Monday, April 30, 2012

Manga Mondays Meme (100): Kimi ni Todoke vol. 3 by Karuho Shiina

New Manga Mondays Meme!

I can't believe I'm up to 100 Manga Mondays! It sounds like such a huge number, although it's really only slightly less than two years. I haven't missed a single one. Of course, a few of them have been throwaway posts, but I at least put something up. This will never be the most popular post on my blog, but I love all of you who read and participate in Manga Mondays! It's fun to share my love for manga with other bloggers.

I've been doing Manga Mondays every week since I started my blog 2 years ago. It started out as a personal feature, but I've turned it into a meme in the past few months. There are quite a few people who do Manga Mondays. I don't claim that I own or created the idea of Manga Mondays - it's an obvious choice given the alliteration. I think a meme would be a good way for everyone to publicize their own Manga Mondays and get a little more publicity.

The linky will be below my review.

Kimi ni Todoke vol. 3 by Karuho Shiina


Summary

Will the curse of Sadako leave her friendless for life? R to L (Japanese Style). Sadako's dreams come true when she finally becomes friends with her classmates, instead of scaring them off. She even gets friendly with the cutest girl in school, Kurumi. But will this innocent friendship with Kurumi make Sadako realize that her feelings for Kazehaya are more than just friendly? Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting movie character. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary facade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too! (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

Life is looking up for Sawako. She is making more and more friends at school and the bullying is somewhat lessening. But like any bullying victim, she's cautious. She can't believe that people actually like her. And doesn't know how to react when people are nice.

A main plot point of this volume occurs when her friends challenge Sawako to call them by their first names. This is a big deal in Japanese culture. You call most people by their last names. And almost always use honorifics. People don't go on a first name basis unless they're friends. Even then, they usually use honorifics like -kun or -chan. It's hard to properly understand the big deal about this unless you're Japanese. Luckily for Gaijin like me, I can call Japanese friends by their first names without honorifics and it's excused because I'm an ignorant foreigner. That's a good thing, because I didn't know about the honorifics when I went to Japan.

Yano-san and Yoshida-san (using last names) have been very nice to Sawako. However, they still call her Sadako - the mean horror movie nickname. I'm assuming this is out of habit, but it makes me question their characters. Especially when Sawako is so adamant about using formal names. It does occur to them at one people that they shouldn't call her Sadako, but they haven't changed yet. I hope they do.

Sawako makes friends with one of the most popular girls in school. She's the female version of Kazehaya. Nice to everyone and liked by all. Sawako is incredibly flattered to be the recipient of such attention and wants to be just like her. She is upset though that Kurimi-chan and Kazehaya have such an easy friendship. She's too scared to talk to him. Plus, she wonders if that means that Kurimi-chan and Kazehaya are something more.

Neither Sawako nor Kazehaya have acknowledged that they "like" each other yet. All the signs are there - extreme nervousness, cautious formalism, shy niceties - but they're blind to it. At the end, there's a potential wrench thrown into their growing relationship. I wonder how or if it will cause a problem.

Sign up for the Manga Mondays Meme!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bookish Recap

In wake of this week's scandal, I'm going to do a recap of books I received, books I read, and my posts instead of In My Mailbox. I haven't commented on the drama nor will I except to say that I am very disappointed both with Kristi and with the YA blogging community (especially the Twitter-sphere). I don't know what the consequences will be or should be. But I'm using this as an excuse to change the format for my mailbox posts.

On the Blog This Week


Manga Mondays:


Reviews:



Discussion:

Event:

Blog Tour:


*Don’t forget!!!!  --> Read Outside the Box!


Books I Read This Week


-It's been a busy reading week - the best kind of week.


Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielsen
-Stephanie of the popular blog NieNie Dialogues - about the horrible plane crash she was in and her recovery.
-Heartbreaking but hopeful

-I was lucky enough to meet Stephanie at an event a few years ago. I would love to spend more time with her. Here's  photo of me, Stephanie and Mr. Nielson:




Skip Beat vol. 3 by Yoshiki Nakamura

The Snowchild by Eowyn Ivey

-Beautiful and depressing. I won't review this because it's an adult book, but I'd recommend it.


Soulless by Gail Carriger

-I wanted to read this for a long time. I also won't review this one, but you should read it. Goofy and fun.


The List by Siobhan Vivian

-Better than I expected it to be. A quick read. Also somewhat depressing.


Body and Soul by Stacey Kade

-Such a cute book. Love the whole series.

Books Received This Week


Books for Review


Body and Soul by Stacy Kade

-For an upcoming blog tour. Thanks to Netgalley!


Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

-Thanks to Media Masters Publicity

Library Stash


Black Heart by Holly Black

-I really with they hadn’t changed the covers for this series.


Purity by Jackson Pearce


The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blog Tour Character Interview: The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond

The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
May 1, 2012; Sourcebooks Fire


Summary

Is he or isn't he? Brigitta's best friend is convinced that Brigitta's new crush, Luke, is actually egotistical teen heartthrob Trent Yves, hiding from his fans in their tiny town. But Brigitta actually likes Luke, whereas Trent is an arrogant jerk. As the two spend the summer together raising orphaned cougar cubs, Brigitta still can't be sure of his true identity. But then again, since her grandparents' death, her father's sudden urge to give away all their possessions and become a shaman, and her own awkward transition from girlhood into a young woman, what can she be sure of?(courtesy of Goodreads)

Character Interview: Mallory

Please welcome Brigitta's older sister Mallory to Alison Can Read! She's been kind enough to answer a few questions about her life and family.

