Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Flawless

Title:  Flawless
Author:  Lara Chapman

     From GoodReads, "Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame. 

On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking? 

This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws."

     Around the time that I graduated from high school or shortly thereafter a movie with Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah came out called Roxanne.  (I realize by writing this that I'm telling my age, but oh well.)  Anyways, the movie was about a guy with an incredibly large nose who is trying to get the girl of his dreams and this book reminds me of that movie except that it is a girl with a large nose and there is the added problem that the guy that she really likes happens to be dating her best friend who happens to be gorgeous.
     Flawless happens to be a retelling of the famous play Cyrano de Bergerac, which I haven't actually read or seen, but knew the basic premise.  The story follows main character, Sarah Burke (the girl with the big nose).  Sarah has been best friends with Kristen for years and that friendship is tested when Sarah falls big-time for Kristen's boyfriend, Rock Conway.  
     I loved that going after what you want and remaining loyal to a friend were at constant odds in this novel and I think that the reason I liked it so much was that it was so utterly believable.  Sarah's choices were gut-wrenching at times for her and I could totally see where she was coming from.  
     Also, I must say that Rock Conway, the boy that Sarah has feelings for in the book, is an amazing character and I have a novel crush on him as well.  It's rare that you see a guy character that is good-looking, intelligent, romantic, and cares how other people feel.  
     I also really liked the cover of the book and thought it was very clever that the actual nose is missing on the cover so that you could see how truly beautiful Sarah is without her nose. The one person that should have supported Sarah the most, her mother, was at times a baffling character.  I cannot fathom that a teenage girl's mom would leave her brochures about plastic surgery!  Wow!  I have no doubt that this kind of mother is out there though.  It made it easier to understand why she is the way she is when you read the book though.  I understand her better, but I don't condone how she treated her daughter at times.
     I think that this book will appeal to anyone that has something about them that they don't like.  (I guess that probably is mostly everybody!)  There is a huge (pun intended!) message in this book about accepting who you are that I think is a great message to be sending teens (and adults)!  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Enclave

Title:  Enclave
Author:  Ann Aguirre

     From GoodReads, "In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. 

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning. 

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. 

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known."

     I have to admit that the initial reason for picking up this book was because some of the reviews said that this was for "fans of Hunger Games."  I read all three of the Hunger Games series and loved them all so I was anxiously awaiting my chance to read this book and I must say that Enclave grabbed me in the beginning in the way that Hunger Games did not.  It took about ten chapters for Hunger Games to get into the action bits of the story whereas this book got into it right away.  
     The main character, Deuce, is a Huntress and has trained all of her life to fulfill her destiny.  She is excited about the prospect of going out on her first Hunt until she finds out that she is partnered with Fade. Fade is a boy that was raised Topside, but came to the Enclave as a young child (they call them "brats" in the book) and has never really been accepted by the other society members.  What follows is a story that is full of action, unlikely friendships, and survival by any means necessary.
     I loved the characters of Deuce and Fade and really liked how their relationship developed throughout the story.  Deuce is one kick-ass female lead character.  She is strong, determined, and compassionate all at the same time.  Fade is mysterious, inquisitive, and brave, but has a true heart.  The way the two characters develop throughout the story is remarkable.  
     There were other characters in the book that were expertly written as well.  Even the characters that turn out to be bad guys and gals are so masterfully written that you just enjoy hating their guts.  I cannot say enough about this amazing book by Ann Aguirre.  This isn't a genre I normally enjoy all that well, but with the recent books coming out being so amazing, I may have to rethink my bias on the matter.  I am truly hoping that there is more to come in this story and the way that the book left off it leaves it open for more adventures to come.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Playing Hurt Blog Tour

YA Book Nuts is proud to be a part of Holly Schindler's Playing Hurt Blog Tour.  Holly is the author of both Playing Hurt and A Blue So Dark.  We really appreciated being able to interview Holly and ask her questions about her books and what she has planned.  We had a lot of fun thinking about what we wanted to ask her and she has been incredibly kind, compassionate, and helpful.  Thanks Holly for writing such amazing books and just being YOU!

