Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance, Holiday
Page #: 352
Publisher: Speak
Published in: 2012

Official Synopsis

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle- brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

My Review

I really liked this book. I like how all of the stories came together in the end. That had to have taken a lot of work on the authors’ part. Of all the stories, The Jubilee Express was probably my favorite, mostly because I could really relate to the characters.

I would definitely recommend this as an excellent Christmas book and a really good romance story.

Rating: [4/5]

 

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Cress by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 552
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2014

 

Official Synopsis

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Review

This one is my favorite of the series so far. I seriously had trouble putting it down. Also it just occurred to me that I have read all of the main books in the Lunar Chronicles so far on trips: I read Cinder on an academic conference in South Padre Island and Scarlet and Cress while visiting family in San Diego. I guess that means I’ll have to take another vacation in November when Winter comes out 😉

I’m slightly in love with Carswell Thorne. Not to mention Cress, who is an adorable, smart badass. Plus, it was really interesting to me to see the way she dealt with her social anxiety. That was definitely relatable. Plus, once again, all the twists were incredible. And, I no longer have any qualms about Scarlet and Wolf. My concerns were unfounded.

It was kind of funny on the one hand, but in all the parts with Kai, he was rehashing old theories that Cinder et al. had already figured out. He was basically a book behind. It just felt a little repetitive sometimes.

Rating: 5 / 5

 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 454
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2013

Official Synopsis

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review

I had this book checked out at the library and ended up buying it so I could read it on vacation! And then my 70 year old grandma asked what I was reading and explaining that was a pretty interesting experience. Also all the people on the airplane kept trying to talk to me at all of the most intense parts and it made me want to stab them with a fork okay not really but actually yes really.

I was really worried that Cinder and her story were going to be barely involved and I’d have to wait for forever to get resolution, but I was actually really impressed by the way that the author integrated the stories. The plot twists and the way the author took the fairy tale and made it her own were also really wonderful. I loved all the new characters too.

There may be some light SPOILERS ahead. Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship felt a little bit unhealthy at times. I have a feeling it was just situational and that once their relationship is developed a little more, it’ll be fine. But some of the parts in this book reminded me a little of Edward and Bella in Twilight and how he was always talking about how he really wanted to kill her.

Rating: 5 / 5

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance
Page #: 390
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published in: 2012

Official Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

My Review

Okay, I’m going to be really honest here. When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded stupid. But then I kept seeing it everywhere and book bloggers whose opinions I respect were all gushing over it and so I started rethinking my opinions. And then it went on sale on Amazon, so I thought, why not? and bought it. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED TO BE WRONG IN MY LIFE.

 

Disabled woman of color as the protagonist. That was literally one of the main reasons why I finally decided to pick up the book. Plus, all those plot twists. Seriously, I am kind of amazed at how much plot the author managed to fit into that book and still have it make sense. Lastly, I really liked how the author adapted the fairy tale and yet still managed to subvert expectations and make the characters and story fresh.

Rating: 5 / 5

Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

Genre: Drama
Page #: 339
Published in: 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Official Synopsiscoriolanus

Set in the earliest days of the Roman Republic, Coriolanus begins with the common people, or plebeians, in armed revolt against the patricians. The people win the right to be represented by tribunes. Meanwhile, there are foreign enemies near the gates of Rome.

The play explores one reason that Rome prevailed over such vulnerabilities: its reverence for family bonds. Coriolanus so esteems his mother, Volumnia, that he risks his life to win her approval. Even the value of family, however, is subordinate to loyalty to the Roman state. When the two obligations align, the combination is irresistible.

Coriolanus is so devoted to his family and to Rome that he finds the decision to grant the plebians representation intolerable. To him, it elevates plebeians to a status equal with his family and class, to Rome’s great disadvantage. He risks his political career to have the tribunate abolished—and is banished from Rome. Coriolanus then displays an apparently insatiable vengefulness against the state he idolized, opening a tragic divide within himself, pitting him against his mother and family, and threatening Rome’s very existence.

My Review

This is one of Shakespeare’s later, much lesser known tragedies. I really had no interest in reading this play at first, but it was either this or Henry V and I hate Henry V with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. What started out as grudging acceptance morphed into pure and unadulterated love for this ridiculous play.

The play features Coriolanus, a Roman soldier with some pretty serious mommy issues. After winning valor for himself fighting against the Volscian rebellion, he tries to get elected consul but some of the tribunes ruin everything for him. Coriolanus is one of the most selfish and childish man-child characters I have ever come across. Seriously, this play is so weird and over-the-top.

Coriolanus is probably one of Shakespeare’s gayest plays too. There’s some really blatant homoerotic dialogue between the two main characters. I definitely wrote a really long paper about the homoeroticism during my first semester of grad school. It’s also one of those plays where you can’t help but laugh as things just spiral out of control.

I also watched a bunch of movie adaptations for the same project I read the play for, and the one with Tom Hiddleston is my favorite. That one really captures the humor that I see in the play. Seriously, I really love this play okay.

One of the only things I don’t like about this play is some of the characters. There are a couple of characters that really serve no function to the story, so it’s kind of pointless that they’re there. Otherwise, I would really recommend it.

Rating: 5 / 5

As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Genre: Drama
Page #: 263
Published in: 2011
Publisher: Penguin

Official Synopsis:

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play’s first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works and some finding the play a work of great merit. The play features one of Shakespeare’s most famous and oft-quoted speeches, “All the world’s a stage”, and is the origin of the phrase “too much of a good thing”. The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre.

My Review:

If I had one word to describe this play, I would say boring. I know that sounds really unfair, but I honestly did not really care for this play. Seeing it performed is actually much better than reading; I would recommend watching the most recent Globe Theater staging online.

