Book Review: Fangirl

Rating: 5 out of 5 (Perfection! Everyone should read this!)

Eighteen year old twins, Cath and Wren, are off to their first year of college.  Up until this point, they have been at each other sides writing fan fiction and being best friends.  Wren decides that college should be about meeting new people and tells Cath she does not want to be roommates. Meanwhile, Cath wants everything to remain the same and keep her sister as her best friend. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl is a fantastic coming of age story that is filled with humor, emotion, and depth.  This was my first Rainbow Rowell novel and is one of my favorite books I have ever read. You will like this book if you enjoy realistic fiction, strong female leads, romance, fan fiction, and if you breathe air!

The Low Down

Cath and Wren couldn’t be more different.  Wren is outgoing and the life of the party and Cath just wants to blend into the background.  When they first arrive at school, Cath meets her new roommate Reagan and her maybe-boyfriend Levi. Reagan is blunt, quiet, and intimidating; however, Levi is happy-go-lucky, friendly, and charismatic.  Cath hates the idea of meeting new people and becomes extremely reserved staying in her room only venturing out for classes. Her favorite class is a junior level fiction writing class.  There, she meets a cute guy, Nick, who shares her love of writing.  Meanwhile, Wren is going out way too much partying and drinking all weekend.  In addition to Cath worrying about Wren, Levi, and Nick, her father is having a hard time adjusting to life without his daughters.  Will Cath be able to juggle these new feelings and survive her freshman year?

My Thoughts: Love at First Page

This is how I felt after I read this book…

touched

I can’t stress enough how much I am in love with this book.  The plot is simple yet interesting and the relationships, along with the secondary plots, are complicated, thoughtful, and realistic. My favorite character, the heroine of the story, is Cath. There were numerous times in the story I found myself rooting for her and I never got frustrated with her choices. I can relate to her personality and I could put myself in her shoes. The scene at the end with her estranged mother made me cheer even though some may view it as not the right thing to do. I loved it for it’s authenticity and also that’s how I would have reacted. Every time Wren did or said something hurtful to Cath, I felt personally insulted (as silly as that sounds!). Kudos to Rowell for creating this awesome story. I had a hard time finishing the story, because I didn’t want it to end.  That is the same feeling I had reading the final Harry Potter. Please go read this it’s the perfect story that will have anyone swooning. I wish I could go back and read it for the first time. 

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Book Review: Shadowlands

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Great! Solid book with little or minimal issues)

Shadowlands is the thrilling first installment in the brand new series by bestselling author Kate Brian. After reading the synopsis, I was immediately hooked because of the unique plot involving a serial killer which was definitely a selling point for me.  I recently read another young adult serial killer book by Robert Cormier called Tenderness. The book puts the reader into the mind of the killer and allows the reader a glimpse into the complex mind.  If serial killers in literature interest you, I highly recommend checking out Tenderness at your local library.

On the other hand, Shadowlands only glimpses very briefly into the mind of a serial killer with the story being told primarily from the victim’s point of view. I’ve seen more and more young adult books with serial killers and it is a trend that I welcome.  Okay, now on to the review!

The Set Up

While walking home from school, teenager Rory Miller is attacked by brutal and seasoned serial killer Steven Nell.  Rory survives the attack and is forced into witness protection with her father and sister Darcy.  This trauma triggers visions and flashes brought on by post traumatic stress that she previously experienced when dealing with her mother’s death. The post traumatic episodes continue even when the family is safely established in Juniper Landing, a picturesque island vacation town far away from the brutal past events in Rory’s life. Rory and Darcy make friends immediately with the island’s local teens where surfing and a low-key lifestyle is the priority. Life at Juniper Landing seems perfect, but Rory is still plagued by the memory of Steven Nell.  Rory begins to notice unusual signs and events leading her to believe that Nell has found her.  However, no one seems to believe her due to her post traumatic illness and the strong possibility that she is seeing something that isn’t there. Rory’s worries and theories are confirmed when one of her new friends goes missing and it is only a matter of time before she must face her worse nightmare.

My Thoughts: The twist is both shocking and disappointing

Okay, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it only took me a few hours to read. The opening chapter told from the serial killer’s mind sucked me right into the story and never let me go. The book has a good balance between realistic and stock young adult plot lines.  There are of course hot guys and love triangles; however, the murder plot and intensity of the serial killer cut right through those flimsy plot lines and provide a complex story.

There were points in this book where I was questioning the validity, but this is a fiction title and didn’t dwell on it.  When the FBI gives Rory and her family new identities, a car, and a secure location to drive without police escort or cell phone, I remember I laughed. With a killer as clever and elusive as Nell, why did the FBI think it was okay for them to leave from their house where anyone could have followed. When the house was surrounded by police under constant supervision, Nell found a way to get inside and leave a note on Rory’s bed. That should have been a clear indicator that this guy isn’t the run of the mill psycho. I understand why Brian had to write the situation this way (it leads to the big twist) but it perhaps could have been written more realistically.

I won’t go into detail and will stay spoiler free, but there is a large twist to the book you will read in the last sentence. Fortunately, this is book one in the series and book two, Hereafter, comes out October 1, 2013 which I will be reserving as soon as possible at my library. I was shocked in a good way; however, disappointed when I finished the book.  The end was slightly confusing and I went back into the book to see exactly what happened and what I missed. Even though I was confused, I didn’t mind the disorientation. I really enjoyed reading the book and would like to reread to really understand the events leading to the end. I recommend this book for people who enjoy mystery, suspense, murder, and young adult fiction (of course!).

