kinds of books that I find enjoyable – those books that I can pick up and fly through, and the books which require more concentration and time to get through in order to fully digest what is taking place on the pages in front of me. The Virgin Suicides is one of the latter kind of book.

The Virgin Suicides is a book that I have heard about for a while, but I never really had any interest in it until my husband recommended it to me. And I really enjoyed it, in fact there was a night when I had a hard time getting to sleep because I could not stop thinkinh about what was going to happen next.

The Virgin Suicides is about a neighborhood in the ’70s that is changed forever when all five girls of the Lisbon family commit suicide with the space of a year. Told from the perspective of a group of men, who were adolescents when this event took place, and it is their attempt to remember and piece together what happened to the Lisbon girls and what might have caused them to take their lives. They also interview people in their neighborhood, people they went to high school with, and Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon.

I want to go into much more summary of the plot because it will be spoilery, but I wil have a review of the movie going up on Monday and that will contain more spoilers. However, the plot itself is pretty basic.

It was interesting reading the events that take place that builds up to the climax. In a lot of ways this shows the impact that the suicides had, not just on the neighborhood, but more specifically how it affects the boys for the rest of their lives. In some ways, this is a loss of innocence – both physically and figuratively. Jeffrey does a great job of weaving a compelling read, even when readers are already informed of how the story ends.

However, there was one scene in the book that I did not like, but I also realize that it is reflective of the time period that the book is set in, and even the when the author is writing the book (it was published in 1993). In that particular scene a character is introduced and they refer to him as “Joe the Retard” because he has Downs Syndrme. In this scene, the other boys make fun of him and just treat him horribly. This was exremely uncomfortable to read and also, in light of the book as a whole, not really necessary.

Overall, besides that one scen, I really enjoyed The Virgin Suicides, and it is definitely on my list of favorite books of the year. I am also interested in reading more of Jeffrey Eugenides’ work in the future. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries #11) by Meg Cabot

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot.

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***WARNING THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK AND THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES***

Royal Wedding picks up several years after the events of Forever Princess. Mia has graduated from college and is helping run a community center that she started after the untimely death of her step-father, Mr. Gianini. However, due to a threatening stalker and the press hounding her after her father is arrested for drag racing, she is forced to keep a low-profile and live in the Genovian embassy – which also makes it hard for her to see her long-time boyfriend, Michael. But he makes a place to whisk them away to a seclueded tropical island for sometime alone, as well as finally propose to her. Mia accepts and they start making plans, however when they land in New York they discover that everyone in the world knows about their engagement and Grandmere has already started making plans for their wedding.

However, there is more to Grandmere’s scheming that meets the eye, and Mia discovers that she is trying to save her son from further embarrassment (since he is up for re-election as prime minister of Genovia) when she uncovers that he has a secret daughter. Mia tries to confront her dad and get him to take responsibility and to step up and be a parent to his other daughter, however when he shies awat from that for the sake of his pride, Mia decides to take matters into her own hands. However, she causes a media circus when they catch her with her 12 year old sister, Olivia. And her father also wants another shot with Mia’s mom, so he decides to abdicate the throne for her, which means that Mia will be crowned the ruler of Genovia. As if things couldn’t be any more stressful for Mia, she discovers that she is pregnant with twins! Which means her and Michael’s wedding might need to happen sooner rather than later.

I really liked this installment in the Princess Diaries, although I do hope that this means we might get more novels, however this also served as a back door introduction to the author’s middle-grade series featuring Mia’s sister Olivia.

My only complaint is that I didn’t like how the last 10 pages jumped to Mia’s wedding day, it seemed ajrring and I felt like as a reader I wanted more about the wedding than what was given.

I have already started reading the series featuring Olivia, so stay tuned for those reviews soon! 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.