Popular Review

Title: Popular
Author: Maya Van Wagenen
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: Memoir 

Blurb: (from goodreads) A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen 

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? 

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

Me: The concept itself didn't really interest me at first, but I'd seen it at a lot of bookstores and the fact that it was written by a fifteen year old really intrigued me. 

The Ups: First...the cover. If you read the book, you find out she is basing her popularity experiment on a 1950s popularity guide, and I think that the cover reflects the colors and cuteness of that time period and the modern teenage life perfectly. 
I think that if this book had been a novel, and written in fiction about a girl who went through this, I would not have enjoyed it at all. I would have groaned and moaned about how cliche it was. But since it genuinely happened, and I could feel the sincerity of Maya, I found myself laughing and cringing along with her. 
I think that what really brought the book to life was the fact that I could really feel Maya through her writing. I think that the entire book was written with very strong voice, and I never got tired of Maya and what she thought. I was always intrigued by her stories, and wanted to be her friend. And I think I really liked her personality. She was someone I would want to be friends with in real life. 

The Downs: I guess the overall message, that popularity isn't just about what you wear or whatever, and that it also means having people like you and caring for them, was incredibly sweet but again...a bit cliche. A lot of memoirs have really lasting impressions on me, but the message was just something that has been overused. 

Overall: A cute story with a great narrator, but we've seen the concept before.

Rating: 4 kisses! 

And Then There Were None Review

Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Mystery, Classics

VERY BIG Spoilers in white. Highlight to read. 

Blurb: (from goodreads) First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

Me: This is the first time I have read anything of Christie's. I am now also a firm believer that she is a genius. 

How do you kill 10 people, one by one, and not reveal who the murderer is? How can an author do this? I am amazed. The subtle suspicion of everyone that was on the island, but also the way that I felt that I could never even suspect who it was was mind-blowing. The second I would have made up my mind on who to keep an eye on, something would happen that would make me change my mind. 
The plot itself was stellar. Based on a poem all of the people on the island found in their rooms: 

"Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little soldier boys stayed up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little soldier boys travelling in Devon; One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little soldier boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little soldier boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three

Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two

Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little soldier boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none."

The island is "SOLDIER island", every single time someone is murdered, a soldier toy figure is removed from the table, and every person dies in a way similar to the poem. For example, the first one chokes on a drink and dies. 
But what really added to it, was the characters. All ten of the characters were described extremely well, and Christie took time to write from each of their POVs. They each had their suspicions set on different people, they were all very wary of each other, the way that they acted was incredibly human, yet very...unnaturally odd. 
They also had all been accused in the beginning of the book of crimes that they were never found truly guilty of. I found that fascinating. Agatha Christie explores the concept of guilt, and can another human ever really confirm that someone has done something? Can humans ever know justice and what its true meaning is? And how, when put in extraordinary situations, will these guilty people react? 

Aside from all of that, though, as a mystery novel, it was phenomenal. It was incredibly suspenseful and almost chilling throughout the book. (Being a sissy, I couldn't read it at night, even though it wasn't "scary") I could not tell at all who the murderer was and the entire time I thought the whole thing was bizarre...

THE ENDING. It made everything clear. It blew my mind. I had not seen that coming in any way shape or form. But it made sense, and that was what was really awesome. The fact that Christie could weave a story like that together was...GENIUS. 

Overall: An AMAZING thriller that, and I will quote my friend Claire from Cover to Cover, "EVERYONE MUST READ. EVERYONE." 

Rating: It shames me I'm even trying to rate this. Of course it BEAT MY SCALE!

Top Ten Books From My Childhood That I'd Love to Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish where we post 10 of our favorite things in each category.

Top Ten Books From My Childhood That I'd Love to Revisit
1. Maximum Ride
I loved these books. I think it was kind of the beginning of everything Sci-fi for me. 
2. The Mother-Daughter Book Club
I STILL love this book series. I actually think there might be a 7th one out... I'm not sure...But I grew up with these girls. One of my favorite series ever. 
3. The Name of This Book is Secret
Another book series I still absolutely adore, and finished I think...in 6th grade. So not all child-y. Really reminded me of the power of a narrator and how humorous a book could be. 
4. Princess Diaries
Am I cheating a bit here? Yes. I read the first few in like 5th grade, and then stopped for a while after continuing the rest of them. But these books are so cute, and Mia is hilarious. Love the movies too :) 

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
I think this would be on every boy's list. Might be one of the only books some of them have picked up actually. I personally thought it was super funny and kept laughing throughout the entire thing. 

