Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (4): Dog Days

Review:

Greg Heffley, who is now an expert in the middle school ways, is on summer vacation. While most kids are swimming at the public pool or riding their bikes, he’s in front of the television playing video games. Greg’s mom wants him to be more social, more active, and more … well, outgoing. With the cute lifeguard and trying to earn the responsibility of having a dog, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. But after the sufferings of walking through the men’s shower room at the pool and having a cold, wet dog sleep next to him all night, Greg realizes that being lazy and irresponsible is just the way he is.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has yet to disappoint me! While I can tell that Greg is getting older and his opinions are becoming more grown-up, his narration and drawings still crack me up. This book is simply entertaining and it’s very easy to read and keep reading. Greg’s experiences and feelings are so realistic that I couldn’t help but sympathize with him, laugh at him, and just want to be with him! The series appeals to both boys and girls and is the perfect gift.




Diary of a Wimpy Kid (#4): Dogs Days by Jeff Kinney
pages: 217 (reads like 100), release date: November 2009, publisher: Amulet Books (of ABRAMS)
Contains: crude humor

RECOMMENDED (ages 12+)

STARS: 5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SKNReviews

SKNReviews
sorta, kinda, not really reviews


If I Stay by Gayle Forman
2.5 out of 5 stars
Ages 15+
NOT RECOMMENDED

I’d been waiting months to acquire a copy of this book and now that I finally to got to read it, I am extremely disappointed. All of the political and religious things talked about were completely opposite of my beliefs. But I found myself not wanting to put it down. Everything was so different from what I know, that it was interesting. That was the only reason I kept reading. Good stories have diverse characters, unique personalities, which If I Stay lacked. The pace of the novel was messy and the ending unsatisfying. I hope to see Gayle Forman’s writing talent put to better use in the future.

*Contains: sensuality, profanity, and homosexuality of a minor character


i am neurotic (and so are you) by Lianna Kong
3.5 out of 5 stars
Ages 15+
RECOMMENDED

This book is based on real people’s submissions to iamneurotic.com so you know you aren’t the only one with these neuroses. From lining up the tacks on bulletin boards to eating Cheetos with chopsticks (orange fingers, eww!), over 200 neuroses are explored each with a wonderful photograph and a few short sentences.

This is a nice, quick sit-down read that’s really fun to look through. I didn’t expect the neuroses to be so different from each other. I found it boring at times yet the pictures kept me interested enough to keep reading. The pictures were terrific! The models did an excellent job with posing for them. If you pick up i am neurotic (and so are you), don’t expect a book. Expect a photography portfolio (which can sometimes be even better than a book).

*contains a sexual reference & a picture of partial nudity


My Self (a guide to me)
by Marlene Wallach and Grace Norwich

3 out of 5 stars
AGES 11+

*recommended to check-out at the library*

I adore the format of the book and the fun facts Marlene includes. It’s so bubbly and inviting! Marlene is like the babysitter who understands everything you’re going through. Towards the beginning are the tips on body language and not whining or complaining. It was fun reading about those topics because they aren‘t brought up that much. After awhile, though, the books goes into things like looking in the mirror and telling your reflection three things you love about yourself. This book is meant to give confidence to tween and teen girls but by most of the advice, it has more possibility of giving too much confidence that it becomes arrogance.

I don’t admire the pictures at all, mostly because the way the models posed. There is some good advice in here, though, so pick up a copy and flip through it for awhile.

*Contains nothing inappropriate

Monday, November 30, 2009

Like Christian novels?


TitleTrakk is having a huge contest in celebration of Christmas! They are giving away 10 Christian novels, 5 Christian music CDs, & 2 comedy DVDs.

(<--) That's 17 prizes all to the same person!

Enjoy them with your family or wrap it up and give it as a Christmas gift. Check it out and sign up for the contest here! All you have to do is answer the question, "What's your favorite Christmas carol?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World

Review:

Jordan Christy uses her experience of the music and media business to create a guide for girls that want to resemble Audrey Hepburn and acquire her class and charm. Jordan explains that kindness is a necessity for finding and keeping real friends, taking care of your responsibilities will get you that job promotion, and that by keeping your virginity until marriage, your boyfriend will respect you even more. These things may be hard to understand at first glance, but Jordan teaches them in a simple way and you will soon catch on. So open this book! And see how to be and act like a real woman.

In How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World, it was sometimes hard to be respectful of the author and what she was trying to teach when she talked nastily about “stupid girls”. She could have went about writing the first part of the book in a different way that included all the girls that wanted to become classy, even ones with a not-so-pleasant past, but after the first 15 pages, she started to ease off a bit. I enjoyed a lot of things from this book, ones that I had to share with everyone that crossed my path, and I thank the author for using such an easily understood yet classy vocabulary. My favorite thing to read was the true short stories of how couples became married couples. It was really cute! The tips on how to dress made me feel a lot better about shopping, about how I’m not the only one with the problem of fitting into the right pair of jeans. This book really taught me how to become more of a graceful and respected, classy young adult. I recommend every teenage girl to read it before that first date or first job interview!