1. Tell us about your senior treehouse project.

I had noticed that some of the younger students at Kwahnesum High School were having a hard time socially. My little sister Brigitta was a freshman at the time (this was a couple of years ago) and had never been to school. She’s so smart and talented, but she was just so isolated. So I really made the Treehouse Club for her. I knew that if others could get to know her in a small group setting, they’d find out they all had a lot in common. And we’d talk about some healthy life choices along the way. And we really do have a cool treehouse.

It didn’t exactly work out the way I’d planned. Brigitta wanted her friend Devon to attend, so I allowed that, even though I had been hoping to explore more women’s issues. I’ve always liked Devon. I even babysat him when he was little. The attendance wasn’t as consistent as I’d have liked, but we did do some excellent stargazing. And I taught them a few songs. Brigitta was learning to play the guitar, so I asked her to lead. I feel it’s important for young teens to have leadership experience.

Sadly, the Treehouse Club had kind of limped to a stop by the time I left for college. I was kind of between a sock and a hard place because Devon seemed to be interested in Brigitta as more than a friend, and her life was taking a new direction. I felt it was best to let the club transition into something else on its own, since I wouldn’t be there to offer my guidance.

2. What attracts you to Webster?

I was afraid I’d gotten off on the wrong leg with Dr. Lampson (Webster) because my first paper really wasn’t up to my usual standard. It was on the neuroscience of dreams. I wanted to chart my own dreams and analyze the cognitive processes behind each one. But I spent too long on my research and the paper was embarrassingly sloppy. Instead of giving me the D I probably deserved, Dr. Lampson invited me to his office to discuss some of my dreams. What was fascinating was that his own dreams paralleled mine in many ways. I started to notice how attractive he was, and then I was afraid he’d notice my noticing. But then he asked me to dinner so we could continue the discussion. And he told me he found me quite beautiful and would like to spend more time with me off campus. I’ve always found men in their twenties to be so immature. Webster is refreshing. He doesn’t beat around the brush. He says what he thinks.

3. What was your first reaction to arriving back home from school and seeing how your family had changed?

I’m ashamed to say I was mad. Really mad. It was a childish response to a natural progression of human development in any family, but I wasn’t approaching it as a scholar. What upset me the most was that Dad, who had taught me to be rational and skeptical of superstition, had apparently had a break with reality. He was out in the woods talking to animals and trying to “enter the spirit world” whatever he thinks that is. He was like a different person. Mom was pretty much the same. Happier, now that Dad was as much off the steep end as she’s always been. Don’t get me wrong; I love my mom, but she believes in fairies. I mean, I was afraid to bring people home because I never knew what she’d say. Dad kept our family stable, until he got like this. And Brigitta was different, too. She was so sad. And she’d gotten on this huge religion kick. She had all these books and statues and candles. That worried me a LOT because our grandparents were really religious and Brigitta spent a lot of time with them before they died. Not only is religion the origin of all wars, it gives people false hope. I don’t want that for Brigitta. I had a book on delusional thinking that I tried to share with her, but she wouldn’t read it. Webster pointed out that they all need intensive therapy, and I agree, but how do you convince your family of something like that?

4. Who's your favorite celebrity?

I’m not sure how to answer that. I’m not really into the cult of celebrity. I don’t have much time for movies or television, though I do watch a little at school. (I’ll confess to an affinity for HOUSE.) It seems people’s time would be better spent doing things other than trying to get famous. Better to be a great mind than a flash in the can.

5. Who's your favorite psychologist?

Karen Horney. She was influential during the first half of the 20th century. I especially like her idea of “womb envy” which she developed in response to Sigmund Freud’s proposal that women were jealous of a certain appendage possessed only by men (not sure what the rating is on this blog, so I’ll try to be delicate.) She said, "Is not the tremendous strength in men of the impulse to creative work in every field precisely due to their feeling of playing a relatively small part in the creation of living beings, which constantly impels them to an overcompensation in achievement?"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #94

Welcome to the Feature & Follow


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
January 3, 2012; Feiwel & Friends


Summary

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I shouldn't have liked Cinder. I don't like sci fi. I don't really like fairy tale re-tellings (rather I'm not passionate about them). Yet I loved Cinder. It is one of my favorite books of 2012 thus far. What does Cinder have going for it?

1. Strong Female Character: Cinder is a fabulous leading lady. As a cyborg, she is an outcast in society. Not only that, she's an outcast in her own family. Her adopted father is dead, her stepmother and one of her stepsisters hate her, and she works for them as a virtual slave. Cinder does occasionally bemoan her lot in life, but mostly she accepts it and does as best she can. She is sarcastic, witty, and smart. She's an mechanic (Girl power!) whose ability is so respected that Prince Kai seeks her out. Cinder takes risks to protect those she loves, especially her stepsister Peony (the nice one). She has a nice balance between being aggressive and unsure.

2. Great Guy: I loved Prince Kai. Part of the story is told from his viewpoint since his father's illness and the possible war/treaty/marriage with the Lunar society takes place is crucial to the plot. He's kind, funny, and easy going. He is immediately drawn to Cinder not only because she's pretty, but because she is smart and doesn't grovel. Kai has the weight of the world on his shoulders but he accepts his fate and seeks to do the best for his kingdom. He's the type of guy that Cinder deserves, and I can't wait to see what happens to their relationship in future books.