Holly Schindler Interview

1.  What inspired you to write a story about two damaged people finding each other?

Actually, my initial inspiration was to write a story about learning the difference between loving someone (how Chelsea feels for Gabe) and truly being IN love with someone (how she feels for Clint).  The sports subplot came about roughly five years later, during the final rewrite—when I realized what was missing for both Chelsea AND Clint: backstory!

2.  The basketball scenes were amazing and we were surprised to learn (from the back of the book) that you were not a basketball player... so how did you write such realistic scenes?

What an incredible compliment!  Of all the team sports, I’d say I probably know the most about basketball…I played some driveway basketball (pitifully), and remember fondly when the Lady Bears went to the Final Four when I was in college…

3.  What did you think about how Chelsea treated Gabe?  Were there ever times when you felt a little bad for Gabe?

I really do believe that if the tables were turned, and Clint had come to Chelsea’s neck of the woods—say, decided to go to college inMissouriChelsea would have broken things off with Gabe before getting involved with Clint.  But she’s on vacation—she’s never going to break up with someone long distance in order to explore a relationship with Clint.  That’s just not realistic.  And I think she truly had to explore the relationship with Clint, rather than ignore her feelings.  In many ways, that relationship is the most meaningful of her life: she learns what passion is, finds new direction, rediscovers the light in her life.  But I do believe we all get our own Clint—what I mean, is I think Gabe will also have a woman in his life who affects him the way Clint affects Chelsea.

4.  For someone's first time, Chelsea seemed to handle it a lot better than some girls might.  Is there a reason that you write it this way?

If it’s right, it’s right—and that takes the fear, worry, etc. out of the situation.  She doesn’t handle the Carlyle quite as well.  She’s reduced to tears during that scene, actually.  Because being with Gabe isn’t right—and she knows it.

5.  Is the boot camp from your story based on an actual place?

It’s not, actually—completely made up.

6.  Your first book, A BLUE SO DARK,  was significantly different from this book, and we were wondering which book was harder for you to write?

BLUE just poured out—I drafted, edited and began to submit it in just two months!  PLAYING HURT took longer to draft (in all honestly, I drafted it before BLUE), but I don’t really look back on one as being easier than the other.  Both required several rounds of global rewrites before they sold.

7.  What are you currently working on and do you have something coming out soon?

My debut MG will be released by Dial in 2012.  And as for new material, I’m working on an adult novel…I have three more books outlined (and new ideas pop all the time)…

8.  Is the town you live in similar to the towns in the story?

I live in Springfield, the setting for A BLUE SO DARK.  I did take plenty of liberties with that setting—Crestview High and Zellers Photography are figments of my imagination, for example.  Fair Grove (Chelsea’s hometown in PLAYING HURT) is a short drive from Springfield—similar liberties were taken with that setting…

I did film a short virtual tour, though, of the places that show up in my books:

[Here’s the link to the YouTube page:

9.  With all of the paranormal stories out there, have you ever considered writing in that genre or do you prefer the genre of realistic fiction?

I’ve already genre-hopped a tad in my books: BLUE is a literary novel, PLAYING HURT is a romance.  I’d never count out any genre, where I’m concerned!

10.  What authors and/or books do you recommend to teenagers?

There are SOOO many great authors out there…Bloggers are fantastic about always trying to seek out new authors…And that’s really the best thing I can recommend: The next time you hit a bookstore or library, you should intentionally pick up a book by an author you’ve NEVER read before, to discover a brand new voice!

11.  Will we see more in the Chelsea and Clint story?

I’d love to hang out with Chelsea and Clint again!  Right now, there’s nothing on the table, in terms of a deal for a sequel.

12.  How do you figure out what your characters are going to be named?

The names have all come to me in different ways.  After a while, you find yourself going out to pick up a burger and think, while you’re standing in line, “That guy looks like a Matt.”  It’s funny how name-picking just becomes an innate part of a writer…

13.  Which character from the book do you most identify with and why?

It’s funny—when you write in first person, you wind up identifying, to some extent, with all of your protagonists.  I think every time you use the word “I,” bits of yourself—your observations, your humor—just naturally leak through.

