The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

“I hate airports.”

“Really?” Oliver says. “I love them.”

She’s convinced, for a moment, that he’s still teasing her, but then realizes he’s serious.

“I like how you’re neither here nor there. And how there’s nowhere else you’re meant to be while waiting. You’re just sort of… suspended.”

This is just one of many insightful moments by two teenagers in this lovely book. That’s really the only way to describe this novel; it’s just… lovely.

Oliver and Hadley meet in an airport. Hadley has just missed her flight to London, where she’s expected to see her dad marry a woman who is not her mother. Oliver is on his way home to London for a family affair. The two end up dozing on one another’s shoulders for the duration of the overseas flight. Separated at customs after a tantalizing kiss, Hadley isn’t sure she’ll ever see Oliver again. They exchanged no contact information, and she’s now running late–very late–to the ceremony. Will she ever see Oliver again?

“People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she says…

“Did you know that people who meet at least three different times within a twenty-four hour period are ninety-eight percent more likely to meet again?”

This time she doesn’t bother correcting him. Just this once, she’d like to believe that he’s right.

The entire novel takes place in a 24-hour period. Not only does it feature a “meet cute”, but the storyline ends up being much less predictable than you might think at the get-go. Through flashbacks, we learn about Hadley’s relationship with her parents, and the complexities of this weekend in London. Oliver’s situation turns out to be more complicated than we originally believe, and the two teenagers are able to support each other much more than your average airplane seatmate.

I would highly suggest this quick read for before-bed or pool-side light reading. It took me about three evenings to finish–and I tend to fall asleep quickly when I start reading at night.

In concordance with the many young adult blogs I read, I’d give this book lots of stars–if I gave books stars.

Jennifer E. Smith has written three other novels–You Are Here, The Storm Makers, and The Comeback Season–all of which are now on my TBR list.

Oh, and let’s add this to my Books I’d Like To See Made into Movies list.

My Favorite Books A-Z

Ellie, over at Musings of a Bookshop Girl posted this fun meme the other day. (I had to look up the meaning of the word meme recently, as I’ve been seeing it more and more. Am I the only one who didn’t know that a meme is simply “a concept that spreads via the Internet”? According to Wikipedia, a meme could be a hyperlink, video, picture, website, hashtag, or, apparently, a fun little game that you can paste on your blog and bore your readers with.)

So, the idea of this one is to name your favorite books that start with each letter of the alphabet. Here goes:

0-9 One for the Money – Janet Evanovich

A  Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
Big Boned (a Heather Wells mystery) – Meg Cabot
C  (The) City of Ember – Jeanne DuPrau
D  (The) Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
E  Emma – Jane Austen
F  (The) Faith Club – Ranya Idliby
G  Good in Bed – Jennifer Weiner
H  The Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
I  If Looks Could Kill – Kate White
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
K  No title
L  The Little House Collection – Laura Ingalls Wilder
M  Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
N  Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
O  Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout
P  Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Q  Queen of Babble – Meg Cabot
R  Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
 Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin
T  The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
U  (The) Undomestic Goddess – Sophie Kinsella
V  Valentine Princess – Meg Cabot
W  Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
X No title
Y  (The) Year of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs
No title
Not too surprising that I hadn’t read any X’s or Z’s, but I was surprised that I hadn’t read any K’s! At least, not according to my Goodreads account. Maybe I’ll have to make that a priority for this year.

My New Author Obsession: Kate White

Before our honeymoon, I hit up Half Price Books to stock up on some cheap, light reads, perfect for the Hawaiian beaches. I ended up picking up If Looks Could Kill by Kate White. It was an author I hadn’t heard of, but from the blurb on the back cover, I thought it would meet the requirements I was looking for in a good honeymoon read. One of about seven novels I read that week, this one did not disappoint. It happens to be the first in a series of mysteries about the same character: Bailey Weggins.

Bailey Weggins is a true-crime writer for a women’s fashion magazine. She becomes wrapped in up some amateur detective work when he high-profile boss’s nanny is found dead in the town house basement. The story is ripe with murder, sex, fashion, suspense, catty women, and everything that makes a perfect summertime read.

Impressed with my first Kate White experience, I did some research to see what else she’d written. In my research, I discovered that Kate White is actually the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. (I knew her name sounded familiar!) She’s actually written six Bailey Weggins novels, two stand-alone thrillers, and a career book entitled Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead… But Gutsy Girls Do. So, to sum up, Kate White manages to run what is arguably the sexiest, most well-known women’s magazine, publish at least one novel each year, and be a mom to two children. (Talk about “the seemingly impossible“!)

