August 20, 2011

Book Review: Withering Tights

Publisher: Harper Teen (and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
On-Sale Date: June 17, 2011
Length: 275 pages
Format: ARC paperback

Tallulah Casey is ready to be a star.  She’s wants people to see past her knobby knees and into her shining soul.
She’s going to be spending her summer at Dother Hall, an arts academy for girls (no need to worry; there’s an all boys school in the area!).
Tallulah could not be more excited and anxious for her summer to begin, even though, deep down, she doesn’t really know what to expect.  Tallulah is unsure of her talents, and must excel in her classes, if she wants to ever return to Dother Hall.
Keeping in mind that she cannot fail, Tallulah begins forging new friendships and a reputation.

Withering Tights was one of the most wonderfully ridiculous books I had ever read.
I didn't know a book could be quirky, but Withering Tights could definitely be described as such.

Tallulah was something else.  I could certainly have said, that I had never encountered a character like her.  She made up words and had the nerve to spontaneously break out into song and dance.  Tallulah was a fun narrator.  She was still quite innocent, and didn’t have any adult worries weighing her down.

Tallulah was old enough to feel embarrassment, but young enough to not let self consciousness take over.  She went through some pretty mortifying situations, but just kept on kicking.  When she fell on her butt she just got right back up and tried again.

Tallulah always kept you guessing.  She wasn’t the same on every page.  Tallulah was trying to figure out what she wanted to be known for.  The great thing about reading a character so young was that she hadn’t discovered herself yet.  You got to share her journey, and were there when she figured out who she was.
Tallulah was just so awkward, it was comical.  At times, Lulah and her antics were laugh out loud hilarious.

Tallulah fit in well with her fellow girls of Dother Hall.  The girls all had this electric energy and they fed off of one another.  They complimented each other nicely.  It certainly didn’t hurt that every character had their own personal brand of nuttiness.
When boys came into the picture there was a whole new brand of hilarity and wonder brought to the story.  Tallulah's mates had minimal experience with the opposite sex, and it was endearing to read.  Every boy that was added certainly mixed up the plot.

This novel was just plain fun.  The characters were upbeat and weird, (some more weird than others), and the plot had you on a roller coaster that took you along for the ride.

Withering Tights was face paced.  Tallulah didn’t stay in the same place for long.  You couldn’t keep up with her and you couldn’t catch her, so you just had to enjoy the story that was being told.

This was the first book by Louise Rennison that I had read.  The British words and made up language used in the novel took some time getting used to (and occasionally tested my patience).  There were times that I encountered multiple unfamiliar words on the same page, which took away from the Withering Tights experience.  There was a glossary in the back, but it didn't hold all of the words I looked for.

You needed to embrace knobby kneed Lulah or you wouldn’t have enjoyed the story.
Her character growth in Withering Tights was just right, and allowed for more to be told of Tallulah’s story; growing pains and all.

Reading Withering Tights was like imagining the funniest thing that could have happened and then something even funnier would occur.

I would read another story about Tallulah Casey without a second thought.

In my opinion, there was a lesson you could take from Withering Tights, (besides bicycle ballets are dangerous).  You should be proud of who you are, and use your insecurities to your best advantage, because as soon as Tallulah did, she felt empowered and was ready to take on whatever the future held instore.

All in all, I missed Tallulah and her friends, soon after I was done.

Premise: 3/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the publisher. This did not influence my review in any way.