How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy
196 pages, released 2009, published by the Center Street division of Hachette
Contains: mentions of sex, sluts, and the female anatomy AGES 15+

4 out of 5 stars

RECOMMENDED

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Amanda Project Street Team



Hey, everyone! You may remember a while back when I posted the review of The Amanda Project: Invisible I (from HarperCollins), rated at 5 stars. Now, it's time for you to get acquainted with the site! An overview:

What Happened to Amanda?

AMANDA VALENTINO came to our high school on Halloween. She disappeared on the Ides of March. She left us some clues, but we’re not sure what they mean. The only thing we know for sure is that she utterly, completely changed our lives.

If you contribute, your idea of what happened to Amanda may get into a future book in the series!

So make account now, to help us find Amanda!

Why is this post titled the way it is, you ask? I'm one of The Amanda Project's Street Team members, trying to help spread the word of this amazing website and book series. If you have the time after making an account, send me your Amanda Project username and your zipcode so it can be counted as part of the Street Team's recruits. It would help a lot! So send your information here:

ReadingToMyself @ yahoo . com
(remember to remove the spaces when copied into your email or I won't receive it)

You Are Here

Review:

The way Emma Healy thought of her childhood and family changes. At the age of sixteen, she finds a birth certificate in the attic of her supposed twin brother. And with it, his death certificate dated two days after. Emma never felt like she belonged with her scholarly family and now she can imagine that there had been someone else like her, someone ordinary. Though she doesn’t own a car, she wants to visit her brother’s grave, states away in North Carolina. Her neighbor, Peter, offers to drive her there so she accepts. What she didn’t expect, though, was to find someone who understands her way better than she does herself that it’s almost scary. And he’d been next door for all these years.

You Are Here is now my All-Time Favorite book. Enough said. But since you want to know, here is a list of everything I loved about it: Each sentence, paragraph, and chapter ended on the perfect note. The characters and their lives were so fully described that I felt connected to them and wanted to never, not ever, stop reading. At 2am I finished it and I could feel a cry coming up my throat just because it ended. There is a whole world inside this book that explores every corner of awkwardness, kindness, love, failure, imagination, death, hope, anger, and all the other kinds of emotion. And I experienced every one myself while reading. It’s amazing! I have nothing bad to say about it. Author Jennifer E. Smith has an unbelievable talent that I can’t even dream of having. She weaves together great writing, a wonderful storyline, an amazing plot, completely likable characters, and emotions that make the reader feel like they are just discovering them for the first time. All while keeping her unique voice.


You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith (author of The Comeback Season)
pages: 251, release date: May 2009, publisher: Simon & Schuster
Contains: rebellion against parents (but resolved) AGES 12+

5 out of 5 brightly shining stars
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED

*To see what others said about this book, click on the cover.

Friday, October 23, 2009

*Another* Another Faust Contest

Daniel Nayeri, one of the two authors of Another Faust, guest blogs:

Hi everyone. Dina and I are about to kick off a month-long tour for our book, Another Faust, and we want to do it by announcing a contest! We are looking for the most promising writers out there (that’s YOU). And then we want to showcase their work, so that all of the Internet can bask in their awesome writing might (and, you know, give them prizes).

HERE’S HOW IT GOES.

We want you to write your own short story, re-imagining of the Faustian Bargain. (For inspiration, check out Bedazzled, Simpsons “Tree House of Horrors IV,” and The Little Mermaid). It can be about anything you like (but let’s keep it PG-13, and under 3,000 words), and it’s open to everyone.

All you have to do is send your entry to dviergutz(at)gmail(dot)com before January 31.
Rules and details can be found here.

Make sure to read them so you don’t get disqualified.

And the winner gets all kinds of sweetness:

A signed copy of Another Faust
A handwritten deleted scene
A featured article & interview on our site
An author’s galley of the sequel Another Pan

Though we’ll feature the top five on our site for comments, the judging WON’T happen by popular vote (so basically, we don't care which contestant has the most friends). Dina and I will personally read them.

So, spread the word! Tweet, retweet, forward, thread, spread, embed this post.
Good luck!
D&D

To learn what Daniel & Dina's book is about, click here. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Once Was Lost


Review:

When her mother is checked into rehab, Samara wants her father to say the right words like he does to everyone else in their small town. His charm is undeniable and the Pineview Community Church is lucky to have him as a pastor. But Sam isn’t so sure that her dad has it altogether. Then again, what does she really know about him if he’s never home? Heat waves suck. And they make everything feel ten times worse. So Sam’s thoughts are all the more depressing. A 13-year-old girl from their congregation goes missing and Sam finds herself falling in love with the girl’s grieving older brother. But paranoia doesn’t leave without a question: Is there really a God?

Once Was Lost was predictable. The writing was pretty and flowed well but I was never fully into the story. It was too easy to set the book down. There seemed to be two sides of the main character: one was self-conscience and vulnerable and the other just wanted to scream of frustration. So I could never sympathize with Sam. The book also needed a bigger variety in character personalities. Everyone’s dialogue was basically the same things being said over and over. I really liked the ending even though I knew what was coming. Both the cover and the story are minty fresh but they’re forgettable.



Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
217 pages, release in Oct. ‘09, published by Little Brown
Contains: a kidnapping, an alcoholic, and suspense

STARS: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fairies of Writing

Does everyone know Princess Neve from Princess Neve Book Reviews? If not, then you are out of the loop. She's a reviewer, of course, and an aspiring writer. Neve is the Fairy of Writing on her writing blog. I started posting to Fairies of Writing in June and recently wondered why I never announced it here.