My next Kate White novels were A Body to Die For, Over Her Dead Body, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part–all members of the Bailey Weggins series. Over spring break, I broke out and read one of her other novels, Hush. I enjoyed reading about a new character, although I found the plotline to be very similar to a Bailey novel. Although her novels all follow the same basic pattern, which leads them to being fairly predictable, the characters are relatable, and the story details are different enough that I still find myself captivated. Kate always manages to capture her reader in the first few pages. The story gets moving quickly, and there’s little tip-toeing around with introductions, setting the scene, etc. at the beginning. Instead, you get to know the characters’ back stories through their interactions with each other, and the ties they make through their discoveries about the crime.

Now I’ve just finished listening to The Sixes, and was pleased to see Kate break the mold a little bit on this one by changing the setting from the city to a small college town.

Kate follows the advice of “writing about what you know”, as her characters write for fashion magazines, are celebrity novelists, or work in public relations. I have yet to find a novel by White about a first-grade teacher in the Midwest, yet I still find the characters relatable in their life experiences and inner dialogue.

I am running to the end of my Kate White reading list, and plan to save Lethally Blond and So Pretty It Hurts for pool time this summer. It’s fun to have found an author I really enjoy all on my own, and I look forward to reading anything Kate White publishes in the future! (I’m also thinking about picking up my Cosmo subscription again. My own modesty led me not to renew it last time, as I found myself quickly turning pages at the gym to avoid embarrassment when other exercisers glanced at my reading material.)

Do you have an author that you can count on for writing enjoyable novels, or whose publications you always look forward to? What authors have you discovered recently?

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo

My claim to fame is being the first student at my high school to earn a score of 1 on the AP History test. Before you congratulate me, you should know that the scale is 1-5: 5 being the best. I’m pretty sure my 1 was cemented by the grader when I completely invented my own war to write about for the second essay…

Social studies has always been a challenging subject for me. The thing is: I’m interested in the subject. I really am! I would listen to my AP History teacher (in my opinion the best teacher at my high school) and become completely enraptured by the story. I listened, participated, and nodded in agreement, copying down every inch of his flowcharts. I’d host study parties where we’d pour over our notes, and summarize Mr. Richards’ lectures day by day. But sitting down to take the test, it was like a completely different subject. I just couldn’t remember the ins and outs of each act, who passed it, and in what year. I couldn’t explain the ramifications of a particular war on a particular population; the terms and details just slipped my mind.

I used to talk online with this guy from London (don’t ask… we somehow played a game of online Pictionary together late at night once, and an e-friendship began). It was just plain embarrassing how much more American history he knew than I did. Then, when he asked what year of high school Americans took British history, I felt like such a doofus…

My sophomore year of college, I took another history class. This one also featured essay tests, and I pulled many late nights studying pile after pile of flashcards. I managed a B in that class (one of three B’s I got in college).

I think the issue is that I just have no retention for this stuff. I swear, every time I hear about a historical event, it’s like the first time. But, I’ve realized in my adult life, that one of the best ways for me to learn about history is through literature. When I read a historical novel, and tie the events to characters and plotlines, it makes the story more real to me. In college, after reading Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, I ended up researching and writing a whole paper on the Chinese traditions of foot-binding. My Faith Club just finished reading A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers, which was PERFECT for me, because it told the stories of the five women in the lineage of Christ in five novellas.

For this reason, I’m making more of an effort to read about history. I think it’s important, and I look forward to learning more about becoming a more educated American citizen. And, all of this brings me to my review of the title:

This past month, for my book group, we read Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo. This is really Algeo’s memoir of his re-creation of Harry and Bess Truman’s cross-country trip from Independence, MO to Washington, D.C. and New York the year after Harry’s presidency culminated. Harry thought that he and Bess could travel, by car, with zero security, and achieve anonymity. Well, he was wrong. But Algeo tells the story of how the Trumans tried. Algeo has received some flack for this text; people saying it wasn’t necessary to stay in every hotel, eat every meal, and drive every road identical to Harry’s trip.

However, I thought it was kinda cute. Here’s Matt Algeo, total history geek–I’ll bet he did well on the AP test–following in the footsteps of one of his historical icons, Harry Truman. (I picture Algeo being like the tour guide I had in London, who seemed to be so interested in Jack the Ripper, that maybe he thought he really was Jack the Ripper.)