August 15, 2011

Book Review: The Splendor Falls

Title: The Splendor Falls
Publisher: Delacorte Press (a registered trademark of Random House Inc.)
On-Sale Date: January 11, 2011
Length: 513 pages
Format: Trade paperback

Sylvie Davis has been sent away.  She’s going to be spending some time with her deceased father’s cousin, Paula.  Most importantly, she’s going to have some time away from her life.  Sylvie will be staying in Bluestone Hill Inn as Cousin Paula is the owner.  It is the perfect place for Sylvie to have some time to herself, and to explore the large property that surrounded her.
After the nasty accident of breaking her leg on stage, (otherwise known as "The Accident"), Sylvie became a different person.  She can’t dance anymore, and is devastated.  So, her new step-father, along with her mother, decide that some time away from home would be best for everyone.
Sylvie arrives at Bluestone Hill with her chihuahua, Gigi, and in a less than cheery mood.  She didn’t ask to come there, but if anything, maybe it’ll bring her closer to her dad again.
Despite her less than stellar attitude, Sylvie doesn’t seem to have trouble making friends.  Two people in particular are immediately interested in Sylvie.  There’s Rhys, the mysterious guest, and Shawn, the all-around golden boy.  There’s definitely animosity between those two,  and could Sylvie be the cause?
Although Sylvie is drawn to both boys and the secrets they keep hidden, she’s even more curious about the story surrounding Bluestone Hill.  And who is that she keeps seeing running through the darkness?

I truly enjoyed reading The Splendor Falls.
It was a scary story with its own twist.

One of the main characters was Sylvie’s chihuahua, Gigi.  It isn’t often that a main character has four legs and barks.  I loved this puppy.  She was the best furry friend to Sylvie.  Gigi was a friendly counterpart to her owner’s snappy moods and surly attitude.  She made the entire town and tenants of Bluestone Hill melt.  I have never been a huge animal lover, but my heart was touched by Gigi throughout the story.  She was just as important to the story as Sylvie.

Sylvie lost everything.  She lost her whole life.  Dancing was everything to her, and breaking her leg nearly broke her.  Sylvie knew no other lifestyle, but had to build one on a broken dream.  Her mother, step-father, step-brother, and psychologist all believed that they knew what was best for her.  Unfortunately for everyone else, (Team Help-Sylvie-Get-A-Life), Sylvie was the only one who could figure it all out for herself.  Still, they made the decision for her to spend her summer with Cousin Paula in a small southern town far from her native Manhattan.  It was there that Sylvie was supposed to find her bearings.  It truly was a good place to start, because this was where her father, who meant everything to her, spent his summers growing up.  She was lost when her father died.   She really needed to find a part of him again.  Even dead, Sylvie’s dad was there for her more than her mother ever was.

Sylvie had such a presence.  She didn’t quite know who she was yet, but she made herself known.  Sylvie was confident despite the seemingly downward spiral she had been caught in.  She had a level head on her shoulders, but had trouble believing in herself, because the people that surrounded her no longer trusted her completely.  She didn’t want to cause any upset because this felt like her last chance.  Sylvie had made some mistakes that were taken the worst way, so she was shipped off to a distant family member.
Fortunately, this ballerina was much more than just beauty.  The fact that she wasn’t cuddly and prickled those around her, just added to her character.  Quite ironically, her closest friend was a puppy.  Sylvie was only gentle and caring with Gigi, and normally she bristled around everyone else.
She followed her instincts and didn’t let The Accident slow her down.  
When Sylvie danced she knew who she was, but when it was ripped away from her, she was forced to see who she could be without it.

There was a story hidden in Bluestone Hill, and it seemed like Sylvie was the one that was meant to uncover it.  Sylvie was almost convinced that she was truly going crazy.  She saw the unexplainable, but in a place with such history she wasn’t the only one that did.  There were many clues laid out for those who cared to look.
Sylvie wasn’t only meant to find herself that summer.  The story was more than her.  She was meant to find truth and answers, so the story could finally be put to rest.

The two boys interested in Sylvie from nearly the beginning, didn't make for a conventional love triangle.  The relationships between Sylvie, Rhys, and Shawn took continuous twists and turns until the reader was left in a constantly confused state.  Each boy had Sylvie questioning him, and it wasn’t until the end that it all made sense.  It was a well plotted mystery, because all the intricate pieces fell into place at the end.

The Splendor Falls was a wonderful, wonderful read.

Premise: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Disclosure: I received a finished copy from the author. This did not influence my review in any way.