Sunday, July 30, 2006

Secrets of my Hollywood Life ****

Calonita, Jen. Secrets of My Hollywood Life. 2006.

This was frivolous chic lit, but so entertaining. Kaitlin is a big teenage star on a night-time soap opera. One of her co-stars hates her and is trying to sabotage her. She is totally stressed out and needs to relax, but her manger (her mother) and her agent are on her to work work work on her hiatus. She decides she wants to know what real life is like for normal teens, so she dresses in disguise and enrolls in a private school where her friend Liz goes to school. We all know that things are going to go awry, and they certainly do.

This book was very entertaining and enjoyable. I highly recommend it to female fans of chic lit. I also love the cover design--it looks like a Louis Vuitton journal--very cool. Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lost and Found ****

Parkhurst, Carolyn. Lost and Found. 2006.

This is an adult book appropriate for YAs.

Do you enjoy reality tv? If so, you will love this book. This book follows the characters in a scavenger hunt around the world called Lost and Found. The chapters alternate between some of the characters so the reader gets inside a lot of the characters, not just one. Some of the characeters include a mother and daughter trying to mend their battered relationship, two former child stars trying to become stars again, and two formerly gay people that have found Jesus and are no longer gay, or so they claim. Reading this book is like watching a reality show. There is a lot of drama and comedy to keep readers interested and wondering what will happen next.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An Abundance of Katherines **** 1/2

Green, John. An Abundance of Katherines. 2006.

Ah, the joy of advanced reader copies. I have a small collection of ARCs from Penguin Putnam and will be reviewing them here, before they are published. Yippee!! This book should be available in September. If is to be trusted, September 21 to be exact.

Anyway, John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska was awesome (see review on this blog, 12/16/05). It received starred reviews and then went on to win the Printz Award this January. I am always scared that a second book by an author will disappoint, probably because so many of them do. This one certainly d0esn't disappoint. It is totally different than Alaska, but it is still fabulous.

Colin is really too smart for his own good. He is a washed up child prodigy. He is also socially awkward-- the kid that everyone thinks is weird because he is fascinated with the most boring of topics. He has just been dumped by his 19th girlfriend, all of whom were named Katherine. Colin, who has just graduated high school, sets off on a road trip with his only friend Hassan. They don't really get very far. They take a side-trip to see the grave of Archduke Ferdinand in Gunshot, Tennessee and end up staying after the befriend a local teen that gives the tours at the grave. As he is still trying to get over his most recent dumping by a Katherine, Colin begins to think that there is a mathematical equation he can create that would predict how long a relationship will last, and he uses his experiences with the Katherines to figure it all out.

Don't let the math scare you away. After the first few chapters I got scared because, frankly I am a math moron, and I was afraid I wasn't going to "get it" if I continued on. The math is a small part of the book and you don't need to really understand it to follow the book. The book isn't about math anyway-- it's about Colin and Hassan and growing up. I highly recommend this book to all readers. And, if you haven't read Looking for Alaska yet, you need to read that one too, because both of these books are fantastic.

You can visit the author's web page and blog at

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Speak ****1/2

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. 1999.

I loved this book so much the first time I read it that I decided to read it again.

At the beginning of the novel, we aren't sure what happened, but something happened to Melinda at a party just before school starts. She called 911 at a party which caused the cops to break it up. Now everyone hates her and none of her friends will talk to her. She has a hard time adjusting to school. Her grades start to slip and she starts cutting class and school. Her parents are distant and don't pay much attention to her at all. She makes a friend with a new girl, but she soon dumps her when she gets accepted into a new group in school. Her only bright spot in life is art class with Mr. Freeman.

This is an awesome book. Told from the first person point of view, we feel like we are inside Melinda's head. Everything unfolds in such a wonderful way. Melinda is smart and observant. She is a great character and the reader will want the best for her and for the pain to go away.

Fans of the book should also seek out the movie by the same name. It sometimes appears on various cable channels including Lifetime. Anderson has also written other great titles worth looking for such as Fever 1793 and Prom (also reviewed on this blog earlier this year).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Just Listen *****

Dessen, Sarah. Just Listen. 2006.

LOVED IT. LOVED IT. LOVED IT. Of course, I have loved everything Sarah Dessen has written so far.

