Magan: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Length of Book: 213 pages
Type of Book: YA / Coming of Age Story
Format: Library Book
Release Date: February 1, 1999
I read this book because:  Emma Watson is one of my favorite young female actresses. I found out she would be playing the role of Sam and wanted to prep for the movie by reading the book before it’s 2012 debut (release date still undetermined).
Synopsis: Charlie is a lonely high school freshman who begins high school shortly after the loss of one of his closest friends. He writes letters to an anonymous person about the ups and downs of his life.


I picked up The Perks of Being a Wallflower from the library and immediately began reading during my lunch break. I was drawn to Charlie’s character, who is so young and spastic, because he reminded me of exactly what it felt like to be a freshman in high school. While I usually prefer books with strong female characters, I adapted quickly to Charlie’s scattered storytelling ways.  The format of the story is a series of letters written to an anonymous person that he has never met; the letters were hands-down one of my favorite aspects of the book. Chbosky brilliantly thought out his character development of Charlie; when we’re first introduced to him, he is choppy, disorganized, and young.  Throughout the story, Charlie’s writing improves and the improvement in his storytelling abilities made me latch onto him even more.  His honesty, purity, and simplicity completely drew me in – I felt like Charlie was such a relatable character.  I couldn’t help but feel like I would try to befriend this guy if I were in high school with him.

He struggles with getting a grip on reality and being a loner. As a reader, you are aware that something has gone down in his past that he’s not divulging.  I wanted to be the anonymous friend that wrote letters back to Charlie. I wanted to be able to tell him everything was going to be okay.  Thankfully, Charlie finds a solid group of kids to connect with. They appreciate him for his quirkiness. As Charlie says in the book, he quits being a thinker and becomes a participant. Of all the friends Charlie makes, I felt most connected to Patrick and Sam. They weren’t perfect people and were also experiencing some pretty crappy things, but their nurturing of Charlie is what made me love them most.

Not every aspect of this book was easy to read. I strongly disliked Mary Elizabeth’s character when Charlie began going on a few dates with her. Maybe it was that Charlie so easily went along with everything, even though he was unhappy, that made me dislike her the most. While Mary Elizabeth was an annoying character, I shuddered when I read the few paragraphs about what really happened to Charlie. My eyes kept skimming the paragraphs, hoping that I was wrong about what I thought I was reading.  Be prepared to encounter a few difficult topics throughout the course of this book.

Ultimately, this book is a four star kind of book for me. I’m thrilled I read it, loved the coming of age story about this high schooler in the early 90s, and will eagerly see the movie. However, I’m not sure it’s a book that I’d pick it up to read over and over again.  I will definitely be seeing the movie though. I’m hoping that Emma Watson blows me away in her role as Sam. Though she’s played a very innocent, kind role as Hermione, I think she’s going to take a giant leap forward as Sam. This character is so multi-dimensional and I think she’s going to be able to fulfill all my expectations and depict the character I had in my head very well.  I’ll make sure to update you guys once I’ve seen the movie…

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Books That Took Me Out Of My Comfort Zone – Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by The Broke and The Bookish, and today’s topic is 10 books that took me out of my comfort zone.  This is our first week to participate and we’re so excited to join in the fun…

What takes me, Magan, out of my comfort zone?  Anything that shows me how incredibly broken this world is. Hate crimes. Paranormal and science-fiction stories. Death.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I didn’t think there was ANY way I would be able to read a series that involved people intentionally having to kill other people. This series turned out to be one of my all time favorites that I’ve recommended to anyone who can read.  I had only read one other dystopia when I read these, and I was incredibly determined to find something else that could top or equal my love for Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.

2. Hourglass by Myra McEntire: Emerson sees apparitions that don’t really exist. This book was a mixture of paranormal and science-fiction that is doubly out of my comfort zone. I became addicted to Myra’s witty writing and the tension that existed between Emerson and Michael. I also now follow Myra on Twitter because she’s just. that. funny. and I can’t get enough of her.

3. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: I wouldn’t say that this book immediately struck me as something that was out of my comfort zone. A tragedy happens and two sisters are separated. Where the book went while I was reading it baffled me. The writing was beautiful and the concept completely original, but it had elements that were extremely unexpected.

4. Room by Emma Donoghue: This book is written from a five-year old’s perspective, which was a new concept to me. The uncomfortable aspect was that he and his mom have been locked inside a room for over five years – a room with no windows, no ability to leave, and a man who visits on an irregular basis to give them the bare necessities they need to survive. Yikes – this one had my stomach churning while I read.

5. Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker: Lacey’s church has an annual Hell House on Halloween. The whole concept of Hell House was so outside my comfort zone. Definitely not my take on Christianity. I questioned the entire time I read this book if places like Lacey’s hometown actually exist. I come from Small-Town, Texas, but even this was a big stretch for me.

6. What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci:  I still haven’t been able to write a review for this book. I recommended it to Estelle because it was SO different from everything else I read – hate crimes, harassment, and a possible murder – all because Lani doesn’t look like or act like everyone else in the small town he moves to.

7. Wither by Lauren DeStefano:  This book is the epitome of taking me out of my comfort zone. No one lives over the age of 25. Women are being kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages with men they do not know for the sole purpose of reproducing to avoid extinction.  Beautifully written, but incredibly heart-wrenching.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I’m confused by World War II. Why did it ever happen? When this book was released, I knew I wanted to read it, but the hard part was reading the story from Death’s perspective. I was in a book club at the time and all my girlfriends and I were emotional wrecks while we read this book.

9. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: This was one of the first memoirs I ever read – so hard for me to know that this was someone’s real life story and it wasn’t made up. Now it stands as one of my favorite books of all time. This book is powerful, though an uncomfortable read – a drunk do-nothing father, a mother who can’t get her act together, children who eat moldy food…all bad things to the extent that the parents eventually choose homelessness.

