Sunday, January 31, 2010

Allie Finkle!

I'm featuring two Meg Cabot books today, part of the charming middle grade Allie Finkle series!

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Stage Fright

Stage Fright comes out strong, setting a very powerful and perfect tone to a great story. This series really is great for fans of Barbara Park's snarky Junie B. Jones. It's the same brand of humor, and fans who may have outgrown Junie and are looking for something new to read will definitely find the same type of honest outlook on the world from Allie. Cabot is really good at keeping up with current pop culture and putting in age appropriate references, which would make the books all the more appealing with her target audience. This book is not only adorable and kid-friendly, it also contains simple environmentally-friendly facts for them to learn and hopefully adapt in their own lives. We need more books telling our children how to be environmentally friendly in this day and age, so kudos to Cabot for blending it in with the plot so well! This book, like its predecessors and sequel, carries out fantastic characterization and is just as humorous, too! The ending's a little anticlimactic and predictable, and I do not think the title fits even slightly, but it's a cute read and I'm sure kids would really enjoy it.

Glitter Girls and the Great Fake-Out

Allie Finkle
may just be written for kids, but the humor will be appealing to readers of all ages. There's great characterization done by Cabot, including older characters such as Missy and Allie's parents, that is perfect for attracting both young and old audiences looking for a laugh. Cabot is amazing at capturing all these diverse personalities of these crazy little characters. She portrays Allie and her family together so well, and having siblings, she was able to write the best scenes including realistic interactions between Allie and her brothers. The cool thing about these books is that even though they're part of a series, they can totally be read as stand-alones and make sense at the end. Allie's "rules" provide a great base of solid repetition to keep the younger readers solidly interested. I'm hoping we do get to see Courtney again in future Allie Finkle books; she makes a great addition to an already wonderful cast of characters. Overall, a completely cute read--loved it!

I got these books from...:the author

Monday, January 25, 2010

Deadly Little Secret

Deadly Little Secret
written by Laurie Faria Stolarz

My hopes for this book were not all that great, as I saw it was Disney and also by the author of Project 17, Laurie Faria Stolarz. This book didn't have the greatest writing (I mean, okay, I've definitely read worse, but it could have been better) and a lot of it seemed Twilight-y. Really, did there have to be love at a lab table again? I'd like to let some authors know that we don't all magically pair up at science class. Ben had the same kind of drama with Camelia that Edward did with Bella, the whole mysterious stranger with some kind of power deal. The characters were all pretty flat, too. I did like the eventual reveal of what Ben's problem is, but other than that, it doesn't really pick up from there. The story's pretty predictable and it's easy to see who the culprit really was. I do like that it had a supernatural element other than supernatural creatures. That part was reminiscent of Meg Cabot's amazing 1-800 series and I did enjoy seeing that. So plotwise, the book's not a complete failure, though it does try and fail to succeed at setting up a good secondary plot with Camelia's parents and her Aunt Alexia. Was there any point to that? Did I miss it? There's also a really pathetic easy-way-out explanation for Debbie's role in the story. I'm still wondering why there even was a sequel, when this could have worked wonderfully as a stand-alone with a happy ending. Overall, much better than Project 17, but still in need of some work.

Rating: 3/5

See also: Project 17

I got this book from...:Barnes & Noble

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sentence Meme!

Stolen from [info]glorifield :

1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book #1 -- first sentence
3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph:

The startled residents of Washington D.C. awake one morning to find the red banner of Soviet communism flapping proudly from a tall flagpole in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building. "Very well," said the Patchwork Girl, "I'm going to serve you and your wife by helping Ojo find the things you need." Although for some reason, when No 1 thought about Abbott, the many moments of cruelty he had suffered at the pride leader's whim seemed hazy, hard to focus on. You snuck out without Gage or me noticing. Stupid b********.