Thanks to Holly Schindler for allowing us to be a part of her book tour.  You can follow Holly on Twitter: @holly_schindler.  Holly also blogs with other fellow YA authors at YA Outside the Lines: and has just started a group blog for middle grade authors at Smack Dab in the Middle:

She will also be doing a USTREAM chat with ReachOut on May 18th, 5 pm PST.  Here's the link if you would like to check it out:

Review: Playing Hurt

Title:  Playing Hurt
Author:  Holly Schindler

     From GoodReads, "Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college-and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain-or finally heal their heartbreak?"

     Chelsea, one of the main characters of this story, is not your typical high school female character.  She is not a cheerleader or boy-crazy. She isn't student council president or a slacker.  She is flawed.  She was once the star player of her high school basketball team when an unfortunate accident changed her basketball career and her life.  There are a lot of things that I like about this book including the way that Holly Schindler writes so realistically that you actually believe that she probably did most of the things that she is describing, later to find out that she didn't.  But my favorite thing about this book is that the two main characters, Chelsea and Clint are written as flawed characters.  There lives are far from perfect and I believe because of this many readers will be able to identify with them in some way.
     I also really like that Holly Schindler explores the difference between having love for a person and being in love.  The differences between the relationships that Chelsea has with Gabe, her boyfriend back home and Clint, her trainer at summer camp are significant and remarkable.  It was easy to see how Chelsea could be drawn to both boys in very different ways.  I found myself really feeling bad for Gabe because he is such a nice guy, but being drawn to Clint's ruggedness and sensitivity... much the same as Chelsea.  The chemistry between Clint and Chelsea was undeniable and many of the scenes between them were hot, hot, hot!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: Six Rules of Maybe

Title:  The Six Rules of Maybe
Author:  Deb Caletti

     From GoodReads, "Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people. Some are her friends, others are practically strangers, and then there are the ones no else even notices. Trying to fix their lives comes naturally to her. And pushing her own needs to the side is part of the deal. So when her older sister comes home unexpectedly married and pregnant, Scarlet has a new person to worry about. But all of her good intentions are shattered when the unthinkable happens: she falls for her sister’s husband. For the first time in a long time, Scarlet’s not fixing a problem, she’s at the center of one. And ignoring her feelings doesn’t seem to be an option..."

     I found myself loving this book and especially the little pearls of wisdom from the author Deb Caletti mixed into main character Scarlet's observations.  There were many times that I would pause my reading to write down some of the author's words because it connected with me so.  The writing is so beautiful.  I have recommended this book to many students, unfortunately not too many have finished the book saying that it had too much detail.  
     I liked the relationship between Scarlet and Hayden, even though I knew that it probably wouldn't go anywhere.  I also liked the interconnectedness between Scarlet, her sister, and her mother.  They were such different characters, but it all came down to a love of each other.  I would recommend this book to deep thinkers.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: Trapped

Title:  Trapped
Author:  Michael Northrop

     From GoodReads, "The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision..."

     As I sit underneath my comforter in my relatively warm house and watch the snow fly all I can think of is this terrific book! I can honestly say that I have never read anything like it.
     Three friends are inside school and notice that it is beginning to snow... a little at first and then in great gobs.  School is let out early (I can hear students' cheering), but instead of going home on the buses, the boys decide to stay and work on a shop project.  As they work it continues to snow, unfortunately it doesn't stop for a long while, but by the time they realize it, they are trapped.
     The student that are trapped along with the three friends are as different as night and day.  It was interesting to see whether the dynamics and stereotypes that they have within school would carry over to the story.  The wonderful writing by Michael Northrop made me so engaged in the story that at times I felt as if I was right in there only to realize that I was safe in my own house.
     The story starts with what most of the students think is a mild snow and transitions into a life-threatening dilemma.  Being from the midwest, it was easy to see how this could happen.   I also liked that Northrop didn't hold back from the scarier parts of what might (and in this case did) happen.  Several of the things that I am absolutely afraid of were in this book and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.  Some might think that this book is written for a mainly male audience due to a few of the inside jokes of the boys in the story, but I found it to be refreshingly unique and I think it will appeal to a female audience as well.  There were a few loose ends in the book that I didn't care for, but I predict a snowfall of fans. (Pun intended!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: Desires of the Dead

Title:  Desires of the Dead
Author:  Kimberly Derting

     From GoodReads, "The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.
Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.
As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger."

