Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think of The Uninvited, as it has mixed reviews online. (Say whaaa? A book reviewer who reads book reviews??) Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

Following Mimi Shapiro’s STUPID affair with her creepy college professor, she decides to escape to her dad’s Canadian cabin to let things settle in her mind. But “getting away from it all” proves to be harder than Mimi anticipated when she arrives on the doorstep and finds someone already wynne_jones_theuninvitedliving there. Jay–a young musician–immediately accuses her of snooping around the property and leaving strange tokens–a snakeskin, a dead bird, etc…

But since Mimi just arrived, who could the stalker be?

I actually really enjoyed The Uninvited and it most DEFINITELY kept me turning pages. The alternating points of view gave a better perspective of the whole story, and really really added to the creep factor. To be inside the stalker’s head and feel him watching… Yikes. I read Flowers in the Attic a good decade ago and I feel like this story had me squirming with discomfort just as much as I did back then. Ugh.

Mimi was kind of an annoying character, mostly because she reminded me of someone I work with. Jay was much more tolerable and let’s all just say a huge THANK YOU BABY JESUS for his girlfriend. Without her this book would’ve been absolutely revolting. And the stalker… well… let’s just say he isn’t who you’d imagine him to be…

Let’s just say I’ll definitely never donate my eggs…

4 hole-riddled canoes of 5

It’s Ray Bradbury Time!!

fahrenheit451_200-63fea330eb23c704f8bdc21f3085783b96733765-s6-c10I’m not sure what’s gotten into me lately, but I’ve gone on an American classics binge. When I was a teenager, the only way you could get me to read a classic was to hold a gun to my head, or, in the less extreme, if it was the only unread book in my collection.

I’ll admit it… The House of the Seven Gables bored me to tears and Jane Eyre absolutely put me to sleep. *shrug* I guess I’m just not that sophisticated.

Of course, I’d heard a shit-ton about  Fahrenheit 451 and decided to finally pick it up from the library. While I was there, I stumbled upon From the Dust Returned and decided to give that a go too. F451 was very fast-paced and I can totally see how it achieved it’s huge fan base. Bradbury’s concept was so before his time that is absolutely astounding. In a world filled with stories about mind-control, totalitarian governments, and post-apocalyptic earth–F451 may not seem that impressive. But if you step back for a moment and realize how groundbreaking it truly was… It’s pretty amazing. I’d say that Bradbury did for sci-fi what Tolkien did for high fantasy. He may have not been the first author to delve into a world like that, but he certainly brought the idea to the forefront of our collective consciousness. (For the two of you out there who don’t know the premise–in this futuristic setting, television absolutely rules and reading books is WAY ILLEGAL. Firefighters exist to burn books, not to put out fires).

FTDR was a bit more of a let down for me. It revolved around a strange family reminiscent of the creepy Addams’ *snap snap*. There’s a bat-like uncle, a thousand-times great grandmother, and an adopted son Timothy that is the only mortal member of the family. The concept was interesting, but I guess I had trouble with the way the various short stories jumped around. It was hard for me to fully sink into the story, and every time I started to there’d be a scene change and I’d be jerked out of it again. tumblr_lgvwguP6uP1qhnnhro1_1280

Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed.

F451 gets 4 burnt book pages of 5 and FTDR gets 2 bats in the belfry of 5.

Darwin’s Ghosts by Rebecca Stott

0927 Darwin v1 lores

I, like 99.9% of people, immediately think of Charles Darwin when the topic of evolution or natural selection comes up. After he wrote The Origin of Species in 1859, Darwin became one of the most equally admired and hated figures in the scientific community. Amidst all the hate mail, he received a letter that was puzzling rather than inflammatory. It accused him not of heresy, but of criminal forgetfulness.

Where were his forebears mentioned at all? Clearly he didn’t think to presume he’d come up with the theory of evolution all on his own!

Stott has put together a rather dense and detailed book righting Darwin’s 150 year old wrong. She has outlined many of his forgotten evolutionary predecessors, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Denis Diderot, Aristotle, and several other (much less well-known) names. Back story is given to each, and a new breath of life is pumped into these unsung heroes of science. (God, I’m a nerd!)

While some chapters/scientists were more interesting than others, I found the content to be a bit too dry for easy reading. I could understand everything they were talking about, but at certain points it began to feel like an assigned reading for a biology class. My eyes glazed over a bit.

