Monday, August 28, 2006
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Meredith isn't alone, though. She has her grandmother, the mayor of the town, who wants Meredith to move in with her to escape her father. She has Andy, her best friend, the guy she is in love with, who was also scarred by Meredith's father as a child. She has Andy's mother, who moved across the street from Meredith's family just to keep other children from the horror from which she couldn't protect Andy. She has Nigel, a retired policemen who has a plan to get Meredith's father back in jail and away from children. Even though Meredith is far from alone, she still feels that way when she can't even count on the people every kid is supposed to be able to count on: her parents.
Meredith wants to get her father back in prison. She wants her mother to go back to visiting him instead of having him in their house. She wants to be able to go into her own home without fear. She wants other kids to be safe, too. She doesn't know what that's going to take, and she's certainly not unafraid, but she isn't going to let him hurt her, or any other kids, again.
This moving, powerful novel is one that should not be missed. When it is released in January, be at your local bookstore, ready to get a copy! Once you start reading it, you won't be able to put this book down. I wasn't! It's an emotional book that is beautifully, powerfully written and unique, and it'll stay with you long past the last word.
Laura Wiess's characters are as well-written as the rest of the book, very realistic (in some cases, scarily so). They're three-dimensional characters in an equally (and, again, scarily) believable story that will certainly be a favorite of anyone who reads it. I know it's one of mine now! Don't miss this book. I am giving it a '10' rating, but, I must say, it doesn't deserve that ten--It deserves a twenty, at least!
**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**
College would be different enough without the constant presence of the cameras, or the fact that everyone she knows can see every little detail of Ally's life every night on television. The only people who really know what it's like are her roommates: James, Simone, Drew, and Jasmine. She's also got her best friend, Grant, but she doesn't know if she can trust anyone else. Is it Ally's friendship they want or a chance to be on TV? Forget what they want--what does Ally want to do with her life?
Reality Chick is, yes, a story about a girl figuring out her life. Yeah, there are a ton of those, but this is an interesting twist. Ally Cavanaugh is figuring out her life while America watches it for entertainment! This is a fun read, well-written and with an l plot that is definitely part of the lives of people today--reality television is everywhere, and even if most of us are watching it on TV instead of living it, it's still something that is very familiar. Ally is also a character who's easy to relate to, and very believable. All of the characters in this novel are believable, and readers can see people they know in these fictional characters. No one here is exactly what they seem to be, either, which is also a lot like reality. And why shouldn't it be? They're all on reality TV.
Lauren Barnholdt grabs the reader's attention from the beginning, when Ally and Grant are trying out for In The House, to the end. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next, and the tidbits from 'Now' Ally made me even more eager to find out what happened 'Then.' Pick up Reality Chick as soon as possible! This book is definitely going on my 'favorites' shelf.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Playing With Fire by Gena Showalter
Earth, Wind and Fire aren’t just a band anymore…
Used to be my greatest achievement was holding a job more than three days. Now suddenly I can shoot fireballs, chill your drink, or blow-dry your hair at fifty paces with a blink of my eye!
It all started when this crazy scientist dropped something in my grande mocha latte. Of course I got wicked sick. Next morning I’m waking up with this total hottie bending over me. He tells me 1) his name’s Rome Masters, 2) he’s a government agent and 3) I can control the four elements with a thought.
He seems even less pleased by my (apparently irreversible) transformation that I am. . . because now he’s supposed to kill me. The only good news: I didn’t make this bed of trouble, but Rome sure seems to want me to lie in it. With him.
Read an excerpt
Order your copy from Barnes and Noble or Amazon or Books A Million
And if you’d like a chance to win signed copies of *all* Gena Showalter’s books, all you have to do is post this entry, too. Post the cover, the blurb, the links, and this contest announcement, then head over to Gena’s blog (http://www.genashowalter.blogspot.com ) and let her know you posted the material. A name will be randomly selected on September 3rd from those who do!!
