Tag Archives: Satire

Undead Girl Gang – Lily Anderson

Undead Girl Gang – Lily AndersonTitle: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Publishing Info: May 8, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Zombies
Date Completed: April 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.

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This book was a lot of fun! Ever since I finished UNDEAD GIRL GANG, I’ve been thinking about how much I enjoyed this book. This is exactly the kind of book I was looking for and always have a craving for! I really enjoy dark comedy and campy-type books and UNDEAD GIRL GANG had all that and more.

I really loved Mila as the main character in this book. She was just a real person, from not hiding her witchy ways to having a normal plus-sized body to her family interactions to her on-and-off interactions with the popular girls. Everything about her was enjoyable and relatable and I loved her as the book’s heroine. It was great to see a mystery added in the book too. It really carried the paranormal plot when the recently dead girls accidentally get brought back to life and gave them a purpose and a timeline.

I also really liked Mila’s friendship with Riley. It’s easy to idolize the good things about someone when they’re gone and on the flip side, it was great to see how much her friendship changed after Riley’s… change. I just really appreciated seeing all of the different sides of friendship and how it’s not always perfect.

I really enjoyed the story-telling style, looooved the sarcasm and humor, and it was an overall fun feel with the witchy/paranormal aspects. There was even a good twist that I didn’t see coming! Books like this are just so much fun to read and always something I enjoy — campy, funny, sarcastic, but still with great style, flare, and characters. I’d definitely recommend this one, for fans of KILL THE BOY BAND (but with a paranormal twist) and How to Hang a Witch (with even a bit more sass)!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark humor. Give me alllllll the dark humor books! Tell me more! I want more!!!
Left Me Wanting More: Pages! I just had so much fun reading this. There really wasn’t anything I was missing!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you love some good sarcasm, dark humor, paranormal elements, and a great book about friendship topped off with positivity towards being yourself, this is a great book to pick up!

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BOOKS LIKE UNDEAD GIRL GANG

              

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy Moldavsky

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy MoldavskyTitle: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Publishing Info: February 23, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible, ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Satire
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 19, 2016

Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.
We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.
We were not planning on what happened next.
We swear.
From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make—or break—the people we call “celebrities.”

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KILL THE BOY BAND was actually really, really enjoyable. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I think a lot of it was that people didn’t know quite what to expect but this totally met my expectations and I had so much fun reading it! To set the scene for you, picture this book like Teaching Mrs. Tingle meets 2gether meets Drop Dead Gorgeous — satirical, laugh-out-loud funny, and some delightfully dark humor.

This is one of those books where the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. It’s a book unlike anything I’ve recently been reading and I love books that do a little something different than the rest of the community! The voice felt true and I just loved the dark humor. The satire and poking fun at boy bands was so much fun because it was silly with some hilarious exaggerations (that’s where that 2gether feel comes in) and yet serious in showing how intense being a fangirl can be and how some things get taken way too far. I really enjoyed the mix of silly and serious and how well that shaped the overall story!

I personally think the author did a great job with this book but it also definitely has a specific audience and it will probably bit a big hit or a big miss with a lot of people. I personally was on the hit side and surprisingly, the more time that passes, the more I think about how much I enjoyed it. I just had so much fun listening to this (I bought the audio in an Audible sale) and I ended up being the perfect audience! I was a bit unsure at first and there were some points where it got to be a bit much but I still really enjoyed it overall!

