Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

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Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Reviews #15 – 19: The Saga of the Sisterhood and Their Pants by Ann Brashares

I originally planned to read and review these books one at a time (like Baxlala did in the recent series of Sisterhood reviews), but I found that as I finished one book and started another, I was having trouble remembering exactly what happened in which book.  I read all five books in about a week, so I figured I would just write up one long-ish review covering all the entire saga.

For those who have never heard of the Sisterhood and their pants, the story is as follows:  In Bethesda, MD, there are four girls who have been friends their entire lives (their moms met in prenatal exercise class and they all have birthdays in September).  They are Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget.  Closer than sisters, they have created their own family and when the first book starts, they are about to be apart from each other for the first time in their lives.  How will they stand it?

Well, luckily, they find a magic (really) pair of pants that they decide will keep them bonding while they are apart that long summer.  The pants fit all four girls (strange, as they have four different body types) and make each girl look beautiful and gives them the best qualities of their friends.    The first four books take place over the course of about 4 summers…here is a brief overview (no spoiler alerts, as these books have been around a while, as have the movies).

Lena spends the first summer in Greece with her grandparents.  She is an artist and she meets a boy (THE BOY) named Kostos.  Over the next few years she and Kostos fall in love, break up, get back together, become separated by crazy circumstances, and supposedly move on with their lives.  Lena ends up going to RISD to study and eventually teach art.  She has other boyfriends but never quite gets over Kostos.

Carmen lives with her mom but spends the first summer visiting her dad and his new family down in North Carolina.  She acts like a total brat, and I have a lot of trouble with her chapters, as I find her pretty much terrible all around.  Her new stepbrother Paul becomes her friend and confidant, and eventually she comes to terms with her dad’s new family, blah blah blah.  As the years pass, she stays a brat (breaking up her mom and her new boyfriend), and other things I can’t even remember.  Her mom has a baby, which Carmen names after a soap opera actor.  Really?  Eventually, Carmen goes to Williams College, gains the dreaded Freshman Fifteen, and finally becomes a character that doesn’t drive me crazy.  She ends up becoming an actress and finding that she’s pretty good at it.

Bridget is a beautiful, blonde, athlete.  She plays soccer and goes to a great soccer camp in Mexico, where she meets and obsesses over the gorgeous Eric.  When she eventually convinces him to sleep with her, she can’t handle it and withdraws from herself completely.  (Oh, by the way, her mother died a few years prior to this, and she suffered from depression her entire life).  She quits soccer for a while, colors her hair brown, and decides to befriend the grandmother that her father had kept from her since her mother died.  She and grandma become best buds, she decides she loves soccer again, and eventually heads back to another soccer camp where she works with Eric again.  They of course fall in love.  Even when Bridget goes on an archaelogical dig with Brown University to Turkey and has a fling with her professor, she realizes she loves Eric.

Tibby is an aspiring filmmaker.  Her first summer, she gets a job at the local drugstore and tries to make a documentary about life in their town. She meets 12 year old Bailey, who has cancer, and wants to help make the movie.  Bailey changes Tibby’s life for the better, of course.  When Bailey dies, Tibby finds herself in both an emotional and artistic rut, and it takes until the next year at film camp for her to figure out her real feelings about the tragic life and death of Bailey.  Tibby eventually makes her way to NYU to study film, and she continues and on-again/off-again relationship with Brian, a boy she meets when Bailey interviews him for their movie.


Seriously, don’t read the rest if you don’t want to know what happens in the last book.


In the final book, Sisterhood Everalasting, we find that 10 years have passed.  Bridget and Eric live in San Francisco.  Lena is still at RISD teaching art.  Carmen is a TV actress, engaged to a TV executive that nobody likes.  TIbby and Brian live in Australia, but nobody has talked to them in a while, and everyone is wondering what is going on with her.

Tibby reaches out and sends the girls plane tickets to Greece for a mini-reunion.  But when the girls get there, they find that (ACK) Tibby has drowned and that maybe it wasn’t an accident.  Tibby’s death breaks the girls up and keeps them from each other for quite a while, as none of them can deal with the tragedy.

Lena finds herself leaning on Kostos for support and help dealing with all the red tape in Greece in handling Tibby’s death.  She begins to wonder if she has feelings for him again (duh).  Carmen throws herself into planning her wedding, even though she isn’t really sure if she wants to marry her fiance or not.  Bridget takes off, leaving Eric behind, looking for Brian in Australia, hoping to get the truth about Tibby.