6. Ramona Series
Classics. I think that no book character really grew up and really showed her true self as well as Ramona Quimby did. I personally just adore Beverly Cleary. 
7. Roald Dahl books (especially Matilda)
Matilda was the first amazing heroine. She was so smart and different and really showed the power of a character. All of the other Roald Dahl stories are so good too. 
8. Junie B. Jones Series
She is HILARIOUS. I read her books to my sister sometimes and I still crack up. I feel like she never gets old :) 

9. There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom 
My 3rd grade teacher read this book to us and I remember loving it and then going home and reading it again. I think it really shows what goes inside a "bad"character, and it taught me a lot of lessons I needed to learn as a kid. 

10. The Sisters Club 
Best for last. I honestly adore these books, still do, and they go on my shelf right next to Harry Potter and A.S. King. I actually wrote to the author, that's how much I loved these books!

A Thousand Pieces of You Review

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray (aka Amy Vincent) 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Sci-fi

Spoilers in white. Highlight to read. 

Blurb: (from goodreads) Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

Me: I am fascinated by this new idea of traveling between different dimensions. A new look on science fiction. 

The Ups: First of all...the cover. It is so freaking beautiful I want to frame it and keep it on my wall forever. 
Anyway, like I just said, the idea of traveling between dimensions, and the craziness that ensues, was incredibly interesting. The scientific aspect of it (which is what I failed to comprehend) made absolutely no sense to me, but I guess the jumble of big words made it sound somewhat professional, because I kept thinking, "What if this is possible?" But it was the more human, the more emotional side of it that really hooked me.
Conceptually, it would have been very simple (if you had the technology) just to hop from dimension to dimension. But as Marguerite feels in the book, it is incredibly confusing emotionally. How would you know if something was real or not? Would you feel any regret knowing that that dimension was how life might've been? Would you lose your sense of identity? There were a lot of questions with the concept, and I think Claudia Gray explored them very well. 

The Downs: I think that this was a very brave, and probably difficult book to write. I've read books where a character travels to a different dimension, but to go between multiple dimensions is something new. It was also very chaotic and a bit hard to follow. The plot twists were hard to comprehend because I was busy trying to figure out everything else that was happening. 
When reading a book and traveling to a different world, I like to feel a strong sense of knowing the setting and becoming familiar with it, but because it kept changing, it was hard to keep up with it. 
I also feel like the characters weren't very strong. Marguerite was a bit naive and was a bit selfish. I feel like there wasn't anything special about her. I feel like I didn't know Theo very well, which only makes sense because we find out that he was a spy. But I also feel like I didn't know Paul well enough to feel what Marguerite did. Also...did there need to be a love triangle. Realllyyyyy. 
Overall: A very interesting idea, but confusing to follow. 

Rating: 4 kisses! 

Have you ever read a book traveling dimensions or going between lots of places? 

If you like books with traveling dimensions check out: Don't You Wish

Talkin' About: Collab Reviews

Collab Reviews
So I thought that since it's been a while since I've done something new on the blog, I would try something else and also get some more blogging friends, because I really do love the book blogging community. I've also found that there are a lot of books that tend to pop up on most blogs as either TBR or reviewed. 
I was wondering if anyone would be interested in doing collab reviews, where we could stay in contact and then read the same book and review it together. If you would like, we could do the same thing on your blog as well. 
If this is something that appeals to you, please comment telling me a way I could contact you personally (email, goodreads), email me at kitkat4327@gmail.com, or shoot me a message using the Let's talk gadget on the right sidebar. I have to end with...

Would this be something you would be interested in doing or reading? If so, what are some books you would like to read? If not, what are some ways you are spicing up your blog posts? 

Pride and Prejudice Review

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Modern Library
Genre: Classics

Blurb: (from goodreads) "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

Me: I can officially deem myself a literary nerd. I have read an Austen book. If I ever have a son, I may name him Darcy.