Sunday, August 20, 2006
At Bard Academy, a few things happen that Miranda didn't exactly expect from what she thinks about reform schools. She's having terrifying nightmares involving Kate Shaw, a girl who went missing from the school fifteen years earlier. When she tries to escape through the woods, she finds herself going in circles. One of her teachers, Ms. W, always leaves wet footprints. If those little oddities aren't odd enough, there are some eerie coincidences concerning classics such as Dracula, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. For instance, there's Heathcliff, remarkably similar to the character in Wuthering Heights, who seems to think that Miranda is really Cathy, another character from the novel. Something weird is most certainly going on, and Miranda and her new friends Hana, Samir, and Blade have to find out what it is--fast.
This is a book that is definitely worth reading! Cara Lockwood's characters are interesting, well done, and realistic, and readers will be able to relate to Miranda's situations with her parents and friends (although perhaps not teachers). The character of Miranda also shows realistic character development instead of being the same slightly bratty fifteen-year-old throughout the book. Aside from her great characters, Cara Lockwood's story in Wuthering High is entertaining and original. It's better than just another overused idea with a few differences in details and characters. This novel is one that will keep readers hooked from the very first page to the end, and eagerly awaiting the next novel from Cara Lockwood about Bard Academy.
Also posted on teensreadtoo.com
Review: What if...Everyone Knew Your Name: a choose your destiny novel by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James
You make every little decision for her, even the ones that seem really minor, like riding the bus to school or getting a ride from her father. You decide who she wants to be friends with and what crowd she wants to be a part of. You decide everything about her.
While an interesting idea, and fairly well-written, this book isn't for everyone. If you're all about finding out what will happen, this book might not be for you, because you decide what happens. It's a cool concept, though, and a fun read, especially since you can read it more than once, with a different story and outcome. The characters aren't particularly three-dimensional, but I guess they have to be simple enough so that it is believable that they would make any one of the very different choices you choose from. This book is fun, but not a must-read.
**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Copied and pasted from Simone's website:
How does a fashionista teen end up on a farm in the middle of Israel with her estranged father? Oy, vey doesn't even come close to describing it.
For Amy Nelson, the last thing she wants to do is go to that country she hears about on the news channels. For one, she's not Jewish...or Israeli. Okay, so her father is, but that's another story. Amy swears she's got red, white and blue blood running through her veins, and needs amenities to survive.
Read Amy's journey and find out if this American teen survives the struggles of dealing with a father she hardly knows, Israeli teens, and an extended family while traveling in an unknown land full of history that touches her heart, wild animals that scare her to death and...cute boys?!?
It will be part of Llewellyn Press' FLUX imprint, due to be released in October, 2006.
Other exciting upcoming releases I can't wait to read include (but are certainly not limited to) Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer, Devilish by Maureen Johnson, and I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
After the visit to the fortune teller, Patty is promptly shipped off to math camp at Stanford University. As if it wouldn't be bad enough to spend a summer doing math (just like school), she has one other school assignment to complete. She's got to rewrite her "truth statement" by the end of the summer. It's something she turned in at the end of last year, and, while great, it didn't really reflect who she was. So now, she's rewriting it--but to do that, she's got to find out more of who she is.
Over the course of the summer, that is what she does, through her various adventures. These adventures include "buildering" (rock-climing on buildings) with her new friend Jasmine, meeting her Auntie Lu, find out some surprising things about her mother, meeting a guy who is Asian but STILL not what her mother wants for her, and find out that her goody-two-shoes classmate, Anne, who is at math camp with her, is writing a romance novel. During all of this, and lots more, she learns even more about herself than she does other people, which definitely helps with her truth statement.