If At All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks-Neil Steinberg
The Patchwork Girl of Oz-L. Frank Baum
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony-Eoin Colfer
What the Dickens-Gregory Maguire
Lies (and the lying liars who tell them)-Al Franken


It's time for a special post! Featuring three jaw-dropping books by Elizabeth Scott :)

Love You, Hate You, Miss You

Love You, Hate You, Miss You, catchy title, catchy start, to a catchy plot. Everything about this book screams reality at the reader, honest in tone and easy to read. Even the format, letters to a girl's dead best friend, are heartbreaking. The narration, via the letters, establishes an early level of comfortable interaction. It's a simple, but powerful, tale of a girl struggling to move on with life. For me, the most powerful part of the story was Amy telling her parents of all people, what had happened with Julia that fateful night. It's breathtaking to watch the growth of the relationship between Amy and her parents springing out of something as tragic as death, as well as the strange post-death evolution of her relationship with Julia. It's a book filled with perceptive thoughts for a very thought-invoking read. Scott really delves into the teens' minds astoundingly well. Some of the dialogue is a little unrealistic, but the overall situations and themes can apply to anyone. Love You, Hate You, Miss You really reminds the audience of the fact that we are all mortals, never knowing when death will strike. It ends with a wham of a final chapter, a final dose of reality, closing on a girl who still has her issues to work out, but knowing that we got to witness the long way she's come.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:The author in a blog promotion.

Something, Maybe

It's another fascinating premise from Elizabeth Scott, delivered with elegance that is not typical when dealing with trashy parents such as Hannah's. The romance is reminiscent of that seen in another of Scott's books, Bloom. It too features honest, realistic narration. It's captivatingly written in a gentle style that flows very well. The book is a lot deeper than the book description makes it out to be, filled with blurbs of Hannah's special brand of wisdom, very much like a Sarah Dessen novel. The few characters featured were marvelously characterized in great detail, making them truly come to life. The one thing that did bother me was how strangely similar, romance-wise, the story is to that of Meg Cabot's first Princess Diaries book, dealing with a character with similar motivations and even the same name, as Josh. The love story, as a result, was pretty predictable. It's quick read, with a simple linear story. Something, Maybe defines a dysfunctional family and shows that families truly do come in all different varieties, but no matter what, there can still be familial love. The story is a little unresolved, but with that, it still feels very complete, and the ending is fits perfectly with the rest of the novel.

Rating: 4.5/5

I got this book from...:Barnes & Noble

and finally, a preview of Scott's new novel, coming out on April 6th...

The Unwritten Rule

The Unwritten Rule is aptly titled and takes on different meanings throughout the story. It, like Scott's other stories, has the same simple, gentle narrative tone, realistic and honest. The evolution of the various characters and relationships in the story, particularly those of Sarah/Brianna and Sarah/Ryan, are fascinating to witness. The boy drama gets overdone at some points, and after a while, it gets repetitive and annoying to listen to Sarah endlessly drone on and on about Ryan and the associated angst, but it still makes for an interesting read. I did like the roles both Sarah and Brianna's parents played in the story, allowing everything to come full circle in a way. But that's what the rest of the story's all about--coming full circle. The ending's masterful writing makes it predictably tense and heartbreaking, with the realization that something like this could happen to anyone. I'm a little concerned about the similarities in plot between this book and Susane Colasanti's upcoming release, Something Like Fate, although I'm sure the two amazing authors end up owning their individual stories in their own unique ways.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Author ARC Tour

Saturday, January 23, 2010


written by Ellen Hopkins

Tricks seems to be an epic conglomeration of many of Hopkins' past themes under a new umbrella topic. This one pushes at the bar just a little bit more than her previous books have, dealing with the controversial subject of prostitution. I found her reasoning for writing this book to be shocking. According to Hopkins, it all began when she learned that the average age for a female prostitute in the US is twelve years old. Twelve. It's facts like these that make Hopkins' books more memorable than the usual YA literature out there, pushing it to the extreme. I didn't know if she could pull off having five main characters, but she did, and she did it extremely well. There is, as usual, tons of fantastic imagery throughout this book written in poems. I was saddened to find less of her usual stylized poetry in this book than in the others; the poems seemed to just be in standard clumps for the most part, other than the section openers. I did love the foreshadowing section opener poems though. They introduced the topic with grace and suspense in a unique style only Hopkins could pull off. But then again, this entire book is something only Hopkins could pull off. Like I said, I think Hopkins pushes it to an entirely new level with this book, and to be quite honest, I'm still not sure I really liked it. It was as deep and insightful as her other books, but just a bit more out there and scarier to read than they were. Just the fact that these were ordinary teens, violently yanked out of their normal lives into a life they never could have imagined, it was really difficult to read. But, hey, that's Hopkins' style, the amazing, terrifying writing that makes the reader cringe but keep reading. It's definitely way too graphic for younger teens though, unless they happen to be exceedingly mature for their age. For all I can say about this book, it can really all be summed up by saying that this is a fantastically written dose of cold hard reality. Bravo, Ellen Hopkins, bravo.

