Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

September 2014 books

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I must be getting old, because all I could think about as I read this book was how all the kids in it are dang hipsters. Plus, forgive me, but I could not stand Lola. With every new personality/fashion quirk that was revealed, I tried to grit my teeth and just go with it, but it got harder and harder until finally it came out that she talks to the moon and I was DONE.

I remember thinking Anna and the French Kiss was realistic and endearing, but this book was so implausible. Nobody acts the way these people do. Nobody.

Like No OtherLike No Other by Una LaMarche

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.

This is a modern-day re-telling of Romeo & Juliet, though I think it might be better described as a modern-day re-telling of West Side Story (but with no dancing, unfortunately). It has been a long time since I read a book with such a genuine central teenage super-like-or-maybe-love relationship. I'll be honest - I kind of fell in love with Jaxon myself in that elevator.

This book also endeared itself to me with all the similarities between Jaxon and Devorah's relationship, and how Jeremy and I got to know each other. Not that any of us had family members beating up the other, but how we met in passing, and weren't sure we could find each other again, and how a misunderstanding happened and I couldn't stand Jeremy being out there thinking badly of me. It was precious to read a few similar events unfold in the book, although in a more dramatized (and romanticized) manner than in my own real life.

That said, I didn't always know why Devorah did the things she did. It was a confusing journey sometimes and while "but I love him!!!" can often explain away irrational behavior in teenagers, I didn't feel like it accounted for all of Devorah's actions.

THAT said, there is some seriously good stuff in here about how it can be difficult to manage the transition from a question-nothing childhood to a question-everything nascent adulthood in a conservative religion that is heavy on rules. I appreciated the book's nuanced portrayal of a very religious people, and its point that for Devorah, religion was not always scripture and worship and revelation from God. Sometimes it was family, and relationships, and familiarity, and special dinners on the Sabbath day.

My religion, like Devorah's, is known for its insular community that frowns upon romantic relationships with outsiders (though that is changing, in my opinion). I remember as a child wondering what would happen if I ever fell in love with a non-Mormon. I also remember swiftly deciding, well, I'd have to just NOT fall in love with a non-Mormon. It was that simple to me, and I think it was for Devorah, too, until she got into that elevator.

I Capture the CastleI Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you haven't read this book, I think you should. I can't believe I hadn't read it until now - it's right up my alley! Smart female characters who know their Austen, a brooding castle for a setting, and a lot of swoon potential.

Some of that potential is ruined by some heavy-handed obfuscation early on, though, and I ultimately found myself a little disappointed by the whole thing. I loved reading this book more than I loved it when the reading was over, you know?

Topaz has got to be one of my most favoritest characters ever, though. If the last third of the book could have kept up with the first two, I would probably be reading this book endlessly in one eternal round.

Now that I've read I Capture the Castle, where do books like Keeping the Castle and A Brief History of Montmaray get off, exactly?? The set-up is practically copy/paste! Perhaps it's all in the name of homage?

(Oh yeah, Imma let you finish, but this book has the best Meet Cute of all time.)

The One (The Selection, #3)The One by Kiera Cass

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I picked up this book expecting to hate-read it, and I was not disappointed. The end.

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With all the hoopla surrounding this book of late, it's difficult to give it a straight-up rating. I liked it, but did not love it. I thought it was really good, but not AMAZING. I was surprised by how non-manipulative it was, though - I expected it to really go for the tears, but it was actually rather understated.

I'm not sure that Hazel and Gus act like real teenagers - they were overly clever at times. That said, the three main poems they quoted in the book (The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, The Red Wheelbarrow, and Nothing Gold Can Stay) were all poems that I knew by heart myself at that age. So maybe we were all wittier and more brilliant as teenagers than we remember.

I give in to Books

Downton Abbey Season 5 (no spoilers)