Justina Chen Headley's novel Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) is fabulous; it's most certainly worth reading. The characters (not in the least the main character, Patty) are all brilliant, original, and well-written, as is the entire story. Sort of off-topic, however, I was a little disappointed to see the cover art of the final book in the bookstore; the version I read was an ARC, with a different girl on the cover, covering her face with her hand, and I liked that one better (I don't know where you can find a picture of it; my search turned up nothing, so if you know a link, post a comment here!). Anyway, back to the book. It was a great read, one that will definitely be going on my favorites shelf. I'm really looking forward to reading Justina Chen Headley's next novel as well (this was her first)! It's a story that's not as common in the world of YA literature, that makes it better than books about more typical things like lives of rich kids or vampires (I still love some of those, but not being something so common adds something extra to Justina Chen Headley's novel). Pick it up, everyone; you won't be disappointed!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Second, Erin, did you get my email about High School Bites? Anyway, I'm glad you liked Hope Was Here! Thanks for reading & commenting :)
Third, remember to add me as a friend if you have a Myspace! The link is in the post 'links'.
Thanks for reading, everybody!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
After watching her own funeral (used by her high school principal as an opportunity to lecture on traffic safety), Liz realizes that this is no dream. Nor is it exactly her "life." Liz is dead. She was killed in a car crash, and, in the world skillfully created by Gabrielle Zevin, this is where people go once they die. On a ship. Of course, boats have to go somewhere, and this one finally lands in Elsewhere. The afterlife, though not as anyone on earth imagined it. In Elsewhere, for one thing, people age backwards. Liz will never turn sixteen (but they'll still let her get a driver's license); instead, she'll be turning fourteen again, under the care of her dead grandmother, who is surprisingly young (about the same age as Liz's mother).
Elsewhere, though the people grow younger rather than older, is a lot like earth. Some artists continue their work here (you can see new paintings by Picasso!), just as they did on earth. Marilyn Monroe is a psychiatrist. Everything you can find on Earth--music, books, artwork--you can find Elsewhere. Elsewhere, Liz thinks, "could have been a walk to the next town or an hour's ride in the car or an overnight plane trip." It shouldn't be too hard adjusting to this...right?
Gabrielle Zevin's first YA novel is brilliant, and readers can only hope there will be a second! Sad, hopeful, creative, and well-written, this is a book that is not to be missed. The afterlife in Elsewhere is an original, interesting view of things that is somewhere between the heaven and hell spoken of by most religions; as has been said, this afterlife is a lot like an extension of life on earth, only backwards. It seems like a nice place, a happy place to be--except for what it takes for people to get there. Gabrielle Zevin creates this world brilliantly, in a novel that is sure to have readers hooked from the very first page. Definitely worth your money; you'll want to read this book, sure to be a favorite with readers of all ages for a long time to come, again and again.
Monday, August 07, 2006
For Ashleigh, the Enthusiast, it could never be just a great book. She's got to speak like someone from hundreds of years ago, learn ballroom dancing, wear long skirts, and find True Love. As usual, Julie's got to try and talk some sense into her friend. Sure, they'll still end up publicly humiliated (as usual), but maybe it can be to a lesser degree. Perhaps she can convince Ashleigh to at least put on some jeans!
No matter what Julie does, however, she still can't convince Ashleigh to give up the idea of finding True Love--dressing and acting like the heroine from a Jane Austen novel. Ashleigh is convinced they'll be able to find True Love when crashing a dance at the local boys' prep school, Forefield Academy. The rest of the story has confusion, romance, comedy, humiliation, and a lot more that will have readers hooked up until the very last page!
It's a story that teens will be able to relate to, even if their best friends aren't nearly so enthusiastic as Ashleigh. Everyone's been embarrassed by a friend, but you've still got to stick by them, right? And then of course there's the fact that Ashleigh has set her sights on the guy Julie's crushing on. A sticky situation that lots of girls can relate to! Told in Julie's engaging, witty voice, this entertaining story has every element of a great YA novel that is sure to be popular for a long time to come. I know I'm not alone in hoping for another novel by Polly Shulman that's as unique and interesting as this one!