The characters were shallow and for once in a book, I actually kind of liked it? It was part of the point that the book was making. The guys in the band were mostly shallow because not all boy bands were formed with love and happiness and some are just the product of marketing. (Girl bands too.) The fangirls are shallow because the extents to which these fangirls were portrayed is totally shallow, so it made total sense to me! I’m not saying fangirls are shallow, so please don’t take that the wrong way! I simply mean that the book took the more surface level of being a fangirl and magnified it. As an avid reader and big fan of many authors/fandoms/series, I am totally on board with the flailing and following of an artist! The point that this book makes is how far it can be taken and when it gets taken too far how it can become dangerous or make the artist feel uncomfortable. The fan/artist relationship is really interesting and mutually beneficial in so many ways. It also can be a very rocky road if the mutual respect isn’t there and this book crossed that line on both sides. KILL THE BOY BAND took that darker side of fangirling, amped it up a notch, and created a bit of satire out of it. This was also amplified on the boy band side of things too. The Ruperts (the fictional band in the book) are reminiscent of One Direction (who I literally know nothing about except a few of the band members’ names) and also pieces of 90s boy bands like *NSYNC and O-Town, which I’m using a my references here because my older sister was an *NSYNC fangirl and because she was, I was in a way too, so I ended up with a lot of boy band knowledge. I won’t give you a boy band history lesson but I saw a lot of similar things in KILL THE BOY BAND that has happened in real boy bands as far as band drama, members not getting along, some members getting more attention than others, and how each member treats fans, managers, and everyone in between. Everything was exaggerated and satirized but very interesting, especially if you have some previous knowledge or experience as a boy band fangirl!

Long story short, I think I was just the ideal audience for KILL THE BOY BAND! It was dark, funny, and just really enjoyable. I’ve been dealing with a lot of serious things in my personal life and KILL THE BOY BAND was a refreshing and funny read when I needed something a little less serious and a little more removed from reality without being a heavy fantasy book. I think you may need know exactly what you like before reading this one because it may be a hit or miss concept for many people, but if you enjoy dark satire, this could be a really enjoyable read for you!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. There isn’t a lot of satire in YA and this was refreshing and enjoyable! I thought it was a lot of fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Things were quite exaggerated so at times I did wish for more reality but I really did enjoy the dramatization of things as well!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think you need to be the right audience for this book, but if it sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend it! I actually had a lot of fun reading it!!

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BOOKS LIKE KILL THE BOY BAND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    MY LADY JANE

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally CarterTitle: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

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I’m actually really disappointed that this is a new series opener from Ally Carter. I guess I’ve only read two of her books (Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals) but her early books were SO GOOD and this book just fell so flat. I heard it had a bit of a rough start but truly, the whole book felt rough for me.

ALL FALL DOWN felt super repetitive. The story repeating the same five concepts over and over again with no action to follow them up (until the very end of the book) and literally nothing happened for the first half of the book, in my opinion. I felt like the first 75% could have been crammed into a few action-packed chapters but instead, everything was drawn out. I wouldn’t have minded spending time with these characters in place of action, but the time I did spend with them didn’t feel to developed. They weren’t personalities that jumped off the page and everyone fell a little flat.

There were hints at the snark and sass that I love so much but Grace was too busy falling apart all the time for that to really take shape. I get what the book was going for and I followed it, but it all felt a bit too dramatic for me. The visions and hallucinations were just way too much and they really bothered me — as they do in pretty much any other book unless it’s really important and necessary. I’m all for showcasing a character who is suffering from PTSD and other consequences of going through some serious stuff but for some reason this just didn’t work for me in this book. It all felt forced and cheesy instead of informative and genuine.

After all that, I was waiting for the twist (I heard there was one) and… flat again. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable — I got there and understood what was going on but Grace still didn’t and it irritated me how long it reasonably took for her to catch on. There was something I actually wasn’t expecting because it was so cliche but the cliche happened anyway.

ALL FALL DOWN was an easy read and I do think I’ll continue the series but I might sneak a peek at reviews before I do so. I do love the Heist Society series and from the way this book ended, I am hoping for maybe a little more levity and a lot more intrigue in the second book.view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I’ve been really into international thrillers lately and I loved the mix of worlds in this book! The vibe was also really great.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt so let down by the overall plot here. There wasn’t much development at all and it was a total snooze-fest throughout the beginning. I was just so bummed because I came to hope for a lot from Ally Carter!

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It’s hard for me to say. I think I’ll continue the series but I can’t outright recommend this one. I think if the series gets better, I’ll have a better feeling about it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE ALL FALL DOWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi MeadowsTitle: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 23, 2016
Related Posts: Everneath (Everneath #1), Everbound (Everneath #2)

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

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MY LADY JANE is such a fun and unique concept. There isn’t a lot of satire out there in YA right now and this was such a fun way to bring both history and humor together. The book is told by narrators who frequently interrupt their own story-telling to add notes for the reader and inform them of historical inaccuracies, fun facts, or just silly tidbits. It was a lot of fun and really reminded me some of wonderfully comedic Mel Brooks movies in which characters often break the 4th wall to address the audience directly. It’s even more fun to incorporate satire with a historical account (or rather, a quite fictionalized historical account) because of all the anachronisms and pop culture references that really make the book even more funny!

Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the story of Lady Jane Grey. Obviously by now, I know the broader points of history (and I still blame my middle school and high school education for a seriously lack of historical knowledge) so I think the book could have been a bit more fun if I was more of a history buff. I know a few friends who love history and have an extensive knowledge on historical events who took a little more joy from the story overall, so that’s really just a personal experience that unfortunately can’t helped. I will say, though, that the book was enjoyable whether you know the history or not! I had a basic understanding but details are explained and even if you don’t care about the true story, the book will carry you through with a fun historical-fiction romp (and they change the ending anyway so I suppose it doesn’t matter too much in the end)!

The concept of Eðians (people who magically change to and from an animal form) was so much fun! I loved how it was incorporated in to the book in so many ways — from selecting to change to being cursed, the support and blatant rejection, the people in disguise — it was a great way to incorporate magic from start to finish. I liked that it was the only real form of magic in the book so it brought that magical element but didn’t turn into a full-out fantasy. It was the perfect way to alter history just a bit and keep things tied to the actual facts.

I just loved the collaboration from Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand. They really put together a fun and unique book and MY LADY JANE easily found a place in so many readers’ hearts. MY LADY JANE easily appeals to fans of The Princess Bride with its historical feel and slight satire, Disney fans for its animal magic and pop culture references, and historical fans who love a twist on history. There are direct references to books and movies like The Princess Bride, A Game of Thrones, Monty Python, and I’m pretty sure I saw Tangled in there! It also had the magic of all of seeing everything combined and so many loves in one place. I laughed out loud so many times and the book was just so clever!

I had a weird experience in which reading this book was so enjoyable and yet it felt really long! The book is over 500 pages so it’s no speed-read but the content was so light and fun that I feel like I should have finished it fasted. Maybe it was just my reading schedule… but I do feel like it could have been a little bit shorter. A lot of people said the book just flew by and it didn’t feel to long until I was nearing the end and it still wasn’t over. Don’t get me wrong — I was enjoying the whole thing — but there was just something that was off that was making me anxious for things to wrap up. That’s seriously one of my only qualms, though. MY LADY JANE was always fun and these authors did a great job of putting things together!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. I’ve barely read any satire but when it’s done right, it’s SO much fun! These authors totally nailed it.
Left Me Wanting More: Swiftness. At some points I felt like the book was a bit long. I was hoping for a couple things to be wrapped up a bit quicker but I still enjoyed it all around!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

MY LADY JANE was just so much fun. No matter if you enjoy history or not, this is such a great read and will definitely make you laugh out loud!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE MY LADY JANE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    

Beauty Queens – Libba Bray

Beauty Queens – Libba BrayTitle: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Publishing Info: May 24, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Contemporary, Satire, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 17, 2013

    The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
     What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

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BEAUTY QUEENS is a hilarious jab at — well, I guess American society in general. Beauty pageants, yes, but also commercialism, stereotypical ideas of beauty, government, and so much more. Satirical is really the best way to describe it and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments, though at times (as satire tends to do), I felt like things went a bit over the top and I do have a tendency to reach a point where I feel like it’s overkill and then I end up rolling my eyes, and I won’t lie — BEAUTY QUEENS had several moments like that as well.

Let’s start with the characters — at first I though that Adina was our main character because the story started with her vantage point, but really the book covers the POVs of several (and I mean several) of the key beauty queens along with some members of the Corporation. At first I thought I would be confused with so many different perspectives, but the girls’ personalities really stood out on their own, especially having read this book on audio (which I’ll get into later). The girls are so much more than beauty queens and we really get to know each one of them individually. I actually came to appreciate and care about many of their stories, but there did come a point where I felt like the book should have focused on a few less to not spread the readers so thin.

