Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Friday, July 27, 2012

Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson ★★★☆☆

Girls In Love (Girls, #1)
Boyfriends, diets, and being cool … growing up is hard to do.
Fiction - YA Chick Lit
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
160 pages
U.S. Publication Date:  2002
Girl’s #1

Thirteen-year-old Ellie returns from a dreary holiday in Wales to start grade nine with her two cool best friends, gothic Nadine and stylish Magda.  Arriving at school to find out Nadine has a much older boyfriend Ellie feels left out and babyish, so she makes up a boyfriend from her twelve-year-old pen pal Dopey Dan and a dishy boy she sees every day on her walk to school.  Ellie feels bad about the lie and wants to come clean, but once Magda ensnares a boyfriend of her own she can’t.  On top of living a lie that becomes more inconvenient with time, Ellie deals with fighting parents, an annoying little brother, staving off the real Dan from visiting London and trying to navigate the shark infested waters of teenagehood.

This is a story about the in between time from child to teenager.  Growing up gracefully is never easy and Ellie and her friends are a prime example of how it really is.  Ellie is not super smart, or beautiful, she is a little chubby and likes to draw, in other words a perfectly average girl making her very relatable.  She admires her friends and can only see her flaws when comparing herself to them.  But not everything is as peachy as Ellie thinks.  Nadine is dating a guy much too old for her who is trying to push her into having sex and Magda is rather wild with no idea on how to reign herself while dragging poor Ellie with her.  I would say these are somewhat familiar scenarios for a lot of people.  This book is a definite tug-a-war between trying to grow up quickly with the constant awareness you might not be ready for what you think you should be doing. 

I found this book cute and humorous.  Wilson deals with some very real subjects, such as sex, drugs, alcohol and self-worth in a way that doesn’t feel heavy and the morals aren’t applied too thickly.  Something to keep in mind for the American reader is the British have a different culture than us and tend to be less Puritanical so beware.  

ISBN13: 9780552551311

Friday, July 20, 2012

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich ★★★★☆

One For The Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)

I like it down and dirty!
Fiction – Mystery (Cozy)
320 pages
Publication Date:  January 1, 1994
Stephanie Plum #1
Literary awards:  Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel (1995), Shamus Award Nominee for Best First PI Novel (1995), Dilys Award (1995), The Crime Writers' Association New Blood Dagger (1995), Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel (1994)  Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel (1995)

Desperation is a great motivator and Stephanie Plum is feeling both desperate and motivated in One for the Money.  Laid off from her job and unemployed for the last six months Stephanie finds herself willing to do almost anything including taking a job as a bounty hunter for slimy cousin Vinnie.  To make things a little sweeter this bounty is for a cop turned murder named Joe Morelli; a man Stephanie has a rather complicate history with.  Sure the last time they met she hit him with her car accidentally on purpose and he may not be too happy to see her, but Stephanie is still almost confident she can handle him.  Even with zero bounty hunting skills, a prize fighter gunning for her and the clock ticking down on her trial week, Stephanie believes she can handle herself, but the question becomes can she handle Morelli too.

Evanovich weaves a sordid tale with a hilarious heroine, Stephanie Plum, who has the tenacity of a bulldog and is incredibly and unapologetically self-aware.  Stephanie is completely lovable, and realistic.  Evanovich has a gift for description whether it’s a person, place, thing, event or emotion, which makes the reader really experience Stephanie’s world.  Through these descriptions the reader is led to understand in an intimate way how Stephanie’s oddball family, the communities of Trenton and her interactions with Joe Morelli shaped her.  Stephanie’s world supported by a cast of colorful characters – Lula(who gains importance as the series moves a head), wacky Grandma Mazur, and mysterious Ranger –takes on a living breathing life of its own. 

I would call this book dirty, but in really good way.  There is nothing clean cut or pristine about it.  This story is completely blue collar and I really liked it.  Usually I’m more into the gentleman thief or savvy investigator type of stuff, but this book was great for the very fact it threw a normal person into odd circumstances and she behaved the way most normal people – with an extra helping of tenacity - would.   I found it very refreshing, smart and sassy and I plan to move right along to the second book.  (I love it when series have been out for a while and there is no need to wait for the next book to come out!)

Side note:  I am now several books into the series and have deemed it worthy enough to add to my Chosen Ones List.

ISBN13: 9780312362089

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello Fellow Readers

 One of the very cool things about Blog Spot is that it keeps track of which country Whymsy Likes Books readers are from.  Now while the U.S.A. takes top honors for my readership I would like to send a shout out to Russia, Germany and the Netherlands for their support as well.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare ★★★☆☆

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)
Good Enough
Fiction – YA - Steampunk
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
479 pages
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Infernal Devices Book 1
Literary awards:  RITA® Award by Romance Writers of America Nominee for Best Young Adult Romance (2011), Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award (RT Award) Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2010), Voya Perfect Ten (2010), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky longlist (2011), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)  Goodreads Choice Nominee for Favorite Book, Favorite Heroine, Young Adult Fantasy, Goodreads Author (2010)

American Tessa Gray goes to England at the behest of her brother, Nate, after the death of their Aunt Harriet.  Tessa expects to meet Nate when she steps off the boat, but she is instead intercepted by the “Dark Sisters”.  Believing they are sent by Nate she allows them to escort home.  Instead of finding herself delivered into the loving arms of her brother, Tessa is kept prisoner by the Dark Sisters, because they believe she can shape shift.  Driven by fear and torture, as the days turn into weeks, Tessa somehow manages to shape shift into various people.  The delighted Dark Sisters believe she is now prepared to be turned over to a mysterious figure only known as “The Magistrate”.  After a failed escape attempt Tessa almost loses all hope until Will appears out of nowhere and rescues her from the Dark Sister’s clutches.  Will then takes her to a place called the Institute, home of the London Shadowhunters, beings who police the Underworld.  With their help Tessa hopes they can discover what happened to Nate and possibly figure out what she is.

In the beginning I found the writing a bit bumpy and felt as bewildered as Tessa as I tried to grasp what was occurring.  After a few chapters, however, I finally quite groping blindly for understanding and the writing flowed a bit better, but the writing never really did feel organic.  Though, supposedly set in Victorian London, things pertaining to the era seemed more as an afterthought than a real plot point and I never got the sense the story really felt at home in the era.  As for the characters living at the institute, they definitely came together to make a very dysfunction unit I would loosely call a family.  As the main character I never found Tessa incredibly likable.  She always seemed very aloof and I never got particularly attached to her.  The only remotely likable characters I found was Jem and possibly Sophie.  I also kind of thought it funny how dramatic the blurbs about the book sounded in comparison to what actually took place in the book.

For all of my little complaints I really did like this book overall.  I found the mythology fascinating and appreciated the new world I was introduced into.  The story was captivating, even if I didn’t find Tessa all that lovable.  The characters all came together to play their parts and as a whole they made the story work well enough that I didn’t mind my lack of empathy for most of them.  I also liked the playful interplay during the dialogue and the understatedness of the love triangle.  

Clockwork Angel has been my first real introduction into the Steampunk genre and I find myself wanting more.  With a slight lowering of my expectations, I look forward to reading Clockwork Prince, book two in the Infernal Devices series.

ISBN  1416975861 (ISBN13: 9781416975861)