Also posted on TeensReadToo.com
Sunday, August 06, 2006
When Harper commits the "ultimate suburban sin," it's shocking enough. When Sophie and Kate send the worlds of their families way out of orbit by making the decision to put off college as well, no one can believe it. Kate was going to Harvard! Now, though, things are different. Kate is going to travel across the world, starting with Paris. Sophie is going to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Becca's the only one sticking to her original plan and going to Middlebury, but there are some challenges for her as well.
This is a brilliant book from two equally brilliant authors, Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain. They've got to be brilliant; they've written for a number of television shows, including the last two (and best two) seasons of the wonderful Angel! If you are a huge (slightly obsessive) fan of Buffy and Angel, you can imagine how exciting it was to read this on the back of the book. Bass Ackwards and Belly Up definitely lived up to my expectations. It's a funny, entertaining, sad, touching, and very real story about four friends who, with lots of support from each other, learn a lot about love, friendship, their dreams, and most of all, themselves, having some fun and suffering some humiliation along the way (isn't that just how life is?). Harper, Sophie, Kate, and Becca are very realistic, original, and well written (of course, everything in this book is well written) characters. The less major characters are great, too, and there is more to everyone than meets the eye, which is definitely a plus for a novel. The idea of the book is interesting as well, and certainly shows a different side of the whole "taking a year off" idea than teenagers get from their parents and school counselors, which is nice. Bass Ackwards and Belly Up is a page-turner and a must-read; I'm really looking forward to the sequel, due out next May!
Anyway, fourteen-year-old Felicia and her two best friends in Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love have nicknamed themselves the Sex Kittens after a deck of tarot cards in Felica's mother's funky New Age-y bookstore, the Unbound Page. This particular deck didn't have the usual pictures of jugglers and middle ages-type people, but instead had kittens! And the Sex Kittens, students of the Manhattan Free Children's School (which they refer to as the Pound), were born. They nicknamed the boys Horn Dawgs, to go along with the Pound theme as well. That's where the name comes from; totally innocent. The three Sex Kittens aren't sluts and they don't dress or act like them. They are unique, interesting characters with interests such as poetry (the narrator, Felicia) and playing the violin.
Felicia is a creative, interesting character, and when she's tired of waiting for Matthew (a science nerd and Horn Dawg working on a project to make rabbits more intelligent) to notice her, she has an interesting idea for a science project they can work on together. They're going to search for X. The thing that makes people fall in love. Felicia wants to use this project to make Matthew fall in love with her, of course! It's a rather complicated world out there, though, and nothing ever works out the way you expect (or want) it to. There is, for instance, some speculation that Matthew's friend Randall is in love with Felicia! Things are a little complicated at the Manhattan Free Children's School, and it's up to Felicia to figure them out (and win the science fair!).
Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love is a funny, entertaining unique book taking place in a city full of possibilities, New York. Without the settings of New York and the Manhattan Free Children's School, the story couldn't happen! The idea is solid, and the characters well-thought out. Felicia's struggles with love are something anyone (of any age, but especially teenagers) can relate to! Maryrose Wood's writing style is funny, easy to follow, and pulls the reader right in. This is a good read to keep you occupied on these hot summer days (and there have been a lot of them lately). Pick up a copy; you won't be sorry!
That's the explanation for the weird coincidences in Lucy's life. She has a best friend named Mina. Lucy's also been having weird dreams that are the same as those described in the diary by the women who came before her. Her English teacher has just started a unit on Dracula. Oh, and her boyfriend? Vic Irving. Yeah, of the same Irving family. Can she, her friends, and her father destroy Dracula once and for all with the help of crucifixes, holy water, and garlic perfume?
High School Bites is a great, fast-paced and well-told story. There have been a ton of vampire books for young adults released recently, most of them good, and this one is no exception. If you're a fan of vampire books, this great read is definitely one to add to your collection. The characters are interesting and well-written, as well as being more than what's on the surface. There's more to it than meets the eye here, which always makes a story more interesting. Liza Conrad's writing flows nicely, and I'm definitely looking forward to her next book, The Poker Diaries, due out next March. I am also hoping for more to read in The Lucy Chronicles, and I'm sure other readers will feel the same after reading this novel!