Rating: 5/5

Also by Ellen Hopkins:

I got this book from...:Blogger Secret Santa!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief
written by Markus Zusak

I don't like World War II fiction. I don't like the fact that I haven't read a single World War II book that isn't a tragedy. World War II was a seriously horrible time when horrible things happened, and I don't like reading about those horrible things. So clearly, The Book Thief? Not the book for me. The narration, personification, and imagery were remarkable, but the story itself? Meh. It moved slowly, and nothing much happened until the predictable ending. It's easy to see where it's going, both due to its subject matter and choice of narrator. Zusak does do a wonderful job delving into the mindsets of all of his characters, particularly the complexity of a child's--Liesel's--mind. It's a great mix of a child's mind forced to live and function in an adult world. The foreshadowing, though adding to the predictability, adds to the book and the complexity of the narration. But again, there comes a point where it just plot-wise becomes everyotherworldwarII book and is no longer enjoyable. I don't know...I can see this being used in classrooms, and if someone has yet to read any World War II fiction, I would recommend them to start with this one, but for someone just looking for a casual read, look the other way.

Rating: 2.5/5

I got this book from...:giveaway

Sunday, January 17, 2010


currently reading: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
want to read: By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

written by Frank Beddor

I must say, I'm a little torn. Part of me wants to say that this was a fantastic book, a perfect ending to the trilogy, but unfortunately, I don't think I can. A lot of this book was insignificant fighting scenes that seemed to go on forever. I'm sure this makes it a popular read for some readers, but that's really not what I go into books for. The writing was spectacular, sharply witty, albeit going overboard sometimes with the details of the fight scenes, and it was through this amazing writing that these characters really came to life. I found myself switching favorite characters from Dodge (who sadly doesn't make as many appearances as I had hoped/expected him to make) to good old Hatter. My heart really broke for him and Molly, and Beddor portrayed the awkward phase they were going through really well. I've not read many books where the author has so fully developed a complete world. I didn't know what to think of the many instances of blatant foreshadowing; it had its plusses and minuses, sometimes it worked, other times it was a little much. Up until the ending, it was really a great read. However, the ending seemed, in my opinion, completely rushed, slowed down, and anticlimactic--not as epic as the rest of the series. I know Beddor could have done better. I still do highly recommend this series to all fans of fractured fairytales and the like.

Rating: 4.5/5

See Also:
The Looking Glass Wars
Seeing Redd

I got this book from...:Barnes & Noble

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Van Alen Legacy

The Van Alen Legacy
written by Melissa de la Cruz

So, I'd firstly like to address the fact that this is not the last book of the series. I don't know why I was led to believe that it was, but let me tell you, it is a huge disappointment to read a book and discover that the saga is still not over when you've finished. I kind of just want to see this series end. I stand by what I said last time, I'm in it for the plot. I do have to commend de la Cruz, as I thought her writing had definitely improved significantly in this book. But it's still a lot of "ooh, look how fancy we are" and not that much substance, and what substance it does have, it moves excruciatingly slowly. I did feel like a lot of what happened, happened too conveniently, too much like wish fulfillment for all of the characters, tied up way too nicely. I'm still sick of the fact that Jack Force...exists. I do suppose that the fact that I feel so strongly about the characters means that they are developed quite well. [And I must ask, did anyone else see the Bliss/Harry parallels? Or is it just the freak in me noticing these things? :P] The one exception to the idea of well developed characters is seen in Mimi Force. I found her storyline boring as ever. I'm left, yet again, with that nagging feeling of not having a clue what a sequel could possibly contain. The defeat of the bad guys, I suppose? There's not much room for character development then, is there? In which case, I'm hoping really hard that the plot moves along faster, or I might give up on these books just yet.