     As a huge fan of The Body Finder, I was very much looking forward to reading the second installment in the series.  I didn't like this book as much as the first book, but it was still an enjoyable read.
     The main character, Violet, is your typical, average, every-day student with the exception of the fact that she can sense dead bodies... they actually call out to her.  I absolutely love Violet's character and her abilities.  I think that she is so expertly written by Derting that a possibility of many books with different plots, twists, and turns would be possible.  In this book, she is being stalked by someone and Derting has added the element of reading the stalker's thoughts along with Violet's, which gave the book a new and different perspective.  I liked the fact that every time I thought I had everything figured out, I was completely wrong.
     In the first book, I liked the budding romance of Violet and her best friend Jay.  In this book, they are still a couple and there are developments to their relationship, some are a little quick for me, but would probably happen that quickly in the real world.  Violet is still unsure, at times, which makes for interesting reading because I really liked her perspective on things.  I also liked the addition of the not FBI, but something characters of Sara and Rafe and think that they will probably play a pivotal role in the next book.    This book is another good read by Kimberly Derting and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross

Title:  Cryer's Cross
Author:  Lisa McMann

     From GoodReads, "The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried."

     Cryer’s Cross is the fourth book I have read from Lisa McMann and once again she didn’t disappoint me.  It has been awhile since I read a book with so much suspense and mystery that was not a paranormal.  It felt really real to life and I think that is the scary part.  It had grief, mystery, suspense and surprisingly romance in the mix.  The main character Kendall is very strong, brave, and real.  It was easy to relate to her because I am from Nebraska and a small town.  So if you liked Lisa McMann’s other books, or need a break from paranormal, but like suspense, or just need a break from girl drama books this book won’t disappoint you!  I highly recommend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Vesper

Title:  Vesper
Author:  Jeff Sampson

     From GoodReads, "Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered.
The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human?
As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?"

     I was really excited to read this book because it seemed that it was going to be a unique book in the science fiction/fantasy realm.  It is unique, however, I don't think that it is unique enough to stand out when there are so many awesome book offerings out there.
     The main character, Emily Webb, is the sort of girl that I normally like to read about.  She's shy, kind of geeky, and really only has one close friend.  If the whole story was just written in this perspective, I might have liked it more.  Unfortunately, there are multiple aspects/characters to Emily's personality.  There is the Nightime Emily persona, which is the daredevil, try-anything-once, kind-of girl and there is also the other side of Emily, which isn't exactly human side.  The problem with the multiple personalities thing was.. that most of her personalities really annoyed me.  
     The story itself was also confusing.  Even reading the last pages of the book, I still found myself asking, "What is going on here?" and although there will be at least another book, I am honestly not interested in reading it at all.  In fact, there were times throughout the story when I found myself wishing that the killer had better luck in offing Emily... Daytime, Nighttime, or otherwise.  

Review: Delirium

Title:  Delirium
Author:  Lauren Oliver

     From GoodReads, "Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love."

     I was a little hesitant to read a futuristic book, but decided to give it a shot because I absolutely loved Lauren Oliver's previous book, Before I Fall.  I found that the future aspect of this book didn't bother me at all.  Delirium has so many good things going for it.  It has suspense, mystery, but best of all, a forbidden love story.  Any book that has a love so strong and has so much potential and so many obstacles... this book really moved me!  I kept reading, thinking... "Come on, please make it work!"  
     Then there is the secondary character of Alex.  The one that main character, Lena Holloway, shouldn't be with.  The one who the society says is all-wrong for her.  Alex is thoughtful, mysterious, and romantic.  This is a book you have got to read!
     The only bad thing about the book is that the next on isn't coming out until 2012!  Will I read it?  You bet!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: Here Lies Bridget

Title:  Here Lies Bridget
Author: Paige Harbison

     From GoodReads, "Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.
When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.

