Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review~The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

Title: The Center of Everything
Author: Laura Moriarty
Publisher: Hyperion
Publish Date: July 28th 2004 (first published July 2nd 2003)
ISBN: 0786888458 (ISBN13: 9780786888450)
Pages: 352
Links: Goodreads ~ Amazon
Summary: A dazzling debut in the tradition of Jane Hamilton and Mona Simpson. 
In Laura Moriarty's extraordinary first novel, a young girl tries to make sense of an unruly world spinning around her. Growing up with a single mother who is chronically out of work and dating a married man, 10-year old Evelyn Bucknow learns early how to fend for herself.
Offering an affecting portrayal of a troubled mother/daughter relationship, one in which the daughter is very often expected to play the role of the adult, the novel also gives readers a searing rendering of the claustrophobia of small town midwestern life, as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl. Evelyn must come to terms with the heartbreaking lesson of first love -- that not all loves are meant to be -- and determine who she is and who she wants to be. Stuck in the middle of Kansas, between best friends, and in the midst of her mother's love, Evelyn finds herself . . . in The Center of Everything.
Rating: 8/10
Cover Talk: I like the cover. It's simple yet catchy. It's....refreshing. But it's not like the story.
My thoughts: I did not read this book with the intention of reviewing it so please forgive me if the review isn't that good. I liked it. I didn't love it. But I didn't hate it either. It was good. It is not a book I would want to read again but I'm not sorry that I read it. It was a fun read. How should I put it? I guess it was a slice of life. And I enjoyed it.
Starting: The starting was kinda boring. Not too catchy. It didn't really attract me. But the thing with me is that if I start a book I have to finish it no matter how much I hate it. So I kept reading. And it got a lot better later on.
Story: The story was good. It was about a girl, Evelyn's life. I liked it. It was different, I mean it was new for me because I haven't read a story like this one before.
Writing: The writing was interesting and beautiful. I think it was the writing that gave the book life. Not the best. But not the worst either.
Characters: Though I did not feel any emotional attachments to the characters, I liked them. Evelyn reminded me a lot of Laila from A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and Travis of Tariq from the same book. I liked Travis and I would've wanted to hear more of his story. I personally did not like Deena. Neither did I like Evelyn's mother. But those things didn't really bother me much. What bothered me was that when Evelyn was young she was really mature. But when she grew up she was naive. I just don't see how a person can be mature when she's supposed to be naive, and naive when she's supposed to be mature. Anyways, all in all the characters were real and likable.
Ending: The ending....was not what I expected. It wasn't an ending. It was like the author was going to write a sequel so she left it unfinished. But there is no sequel. And I don't think Laura is planning on one either. So I was not satisfied with the ending. If I had to say, I would ask Laura to write a sequel to this book continuing Evelyn's life at college. I for one would definitely read it.
Overall: All in all it was a very good novel. I would recommend it if you are in the mood of reading a book about life.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Contest for Aspiring YA Writers by Book Wish Foundation

Book Wish Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity providing high-impact reading aid for people in crisis, with a current focus on refugees from Darfur and AIDS orphans in Ghana. They give some of the world's neediest readers the books they wish for, taking requests for specific titles and subjects. This helps ensure the books will be matched to the needs of the readers, and appropriate for their reading level and culture.

They are holding an essay contest for aspiring writers and they wanted me to share this with you guys. So to all of my readers who are also aspiring writers of young adult fiction, this is a rare opportunity to get a renowned author or literary agent's feedback on your unpublished manuscript! This is very big and will definitely help you out a lot in your writing career!

This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation.  See for full details.  Open to U.S. residents age 13+.

You could win a manuscript critique from:
Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new YA anthology, What You Wish For.  Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.  If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your YA (or middle grade) manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript).  You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques. Essays will be judged on style, creativity, understanding of the story, and understanding of the refugees. Essays and winners' manuscripts must be written in English. Stories you may write about:
  • "The Protectionist," by Meg Cabot. Manuscript critique by Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot.
  • "Pearl's Fateful Wish," by Jeanne DuPrau. Manuscript critique by Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau.
  • "Nell," by Karen Hesse. Manuscript critique by Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust.
  • "The Lost Art of Letter Writing," by Ann M. Martin. Manuscript critique by Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe.
  • "The Rules for Wishing," by Francisco X. Stork. Manuscript critique by Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors.
  • "The Stepsister," by Cynthia Voigt. Manuscript critique by Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Songand the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue.

Essays must be emailed to no later than February 1, 2012, either pasted into the body of the email or attached as a Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or PDF file. Essays must include the name and email address of the entrant. Book Wish Foundation staff will judge the initial round of the contest and recommend finalists to the agents or authors, who will select the winners. Winners will be notified by email and announced on on or about March 1, 2012. Winners' manuscripts must be received by September 1, 2012. Manuscript critiques will be sent to winners within six months of receipt.
Essays may be published on By submitting an essay, you grant to Book Wish Foundation the right to edit, publish, copy, display, and otherwise use your essay, and to further use your name, likeness, and biographical information in advertising and promotional materials, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law. The preceding applies to the contest essays, not winners' manuscripts. Winners retain all rights to the manuscripts they submit for critique.
Get a copy of What You Wish For for yourself or as a gift for an aspiring writer. Essays aren't due until February 1, 2012, so holiday gift recipients will have time to enter.

