Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Rules of Attraction

Title: Rules of Attraction
Author: Simone Elkeles

From GoodReads, "When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado. Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now. 

With new characters to fall in love with and the same hot romance found in Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles has crafted another sure-fire hit for teens."

     After reading Perfect Chemistry, I was truly excited to read this sequel (I'm not sure it qualifies as a sequel because the main characters from Perfect Chemistry are not the main characters in this book, but are secondary characters).  This book did not disappoint me at all.  I absolutely loved the cover and after reading the book, it's the perfect cover for the book.  The main characters follow a pattern that was prominent in Elkeles first novel as well: bad boy/good girl.  I really liked both of the main characters.  I found Carlos to be similar to Alex from the first novel, but that wasn't too surprising because they are brothers.  Kiara was an interesting character as well.  I know some people will criticize Kiara's family in the book and call them too perfect, but I liked the fact that she had a supportive, caring, non-judgmental family.  I get kind of tired of reading about dysfunctional families all the time and this was a refreshing twist.  I also thought the presence of Alex and Brittany, the main characters in Perfect Chemistry, was fun as well.  It was good to see that they were still together (which I was secretly rooting for) and that they still had to work out some issues.  I'm a huge fan of the "love conquers all" formula of writing and both of these novels use that formula superbly.  This is a must-read for fans of Simone Elkeles and I would highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review: Two Way Street

Title: Two Way Street
Author: Lauren Barnholdt

From GoodReads, "There are two sides to every breakup. This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation. Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet. It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care. But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot. Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other."

     After reading Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt, I quickly moved this book  to our l recommended book shelf!  The main characters, Courtney and Jordan, were so likeable and as you read you really wanted them to work out their problems and be together.  I loved how each chapter changes perspectives between Courtney and Jordan, it makes the story interesting to know both points of view.  On the dreaded trip to college, pretending to hate and not care about each other isn’t as easy as they thought.  There are some really funny parts, romance, suspense and once you start reading this book you won’t be able to put it down.  I work at a high school library and we give this book to a lot of teens.  Not one has been disappointed!  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: All Unquiet Things

Title: All Unquiet Things
Author: Anna Jarzab

From GoodReads, "Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed. 

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save."

     I am a pretty big fan of light-hearted books that don't require a lot of thought in order to read and comprehend them.  This is not one of those types of books.  This novel, written by Anna Jarzab, moves between the main characters two perspectives and also flips between the present and the past, which made the novel more intensive to read than my usual fare.  The first clue that I had that this wasn't a typical novel was the cover, with its contrast of a dead body on a white background.

     That being said, I do like Anna Jarzab's writing.  She doesn't underestimate her audience's ability to understand her clever and innovative writing style.  Her main characters of Neily and Audrey are complex.  They both have to deal with the guilt they feel after someone they love is murdered.  Their persistence to find the truth is the basis of the book, but it's the character's struggles that make this an unsettling read.  Sure, you want to find out what happened to Carly, the cousin of Audrey and the girl Neily loved, but the mystery often takes a back seat to the depth of these characters.  I congratulate Jarzab for her willingness to take on such depth for her debut novel.  I especially loved how Jarzab had the main characters meeting up later in life so the reading audience could see how they were doing after the emotional turmoil they endured throughout the book.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: The Wednesday Wars

Title: The Wednesday Wars
Author: Gary D. Schmidt

From Shelfari, "Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero in THE WEDNESDAY WARS—a wonderfully witty and compelling novel about a teenage boy's mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year. Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn't like Holling—he's sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself."

     I bought this book as an audiobook and listened to it on a long car ride.   I think the reason I liked this book so much was because of the wonderful job narrator, Joel Johnstone, does in making Holling's story come to life.  He does an amazing job of vocally illustrating Gary D. Schmidt's wonderful writing.  

     This book was a 2008 Newbery Medal contender, but got beat out by Good Master! Sweet Ladies! to the chagrin of some librarians, teachers, and students.  