And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough…."

     This is one of those books that when you finish it you say to yourself, “I didn’t see that coming!”  At first I was thinking, this is just another story about a bratty teenage girl. I was so wrong!  Trust me when I say….read to the end and you won’t be sorry!  I definitely had that smile and feel good feeling at the end.   Paige Harbison did a great job of writing the main character, Bridget Duke.  Bridget was so annoying, bratty, and a total snot!  But…..can you change a teenager like this?  I will say yes, but I will not tell you how!  All I can say is I loved the book and totally recommend to anyone, especially a bratty teenager!  HaHa   I look forward to reading Paige Harbison next book.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Head Games

Title:  Head Game (A Pretty Tough Novel #3)
Author:  Keri Mikulski

     From the back of the book, "Taylor Thomas is calm, collected, and ferocious on the basketball court.  A total all-star.  Pry the ball from her fingers, though, and watch her go from future All-American to wary wallflower.  She may be tall, gorgeous, and an incredible catch, but just try telling her that!
     Now, with the summer showcase game AND playoffs rapidly approaching, Taylor's basketball career is TOTALLY on the line.
     But Taylor doesn't know which way to turn first. Her BFF Hannah roped her into a fashion show (eek!).  And she can't decide between Zach- the super-popular, super-tall, super-off limits basketball superstar- and Matt- the sweet boy from her English class (who may just be dating her BFF's older sister!- drama!).
     Can Taylor stop her head from spinning long enough to strike a pose, land the boy of her dreams, and win the game?"

     First things first... if you are a girl who likes sports, Razorbill, a division of Penguin Publishing, has a series of books called Pretty Tough series about girls who like to play sports.  The first two books are about soccer and football and this one is about basketball.  I must say that as a person who is not athletically inclined (but loves to watch the sport), I really enjoyed this book as well... in fact, it's a slam dunk!
     I think the reason I liked the book so much was because it wasn't just about basketball, but also about how friends and/or teammates treat one another and also had a pretty sweet romance in it as well.  The main character, Taylor, was easy to identify with (even though she is six-feet-tall and I'm only five foot three),  I could still understand how she was feeling.  This was a girl who cared about how she treated other people and felt bad if she didn't treat people well, even if it wasn't always her fault. It was fun to read about how she set her mind on a boyfriend who was taller than her, which was a handicap because not too many of the boys she knew (and were attracted to) fit this criteria.
     This book was about teen romance, people pleasing, being part of a team, and a whole lot more.  Some people may be disturbed that the goings-on between the boy's basketball team and the girls team affected the girl's team play, but not the boy's... however, as a person that deals with high school drama on a daily basis, I find it to be true and troubling.  I think that girls ages 10-16 will appreciate the book the most, but there are some high school girls that will like it as well.  Overall, if you read this book, it won't make you feel "foul".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: The Lipstick Laws

Title:  The Lipstick Laws
Author:  Amy Holder

     From GoodReads, "At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.   For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.   But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?"

     Every school has a Britney Taylor.  You know the one……she gets any guy she wants, wears only the best clothes,  and has a group of followers with hefty laws to follow to belong.   There are also plenty of girls like April Bowers.   The girls trying to just exist in the social nightmare called high school.  So when Britney asked April to eat lunch with them it was a definite yes!  I know this sounds like your typical “mean girl book or movie” but I found it was still a great read.  I really enjoyed April Bowers because even though she joined the Britney Taylor clan, she still never lost her sense of what’s right and wrong.  So when the clan ousted her, she wasn’t going to just sit back and do nothing about it!  April rallied all the girls who had supposedly wronged Britney Taylor and gave her a taste of her own medicine.  In finding this elite group of ousters she gained some great friendship and caught the attention of a boy she had her eye on.  So in the end everything works out.   It was a great read so give it a shot!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: The Running Dream

Title:  The Running Dream
Author:  Wendelin Van Draanen

     From GoodReads, "Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.
With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her."

