Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Raimbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2013
Pages: 328
Rating: *****

Review:
If you were living under a rock, you probably still heard about Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell but if you haven't, here is a synopsis. Eleanor is the new girl who walks onto a school bus full of hostile teenagers. Park has been going to school with these people his whole life, trying not to face any of their wrath. Taking pity on Eleanor, he let's her sit beside him. Through their bus rides together, they become a couple who face such terrible odds. Eleanor has a horrible home life and Park has to battle his adolescent issues with his parents. These two find love within each other when it is needed most.

I began reading this book on Saturday and was finished it on Sunday. I devoured the book because it was filled with such cute flirting as well as real and raw emotions. At times I cried reading this book because of Eleanor's unfortunate situation and other times I laughed at Eleanor and Park's witty banter. This book brings the reader back to high school. While reading about Eleanor getting onto the bus and having no one to sit with I was instantly transported back to sitting in class and not having a partner to work with.

I thought that Rainbow Rowell wrote about first time love as if she was experiencing it while writing it. When someone you love touches you it feels like the most intense moment ever. I felt like Rowell wrote a love story that people can relate to on a number of levels.

I felt like Rowell was able to bring the reader into that situation so the reader felt the hurt and pain that Eleanor was feeling. I have never gone through what Eleanor went through with her home life but I cried in several parts where Eleanor was trying to hide her home life from Park or her step-dad did something mean to her.

I give this book 5/5 stars because it was filled with young love was written so I couldn't put the book down. I can't wait to read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Attachments.

Have you read Eleanor & Park, what did you think? Have you read any of Rowell's other books? Which one is your favourite?

Happy reading,

Tara

Saturday, January 18, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Book: Vampire Academy #1
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill (2007)
Pages: 332
Rating: ****
Review: I know, I know I know. I am late on the bandwagon. To be honest, I had never heard of this series until I read a blog post by Caitlyn (I quietly lurk blogs) who stated that she really enjoyed this book series. After that, I saw Catching Fire and there was a trailer for the movie before Catching Fire came on.

I love fantasy novels in which I can just be transported to another world or a different version of the one I live in. So I was excited but hesitant to start this series. I was hesitant because I disliked the whole "I can't function without a boyfriend" mentality of Twilight and was worried that I would see that in similar books.

There was no need for hesitation though. This book stars two main girls, Rose and Lissa. Rose is a dhampir, part Moroi and part human who is training to become Lissa's guardian. Lissa is a Moroi, a mortal vampire who can die but she also has a special power (I won't spoil it for you). Throughout the book Rose shows her extreme loyalty to protect Lissa from Strigoi (actual immortal vampires who are much stronger than the Moroi) as well as from other sources who want access to Lissa's power.

What I loved about this book was that the females are powerful on their own. They managed to live on their own for a year, reach the top of the social ladder when they came back, and escape from dangers within the Academy. Don't get me wrong, there is a hint of slut-shaming amongst the students at Vampire Academy which I don't condone but it is addressed by the very hot Dimitri. Dimitri was raised amongst "blood whores" and Rose asks him what it was like and he defends them and the people who raised him.

Overall, I give this book 4 our 5 stars. I think there were many great themes in this book and I am very excited to read the second book. I do think the writing needed some work but other then that, I am looking forward to getting further into this series.

Have you read Vampire Academy? What did you think of it?


Happy reading,

Tara

Thursday, January 16, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD By Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: *****
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 217

I am not sure if everyone is aware but Answerly is doing a book club this year and Hayleyghoover is choosing to read books written by women. The first book she chose was Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I am a huge fan of all three Answerly hosts and thought this was a really unique way to discuss books. I had heard of Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead before and was recommended it by a friend so when Hayley mentioned it, I immediately jumped on board.

I consider myself to be a feminist but I also adhere to a lot of traditional gender roles (I am a teacher and I run a book blog) so I remember reading about this book and thinking, "It wouldn't have information for me, only business women could relate to this book." However, that is not always the case.  

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was written well and backed by facts and personal anecdotes. I really appreciated her knowledge of the working world and how she acknowledged her own privilege throughout the book. She gave plenty of general knowledge for both men and women about the workforce (thinking of the corporate ladder as a jungle gym instead) and she managed to speak about companies we had all heard of.

Sheryl Sandberg, for those of you who don't know, is the COO of Facebook and used to work for Google and the National Treasury. She was on Forbes' most power women list (beating Michelle Obama) and has completed many talks and workshops on women and leadership. She wrote this book to educate people on how women should take on more leadership roles in the workplace to make it easier for other working women.

Sandberg discusses many reasons why women hold back (they only apply for jobs they are 100% qualified for whereas men will apply for jobs they are only 60% qualified for) as well as how women tend to do more of the child care and housework along with working where men get off on doing less of the child care and work. I think Sheryl really hits the head when she says that women need to lean into their work while having a family (she also supports women who choose to stay at home) while men need to lean into their families more.

The biggest flaw I have with Sandberg's book is that she does not acknowledge that many women are in careers that are female dominated (teaching, nursing etc...) and those careers are at a standstill. If you go into teaching, you can be the best teacher in your region and still not make enough because your career is not valued as much a male dominated career. In addition to all of the great suggestions Sandberg offers, I think she should have given a shout-out to the female dominated careers and how we can make them more credible. Perhaps I am overseeing the issue as a teacher myself and maybe Sandberg is not the one to do it but I think that parts of this book were meant for only business careers.

Overall, I found this book very informative and empowering. Sandberg writes in a way that makes the world of business sound fun and interesting. I truly learned a lot from reading this book and admire Sandberg and her career.

Have you read Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead? If so, what did you think?

Happy reading,

Tara

Monday, January 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: LITTLE WOMEN

Book: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Publisher: Puffin
Rating: *****

I remember a classmate of mine reading this book in grade five and our teacher raving about how my classmate had finished this big book. I had always meant to get around to reading it but it wasn't until now (at the age of 23) that I managed it.

This book is about four sisters (Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth) and their lives from mid-teenage hood to young adult. The book is set in rural America in the mid 1800's. The family is described as not having much money and being poor although I did not read about any impoverished conditions the girls actually lived in. I think the book portrayed the classic story of going from having a lot to not having as much instead of depicting an impoverished family.

What I absolutely loved when reading about the girls is just how much their quarrels and worries are things that my sister and I quarreled and worried about in the 21st Century. Their mother (Mrs. March) was a very calm and wise woman who remained steadfast in times of turmoil just like my own mother.

Meg is the oldest, then there is Jo, Amy, and Beth (I am not sure who is older, Amy or Beth) but I liked them all.

I particularly found Jo's character ever so reminiscent of myself. Jo was a tomboy growing up and her best friend was a boy just like myself. She prefers to read and write and doesn't spend much time on fashion or other frivolities. I found even the sad parts of her (she takes care of everyone else but doesn't get to partake in her life dreams as much) much similar to what I experience.

Overall, I was satisfied with the ending of this book and while it was a long read, I really enjoyed it. I think it would be considered one of my favourite classics (right beside Anne of Green Gables).

Let me know if you have read Little Women and what you thought of it.

Happy reading,
Tara