Sunday, February 28, 2010

GLBT Mini Challenge for February

The February mini-challenge for The GLBT Challenge is to read a GLBT book, short story, poem(s), or essay by or about a person of color.
I was actually planning on reading Ash for this challenge as it follows under POC and GLBT, but the book has been checked out of my school's library so instead I'll be sharing an article that I found on African American Literature: Lesbian.
Here is one section of it..
"The Harlem Renaissance

Although African-American lesbian literature could be said to have its beginnings in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual culture that flourished during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and early 1930s, black lesbians' self-naming process occurred only in an ambivalent, highly coded fashion. The increased sexual freedom and openness that made it possible for black gay and bisexual male writers like Richard Bruce Nugent, Wallace Thurman, and Claude McKay to produce gay-identified texts had a less obvious impact on women.

Although a number of lesbian and bisexual blues singers--including Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Josephine Baker, and Ethel Waters--attained a level of sexual openness in their music, these women generally hid their same-sex relationships behind a public guise of heterosexuality. Only rarely did their lyrics even allude to their sexual desire for other women, and generally all such allusions were tinged with an ambivalence suggesting an elusive sexuality. In "Prove It on Me Blues," for instance, Ma Rainey simultaneously celebrates and denies her sexual preference by daring her listeners to "prove it" on her.

This ambivalence is even more pronounced in texts by middle-class Harlem Renaissance lesbian and bisexual women writers. In addition to the sexism that made it difficult for early twentieth-century women of any color to adopt openly lesbian lifestyles and identities, the highly sexualized images of black women that developed during slavery to justify the institutionalized rape of enslaved women made it even less likely that African-American bisexual and lesbian writers would risk inadvertently confirming these stereotypes by depicting their sexuality in print.

The writings of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Angelina Weld Grimké, and Nella Larsen illustrate the effects of this culturally imposed self-silencing. Although Gloria Hull has uncovered journal evidence indicating that Alice Dunbar-Nelson was romantically involved with both women and men and that Angelina Weld Grimké had at least one woman lover, these signs of bisexual and lesbian desire appear only in highly veiled form in Dunbar-Nelson's and Grimké's published works.

A similar type of sexual encoding can be found in Nella Larsen's Passing (1929). Ostensibly an exploration of racial passing, this novella can also be read as an account of the growing sexual attraction between its two protagonists, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry. As Debra McDowell notes in her 1986 introduction to Passing, the title has more than one meaning: Just as Clare Kendry passes as white, Passingitself passes as heterosexual, hiding its homoerotic subtext beneath the more obvious racialized theme."

I found this section on the Harlem Renaissance very interesting. I didn't even know this part about it and I will definitely be looking more into this!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: Random House (May 16, 2006)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult/Adult

 Hannah Gavener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In the magazines she reads, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah’s own life, her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes–just maybe–lie the answers to love’s most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hannah finds that the questions become more rather than less complicated: At what point can you no longer blame your adult failures on your messed-up childhood? Is settling for someone who’s not your soul mate an act of maturity or an admission of defeat? And if you move to another state for a guy who might not love you back, are you being plucky–or just pathetic?


Review: I read Curtis Sittenfeld's debut novel, Prep, sometime in 2008 and absolutely loved it! In fact, it became one of my favorite all time novels and I was really looking forward to reading this book by her.

The Man of My Dreams follows Hannah Gavener from young adolescent to her late 20's. From the title you would think that it was fairytale-ish but it's not. Hannah obsesses over "Mr. Right" but will find out later how perfect couples really don't exist.

I think Curtis Sittenfeld's writing style is unique and awesome. I haven't read many books that are like this one. It isn't set in a year, but rather a span of years skipping from 2000 to 2003. But somehow it all flows together. I thought the characters each had uniqueness about them and for the most part I didn't feel as if I were reading about stereotypical characters.

I liked this book and reading about Hannah's relationships. The ending was pretty much bittersweet and I didn't hate it but I wish there had been something more. I guess if you look at it in a different way, it was somewhat of a good ending for her.

I can't wait until Sittenfeld comes out with a new book! And I have yet to read American Wife.


Rating:

Characters: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Writing: 10/10
Voice: 10/10
Plot: 7/10

Favorite character(s): I enjoyed reading about Hannah's aunt, Elizabeth. I thought that she had a really genuine personality.
Cover: C+/B- It's pretty simple, but nothing bad, but I like it.
Overall: Didn't like it as much as Prep but I did enjoy it! 3.5 stars

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Dark Divine Nail Polish Giveaway

Want to win one of these lovely bottles of The Dark Divine nail polish? Here's your chance! There will be 4 winners.
You can win by:
• Being the 5th person to enter
• If your answer on forgiveness is my favorite
• 2 people will be picked at random (using random.org)
Open to US only!
This giveaway will end on March 22 at 11:59pm Central Time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (15)

*Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.
Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
Razorbill (March 4 2010)
"THE TRANSFORMATION

Beth has always been “The Beast”—that’s what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Beth’s only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she’s selected to be her choir’s soprano soloist, and receives the makeover that will change her life forever.