The girls find that even in death, Tibby is looking out for them. She has letters and packages for all three girls, asking them to go places, meet people, and do things on specific dates…she gets Lena and Kostos together again. She gets Carmen to realize her fiance isn’t who she wants.  She gets Bridget to figure out that she loves Eric and wants to have a family with him.

And her biggest surprise is that she and Brian had a daughter named Bailey, and that Tibby was dying of Huntington’s disease.  Ugh.

In the end, Tibby brings everyone together at a huge farm in PA, where she has planned rooms, cottages, guest houses, etc for all of her friends to have forever.  I was so not buying this ending and was really annoyed by it.  These girls love each other, sure, but to live on a huge farm together for years to come?  No thanks.  And poor Brian…will he ever have a moment to himself?

All in all, entertaining, but I hated the very ending.  And also, I had trouble picturing the girls apart from the actresses in the movies…Rory Gilmore especially as Lena was hard for me to forget.  I couldn’t remember what Kostos looked like though, so I had fun imagining him to look like Enver Gjokaj from Dollhouse, which was nice. 

You can read more of my reviews here.


Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #11: Sisterhood Everlasting, by Ann Brashares

I couldn’t help but feel terribly disappointed by this book, even though I knew what was going to happen going in (damn you, Wikipedia). Even knowing what I did, this was just not the story I wanted to read, which is hardly the author’s fault, but there it is.

Terrible spoilers to follow. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Seriously, don’t click on this if you don’t want to know exactly what happens.

Here be spoilers!

Read more…

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #10: Forever In Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

Here is something I did not know, but that my husband told me while I was reading this: the second Sisterhood movie was based more on the fourth book than the second. I just love that my husband had this information and I didn’t. He’s pretty dreamy.

I found this book really disconcerting. Maybe it’s not good to read all of these one right after the other. I know I’ve praised the fact that the girls make mistakes in my past reviews, but in this book, I just felt disappointed that they were making the same mistakes again. Bridget is off at an archaeological dig (ok?) and, although she has a boyfriend, makes some terrible decisions regarding a married professor at the site. I pretty much wanted to slap her.

Maybe I’m being too hard on everyone, though. Bridget was struggling with how to be someone’s girlfriend, and was worried about her father and brother at home (this does not excuse her actions). And, you know, she learns from her mistakes, which is more than a lot of people can say. Real people, too, not just fictional ones.

Lena…I don’t know. She meets another artist, Leo, and gets naked for him so he can paint her, WHICH IS A BIG DEAL FOR HER. Then there’s some stuff with Kostos and OH WHOOPS I FELL ASLEEP. Seriously, those two need to get it together and stop boring me with the star-crossed lovers crap. I think the only reason I’m still at all interested is that Movie!Kostos is super hot. Also: Rory Gilmore.

Tibby is a mess, as usual, which makes me love her more, and she, like, legitimately had a good reason for pushing Brian away, which she does in the most heart-breaking way. I can’t really blame her for her reaction to a truly freak-out-worthy crisis, but she should really start being nicer to Brian everyone.

Poor Carmen, though, she broke my heart! She lost her mojo and even though she’d always been my least favorite, I couldn’t help but wish for her to get it back throughout the entire book. She becomes friends with a total jellyfish named Julia, who is just awful, and ends up in a play somehow. The Pants and her friends show up and that helps, blah blah blah.

I know I’m being really hard on this book but it all sort of just felt repetitive. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that I felt I’d read it all before. Again, this could be because I’m reading all of the books one right after the other. Maybe the book would have benefited from some distance from the others. I GUESS WE’LL NEVER KNOW. Anyway. Almost done!

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #9: Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

Oh, you guys. The last book of this series is going to hurt so much. I love these girls. I want to go back in time so I’m young enough to hang out with them and then I want us to all grow up together so they can help me understand things like mortgages and my 401k. But I guess I’ll just have to stick with the books because (NEWSFLASH, SELF) these characters are not real people.

The third book in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series takes place just after the girls have graduated from high school and are preparing for college. Also: THEY GROW UP SO MUCH. Even though the only one who actually travels anywhere is Bridget (I think?), the rest have completely separate adventures and experiences. Although, obviously, there is some overlap, because Ann Brashares knows you just want to read about these BFF(s) 4EVA!!!!1!!1!!!