3. Cinderella Legend: While I don't really like fairy tale re-tellings that much, Cinderella is one of my favorite stories (Who doesn't love singing, sewing mice? And pumpkins!). Marissa Meyer has an entirely original take on the Cinderella story, which has been told a million times in a million ways. I particularly liked the fact that she didn't feel the need to stick too close to the traditional story. For example, Cinder only has one evil stepsister. The other stepsister is sweet and loves Cinder. Also, the Cinderella plot is only part of a much bigger story line that encompasses a potential multi-world, multi-species war.

4. World Building: For the most part, the world building in Cinder is excellent. It's set far in the future, post-Apocalyptic, but it doesn't have the dystopian feel to it. My one criticism is that cyborgs should have been defined earlier on in the book. I had a good idea of what a cyborg was, but not being a sci fi reader, I wasn't entirely clear. It didn't affect my ability to follow the plot, but it was occasionally jarring. The fantasy world becomes much more complicated with the introduction of the Lunar society, a clan of humans who live on the moon and have evolved into a different species. There is much about their Lunar world that is not explored in this book, but we are told just enough to dispel confusion and create excitement for future books.

5. Writing: The book flows by so quickly that you finish it before you realize. Partly it's because the writing is so smooth and partly it's because you can't put it down once you start it. Marissa Meyer mostly does a good job of spacing out back stories, character development, and action (with the exception of the cyborg definition mentioned above). There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested and surprised. Obviously there are aspects of the plot that you know are going to happen since we all know the story of Cinderella. Plus the major plot twist was really easy to guess. But the journey to get there was unexpected and a roller coaster ride of fun.

I can't recommend Cinder enough. It is accessible for the non-sci fi or fantasy fan. It features a strong girl who may like having a handsome prince but definitely doesn't need one. Plus it goes far beyond the traditional Cinderalla story. A great debut.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Is The Ideal Book Beginning?

One of the most critical moments for any book is its beginning. The first chapter, even the first sentence often determines whether you’ll finish the book. It sets the tone. A good beginning doesn’t necessarily mean a good ending and neither does a bad beginning mean a bad ending. However, it is much easier to stay at the top if you start there than if you have to climb the mountain.

Different Types of Beginnings

I characterize beginnings loosely into three different types:
1) 0-60mph in 3 seconds: There are some books that I know from the moment I begin it that I’m going to like it. Often there’s a great action sequence. But most often it’s because the writing and I click just like *that*. I usually – but not always – end up loving these books.
  • Examples: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.
    • I loved them all. The characters’ voices were what attracted me most to these books. There’s a feeling that the characters and I are old friends.
2) Lazy River: This is the most common type of beginning. It’s neither bad nor good. It’s more of a waiting game. I’m interested enough to keep reading, but don’t feel particularly invested. Sometimes I end up liking, or even loving these books, but most often they’re forgettable.
  • Examples: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, which I loved. I can’t think of any others off hand, which fits with the definitely of the category.
3) Wrong Track: Sometimes you know immediately that a book is not for you. Maybe the writing is horrible or you hate the characters. Or maybe the writing and characters are great, but you can’t make yourself care. These books are almost always DNF. I don’t have to be captivated immediately, but I have to have some motivation to keep going.
  • Examples:
    • Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison. Struggled to get past the first page; gave up at page 40.
    • Iron King by Julie Kagawa. A rare success with this category. I hated the beginning of this novel and couldn’t stand how Meghan Chase lusted after the out-of-her-league popular guy. But on the basis of reader recommendations, I kept going and fell in love with the series.
4) Walking Into Walls: I instinctually assume that books with stellar beginnings make the best book. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that many of the books that touched my heart the most were the ones that I scratched my head about at first. The beginnings were opaque and twisty. I didn’t know what was happening. Part of me was intrigued and wanted to move on. Part of me was frustrated and wanted to give up. But when I persevered the book was even better because of my initial confusion. This doesn’t always work. Sometimes I start out confused and stay confused. Or the frustration isn’t worth it.
  • Examples:
    • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I actually put this book down for a few months. I didn’t love it until 2/3 of the way through when everything made sense. Now the beginning feels incredible.
    • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Much like the circus, the beginning of this book is magical and mysterious. It set a tone that I didn’t appreciate for a long while.
    • Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Similar to Jellicoe Road, it took me at least halfway through the book before I appreciated it. The atmospherics were beautiful but the characters held themselves at arms length for a long time.
    • The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. On the other hand, some books take so long to get going that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I sort of liked this book, but didn’t start really enjoying the series until the second book.
What is the best beginning for a book?

I am most likely to love a book if its beginning is (1) Fast or (2) Confusing. The realization is confusing in and of itself. The impetus for writing this discussion post was the realization that the books I love most were often not the ones I liked the best at the beginning. And that led me to wonder if confusing beginnings were ideal. Like many things in life, I often appreciate things that I have to work for at first. Perhaps I like books because of their difficult beginnings not in spite of them.

On the other hand, shouldn’t the ideal book be the entire package with a great beginning, middle, and end? I love the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I instantly love a book. There’s nothing quite like a reader’s high. While I understand the value of working to appreciate a book, I’m reading for fun. I want the book to entertain me, rather than feel like I have entertain the book (in a matter of speaking).  Of course, a lot of these instant click books are mind candy that won’t stand the test of time. But not all of them. The favorites I listed in my examples are well written books that I will likely re-read.