So ... here is the announcement! Check out Fairies of Writing and answer the latest question:

What is your definition of the quote "Writing like a reader, reading like a writer"?

The ABC's of Kissing Boys


Review:

Parker has everything: popularity, friends, style, and now she’s a junior in high school. Sixteen is the age when you’re supposed to be having the time of your life but how humiliating would it be if you found out you’re stuck on the freshman soccer team? Parker hatches a plan to get on the varsity team where her friends are but it’s complicated and she needs a boy … to teach her how to kiss. When her so-called “best friend” discovers Parker kissing a freshman, rumors start to spread. Parker finally gets to see her friends from the outside, the way others do, and it’s not pretty. Now she has to decide where she truly belongs: with the popular crowd or in the arms of the loveable freshman boy across the street.

The ABC’s of Kissing Boys was sweet and enjoyable. Though the moral of the story is a little messy and not the easiest to understand at first, the author never strayed from the plot. The romance seemed so real and I couldn’t help but smile at the predictability of the ending. This book has the potential to be a great film! Author Tina Ferraro’s writing isn’t the best I’ve read but it was new and different. Have you ever read a book where the girl falls for a younger boy? The narration actually felt like it was coming from a teenage girl. I rated it a 4 was because I couldn’t feel any sympathy toward the main character for the situation she was in. Overall, I learned a lot from The ABC’s of Kissing Boys. *wink, wink*



The ABC’s of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
pages: 215, release date: January 2009, publisher: Delacorte Press
Contains: sensuality, AGES 13+

4 out of 5 stars
RECOMMENDED

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Poll Winner

I only read novels that ...



You probably have already found my grammar mistake but what can I say? I was in a hurry? No. I just made a dumb mistake.

Anyway, the winner was ... books that have an appealing cover!


I'm sorry for anyone who only comes to this blog each week to vote on the polls because they are now down again. I've been really busy and haven't been able to post much. So please understand!

Calling all tween/teen girls! :D

Attention all tween girls in the NYC area!

The Amanda Project
is the first series that invites tween girls to become a part of the mystery and contribute their own stories and ideas! Come celebrate the publication of the first in the 8-book series - Invisible I - and launch of The Amanda Project!

Hear author Melissa Kantor read from the book and talk about writing collaborative fiction.

AND, in the spirit of Amanda, we're also taking submissions from tween girls who aspire to be writers! Send your latest piece of fiction (up to 500 words) to events@theamandaproject.com, and we'll pick a select group of writers to read at the event!

For more information:
www.theamandaproject.com/tappresents-10-11
events@theamandaproject.com
www.myspace.com/the-amanda-project

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Author Samira Hodges guest blogs!

Dreams vs. Reality

Expect the unexpected. That’s been my motto in life. Well, at least in my adult life. When I was younger, I used to dream of what I would be when I would grow up. I had many ambitions, some were big and others were small, day-to-day type goals. My first ambition came to me at four years of age; I wanted to become a Pediatrician. As a consequence, I dedicated my life to the pursuit of this goal, specifically to the pursuit of getting into a Canadian medical school.

I didn’t. Get in, I mean. In fact, I tried for two consecutive years and was never even offered an interview. Ouch. So what’s a girl with a college degree in Biology to do? Well, I did what every other person in my situation would do: I did some soul searching. I had no choice but to explore other possibilities. I began working in the corporate world and climbing my way up the infamous ladder. I played in tennis tournaments (more on that later). I began writing more seriously and exploring the possibility of writing for others (instead of only for myself). And just when I had let my guard down and forgotten entirely about medicine, an opportunity presented itself. I could still be a doctor! It wasn’t over. It could still be done. Who’d a thunk it? There were actually schools in the Caribbean that would consider a dreamer like me. So I gave it a go. Four years later, I’m a doctor, specializing in Pediatrics. And oh, by the way, I met my husband in medical school. Fate’s a funny thing, ain’t it?


Next big ambition: become a professional tennis player. This was a big dream for me because I absolutely love tennis. Always have, always will. In my opinion, it’s the best. The bomb. The shizzle (am I dating myself?). So naturally, I wanted badly to play tennis in college. As the theme of my life goes, I didn’t get on the team after try-outs. Disheartened, I trained harder and tried again the following year. Guess what? I still didn’t make the cut. Thankfully, that didn’t stop me from playing. When you love something, the lack of opportunities can never take away the passion. They just stifle it for a while. Later, when I was playing a friendly game of tennis with a friend, the University tennis coach saw me playing. Again, just when I’d let my guard down, just when I wasn’t expecting it, I got what I’d wanted. That’s right, I made the team. I didn’t get to play the full season but I still made it. Later, after University, I played in provincial tennis tournaments and though I never went “pro”, I would gladly say that I accomplished my goal of making something of myself in the tennis world.

