Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Lock and Key - Sarah Dessen

So. Lock and Key. Where do I even begin?
I mean, it's Sarah Dessen, and in my opinion, you can NEVER go wrong with her novels. I've even gotten my older sister to read a few, and she tends to stick to Adult Contemporary.

Ruby is sure that she can live on her own. She looks out for no one but herself, needs to depend on nobody. And she has things - as well as school and a job - all figured out. But her world comes crashing down when she's turned in my child services, after they find her living alone in an ill-equipped house. She's sent to live with her older sister, whom she hasn't seen in years, having abandoned her and her mother years earlier. How does one go from having nothing to being treated well and given a great house to live in? Anyone else would be ecstatic, but Ruby has more pride than that. But adjusting to a real family might just be what she needs...

I've been trying to read Sarah's books in the order that they were written. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because it feels truer that I can almost go on the journey as she writes, understanding what she was going through by the stories she made up. Anyway, I'm very glad that I've been doing pretty much that (with the exception of That Summer and a few others) because there are a few little references to her other novels. Just quick little nonchalant coincidences that really just made me go, "Ahh! It's that person! From that book!"

The writing and description was fantastic, as always. I absolutely loved the theme. I think it's one that's not touched on much, but when it is, is a hard once-over about someone feeling like an outcast. Here though, we aren't ever left with much suffocated emotion, and we sure don't get a protagonist who is completely comfortable with being this loner. It's usually complaining and depressing and blah, blah, blah.

This book was just one girl's journey through so many changes in atmosphere, company, and way of thought. Dessen never fails to write thought provoking literature that's meaningful and poignant. She's never the mediocre YA lit, filled with frothy scenes of normal high school life. And sometimes those stories are okay. Other times, you just need something with a more powerful meaning.

Some of my favorite quotes:
"It's never something huge that changes everything, but instead the tiniest of details, irrevocably tweaking the balance of the universe while you're busy focusing on the big picture."
"My only thought was to go back to the dream I'd been having, which I couldn't remember, other than it had been good, in that distant, hopeful way unreal things can be."
"You couldn't make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build a world from it."

Also, I just adored the characters. At first you think you have Nate all figured out, and then BAM! And Ruby is so relatable. Jamie is just the type of person you see as your brother.
Little weird thing about me: I tend to picture people I know or people I've seen around at school as the characters in books. Does anyone else ever do that? Well, in the beginning of the book, I pictured Nate as someone I knew, but my perception of him changed so much that I just couldn't picture these people being one in the same.

I know I included a lot of covers for this one, but I love them all! I'm such a nerd, I actually have two copies of this book: the hardcover I bought when it first came out and a paperback copy I found in the bargain section of the Local bookstore.
The first picture is the hardcover with the dust jacket, and the second is without the dust jacket. Isn't it beautiful? The third photo is the paperback. It's pretty as well, but the key doesn't really look like the one on the opening pages. I guess I'm just picky like that. My favorite though, is the last picture. This one is the UK cover, and it's so great! Every little thing that builds the key is so significant to the story! I've seen some of the other Dessen UK covers, and it seems to me that they are all awesome! But ours are pretty wonderful too...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Camp... I miss it!

So I pretty much had the best two weeks of my life about a month ago, when I traveled over state lines to stay at a summer camp.
But when you think of camp, your picture is NOT going to match mine. It's the high school program. That means it's 12 days instead of 5, we spend almost all of our time co-ed, and the activities are lessened and replaced by chores.

Okay, now you're probably stuck on the last one. Chores? At summer camp? Don't you pay so that you can kind of get away from that stuff? Well, like I said, it's the high school program. All (or at least most) attended the camp when we were younger. And it's an amazing camp. So it and the experiences it has to offer mean a lot to us. We are willing and want to serve by cleaning bathrooms, the dining hall, and taking out the trash. Okay, we aren't thrilled to do this stuff, but it's the relationships we build with one another while doing these things that make the memories last. And it's not all work. It's maybe one-third. All those other moments spent just hanging around the cabin's main room, playing card games and laughing when we have a few free moments.

And it's days like these, when I'm not preoccupied with friends or books or TV that I really start to miss all that. A chunk of my friends started school already, me being one of the few not to. So I've been thinking a lot of those camp days, where there wasn't homework or internet or relationships to get in the way of friends. It's just us, for two weeks, sharing a room and a bathroom, the great opportunity to get to know people who you wouldn't have otherwise.

I really wanted to post a picture of all of us on the last day. Twenty-five people sitting on the roof to the cabin, smiling and making a funny pose, realizing that these are the last few moments we'd ever spend with these exact people.

But I really wanted to post a picture, so I'm posting one of my working group on our last day of trash duty. It was the best day. We walked around with the bags on our heads as well as using the bags for capes. Maybe you had to be there. I'm the one on the far right.
If you are at all interested in more information about this camp, email me at
I'd love to tell you more, I just didn't want to put the info up for all to see. =)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Top 100 YA titles... have you read them?

First of all, I just want to say that Persnickety Snark is a genius for composing a list of all the top YA books.
But it really put it into perspective. I've read... waay less than half. But then when I think about what I most enjoy reading it is 100% young adult. So I definitely need to work on reading these other great books...
The ones I've read are bolded.