10. Towelhead by Alicia Erian: I didn’t choose to read this book; it was another book club book. Totally 100% uncomfortable. So much hate. A creepy, pedophile next door neighbor. A girl too blinded by her sexual interest to see that her next door neighbor was doing something very, very wrong.


Magan: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

review of virtuosity by jessica martinez, books about musical geniuses, musical girl genius violinistVirtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Length of Book: 304 pages
Type of Book: YA
Format: My Kindle and Kindle app for my iPhone
Release Date: October 18, 2011

How I found out about it: I was looking for a brand new release. I sorted my Goodreads list by date and realized this one, that had been sitting on my list for oh-so-long, had just been released!  Two minutes later, it was downloaded and I was immersed in Carmen’s world.
Synopsis:  Carmen is a seventeen-year-old girl who is about to compete in the biggest violin competition of her life; she’s already won a Grammy and traveled the world, but this would top everything. She’s focused and driven until she meets her biggest competition, Jeremy King.


Jessica Martinez is a writing genius. After the first page and a half of this book, I was hooked and left questioning how I was going to make it through another 302 pages to find out how this story pieced together.  The story begins with the ending. We are introduced to Carmen at the climax of the story, and then chapter one begins from the beginning of the story with Carmen staking out her competitor for the Guarneri competiton, Jeremy King.  Carmen comes across as very sheltered because of her home-schooling and musical career that has left her unable to interact with other people her age.  When she first meets Jeremy, he seems so completely different than her – sarcastic, in-your-face, and maybe a little cocky.  Of course Carmen’s (and my) interest was sparked by this boy.

As the competition nears and things heat up between Carmen and Jeremy (I’ll let you read the book to find out if I’m referring to a romantic heat or a competitive heat), we get an inside look at how discontent Carmen really is. Her mother was a detestable character. The things she made Carmen go through for the sake of winning was unfathomable. The amount of pressure she placed on her daughter was immense. I felt so uncomfortable reading through pieces of this story because Carmen hadn’t come to the realization that they were wrong things to be doing.  I wanted to reach through the pages of the book to shake Carmen and say, “YOUR MOTHER IS TRYING TO LIVE HER LIFE THROUGH YOU.”  Carmen practically had it all and yet, she wasn’t able to enjoy an ounce of her life because her mother had her on such a short leash.

I appreciated how this story was told because it felt like I was going through the journey with Carmen. I could understand her questioning of Jeremy’s motives. Was he talking to her because he was trying to manipulate her or was he really a genuine guy?  Did she believe her mother about everything?  Had her mother ever led her astray before?  I flew through this book because I had so many ideas of what could happen and I desperately wanted to know if I was right. Unfortunately, the ending left a little to be desired because all the loose ends were not tied up. I’ve looked at Goodreads and at Martinez’s website to see if there is a scheduled sequel planned for Virtuosity, but I have yet to confirm or deny this.  I really hope there’s another book coming out. I am sure my jaw dropped when I finished the last page – such a cliffhanger.  Regardless of the end, this was still a four star kind of book for me.

A small side note is that while I was perusing Martinez’s blog, I saw this post where she did a book signing. If you click the link, you can see this awesome author playing the violin for her audience at the book signing. How cool is that!?  I definitely felt like she knew the subject matter and composers well (this coming from a tone deaf, but musically interested girl), and now it all makes so much sense. She plays, too!

Magan’s Most Anticipated November YA Releases

My to-read list on Goodreads is out of control. I have so many more to-be-released books saved than I do books that are already published. I thought it might help me stay organized and on top of my most-anticipated books if I shared new releases that are coming out this month that I cannot wait to get my hands on.  All links below take you to Goodreads, where you can find full summaries for each book.

november 2011 most anticipated young adult releases Matched by Ally Condie was one of my favorite 2010 new releases. It was the first dystopian book that I’d read in a long time and it kick-started by must-read-everything-in-sight craze.  Crossed is the sequel the Matched. It was released November 1st. Go get it now! I’ll be doing a review of this one soon.









most anticipated november 2011 new young adult releases A broken-hearted girl with a punk rock name, a vintage clothing shop, a guy with secrets, and a story about friendship – that’s what The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell is about.  All of those things sound like a recipe for a perfect book. I’m also in LOVE with that cover – the tones + the mood = perfection!  This book will be released November 8th.








november 2011 young adult new releases that are highly anticipated I admit – this cover looks really silly and super corny.  However, the idea of applying training tips for dogs to the social queen bees at school sounds downright hilarious.  It puts a whole new spin on the phrase ‘alpha-dog’.  Fetching by Kiera Stewart also comes out on November 8th.









november 2011 new young adult releases I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy of this book. I hope the cover has some sort of texture because it looks so awesome!  This girl, Juliette, hasn’t touched anyone in 264 days because the last time she did, The Reestablishment locked her in a cell for murder. The world is falling apart around them – will Juliette be able to use her gifts to help save people?  This book is being compared to the Hunger Games, which sit HIGH on my radar. I hope Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi lives up to my expectations. It comes out November 15th.







november 2011 books to pine for young adult releases This must be the month for new dystopian releases; this is the third in my list of that category.  One girl from the Republic (i.e. the straight and narrow) is never supposed to come in contact with one guy from the slums. When her brother is murdered, our bad boy is the number one suspect.  Together they discover the truth behind their country’s secrets.  Legend by Marie Lu is the first in a series and comes out November 29th.







What November releases are you lusting over? Do any of my picks strike your fancy?  I can’t wait to cuddle up with these!  Looks like it’s going to be a month full of suspense, thrill, and dystopias.