What are some examples of books you loved right from the beginning? Or books that you had to grow to love? Or books that you hated from the very beginning?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fall From Grace by Charles Benoit

Fall From Grace by Charles Benoit
May 8, 2012; HarperTeen


Summary

Grace always has a plan. There’s her plan to get famous, her plan to get rich, and—above all—her plan to have fun.

Sawyer has plenty of plans too. Plans made for him by his mother, his father, his girlfriend. Maybe they aren’t his plans, but they are plans.

When Sawyer meets Grace, he wonders if he should come up with a few plans himself. Plans about what he actually wants to be, plans to speak his own mind for a change, plans to maybe help Grace with a little art theft.

Wait a minute—plans to what? (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Fall From Grace goes into the category of books that I appreciate more than I like. The themes of self-discovery and rebellion from expectations are what stand out most from this novel - more than the plot itself. The characters are intriguing but achieve the real feat of all being unlikable. Usually we have a hero, some sidekicks, and some villains. But I don't even like the good guys. But the book comes very close to redeeming itself at the end.

Sawyer is a wuss. He lets his parents and his girlfriend make all his decisions, because he doesn't have the guts to stand up to them. They're not even nice people. They push, they cajole, they manipulate - whatever it takes to get Sawyer to go to the college of their choice, take the classes of their choice, do the activities of their choice. I'm surprised his mother doesn't set out Sawyer's clothes every morning. Perhaps she does and it's not mentioned in the book. I quickly disliked his cardboard passivity. It felt overdone. Are there really 18 year old guys out there completely lacking a backbone? Not just someone who likes to follow rules and obey authority, but who is totally incapable of standing up for himself? There probably are, but I don't like reading about them.

Amazingly, it's taken Sawyer 18 years to figure out that not having any free will is a bad thing. It all starts to change when he meets Grace. She wants to be famous and has decided that the best way to do it is art heist. This makes little sense, but she does have a relatively well thought out explanation for how this will bring her fame (or infamy). She ropes Sawyer into being her sidekick the same way everyone else does - cajoling and manipulation. Only she catches flies with honey rather than the vinegar his parents and girlfriend spew at him.

I enjoyed seeing Sawyer's little rebellions, as stupid as they were. He desperately needed to distance himself from his family and I liked seeing him grow into himself. He came to life around Grace and that was heartening. I also liked how Grace was such an enigmatic character. Is she really a heartless manipulator that I hinted to above or a girl who truly enjoys being with Sawyer and brings him into her game, because she likes him? I can't say for sure which viewpoint of Grace is true. A highlight of this book is how it makes you think and question all your initial opinions of the plot and the characters. Maybe your initial impressions are correct, but maybe there's more going on beneath the surface than you initially noticed.

The ending to Fall From Grace is shocking. It made the book. I will probably (happily) forget this story quickly, but the ending will stick with me for years. It's a choice few authors dare to make and Mr. Benoit did it perfectly.

My recommendation for Fall From Grace is odd. I didn't like this book very much. It was well written and clearly leans toward the literary bent, but the plot wasn't strong enough to draw me in and I hated the characters. However, the ending was fabulous. I'd recommend you read this book just to get to the ending. An odd juxtaposition: this is probably my least favorite book of 2012 thus far, but it has one of the best endings I've read in years. Check it out.

Rating: 3 / 5

Monday, April 23, 2012

YA or Bust Author Extravaganza!

I had the incredible opportunity last Tuesday to meet four authors, including two of my favorites at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, California:



Stephanie Perkins



Gayle Forman



Nina LaCour



Jess Rothenberg

The fearsome foursome started out the evening with a Q&A where they talked about their books, their life experiences, writing, and the future. All were charming and friendly. After the Q&A, we lined up to get our books signed.

photo (8)

photo (7)
-Love the shoes. Especially Stephanie’s boots.

I was lucky enough to be first in line for Stephanie and Gayle, so I got to chat with them, get my copies of If I Stay, Where She Went, Anna and the French Kiss, and Lola and the Boy Next Door signed and got my picture taken.

photo (5)
-Gayle, me, and Stephanie

Then I headed over to Nina and Jess. I haven’t read any of their books yet, but I definitely want to do so now.

photo (6)
-Jess, Me, and Nina

Just as fun as meeting the authors was spending the night with my blogging friend Julie of My 5 Monkeys. We had a lovely 90 minute drive each way (from Sacramento to Oakland) to the signing full of book talking, the best kind of conversation.

yaorbust 003

Manga Mondays (99): Skip Beat! vol. 3 by Yoshiki Nakamura

New Manga Mondays Meme!

I've been doing Manga Mondays every week since I started my blog 22 months ago. It's always been a personal feature, but now I'm going to try turning it into a meme. There are quite a few people who do Manga Mondays. I don't claim by any means that I owned or created the idea of Manga Mondays - it's an obvious choice given the alliteration. I think a meme would be a good way for everyone to publicize their own Manga Mondays and get a little more publicity.

The linky will be below my review.