Better World Books > IndieBound > Amazon > Kindle Edition > Barnes & Noble > NOOK Book > Penguin >

Find in a library > ISBN 9780399254543 | ePub ISBN 9781101535660 | Adobe Reader ISBN 9781101534366

This contest is open to residents of the United States who are at least 13 years old. Excluded from entering are the employees, officers, directors, agents, and representatives of Book Wish Foundation, Penguin Group (USA), Inc., the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the authors of What You Wish For, and the authors' literary agencies, as well as the immediate families (spouses, parents, children, siblings, and their respective spouses) and residents of the same households of all of the preceding. Void where prohibited.
By submitting an essay, you agree to release and hold harmless Book Wish Foundation; the participating authors, literary agents, and literary agencies; any promotional partners; each of their parent, subsidiary, affiliate, and related companies; and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents from and against any losses, damages, rights, claim, or cause of action of any kind arising, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, out of participation in the contest or resulting directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize awarded in connection with the contest, as well as claims based on publicity rights, defamation, and/or invasion of privacy.
Winners will be required to sign an affidavit of eligibility and release of liability in order to receive a manuscript critique. The affidavit must be returned within fourteen (14) days of notification or another winner will be selected. If a winner is under 18 years of age, his/her parent/legal guardian will also be required to sign the affidavit.

If you dream of being a published YA author, this is an opportunity you should not miss.  For more information visit

Good luck and best wishes!

Note: What You Wish For (ISBN 9780399254543, Putnam Juvenile, Sep. 15, 2011) is a collection of short stories and poems about wishes from 18 all-star writers: Meg Cabot, Jeanne DuPrau, Cornelia Funke, Nikki Giovanni, John Green, Karen Hesse, Ann M. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, Nate Powell, Sofia Quintero, Gary Soto, R.L. Stine, Francisco X. Stork, Cynthia Voigt, Jane Yolen.  With a Foreword by Mia Farrow.  Book Wish Foundation is donating 100% of its proceeds from the book to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fund the development of libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review~A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: May 31st 2007 (first published May 22nd 2007)
ISBN: 9780747582977 (ISBN13: 9780747582977)
Pages: 372
Links: Goodreads ~ Amazon

Summary: Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry the troubled and bitter Rasheed, who is thirty years her senior. Nearly two decades later, in a climate of growing unrest, tragedy strikes fifteen-year-old Laila, who must leave her home and join Maraim's unhappy household. Laila and Mariam are to find consolation in each other, their friendship to grow as deep as the bond between sisters, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter.

With the passing of times comes Taiban rule over Afghanistan, the streets of Kabul loud with the sound of gunfire and bombs, life a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear, the women's endurance tested beyond their worst imaginings. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism. In the end it is love that triumphs over death and destruction.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is an unforgettable portrait of a wounded country and a deeply moving story of family and friendship. It is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely bond and an indestructible love.

Rating: 10/10

My Thoughts: Wow! I honestly thought I wouldn't like this book. I don't know why, but I think it was because it was out of my comfort zone. I was so wrong! I loved this book! I've definitely never read anything like it before. And I'm so glad that I discovered this. This is why I love the book blogging community! Because I discover new authors and new books that I end up loving. This book definitely made it to my favorites pile and I would love to re-read it.

The writing was beautiful, the story was incredible and so touching! I know I love a book when it's on my mind even when I'm not reading it. This was the case with A Thousand Splendid Suns. I kept pondering over what I had read, I wondered what would happen next. This book stirred some real emotions inside of me. I felt happy, sad, angry. The story felt real, and at times I wondered if it was a true story. Khaled Hosseini has showed in a very touching yet thought-provoking way how war effects the lives of people, especially women.

The story is told in 4 parts. The first part is about Mariam, the second one is about Laila, the third one is about both of them with chapters from either Mariam's point of view or Laila's point of view and the fourth one is written in present tense.

The characters were very real. They were presented in such a way that I could see them as actual human beings. I did not have a particular favorite, I liked Mariam and Laila both as well as Tariq, but I did develop a hate relation with Rasheed. He reminded me of the dog, Spike, in Tom and Jerry, only he was much worse!

And his son, Zalmai, reminded me of the Spike's son, Tyke:

I liked Mariam's father, Jalil, though what he did to her was not fair. But I understood his reasons. I loved Mullah Faizullah! He was such a nice, sweet old man. For some reason he reminded me a lot of Father Dom from the Mediator Series.

The description of the settings was very vivid and beautiful and it actually painted pictures of the places in my mind. One of the settings were also in Pakistan, which is where I live. It was about Murree and it was described exactly as Murree really is. I remembered the places the author was describing which was something new, and awesome, for me because I've never read a book set in a place where I have been.

I wanted this book to have a happy ending so badly! But I seriously doubted it! Considering the story and all, I did not think the book would have a happy ending and I thought it would end in tears. Now you'll have to read the book to know if it did end happily or had a sad ending ;)

I highly recommend this book to my readers. I even lent my copy to a friend for her to read. And I can't stop babbling about it to my friends! I seriously loved this book!
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