     I liked how the book was divided into chapters by months of the year following Holling's school calendar.  It immediately set the tone that the story was in the perspective of a student and his dealings with a teacher.  I think most people can identify with Holling's dilemma of having a teacher who he thinks "hates his guts." The story was like a walk through history and for me, brought back memories of pounding erasers, coats in the cloak room, and the like.  Although today's kids might not understand some of the references in the book, they will understand the other things that never seem to change regardless of how much time passes-fitting in, bullies, and crushes.  This is a well-written book, with wonderful references, good humor, and a dose of sarcasm.  It is worth the time it takes to read.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Dairy Queen

Title: Dairy Queen
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

From GoodReads, "When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D.J. can't help admitting, maybe he's right. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn't so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won't even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say."

First of all….don’t let the name of this book keep you from picking it up.  After you read the book you will understand how it got its name.  I absolutely love the main character, D.J. Schwenk.  She is extremely independent, athletic, strong, and believes anything a boy can do, she can do too! So when Brian Nelson, a handsome jock from the neighboring town, comes to work at her house for the summer, things get complicated!! Dairy Queen is the first of three books and I loved them all. Throughout the series, D.J. learns to cope with a lot of issues, including love. I am from the Midwest, so I appreciate D.J.’s work ethic, small town living, and family life. I also admire a girl who has a mind of her own and can depend on herself and not others.  D.J. is a great role model for any girl in middle or high school.  This is a great series!  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Pop

Title: Pop
Author: Gordon Korman

From Shelfari, "When Marcus moves to a new town in the dead of summer, he doesn't know a soul. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with an older man. Charlie is a charismatic prankster—and the best football player Marcus has ever seen. He can't believe his good luck when he finds out that Charlie is actually Charlie Popovich, or "the King of Pop," as he had been nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker. But that's not all. There is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide. When Marcus begins school, he meets the starting quarterback on the team: Troy Popovich. Right from the beginning, Marcus and Troy disagree—about football, about Troy's ex-girlfriend, Alyssa, but most of all about what's good for Charlie. Marcus is betting that he knows what's best for the King of Pop. And he is willing to risk everything to help his friend."

I have read many of Gordon Korman's other books and have always enjoyed his writing and this novel is no exception.  I found myself totally engrossed in this book.  I especially liked the character of Marcus Jordan.  A high school student that has just recently moved to a new town.  In his pursuit to make some new friends, he goes to the local park to throw the pigskin around.  It is at the park where he meets Charlie, a former NFL player.  After several meetings with Charlie at the park, Marcus realizes that there is more to Charlie than meets the eye.  

Marcus's relationship with Charlie is the main focus of the book, but in Marcus's pursuit to find out what exactly is wrong with Charlie, he forms a tenuous relationship with Charlie's children as well.  Charlie's son and daughter just happen to be Marcus's classmates and they have more than a few of there own secrets to hide.  

Gordon Korman should be proud of his writing in this book and in particular his exploration of the effects of head trauma caused as a result of repeated hits.  This book has a message for both students who play sports and the parents and coaches that encourage them to play.  You may not like the message that Korman sends, but reading this book will definitely put things into a whole different light.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: North Of Beautiful

Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley

From GoodReads, "Born with a port-wine stain birthmark covering her entire right cheek, Terra Rose Cooper is ready to leave her stifling, small Washington town where everyone knows her for her face. With her critical, reproachful father and an obese mother who turns to food to deflect her father's verbal attacks, home life for Terra isn't so great either. Fueled by her artistic desires, she plans to escape to an East Coast college, thinking this is her true path. When her father intercepts her acceptance letter, Terra is pushed off-course, and she is forced to confront her deepest insecurities. After an ironically fortuitous car accident, Terra meets Jacob, a handsome but odd goth Chinese boy who was adopted from China as a toddler. Jacob immediately understands Terra's battle with feeling different. When Terra's older brother invites her and her mother to visit him in Shanghai, Jacob and his mother also join them on their journey, where they all not only confront the truth about themselves, but also realize their own true beauty. North of Beautiful is the engaging third YA novel by Justina Chen Headley. This is a gorgeously-written, compelling book featuring universal themes of defining true beauty, family bonds, personal strength, and love."