Skip Beat! vol. 3 by Yoshiki Nakamura


Summary

Kyoko is determined to win her way into show business, even if it means wearing embarrassing bright pink overalls and putting up with spoiled stars. But her first big assignment is proving more difficult than she imagined when Kyoko finds herself in front of the camera with an injured leg. Will she be able to ace her first attempt at acting despite the pain, or will she make an utter fool of herself in front of her sort-of nemesis, Ren Tsugura?(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

I like Skip Beat, but I still find it frustrating. Why? I think it's mostly for two reasons. First, the series is still in the preliminary stage. Kyoko's relationship with the other characters is only beginning to develop. For example, I assume that Ren is going to be a big romantic hero for Kyoko. Kyoko can't stand him in Volume 3, but we get inklings of chemistry when even she sees slight evidence that he's not an ogre. Being Kyoko, she quickly dismisses Ren's good side. Ren's feelings for Kyoko are harder to pin down, but he does gain a great deal of respect for her when she acts in her try out despite having a painful broken ankle.

The second reason for being frustrated with this series is that I already love Kyoko. I love her focus. I love her darkness - how motivated she is by revenge and anger. It's a characteristic most of us can see in ourselves, whether we like it or not. I want to see good things happen to Kyoko. I want karma to work in her favor. I assume it will eventually, but at this point Kyoko gets kicked down and then kicked down again.

Kyoko is good at getting people to either follow her or at least pay attention to her. I love how she attracted little Maria's attention with her curse dolls. She also managed to change Ruri and convince Kanae to became a fellow Love Me member through sheer stubbornness and determination. Kyoko is the type of person who gets her claws into you and doesn't let go until you bend to her will. I like that she's not willing to change to get people to like her.

While Skip Beat doesn't have a beginning that sucks you in, I've become attached to the series. I want to see where it's going to go and when Kyoko is going to accomplish all her dark dreams.

Sign up for the Manga Mondays Meme!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox #72

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I'm Alison (on the off chance you couldn't guess that from the name of my blog). I review Young Adult novels with a few Middle Grade books and a weekly manga feature.

Bought

 *I went to a great signing on Tuesday and bought three books. All are signed. I'll put up another post probably Monday talking about the signing. It was awesome. Best part was that I met Stephanie Perkins and Gayle Forman!!




The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg


The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour


Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Library Stash



The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey



The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
*So incredibly awesome! You must read this book!!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blog Tour: The Wicked and The Just by J. Anderson Coats

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats
April 17, 2012; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Summary

Cecily’s father has ruined her life. He’s moving them to occupied Wales, where the king needs good strong Englishmen to keep down the vicious Welshmen. At least Cecily will finally be the lady of the house.

Gwenhwyfar knows all about that house. Once she dreamed of being the lady there herself, until the English destroyed the lives of everyone she knows. Now she must wait hand and foot on this bratty English girl.

While Cecily struggles to find her place amongst the snobby English landowners, Gwenhwyfar struggles just to survive. And outside the city walls, tensions are rising ever higher—until finally they must reach the breaking point. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Word Associations

Please welcome J. Anderson Coats to Alison Can Read! She was fun enough to answer my weird word associations:

Airplane: Vacation

Bread Pudding: Squishy

Book: Love

Scrabble: Words

India: Ink

Snow: Day

Llama: Song

Phoenix: Rising

Ice Skating: Rink

Internet: Tubes

Latte: Fix

Oven: Bake

Golf: Wii

Marigold: Spring

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #93

Welcome to the Feature & Follow


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

The Rivals (Mockingbirds #2) by Daisy Whitney
February 6, 2012; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


Summary

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

The Mockingbirds was one of my favorite books of 2011 so I eagerly picked up the sequel, The Rivals, as soon as it was released. The Rivals was good...but not as good as The Mockingbirds.

The world of The Mockingbirds was largely black and white. We knew who the good guys were and we knew who the bad guys were. It wasn't quite that simple, but for the most part, it was clear. The villains and the heroes is much less clear in The Rivals. A massive drug ring designed to improve academic performance is spreading through the school. So many people are involved, or appear to be involved, that it's not easy to pin down a defendant to put on trial in front of The Mockingbirds. Or whether a trial should be held at all.

As frustrating as the ethical murkiness of this book was, I loved its complexity. The leaders of The Mockingbirds seemed all knowing from Alex's perspective last year. Now as the leader, she is beset by indecision. Not only that, but she has to deal with disagreements within her counsel and difficult personalities. I hated seeing Alex struggling so much, but part of me was thinking that this was an incredible preparation for real life. I admire Daisy Whitney for portraying The Mockingbirds so realistically.

Alex continues to be a fascinating character. She is still struggling with the after effects of her date rape from the previous year. I like that Daisy chose to keep it part of Alex's psyche, since the trauma of such an event doesn't just disappear. In many ways, Alex grew more this year than she did last year. She had to choose between what was right and what was easy, which was especially difficult because what she thought was right might actually be wrong. I also liked that Alex didn't always make the right choices and had to deal with them.

Martin, Alex's boyfriend is still a strong character. He is hard to like in this book. He challenges Alex on many of her decisions about the drug ring. Not unfairly, but as a reader I was always rooting for Alex, so it frustrated me. One of my main criticisms of this book is that Daisy chose the oft-repeated second book plot point of a love triangle. As a result, Martin often appears to be a jealous boyfriend. He acts like any teenage boy would act if his girlfriend was spending an awful lot of time with another guy, but I missed my sweet, nerdy Martin from the first book. Still, he is predominantly a good and kind guy.

