Just Ella

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What ever happened to Cinderella? What happened to Cinderella after the ball? Did she get her happily-ever-after? In Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, what we expect is far from what happened. Ella, or Cinder-ella, is the princess-to-be in a castle where everything is decided for her. Her minder, Madame Bisset, tells her what to do all day. She has no outlet for her ideas or opinions. She does not dictate her own schedule. She is always watched.

What about Ella and the Prince? Someone watches the two of them during their meetings. Ella does not speak to the Prince and she does not share intimate moments with him. What does that mean? They are not in love. Happily-ever-after turns into misery-ever-after. What does Ella do? She takes destiny into her own hands.

Ella is not a princess from the fairy-tales. She does not wait for someone to rescue her. She makes her own destiny. But something unexpected happens to Ella in the beginning of the book, and events unfold that are out of her grasp. The shocking event is never discussed or explored. The reader is left hanging. You are left wanting to know more. That is not something a reader should feel.

How did I like Just Ella? What is the honest truth? I did not like it. I thought it was a boring book. It reminded me of a bad version of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (I love Meg Cabot’s book). The writer does not delve deeply into Ella’s psyche or Ella’s world. The same could be said about the other characters in the novel. You never understand the other characters’s motivations.

The book also lacks imagery and description. It was written in a simple way. It feels like a mere shadow of a good book.

This was a horrible review, but I want to be honest with you, Reader. Hopefully, next week’s book will be better.

Yours with love,

Ava Lily Porter

The Marrying Game

the_marrying_gameI loved the book, The Marrying Game, by Kate Saunders. The Marrying Game is about four sisters–Rufa, Nancy, Lydia and Selena. In the beginning of the book, the four women deal with the suicide of their father, an eccentric man known as “The Zed.” The Zed was a strong character that shaped the girls’s lives. He went through a number of marital affairs, yet the four loved him dearly. His death leaves the girls bereft and their lives change forever. The four are at risk of losing their home, an old, well-loved building that was passed down to them through the generations. The two oldest girls, Rufa and Nancy, come up with a scheme to save the house. What is it? To marry up. They believe that is the only way to save their house. Rufa meets Berry, a rich, chubby man who helplessly falls in love with her. Nancy meets Ran, a poor but nice guy that seems better than she expected. Lydia and Selena are dealing with their own boy troubles, too. But are they the guys for them?

The Marrying Game is a fun, romantic-comedy. It is funny, smart and irreverent. It is a deconstruction of the well-loved books, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen and, Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. The book explores the social-political landscape that young women face when they are on the prowl for a husband.

Rufa, Nancy, Lydia and Selena’s plan to “marry up” to save their house is not optimal and leads the girls through various misadventures. You root for the girls… and you cringe at the same time. The book talks about the Game of Life–finding the right guy–and it talks about the truth behind-the-scenes–that love is the true foundation of a happy life and a happy marriage.

The Marrying Game is about four bold, vivacious women trying to figure it out. It is about familial love and what we would do for each other. It is about looking beyond appearances and following your heart.

The book is a great read. I suggest you pick it up if you want something sensational to read on the beach. I hope you have the chance to read it.

Yours with love,

Ava Lily Porter

The Pretty Little Liars Book #1

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Teens everywhere watched the television show, The Pretty Little Liars. But did you know The Pretty Little Liars started out as a book series by Sara Shepard? So what is the book about? Why should you read the book?

The Pretty Little Liars is about five girls: Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna… and, finally, Alison. Alison is the Queen Bee of their clique. The five girls spend all their time together and share their deep, dark secrets. But one day Alison disappears. The girls are sad and distraught over her disappearance. The girls’s close friendship is destroyed when Alison is gone. The girls grow apart and move on.

They are drawn back together years later in high school. The four receive text messages from an unknown entity–a stranger known as “A.” The texts are dark and scary. The girls are terrified that the secrets they told Alison years ago will be exposed by “A.”

This book is a mystery. Who is “A”? What are these text messages about? Those are some of the questions that are left unanswered by the end of the book. I plan to read the rest of the series to learn more.

Try the first The Pretty Little Liars book. I loved it. I can not wait to read the rest.

Signing off…

Yours with love,

Ava Lily Porter

Paper Towns

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The next book I want to talk about is another John Green book, Paper Towns. What is Paper Towns about? It is about Quentin “Q” Jacobsen, a smart teen who is in love with his next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Margo is Q’s old friend. But while he grew up and turned left–he focuses on school, getting into college and his normal friends–she turned right–toward the world of popularity, parties and impulse. Margo is an enigma to Q. There are rumors about her wild and crazy adventures. One night Q gets to be a part of one of her adventures. After that, everything is different. Q gets sucked into her world–into her thoughts, into her motivations and into her desires–and he grows up in the process. Margo teaches Q a lot about life–about living in the moment and about feeling young and alive. He takes that with a grain of salt, and looks to his chosen future with satisfaction and understanding.

An important part of this books is Q’s love for Margo. That is his driving force. Q, a nice, thoughtful, nerdy kid, learns to let go and to explore the world around him because of her. But he also learns that the world is a chaotic place, and sometimes living a normal life can be as fulfilling as living on the wild side.

Just like Looking for Alaska, this book is an amazing read. Green writes about topics that teenagers can relate to. Love, friendship and who we really are inside. He teaches you that people are not what they seem. This book peels back people’s layers to see what is really within all of us–a person’s heart.

This is my favorite John Green book. It is smart, interesting and beautiful. He uses symbolism and metaphor masterfully, especially at the end of the book. I highly suggest you pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.

That is it for now. Until next week…

Yours with love,

Ava Lily Porter

Looking for Alaska

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The first book I want to talk about (on this, my second post) is Looking for Alaska by John Green. Looking for Alaska is about Miles Halter, nicknamed “Pudge” (though oddly enough he is tall and skinny). Pudge is a normal kid who enters Culver Creek boarding school. Pudge is looking for his “Great Perhaps….” something that will give meaning to him and to his life. He hopes to find it at his new school. He meets great friends there: Chip “The Colonel” Martin, Takumi Hikohito, Lara Buterskaya… and Alaska Young. Alaska Young is smart, pretty and pithy. She captures his heart… just like she captures everyone’s heart. But what is going on with Alaska? What is her story?

Though Pudge is the main character of the story, Alaska is an important part of the book. Pudge falls in love with her. He spends his time mystified and infatuated by her and that is the central crux of the book. Pudge and the rest of his friends want to decipher why Alaska does the things she does. They need to understand her.

The book ends with an ambiguous note. It is up to you, Reader, to come to your own conclusions.

Green’s book explores a lot of questions. Who are you and where do you fit in? Who are your friends? What would you do for them? What do they mean to you? Finally, what is life really about?

This book is mysterious, melancholy and poignant. Green really gets into Pudge’s mind, a kid who is trying to make sense of it all.

I loved this book. It was serious yet funny. It was smart yet real. It was thoughtful yet irreverent. I suggest this book to any teenager who wants to read about love, friendship and growing up. Green is a great writer. I strongly suggest this (plus, his other books. But that is another story…)

That is it for now. Check back next Friday for a new post.

Yours with love,

Ava Lily Porter