(I’m sorry for that.)

Bridget goes to a summer soccer camp, where she’s a coach this time, and runs into Eric, the boy she was obsessed with (and did sex with) in the first book. She’s determined, however, that they will just be friends. She regrets the way she acted when they first met and wants to respect the fact that he has a girlfriend this time. See? Grown up!

Tibby struggles with a couple of things. Her sister hurts herself and Tibby finally realizes that, although her much younger siblings get on her nerves (duh), she really, really loves them. The other thing is that her friend Brian has gotten totally hot and loves her with the fire of a thousand suns. So that’s awesome. But also scary. Because Tibby is Tibby. And she really Tibbies it up all over the place in this book.

Poor Lena is trying to figure out how to be an artist. Her father, angry that his daughter wants to pursue a career he deems worthless, tells her he won’t pay for college if she goes to art school. Lena, for once, fights for what she wants and pursues a scholarship so she won’t need her father’s permission. Also, there’s probably some whiny drama about Kostos BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE IS.

Carmen is preparing to become a big sister. Her mother, recently married, is pregnant and Carmen, worried that she’s being replaced, gets jealous and tries to come to terms with this huge change. I have a confession to make. Up until this book, I was not the biggest Carmen fan. Most of the time I wanted to tell her to shut up and stop acting like a brat. But! I finally, FINALLY, grew to love her in this book. She’s so sassy!

I mean, what do you want me to say? If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read at least one other Pants book in the series, so I’m basically preaching to the choir. I’m not sure what book is my favorite (so far), because I feel like I can’t make an objective decision. I like whatever book I’ve finished most recently the best. Sounds like I’m going to have to reread all of them once I’ve finished the fifth.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #8: The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

You guys! I am so behind on my reviews! For instance, I’m currently reading the fourth book in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but here I am, just now reviewing the second one. Oops. I can tell you, without even the hint of a spoiler, that I am very, very sad that I’m on the fourth book because it means that there’s only one book left once I finish it! I’ve really grown fond of these girls and I don’t want to say goodbye. There will be tears. Oh, yes. There will be tears. Hi, my name is Jennie and I develop unhealthy attachments to fictional characters.

Anyway, in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Part Two: The Pants Strike Back, only one of the girls actually travels for the summer. That girl is Bridget, who is having a rough time after the events of the first book (namely: THE SEX, she was not ready for it). She discovers that her grandmother has been trying to contact her for years, but that her father, upset about how the grandma dealt with Bridget’s mother’s depression and suicide, has hidden all evidence of it. Bridget, naturally, decides to go meet her grandmother, but doesn’t tell her who she is. CUE SHENANIGANS.

Bridget’s not the only one having a rough time. Tibby is struggling to come to terms with Bailey’s death, as well as how to act with Brian, who is her best friend outside of the sisterhood, only you wouldn’t know it based on how she treats him. She goes to a film camp and tries to impress some “cool” kids, but in the process ends up hurting both her mother and Brian. Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll learn her lesson.

Carmen, who has finally grown used to the idea of her father remarrying, now has to deal with the thought of her mother dating. She, being Carmen, does not handle it well. Meanwhile, Lena is going nutso bananas about Kostos, struggling with her strong feelings for him even as she tries to deny them. You guys, I can’t even talk about Kostos, don’t make me. I SAID I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT.

I found this story, I don’t know…quieter…than the first one, in that the girls are a bit more grown up and have to deal with a variety of things that would throw even an adult off-kilter. One event in particular (that is all tied up in another sad event) pulled the tears straight out of my eyeballs, which I wasn’t expecting. I just wanted to read about friends having fun together and the magic pants giving them awesome adventures! Not real stuff! Stop making me feel feelings, Brashares!

What I like most about these girls is how flawed they are, which is odd because it bugged me so in the first book. Carmen has a temper, Lena has trouble acting on things, Bridget is so impulsive, and Tibby worries so much about what others think of her that she hurts the people she loves. They make so many mistakes. So, so many. When reading something like this, where the characters screw up, um, ALL THE TIME, we (the audience, not, like, me and the voices in my head) want to think that if we were put in that same position, we’d choose differently. We’d do the right thing, always. It’s so easy to think that way but if we stop to examine our own lives, think about our own past mistakes, who among us can say we’d have done anything differently? I mean, obviously we really can’t know because of A) hindsight and B) fiction, but whatever, go with me on this.

