Seriously? I Read That?

Archive for February 2009

Not just ponytails and pom-poms; steroids and bulimia, too.

There is much more to cheerleading than the perky smiles, short skirts, and pom-poms. Cheer! by Kate Torgovnick delves deep into the inner-workings of three cheer squads from three very different colleges and follows them from try-outs to championships, while exposing the dangers, the controversies, and the drama that surounds and at times plagues squads around the world.

Cheer! is a fun and interesting book about a subculture I know very little about. I found myself actually caring about the cheerleaders presented in the book, which surprised me slightly. I didn’t expect to feel for these men and women in the way that I did. I certainly didn’t expect to root for them.

Torgovnick portrays the cheerleaders honestly–highlighting faults and strengths—making them very real to the reader, especially readers who may only know cheerleaders through the many stereotypes.

Recommended, even for those that don’t care for this type of non-fiction, as it’s very readable and fast paced with enough detail and dramatic moments to hold interest.

Rating: 4 basket tosses out of 5.

Challenges:
T author for A to Z Challenge

Cheer! by Kate Torgovnick
Published: March 11th 2008 by Touchstone
Binding: Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN: 1416535969

I see dead people; don’t tell my crazy family.

Sparrow Delaney, the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter can see, smell, and hear dead people, a fact she desperately tries to hide from her eager, psychic-filled family. Ignoring her gift reaches it’s height of difficulty when she starts receiving messages from a very persistent ghost. Sparrow is forced to decide between protecting her secret or helping a friend in need.

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney is a fun book that combines mystery, a little romance, and a traditional coming of age tale. Sparrow is highly likable as a character and as narrator. She’s well-developed and her portrayal is believable and honest. Other characters, mainly her 6 sisters, are not as well developed, and their personalities are basically dictated by their names (all 7 sisters are names after birds). This is a slight weakness, but does not distract from the many strengths of the novel. This is Sparrow’s novel, and her immense likability is what I imagine will win most readers over.

I’d recommend The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney even to those that do not enjoy paranormal plots, as there is much more to this novel than just ghost and seances.

Rating: 4 spirit guides out of 5.

Challenges:
Book #1 for the YA Challenge

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper
Reading level:
Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (May 27, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061131601

When a man loves a pigeon… history forgets him.

If I can learn one new thing while reading a book, I’m pretty pleased. In that regard, The Invention of Everything Else is more than pleasing. At times I felt like I should be taking notes (did you know limicine means slug-like? I didn’t). I mean that in the best possible way.

Not quite faction; not quite historical novel, The Invention of Everything Else tells the story of the last days of the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla at the Hotel New Yorker. This is imagined history interwoven with real history. History as we all sort of wish it could be.

This is a fascinating, at times baffling, and always compelling novel. The writing is superb and I think most readers will find this not only highly readable, but also highly educational, a quality only the finest examples of fiction can manage without being heavy handed. I also really enjoyed the little cameo by one of my favorite authors!

Highly recommended, especially for those who know little about Tesla, as I suspect this will spark a further interest to learn more about the mysterious inventor.

Rating: 4.5 Bryant Park pigeons out of 5

Challenges:
A-Z Challenge: H author

The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (February 7, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780618801121
Pages: 272

Sometimes even the best recipes still fail to please.

Lately, I’ve been inexplicably drawn to foodie books in all their incarnations. It makes little sense to me, really. I don’t cook. I’m a picky eater. I hate grocery shopping. Nevertheless, I’ve picked up quite a few of the books in the past months. Some I’ve loved . Some, however, I’ve been slightly ambivalent towards. Unfortunately, Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee falls into the latter category.

Trail of Crumbs is a chronicle of Kim Sunee’s twenties living abroad, focusing primarily on her stay in Provence and Paris as the girlfriend of a rich French businessman. Much of the memoir revolves around food and the concept of home and how the two are almost always linked—from her grandfather’s gumbo in her childhood New Orleans, to the fresh air markets of France near her home with her lover, to the street vendor food in the Korea in which she was born and abandoned.

All the ingredients for a great memoir are here- tragedy, romance, drama, the hope for redemption. Unfortunately, I found Sunee slightly unsympathetic which made reading and caring about her life quite difficult. I am sure this says more about me than I’d care to admit, but, it was near impossible for me to muster much sympathy for a 22 year old woman living in the lap of luxury in a charming French village with her incredibly wealthy lover. At times, I struggled to find the motivation to finish the book.

But, finish it I did, a fact I owe almost entirely to the quality of Sunee’s writing. The food parts are descriptive and highly readable. The writing is fluid without being flowery, and kept me reading long after my initial interest had waned.

Rating: 3 dinner parties for twenty out of 5.

Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing (January 8, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780446579766
Pages: 400

Am I happy or sad that you’re not dead?

Sweethearts is one of those novels that my words will always be inferior in describing. It’s one of those novels that is experienced, not just read. It’s a novel that makes you question yourself and what you believe about yourself, and the world, and your own personal history. It’s what I like to call a “What If” novel. What if this happened to me? What would I do? What if there is no right or wrong way to react?

What would you do if someone from your past, someone you thought was dead (and might as well have been) suddenly reappears and brings along with him secrets and pain of a former life you thought you’d successfully buried long ago? For Jenna, the sudden reappearance of Cameron, her best childhood friend, brings confusing memories as she struggles to reconcile who she is now at 17, with the Jennifer she was in 5th grade.

I loved it. Loved it in a way I’ve loved only three other books: Raise High the Roof-beam Carpenters , Looking For Alaska, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Novels that made me cry, hold my breath, and hope they would never end.

Sweethearts is the type of book that makes me wish it was around when I was a teen. It’s a book I would have loved / needed at that age. Like Looking for Alaska and Nick and Norah, Sweethearts is a book that makes me wish I had the ability to go back in time and experience them again for the first time as a teen.

Rating: 5 closet food binges out of 5.

Challenges:
Body part book for the What’s in a name? Challenge
A to Z Challenge: Z author

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Publisher:
Little, Brown Young Readers
(February 1, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780316014557
Pages: 224
Reading Level: Young Adult


Where else you can find me:

Books That Go Bump in the Night- Halloween and scary books for kids and teens. My other blog.


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