From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall 2010: New Ruby Oliver

In her latest blog, E. Lockhart announced that the 4th installment of her Ruby Oliver series, Real Live Boyfriends will be published in the Fall of 2010.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cover: Something Like Fate

Susane Colasanti's next book Something Like Fate will be published May 18, 2010. Here's a look at the cover. I like it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lauren Conrad: L.A. Candy

Confession time: I love "The Hills"! So, of course, I put my name on the library's waiting list for L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad.

Best friends Jane and Scarlett just moved to L.A.

Scarlett is a student at USC.

Jane has decided to put off college and is working an internship for celebrity event planner Fiona Chen.

Wanting to break free from their everyday lives, they visit a few L.A. clubs and are approached by a producer who invites them to audition for "L.A. Candy," a "reality version of Sex and the City."

They jump at the chance and find themselves living like celebrities--a brand new apartment (courtesy of PopTV), free designer clothes, access to L.A. hot spots, invitations to premieres, and encounters with big-name celebrities.

But Jane, the show's breakout star, soon learns that instant fame isn't all its cracked up to be.

As a fan of "The Hills," I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of a reality TV show--spontaneous things just don't happen (if, by chance, they do, they're filmed over and over again), situations (and people) are set up, and what you see on TV isn't always what happened (thanks to a little creative editing). In short, there isn't a lot of reality in reality television.

The story itself? It fell flat. I might have enjoyed it more if I didn't watch every season of "The Hills" and read about Conrad and her friends in US Weekly. But, because I did, I knew what was going to happen.

The climactic ending didn't even surprise me. Still, the cliffhanger made me want to know what happens next. I guess that's the point of guilty pleasures--they lack substance and aren't earth shattering or original but leave us wanting more.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Justine Larbalestier: Liar

I was excited to win Liar by Justine Larbalestier (September 29/Bloomsbury USA) from Book Divas! The book is getting a lot of buzz, and I was intrigued.

The story opens with Micah telling the reader that she's a compulsive liar. She's lied to everyone--her teachers, her classmates, and her parents.

But she's trying to stop.

The shock of her boyfriend Zach's gruesome murder has made her want to tell her story--the true story.

Divided into brief sections--Before, After (the murder), School History, Family History, History of Me--Micah weaves a tale that, quite frankly, you won't believe.

In all fairness, she did warn you.

I found Micah to be a psychologically disturbing character, which made her story interesting and a definite page-turner. But, at the end, I felt unsettled. There wasn't a resolution. I like resolutions or, at least, hope of a resolution. Still, I can't stop thinking about it and wondering if I should read it again. Maybe I missed a clue or something.

Honestly, I'm still not sure how I feel about this story. And maybe that was Micah's plan all along.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Susane Colasanti: Take Me There

I know a lot of authors are choosing to use Twitter instead of blogging, which is a shame. Twitter is a fad. Twitter is limited. Twitter is impersonal. I've discovered some amazing authors through blogging--like Susane Colasanti. After reading her blog, I decided to request her books at my local library. The first to arrive was Take Me There.

There's a movie I really like called "Go," where you get to live the same night over and over again through the perspective of each of the main characters, seeing how their actions impact one another. It's a raucous, exciting, joyride. Take Me There, though PG in comparison, reminded me of "Go" (the original way the story was told, not the actual plot), which is to say I enjoyed it immensely.

In this story about friendship and unrequited love, readers experience one life-altering week in May through the eyes of three narrators--friends Rhiannon, James, and Nicole.

Rhiannon was recently dumped by her boyfriend, which sends her into a spiral of depression and an obsession with getting him back. Although she starts out a bit too angsty, her journey of self-discovery was realistic.

James wants more than friendship from his best friend Rhiannon but has a hard time admitting it. He provides an interesting male point of view to the story.

Nicole recently dumped her boyfriend for no apparent reason, and he wants her back--but she's crushing on an older man. She's also trying to cope with a painful secret from her past. Her story is the most compelling of the three.

So many times, while reading YA Fiction, I am overwhelmed by the author's voice and have a difficult time distinguishing them from the characters they're trying to create. That definitely was NOT a problem here. In fact, what I liked best about this story was the dialogue. Colasanti brilliantly captured the way teenagers talk to each another without sounding like an adult desperately trying to be "hip" and fit in.

Take Me There was an easy, quick read, but filled with interesting, real characters. I'm excited to read more books by Susane Colasanti!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meg Cabot: Being Nikki

Even though I wasn't a fan of Airhead, I am a Meg Cabot fan and decided to give its sequel, Being Nikki, a chance.

