January 2009

Check it out: Em (from Em’s Bookshelf) is giving away loads of completely awesome books, and you could be the winner. Enter here


Since this has a much wider audience than my personal blog, I thought I’d mention it here, too. Even though this isn’t what I usually talk about here. Basically, I thought I knew where I was going to college and then got an offer that shakes it all up, and I don’t know what to do.

To sum it up: I have two options that are fantastic. Option #1 is Jacobs University, an English-speaking school in Bremen, Germany. I’d get to experience German culture, and learn a new language. It would be the cheaper of the two, and I’d have the opportunity to travel in Europe; however, the campus and course catalog don’t match what I want as well as option #2. Option #2 is Fordham University, a great school in New York City, that would be considerably more expensive. However, some of the specifics match what I want more, and I love New York. I wouldn’t have any money during my years there, though! Both offer good options after graduation. 

If you have insight/advice, please share. If you have general advice or if you’re from one of these places or know a lot about the schools or just anything. I can use all the help I can get.


News Item #1: In case you hadn’t heard, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced earlier this week. The one I was most excited about what Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road winning the Printz Award! Definitely deserved. Check out the whole list of awards here. Possibly more thoughts on some to come at a later date, but don’t count on it.

News Item #2: Harmony is having many contests. Some are ending very soon! Check out her post with links to them all here. My favorite? The one for Alison Goodman’s Eon: Dragoneye Reborn. Wish me luck (and compete against me). 

Yeah, that’s it. Enjoy. 


Along for the Ride is classic Sarah Dessen, which means, of course, that it’s awesome. The novel follows Auden, an insomniac overachiever who doesn’t really know how to let loose, live, have fun, and connect with people, through the summer after she graduates high school and before she starts her freshman year at a prestigious university. 

Rather than staying at home with her overbearing, intellectual, egotistical mother, she decides to visit her father, his new wife, and her new sister in the beach town of Colby. When she packs, she fills an entire suitcase with her textbooks to get an early start on college reading–that’s the kind of girl Auden is, but that’s not who she’ll be at the end of the summer.

In Colby, Auden finds her father too immersed in his novel to care about his new family. She finds herself wandering the town at night, first alone, and then with Eli, a local guy who also doesn’t sleep at night. Eli is dealing with his past, and helping Auden rediscover hers and do all the things she missed out on for the past eighteen years, when her parents expected her to be a miniature adult rather than a child or teenager. She also, after a rough start in which she hooks up with a guy who turns out to be the recent ex-boyfriend of a girl who works in  her stepmother Heidi’s store, finds herself some surprising new friends, once she learns to stop judging people at first glance, something she learned from her holier-than-thou mother. A lot happens in Auden’s summer of transformation, and it all comes down to connecting with people and living life. 

As I read, I kept finding similarities in this book to my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, This Lullaby. Both books, for example, involve older brothers transformed by their girlfriends and heroines who have had to grow up too fast and whose worldviews are changed by new guys. There was more, but I don’t remember right now, and it’s not important. Anyway, it was inevitable that I would be comparing the two books, with those similarities that stuck out to me (also I reread the first book just before reading this new one) and I’m sad to say that I didn’t find Along for the Ride to be quite as strong. The characters weren’t quite as real, the voice not quite as distinct, the world not quite as vivid. Of course, not the best of Sarah Dessen is still completely excellent. I loved this book, and was not fond of putting it down. The writing drew me into Auden’s world, into the town of Colby and kept me fascinated with the lives of its residents. Auden, and all the characters, were excellently well-drawn, with people being Sarah Dessen’s real strength in all her books. She makes them real, and she always focuses a lot on the relationships between them (all kinds–friends, family, romance, it’s all here). This book is no exception; everything in that regard was very well-done. This novel does not disappoint; it is typically wonderful Sarah Dessen. 

Four and a half out of six windows:






In my English class, we started out the first full day by reading an interesting excerpt of Stephen King’s On Writing. It was a few pages photocopied thirty times so we could all circle, underline, make notes, etc. (I’m not entirely sure if this is legal, but schools do it all the time). Interesting thoughts, makes me want to read more of the book, etc. Not the issue. 

The issue is the censorship. Someone had whited out all of the “offensive language” so we didn’t read it. Of course, we can all guess what goes in the blanks, but the whiting-out was far more offensive, to me, than the language. Seventeen and eighteen year olds all know those words, we hear them all the time. It’s not as if you’re spoiling our innocence by exposing us to the word “damn;” the very idea is laughable. That’s funny, but it’s also offensive, to me, to do that to someone’s writing, to deem it appropriate except for some part of it, to not give us the integrity of the whole piece of writing. Because you know what, sometimes the whole feeling of something, the whole meaning of it, can be changed by a few words. That’s not true of the excerpt of Stephen King’s book, but it’s the principle of it–removing pages, whiting out words, I find that all very distasteful and offensive. If the whole of the work isn’t good enough for you, then don’t use it in class–don’t decide it’s all okay except students can’t be exposed to some part of it. Any agreement? Dissent?


The winner of the contest (chosen by random.org) on Karen Mahoney’s guest blog is Adele. Adele, you’ve won an ARC of Jessica’s Guide To Dating On The Dark Side and a signed UK copy of Tithe! What great prizes! I’m emailing you for your address. 


HarperTeen has made the entire content of The Luxe available free with the Browse Inside feature! Check it out here while it lasts. 


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