1.The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

2.Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone J.K. Rowling

3.To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

4.Speak Laurie Halse Anderson

5.Northern Lights Philip Pullman

6.The Truth About Forever Sarah Dessen

7.The Book Thief Markus Zusak

8.The Outsiders S.E. Hinton

9.Twilight Stephenie Meyer

10.This Lullaby Sarah Dessen

11.Looking for Alaska John Green

12.Just Listen Sarah Dessen

13.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J.K. Rowling

14.Little Women Louisa May Alcott

15.City of Bones Cassandra Clare

16.On the Jellicoe Road Melina Marchetta

17.The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

18.Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban J.K. Rowling

19.The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

20.Along for the Ride Sarah Dessen

21.Shiver Maggie Stiefvater

22.Vampire Academy Richelle Mead

23.Graceling Kristin Cashore

24.Thirteen Reasons Why Jay Asher

25.Sloppy Firsts Megan McCafferty

26.The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

27.Alanna: The First Adventure Tamora Pierce

28.Ender's Game Orson Scott Card

29.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J.K. Rowling

30.Uglies Scott Westerfeld

31.A Great and Terrible Beauty Libba Bray

32.Tomorrow, When the War Began John Marsden

33.The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks E. Lockhart

34.Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

35.The Westing Game Ellen Raskin

36.Paper Towns John Green

37.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling

38.Catching Fire Suzanne Collins

39.A Tree Grows In Brooklyn Betty Smith

40.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie

41.Lock and Key Sarah Dessen

42.The Amber Spyglass Philip Pullman

43.Evernight Claudia Gray

44.Sabriel Garth Nix

45.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix J.K. Rowling

46.Beautiful Creatures Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

47.Forever Judy Blume

48.I Capture the Castle Dodie Smith

49.Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine

50.The Princess Diaries Meg Cabot

51.Stargirl Jerry Spinelli

52.Howl's Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones

53.The Dark is Rising Susan Cooper

54.Hush, Hush Becca Fitzpatrick

55.Saving Francesca Melina Marchetta

56.Second Helpings Megan McCafferty

57.Dreamland Sarah Dessen

58.Eclipse Stephenie Meyer

59.Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Rachel Cohn, David Levithan

60.Fire Kristin Cashore

61.The Chocolate War Robert Cormier

62.Weetzie Bat Francesca Lia Block

63.The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank

64.Looking for Alibrandi Melina Marchetta

65.How I Live Now Meg Rosoff

66.City of Glass Cassandra Clare

67.Keeping the Moon Sarah Dessen

68.Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer

69.Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison

70.If I Stay Gayle Forman

71.The King of Attolia Megan Whalen Turner

72.Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson

73.Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast Robin McKinley

74.The Blue Sword Robin McKinley

75.Feed M.T. Anderson

76.The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Ann Brashares

77.Go Ask Alice Anonymous

78.Wicked Lovely Melissa Marr

79.Lord of the Flies William Golding

80.Someone Like You Sarah Dessen

81.The Forest of Hands and Teeth Carrie Ryan

82.Jacob Have I Loved Katherine Paterson

83.The Knife of Never Letting Go Patrick Ness

84.Poison Study Maria V. Snyder

85.Shadow Kiss Richelle Mead

86.The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Avi

87.An Abundance of Katherines John Green

88.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon

89.A Ring of Endless Light Madeleine L'Engle

90.Glass Houses Rachel Caine

91.The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party M.T. Anderson

92.Walk Two Moons Sharon Creech

93.Whale Talk Chris Crutcher

94.Perfect Chemistry Simone Elkeles

95.Going Too Far Jennifer Echols

96.The Last Song Nicholas Sparks

97.Before I Fall Lauren Oliver

98.Hatchet Gary Paulsen

99.The Pigman Paul Zindel

100.The Hero and the Crown Robin McKinley

Not so good...
How does your list look?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm Baaaaaack! Plus a review!

Hello all!
First I must say that my much needed time off was wonderful. Camp was life-changing and my brother's wedding was marvelous! Talk about a fun time!
Anywho, I never really got much time to read, but I did finish one book in three weeks. Yikes! Plus, I got some good read time in on the airplane. =)

So I finished Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti.
And I don't even know where to begin.

Ruby has always been the quiet one. The shy bookish one, whose habits are only enforced by her mother in more ways than one. So when Ruby falls for the rich and spoiled bad boy down the street, Travis, Ruby falls hard. She faces things with a lot of regret and remorse. And she has to choose to hold some things and let others go. She knows she can't be the same way her mother is-- stumbling at the feet of a man. Ruby has to set her own path. To do this, she goes off on a road trip with her mother, brother, and a few people from her mother's book club, The Casserole Queens, bent on reuniting a member of the club with her long lost love. It's on this journey that heart break and heart ache can heal as well as learn.

This novel was full of so much depth and vivid description. It's the first I've read of Caletti's works, but it left me wanting more so I know I'll be back for some!

The language is woven beautifully and intricately. I learned so much about myself just from reading the fictional experience of others! That's saying a lot. When an author can do that, you know they've got the right stuff.

The style reminded me of Sarah Dessen's work. Very good, with the same way of making awesome descriptions sound natural. The way everything flows. Nothing is forced.

The characters were wonderful! I loved the Casserole Queens. Their haughty attitudes added a bit of spice to the story. I would have liked to see them enter the story a bit sooner, though.
Aside from Ruby, I adored Chip Jr., her little brother. He seemed so wise for his age, always knowing and being so aware of feelings.

It kept me reading, too. It wasn't necessarily suspenseful, but there were some parts where I just needed to know what happened!

Plus, so many great quotes. Here's one of my favorites:
" 'Everyone's central problem is longing.' Harold shouted...'There's nothing intrinsically wrong with longing.' Anna Bee said. 'Longing has led to great things. Every great discovery and accomplishment has its base in longing. It's only when you look to others to fill that longing that there are problems.' "

And because we can all relate....
"We were book readers, trained to step around raw feelings in the name of politeness and love, and yet I was furious."

So if you get the chance to pick this one up, do it! And then let me know what you thought.