Sunday, August 29, 2010


For a long time, I kept coming across this novel by Nick McDonell in bookstores. It got to the point where eventually I just decided to read it, because I kept picking it up and I figured if it was so prominent it must be decent. There are several characters in the book, and we get just a glimpse into the lives of each of them, most of them rich high school kids. The character that's focused on the most is White Mike, a prep school kid turned drug dealer. The title "Twelve" comes from a drug of the same name that one girl gets addicted to. There could be other references to the number in the book (maybe the number of key characters?) but I haven't thought through it carefully enough to say for sure.

Overall, I was disappointed. Maybe it's just because the narration has an observer-type feel, but I didn't feel especially attached to any of the characters (although I can't help but notice that "The Great Gatsby" had an observer type thing going on and I still really liked that). I just... didn't understand the point of the book, I guess. Especially the ending. Obviously since it's selling so well, there are people that are getting something out of it, but I just wasn't one of them. I give it 6 pretzel bites.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
I just finished reading this book by Amy Bender which I borrowed from my step-mom. It's about a girl named Rose who can taste what people are feeling by eating food that they've made. It seems magical but actually hinders her quite a bit. However, even though this is the selling point plot aspect, I found that for a lot of it, that part sort of took a backseat, and instead the book concentrated more on Rose's family dynamic: Rose, her genius but extremely introverted brother, her enthusiastic but lonely mother, and her friendly but somewhat awkward father.

The first half of the book (the parts taking place when Rose is nine and twelve) I absolutely loved. The imagery was clear, the prose was lovely, the characters were complex, and the story was interesting. However, sadly, the second half I did not enjoy as much. It got into this weirdness with her brother, and I guess the characters started to feel farther away to me. There were still some really nice sections, but I just didn't enjoy it as much. I wish it had lived up to the fantasticness of the first half. Overall, I give this book 7.5 pretzel bites.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Classic reading, part two

Sense and Sensibility
I decided to read this book because I'd never read anything by Jane Austen and I really wanted to! This is a classic about two very different sisters, Elinor (the reasonable one) and Marianne (the passionate one), who fall in love and have problems arise. In the beginning, I had to concentrate really hard to figure out what was going on just because of the way that it's written, but once I got past all the exposition, it got easier. Plus, the language is just so wonderful (for example, "'We may treat it as a joke,' said he, at last, recovering from the affected laugh which had considerably lengthened out the genuine gaiety of the moment"). I thought it was witty and interesting and quite enjoyable. I know some people don't like Jane Austen because they say her endings are too happy, but sometimes it's nice to read books with happy endings, don't you think? 8.5 pretzel bites!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A semi-classic

Lucky Jim
My fake aunt gave me this book (a novel from the 50's by Kingsley Amis) for my graduation because it's her favorite. It's a British book about a slacker named Jim who is trying to please his boring boss in order to keep his job as a history professor. Things get a bit more complicated when he takes in interest in his boss's son's girlfriend. Madness ensues.

For the first chapter or so, I thought this book seemed kind of boring, but after a while I got a lot more into it. It's quite witty and funny. It kind of reminds me of "The Importance of Being Earnest," but they're not that similar. I think it's just the whole British comedy with an entertaining character taking interest in a girl thing. In the end, I really enjoyed it. I give it 8.5 pretzel bites!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A brief post from Paris

The Book Thief
This novel by Markus Zusak was passed along to me after everyone in my family read and enjoyed it. It takes place in Nazi Germany and features a young German girl named Liesel Meminger. It follows Liesel throughout her childhood, looking at her brother's death, her foster family, her friendship with a boy named Rudy, her friendship with a Jew being hidden in her basement, and, of course, her book thievery. It's narrated by Death.

I loved this book! It's categorized as a young adult book, but I think it reads well for people of all ages. I thought it was interesting to look at World War II from a German perspective. It's funny at times and heartbreaking at times. The imagery is wonderful. The characters are complex. There are so many beautiful lines. Overall, it was just generally amazing. 9.5 pretzel bites!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

After all the hype

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
For months, I've been hearing about this novel by Junot Diaz and how great it is. The main character, Oscar, is a Dominican, overweight sci-fi obsessive who wants nothing more than to find love. The book follows Oscar throughout his brief life, and also tells the story of some of his other family members, like his sister and his mom. It also continually ties back to the Dominican Republic and Dominican culture.

After all the hype, I was expecting this to be one of the greatest books I'd ever read. At first, I wasn't really interested in it at all. I thought maybe I wasn't smart or patient enough to understand the greatness, or that maybe I needed to be more well-versed in sci-fi or Dominican culture. After a while, I started to enjoy it more. It was kind of funny/engrossing at some parts. In fact, a lot of times it reminded me of the book "One Hundred Years of Solitude," but I'm not entirely sure why, because I wouldn't really classify it as magic realism. Anyway, I didn't find it as amazing as the rest of the world seems to have. I also think the ending would have been better if the last chapter wasn't there. I give it 7 pretzel bites.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Finding Amazingness

Looking for Alaska
This was the only book that I hadn't yet read by John Green (see reviews of his other books here and here), and it was definitely my favorite. The book is about a boy named Miles (nicknamed Pudge) who goes off to boarding school and makes mischief and new friends, specifically the girl who becomes his new obsession, Alaska. The book is divided into "before" and "after." Now, you may ask, "Before and after what?" Well, you'll just have to read the book and find out.

And you should. Read the book, I mean. It's funny, it's touching, and the characters are great. You'll learn lots of famous last words. John Green never underestimates the intelligence of his readers, which I greatly appreciate. He writes books that are enjoyable and easy to read, but still carry a lot of meaning. I loved this novel! An enthusiastic 9 pretzel bites.