I actually really enjoyed the storyline with these pampered and over-the-top girly girls having to figure out how to survive on this (seemingly) deserted island. Some flounder and some let their leadership take control and after many trials and tribulations, the girls finally figure out how to not only survive but to get along and make true friendships. There is a lot of social commentary and insinuations about how girls are expected to act and how some of those expectations are completely unrealistic and demeaning. I’m not a feminist by any stretch, but I think there’s something to be appreciated from what these girls learn — not only in the way of how they’re perceived as “respectable women” but just allowing themselves to be who they are and act how they really want.  The girls just learn a lot about themselves as individuals and they really learn to be comfortable with who they are and what they really want out of life.

What I wasn’t quite a fan of in the book was basically everything to do with MoMo B. ChaCha (which I had to look up how to spell since I read the audio haha). I just found his whole character and everything to do with it entirely too ridiculous, past the point of satire and social commentary and hilarity. I was just annoyed and those parts of the audio definitely dragged because I was also tired of listening to him. Some of the ways the plot resolved were just a bit too contrived for me and things got too silly for my tastes. Things all wrapped up well in the end, but I felt like there was a lot of unnecessary moments and dialogue and backstories that really just made the book feel a bit too long. Especially listening to the audio… I was enjoying the book but it felt LONG. I was about 75% of the way through and I felt like it had just been dragging.

I think BEAUTY QUEENS is a different type of humor that I haven’t seen a lot of in YA. It was definitely enjoyable, but I think for my tastes it was maybe a bit too much to spend a whole 14 and a half hours with (400 pages if you’re reading it). I really think that’s a personal taste though, as I know many people really appreciated and loved the book! I’m interested in reading more of Libba Bray because she definitely knows how to write her stuff and I’d really be interested in reading something more serious from her.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Libba Bray narrated BEAUTY QUEENS herself and she is a damn good narrator! She had so many different voices which really was necessary considering how many characters she had to portray differently. Her different accents for all of the beauty queens were great (although Miss Nebraska sounded a little too Northern MN/WI/Canadian… does Nebraska really sound like that? I assumed they’d sound midwestern). Her non-American accents… Not as convincing to be realistic, but still better than I could do! The “commercial breaks” had music and everything so that was really entertaining! It was almost like listening to a real radio commercial so that was pretty neat. Overall, the book was just LONG on audio — I’m not sure how it comes off actually reading it — but I hadn’t listened to a long audiobook before so it just felt like it kind of dragged on!

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Adina Greenburg // Character Obsessions: Journalism, getting the story, standing up for herself.
Adina always felt like the main character for me since hers was the first POV we got, but really she was one of the many main characters. I really liked her attitude because she didn’t take any crap from anyone… Mostly because she didn’t care! I think she was the easiest character for me to like because she was all sass in a group of girls that were supposed to be all manners.
Mary Lou Novak // Character Obsessions: Her inner “wild girl”, vegetarianism, Tane.
Mary Lou was another of my favorite characters. I just liked how genuine she was and her respect for each and every girl. She was one of the most guarded of of the girls and she really learned how to be comfortable with who she was by the end of the book.
MoMo B. ChaCha // Character Obsessions: Elvis, Ladybird Hope, General Goodtimes.
No. Just no. He bothered the crap out of me. Granted, I think he’s supposed to… But still. Ew.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. There were so many good things about the humor and the social commentary of this book! I definitely laughed out loud several times while listening to this audio!
Left Me Wanting More: Legitimacy. I get that this is a humorous book, but there were times when it just got TOO silly for me and it really took away from how much I was liking the book and the situations the characters found themselves in. This could have easily been a bit more legit and a little less “out there” and I would have appreciated it a lot more.

Addiction Rating
BORROW IT.

I went back and forth between really enjoying this book and just… liking it. In the end, I don’t think I would end up buying it to keep for my personal book collection. This would be a good one to borrow from a friend or the library to see how you feel about it and then purchase if you end up loving it!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE BEAUTY QUEENS

        Torched      An Abundance of Katherines

30 Days of Books: Day 15

30 Days of Books: Day #15

A book that changed your opinion on something…

Okay, so I really like this topic today! Ready… start tangent!

I’m choosing a couple books that changed my opinion on school-assigned books and/or classic-type novels.