Algeo intersperses a triad of details from his own trip, from the Trumans’ trip, and historical context of the 1950s. The three facets keep the story moving, and kept me interested. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was like: “McCarthyism?? That happened at the same time as Truman, what????” I told you. It’s pathetic.)

As a Midwesterner, I enjoyed hearing about Algeo and Truman’s experiences driving across Highway 36, a journey I know well from traveling back and forth from Kirksville to KC for many years. I also identified with Truman’s Midwestern values, and enjoyed the details about the Truman home and library that I’ve visited many (oh, so many) times over the years.

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure is a worthy read, and Algeo has convinced me to read a second of his books: The President is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Villifies the Courageous Newspaperman who Dared Expose the Truth.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

One of the four novels I finished over Spring Break–and the only one that counted for anything other than pure pleasure reading–was my pick for the “Science Fiction and Fantasy” category of the 2012 Mixing It Up Challenge that I pledged to complete at the beginning of the year. The following was my reaction to the mere thought of that category: Ugh. However, I knew it would be a fairly easy genre to check off my list, albeit not the most enjoyable.

While scouring a few of my favorite book blogs, including Forever Young Adult, I read many positive reviews for a new Cinderella story, Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This Cinderella story, however, has something that Ella Enchanted does not: cyborgs. And androids. And Lunar queens. However, the cover intrigued me–not because I’m a shoe girl (I know, I know… I’m turning over a “woman” card)–but because the femininity of the cover led me to believe this book was written more for my demographic than Lord of the Rings.

 

So, after completing my latest Bailey Weggins pleasure read, I cracker open Cinder one evening, in Florida, before bed. I read the first half of page. And closed the book. “Don’t like it?” B asked. “I just can’t do it,” I replied. “I’m less than one page in, and am already rolling my eyes at the cyborg reference.” I put it down immediately, and pulled out a different novel I’d brought along–a failsafe Meg Cabot young adult novel.

But, laying there under the covers–well, the sheet, since we were staying with senior citizens in Florida who turn on the A/C but leave it at 85–my guilt overcame me. Reluctantly, I got out of bed again, returned the Cabot novel to my carry-on, and pulled out Cinder once again. You have to read a sci-fi, Katie, I told myself. You might as well just get it over with.

Well, suffice it to say, I’m glad that I decided to stick with this read, because within 20 pages, I was hooked. The next morning, relaxing on the beach, I looked at B and said, “You know a science fiction author is good when you read a scene involving cyborgs, androids, and Lunars, and you don’t even stop to think about how unrealistic it is. I just bought the whole thing, like, yeah, that totally makes sense.”

The plot of the story is basically this: Cinder is a teenage girl living in a city known as New Beijing. This novel is set way, way, in the future–after WWIV, when apparently all the countries on Earth are going to bond together and live in peace and harmony, and our new enemy will be our Lunar neighbors living on the moon. So, anyway, Cinder is a cyborg, meaning she’s a human with some robotic replacements, including one of her feet. (Ooo! Ooo! Cinderella reference!) She lives with her legal guardian (evil stepmother) and her two sisters (Peony and Pearl).

A horrible plague is demolishing the population of New Beijing, and when it strikes Peony down, the evil stepmother sends Cinder off to be a scientific guinea pig to find a cure for this disease. No guinea pigs have ever survived the tests, until Cinder, which of course makes her a very valuable asset to science and society. Why she is immune, and how can this information be used to save the millions who are dying?

Cinder becomes entwined with Prince Kai, who is soon to become emperor, when his childhood android needs repair. (Oh, I forgot to mention that Cinder is a reputable mechanic.) In her work on the android, Cinder figures out that Queen Levana, the Lunar queen, has been plotting and spying some pretty evil stuff. Prince Kai is a smidgeon away from having to marry Queen Levana, as it seems to be the only way to dispel her plot to war with Earth.

Then there’s a ball, etc., etc. (It’s a Cinderella story, remember?)

I (gladly) admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was bummed to find out that the next installment in this four-book series (known as the Lunar Chronicles) is not set to be released until 2013. And, yes, I’m going to be the sci-fi dork at the bookstore that day, ready for round two. So, Ellie at Musings of a Bookshop Girl, thank you for inspiring me to push my literary boundaries this year. Were it not for the momentum of the Mixing It Up Challenge, I would never have picked up Cinder, and found this new series that I can’t wait to enjoy!

Oh, and I totally predict that this series is bound to take off and be the next Hunger Games. I even envision a series of movie releases in the future.