After an incident at a party, Annabel's best friend Sophie dumps her and turns the whole school against her. Now that school has started up, she sits alone at lunch but eventually strikes up a friendship with a guy at school that was previously arrested for anger problems and has just returned to school. She also has a hard time telling the truth because she doesn't want to hurt people. She continues modeling even though she doesn't want to because she is afraid to hurt her mother's feelings. She is afraid to tell her family about what happened at the party because it will upset them all, and she doesn't want to take the spotlight off her sister Whitney who is suffering from an eating disorder. Her friendship with Owen starts to help her see that all of the lying and covering up of her feelings is really just hurting her.

I highly recommend this book. While she is flawed, Annabel is very likable and sympathetic. The reader will hope that she resolves her problems and that her family will stay intact. Highly recommended for all female readers. This book is rather long, but well worth the time. Readers should also go back and read her previous novels as they are also gems!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Book Thief *****

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. 2006.

This book received a starred review in School Library Journal and does deserve this distiction.

This book is narrated by Death. The story takes place in Nazi Germany. Leisel is essentially abandoned by her mother, and lives with foster family near Munich. She is taken care of by them, but she does miss her mother. She learns to love books even though she doesn't have any. She begins her life of crime so that she can steal books so she has something to read. Leisel's family is not a member of the Nazi party. They even hide a Jew in their basement, and he is never detected by some miracle. Essentially, this story is about WWII and the struggles everyone endured during that time.

This was a very long book-- over 500 pages. There is a signifant time committment here, but it is totally worth it. The story is compelling, and even though we all know about WWII, it is still interesting to hear about one individual's experiences.My only quibble with this book, much like I am the Messenger is that they aren't YA books. They are certainly appropriate for YAs, but they are definitely not YA books. They are most definitely adult books. But, whatever. Highly recommended for advanced YA readers interested in WWII or historical fiction.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Endgame **** 1/2

Garden, Nancy. Endgame. 2006.

This book received a starred review in School Library Journal, so I had to read it, of course! When I realized it was a school shooting novel, I sort of sighed, because that is the trend now, to do novels about a school shooting. Something can be learned from reading these books, though.

Gray and his family have just moved to a new town. The reason was pretty much because of Gray. He had been getting into trouble at his previous school and was suspended twice for bringing weapons in to school. He was bullied mercilessly, and he didn't know what else to do. He wants things to be new at this new school, but things go downhill quickly.

Peter, Gray's older brother is the super kid, and his parents seem to favor him, particularly his father. The father doesn't even like Gray and doesn't take an interest in him and his activities at all. He does make a friend at school, Ross. Immediately, a popular jock Zorro decides to torture Gray and Ross. They can't get through a day without being harassed, beaten up, and worse. Teachers turn a blind eye and other students do nothing to help. Finally, Gray takes him father's gun in to school to get revenge against Zorro, but others get in the way of the crossfire. Now he is in the juvenile detention center on trial for murder and attempted murder.

This was a great novel. If only a few kids in each school would read this, it could make life better for even just one kid. It will hopefully encourage kids to come forward and defend those that are being teased, or to go to authorities for help before things get to this point. If the reader is like Gray, it will convince them that revenge like this isn't the way to go about things, and that getting help is important. This is a great choice for any reader.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The New Rules of High School ***1/2

Nelson, Blake. The New Rules of High School. 2003.

This book was just OK. The main character, Max, is wound so tight, he's lucky doesn't explode. He decides to break up with his girlfriend Cindi for no real reason, which leaves him really sad. He is the new editor-in-chief of the school paper, and this gives him added stress. Then this girl Lydia starts to obsess over him, and sort of stalk him. He is totally stressed and, eventually, starts to unravel.

The problem I have with this book is that things don't seem to come together right. He doesn't like Lydia, and she is really crazy, yet he begins to strike up a friendship with her. His friends start getting into fights for no apparent reason. He also seems to be in total control and starts to lose it inexplicably toward the end. He should have been showing signs of losing it all along; perhaps I just missed it, I don't know. And then there is the annoying way he talks about people, often using their last names for no reason whatsoever. He would refer to his friend Bob as "Bob Hollins" all the time. It was annoying after awhile. It's not like there were multiple Bobs in the book.

This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't great either. Read something else. I much prefered Rock Star SuperStar by this author.