The main character in this book, Terra Rose Cooper, has a flaw... the left side of her face is covered by a port wine stain.  Terra works hard to make people notice everything else about her, but all people seem to notice is the mark on her face.  The whole book revolves around maps.  The physical maps of the places that Terra visits in the story and the emotion maps that Terra must work through to truly "find her way."  This wasn't a book that you could just sit down and read in one setting.  You had to read a little at a time and digest it.  The book has so many layers, it might be beneficial for me to read it another time so I am sure not to miss any of the subtle lessons.  I really liked all of the aspects and themes of this book and throughly enjoyed the creative way that Justina Chen Headley took me on a trip with the main character in the book.  I not only thought the main character was well written, but the supporting cast lead to the beauty of the book.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is willing to take a hard look at life's journey.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: Hunger Games

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins

From Shelfari, "In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
     Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

     If you haven't heard about this book, then you really need to hear about it now.  This is the first book in a trilogy.  The second book, Catching Fire, will be reviewed later on this site.  The third book, Mockingjay doesn't come out until August 2010, but it is one of the most anticipated books of all time.
       Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen, one of the most likable female protagonists of all-time.  Katniss loves and protects her family in a way that few other main characters do.  Katniss makes the ultimate sacrifice when she volunteers herself to fight in place of her sister, Primrose, in the Hunger Games.
      This book will appeal to both sexes as it has action and adventure for the guys and compassion and a budding romance for the girls.  The book begins at a slower pace, but a necessary one to give the reader the backstory of Katniss and why the Hunger Games began.  It is during this beginning that the reader begins to know Katniss and makes a connection to her that will last throughout the book.  Katniss is a character that is easy to like, but is still very believable because of the choices that she makes.  There were many times that I was both frustrated and understanding of her stubbornness.  Her partner in the games, Peeta, is also an interesting character. He is affable and well-intentioned.  He is easier to like than Katniss at times.
     The book's action sequences, star-crossed lovers plot, and awesome battle scenes will make this a quick read for most students and will have them anxious to move on to the next book in the series. A wonderfully, exhilarating read.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Peeled

Title: Peeled
Author: Joan Bauer

From GoodReads, "Hildy Biddle dreams of being a journalist. A reporter for her high school newspaper, The Core, she's just waiting for a chance to prove herself. Not content to just cover school issues, Hildy's drawn to the town's big story— the haunted old Ludlow house. On the surface, Banesville, USA, seems like such a happy place, but lately, eerie happenings and ghostly sightings are making Hildy take a deeper look. And she suspects the editor of The Bee, the town newspaper, is more interested in selling papers than he is in reporting the facts to a frightened public.
Hildy's efforts to find out who is really haunting Banesville isn't making her popular, and she starts wondering if she's cut out to be a journalist, after all. But she refuses to give up, because, hopefully, the truth will set a few ghosts free.
Peeled is a classic Joan Bauer novel, featuring a strong heroine, and filled with her trademark witty dialogue, and problems and people worth standing up to."

This book will entice readers who love mysteries and books that have a good guys versus bad guys theme.  The book begins with strange goings on at an old house in a small community.  There are rumors that the house is being haunted by the ghost of old man Ludlow, who was a mean guy in life and has gotten even worse in the after-life.  The high school newspaper's best reporter, Hildy Biddle, doesn't believe the rumors and sets out to find the facts.