Likewise, publishing a book seemed like an impossible and daunting task. I’ll be honest: I never seriously considered making a career out of writing. I always wrote for myself but later, I discovered the satisfaction that comes with writing for others. I won a few insignificant little contests, got a few compliments and suddenly, the wind was blowing strongly in my sails. Then I came up with a story: the story for the Milestones trilogy. This story, I knew, was one I just had to share with the world. So I wrote it. And then I was stumped. How does one even get a book published? So ironically, or comically, or appropriately, I bought a book. It may as well have been called “publishing for dummies”, I’ll just put it that way. First recommendation in the book: Find an agent. Okay! I can do that! So once again, I put all my hopes and dreams into this endeavour and sent envelope after envelope after envelope. As you can guess (this is my life after all!), all I received was rejection after rejection after rejection. So I gave up. Several times actually. Luckily, my husband kept pushing me to keep going. So I did. But the expectations just weren’t there. They were totally gone. And just when I’d given up on publishing altogether, I landed an agent. As a consequence, my pesky expectations rose right back up! Yay! An agent! Next stop: a publisher! Right? Wrong. Not so. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now. Seven rejections later, I was once again deflated. This wasn’t going to happen for me. I was literally putting away my manuscript (and my expectations, once again), when I got a call, one day cold Christmas day. A small publishing house was interested. They wanted to sign a contract. With me. I was so shocked that I didn’t dare celebrate. I didn’t want to jinx it. But it happened. It was real. And now I’m here.


And that’s why my motto in life is to expect the unexpected. I’ve never gotten what I wanted WHEN I wanted it or even HOW I wanted it. Life always happened on its own terms with me. And the more I resisted it, the longer things took. But whenever I just let things happen and let the universe take the course it wanted to take, things always seemed to work out…and usually better than I had ever envisioned. Case in point: I love my medical school. I got to snorkel on school days and travel the beautiful Caribbean, rescue a Caribbean dog, meet and marry my husband (yes, in the Caribbean) and even travel to South America (something I don’t think I would have ever done otherwise). And I still got the residency I wanted. Who else can say that? I love the path I took in life. Although unconventional and always deviating from the “formula” I had in mind, it was always so much better. Similarly, I love my publishing company. I only wish everyone could have the positive experience I’ve had with my house. I talk to my publisher every day. She knows my schedule and life better than I do. She accommodates her schedule to mine and then, not only smiles about it but encourages me to go on and keep trucking. She’s always there when I need her and doesn’t expect the same courtesy in return (though I try, I really do). I wouldn’t trade my experience with my publishing company for the world. There is no substitute for personal attention, dedication, continuous encouragement and support and building lifelong relationships. None.

So can you pick up on the formula that my life has followed? Here’s how I see it:

Plan A: Go to medical school in Canada .
Plan B: It didn’t work out. Give up on medical school altogether.
Plan C: Go to medical school….but not in Canada !

Plan A: Get on the college tennis team.
Plan B: Oh snap. They don’t want me. Give up and just play tennis for fun.
Plan C: Get on the team, just not the way I wanted to!

Plan A: Get published. The end.
Plan B: Publishing is tough! Forget it. Count me out. I’ll just keep my words to myself.
Plan C: Get published by a small house….and love every minute of it!

These are only a few examples of the consistent theme that has gone on in my life…and actually, the life of many other people. Of this, I’m certain. So I challenge you: Take a hard look at YOUR life. Is Plan C just around the corner? Have you considered the possibility of doing something you’ve always wanted, but perhaps not in the manner you’ve always dreamed of? Is it something you could possible try out?

My advice: give it a go.

You’ll be surprised at the results….and at how happy you may end up. Because in the end, you have nothing to lose. Just remember to always expect the unexpected.


Thanks for visiting, Ms. Hodges! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia


Review:

Have you ever been to an art museum and seen aspiring artists trying to copy their favorite paintings? That’s exactly what best friends Kari and Lucas (she’s a girl, yes) witness on their trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts except this guy is really good at it. He’s suspicious too, shooing people away from his secluded spot in the corner where he paints. A year later when the girls visit an art museum in London, the same mysterious man is working on the same painting … but while wearing a disguise. What is he trying to hide? Though Kari and Lucas are both ready to start the adventure, they aren‘t completely sure of what to do. When things become life-threatening, neither of them know if it’s worth the trouble.

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia was realistic while still being unbelievable. I felt my excitement rise with the characters’ as everything was starting to come together. There were times when I could just picture the girls and them saying “Omigosh, omigosh” as the mystery began to unfold. Though I didn’t realize it when reading, I learned a lot about art history and traveling. And it was amusing! In the beginning, the timeline was somewhat confusing so I can’t place all the Before events in order in my mind. That’s why I think this book would be great as a movie, so I can see all the scenes sorted out. The emotions the characters experience throughout the book is completely convincing and I applaud the author for her character-making skills. I look forward to the next books in this series!


The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt
278 pages, published by Sleuth Puffin division of Penguin in 2008
Contains: mention of murders (not graphic), feminism, and made-up profanity

RECOMMENDED (for ages 12+)

STARS: 5 out of 5

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Poll Winner

This week's poll was ...

I would describe myself as:

a mature young adult.
a sarcastic overachiever.
one along for the ride.
um ... maybe self-conscience?

And the winner is ... the mature young adults!

(I'm glad I have all of these mature young people reading this blog! But remember, I appreciate you too, sarcastic overachievers!)