You can find an interview with Erica Orloff (who wrote this book under the pen name Liza Conrad) at Veronika Asks.
Friday, August 04, 2006
My review of Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My review of Anyone But You by Lara M. Zeises for Curledupkids.com
In book number seven, Georgia's life is a mess. She's got to distract herself from her disastrous love life! She's got a few distractions, too. One distraction is the play rehearsals for Macbeth (aka MacUseless), in which they do improvised fire juggling. Another is her (very, very insane) family: younger sister Libby who puts makeup on a statue of Jesus and renames him Sandra, two insane cats named Angus and Gordy, a father who wears leather pants, a mother who thinks she is a teenager, a bald uncle who likes Abba's Dancing Queen, a grandfather with a girlfriend who knits balaclavas without eye holes....Clearly, Georgia's entire family is insane. As are her friends. Rosie and Sven are planning a Viking wedding for Rosie's twenty-first birthday in five and a half years' time. Jas and Tom are still hunting for interesting lizards.
Basically, Georgia's life is insane. Startled By His Furry Shorts, the account of Georgia's latest adventures, is hilarious, a definite must-read, as expected by fans of the first six Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson. This book is absolutely MARVELOUS. Or marvy, as Georgia and her friends would say. This book will have you laughing hysterically. As in, laughing until your sides hurt and your milk comes out of your nose (which is actually sort of painful as well). It will have readers rolling on the floor laughing, and craving more!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
There are two major dramas she has to deal with in her life. One is the typical teen movie sort of high school thing: everyone in her high school is separated into two groups. Goldens are the popular ones, Nons are everyone else. She's got to understand that and decide which side she falls on.
She may not have much of a choice, though, if her Aura Vision gets in the way of things. In her family, the women have powers to see things differently from most people, and Lissy can see people's auras. If that's not freaky enough, her powers are expanding so that she can see more, even the connections between people. Possible, she thinks, the fault of her grandmother.
Every part of this book is great. The characters are interesting (with way more to them than meets the eye, which is nice, not to have everything right at the surface). The plot as well. Perhaps teenagers in an ordinary world with magical powers are becoming rather common in YA literature, but this book is one of the better ones of that type. Anyway, it's a good thing to write about. Popular, and you can usually get a good story out of it. This author sure did!
In this story, there's evil. There's magic. There's the popular crowd versus the losers. Even a hint of romance. Basically, take elements from lots of popular teen books, put them together, and you have a great book: Golden. Not only is it a fabulous first novel, but it's written by a brilliant new author. I'm certainly looking forward to reading Jennifer Lynn Barnes' next book!
**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**
Haters is the first young adult book by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, but anyone who reads this book (me included) is sure to hope it's not her last! In the novel, readers are introduced to Paski (her full name is Pasquala Rumalda Quintana de Archuleta, but that's way too much of a mouthful). She's a New Mexico teenager who, because of her father's new job, moves to Orange County, California. Yeah, the O.C. And it seems a lot like the TV show. Paski misses the mountains around her old home of Taos (she's a mountain biker), her psychic grandmother (whose talents she has inherited), her best friends, and tons more, but maybe the O.C. isn't so bad. After all, there's super-hot Chris Cabrera in the O.C.! It's not like Paski is a social leper, either. She quickly makes friends with Tina, a girl who has a slight obsession with anthropology.
Things aren't all fun and games, though. At her new school, Aliso Niguel High, certain things are very important. Looks and money, for the most part. And gorgeous, rich (and evil) Jessica Nguyen has both. She and her friends (some of the Haters the book is named for), confident as they may seem in their place at the top, are a little threatened by Paski, who is just as pretty as they are. At first, they're able to dismiss her as just an "apartment girl," but then they find out her dad is going to be really well paid for the movie (about a superhero named Squeegee Man) that he's animating. Apparently, Paski has what it takes to get to the top. But with the Haters there, is that where she wants to be?