Fancy clothes. Money. VIP status. World travel. Stylists. Parties. Hot guys lining up for the chance to date you. It's a dream come true.

While a girl could get used to the perks that come with the life of international supermodel Nikki Howard, Emerson Watts is still the smart, video-game-obsessed, corporate-hating, in love with her best friend--who (literally) doesn't know she's alive--girl she always was.

When Steven, Nikki's brother, shows up with news that their mother is missing, Em realizes there might be more to being Nikki and working for Stark Enterprises than lip gloss and fashion.

Someone has a secret. One they aren't afraid to kill for.

My problem with the Airhead series has always been that it's never really clear what type of books they're supposed to be. Sci-fi? Mystery? Chick Lit? Sometimes it's a bit too much. But this book was slightly more exciting than the first in the series. And, of course, there's a sequel on the way, and the ending was just dramatic enough to make me want to know what happens next.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sara Zarr: Story of a Girl

When I tell people that I blog about YA Fiction, they tell me that I MUST read Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr. So, I did.

When Deanna Lambert was 13 years old, she was caught having sex with seventeen-year-old Tommy Webber in the backseat of his car.

Her father won't even look at her and rarely talks to her.

She's labeled the school "slut."

Unfortunately, in small towns, gossip doesn't fade away and labels don't disappear. Now 16, Deanna is still struggling to shake the stigma.

She gets a summer job at a local pizza place where, unbeknownst to her, Tommy works. Being in close proximity to him causes memories and feelings to come flooding back, allowing readers to learn more about what happened between them.

The reader learns even more about Deanna through her relationship with her family and friends.

Her brother Darren, who lives in the Lambert's basement with his girlfriend and baby, is Deanna's saving grace. They have a great brother-sister relationship, and Deanna often fantasizes about the four of them moving out, living in an apartment together, and having a happy homelife,

She also has two best friends--Lee and Jason (a couple)--that accept her for who she is and don't pay attention to gossip and labels. Unfortunately, a moment of weakness and jealousy almost sabotages everything.

All of her relationships illustrate the core of Deanna's problems--she just wants to feel like she belongs somewhere, that someone wants and needs her.

Zarr, as always, created realistic characters and captured the struggle to find out who we really are. Deanna's journey was heartbreaking, but watching her forgive, overcome obstacles, and strive for normalcy left me feeling hopeful and inspired.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tom Dolby: Secret Society

Thanks to a sudden trip to the emergency room, a long wait (as things tend to get crazy in the ER during holiday weekends), and a few broken bones that rendered me helpless (and useless), I spent the weekend reading Secret Society by Tom Dolby (September 29, HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishers).

Nick, Phoebe, and Lauren attend the Chadwick School, one of New York City's most prestigious prep schools.

Nick is already becoming a successful club promoter.

Phoebe is an aspiring artist.

Lauren has a passion for fashion and design.

The three are invited to join The Society, a super-secret club that insures its members a powerful future filled with success and money.

Though things start out great--with sudden success, attention, and dream-come-true moments--the new friends are forced to choose where their loyalties lie, who their real friends are, and how bad they want to succeed in their future endeavors.

I would describe this book as "The Skulls" meets "Gossip Girl," without the appeal of Joshua Jackson or Chuck Bass.

The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and felt more like an attempt to make room for a sequel instead of resolving things. It had the potential to be an exciting story, but the characters didn't seem very well developed, and there were a lot of holes in the plot.

Must Read: Tricks

I want to read Tricks by Ellen Hopkins. Looks intriguing! I'm more than positive my local library will not have this one.

"When all choice is taken from you, life becomes a game of survival."

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.

Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story — a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"

A brilliant achievement from New York Times best-selling author Ellen Hopkins — who has been called "the bestselling living poet in the country" by — Tricks is a book that turns you on and repels you at the same time. Just like so much of life.

Has anyone read it? Good? Bad?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Maureen Johnson: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson must be a popular book. The copy I got from the library is so battered and bruised that the binding is practically unattached. I had to be extra careful as I read it, which was difficult because I was speeding through the pages to find out what happened next!

Seventeen-year-old Ginny Blackstone is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, with only the contents of a backpack and without guide books or foreign language aids and electronic gadgets.

Her tour guide? Thirteen envelopes from her Aunt Peg, who recently passed away.