Check it out at your local library and don’t forget about the sequel coming out this October!

Reading Opens Doors

Reading Opens Doors

This simple yet descriptive comic perfectly explains why reading is so beneficial, especially to children. Reading opens doors to the world be providing access to new cultures, ways of life and thinking, and exposure to alternative beliefs. At an early age, children need exposure to diverse cultures, people, and ways of life in order for them to grow up with open minds. Reading is an important activity that should be instilled at an early age in order to promote the activity later in life. If you have little ones, try your local library to participate in baby or toddler storytimes. They are very beneficial to children and introduce children to the library at an early age.

Reading is not only important in children, but remains important the rest of our lives. Continuing to educate ourselves is very important to be able to transition and grow and I plan on learning till I’m old and grey!

What are you reading? Do you continue to educate yourself, and how?

 

Page Monster Bookmarks

Are you a ravenous reader? Do you have an old ragged bookmark that needs replacing? If you are looking for a personalized and fun way to decorate your book, I found this great page corner bookmark template from Tally’s Treasury while researching for a craft to implement at the library where I work.  I will be hosting the program for all ages in May and it is really simple to make.

This bookmark is easy to construct and a cute way to save your page while reading.  For instructions, materials, and a step-by-step tutorial, check out the main page!  You will need card stock, decorative scrapbooking paper, glue sticks, and a few more items to make these little monsters. You can personalize them anyway you wish by adding googly eyes or use stickers!  This is a great way to encourage reading and be crafty!

Page Corner Bookmarks

 

Book Review: Slim for Life

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Nice Effort! Still enjoyed it despite negatives)

Slim for Life by Jillian Michaels, the tough no-nonsense trainer from the Biggest Loser, is the latest addition to her vast collection of health “how-to” books.  I have watched The Biggest Loser for a few years and always enjoyed watching Michaels approach to weight loss with the contestants.  She’s a tough chick and I like that type of motivation while working out. I have one of her workout DVD’s which always leaves me crippled for days after so I am definitely a fan of hers. I saw this book on my library’s new non-fiction display and checked it out immediately.

The Skinny

Michaels uses a simple and full proof approach to changing your lifestyle discussing exercise regiments, eating on a budget, eating on the go, and how to tackle and overcome the common excuses made for unhealthy lifestyles.  Since Michaels is a new mom, she includes more information on time management  exercising with kids, and how to juggle commitments.  This book sheds light on myths of weight loss, fad dieting, and why you should eat carbs.  Each tip and guideline ranks 1-3.  A 3 ranking is something that Michaels finds the most crucial for you to follow to get results, 2 is useful but not essential, and 1 is optional.  At the end of each chapter you calculate the tips that you could feasibly add into your daily life.  At the end of the book there is an overall score taken from all seven chapters with an explanation your score.

My Thoughts: The Good & Confusing

I finished this book in a few hours.  It is a quick read, easy to understand, and allows you to skip sections if it doesn’t apply to you.  The book contains information that I already knew; however, includes tons of new things that people should know when starting or currently practicing a healthy lifestyle.  My favorite part of the book is chapter 4 where she discusses eating on the go.  She talks about how to survive parties, restaurants, work, and travel and provides great tips and advice on how to navigate being away from your home kitchen.  For example, when you order your meal ask the waiter to box up half of the meal before it comes out you.  This is an easy way to avoid temptation and tackle the large portions that restaurants serve.

The only part I found challenging for a wide audience to follow was chapter 2 dealing with exercise.  If you are just starting your journey and have no prior knowledge, this chapter is slightly confusing.  A beginner will not know what a “curtsy lunge into a lateral raise” means.  I don’t know what that is either!  So while this section is hard to navigate for a beginner, it still provides a great plan for exercise and information about intensity, interval training, and outdoor exercise.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to change or tweak their current lifestyle.  I gained some crucial knowledge and learned different ways to optimize my health without having to go overboard.  This book is great for people on the go, parents, and the average person looking to jump-start to their health.  If you like Michaels’ personality then you will enjoy her writing style and no-nonsense approach.  Check it out at your local library today!

Turning 27 on the 27th

Hello!  This date marks the first post on The Golden State Jersey Girl blog and my birthday as well!  For 26 years (give or take a few months) New Jersey was the only home I ever knew.  This is a significant birthday because I am away from my friends and family for the first time; however, I find that I cherish them even more and started this blog to keep them closer to me.  As a birthday present to myself, I wanted to start this blog and share my life in California with my loved ones and complete strangers alike.

While in California, I have developed and fostered a much deeper interest and love of public libraries.  I have been dying to share this project I found while browsing for crafts to carry out for teens at the public library I work.  Although this project is too involved for library programming, it’s perfect for home.  This necklace screamed out to me when I saw it and appeals to my affinity of history and ancient things.  I love the aesthetic of ancient leather-bound books that look like they came out a crypt of some underground secret chamber…okay I got carried away but its fun to imagine!  This project is courtesy of Ruby Murrys Musings where she created this innovative and creative way to wear your love of old books and keep them close to your heart.  I hope to make one soon and if you make one please share the finished product!

“I’m very important.  I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” ~ Ron Burgundy