Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 170
Where I Got This Book: Own
Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Summary: "Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was."

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

My Thoughts: Wow. This has to be the most disturbing book I've ever read. There is no way that you can read Living Dead Girl and not be affected.

I thought it was really effective how Scott opened up the book by having the first few paragraphs narrated by a neighbor. He's completely oblivious to the horrendous situation that Alice is in and actually comments on how ungrateful he thinks she is-like most daughters are, apparently-because she doesn't thank Ray when he opens the door for her. The reader becomes instantly aware at how skilled Ray is at creating this charming persona. Everyone falls for him and thinks he's so sweet and such a wonderful father. Alice is all alone in knowing what a monster he really is.

Ray has got to be the most hateful character I've come across in literature. He actually thinks that he loves Alice and that she should love him in return for all of the things he does for her. It's beyond disturbing. Scott doesn't gloss over the details but goes into all of the things that Alice is forced to do. She suffers every single abuse that a person can go through--sexual, physical, verbal, emotional. He starves her in order to keep her at 100 pounds, so that she still feels like a ten-year-old girl. So sick.

I'm not sure what to think about the ending. It didn't feel conclusive, and I would describe it as open-ended. There are two possibilities that the reader is left with for how Alice's horror story ends, and one is more pessimistic than the other. I don't know what it says about me, but I was leaning more towards the less happy ending. Just from the way it all played out, I thought that ending made more sense. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I unfortunately have to leave my thoughts vague. I would love to talk about the ending with someone whose read the book.

Living Dead Girl is not for the lighthearted. This book packs an emotional punch, and the story will stay with you forever, so be prepared for that if you choose to pick it up.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wicked Winter Read-a-Thon Updates and Challenges

Day 1:
Pages Read: 186
Books Finished: 1 (The Iron King)
Books Started: 0
Challenges Completed: 0

Well, I finished The Iron King, so I'm very happy about that! It was a great book with so much going on and non-stop action. After finishing it, though, I got caught up in other things and never started Light In August so I'm a little behind, but that's okay. Hopefully, I can catch up today. I was also hoping to take part in the third challenge and show off my reading space, but when I went to connect my phone to my computer, I experienced some problems. The phone is practically brand new too, and one of the main reasons I bought it was so that I could transfer pictures to my computer! I hope I can get that all worked out soon, though probably not this weekend.

Day 2:
Pages Read: 125
Books Finished: 0
Books Started: 3 (Light in August, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Memory in Death)
Challenges Completed: 3

Well, I read the number of pages I wanted to for LiA and IitLoaSG for Saturday, but I never picked up Dark Passages. As it turned out, I came across Memory in Death (one of my favorites in the J.D. Robb series) on a free book shelf on my campus while I was reading Light in August, and I opted to reread a bit of that book in the evening instead. I don't know why, but I've been craving romances for the past few weeks, and I just couldn't resist Roarke and Eve. I seriously doubt I'll finish Dark Passages before the weekend ends now, and it doesn't look like I'll start Guernsey at all, but I should at least finish my reading assignments for class.

Oh! But this morning I found out I won the giveaway for Challenge #6 (hosted by Michelle @ Book Briefs)! Yay! I chose The Near Witch by Victoria Swab. I can't wait to receive it!

Challenge #4: The Wicked Winter Ball (Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer)

Using book covers, show us what you will wear and who you bring!

My dress:

The black ruffled dress from the cover of Torment. Gorgeous!!

And my date:

Ash from The Iron Fey series! I am so in love with him right now!

Challenge #6: Picture Puzzle (Michelle @ Book Briefs)

Rules: First pick your book. The pick pictures that represent words in the book's title. Put the pictures/clues together so people can guess what the book title is. Get creative and make it as challenging as you want.

My book picture puzzle:

**Hint: This is an adult fiction Japanese novel

Day 3:
Pages Read: 185
Books Finished: --
Books Started: --
Books Read: Memory in Death and Light in August
Challenges Completed: --

Looking at the stats for Sunday, you would think I wasn't even participating in the readathon that day. I got distracted with Memory in Death (which I wasn't even planning on reading for the readathon), and of the 185 pages I read that day, 168 pages were from the J.D. Robb book. I never even picked up Dark Passages, Poisonwood Bible or Guernsey at all over the weekend, but oh well. I still had fun. And I hope to join in on the Wicked Wildfire Read-a-Thon in June.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wicked Winter Read-a-Thon

The Wicked Winter Read-a-Thon is hosted by Rebecca @ Kindle Fire and April @ My Shelf Confessions.

This read-a-thon starts today (Feb. 3rd) and lasts until Sunday, Feb. 5th. I decided to join at the last minute because I plan to read a lot this weekend. I have three novels I want to finish, plus three books for school I need to read a good chunk of by Monday.

If you're interested in joining, you can sign-up as late as midnight on February 4th (the first link on this post will take you to the sign-up page). There are also challenges going on during the read-a-thon with different prizes offered for each. It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun!

For the read-a-thon, I would like to read:

I started The Iron King on Thursday evening, and I am currently on page 228. I hope to finish it tonight.

I've been reading Dark Passages for . . . oh, over a month now I guess. I'm really enjoying it, but I keep getting distracted and putting it aside for other paranormal books that are heavier on the romance than this one is. I only have 100 pages left to read of it now, so hopefully I can knock out the rest of the book tomorrow.