All thoughout my academic reading career, I never liked the books they chose for us to read. Summer reading was particularly DULL. I chose to take Honors English my freshman and sophomore year of high school and the books I got to choose from just weren’t my cup of tea…. Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, The Scarlet Letter… All great classics with great messages – But for some reason, I just wasn’t getting it. I always loved reading so it wasn’t like I’d rather be outside playing or something. I just couldn’t comprehend with the writing style most of the time. It was old. It was dull. But most of all, it just wasn’t for me.

I know I may get criticized for “hating” on classic books, but I’ve just always felt like a contemporary kind of person. The only classics I’ve really found I’ve liked so far were Sherlock Holmes (and I think that’s because they’re mysteries!), so I did what I had to do in school to get by, but I rarely enjoyed our reading assignments.

That was, until my senior year (go figure, the last year of school I finally found something I liked!), my sister suggested I take 20th Century British Writers as my English elective course in hopes that I got her favorite teacher in all of high school. Well, I didn’t. I got one of the hardest and (rumored) kind of meanest teachers there was.

How can you not be mean – Look at the place! It doesn’t even have windows…

And then I started his class – Mr. Waddington was not mean. He just wanted his students to try hard, focus, and do their best to really get into the books. He was actually pretty fun! He chose some really nice books for the curriculum which actually enlightened me that 1) Not all the books Glenbard South chooses for their students to read are boring and 2) Hey, classic books can be fun too! So here are my top 3 choices (and yes, I picked three, because it was the combination that really opened my eyes to what kind of literature is out there):

1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: This is definitely the book that stands out the most to me. It’s historical fiction, it’s creepy, it’s mysterious, and for the first time, I found myself readingaheadof the assigned chapters instead of just what I had to read. I was finally interested in something! I also think having my teacher as a guide definitely helped us all get through the book – We got further explanations and breakdowns, but for once, it kept my interest and I was actually looking forward to reading more.

2. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers: Now, I can’t actually remember if this was from my class or if I read it because we had it on our shelves still from my sister’s class, but this is what actually spurred my love for mysteries. Of course I’d read some here and there, but it wasn’t until high school and college that I actually started going to the library in search of a mystery series to latch onto, so I give this book partial credit for that!

3. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh: This is a satire that actually got me laughing out loud. What? They never give you funny books in school! It was nice to have something to break up all the seriousness (maybe that’s why I love cozy mysteries so much…) and it was nice to see that some great classic books don’t always have to have such a serious tone!

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

The Princess Bride – William GoldmanTitle: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Publishing Info: January 12, 1974 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Adult, Comedy/Satire, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 5, 2012

    What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?
As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.
Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.
What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
In short, it's about everything.
 

Breaking It Down Further: William Goldberg retells the abridged version of his favorite book THE PRINCESS BRIDE, cutting out unnecessary parts and adding in a little commentary here and there. It tells the story of former milkmaid Buttercup who has been chosen by Prince Humperdink to be his new bride as she is rightfully the most beautiful woman in the world. She agrees because she thinks her one true love from back on the farm — her farm boy — Westley has died as a prison of the Dread Pirate Roberts’ ship Revenge. Along the way, she is kidnapped by a gang of thieves and then reclaimed by “the man in black” while Humperdink tries to recapture the Princess in order to marry her. Trickery, fencing, fighting, true love, chaos, death, and of course pure satire and comedy round out the book’s charm.

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Well, seeing as The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies of all time, I had a lot of expectations for the book. And you know what? I was pleasantly surprised!

I felt like the movie followed the book remarkably well. The only differences between the movie and the book were very minor and didn’t really affect the story line. We just got a little more background on some of the characters and obviously some scenes were truncated to shorten movie time. Good news for me since I loved the movie!

I wasn’t really a fan of the first section of the book which I felt was a little bit of unnecessary details about Goldman’s life at the time. It mainly dealt with his family and a trip out to California, but had no relevance to the story or the anecdotes interspersed in the book.

Overall, I loved it! I was actually really surprised at how closely the movie script followed the book. I figured since it was a Rob Reiner movie, most of the satire, quick-witted jabs and silly scenes were a product of the movie. Nope, that all came from the book. I spotted several of my favorite quotes almost word for word and it really made me like the movie that much more as well. Definitely stayed true to the whole tone and plot of the book.