In this play, Orlando flees to the forest of Arden after his brother takes all of his late father’s estate. Also fleeing to Arden are Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone. Rosalind and Orlando are in love, but Rosalind diguises herself as a man in Arden for safety reasons. While she is disguised as a man, she befriends Orlando and tries to help him with his pining over Rosalind. Like any good Renaissance play, there’s a triple wedding at the end.

I like Rosalind as a character because she challenges a lot of stereotypical gender roles and facilitates a lot of homoerotic tension in the play. However, I literally hated Touchstone. I despised everything that came out of his mouth. Because of this, I was incredibly bored and frustrated by all the subplots.

While there are some good qualities to this play, I would recommend Twelfth Night if you’re looking for Shakespearean comedy about girls cross-dressing.

Rating: 2 / 5

Rosalynd by Thomas Lodge

Genre: Classics
Page #: 128
Published in: 1977
Publisher: Edinburgh Press

rosalyndOfficial Synopsis

Interlaced with beautiful songs and lyrics, Lodge’s elegant “Rosalynd” is among the finest works of Elizabethan prose, of intrinsic interest in its own right and, as the source for “As You Like It,” essential reading for students of Shakespeare. The current image of English Renaissance literature, often confined to drama and poetry, will be enhanced by this new edition–the first accurate and annotated modern-spelling version of the text.

My Review 

I had to read this book in my Topics of British Literature class, and I will be totally honest here and say that I had no desire to read it at all. Plus, it is incredibly difficult to find. The one I ended up buying was like twenty bucks. For a paperback. Ridiculous.

In the book, the main character’s father dies and he finds out that his father left all of the wealth to the older brother. The older brother essentially keeps him as a slave until he escapes to a forest. Rosalynd, whom he has fallen in love with, flees to the forest as well, disguised as a man. They continue their courtship despite the fact that she is cross-dressing and he does not recognize her.

There are a lot of poems and songs in this book, which did not appeal to me very much. One of the main things I like is the way Rosalynd challenges gender norms and traditional gender roles for women. She is a very strong female character and is definitely past her time.

I would recommend this book to those interested in classic or Renaissance fiction. Other than that, it’s really not worth it.

Rating: 2 / 5

The Odyssey by Homer, Translated by Robert Fagles

Genre: Classics
Page #: 541
Published in: 1997
Publisher: Penguin Classics

theodysseyOfficial Synopsis

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.

So begins Robert Fagles’ magnificent translation of the Odyssey, which Jasper Griffin in The New York Times Review of Books hails as “a distinguished achievement.”

If the Iliad is the world’s greatest war epic, then the Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey though life. Odysseus’ reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces, during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.

In the myths and legends that are retold here, Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom, and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery.

Renowned classicist Bernard Knox’s superb Introduction and textual commentary provide new insights and background information for the general reader and scholar alike, intensifying the strength of Fagles’ translation.

This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the public at large, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.

Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, presents us with Homer’s best-loved and most accessible poem in a stunning new modern-verse translation.

My Review

The first time I read The Odyssey, I was in high school. And I hated it. So when I found out I had to read it again for my World Literature class, I was less than excited. However, I found that I enjoyed it much better the second time because I was reading a different translation.

Let me tell you that the translation makes all the difference. I won’t get in to translation theory in my review because that’s a whole other can of worms, but please trust that the Fagles translation is better than the Fitzgerald edition.

I really enjoy the characters in this book. Odysseus is smart, cunning, and so obtusely prideful sometimes. It’s kind of hilarious how many problems he causes for himself. Penelope is my favorite, though. She is simply wonderful, and she has to put up with so much nonsense from everyone.

It can be a little difficult to read from a modern perspective, though. Especially when it comes to the double standards between Odysseus and Penelope. I literally wrote about what a dog Odysseus is in the margins of my book. But because it’s such a culturally significant work of literature, I would recommend reading The Odyssey for a better understanding of culture in general.

Rating: [4/5]

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Genre: YA Contemporary
Page #: 371
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Published in: 2006

justlistenOfficial Synopsis

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

My Review

I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before this one, which I’m really not sure how that’s possible. I honestly didn’t know what to expect because I’ve heard so many mixed things about her books. This book was actually a really pleasant surprise.

This book deals with a lot of really sensitive issues, including rape, eating disorders, and mental health in a really honest and respectful way. I thought the inclusion of Owen’s anger management techniques into their relationship dynamic was really well-done. The characters are all really interesting, even if not all of them are likable. I also enjoyed all of Owen’s weird-ass music and all the stuff about his radio show. That was just really fun.

I think I went into this book expecting it to be a romance and in that regard, I was kind of disappointed. There were like two romantic scenes that I can remember. So if you’re looking for a book with a lot of romance, this book may not be for you.

Rating: 3 / 5

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss #3)

Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Page #: 339
Publisher: Dutton
Published in: 2014

Official Synopsis

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

My Review

As the finale to Stephanie Perkins’s trilogy, this book does not disappoint. My friend and I each bought this book over Spring Break to read together. We completely devoured it in the span of one weekend. The whole time, we texted each other back and forth with lots of exclamation points and general excitement. Basically, it was good. really good.

This book is different from the other two in the series, but not in a bad way. Unlike the other books, Isla doesn’t have plans for the future and part of the plot involves her trying to figure out what she wants from life. It’s also quite, shall we say, steamier than the other books, which was a surprise! As always, I love the author’s vibrant characters and picture-perfect settings. This book also represented autism  through Isla’s best friend, Kurt, in a way that avoids a lot of the stereotypes common among autistic characters, which I really appreciated.

There really wasn’t much I disliked about this book. I wished we could have seen a little more of Cricket and Lola, since Lola and the Boy Next Door had so much of Anna and Etienne, but that’s just a personal preference.

Rating: 4 / 5