I loved the character of Hildy Biddle, who is a strong female protagonist that isn't afraid to take on the bad guys and stand up for what is right.  The supporting characters are also well written and fascinating.  I especially like the back story of Hildy's reporter father. I really liked the cover and title of the book and thought that Joan Bauer did an amazing job of weaving together the apple theme throughout the novel, including the high school newspaper staff, The Core, and the community newsletter, The Peel.  Those play on words coupled with Bauer's exquisite writing had this reader "peeling" back the rumors to get to the "core" of the truth, which made this a delicious read.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review: The Naughty List

Title: The Naughty List
Author: Suzanne Young

From GoodReads, "As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! 

Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?"

To be honest I picked this book because of the title, not because I like naughty things, but I figured it had to be interesting.  The Naughty List is a great book with many lessons.  Tessa Crimson is a great person trying to do the right thing all the time.  She values her morals of no cursing, no drinking, being trustworthy, but most of all, honesty!  She has a great boyfriend and they truly have a great relationship with all the qualities a relationship should have. In trying to do the right thing and keeping others honest, Tessa and he friends have a group that investigate cheaters called SOS.  As time goes on her involvement with the SOS starts to change her faith in trust. With each investigation turning up guilty she becomes more skeptical.  So when her boyfriend ends up a suspect on the list of cheaters, Tessa really loses it!  

The message I took from this book was that you have to have faith in people and trust in the relationship you have.  You can’t control or change how people are and the decisions they make.  It is normal to find a companion that is compatible with you in interests, attraction and backgrounds.  Life is all about taking risks even with your heart.  I know sometimes things don’t work out between people but if it does it can be the most rewarding thing in your life.  But if you aren’t willing to totally give yourself and take that risk you will never truly find the love of your life.  This is a great read for anyone because it will either teach you a lesson or confirm what you already know.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Artichoke's Heart

Title:  Artichoke's Heart
Author:  Suzanne Supplee

From GoodReads, "Rosemary Goode is smart and funny and loyal and the best eyebrow waxer in Spring Hill, Tennessee. But only one thing seems to matter to anyone, including Rosemary: her weight. And when your mom runs the most successful (and gossipy) beauty shop in town, it can be hard to keep a low profile. Rosemary resolves to lose the weight, but her journey turns out to be about everything but the scale. Her life-changing, waist-shrinking year is captured with brutal honesty and humor, topped with an extralarge helping of Southern charm. A truly uncommon novel about an increasingly common problem."

I originally purchased this book because it is nominated for The Nebraska Golden Sower award in the Young Adult category.  I wasn't planning on reading it until I saw the cover (yummy!) and read the description.  Let me just say that I am so glad that I did.  Being a chunky teenager myself, I could totally relate to the main character, Rosemary Goode, and her problems.  I even have to admit that her mom and mine might have been sisters in a previous life.  Even though the story is about an overweight teen and her struggles, a lot of people can identify with her because it isn't just about her weight. Teenagers who have nagging relatives can definitely identify with Rosemary. Rosemary's weight is just a symptom of larger family problems.  I spent most of the book rooting for Rosemary and cursing under my breath at her mother and her Aunt Mary.  Although I really liked the character of Rosemary in this novel, I liked Kyle even better.  Kyle is a boy that is interested in Rosemary despite what the number on the scale reads.  This book will make you laugh, might even make you cry, but you finish it hopefully feeling a little better about yourself.

In Our Mailbox (3)

New Arrivals This Week

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
Thanks to Christina Gonzalez author of The Red Umbrella for the awesome bookmarks!  Just so you know, we did three cheers for you in several of our classes.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Releases 3/16/10

Title: Princess for Hire
Author: Lindsey Leavitt

From GoodReads, "When a well-dressed woman steps out of a bubble and wants to know if you'd like to become a substitute princess, do you 
A) run
B) faint
C) say yes?
For Desi Bascomb, who's been longing for some glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C). Desi has a rare ability: with the help of "Royal Rouge," she can temporarily transform into the exact look-alike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?
Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras.... In this winning debut, one girl's dream of glamour transforms into the desire to make a positive impact. And an impact Desi makes, one royal fiasco at a time."

Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting

From GoodReads, "A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind... and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren't enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet's small town... and she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him."

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself."

Title: Voices of Dragons
Author: Carrie Vaughn

From GoodReads, "On one side of the border lies the modern world: the internet, homecoming dances, cell phones. On the other side dwell the ancient monsters who spark humanity's deepest fears: dragons.

Seventeen-year-old Kay Wyatt knows she's breaking the law by rock climbing near the border, but she'd rather have an adventure than follow the rules. When the dragon Artegal unexpectedly saves her life, the rules are abruptly shattered, and a secret friendship grows between them.

But suspicion and terror are the legacy of human and dragon inter actions, and the fragile truce that has maintained peace between the species is unraveling. As tensions mount and battles begin, Kay and Artegal are caught in the middle. Can their friendship change the course of a war?

In her young-adult debut, New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn presents a distinctly twenty-first-century tale of myths and machines, and an alliance that crosses a seemingly unbridgeable divide. "

Title: The Unwritten Rule
Author:  Elizabeth Scott

From GoodReads, "Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more..."

Title: The Six Rules of Maybe
Author: Deb Caletti

From GoodReads, "Scarlett Hughes is overly involved in the lives of everyone around her, and exceptionally interested in the habits of her neighbors. But Scarlett is thrust solidly into her own life when her sister, Juliet, returns home from school—pregnant and surprisingly married to a sweet, handsome man whom she seems to have no interest in, but who is hopelessly in love with her. Forced to take a look inward for the first time, Scarlett discovers the necessity of dreams, as well as the necessity of facing reality and 
speaking the truth."

All of these books look amazing!  Our biggest problem now is that we have lots of books on our nightstand (between 7-9) and not enough time in the day to get to them all so we might have to take a day off of work to catch up on our reading!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Hex Hall

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins

From GoodReads, "When Sophie Mercer turned thirteen, she discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-Gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary.  But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hecate Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward prodigium, a.k.a. witches, fae, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard. Three powerful enemies who look like supermodels; a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock; a creepy, tag-along ghost; and a new roommate, who happens to be the most-hated person and only vampire on campus. Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her friend Jenna is the number one suspect.  Meanwhile, Sophie has a more personal shock to grapple with. Not only is her father the head of the prodigium council, he's the most powerful warlock in the world, and Sophie is his heir. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all prodigium, especially her."

First of all, I really liked the cover of this book.  It was very eye-catching and fit the character and the story well.  After reading the synopsis of the book, I was excited to read it and wasn't at all disappointed.  I really liked the character of Sophie Mercer.  She was easygoing, funny, and at times sarcastic.  Her feuding with some of the other characters in the story was a part of the book that I found humorous.  I also liked how Rachel Hawkins made fun of her own writing within the book.  This book moved along at a quick pace and the way the chapters are set up begs you to continue reading.  The book was also unpredictable, which I really like in a story plot and the underlying mysteries had me wanting more.  The one thing that I really wanted in the book that I never really got was a confrontation or scene with Sophie's father.  One plot twist at the end had me wondering if their may be more in store for Sophie, a possible sequel perhaps.  Although this book is written for teens, I think it would be appropriate for tweens as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver

From GoodReads, "What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined."

This book by Lauren Oliver was different than any other book I have ever read!  But I will tell you I really enjoyed this book.  It has suspense, mystery, romance and some life lessons that I took to heart.  If only you could relive the day you die, seven times,  what would change? This book will have you thinking about what you would do on that day.  I loved going through this journey with Samantha Kingston.  I can clearly see why she lived those seven days the way she did.  My favorite day was day seven.  It was her last day, and she finally figured out how to make it her best day.  On this last day I realized personally how much we all take for granted and should live each day to it’s fullest because you never know if today is your last day on earth.T

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Living Dead Girl

Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott

From Shelfari, "Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was. When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over. Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her. This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget."