I think Daisy is a great writer, but the excellence of her prose didn't stand out as much in this book. I'm not exactly sure why. I think it was partly because she described the psychological impact of date rape in a way that felt almost three dimensional in the first book and there wasn't an opportunity to have such detailed description in The Rivals. I also disliked the love triangle element mentioned above. Even moreso because the plot angle seemed to fizzle away abruptly at the end of the book, like she couldn't figure out what to do with it and just decided to ignore it. The passivity of the adults at Themis Academy became so apparent as to be blatantly unbelievable in this book as well. In fact, it was no longer passivity - it was knowing inactivity.

The Rivals is a good book. It isn't as special as The Mockingbirds, but the challenges Alex and her board faced were in some ways more difficult. How Alex responded to challenges from her board, her classmates, and her best friends showed what kind of leader she was. Plus the mystery of "who-dunnit" was surprising, with plenty of twists and turns I didn't expect. I would definitely recommend you check out The Rivals!

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Submit Your Book Ideas - Adult Mysteries: Read Outside the Box

The first edition of Read Outside the Box was a great success. Check out my and my readers' favorite Biographies/Memoirs if you haven't already!

Now onto next month's topics: Mysteries. Specifically mysteries that are shelved in the adult category. This will be tougher for me, since I am not a big fan of mysteries. But I do have a few that I want to share and am excited to see what all of you suggest.

What are one or two of the best adult mysteries you've ever read?

Why?

Leave a comment or email me at alisoncanread@gmail.com with your suggestions.


I'm hoping to post the list in the first week or two of May, so be on the look out for the newest edition of Read Outside the Box!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GIVEAWAY! Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler

Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler
January 5, 2012; Dial

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

Just because Piper's birthday is on Valentine's Day does not mean she's a romantic. In fact, after watching her father and then her stepfather leave, she's pretty sure she doesn't believe in love at all. Then her friends concoct a plan to find them all Valentine's dates, and somehow Piper finds herself with the most popular guy in school. But true love never follows a plan, and a string of heartfelt gifts from a secret admirer has Piper wondering if she might be with the wrong guy.

In this heartwarming romance, true love is more than a maybe - and it might be closer than you think.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Heather Hepler is becoming a master at writing sweet, light, food related contemporary YA fiction. I enjoyed her first book Cupcake Queen. Her newest novel Love? Maybe is even better.

Piper Paisley (an adorable name if ever there was one) is a cynic. Understandable since her mom and dad split up, her dad's hardly part of her life, and even her step-father took off. Piper has to be reminded of Valentine's Day constantly, though, since it's her birthday. This year, her friends are determined to erase her cynicism and give Piper a true Valentine's Day. The three girls concoct love potion chocolates, not truly believing it will work...but does it?

Piper is a delightful main character. She doesn't have the most cheerful outlook on love, but her life experiences haven't taught her to be hopeful. Cynicism aside, she is a mature, kind, responsible teenager. Her mother works so many hours that Piper gives up most of her free time to take care of her cute little half-siblings. She also is a crucial part of Jan's Chocolates. Her organizational skills and logical nature form the backbone that keeps her boss's chocolate store running. She is the type of girl I would want to be friends with.

The other main teen characters are Piper's best friends Claire and Jillian. As well as next door neighbor Charlie, handsome Ben Donovan and nerdy Jeremy. Claire was a sweet girl, but bogged down in mourning her jerky ex-boyfriend. Jillian is the muscle behind the trio. She is my main criticism of the book. She's so forceful in trying to get Piper on board with romance and whatever else Jillian wants that she comes off as a pushy jerk. It wasn't until the end of the book that I understood why Piper liked her. I wish Heather had balanced Jillian's character better. Piper has had a huge crush on Ben Donovan for years. So much so that she totally missed the perfectness of her best bud Charlie. Or maybe she does know but she's afraid to take the leap.

The plot of Love? Maybe is not a great shocker. It follows a pretty standard romance plot where the characters end up with what they deserve (in a good way) rather than what they think they want on a superficial level. This isn't a spoiler. You know it's going to end this way. It's the exact journey that's the fun part.

And fun it is. Like chocolate? Then you will definitely like Love? Maybe. I spent much of this book drooling as Piper sold various candy concoctions. There's your normal chocolate treats, but Jan's Chocolates has options for the more adventurous as well. Think bacon truffles (I've had chocolate covered bacon - surprisingly good). My personal favorite (although not chocolate) were her Consternation Hearts, with sayings like "Buzz off."

You should definitely pick up Love? Maybe if you're in the mood for a light pick-me-up romance. The characters are nice people, their problems are realistic, the romantic tension builds up to the perfect conclusion, and best of all, the backdrop is delicious! Now I'm wondering what food Heather is going to be feature in her next book. My appetite is already whetted.

Rating: 4 / 5


GIVEAWAY!


Enter here to win a copy of Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Manga Mondays Meme (98): Hissing vol. 1 by Kang EunYoung

New Manga Mondays Meme!

I've been doing Manga Mondays every week since I started my blog 22 months ago. It's always been a personal feature, but now I'm going to try turning it into a meme. There are quite a few people who do Manga Mondays. I don't claim by any means that I owned or created the idea of Manga Mondays - it's an obvious choice given the alliteration. I think a meme would be a good way for everyone to publicize their own Manga Mondays and get a little more publicity.

The linky will be below my review.