I doubt I'll able to finish this book before the weekend's over, but I will try to make it through as much as I can on Saturday and Sunday.


Now, for the books I need to read for school:

I am about 80 pages into this book and I am LOVING it! I need to read 60 more pages by Wednesday, but since I want to focus on a critical analysis paper for another class during the week, I want to read as much of the 60 pages as I can squeeze in over the weekend, leaving my weekdays as free as possible to focus on the essay.

I'm taking a Faulkner seminar this semester, and again, I am LOVING it, but it's a tough class with lots of reading. I need to read about 120 pages of Light in August by Tuesday, but the assignment for Thursday is to read 130 more pages, which will be really difficult to do in just two days. So, I want to get through as much of Light in August as I can to hopefully lighten up my reading load for Tuesday and Wednesday. This will actually be a reread because I read it a couple of years ago (for pleasure), but two years may as well by two hundred for how much I actually remember about this book. It's not that I didn't like it (it's actually my favorite Faulkner novel), but after a few years, memories start to fade. . .

I only need to read 55 pages from this book by Monday, but when I glanced through the book a couple of days ago, I saw that the writing looked really dense, the type was tiny and the paragraphs would often be a page long. All of this spells out a tough read that will definitely take longer to get through than you'd first assume just going off of the number of pages assigned.

So, those are all of the books I hope to read through over the next three days. Good luck to me. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Title: Pink
Author: Lili Wilkinson
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harper Collins
Where I Got This Book: Goodreads' Giveaways
Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She's ready to try something new--she's even ready to "be" someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don't work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and "especially" from her old girlfriend.

Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will "ever" figure out who she really wants to be.

Humor, heart, and the joys of drama--on- and offstage--combine in Ava's delight-fully colorful journey of self-discovery.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. The beginning reminded me a bit of the Shopaholics series-it had the same humor. Ava would often find herself in embarrassing situations, and since I am so sensitive to a character's humiliation, I found myself cringing a lot in empathy.

I thought the characters were great, especially Sam and Jules, who were so funny and sweet. I wish I'd had friends like that in high school, who throw around different bits of trivia and go out on those awesome missions (seriously, how fun would it be to sail a couch down a river?) and go to one of those 24-hour sci-fi movie marathons. It's geeky, but it sounds so fun.

The ending was nice. Everything wasn't wrapped up in a nice pink bow (haha) but it was satisfying and realistic. Ava is still trying to understand who she is at the end, but she has a better handle on her life and where she wants to be.

**I received an ARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why I Love Wednesdays: Book Challenges (!!)

Reflections of a Bookaholic

Why I Love Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic. Every Wednesday, she discusses a different literary topic. The topic this week is your favorite book challenge for 2012.

Why I Love . . . The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

I was originally going to write about the seasonal challenges I participate in for one of my Goodreads' groups. We do that challenge twice a year, and there are 34 different tasks to complete, each worth a certain number of points. The tasks always add to my reading experience because they are so diverse and sometimes require you to really dig around and look into books/authors you have never heard of before in order to find a book that works for that task. Check out my Fall/Winter challenge task list on my Challenges page to get an idea of what the tasks are all about.

For this post, though, I want to focus on a challenge that I just discovered today at Alysia's blog. It is The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge hosted by Jessica @ Books: A True Story. The challenge is to read books that you've owned for a while or books that you've been wanting to read for a LONG time. 

I'm using this post as my announcement post for the challenge as well. I own 125(!) books, but instead of listing them all, I'm just going to list the ones that have been on my shelves for a year or longer (at some point I might add a TBR page to my blog that lists all the books I own and still need to read):

Adult Fiction
-One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
-The Stand by Stephen King
-The Shining by Stephen King
-Widow for One Year by John Irving
-The Cider House Rules by John Irving 
-A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
-Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
-Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
-The Risk Pool by Richard Russo
-Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
-Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire
-The Island by Victoria Hislop
-Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
-The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
-Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
-The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
-Helen of Troy by Margaret George
-Atonement by Ian McEwan
-A Carnivore's Inquiry by Sabina Murray
-The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
-Poison by Kathryn Harrison
-Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
-The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
-The Red Tent by Anita Diamont
-Playing Botticelli by Liza Nelson
-The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
-We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
-Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
-Set in Motion by Valerie Martin
-The Girls by Lori Lansens
-31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
-Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
-The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
-The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet
-The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
-Perfume by Patrick Suskind
-Cassie Draws the Universe by P.S. Baber
-No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook . . . (this one has a long title) by Edgardo Vega Yunque

-1984 by George Orwell
-The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
-Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
-The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
-Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
-Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
-The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
-Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
-Watership Down by Richard Adams
-Metamorphosis by Ovid
-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
-The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Young Adult
-Eragon by Christopher Paolini
-Firelight by Sophie Jordan
-Wither by Lauren DeStefano
-Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
-Ruined by Paula Morris

-Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
-Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
-An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
-The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
-The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
-Personal History by Katharine Graham
-Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
-When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank T. Vertosick
-360 Degrees Longitude by John Higham

Whew! I know that from the look of this list I should aim for the highest level in this challenge, but since this list isn't including all of the newer books I bought that I really want to get to, I'm going to aim for Cobwebs (10-15 books).