Thank you to all who voted and make sure to do the same on the next poll. :)

Across the Pond


Review:

Going to Australia for vacation is more than just a dream. If you get to go for free, it's just plain lucky! Unfortunately, the prize was only two tickets so while Fred Squire's parents are living it up, he is stuck to visit old friends in the States. While a British accent and using the word ‘love’ in normal conversation isn’t unusual where he lives, the girls in the United States can’t get enough of it! Falling in love with the American sport of baseball and the daughter of his dad’s friend at the same time can be tiring, but Fred doesn’t want to leave. How could two fourteen-year-olds stay in love if one of them has to go back across the pond?

This book was very predictable: boy falls for girl, boy must save girl from bully, and all put into a drama that just didn’t fit. The author sped through the scenes and left a bunch of space empty. The romance grew too quickly for me to imagine them actually being in love. In fact, it seemed like it was still in it’s first revision. I understand there would be a confusion over the slang words (being from different countries) but having Fred realize that on every page was too much. Fred was one-dimensional and couldn’t see past what was right in front of him. It was all inside-the-box. I wanted a more complete ending and wished I could enjoy at least one of the characters. But I wasn’t able to. They didn’t have any depth and the dialogue was the only part I truly liked about this book.


Across the Pond by Storyheart
pages: 114, release date: 2008, publisher: (self published)
Contains: profanity, inappropriate comments, and sensuality
NOT RECOMMENDED

STARS: 2 out of 5

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Belated Poll Winner

Everyone probably knows the winner of the poll since it's been sitting there for a few weeks. But I might as well post it anyway! :)

The poll was ...

I vote for:

Dumbledore. He's so honest!
ballerinas. They have to work so hard.
Barbies. They do a great job of keeping up with the lastest trends.
me.

And the winner is ... me! (Well, technically, you. But you get it. And you won! :D)

Thanks to all who voted and make sure to vote again for the new one.

The Amanda Project: Invisible I


Review:

Amanda Valentino is a freak. Everyone in the ninth grade knows it and her clothes, wigs, temporary tattoos, and even her school grades prove it. Amanda is the new girl at Endeavor High, who just happened to arrive on Halloween. No one wants to be seen with her, especially Callie, one of the popular I-girls. She doesn’t want to admit that she has a friendship with Amanda but when Amanda disappears and leaves clues behind for her, that’s a hard thing to keep secret. When Callie finds out two other students are (or was) friends with Amanda, they have to put their differences aside and help save her … But who exactly is Amanda Valentino?

Each page of The Amanda Project: Invisible I was mysterious, yet in a way I was satisfied with the knowledge I had acquired by the end of the book. Though never having a complete ending (being the first installment of a six-book series) and none of the big secrets revealed, I was still enthralled when yet another secret of unknown origins was added to the mix. I never really felt close to any of the characters but instead I thought I was invading their privacy. The main character, Amanda, doesn’t seem like she would be a friend of mine. The storyline was, not considering the unfortunate circumstance of disappearance, fun. It was filled with back-and-forth emotions but while still keeping the essence of the story. This was just a great book. Bravo!



The Amanda Project (bk 1): Invisible I by Melissa Kantor
pages: 338, release date: September 22nd ‘09, publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: based on the book’s exciting premise, great writing, and fun story altogether
Contains: a hit-and-run accident that gave me shivers

STARS: 5 out of 5

There’s more to the story …. Check out TheAmandaProject.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heads Up!

Just a quick heads up to say that I'm taking a break from posting. I want to catch up on some reading without the pressure of writing reviews (which I will do eventually). But to keep up with the latest book reviews, check out the blogs I recommend here. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coffeehouse Angel

Review:

Anna’s Old World Scandinavian Coffeehouse used to be the hang out place. It used to have the best prices, the most tourists, and used to have all the customers. But ever since Java Heaven, the modern coffeehouse next door, started as a business two years ago, Anna’s only has a matter of time before the bills can’t be paid. The orphaned granddaughter, Katrina, of the owner has been working there since middle school and knows that they won’t be able to survive if they don’t get their customers back. When Malcolm, an angel on duty, offers Katrina one wish and explains that it has to be her biggest desire, she can’t figure out what she wants. Caught between teenage romances and medical bills, Katrina needs to get her head in the game before time runs out and she is thrown onto the street.

Coffeehouse Angel is best described as the feeling of staying inside on a rainy day, watching the water slide down the window and wondering what the generations before you did on such an occasion. It’s like cutting out paper hearts for no reason or picking a flower just because it’s pretty. There’s something on the inside of this book waiting to yell “Surprise!” but it never reveals itself. There are well-written, descriptive paragraphs that explain so much and contain the sweetness of the moment. I love the old-fashion touch the story has and the cute dialogue. Small comments put a smile on my face but they left as soon as they came.

The “adorableness” of it all changed when the main character’s attitude changed and sometimes I didn’t like her at all. It was a roller coaster! Jealousy, anger, sadness, drama. The anxiety of being a teenager was captured well, along with what it’s like to have a responsibility. The romance grew too fast to be realistic yet I found the cuteness of it enjoyable. The author’s talent is unmistakable! Overall, it was a fun story with unique settings and characters and great writing.




Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors
pages: 276 (reads like 180), release date: August 2009, publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers Ages: 11+, Rating: based on content and predictability
Contains: a wrong lesson, kissing, normal adults portrayed as stupid and selfish

STARS: 3.5 out of 5

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Before I Fall

Though I haven't been writing as many book reviews as I should (a fews book sitting on my dresser, waiting to be reviewed), I can still share with you what's coming up in the young adult book world. And coming out in March of 2010, is:

Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

synopsis- "Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the parking lot to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing."

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 2, 2010)

I know most of you are going to agree with me when I say, this cover is beautiful! And catches the eye. :)

How, may you ask, did I find out about this book? A useful website called AuthorsNow! To speak directly to the author, click on the book cover and comment on the post. Look out for more books from this author in the years to come because her website URL just happens to say "Lauren Oliver Books".

Poll Winner

This week's poll was ...

A pair of shoes you wish you had.

Converse Chucks. They look so cool!
A comfortable pair of sneakers. They are really hard to find.
Black, strapped heels. Aren't they classy?
Some shoes that look exactly like my feet so that when I wear them, it looks like I'm barefoot. *snickers*

And the winner is ...

lookin' like you're barefoot! How fun! :)

Make sure to check out the new poll and thanks to those you voted on this one!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book 2 Movie: Ever Read It?

The Possibility of Fireflies
by Dominque Paul

Synopsis: "I am sitting on my front stoop. I think it's about midnight. I was busy reading up until an hour ago, but my eyes started to hurt from squinting. Now it's just me and the waiting.

It's 1987 and fourteen-year-old Ellie Roma doesn't have much of a family. She lives with her mother, who has taken a break from parenting; and her older sister, Gwen, who is on her way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. Her father left them to start a new life.

So Ellie spends a lot of time alone, especially at night, when all she has to keep her company are the fireflies that flicker in the summer air. Then one day a mysterious stranger enters her dark world. He is Leo, twenty-one, who is on his way to Hollywood to become a rock star. Ellie and Leo connect instantly, and Ellie hopes Leo will be the one to rescue her from her unhappy life. But instead, Leo teaches Ellie that no one can save you. You have to go after what you want. So one night — one terrible, frightening, thrilling night — that's exactly what Ellie decides to do.

With a fresh perspective, first-time novelist Dominique Paul deftly weaves a family drama about chaos and dysfunction, with a young girl's journey of triumph. Full of humor and sorrow, heartbreak and hope, The Possibility of Fireflies is really a story that we all have to tell: the story of the summer we grew up."

From the post title, you probably guessed it. This book is going to be a movie! (Check out some of the details here.)

This book currently awaits to be read in my stack of books. It's really not that long so it's kind of a shame I haven't read it yet. But that doesn't mean you can't read it! (That is what this post is for.) If you have read it, please leave a link to your review. I'd love to see what you thought of it! :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I See You Everywhere

"A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year

Julia Glass, the bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of Three Junes, returns with a tender, riveting book of two sisters and their complicated relationship.

Louisa Jardine is the older one, the conscientious student, precise and careful: the one who yearns for a good marriage, an artistic career, a family. Clem, the archetypal youngest, is the rebel: committed to her work saving animals, but not to the men who fall for her. In this vivid, heartrending story of what we can and cannot do for those we love, the sisters grow closer as they move further apart. All told with sensual detail and deft characterization, I See You Everywhere is a candid story of life and death, companionship and sorrow, and the nature of sisterhood itself." -RandomHouse

I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass
  • Format: Trade Paperback, 304 pages
  • On Sale: July 14, 2009
  • Price: $15.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-4000-7577-5 (1-4000-7577-7)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Links to Visit

TeensReadToo: A place to learn about great, new reads quickly and easily.

St. Martin's Reading Group Gold: Though not updated regularly, this is a good site for reading groups and a place where you can get free books. (Everyone wants free books, right?)

Readit Forward: The easiest place to get free books! Each month, they have three options of Advanced Reading Copies that you can choose to be sent to you (first come, first serve). They don't expect any review or comments (though it would be the polite thing to do ;).

RandomBuzz: Teenagers can earn points by participating in online activities and after acquiring so many points, they can spend them in the RandomStore (includes books, a gift card, etc.).

LibraryThing: You can post reviews, add books to your wishlist, ask to review books, and more! This site is mostly used to keep track of your books.

BookDivas: Doesn't matter if your a boy or girl, this is a place where you can share your enthusiasm about all the young adult books out there! There are contests posted regularly and interviews with some of the most well-known middle grade/young adult authors.

AuthorsNow!: Contests, posts about books coming out months from now, and a place where you can talk with authors one-on-one. How could you pass that up?

Poll Winner

This week's poll was ...


The first thing I do in the morning is:

eat! Gotta have those Pops!
(For some of you who didn't understand that, it's a catch phrase for the Corn Pops cereal.)
finish the chapter I was reading the night before.
do my homework.
use the restroom! It's been seven hours!


And from the total votes of 15, the winner is ...

you have to use the restroom! How convenient!

Thanks to all fifteen people who participated and make sure to do the same on the next one. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Free E-Book

Though I'm not a fortunate owner of an E-book reader, I was notified about a new, free e-book.

The free book I'm talking about is:



My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent, the prequel of the new young adult series Screamers.

To go to the page where you can download it, click on the cover.

Weight Loss Books: What's Your Opinion?