Hissing vol. 1 by Kang EunYoung


Summary

Da-Eh, an aspiring manhwa artist who lives with her father an little brother, comes across Sun-Nam, a softie whose ultimate goal is simply to become a "tough guy." Whenever these two meet, trouble follows. Meanwhile, Ta-Jun, the hottest guy in town, finds himself drawn to the one girl that his killer smile doesn't work on - Da-Eh. With their complicated family history weighing heavily on their shoulders, watch how these three teenagers find their way out into the world!(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

Manga originated in Japan. The style has since expanded to other countries, including Korea. Manga is known as "manhwa" in Korea. I've read reviews of several manhwa series and wanted to venture into the genre. I randomly picked Volume 1 of Hissing, since it was at my library. In retrospect, I should have picked a series that I knew other people liked, because Hissing isn't very good.

I didn't notice a distinct difference between manga and manhwa as far as plot or art went. The main differences were subtle - cultural differences. Names, for instance. Instead of common Japanese names like Yuki, you have Da-Eh and Sun-Nam in this series. I also noticed different foods. The common Korean food kimchi was featured in this volume. No Japanese sushi or miso to be found. Another thing I noticed was epithets. Christianity is much more prevalent in Korea than in Japan (30% v. <1% according to Wikipedia). They characters shouted "Oh my God," or "Christ," when they were surprised or irritated. I've never seen that in manga. I'm not sure whether that's common in manhwa or just words this author likes to use.

Hissing has potential to become an interesting series. There is a soap opera-ish melodramatic connection between the characters that was hinted at in the first volume, focusing on Da-Eh's younger brother. But the first volume didn't make me care enough to continue. It's really confusing. There are two guys: Sun-Nam and Ta-Jun. Sun-Nam was a bigger character - a wimp who's been tortured by his tough older brothers his whole life - and now acts like a jerk to get people to think he's tough. I'm not sure who Ta-Jun was. Every time I thought the volume was talking about Ta-Jun, it turned out to be Sun-Nam. They were drawn very similarly. I did like that Da-Eh wants to be a manhwa artist, because it talked a little about the process of drawing manhwa. But I didn't get a good feel for Da-Eh's personality. She wants to be a manhwa artist, loves her little brother, and doesn't fall for guys easily but that's all I got.

I also noticed a few typos that were distracting (such as using "who's" when it should have been "whose"). Also, the volume read front to back and left to right, just like western style books. I've gotten so used to Japanese right to left format that I started Hissing at the end. I read about ten pages with great confusing before I figured out that I was reading the wrong way.

I would like to continue reading manhwa since Hissing is no more representative of manhwa than bad manga is representative of manga in general.

Sign up for the Manga Mondays Meme!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

In My Mailbox #71

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I'm Alison (on the off chance you couldn't guess that from the name of my blog). I review Young Adult novels with a few Middle Grade books and a weekly manga feature.

Review Stash



The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats 
*Thanks to Netgalley!

Library Stash



Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
*About halfway through and absolutely loving it!


The Savage Grace by Bree DeSpain




Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


My Favorite Mistake: An A Circuit Novel by Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka


CD Stash


El Camino by Black Keys


Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li


Beauty Queen Sister by Indigo Girls


Time Without Consequence by Alexi Murdoch


Slave Ambient by War On Drugs

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #92

Welcome to the Feature & Follow


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats
April 17, 2012; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

Cecily’s father has ruined her life. He’s moving them to occupied Wales, where the king needs good strong Englishmen to keep down the vicious Welshmen. At least Cecily will finally be the lady of the house.

Gwenhwyfar knows all about that house. Once she dreamed of being the lady there herself, until the English destroyed the lives of everyone she knows. Now she must wait hand and foot on this bratty English girl.

While Cecily struggles to find her place amongst the snobby English landowners, Gwenhwyfar struggles just to survive. And outside the city walls, tensions are rising ever higher—until finally they must reach the breaking point. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Are you a die hard historical fiction fan? Do you like immersing yourself in a very foreign world, be it realistic fiction or fantasy? If so, you will enjoy The Wicked and the Just.

Set in 13th century England and Wales, The Wicked and the Just is heavy historical fiction. By that I mean that the setting and the time period are main characters of the novel. Most of the story is not plot heavy, until the end when things really start happening - in an eye-popping "wow" fashion. This can be frustrating to someone who does not like historical fiction. I love historical fiction. The experience of "traveling" to a different culture is just as interesting as the plot. The book pushes you right into the deep end. There is no prologue explaining religious or social beliefs of the time, no glossary for foreign terms. Part of me wishes there had been more explanation to make it easier to absorb, but mostly I respect the author for not dumbing down the novel. What you don't understand makes sense through context.

Another unique feature of this book is that it is told through alternating points of view of two unlikable characters. Cecily is a stuck up rich girl who expects everyone to bow down to her. She looks at her servants and even people of equal social class with the same disdain that people look at a pile of dog crap they've just stepped in. She stays this way throughout the entire novel. That's not to say she's an entirely bad person. She has a basic sense of justice - that the Welsh people shouldn't be treated as subhuman. At least she is equally mean to all people, Welsh or English. Cecily reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara.

Gwenhwyfar is Cecily's Welsh servant. She hates Cecily. She is understandably bitter and harsh given her horrific living conditions and abject cruelty to which she is daily subject. She is very proud and acts with such rudeness that any other household would have fired her long ago. It was not always enjoyable to read about two characters who generally thought and acted only in negative ways, but I admire the author for not going the typical sweetheart route. For various reasons, by the end of the story, I respected both Cecily and Gwenhwyfar.