I enjoyed the first book of this series very much, but liked this one even more, probably because I’ve gotten so attached to the characters. I just love them and want them to be happy and I’m really, really nervous to read the last book, you guys, HOLD ME.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #6: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

When I started reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I had to keep reminding myself that the girls were teenagers. Which was obvious, really, I shouldn’t have had to remind myself. They were spoiled. Self-indulgent. Whiny. But also kind, funny, and loving, full of quips and quirks and their friendship felt real. I grew to like each and every one of them, though it was hardest for me to like Carmen. I wanted to shake her, tell her to stop acting like a brat, but then I was all, “oh, right, she’s a teenager.” DUH.

I feel silly even explaining this book, because I’m almost certain that even those who haven’t read the book have seen the movie (starring Ugly Betty, Joan of Arcadia, Rory Gilmore, and that girl from Gossip Girl who tried to date Leonardo DiCaprio), and even if you haven’t seen the movie, you know what it’s about. There are some magic pants. They (the pants AND the girls) travel. That may be oversimplifying it, but that’s what happens.

Some really heavy shit happens to these girls over the course of one summer, but they deal with it with the help of their magic pants and, as silly as that sounds, who WOULDN’T like a pair of magic pants to help them deal with the hard stuff? If I had a magical pair of pants I WOULD NEVER TAKE THEM OFF, which is probably why I don’t and will never have a magical pair of pants because I’d abuse the power. See also: why I don’t have superpowers OR a time machine.

I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, having only read one other book by the author, Ann Brashares, which I decidedly did NOT enjoy. I started to get really sad when I found myself nearing the end of the book, which didn’t take long, it being a YA book and all, but then I realized there were more books in the series! Hooray! But I have to wait for them to come in at my local library. Boooo!

Also! Here’s a point of advice to those who haven’t read the books yet, but are planning to read the series: don’t Google the books to see what order they go in or how many there are or whatever, just wing it. Because if you Google the books, you might be HORRIBLY HORRIBLY SPOILED about something that happens in the last book. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Sigh.

sonk’s #CBR4 Reviews #28-33

#28: Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (4 stars)

#29: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (4 stars)

#30: God’s War by Christopher Tyerman (3 stars)

#31: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht (3 stars)

#32: The Servants’ Quarters by Lynn Freed (4 stars)

#33: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (3 stars)

Krista’s #CBR4 Reviews 21 – 25, too many titles to put up here!

Five more done – yay! As usual, click the links to read the full(er) reviews on my review blog:

21. Frindle, Andrew Clements
Honestly, I really enjoyed this novel as well as Clements’ writing style. The book would be a funny, engaging read, and it’s also a very great introduction to words and their importance.

22. The Magicians, Lev Grossman
You guys, I really, really wanted to like this book. I tried so hard. In the beginning, when Quentin was a student at the college, I liked it. He was there for five years, and those chapters were so quick. I enjoyed hearing about him learning magic, and the relationships he forged, and the people who surrounded him. And then he graduated and the whole book went to hell in a hand basket for me.

23. Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares

I never got into the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series the way I did the Babysitters Club but I definitely still read them. After reading Sweet Valley Confidential, I was nervous about reading Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares because SVC was so, so bad. But the series were so different to begin with so I took a chance. If you’re looking to avoid spoilers, maybe don’t read this one because a character dies and I’ll probably mention her by name.

You’ve been warned. Fair enough.

24. Still Missing, Chevy Stevens
This book reminded me a lot of Room – young woman held in captivity, forced to have sex with her captor, and so on. And unfortunately, the number one thing that drove me crazy about Room is what drove me crazy about Still Missing: the main character’s voice. It just. didn’t. work. Actually, that is not entirely true. I thought Annie’s voice when she was in captivity was perfect. She sounded scared and intelligent at the same time, and as time elapsed and she was still in captivity, her descent as she started to lose her sense of self was evidence, too.

25. This Beautiful Life, Helen Schulman
I can’t even really gather my thoughts on this book except to say it felt lost and unfinished. When it was over, I thought, “This is seriously the end?” There comes a point where you have to realize that you cannot write a book that goes on forever, but this novel felt nowhere near that point. Much of what Schulman touches on his morality and how none of these characters — not Jake or his mother Liz or father Richard — really know what to feel about what is happening and that’s clear. I think that’s what gives the book that unfinished, sloppy feel.

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