I definitely learned a lot, but I’m not sure how much of it I could repeat back to you–if that makes sense.

3 Galapagos finches of 5


Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin


Even after being published for more than 25 years, Thinking in Pictures remains one of the most well-known books written from an autistic perspective. I had little to no clue about the inner workings of an autistic person’s mind and TIP was very enlightening.

I learned that different forms of autism have different advantages and disadvantages. In some ways, as with Gradin’s extraordinarily accurate visualization skills, autism seems to be almost some sort of super power. It has enabled her to become the world’s leading expert on slaughterhouse design–something that seems so cringeworthy, yet on second thought, is also so important.

Grandin is the self-labeled “Lady that Thinks like a Cow.” Her autism has given her the unique ability to separate thought from emotion and thus see the world from a cow’s perspective. This has been extremely beneficial to the meat-processing industry because it calms the animals before death–making their last moments peaceful rather than terrifying.

The book seems to vacillate between her contributions to the cattle of world and how autism has affected her life. She is clearly a brilliant person, but the outline of the book seemed a bit scattered, and honestly I would’ve liked to know more about her personal life rather than her cow-friendly design-work. She has a completely different publication devoted specifically to cattle and I feel she could’ve shared the information in there rather than in her memoir.

Because I felt it was equally enlightening but slightly off-topic, I’ll give it…

3 cattle chutes of 5

Sacred by Elana K. Arnold


I have often been accused of having an eating disorder. At 5’9” 115lbs, I guess it comes with the territory. In Sacred by  Elana K. Arnold, Scarlett suffers a tremendous loss after her brother dies. With his death, not only does she lose her brother, but now her mother disappears into her bedroom for days at a time, and her jock boyfriend and clique don’t know how to treat her anymore. She is sad, abandoned, and extremely tired. When her brother died, so did her appetite. She begins the slow tailspin into anorexia until a mysterious new guy, Will, enters the picture. He seems to have a sixth sense for when disaster is about to strike.

So why does he keep showing up around Scarlett?

I could really relate to Scarlett in that, faced with a hard situation, her desire for food completely vanished. I have the unfortunate affliction that, when faced with a heartbreak or a hard time, I turn away from food. It’s not because of a desire to lose weight, but more of a lack of care about myself during that moment. I turn away from sustenance because it seems like small bananas compared to what’s really bothering me. *shrugs* I know. 

Arnold really did a great job with the prose and the flow of this book, and I like the way that Scarlett and Will’s relationship developed. Everything wasn’t “love at first sight-Prince Charming” perfect. I like realism interjected in my love stories. (Does that make me cynical?) It was also nice to learn more about Jewish culture/mythology, which is rarely mentioned in YA Fiction. This book definitely kept me interested, but it wasn’t a thriller or a page turner.

In a country filled with obesity, it was nice to hear about the other side of the story. Some people starve during times of distress–I know the idea of “comfort food” is completely foreign to me. It’s not always linked to vanity, sometimes when the heart shrivels up, the stomach follows suit. We all have different ways of dealing with things, I suppose. And we also have different ways of triumphing over obstacles.

4 yellow notebook pages of 5

Eve and Once by Anna Carey


Well, well, well… Color me pleasantly surprised. The first two books in Anna Carey’s Eve Trilogy don’t absolutely suck! In fact, they’re actually pretty awesome! I love it when someone gets dystopian fiction right!

Eve exists in a world that has been struck by a deadly plague–in fact, sixteen years ago her own mother succumbed to the virus and as a result she was sent off to an all-girls school/orphanage. Eve excelled at the school and is one day away from giving her graduating class’ valedictorian speech. Of course, this would be the time she learns the truth behind the school’s purpose. Her and her fellow classmate’s are not destined to become the next shining citizens of the City of Sand… Their fate is much more sinister. 

So Eve must escape and, for the first time since childhood, face the devastation that is the outside world. Luckily, a former classmate and a rebellious (and handsome) boy come to her aid. Imagine their collective shock when they learn that Eve’s parentage is not all that it seems. 

This is one of the better page-turner’s I’ve read this year, and you’ll be groaning in disgust along with Eve when you find out what the government has planned for the graduates. It really is weird and gross. 

I also really liked the relationship that formed between her and Caleb–it seemed less like the typical “love at first sight” BS that YA fiction tends to spew, and more like something real that grew over time. The complications that arise in Once are even more entertaining. 

I’ll definitely be following up with this series!

4 vitamins of 5