I've read and liked many of Elizabeth Scott's previous novels and so I was anxious to pick this one up as well.  However, this is a whole different fare compared to her previous reads.  While most of her other books are light-hearted and easy to read, this one was disturbingly intense.  Although this book could probably be read in one setting, I actually found myself putting it down so I could process all of the emotions I was feeling while reading.  The story itself was so believably real that it often left me emotionally spent.  Elizabeth Scott is a master storyteller and deserves high praise for her writing ability.  Her portrayal of the character of Alice was heart-breaking.  This is a compelling book that deserves to be read.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Our Mailbox (2)

In Our Mailbox is a weekly post, created by The Story Siren, which explores the books that have been delivered to our mailbox.

For Review:
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt (ARC)
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Mark by Jen Nadol
Dirty Little Secrets by Cynthia Jaynes Omololu
Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong (ARC)
Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams (ARC)
The Line by Teri Hall
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

Title: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood
Author: Eileen Cook

From GoodReads, "Popularity is the best revenge. 

In the final weeks of eighth grade, Lauren Wood made a choice. She betrayed her best friend, Helen, in a manner so publicly humiliating that Helen had to move to a new town just to save face. Ditching Helen was worth it, though, because Lauren started high school as one of the It Girls--and now, at the start of her senior year, she's the cheerleading captain, the quarterback's girlfriend, and the undisputed queen bee. Lauren has everything she's ever wanted, and she has forgotten all about her ex-best friend.

But Helen could never forget Lauren. After three years of obsessing, she's moving back to her old town. She has a new name and a new look, but she hasn't dropped her old grudges. She has a detailed plan to bring down her former BFF by taking away everything that's ever been important to Lauren—starting with her boyfriend.

Watch out, Lauren Wood. Things are about to get bitchy."

The minute I began reading Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, I knew that I would like it.  In fact, I liked a lot of things about this book including the adorably evil cover, the front flap description, and the acknowledgments of the author. (I especially liked how she heart-fully thanked her readers.) I found myself anxious to tell people all about the book (which I normally don't do as I don't like to spoil it for others) even before I was finished reading it.  

If you've ever wished you could get even with those bad girls that tormented you in elementary or junior high school (middle school nowadays), this is the book for you.  I love the character of Helen and her alter ego, Claire.  Helen is that unpopular girl who doesn't necessarily want popularity as much as she wants friendship, she just happens to choose friends would rather be popular.  Lauren, the mean girl in Helen's life, is easy to hate.  She doesn't have any redeeming qualities, but once you meet her mother, you start to get a clear picture of why Lauren is the way she is.  I also really liked the supporting characters in the book: Brenda and Christopher.  I thought that Brenda was the type of friend that Helen was looking for all along that kept eluding her and Christopher was just a sweet guy.  

The plot moved along at a really quick pace and I liked the style of writing that Eileen Cook used.  She is the type of writer that I really enjoy because I can tell that she has a wicked sense of humor and probably laughed out loud and some of the decisions Helen made in the book, the same way I did.  Reading this book made me want to read more books by Cook.  Read this book, you won't regret it!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Review: Isabelle's Boyfriend

Title: Isabelle's Boyfriend
Author: Caroline Hickey

Taryn has found the perfect guy. Epp is tall, athletic, handsome, and best of all, she is sure he likes her, too. There’s only one problem: He’s dating someone else. But when Taryn becomes friends with Epp’s beautiful girlfriend, Isabelle, her life begins to change. New friends, movie dates, and a first kiss—life couldn’t get any better, could it? Except that Epp is still Isabelle’s boyfriend. Girls will relate to Taryn’s sincerity and humor as she tries to balance family, friendship, and, of course, romance."