The Ups: I can see why people love Jane Austen. I really can. Her writing tone is incredibly fresh and light and humorous, and it feels like the entire story is being whispered into my ear, like some incredibly interesting gossip. It is quite extraordinary, this book is, because I learned a lot and laughed a lot at the historical point of it, and the ridiculous romantic and social practices at the time, but I also could find lots of connections to life today. 
The characters and their relationships, were incredible. Lizzy Bennet, of course, has taken her place as one of the most-loved heroines of all time. She's strong-minded, knows what she wants, and is incredibly prejudiced and flawed. Her often stubborn, a bit reckless and her prejudice is what makes her so relatable as a character, and what makes her character arc in the book more evident. She also loves to read, so that's a plus. 
I think that her character was incredibly compatible with Mr. Darcy, and can I say that I fell in love with him as the book went on? Their relationship was painful to read about occasionally , but I think that it was a beautiful match. I also adored Jane, Mrs. Bennet (however difficult she may be) and the Bingleys, the Collins', and all the other characters. They were portrayed as incredibly flawed people, but I found them incredibly lovable. 
(this gif just melts my heart btw) 

The Downs: It's a classic. And as with every other classic I have read, it is a bit more difficult to get through than young adult novels, but that's sort of the norm. I enjoyed the book very much, but I was unable to find the absolute obsession so many other Austenites claim to have. Maybe someday I'll have the chance to read it again and maybe get obsessed...

Overall: A charming classic with satirical humor and great characters. 

Rating: 4 kisses!

I know lots of people have read Jane Austen, or at least seen any of the movie versions. What did you think? 

I'll Give You the Sun Review

Title: I'll Give You The Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Blurb: (from goodreads) Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

Me: I am currently rethinking the power of literature. The beauty. I'm also contemplating on the genius of the contemporary genre.

The Ups: The writing of this book is absolutely phenomenal. Literally seamless. It is one of those books that you read and that you can tell the author's blood, sweat and tears were truly thrown into writing this story, and to make it the best it could be. It not only really told the story it needed to tell, but performed it beautifully, all the words and metaphors and visualizations working together like puzzle pieces. It really entwined all the characters and their relationships with each other together. 

Speaking of...the characters. They were so beautiful. They were real, and their portrayals were heart-wrenchingly believable. They all had their unique voice, and as the POV transitioned from Jude to Noah, it was very smooth and I could tell who it was. Their tellings of the "before" and "after" really showed their flaws and how they'd grown through the years. But not only Noah and Jude, but their mother, their father, Oscar, Guillermo, Brian, even to the parrot who wouldn't shut up about Ralph, they all had their stories and distinct characters. I honestly think that I could have read a book about any of the characters in this story and I would have enjoyed it. 

The power of art, power of love, POWER. This book shows a lot of themes and weaves them into the book, and I think the biggest one is power. The power that someone/something has over you, the power doing something or being with someone can make you feel like you possess, and the fact that only you have the power over yourself. I loved the art in the book, and how talented Jude and Noah were and how that related directly into their lives. The romance was also one of my favorites of all time, both between Oscar and Jude and Brian and Noah. 

“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”
He still won’t meet my eyes.” 

The Downs: Zero. Zip. Nada. Nunya. NOONNNNEEE. 

Overall: A riveting, heart-wrenching, heart-breaking-and-then-puts-it-back-together novel. Might be the best one I've read so far this year. 

Rating: Beat. My. Scale. Shot through the sky. I don't even have words. 

Top Ten Books for Readers Who Like Contemporary

Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like Contemporary
My favorite genre is contemporary. I always loved realistic fiction when I was young, because I think that there is nothing like a Contemporary story that can really change your view on the world and the people around you. The books I have reviewed on this list are linked to the reviews. 
1. All the Bright Places
I loved this romance story. It really struck my heart, and I fell in love with the characters. 

2. Impossible Knife of Memory, The
I loved this story of PTSD. Very honest, and very gritty. 

3. Winger 
One of my favorite books ever to be honest. SO funny but very touching. 

4. We Were Liars
This book gave me chills. It absolutely blew my mind. I would encourage everyone to read this book that likes Contemporary-it shows how powerful writing can be. 

5. When I Was the Greatest
Recently read this book, and I fell in love with the voice and characters. Also is a cast of mainly African Americans, which was very refreshing, 

6. I'll Give You The Sun
I finally read it guys! I'll get a review out soon, but that was a really just beautiful book. 

7. Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Or any of A.S. King's books, really, but I wanted to have some diversity in the list. All of her books are fantastic. 

8. To All The Boys I've Loved Before
You in the mood for a cute, cozy, contemporary read? Jenny Han has got your back. 

9. Fangirl
I told myself I wouldn't, but I had to add a Rainbow Rowell book in here. Her romances are phenomenal. 

10. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
A thinking book, definitely. I loved Leonard Peacock, and I'm sure you will too. 

What are your lists today? And do you like Contemporary?