Review: Everything Sucks by Hannah Friedman

In her memoir Everything Sucks, Hannah Friedman takes the reader through her life from childhood to high school. And what a life it is.

Before Hannah even gets to high school, she has collected a world of experience, from living with a rescued monkey (and having quite a few run-ins with her) to living on the road in a tour bus for a year with her family while her musician dad performs across England. But Hannah just wants to fit in and be cool, and just doesn’t seem to be able to connect with her classmates – to them she is “that monkey girl.”

Her opportunity comes when she earns a scholarship to attend a private high school. The students there don’t know her – so it can be a fresh start. In the rest of the book, Hannah’s stories take the reader through the next four years and all that she did to fit it, be cool, be liked. She writes about her mean girl-like friends, drug use, falling in love, fights with her parents and the all important college application process.

Her stories are interesting on their own, but what makes this book is Hannah’s writing – engaging and humorous. One of my favorite lines in the book comes as Hannah is about to experience Christmas dinner at her boyfriend’s house – with his Mormon family:
In the Cole mansion, I stick out like a gooey slab of gefilte fish on a platter of angel-shaped Christmas cookies.” (Pg. 151)

I definitely enjoyed this book and would like to read more of Hannah’s stories from college and beyond.

This book was sent to me by the author to review.

Tuesday Teaser, 26 January – Across the Endless River

teaser-tuesdayIt’s that time of week again for Should Be Reading’s fun meme Teaser Tuesdays.

So how does this work:

  • Grab your current book
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today’s teaser comes from Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart, which I received for review from FSB Associates.

It must have taken armies of laborers, kneeling in the dirt and mud, countless years to place, replace, and repair each chiseled block of granite so that they formed the fanlike patterns over which they now rode. It amazed him: solid, extensive, and perfectly measured, the stone streets of Paris seemed as if they had always been there and would long outlast all those who trod on them.” Pg. 112

QUESTION OF THE DAY
What’s your tease for this Tuesday?

What Are You Reading Monday, 25 January

Thanks to J Kaye’s Book Blog for hosting this weekly meme.

Wow – the last week of January. How did this happen?

My reading for January is going well, but I am still only reading one to two books per week (lately, it’s only one). I have three books on the To Read list this week, let’s see if I can at least finish up two.

How about you? How is your reading going, and what will you be reading this week?

BOOK I COMPLETED
1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

BOOKS TO READ
1. Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart (book sent by publicist)
2. True Colors by Kristin Hannah
3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

What was New York City like after the Civil War but before the turn of the century? Well let me clarify that question – what was New York City like during said time period for the well-established upper class? It was a world of dinners, theatre, balls and of course customs and proper behavior. Well let me clarify that – proper behavior on the surface (behind closed doors and in whispered gossip was sort of a different story).

This is the world depicted in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

Newland Archer has got it all, money, a gentleman’s law “career” and good social standing and connections. Now he knows he must settle in to the proper order of marriage. Luckily he has the equally well-connected, wealthy and lovely May Welland. With their engagement only months away from being announced (as was proper at the time), to be followed by an engagement period to allow for attending to all the social contrivances, Newland’s well-ordered world is set off its axis when May’s disgraced cousin Countess Ellen Olenska arrives in New York, attending the Opera in the family box for all to see.

Worried about how this reappearance of Ellen will be seen by their New York social set, Newland insists to May that very evening on announcing their engagement at the ball following the Opera, which May reluctantly agrees to as a way to appease the man she loves. While Newland does not approve of Ellen, he tries to look out for the reputation of his soon-to-be family and finds himself in positions of defending her, and also having to spend time meeting with her for family and business reasons. As he does this, his time with her begins to change him and how he looks at his world.

Throughout the novel there were times I loved and cheered for each of main characters – Newland, May and Ellen – and times that I was frustrated and angry with each of them. But at the end of the book (and I won’t spoil it here), I will just say I was left settled, given how each of the characters grew over time.

As you may have noticed in my quick overview of the book I repeatedly used words that focused on the concept of “proper” and “social standing.” These ideas were the main motivators for the character behavior in the book. May had very set beliefs of how things should be, as did Newland until Ellen appeared in his life with her “continental” lifestyle that made him start questioning what he thought to be true (even if he might have been seen as a bit bohemian himself with some of the company that he kept – like journalists and artists).

Aside from the development of the characters, I enjoyed all of the descriptions of New York at that time. While it really only focused on the high society, and what they thought of as bohemian, areas – I loved when Wharton would note and describe a specific street or location so I could compare it with today’s New York.

I will say, it was a bit of a slow start, and I was worried I would never keep all the names straight and get through the more narrative beginning. But once I got into the flow of Wharton’s writing and let myself be led along through the social customs of privileged NYC, it became a great way to start my 2010 reading year.

This book was on my 2010 TBR Challenge list.

Tuesday Teaser, 19 January – High Fidelity

It’s that time of week again for Should Be Reading’s fun meme Teaser Tuesdays.

So how does this work:

  • Grab your current book
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today’s teaser comes from High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

If I’d given Marie a questionnaire, she wouldn’t have hit me with it. She would have understood the validity of the exercise.” Pg 117

QUESTION OF THE DAY
What’s your tease for this Tuesday?

What Are You Reading Monday, 18 January

Thanks to J Kaye’s Book Blog for hosting this weekly meme.

I had hoped to keep up reading two books a week last week, but that didn’t happen because I found my end of week reading moving more towards magazines than books (but at least I cleaned up the magazine rack). Hopefully this week will go better — maybe even three books (a girl can dream can’t she).

Hope you have a great reading week! What will you be reading?

BOOK I COMPLETED
1. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran (blog site win)

BOOKS TO READ
1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
2. Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart (book sent by publicist)
3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Review: Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

If you regularly read my little blog, or happen to have seen some of my recent posts you might know that I ended 2009 in supernatural style with three books from two different challenges I am in. I had an end goal in mind of reading 50 books.

For my last book of the year I picked up Charlaine Harris’ Dead to the World. I was of two minds about this book because I wasn’t a huge fan of Club Dead (here is the link to my thoughts) – but overall I have enjoyed the series, and the reading pace that Sookie and the rest of the characters usually provide seemed to make it a good choice when I had only Dec 30 and 31st to finish one more book.

I am so glad that I did. This book had the Sookie that I have come to know and enjoy. Then there was Eric, a character that I like when he projects his self-assured persona, who was now equally fun in his role as an amnesiac.

In this fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Bill is out of the country working on his research project and Sookie is resolving to ring in the New Year drama-free, which lasts for a few hours. As Sookie is driving home from work in the middle of the night she finds Eric wandering on the side of the road, frightened and stripped of his memory. A few days after Sookie brings Eric to her home to hide him from whoever has done this to him, Jason goes missing.

Because Eric has no memory of being Eric, he is like a totally new man that Sookie finds herself drawn even closer to. So there is this budding relationship for Sookie to work through, while she is also helping to find and defeat the person who has attacked Eric, and look for her brother.

In addition to the vampires (and shape-shifter Sam) that populate this series, this book brings back Alcide and his werewolf pack and introduces a new community of shifters and also witches. So there was a lot going on.

I read this book as part of the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge, and it was a fun way to end my 2009 reading year.

Dead to the World
Author: Charlaine Harris
ISBN: 978-0441012183
Published: May 2005 (paperback)
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 310