This is a great book to curl up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.  I thought Caroline Hickey did a nice job of putting a new twist on the typical love triangle.  I liked that the main character, Taryn, wasn't one-dimensional and I liked her despite her character flaws. I think a lot of teenagers that want to be a part of the popular crowd and would do anything to get there will relate to Taryn and her choices.  I also thought that all of the characters had strengths and weaknesses that made them very realistic.  I also liked that the book didn't end in the way that I expected it to and I respect the author's decision to do it in this way, which added believability to an already terrific story.  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: How to Hook a Hottie

Title: How to Hook a Hottie
Author: Tina Ferraro

From Shelfari, "At 17, Kate Delvecchio has one goal in life: to become a millionaire before the age of 20. And as far as she’s concerned, college will only slow her down. Unfortunately for Kate, the one thing her parents do agree on is that they totally disagree with her strategy. And so the deal is born. If Kate can raise five thousand big ones by graduation day, her parents will hand over the balance of her college account to invest as she pleases. No college, no degree, and no way she’ll ever be able to pull it off. But when Kate accidentally agrees to go to the sports banquet with the hottest guy at school, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the junior class is amazed that no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one they approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn’t know anything about getting guys, but for $100 a pop, she’s more than willing to invent a six-step plan for How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?"

How to Hook a Hottie is a terrific book! I loved that the story had a girl with a spunky attitude who was not afraid to go after what she wanted, but wasn't willing to step on somebody else to do it. Kate DelVecchio is a character worth rooting for and that's exactly what I did throughout the whole book. I wanted Kate to get everything that she wanted, even if she didn't always know what that was. I also liked that Kate's life wasn't picture perfect and the relationship with her mother was tepid, which was easy to relate to. I know of a lot of people who had the same wish as Kate, to not turn out to be like her mother.

I have read two books by Tina Ferraro and really enjoy her fluid writing style. She has an effortlessness to her writing that really brings the reader into her world. The only thing left to say about this wonderful book is that you should READ IT!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review: The Beautiful Between

Title: The Beautiful Between
Author:  Alyssa B. Sheinmel

From GoodReads, "If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.

If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.

This lovely and memorable debut by Alyssa B. Sheinmel contains many of the hallmark themes found in young adult literature—friendship, coming of age, finding a place to belong, and overcoming the death of a loved one. Emotionally moving from start to finish, The Beautiful Between introduces a strong new voice to the genre, a voice with a long future ahead of it."

We received our very first ARC on Wednesday of last week, thanks to Alyssa B. Sheinmel!  I'm sure the staff at our building think we are nuts from all of the screaming and jumping around that was taking place. Of course I had to begin The Beautiful Between right away.  

Wow, what a terrific book!  I'm going to try my best not to give away too much information  because it is an amazing story that you just have to read for yourself.  First of all, I loved everything about the main character, Connelly Sternin, even her name.  Connelly is not a typical female character.  She is strong, but in her own way.  She is okay with being alone, until she realizes just how lonely she really is.  Her relationship with her mother is strained and unusual and made me want to find out more about why it is the it is.  While her friendship with Jeremy Cole, one of the popular boys,  begins in an uncommon way, it becomes painfully real that these two characters need each other. This book will make you laugh one minute and cry the next... as my mascara-stained pillow proves. I loved the depth of the characters, the flow of the story, the mystery surrounding Connelly's past, and everything in-between.  This is a wonderfully written, debut novel by an author that I'm looking forward to reading more from.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Review: A Match Made in High School

Title: A Match Made in High School
Author: Kristin Walker

From GoodReads, "When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes."

A Match Made in High School is laugh-out-loud funny, written in a conversational style, with a female protagonist that is witty and appealing. I loved the interactions between Fiona and her fake husband, Todd. It was even funnier because his girlfriend never seemed to get Fiona's sense of humor. I think I liked this book so much because I am as sarcastic as Fiona is and I could relate to her and her self-depreciating humor. I thought every character in the story, even the lesser characters, were well written. The book was difficult for me to put down because I wanted to see what Fiona was up to next. Even though the story is fast-faced, it is never predictable. Fiona's story is full of life lessons and you might find yourself rooting for her... I did!

Books We Love!