     If I had to describe The Running Dream in one word I would say AMAZING!  I am not even a runner but I am thinking I am missing out on something after I read this story.  I also think this story could be related to anything you have lost that made up your total existence.  It’s a story about something that you believe in with all your heart, put your 100% into being the best at and can’t image never doing ever again.  But it is also a story about overcoming a tragedy, finding yourself again, friendship, believing in dreams and never giving up.  This story felt like a journal traveling through Jessica Carlisle's endeavor to overcome the impossible.   I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed this book.  I highly recommend it! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Paranormalcy

Title:  Paranormalcy
Author:  Kiersten White

     From GoodReads, "Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal."

     I keep telling myself that I am going to go away from science fiction/fantasy novels and then great books, like this one, just keep being written.  What I really liked about this book was that it is unlike any book I have ever read before.  It has a little bit of everything in it wrapped up in a super-cool package of sugary sweetness.

     I loved the main character of Evie!  She is sarcastic, unapologetic, and brash... but has a sensitive side to her personality that she only shows to those that are really close to her.  This book plucks Evie, who is a typical teenage girl (besides the fact that she lives with mermaids, werewolves, and vampires), and places her in an environment where she has the power to make life-changing decisions (for said mermaids, werewolves, and vampires.)  I has the just the right amount of balance between genres that it will appeal to a lot of different types of readers.

     The book has a lot of great side characters too including her best friend Lish (who just happens to be a mermaid), her love interest, Lend (whose cloak of invisibility both confuses and entices Evie), and a myriad of other characters too unique to justify in a quick sentence.

     The incredible part of the book was how human Evie was in a world where very few humans existed.  Parts of her personality reminded me Lara Croft's kick-ass attitude and parts reminded me of the Alicia Silverstone character, Cher, in Clueless in her dimwittedness.  I also loved her reactions when she visited normal high school with Lend.  The whole book was just amusing.

     As a librarian, I appreciated the fact that the romance was subtle and the swearing was censored, which makes it easy for me to recommend this book to teens, middle schoolers and even some of my upper elementary students.  Kuddos to author Kiersten White for an amazing debut!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: If I Stay

Title:  If I Stay 
Author:  Gayle Forman

     From GoodReads, "In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...
A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands."

      I have wanted to read this book for a long time and am wondering why it took me so long!  Let me just tell you...I read this book in two hours!  
     I love the main character Mia, she is such a likable high schooler.  I love kids that have their ducks in a row.  Another thing I liked is the whole out of body situation.  I have always wondered if this was possible so it was fun to hang out with Mia and play what if. I can’t image what Mia is going though.  She had a great family and to make this huge decision would be very difficult.  Should I stay or go.  The relationship between Adam and Mia is very mature.  I really think they have true love.  This book left me hanging in the end, but in a good way!  The second book, Where She Went comes out in April and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!!!  Great story!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Somebody Everybody Listens To

Title:  Somebody Everybody Listens To
Author:  Suzanne Supplee

     From GoodReads, "Retta Lee Jones is blessed with a beautiful voice and has big dreams of leaving her tiny Tennessee hometown. With a beaten down car, a pocketful of hard-earned waitressing money, and stars in her eyes, Retta sets out to make it big in Nashville. But the road to success isn't a smooth one in a town filled with dreamers, and Retta begins to have doubts: can she make her mark while staying true to herself?"