Each envelope contains destinations and instructions on what to do at each location and when to open the next envelope. Ginny travels from New York City to London first. What follows is a rapid-fire tour of Europe.

Along the way, she meets Peg's friend Richard, a Harrod's employee; Keith, a college student who wrote, produced, and performed in a play about Starbucks; Beppe, an Italian lothario; the Knapps, a super-organized family from Indiana; and a group of students from Australia.

Each of the adventures brings Ginny closer to her Aunt, helping her understand the way Peg chose to live her life, why she suddenly disappeared from their lives, and more about her eventual illness.

Ginny also learns to step outside of her comfort zone and become more independent.

She falls in love, makes new friends, and learns to be more carefree. Not a bad way to spend the summer.

It was a fascinating read! I felt like I was traveling with Ginny (again, a much needed escape during my vacation-less summer). It was a great adventure and a very unique idea for a book.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kristin Harmel: When You Wish

After reading Italian For Beginners, I knew I wanted to read other books by Kristin Harmel. As my blog revolves mostly around YA fiction, I picked up her first YA novel, When You Wish.

Star Beck is pop royalty (think: Britney Spears). She's got the skintight, sparkly wardrobe, personal trainer, dietician, rabid fans, equally rabid paparazzi following her every move, auto-tuned vocals, and sold out concerts complete with video monitors, slick choreography, and pyrotechnic spectacles to prove it.

There's also a fauxmance with the reigning prince of pop, Jesse Bishop, that managers manipulate to get as much press and publicity as possible for their clients' upcoming projects (think: Heidi & Spencer).

Oh, yeah, and a controlling Mom who acts as her Manager (or, to drop a term we used--sarcastically--at work every day: Momager), setting up photo opportunities during mother-daughter shopping trips, wearing a wire during private lunches so magazines can get exclusives, creating a generous salary for herself, and lying to Star about her absentee father.

During an interview with Dial magazine, Star learns that her father has been trying to contact her for years. Star is shocked. And angry. Her solution? She disguises herself (think: Hannah Montana) and travels to Florida to find him.

What happens next is Star's attempt at a "normal" life, an encounter with a boy who might like her for more than fame and fortune, and a lot of growing up.

Each chapter begins with lyrics from Star Beck's catalog of hit songs, but, as I read the book, I couldn't get Britney Spears's "Lucky" out of my head. That's good because it's a perfect soundtrack to the story. That's bad because I really, really don't like Britney or that song.

Though predictable, I enjoyed reading about Star's "normal" life and watching her pick herself up, learn from her mistakes, and discover what she wants and who she needs.

Kristin Harmel is a reporter for People magazine, and her knowledge of pop culture added an authenticity to the story. I hope she writes more YA novels.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

E. Lockhart: Dramarama

I don't know what attracted me to Dramarama by E. Lockhart more--the title (dramarama is one of my favorite ways to describe friend drama, especially online friend drama) or the musical theater content (I'm a musical theater geek). Either way, I knew I had to read it. And I knew I'd enjoy it!


Two theater-mad, self-invented
fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
It's a season of hormones,
gold lame,
hissy fits,
jazz hands,
song and dance,
true love,
and unitards
that will determine their future
--and test their friendship.

The narrator Sadye (also known as Sarah Paulson) and her best friend Demi (also known as Douglas B. Howard, Jr.) share a love for musicals and a desire to get out of Brenton, Ohio, where everyone is too "vanilla."

They know that their best chance to escape boring hometown life and unleash their "lurking bigness" is to audition for the Wildewood Academy For the Performing Arts Summer Theater Program (drama camp).

They are accepted and, as the title says, drama ensues.

Demi is over-the-top talented, yearning for first kisses and first love, and gay.

Sadye doesn't quite have the level of talent that the rest of the Wildewood students possess, but she's a good dancer and very smart (sometimes too smart for her own good).

Demi lands a few leads in the summer productions, relishes the opportunity to learn from the best, and feels like he's found where he belongs. He fits in.

Sadye lands a few supporting roles, questions the teachers, and makes suggestions to the directors. She doesn't quite fit in.

Dramarama is an excellent behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put together a show. Through Sadye's narration (an authentic voice, thanks to Lockhart's experiences at drama camp), the reader learns about acting exercises, running lines, costume fittings, rehearsals, and staging. Between that and the constant pop culture/theater references, it's a theater lover's dream!

Though Dramarama revolves around theater and putting on a show, the heart of the story is friendship and finding where you belong. The storytelling is slick and mature, making it something that both teenagers and adults will enjoy.
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