is quite profitable.

A little bit of what I've been up to while shirking my blogger-ly duties.

Are U 4 Real? by Sara Kadefors

Kyla is exactly the kind of girl Alex could never talk to in real life. She's a gorgeous, outspoken city girl who parties to forget about her absent father and depressed mother. He's a shy ballet dancer from the suburbs who's never been kissed. Luckily, when they meet for the first time it's not if real lift - it's in a chat room, where they can share how alone and misunderstood they feel far away from the conformity-obsessed scenes at their high schools and at home. Kyla and Alex quickly forge a friendship that's far from virtual...maybe they're even falling in love.
But what happens when you come face-to-face with the soul mate you've never met? Will that person be the same? Will you?
(Summary from jacket flap)

I think the coolest thing about this book is that it came out in Sweden eight years ago and was such a hit there that it's now translated to English. I don't know how often this goes on - translating a foreign book into English. I've never heard about it being done before. I guess because the American market is so hard to get into? Maybe? But I think it was an excellent decision to make the jump with this book.

The thing that worked the most for me was how pronounced and different Kyla and Alex's lifestyles were. They each were very unique which made it memorable and special when they finally met and were able to see the world through each other's eyes. I liked reading how two opposite personalities and lifestyles came together.

The other thing I liked was how the writing seemed like it came from a different place. Like, how real can an author's voice be if it's been filtered through a translator? I found myself wondering what the original was like and how the Swedish book might have been perceived differently than the English version. I felt like I was missing out on some things but it also made me feel connected to something outside of America's exclusivity.

There were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way though. Like how fast the book moved. There weren't enough details and descriptions for my taste. I wish we could've seen Alex and Kyla's relationship evolve more slowly. Milk it for all it's worth, you know?

I also think that Kyla's character was a little awkward at some points. Like the author couldn't figure out how she wanted to portray her. My perceptions of different characters and scenes were messed with a little bit because it seemed like midway through a description the author would switch it up and decide to take it in another direction. That was kind of frustrating and confusing.

Also, when I posted about this book for a Waiting on Wednesday post a while back, I got some comments from people in Sweden who said that the English version of the book had been re-edited and that some of the dirtier parts had been taken out. Knowing that, while I was reading I kept thinking of how much deeper and edgier the book could've been if everything deemed "dirty" by the editors had been kept in. It just makes me mad knowing that I'll never be able to read the alternate version of the book. I feel sort gypped.

But other than that, I think this book came together nicely. It was a fun experience to read something that wasn't by an American author.


*If you do decide to read this book, you should try and watch the movie afterwards. It's called Sandor Slash Ida and came out a little bit ago. I haven't been able to find it anywhere but I'm still looking. It looks like a fun movie.

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #35: Hot!

On Saturday

Now that summer is here (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), what is the most “Summery” book you can think of? The one that captures the essence of summer for you?

Any one of Sarah Dessen's books. Seriously. Her books all seem to take place during the summer and even if they don't they're still super light and happy and just summery.
It's fitting that Along For The Ride recently came out, don't you think? I'm going to need to get myself a copy of that book...

L for Loser. That's me.

I know I haven't posted in a while. It's not because I haven't been reading or haven't had anything to post about it's just that life's gotten in the way for the past week or so. I promise that I'll be posting more in the near future. Just bear with me a bit while I get everything sorted out and back to normal.

Love ya guys. :)

Waiting on Wednesday #14 - Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn

No description/summary yet...

Rachel Cohn's stuff has been very hit or miss for me in the past. I found her contribution to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist to be quite enjoyable but I thought that You Know Where To Find Me was a pointless book.
Judging by the cover (yeah, totally horrible) I think this will be a "hit" book. The girl looks mysterious and the title is sort of circus, crazy-like.
So I'm definitely looking forward to this one.

Released January 12, 2010.

NYC - a list and pictures

More pictures here.

10 things I did in NYC:

1. Bought just two books at The Strand. are u 4 real? by Sara Kadefors and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by...some guy and Jane Austen.

2. Explored this cute store and came out with my first pair of jeans that cost over $50. My my. They're pretty beautiful though so it was money well spent.

3. Also went to the Levi's store because I don't think you're a real American until you have a pair of Levi's. Mine are khakis so they don't have the little V on the butt pocket or anything but I love them all the same.

4. Walked through China Town. It was so weird because one block is normal and the next is an entirely different cultural group. Just like that. Had some great wanton soup there.

5. Took the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and back just to float by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I fell in love with the orange color scheme of the boat.

6. Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They have the prettiest rooftop sculpture garden there which looks out over Central Park and all of southern Manhattan.

7. Walked over to the New York Public Library. Why can't all libraries be like that one? The reading rooms and the shelves and the tables andtheandtheandthe. Gah. So gorgeous and scholarly.

8. Felt like I was sort of at the center of the world at Times Square. Seriously. It's so loud and bustling and commercial.

9. Saw Wicked on Broadway. I saw a musical on Broadway. We had second row seats off to the side which only limited the view a teensy bit and still let us see everything super close off. I loved it so much.

10. Explored Yale University. We walked by the Skull and Bones tomb and saw all of the beautiful old buildings. It's a cute little town and a really nice campus. To think that I was just nonchalantly strolling the streets of one of the most prestigious universities in the world...yikes.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
(Summary from back cover)

This is the first nonfiction book I've read in a while and it reminded me of what I love about the genre. I do love fiction a lot but there's something reassuring and concrete about nonfiction books. They're provable and real and tangible. Reading this book, I felt like I was learning something that would benefit me later on and improve me as an individual. There are definitely many fiction books that can have that effect but a week after reading The Tipping Point, I've brought it up in conversation and recognized its different scenarios in my day-t0-day life which is something that can't be said about any fictional book that I've read lately.

The things I found most interesting about Malcolm Gladwell's research and analyses were the little factoids about humans' interactions and natures that were tucked into the book. Like how there are three influential types of people that are the kinds who make things happen and who wield a great deal more power than anyone else in society - the Mavens, Connecters, and Salesmen. He gave examples and descriptions of people that he knew who were examples of those three types and it made me realize how I know people like this but haven't realized how much they affect my life and also the lives of my social groups.

Another thing I found applicable due to the recent turn of events my life has taken (NYC) is how Gladwell explained why the New York crime rate had such a drastic decline several years ago in comparison to other cities across the nation. The NYPD used the "Broken Windows" effect/study thing. To improve the subway system, all they did was clean up the graffiti and arrest the people who were stopping up the turnstyles. They figured out that if the environment is clean and secure then fewer people will commit crimes. It's like the dirtiness and law-breaking that was previously going on acted to give permission for other crimes to happen.

Malcolm Gladwell was able to take these complex business and social theories and break them down into simpler terms so that a 15 year old girl was easily able to grasp it. His descriptions and narrations were both funny and intelligent and this book was simply a joy to read. I feel like I learned a lot and that I will remember and apply this book many years from now.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for an easy nonfiction book. It's a memorable and fast read.

I will definitely be picking up another Gladwell book in the near future.



I meant to post a review today and my little Booking Through Thursday thing tomorrow but that will not be happening because at 4 AM today my mother woke me up and informed me that we were going to travel to New York City for the weekend for a little golden birthday surprise.
After having spent the day wandering the city I can sufficiently say that my mind has been completely blown. And there's still two days left - Broadway (Wicked in particular), the museums, Central Park, cupcakes, and Yale.
Post with pictures coming later.
Excuse my absence.

List #1 - Summer Camp

8 reasons why I still go to summer camp:

1. I'm not actually a camper - I'm a junior counselor so I get to feel all big and important.

2. It's only for a month AND it's not one of those crazy overnight camps. Just a day thing.

3. The hour long bus ride there and back every day provides for some marvelous reading/sleeping time.

4. It looks good on college applications and resumes of any kind. Think about it. I'm a stereotypical nerd girl but here I am volunteering to tote around kids in the woods for a month. I am quite the well-rounded individual. Hire me/accept me/give me scholarships.

5. I get paid next year for five weeks. And it's not bad pay either. I am in desperate need of the money so volunteering this year gets me in the good graces of the people in charge of deciding next year's staff.

6. I get free food. We have cook-outs once a week and I don't have to contribute in any way. I show up and I get fed pizza-dillas, hunsies, smores, and tacos. Yum.

7. Little kids don't have to know anything about you to love you. I get a little boost of self confidence every day when all my campers scream my name when they see me. What's not to like about that?

8. It gets me away from my hectic city life. I tromp around in the woods rain or shine. There are horses, a climbing wall, an algae-filled lake, and lots and lots of mosquitoes. It makes me feel like I'm not so much of an out of touch city slicker. Yeah, maybe I am, but I'm pretty good at deluding myself.

Bits 'n Pieces - Sarah Ockler

Dots or stripes?

Stripes. I have no idea why I said that, since my closet seems to show equal love for both patterns, but stripes is my final answer, and dots remind me of those candies from the 80s called, um, Dots (genius, right?) that came on little strips of paper that usually stuck to the candy when you tried to eat it, and stripes remind me of Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies which I used to wear on my pinkie like a delicious edible ring. Nomnomnom...

Favorite music artist?
I always say Radiohead when people ask about favorite bands, but when I really think about it, I have to say I have three favorites. Radiohead, Method Man (of Wu-Tang Clan), and Bob Dylan. I've obsessed over all of them -- I can't pick just one! But I also love hearing new music, so my next-favorites sometimes fluctuate. Right now I'm really into The Strokes, Fiction Plane, and Brandi Carlile. My husband just introduced me to Company of Thieves which I'm also digging. Then there are the old jazz and blues favorites... oh I could go on forever! :-)

Have you ever lived abroad?
No, but I've considered it. I'd love to do a year or 2 in Greece, Ireland, or Spain. Still might!

Would you rather be a deep sea diver or an astronaut?
Astronaut. How amazing would that be? I mean, I'm not up for the rigorous training and stuff, or the being away from everyone I love for like 5 years on a mission, but it would be incredible to see the world from that crazy distance. I supposed deep sea diving is a similar experience, other than the 5-years-away part. Hmm... this is a tough question! But I'm sticking with my space explorer answer.

If you could have lunch with any three people (alive, imaginary, or dead), who would you choose and why?
Jack Kerouac, Anais Nin, and Sylvia Plath. Their writing has affected me in profound ways, and I would love to meet them and talk with them over lunch. I of course wouldn't eat, because I'd be so nervous, so I'd just watch them eat and ask my questions and try really hard not to sound like a complete stalker fangirl. And since they're all dead, I might be able to answer some pressing questions for them, too. Important things like what people say about their work these days, what our nation has learned from history, and how Google and orange chocolate sponge candy have changed the face of the modern world.

What does your perfect day look like?
It involves a lot of orange chocolate sponge candy. :-) Also, it's sunny, I wake up somewhat early (here's where we know it's just a fantasy, since I'm such a vampire girl!), have coffee and breakfast (spinach benedict with one pancake on the side) with my husband, then sit down to write thousands of words on my work in progress, which will undoubtedly become a best seller because I wrote so diligently and passionately and avoided the primary evil distractions otherwise known as Facebook and Twitter. And if at the end of the night, there's some Indian food and a nice Malbec and maybe a movie waiting for me? Well I'm pretty much thanking the God of Shiny Happy Perfection for a day like that!
The beautiful thing is that I've actually had days like that. :-) Well, minus the best-seller stuff. We'll see how that part turns out. *Crosses fingers*

When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?
My first self-selected costume was a spider web. Not the spider, just the web. Then I was Raggedy Ann for like a million years in a row. I kept winning costume contests so Mom just dressed me up in the same thing, oh aren't you adorable, and I was okay with it for a few years, but then one year out of the blue I was just *not* having it anymore. I cried and cried and told her I just wanted to be a ghost like the normal kids. So she took off my costume and makeup, threw a sheet over my head and cut out holes for eyes, and off I went. No one complimented my costume. No one was scared. No one cared. Ghost? Big deal. It sucked. I went back to the award-winning Raggedy Ann costume after that.
As I got older there was a whole lot of pop culture influence, including but not limited to Firestar, Cheer Bear (of Care Bear fame), Bat Girl, and like pretty much all girls who grew up during the 80s -- Madonna.
Lucky for you (har har!) I've attached a few pictures for your amusement and mocking pleasure!
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Negativity. I really try to fight it in myself and ignore or turn it around in others. It's not easy! But negative people, thoughts, comments, and attitudes really bring me down. That's not to say I don't have a bad day or I don't, like, totally freak out for no good reason (although I maintain that running out of orange chocolate sponge candy IS a justifiable reason for a freak out!), but I try to overcome it and focus on all of the great things in my life.

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Something with a Z, like Zahara or Zafirah or Zoe. Z names are infinitely cool. The only time I ever had the opportunity to actually change my name was senior year of high school when we had pictures taken for student IDs. There weren't any teachers around and we had to fill out our own forms for the ID cards, so I just wrote the name Chicago Benetti on mine (I don't know, I guess I was in my gangster phase). The picture came out of the machine and the photographer laminated it on my form without reading the name and senior year, as far as my ID was concerned, I was good old Chicago Benetti, suburban badass with big hair and an even bigger attitude. Or was that horrible hair, horrible attitude? Hmm.. ;-)
Now I'm over Chicago and all about the Zs! Hey, how do you like Zahara Benetti? Nice ring, no? ;-)

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown asks her to burn a bundle of secret letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers the letters reveal the grim truth behind a murder.
(Summary from back cover)

Mattie Gokey izz mai heeroh 4evah babee.

Yup. It's true. Love that girl. I'll even venture to say that she's one of my favorite literary heroins thus far in my reading career. She's that awesome.

The whole synopsis of the book is sort of misleading because you go into it expecting a semi-chilling Laura Ingalls Wilder-esque mystery thing - which it's not. The whole murder takes a backseat to Mattie's story. It really only acts as a reference event to build off of - a turning point in Mattie's life. You don't learn that much about Grace or the events of the crime but those details aren't sorely missed. The characters are good enough to have the book to themselves.

Like Mattie's dad, for example. He's portrayed so many different ways. As a strict and over-bearing father, a mournful widower, a tender and loving parent, and a harsh disciplinarian. You get to see all these different aspects of the same man which adds depth to his character. I felt as if he could have been real - he had flaws and issues but he was also compassionate and misunderstood.

The other great thing about this book was how it centered around Mattie's schooling and learning, literature in particular. She gets away from her northern woods life through the different novels and anthologies that she reads. Her teacher opens up the world to her and encourages her to chase after her dreams.

I liked that nothing came easy for her. She had to work for what she wanted and there were often enormous obstacles in her way. That she was able to overcome all of the bad stuff that was thrown her way was inspirational and heart-breaking at the same time.

Jennifer Donnelly knows how to pull the readers' heart strings in all the right ways.

This is a thoughtful and subtle book that speaks volumes about growing up as a girl and reaching for the stars. I loved it.


My apologies

This is what kept me from posting these past few days. An early birthday cake and a trip to the cabin. Don't hate me.
I'll try to get back on track with my reviews and posts so look for a flood of stuff this next week.

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #35: Sticky

On Saturday

This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

The Lovely Bones
Harry Potter
Thirteen Reasons Why
The Hunger Games
The Year of Living Biblically
The Tipping Point
The Outsiders
The Book Thief
Right Behind You
Life of Pi
Looking for Alaska

Waiting on Wednesday #13 - Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

Memories of mum are the only thing that make Holly Hogan happy. She hates her foster family with their too-nice ways and their false sympathy. And she hates her life, her stupid school, and the way everyone is always on at her. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blond locks she feels transformed. She’s not Holly anymore, she’s Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the supersharp talk. She’s older, more confident—the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitch to Ireland, and find her mum. The kind of girl who can face the
world head-on. So begins a bittersweet and sometimes hilarious journey as Solace swaggers and Holly tiptoes across England and through memory, discovering her true self and unlocking the secrets of her past.
(Summary from Amazon)

The cover is sort of boring and colorless but the summary sounds quite cute. With all those "mum"s and whatnot. How can you not like a book set in Ireland?

Released October 13, 2009.

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-riden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can't seem to excape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica's parents won't get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany's pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.
(Summary from jacket flap)

I've been converted.

I never thought it would happen after the disappointment that was Sloppy Firsts but I'm glad I stuck it out and read the second book in the series. With this book I really think Megan McCafferty found her groove and finally figured out who she wanted Jess to be.

In the first book almost nothing worked for me. It was boring, the characters were distant, and it all seemed rather haphazard and "sloppy". Ha. I think McCafferty had a good idea - the journal of an obsessive teenage girl who has no real friends and who is falling for the totally wrong guy, but the execution was icky. Blah. Meh.

BUT. It was all stepped up a notch in Second Helpings. I found Jess to be entirely relatable and deliciously blunt. She has a way of looking at the world that I think almost anyone can identify with.

She's actually really self-centered and single-minded and what's funny is that while you're reading the book, you're drawn into that way of thinking. You're converted to her point of view because she's the one feeding it to you.

Towards the end, one of the characters points out the flaws in her perceptions and how she's been walking through her life with blinders on. As the reader, I was struck by that scene because it made me realize that it's so easy to fall into that. I wasn't concerned for certain aspects of the story if Jess wasn't. I didn't care about certain characters if Jess didn't. It made me feel sort of used and manipulated but it also made me stand back and take a look at how that proves that this is a really great narrative. That I was able to surrender myself to the story and to a character like that is a mark of greatness, I think.

So yeah, against all expectations, I'm singing the praises of this book. I read it in a day and I enjoyed every minute of it. It's sort of baffling how there could have been such a huge turnaround from the first book, but I'm not complaining. I think I've found a new series to love. We'll see if it sticks.

And hey, the more Marcus Flutie I get, the better.