THE LOVE AFFAIR

When Beth’s choir travels to Switzerland, she meets Derek: pale, brooding, totally dreamy. Derek’s untethered passion—for music, and for Beth—leaves her breathless. Because in Derek’s eyes? She’s not The Beast, she’s The Beauty.

THE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE

When Beth comes home, Scott, her best friend in the world, makes a confession that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, intense new feelings she has for Derek?

THE HEARTBREAK

The closer Beth gets to Derek, the further away he seems. Then Beth discovers that Derek’s been hiding a dark secret from her …one that could shatter everything."

I've heard really good things about this book/author! I can't wait to read it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (19)

Two-way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
"there are two sides toevery breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet.

It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other."
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
"For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel." REVIEW

I won both of the books! :) I have an ARC of Hush, Hush, so I've already read it, but it's good to have a hardback AND it's signed!

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday. (15)

13 To Life: A Werewolf's Tale by Shannon Delany. Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin. Release date: June 22, 2010. Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction… When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort. The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.
What I absolutely love about the description of this book is that it sounds realistic. Sometimes if a book is fantasy, I might not read it because I don't think I'll be able to really get into it! However, I just LOVE this book's plot!!!
*"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point (December 29, 2009)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult

Summary: "Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . ." 


Review: What was there not to like about this book?! The Beatles, girl power and some nice romance added to the mix?!!! Eliabeth Eulberg debut book is just amazing.

Penny, the protagonist, has just had a horrible break-up. Bringing her to swear off guys for her remaining time at high school and has even started The Lonely Hearts Club, a club where girls vow to not date any guys and most importantly to never let a boy come between friendship. I am all for girl power and so, I completely LOVE this part about the book. I found it refreshing that the main girl of the story along with a lot of others were not going after them for once! The club gets its name after the Beatles 8th album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

As a Beatles fan, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed all the references in the book. Aside from the main character being named after one of the songs, Penny Lane (along with her sisters Rita and Lucy) her parents are just plain obsessed with them. Here is just one part of the book that I found funny:

"I can't believe how fast you're growing up. Why, it seems like it was only yesterday..."       "Yesterday..." my dad began to sing.

Although, the romance in the story is a predictable, it was definitely a joy to read. I loved the characters. Eulberg does a wonderful job of giving them realistic traits. I really enjoyed reading about the guy characters, I thought they were done well!

I would recommend this book to someone who is a Beatles fan or just wants to read a nice, fluffy novel!


Rating:

Characters: 9/10
Originality: 7/10
Ending: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 8/10


Favorite character(s): Ryan, Tracy, and Penny's parents were just some of my favorite characters! I loved their personalities!
Cover: B+ (see why I really like this cover below)
Overall: What an amazing debut! I can't wait to see what Elizabeth Eulberg comes up with next! *3.7 stars. Click here to buy the book.


This is The Beatles cover for their album Abbey Road and it is just fabulous!!! I just love how the book cover is even Beatles-y! It's pretty awesome.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

POC Reading Challenge

I love reading books that feature POC! So, I definitely was already going to be doing this challenge, but I decided to go ahead and make it official! You can click the button at the top of this post or just click HERE to sign up!
*I will be participating in Level 5. Which is reading 16-25 POC books!
Here are some books I hope to read:
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich
Ash by Malinda Lo
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Conception by Kalisha Buckhanon
The First Part last by Angela Johnson
The God Box by Alex Sanchez
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper
She's So Money by Cherry Cheva
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

I am looking for book with surprising endings.

I have been in a mood to read books with a twist at the end. I was trying to think back to books that I've read with these types of ending and I couldn't come up with very many! The last one I read, which probably sparked up my interest, was Life of Pi. The Jodi Picoult books I've read so far have all had a not so expected ending.
Please share your book recommendations! Preferably books that are in the 14-20ish age range!
OH! And Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!!!!!! This isn't exactly my most favorite day, but ah well....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Giant LINGER Giveaway!