The Wicked and the Just does not hesitate to describe the English settlers' cruelty toward the Welsh. Not being British, I knew nothing about Welsh history, although from what I do know about British history in general, I'm not surprised that it wasn't warm and fuzzy. Apart from the treatment of the native Welsh, I enjoyed reading about the daily lives of the British and Welsh residents. The Welsh lives were horrible, but Cecily's life was fascinating when she wasn't sulking. Trips to the market, the very strong influence of medieval Catholicism, embroidery, housekeeping, and husband hunting.

While I love the strong dose of history I received in this novel, part of me wishes that it had been less work to read with a faster moving plot, at least early on. Mostly because these factors will turn off many readers who are not heavily interested in historical fiction. It is not an easy book. I love feeling like I learned a great deal when I finish a book and The Wicked and the Just definitely fulfilled that wish. I also don't mind that the characters are unpleasant, but this will also be a turn-off for a lot of readers. My only other complaint is that I had trouble figuring out how old Cecily is. She seemed to be of early marriageable age, but she often behaved so immaturely that I figured her to be closer to 12 or 13. It made it more difficult to understand her character. The Wicked and the Just was a fascinating immersion into 13th century England, but it may not appeal to everyone.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Read Outside the Box: Best Biographies Memoirs

A few weeks ago, I fell in love with a book: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I read the 600 page biography in 5 days, having to force myself to put the book down for little things like sleep and showering. I wanted to shout praises for this book from the rooftops. I wanted to extol my adoration on my blog. But I review YA fiction, which this definitely is not. Of course, I could make an exception, but I've chosen a niche for my blog and I stick to it, with the exception of a few cross-over novels. So the idea for Read Outside the Box formed: a monthly feature in which I - along with my readers - will recommend favorite books outside the YA fictional genre. After all, if you're old enough to read YA, you're old enough (or at least capable) of reading other things as well. YA is simply one of many genres that many of us enjoy reading.

Biographies and memoirs have always been one of my go-to genres. I remember enjoying biographies as a kid, but my passion for them really began in high school, when I became obsessed with politics. And with that, American history. My interest in politics has waned significantly, but my love for biographies and memoirs of all kinds have remained.

Here's how this is going to work:

First I'll list some of my favorites. Following that, will be a list of my readers' favorites. Thank you so much to all of you who submitted books!!!

My Favorite Biographies and Memoirs


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
-Incredibly fascinating life. Perfect mixture of personal details and career.


Madame Secretary by Madeleine Albright
-Albright's rise from Czechoslovakia to the UN to Secretary of State


A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
-Absolutely hilarious. Girl growing up in a quirky family in small town Indiana.


Personal History by Katharine Graham
-How Katharine Graham became head of the Washington Post. Reads like a novel.


-The movie October Sky is based on this. The book is so much better (October Sky is one of my favorite movies).


John Adams by David McCullough


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
-Tale of one screwed up family


My Life in France by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
-Read about what made Julia famous - France and her introduction to French cuisine.


Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
-Iranian teacher reads forbidden Western novels with female students


-Childhood survivor of the Pol Pot regime. Incredibly harrowing, yet un-put-downable.


The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
-Dutch Jewish girls hide in a farmhouse during WWII. I read this dozens of times as an early teen.


Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert
-Memoir by the late NBC journalist of his childhood and important lessons from his father.

Readers' Favorite Biographies and Memoirs


 My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel - Annette
-About a girl with learning disabilities. Sounds great.


-Tale of survival in the Utah desert


When I Was a Soldier by Valerie Zenatti - Annette
-Service in the Israeli Army


Bossypants by Tina Fey - Roro, Sandy, and Melissa
-Memoir by the well-known comedian.


Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser - Sarah and Laura


-Anything by Bill Bryson is a must read.


-Moves to England to fulfill dream of finding love with a prince


A Heart For Freedom by Chai Ling - Ramona
-Chinese dissident's escape after  Tiananmen Square




Red Scarf Girl by Jiang Ji-Li - Kimberly
-Tale of a girl during China's Cultural Revolution. I've also read this and really enjoyed it.


-Man moves to remote New Mexico and tries to live off the land. Sounds interesting and funny.


-Rescue and healing of a former racehorse.


Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper - Jennie
-Memoir from the CNN newscaster.


-Memoir about becoming homeless after losing corporate job.


Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman - Rachel
-Teaching English and studying martial arts in post-Cultural Revolution China.


Call Me Russell by Russell Peters - Saisei-Chan
-How Peters rose to become a leading comedian.


Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Shoenberger - Lee
-Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century.


The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma - Jennifer
-Father pledges (and succeeds) to read to daughter every night until she turns 18.


The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok - Melissa
-17-year estrangement of the author and her homeless schizophrenic mother, and their reunion.


I'll Scream Later by Marlee Matlin - Melissa
-Memoir of the award winning deaf actress.




Night by Elie Wiesel - Jennie
-Harrowing memoir of survival in the Holocaust


Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini - Jennifer
-Love, food, and healing in Italy.


How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill - Jennifer
-A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone.


Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper - Jennifer
-Tale of an extraordinary cat and his owner (or servant, as my cat would say).


Life by Keith Richards - Mary
-Memoir by the Rolling Stones member.


What are your favorite biographies and memoirs? Have you read any of these?

Any suggestions for next month's feature?

 
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