     I love books that feature characters with real problems, but don't let those problems stand in the way of getting what they dream about.  This is a novel that is both inspiring and realistic.  Retta, the main character, is a girl set on getting what she dreams about... a music career.  The book is written in her perspective and it shows that sometimes you have to go through a lot of stuff in your life before you are even able to go after what you want.  Retta's voice is so strong in this book, that it made me feel as if I were on this journey with her and her hard-knocks left me reeling with the frustration that she probably felt.  
     I absolutely loved Supplee's first novel, Artichoke's Heart, and I think this book, her second, will not disappoint either.  I also saw that she has a new book out called Mad Love, which looks great too.  Supplee definitely has a great start for what, I hope, is a long and prosperous writing career.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: I Am Number Four

Title:  I Am Number Four
Author:  Pittacus Lore

     From GoodReads, "In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. 

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next. 

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth. 


     About two months ago, my son told me about this book that he was reading.  He's a reader, but normally doesn't say anything about a book unless it is a great one or something really catches his interest about it.  I was really reluctant to read it because, once again, it was sci-fy and I really didn't like the cover.  (I know... shame on me for judging a book by its cover, but it is a horrible cover.  Not the one that is here, but the red, orange and yellow one... I digress).  During the holiday break, my son said something that got my attention, he said, "This book is better than Twilight and almost as good as The Humger Games."  I decided that I needed to check it out and so I did. 
     I must say that the book had me from the opening sequence.  Since finishing the book, I have gone online and checked out many reviews and yes, most of them were not as favorable as mine is going to be, and they do say that there is a lot of action, but is action really such a bad thing?  I think not.  This is the kind of book that is going to get some of those teens out there that don't like to read all that much to actually pick up a book and I personally think that is a good thing.  
     This review has good news and bad news though.  I loved the story.  I thought it was a unique premise that hasn't been used before and the book, although violent at times, is worth reading.  I loved the main character, Number 4 (he also has a whole bunch of aliases), he is a believable character in a book where you have to suspend your beliefs every now and then.  I'm not as found of the main female character, Sarah, in the book though because she isn't as strong of a character as I would have liked her to be.  If my boyfriend told me that he was an alien from another planet, I'm not sure I would be quite as understanding as she was.    My favorite character was Sam, Number 4's best friend.  I loved that he was kind of a nerd, but still able to go for what he believed in.  Another character I really liked was Bernie Kosar, Number 4's dog, not the former football player.  All of this is good news.
     The bad news... I guess I think of it as bad news.  I have been frantically searching for the "real" author of the book because it says it is written by Pittacus Lore, but reading the book tells me that Pittacus Lore is actually one of the elders of the planet that Number 4 is from... so I really wanted to know who wrote this book.  Actually the book is co-authored by Jobie Hughes and James Frey.  I had never heard of Jobie Hughes, but James Frey is a different story.  James Frey is the author of A Million Little Pieces and is infamous for admitting to Oprah Winfrey and the world no less, that his book, which was supposed to be a true story about addiction, actually was fiction in multiple places.  (No wonder it's difficult to figure out who wrote it.)  Had I known before reading the book that it was written by Mr. Frey, I might not have read it, so kuddos to him or whoever thought up the fact to keep his identity as secret as possible.  Also, another thing that really surprised me (not exactly in a good way) is the fact that this series is planned to have six books.  Yes, you read that right six!  I can understand two or three, but six?!  Anyway... I guess time will tell how long I decide to hang in there.  For now, there is a movie based on the book coming out in February and the second title will be releasing later this year.  
     Now that you know the good/bad news, I guess you can decide for yourself whether you want to begin reading or not!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Review: Matched

Title:  Matched
Author:  Ally Condie

     From GoodReads, "Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow."