Rating: 4/5

See also: Revelations

I got this book from...:Amazon

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Booking Through Thursday--1/14/10

btt button

Suggested by Prairie Progressive:

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

I used to obsessively read the flaps before picking out books, but lately, some of these flaps have gotten ridiculously spoilery, revealing details that don't come out until the middle or even in some cases, end of the book. So I've been avoiding those. =\ This is one of those big pet peeves I have...

Secrets of my Hollywood Life

Secrets of My Hollywood Life
written by Jen Calonita

And yet again we see an example of a book that cannot under any circumstances be taken seriously. It's fluff fiction and only fluff fiction, don't look for it to send any higher messages. As far as fluff fiction goes, I've seen better, I've seen worse. First of all, I'm pretty sure this entire book is the premise to Hannah Montana. All the glitzy references did not hide the sub-par quality of writing, and I got so tremendously sick of the lengthy clothing brand descriptions after each character entered a scene. It's all pretty one-dimensional characterization. Despite everything, though, it's a cutesy read, and I might seek out the sequels, but they're not high on my list. The content of the sequels completely eludes me, as I thought everything was wrapped up nicely in this book, but we'll see, I suppose.

Rating: 3.5/5

I got this book from...:Paperbackswap

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Treasure Map of Boys

The Treasure Map of Boys
written by E. Lockhart

The Treasure Map of Boys begins with a quick recap of events, not getting in the way of the story, but serving as a nice reminder. Ruby is as quirky a narrator as always, and I loved her typical engaging thoughts. Although not that much happens plotwise, Ruby's snarky narration is just awesome enough to keep my interest. I'm proud of how much Ruby has developed over the series, into the self-assured girl we see in this book, reminding me of Meg Cabot's Mia Thermopolis and her endless quest for self-actualization. I felt that the book had a solid ending that would have worked even as an ending to the series. It really felt like a complete work, though, unlike many books found in series, where they sometimes feel incomplete as individual works of fiction. On a different note, I think it is important for readers to realize and keep in mind through the reading that this is a work of fluff fiction, and should not be taken seriously. Ruby overexaggerates a lot, is completely obsessed with boys, and when it comes to it, leads a pretty shallow existence. Don't go into these books looking for a heavy read, go into them for a bit of relaxation and unwinding, a distraction from the busy realities of life. It's a cutesy story about a girl and her day-to-day relatable adventures. Ruby is one of those characters that I know I would hate in real life, but reading it from her perspective, getting her outlook makes me like her. I don't love her, but I see the reasons behind the actions and Ruby makes more sense as a person--as much sense as a fictional character can make. And isn't that what books are all about? A heightened sense of understanding about the world around us?

Rating: 4.5/5

I got this book from...:Borders

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lonely Hearts Club (Review & *Contest*)

The Lonely Hearts Club
written by Elizabeth Eulberg

It takes new-coming writer Elizabeth Eulberg no time at all to establish a lovable universe in her debut novel The Lonely Hearts Club. From the start, the reader falls in love with both her characters and her eloquent narrative tone. The novel begins with a very powerful hook, immediately drawing readers in to Penny's fascinating life. It begins in the middle of endings, of new beginnings, in the middle of a firmly established world that we very quickly get used to. It's amazing how fast paced this book is, fitting a lot of story into a limited amount of space. In this day, some novels just seem to take forever to start with the interesting plot material, so this was a welcome breath of fresh air. The novel is a catchy work, clearly demonstrating the uncomfortable dichotomy between boys and girls in the dating world. As cheesy as some of it is, the characters have a lot of life in them, with amazingly realistic interactions between them. The one word that keeps jumping to mind regarding this book is 'charming'. Everything about it is cutesy character development, from the writing to the cover. The ending follows the same adorable formula and does not disappoint readers. Fans of writers like Susane Colasanti will adore the seemingly simple and perfectly adorable cast of characters that make up this fantastic novel.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:the publishers. Thanks!

SO. Contest time!
Three lucky readers of my blog will receive copies of The Lonely Hearts Club to read and enjoy.
Entrants must be US residents. (International readers can only enter if they have a friend in the states willing accept the prize and ship the book to them.)
The contest will run until noon on Monday, January 25th.

Leave a comment with your e-mail address to enter!
Thanks so much. I'll leave you all with a book trailer: