Thursday, January 6, 2011

One Night that Changes Everything

Title: One Night that Changes Everything

Author: Lauren Barnholdt

Pages: 240

Rating: ***

Summary (from Amazon): Eliza's parents are out of town for the weekend and the high school junior is looking forward to a Saturday night hanging out with her two best friends. Instead she discovers that her private notebook has been stolen; in it, she has written down all her fears since she was 12. Tyler, president of a secret society at school, is threatening to post it online, unless she does exactly as he says. He is exacting revenge for something she posted online about Cooper, a fellow society member and her ex-boyfriend. And what about Cooper? Whose side is he on?

Review: I am a fan of Lauren Barnholdt. I absolutely loved Two*Way Street, so when I was at Half Price Books a few months back, I just had to pick this up, along with Watch Me. I started it last night, in the mood for a light, quick read--which is exactly what I got. One Night is fun, quick, and sweet. The writing is okay, the plot isn't always believable, but it's a cute story with a happily ever after.

First the positives. Though the writing wasn't stellar, it was real. Not quite as real as Robin Benway, but the characters were relatable (somewhat) and their problems were real. I'm almost positive 90% of high school girls can relate to Eliza's fears (myself included!).

Also, this book had my dying to finish. I read over half of it last night, then took it to school today and finished it before 9:30 (in my English class, when we were supposed to be watching Hamlet--sidenote, don't waste your time on that famous tragedy. Everybody dies.). I was dying to know how it would end, but also what Tyler and his gang would make her do next. It pulled me in, and since it was so quick, I was easily satisfied.

One thing that bothered me was the lack of character development. I couldn't really figure out who Eliza was--sometimes she seemed like an innocent good-girl, but other times she talked about drinking and kissing random guys. As the review on Amazon said, "readers waffle between rooting for the likable Eliza and thinking that she is so clueless that she half deserves what she gets."

I also didn't really understand her friends, who are constantly leaving Eliza ON HER OWN in a STRANGE CITY at like TWO A.M. Oh, I followed this guy I like. Oh, my cousin needed a ride. Seriously?! You're supposed best friend is being blackmailed and her ex-boyfriend is making her humiliate herself, and you just leave? Also, they acted like it was this huge brilliant plan to steal the notebook back. Um, hello! That was the first thing I thought of!

But now I'm getting nit-picky.

This is a cute story about conquering your fears. I share many of Eliza's fears, so it was cool to see her actually survive facing them (yes, I realize it is a book, but still.)

Was it as good as Two-Way Street? Definitely not. Was it good? Definitely. Will I read the rest of Lauren's books (Watch Me and Aces Up)? For sure!

Recommended for: those looking for a quick, fun read without too much depth.

P.S. Personally, I like the original cover picture better than the one actually chosen. Eliza's outfit is described in detail, but it looks nothing like what the girl is wearing on the real cover. I think this one makes the book a lot more intriguing.

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Pages: 372

Rating: ****1/2

Summary(From Goodreads): Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Review: Can someone please send me to Paris, um, now?! Paris+young love+amazing guy=amazing! This book has gotten TONS of amazing reviews ( it has an average rating of 4.62 out of 5 on Goodreads, which is very rare for a romance book! To give you a clue, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has a rating of 4.21, but The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks has 3.80), and I was ecstatic when I got it for Christmas. I am in love with Paris and all things French; I've been learned french for the past six years. And so I was really excited to read a book set in Paris! I would LOVE to go to a boarding school in Paris! But anyway.

I was expecting this book to be predictable (which it kinda was) and cheesy (which, ok, it was at the end), but it was so much more. Unlike most romance books, St. Clair, our leading man, has many flaws, as does Anna. I loved their friendship, because it proved to me they were truly compatible, not just physically attracted to each other. It made their relationship more real. They fought and had many disagreements, but they still loved each other.

Contradictory to the Anna/St. Clair relationship, the Toph plotline was INCREDIBLY predictable, and compared to the rest of the novel, was a bit pointless and cheesy.

I also enjoyed Anna's new friends. Her introduction to them is very realistic; they accept her and are nice to her, but they don't become superclose right away. In so many books like this, when the protagonist is in a new environment, she just "stumbles" across another girl who happens to be lonely and totally perfect for the protagonist and they become best friends YAY!! I was happy to see this book was different. Making friends isn't easy, and growing to trust someone new is even harder, and I thought Stephanie portrayed this well.

All in all, an extremely enjoyable read. I highly recommend it, and I can't wait to read Stephanie's follow-ups: Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Recommended for: romance lovers, but also those who like their romances with lite cheese.

RYOB Challenge 2010

And in case you were wondering, I failed the Read Your Own Bookshelf Challenge as well; my goal was 50 books, and I only read 31. Overall, not a great year for the challenges. But I am challenging myself to do better this year!

2011 100+ Reading Challenge!


If you'd like to join in the challenge, head over to Home Girl's Book Blog here!
So...I failed this challenge last year. I only read 80 books, when my goal was 150. I am ashamed. So this year, I have lowered my goal to 111. You can see my book list for 2010 here.
But it's a new year, and I am prepared to master the challenge this year! So I am beginning my 2011 booklist here. Good luck to all participants!

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
2. One Night that Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt
3. White Cat by Holly Black
4. The Book of Luke by Jenny O'Connell
5. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
7. Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer

8. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
9. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
10. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
11. The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
12. Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
13. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

14. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
15. See What I See by Gloria Whelan
16. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
17. Into the Ether by Vanessa Barger
18. Wake by Lisa McMann

19. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
20. Vixen by Jillian Larkin
21. The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
22. The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum
23. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
24. Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

25. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
26. Fade by Lisa McMann
27. Red Glove by Holly Black
28. Gone by Lisa McMann
29. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
30. The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum
31. Wanderlust by Lucy Silag
32. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
33. Another Faust by Dina and Daniel Nayeri
34. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

35. Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
36. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
37. Matched by Ally Condie
38. The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen
39. The Girl Who Was on Fire-Your Favorite Authors on the Hunger Games
40. Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

41. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
42. Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
43. Charmed and Dangerous by Lisi Harrison
44. How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot
45. I Love You, You Idiot (Gilmore Girls) by Cathy East Dubowski
46. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
47. Juliet by Anne Fortier
48. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
49. So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
50. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
51. Ingenue by Jillian Larkin