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.
At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget. Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here. Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
"As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face? It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path? Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty."
I've heard fabulous things about it! The plot sounds amazing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Publisher: Harvest Books (May 1, 2003 for paperback)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 326 pages
Summary: "The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?"
Review: This book was assigned to my English 10 honors class and initially my first thought of this book was that it was going to be completely horrible. However, I am happy to report that it was actually a great story!
This isn't your typical English class book. It is fairly recent, written only a couple of years ago instead of the usual book that was published before 1960! The first part of the book is set in the late 70's in Pondicherry, India. Its about a boy with an unusual name; Piscine (sounds almost exactly like pissing), which is French for swimming pool and because kids teased him about it he shorten it to Pi once he got to high school.
Religion plays a major part in this book, even claiming in the beginning that it will make you a believer in God. Pi's family isn't particulary religious but he starts practicing not one but three religions. Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. All he wants to do is love God. Another major part of the story is that his father is a zoo keeper. Pi knows all about animals and which ones are dangerous and whatnot. Later on, Pi and his family decided to move to Canada and so, his father sells what animals he could to other zoos and some of the other animals ride on the ship with the family to Canada.
We get to the second part. The ship sinks. Without giving away all what happens. I'll say this. I couldn't believe all what Pi has to go through on a lifeboat. With a 450 pound BENGAL TIGER! It really is something to read. And although it was good at that point, I'll admit I didn't keep up with my reading after awhile. One of my reading quizzes proves it!! It was getting closer towards the major test (actually, the night before) and I had to read a little more than 100 pages. I do not think I would have actually read all of it if I hadn't heard the others talking about it in class.
Once Pi gets saved (and don't worry, I'm not giving anything away, because you know he lives as there are present tense scenes, which are confusing at first) we learn of a second story that happened while Pi was on the boat. So, its a story within a story and you're left with a question. What story is the truth?!
*oh in case anyone wants to know what I got on the test. 95/100! WHOO!
Rating:
Characters: 9/10
Originality: 9/10
Ending: 10/10
Writing: 9/10
Voice: 8/10
Plot: 10/10
Favorite character(s): Pi! Such a unique character! I loved his courage and his good heart.
Cover: B. I think the cover definitely fits the book! I think it works for a heroic tale.
Overall: Amazing book! So glad we read this for school. 4 stars.

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott Publisher: Simon Pulse (March 24, 2009)
Hardcover: 224 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Summary: "Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's girlfriends and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar...and that's just how she likes it.

Of course, that doesn't help her get noticed by her crush. Hannah's sure that gorgeous, sensitive Josh is her soul mate. But trying to get him to notice her; wondering why she suddenly can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn; and dealing with her parents make Hannah feel like she's going crazy. Yet she's determined to make things work out the way she wants -- only what she wants may not be what she needs....

Once again, Elizabeth Scott has created a world so painfully funny and a cast of characters so heartbreakingly real that you'll love being a part of it from unexpected start to triumphant finish."

Review: I have only read two other books by Elizabeth Scott: Perfect You and Bloom and they both have been amazing! I was eager to read Something, Maybe and Elizabeth Scott does it again!
The book starts off with, "Everyone's seen my mother naked," and you absolutely have to continue reading after that! Having parent's like Hannah's would be difficult for anyone. Her mother sits in front of her computer with hardly anything on and she has a father whose old enough to be her grandfather, that lives in a mansion with women like her mother.
The romance isn't overly the top. She works at BurgerTown, a popular fastfood place, with the guy she has a major crush on, Josh and the boy who annoys her, Finn. I thought Finn was sweet and didn't like Josh that much. I liked reading about Hannah's friendship with Teagan. I thought it was a really nice touch to the story!
I enjoyed the book! It was sweet and I think Elizabeth Scott has a knack for creating belivable characters which is awesome! I'd reccomend this if you're looking for a nice, realistic book to read!
Rating:
Characters: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Writing: 9/10
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Favorite character(s): Finn. I can't help it. I love sweet guys like him.
Cover: D. I just do not like the cover.
Overall: 3 stars. Cute book. PLUS Hello! It's Elizabeth Scott! I need to read The Unwritten Rule!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In My Mailbox (18)

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.
WON:
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
"Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . ."
*Yah! I'm so excited for this one. Is also apart of my debut author challenge!
FOR REVIEW:
Titus and Atreus by Meridi Myers
"Grief-stricken by the loss of his parents, Titus Attwater is convinced his life will never improve. His older sister ignores his calls, his grades in school have plummeted, and his house, once a place of warmth and security, is now lonely, cold, and alien. But when a young man appears one night in Titus's house, claiming he came in upstairs through the full-length mirror, Titus's life gets turned upside-down. For, as Titus soon discovers, this intruder is not from Earth. Against his will, Titus is kidnapped and taken to another world, a place like Earth but markedly different. It is here where he will befriend angels, face assassins, and help a young prince unravel a prophecy that proves much darker and more twisted than any of them had imagined."
*The author also sent me some bookmarks and such! Will be hosting a contest later on for the book.
LIBRARY: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
"For nearly a century, the original version of Upton Sinclair's classic novel has remained almost entirely unknown. When it was published in serial form in 1905, it was a full third longer than the censored, commercial edition published in book form the following year. That expurgated commercial edition edited out much of the ethnic flavor of the original, as well as some of the goriest descriptions of the meat-packing industry and much of Sinclair's most pointed social and political commentary. The text of this new edition is as it appeared in the original uncensored edition of 1905. It contains the full 36 chapters as originally published, rather than the 31 of the expurgated edition. A new foreword describes the discovery in the 1980s of the original edition and its subsequent suppression, and a new introduction places the novel in historical context by explaining the pattern of censorship in the shorter commercial edition."
*Reading this for AP US History. I've been warned not to eat food before I read this book!
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
"Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.

Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story -- a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"

*Yah!! I'm so happy that I got this book!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday. (14)

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Summary: "Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her."

Why I want this book:

• The plot is soo interesting! I can't even describe how much I love plot.

• Debut author!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.