And was there ever a real version by S. Morgenstern? I’m not quite sure, but I think that was all made up for the book. I think… Pretty sure this is just Goldman’s story and that was all part of the plot, but they’re so convincing! What do I know.

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Read it!

If you’re a fan of the movie (or haven’t read/watched either yet), you should definitely read the book!

Chain Gang Elementary – Jonathan Grant

Chain Gang Elementary – Jonathan GrantTitle: Chain Gang Elementary by Jonathan Grant
Publishing Info: July 14, 2011 by Independent
Genres: Adult, Comedy/Satire
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 3, 2012

    "In the first place, God created idiots. This was for practice. Then he created School Boards." -Mark Twain
After a murder at Bonaire Elementary, Richard and Anna Lee Gray seek a good school for their son Nick in a safe neighborhood. Their search leads them to Malliford, a "school of excellence." When redistricting sends scores of minority students to Malliford, iron-willed Principal Estelle Rutherford declares war on kids to raise test scores and save her reputation. Dissident parents revolt, electing Richard to head the Parent-Teacher Organization, and tensions explode. Welcome to Chain Gang Elementary, home to vast right-wing conspiracies, 3rd-grade gangsters, and bake sale embezzlers-where toxic childhood secrets boil over, reformers go stark raving mad, and culture wars escalate into armed conflict. A tale of war that is poignant, timely, and brutally funny, Chain Gang Elementary is a One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest for the K-6 world. First Sentence: In the twelfth year of his marriage, sixteen months before the shooting, twenty-one shopping days until Christmas, and eight hours before he reckoned for the tenth time that his wife didn't love him, Richard Gray met a woman who would have roughly the same effect on his life a tornado has on a trailer park.  

Breaking It Down Further: Newly  established PTO president Richard Grey has big shoes to fill and big wars to win. Convinced to commit to the position, he begins the biggest battle — taking down the tyrannical principal, Miz Rutherford. The principal has only her own agenda, which is her personal gain, maintaining her status of power, and maintaining the picture-perfect status of the school. When the school’s district is rezoned to incorporate a *gasp* apartment complex with primarily African-American and Latino families, things at the school begin to go haywire. Under the administration’s direction, these new students — which should have added to the diversity of the school — are clearly treated differently, such as being forced to do manual labor (or the working’ on the “chain gang”) as a punishment or being put into the classroom with the only black teacher. While most parents look the other way, Richard begins to actively campaign for the removal of Principal Rutherford while also trying to keep his family from crumbling.

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There were so many things I enjoyed about this book. Jonathan Grant has an excellent way with words and it’s apparently throughout the whole novel. He has a fantastic vocabulary and an extremely creative way in manipulating them. He has such a great way in which he creates a play on words or a play on names. There was such creativity in double meanings of a word or phrase and he was just downright clever.

I also really enjoyed how dynamic the characters became. You can see the growth of Richard’s son Nick and how he changes throughout the school years featured in the book. Richard himself goes through several changes during the course of the book.

The story itself of such school corruption, the sensitivity of the racism issue that sadly still exists in many places today — It was a very bittersweet story and there are so many thought-provoking elements of the plot.

BUT — The book was just entirely too long. There were quite a few times where I did want to give up. I really enjoyed so many aspects of the book! Why was it so hard for me to keep reading? The plot just didn’t really pick up until closer to the end when Richard got some real progress as far as his stand against the principal and he finally figures out how he wants to sort out his family life. From the beginning through the middle, I felt like the story just dragged on. It was filled with clever dialogue and witty banter which I couldn’t get enough of! But it was just an extremely slow pace in which not much happened in what should have been the meaty parts of the book. I really wanted to power through and finish so I could really get a full grip of the story.

Another problem I feel here is that since I received the copy as a courtesy from the author in exchange for a review, I really wanted to give it a good review. This is always my problem when I am given a book from an author or publisher — I really want to give a good review because they were so kind as to give me a copy of their book. No one wants to see a bad review, but the whole point of reviewing is to be honest. That is also why I felt like it was so important to point out how many good things I liked about the book!

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Skip it

It was just the slow plot that really dragged me down. I considered stopping a couple of times, but since this was so generously given to me to review, I really did need to finish and given a true review.