Haters was an entertaining, fun read that kept be hooked up until the very last word! Maybe it's not a hugely original idea--there are tons of YA books about rich, popular teenagers in California. Or Florida. But this is more than that. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez tells the story in Paski's fresh, original voice that will have readers craving more. I hope there's more about Paski in the future, or at least more YA fiction from Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, and anyone who reads this book will most definitely feel the same!
Also posted on TeensReadToo.com
Meg Cabot's How To Be Popular certainly won't disappoint fans of the brilliant author, and will hook new readers on her books. In this novel, Meg Cabot introduces a new character, Steph Landry. Since the sixth grade, one incident involving Lauren Moffat's new skirt and a red Super Big Gulp has haunted Steph. Everywhere she goes, people say "Don't be such a Steph!" or "That was so Steph!" or "Don't pull a Steph." In her town, her name is synonymous with embarrassment, idiocy, and anything along those lines.
When she finds a book in the attic of her best friend Jason's grandmother, Steph thinks she has the chance to turn her life around. What did she find? An old book called How To Be Popular , of course! Following its advice, Steph is on her way to the top. People know who she is, and not just for the red Super Big Gulp thing or from the expressions made popular by Lauren (who, by the way, did get a new skirt!). She's invited to parties. She sits at a table with the popular kids. Becoming popular was easier than she thought. Can she keep up her new reputation? Does she even want to?
This book is just as funny, interesting, and a must-read as Meg Cabot's other books, and readers will not be disappointed by Steph Landry, either. This book is sure to become very, very popular--and the story wouldn't exist without the help of the original How To Be Popular, found in Kitty's attic! It was a little predictable, but still a fun, entertaining read. Meg Cabot's newest book will capture the attention of even the most reluctant of readers, and keep their attention until the end. It's a page-turner, that's for sure.
If you're a Meg Cabot fan, you'll love it. If not, well, you'll have a new favorite author after reading this book!
Hope is a sixteen-year-old waitress who has lived all across America with her aunt Addie. Hope's mother (who, upon seeing her tiny baby for the first time, named her Marigold, of all things. Addie's twelfth birthday present to her niece was a name change.) has long been out of the picture, visiting only occasionally with tidbits of advice.
Waitressing at the diner in Brooklyn was great for Hope, but, like all good things, it comes to an end. The owner stole all the money and ran off, leaving Addie and Hope with nothing. The two of them boarded up the windows, and, just before driving off, Hope left her mark: Hope Was Here, in blue ballpoint pen at the edge of one of the boards.
Addie and Hope are off to a small town in Wisconsin. When they get there, they meet G.T., the owner of the local diner where Addie will be cooking and Hope will be waitressing. G.T is a man the town loves, and he's going to run for mayor and change things. The current mayor, a scheming, dishonest typical politician, isn't standing for that, though. He's got to bring up how G.T. has leukemia, and is dying. How, he says, can a man who is dying take care of an entire town? He might not be alive in a few months.
G.T. isn't alone, though. Hope, Addie, and countless others are trying to get him elected, so that he can do some good for the town. Even though things are hard, they've still got to have hope.
This novel is amazing. Hope Was Here is a book that you will not only read once, but over and over. It sticks with you. Part of this is due to the well thought-out characters, especially Hope. She is a strong character, but also a strong person. She's been through a lot, and she's still around, serving up food to hungry customers.
Her waitressing jobs have a lot to do with who Hope is. Maybe to some people (you know the type--not good enough unless you've got a diploma from Harvard), waitressing seems like a dead-end job, but this book shows different sides of it.
Hope Was Here is a page turner that will keep you riveted from the first word (which happens to be "somehow"), to the last ("had"), and when it's over, you'll want more. Luckily for us, Joan Bauer has written several other books for young adults, including Backwater, Rules Of The Road, and Squashed. They're just as good as Hope Was Here, and that's saying something!
**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**