Monday, April 18, 2011

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Here's a quick blurb from Ms. Hubbard's gorgeous website: It’s hard to find beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming. Fourteen-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it’s not her mother’s pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances and pickup trucks adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild girl Mandarin Ramey: seventeen, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.

When the misfits are united for a project, they embark on an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town’s animal-head trophies, and constantly searching for someplace magic. Grace even plays along when Mandarin suggests they make a pact to run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds that plague their badlands town.

But all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin’s unique beauty hides a girl who’s troubled, broken and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, even the best friendships can’t withstand betrayal.

My Take

This book dripped with imagery.  I loved the author's ability to place me right in the setting with the characters.  I also liked the descriptions she used.  One in particular I remember was she described the fenders on an old truck as being 'chubby'.  I could absolutely picture it in that very moment. 

The storyline between Grace and Mandarin drew you in.  I wanted to know where their friendship was going.  Would Grace be pulled down the same paths that Mandarin was travelling?  Is it really the wildwinds that make you release all sense of reason?  I really enjoyed this book.  I'm giving it 5 blown away kisses!

This is also one of the books on the Contemporary Challenge.  Definitely a great read.  Things will slow down here on the blog, as tomorrow I'm having my weight loss surgery.  I'm sure before long, I'll be seeing you around the blogosphere before you know it.  Here's those kisses for LIKE MANDARIN!


Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Here's a review from the author's website: *"Surprising everyone at their private school, a sardonic loner befriends the new girl in this unusual story of an intense platonic relationship between two misfits. Dubbed a robot by her emotionally unstable mother after she fails to manifest sufficient heartbreak over the death of their gerbil, Bea meets pale, withdrawn Jonah, maliciously called “Ghost Boy” by their peers. Almost immediately, she realizes that she has more in common with Jonah than with the catty, insular girls that surround her and begins to rely increasingly heavily on him even as she discovers more about his tragically strange past. Standiford has crafted a darkly whimsical tale filled with details that will be recognizable to teens truly existing on the fringe, complete with references to John Waters films and outsider musician Daniel Johnston. Bea’s original first-person voice will draw readers in, and the unexpected plot will keep them engaged. A decidedly purposeful not-love story, this has all the makings of a cult hit with a flavor similar to Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)."

--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

My Take

Bea is a cool, quirky little character and Jonah is heavier on the quirk.  Both great characters.  I loved the fact that Jonah never saw his brother Matthew as broken, only different from himself.  I really liked this book.  It speaks of love and how deep it runs.  It challenges your thoughts on family and just who ones family can be comprised of. 

I had heard great things about this book before reading it.  It lived up to the words of praise bestowed on it.  I liked all the Nite Lights and their funny little personalities interplaying with one another.  I could see a sequel to this one eventually, but have no idea if one is planned or not.  The overall message I took away from this was that no matter how disabled or tenuous their grip on reality may be, you don't give up on them.  I'm giving this one 4 1/2 robotic smaks!

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