     I wasn't quite sure whether I wanted to read this book or not.  I liked the cover, but couldn't figure out how it related to the story.  I also knew that this novel was science fiction/fantasy which isn't my favorite genre so I was putting reading it off.  It wasn't until I saw that it was on the New York Times Bestseller list that I decided to take the plunge and read it and I'm so glad that I did.
     This novel is rich in so many ways... the first of which is the richness of the writing of Ally Condie.  This book is so beautifully written, I felt that it was a privilege to read each word.  I could tell that Ally Condie took her writing personally and chose each word with the greatest of concern.
     The novel takes place in the future where the Society controls everything... what you eat, who you marry, and even when you die.  This novel is reminiscent of many novels that I have previously read, but it brings a whole new spin on dystopian society.
     I loved the characters in the novel.  Cassia, the teenage girl whose life changes after she is Matched with her best friend and another boy.  Yes, that's right.  She has two matches, but one of those is a mistake.  Both of her matches, Xander and Ky, are also remarkable characters and it was easy to see how Cassia could love them both.
     Watching Cassia grow, develop, and most of all think in this novel is what makes it so wonderful.  I love how invested the reader gets with Cassia and finding out what she will do.  It is also good to see that each character has good and bad in them and that sometimes they make the right decisions and sometimes they make the wrong ones, but through it all they are human.  This is an amazing and beautiful read which is also powerful and at times, forbidden.  You will not be disappointed if you begin this book, just don't wait as long as I did.

Review: 13 to Life

Title:  13 to Life
Author:  Shannon Delany

     From GoodReads, "Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing.  Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town.  It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…"

     I will just tell you this is one of those books that will keep you up at night, keep you from household chores or you can’t wait to get home to start reading again!  I really enjoyed reading this book and am so excited for the second one, Secrets and Shadows, that comes out in about a month.

     If your like me I am getting a little burnt out on paranormal and vampire books and have been craving a love story with normal people again.  So when a student recommended I read 13 to Life, I was reluctant, but decided to take a chance.  I read nearly the whole book before the paranormal part came into play.  By then I was so addicted to the characters and story it didn’t bother me a bit.  I absolutely love the main characters.  Jess Gillmansen is high school girl that I probably would have hung out with.  She is the outdoors type, not a lot of fluff and just real!   Pietr Ruskova, the new kid in school, is the mysterious type that you shouldn’t like, but can’t help it.  This book has forbidden love, suspense, mystery and romance.  I highly recommend this book and anxiously await the second one!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Tutored

Title:  Tutored
Author:  Allison Whittenberg

     From GoodReads, "Wendy Anderson and Hakiam Powell are at opposite ends of the spectrum—the social spectrum, the financial spectrum, the opportunity spectrum, you name it. Wendy lives in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia, where she’s always felt like the only chip in the cookie. Her dad, who fought his way out of the ghetto, doesn’t want her mingling with “those people.” In fact, all Wendy’s life, her father has told her how terrible “those people” are. He even objects to Wendy’s plan to attend a historically black college. But Wendy feels that her race is more than just the color of her skin, and she takes a job tutoring at an inner-city community center to get a more diverse perspective on life.
Hakiam has never lived in one place for more than a couple of years. When he aged out of foster care in Ohio, he hopped a bus to Philly to start over, but now he’s broke, stuck taking care of his cousin’s premature baby for no pay, and finding it harder than ever to stay out of trouble. When he meets Wendy at the tutoring center, he thinks she’s an uppity snob—she can’t possibly understand his life. But as he gets to know her better, he sees a softer side. And eventually—much to the chagrin of Wendy’s father and Hakiam’s cousin—they begin a rocky, but ultimately enlightening, romance.
This edgy story about a star-crossed couple features strong African American characters and sparkles with smart, quirky dialogue and fresh observations on social pressures and black-on-black prejudice."

     I was really excited to read this book when it came because the description sounded really good and I loved the cover.  Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed by the book itself.  The main characters, Wendy and Hakiam, began by hating each other, but you knew, as a reader, that the relationship would change.  It was how the relationship changed that really stumped me.  It was as if one minute they hated each other and the next minute they were kissing and totally into one another.  There just wasn't a momentum change that made sense.  
     There were aspects of the book that I liked.  I didn't realize in my own naive world that their was racism within a community and this book did a great job of showing that racism exists everywhere.  I was especially upset with Wendy's father.  He was a very domineering personality and it was interesting to see how Wendy challenged his value systems in her own way.  
    There were similarities between this book and Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, but if you are looking for a contemporary twist on a classic, I would skip this book and try Prom and Prejudice instead.

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