“Two women are complete opposites: one’s round, short, and sometimes even called ‘fat’ The other’s tall, slim, and girls want to be just like her. But both are wearing the same pair of jeans, even in the same size.”

Does this make sense to you? Can two women look totally different and still be exactly the same? Sometimes, it offends me. For an example, The Perfectly True Tales of a Perfect Size 12. Look at the cover:



Does she look fat to you? In the book, everyone around Delilah (the girl on the cover) thinks her weight is an issue but Delilah herself doesn’t think much of it unless someone across the room is staring at her body. I don’t think the girl on the cover is fat. In fact, I think she is the perfect size (a perfect size 12). Even in her biography, Robin Gold the author states that she was only one size smaller than her protagonist.

In the first chapter of Giving Up the ‘V’, it was written that the main character was ashamed of her size: 13 junior. The author even shared her exact weight: 162 lbs. Now that’s a way to bring in readers, right? To make the reader feel bad about themselves?

I think author Justina Chen Headley was very thoughtful when writing North of Beautiful. She didn’t point out the mother’s weight in the book, though it was portrayed as an issue. That is the perfect example of how not to turn readers away while having a weight issue in a book. Thanks for that, Justina!

Now that I think of it, there are a lot of weight loss books out there (a topic that I think is a little overused nowadays). What do you think of this topic? Do you think the books should be selling? I understand that people need to have a book in their own terms so they can relate but do you think sometimes it may be a little specific?

There have been a lot of weight loss books written. In your opinion, is that good or bad?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley


ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Popularity, the handsome Damen, and a friend is all Charlotte wanted. The new school year would bring all these things closer to Charlotte, she knew it, if only she changed herself a tad bit. But the first day of junior year, things don’t go as planned. After a deadly incident involving a gummy bear, Charlotte finds herself on the Other Side of the school. She is able to be on the outside looking in, without the Living Kids seeing her staring with eager eyes: something she always felt but finally came true. It isn’t exactly a dream though because now Damen can’t fall in love with her! Then Charlotte finds out she is still in high school but having to learn from a dead teacher about Deadiquette, though her hope to become popular is still shining. But when Charlotte discovers that one of the Living Kids can see her, her hope only shines brighter …

ghostgirl was enjoyable after the first 30 pages. The beginning was dull but when I met the Dead Kids, everything was becoming ‘fun’. Though the dialogue was predictable, I couldn’t get enough of it! I’m not a fan of the narration (third person but completely descriptive) and the death references took up a lot of space. Things like “dying to be popular” and “he doesn’t even know I’m alive” were funny the first time, but they soon became overused.

Charlotte was selfish and only cared about herself (she even admitted to it) but this is the story of how hard she tried to overcome that. Her logic was interesting and her decisions made the storyline twist and turn with every chapter. The Dead Kids added so much to the story that I can’t imagine it without them. They each explained their Life and their Death which was utterly fascinating. Author Tonya Hurley’s voice is fun and distinctive but I’d like to see how she would use it in a different book.




pages: 328 (but reads like 250), ages: 14 +, release date: August 2008, publisher: Little, Brown
Contains: profanity, sensuality, and a few inappropriate comments
(4 starred reviews) “Goofy, ghastly, intelligent, electrifying.” -Kirkus


Stars: 4 out of 5

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Undercover Book Lover (well, not really)

The fairly-new book blogger, The Undercover Book Lover, has organized a blog that's ... well ... organized. She has jumped right into author interviews already! Her sister has also just started a blog, YA Book Reviews (check out her review of Shrinking Voilet here. Blurb: "...this is a great book, a positive lesson to learn.")




So go check out these two great new bloggers! Your encouraging comments would be most appreciated. :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blogs to Check Out

Here are some blogs you should visit!


There are few bloggers out there I like reading posts from and these just happen to be it:




EmilyRuth from Aye Captain

The things I like about her blog: Her insightful reviews describe everything I need to know about the book (mostly the small details other reviewers don't add). She is polite and updates regularly with interesting posts (never too long or short).


TheBookworm from Au Courant

The things I like about her blog: Now this is a blogger who is not afraid to share her opinions! I envy her thoroughly-explained reviews and I understand how part of her Evermore review got published at the beginning of it's sequel. (Look in the front of Blue Moon by Alyson Noel.)



Priya from Book Crumbs

The things I like about her blog: Her reviews are short and sweet. And there is always some interesting fact I learn from visiting her blog. It may be hard to remember the URL so put Book Crumbs on your favorites or subscribe to her on GoogleReader.



Ms. Mazzola from State of Denmark

The things I like about her blog: This may, in fact, be the coolest school teacher I know. Her opinions on young adult and adult books are something you don't hear every day. Her voice is original and reading about what she has to say about the topics in our day is something you can't miss out on.


The Children's Book Reporter from The Book Report


The things I like about the blog: She has a great selection of books and a great opinion to go with them. Though her background is white, the page always seems to pop when you visit. And I love the widgets she picks out! :)




Morgan from Books and Literature for Teens

The things I like about her blog: The reviews are filled with helpful information! I love the layout of them and of her other posts. She tries her hardest to share the news of all the book young adult books out there and she definitely succeeds!


Arya from Sea of Pages

Things I like about her blog: It's simple! She's straight-to-the-point with all her posts. I respect her opinion and, someday, she will be a published author. She is ready to introduce to you a bundle of great middle grade reads so stop by and visit.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Poll Winner

It seems the Poll Winner posts have been coming later and later. Sorry for that! Last week's poll was ...

I want to be a/an:
author. The sooner I get a book published, the better!
editor for RandomHouse. It would be the greatest. *sigh*
teacher. I can't really explain it but I want to share my knowledge with others.
a turtle!

And the winner is ... wanting to become an editor!

I know plenty of readers who would be great editors (iDogRocker and EmilyRuth to name a few). But I also would have thought someone would want to be a turtle. -_-

Thanks to all the participants and please vote for the new poll. :)

Chasing Boys

Chasing Boys
by Karen Tayleur
5 out of 5 stars

“Remember your manners, listen to your teacher, and don’t chase boys.” A piece of advice Ariel (El, for short) had been told her first day of school. But she doesn’t know if she can keep that promise anymore now that she is going to a crammed-full public high school filled with handsome jocks. El’s family (which consists of herself, her older sister, and mother) has been down-sizing since her father left a year ago and she can’t seem to forgive him. While keeping a mental list of questions to ask her therapist one day when she does finally want to talk to him, Ariel finds out that she might be wrong with the conclusions she was so quick to come up with.

Author Karen Tayleur’s writing style is brilliant. The mixture of all the right moods are placed into this heart-pounding read. Some scenes are adorable, some are romantic, and others are somewhat depressing but captures the essence of the story. Most teens can relate to El’s struggles but only a few understand it the way she does. I love this book and my jaw literally dropped at the end.

The characters were different, likeable, and realistic. If they were actual people, I’d definitely want them as my friends! There is also a wide variety of settings that I thank the author for coming up with. It was outside-the-box! Creative doesn’t even begin to describe the storyline.

I enjoyed the book so much, I had to share more than half of it with my mother. And she loved it too! I got tears in my eyes and she was breathless. The emotion from this story will stay with you long after you have finish the final page, I guarantee. As my mom says, Chasing Boys is just plain “great”.

Contains: *brief profanity


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poll Winner

This week's poll was ...

I can't help it. I hate ____!

country music
you, GirlwiththeBraids
unclear book endings
mechanical pencils

And the winner is ... I can't help it. I hate you, GirlwiththeBraids!

What?! No way!!

Just kidding. The real winner was ....

unclear book endings
!

Thanks to all you participated! Make sure to vote again for the new poll. :)

Winners!

The winners of Harry Potter and the Marvelous Giveaway have already been contacted. They were:

EmilyRuth
Sarah
Kate
Vroengirl (iDogRocker)
and ... Christy!

Congrats, guys! And thanks to everyone who entered. It was really fun to read everyone's comments. I hope all of you get a chance to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince soon! :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
5 out of 5 stars


In this small town in Kentucky, the folks have learned to despise the high class people a few towns over. They have new cars that run smoothly, constant job listings, and showers. When a new exchange program is introduced to the seventh grade classes of each town, only a few are willing to participate. The hardworking, good little Christian girl is chosen to visit a shy, perhaps spoiled, daughter of a rich newspaper editor and vise versa. Each of the girls make a new friend but how can they stay friends when their towns are unspoken enemies? Both are hesitant to learn about the other and Ivy June, the small town girl, may just have a reason for keeping quiet. While going through horrific events and keeping their accounts in journals, both girls are surprised about what they learn of faith, hope, and friendship.

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June is hard to put a label on. It’s not ‘coming of age’ or ‘first love’ or anything like that. It’s new and the story is completely unique and heart-wrenching. Finishing the whole book in a few sit-downs may be the easiest thing I’ve ever done because I was absorbed into these girls’ lives. I am a big fan of the narration and I’ve never read a book quite like that. Author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written the next big thing in middle grade fiction! The settings were imaginable and the characters were not ‘cheesy’, as some may call it. By looking at the cover, it may resemble the feel of a Lifetime movie but after reading it, you will find out that it doesn’t. (Take that as you will. ;) This book is not only about friendship, but about the strength a town can bring forth in a time of crisis.

*From what I can remember, this book contains nothing inappropriate.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Poll Winner

Last week's poll was ...

I want a:

golden key! I never know what it could unlock.
map to a time capsule made by one of my ancestors.
million dollars, duh.
boyfriend/girlfriend. :)

And the winner is ...

a million dollars, duh!

Thanks to everyone who voted for this poll and make sure to vote for the new one also! It's all for fun. :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful
by Justina Chen Headley
5 out of 5 stars

AGES 13+

Terra Cooper: the girl who was laughed at in the first grade, the girl constantly shielding her dad’s snarky comments and the stares from not only children but adults alike. In the last year of high school, after countless laser treatments and doctor visits that failed to remove her birthmark, Terra is convinced that nothing will ever change her face. Whenever there is a new product that comes along and fails, her hopes always dwindle to even less. But it’s not all bad! She’s tall, has a stunning body, and has natural platinum blond hair. Plus, she’s got the hottest boy at school as a boyfriend. When she befriends a Goth Chinese boy, she figures out that he may know her even better than she does herself. And that this boy just may be her compass pointing to the True North of Beautiful.

Author Justina Chen Headley’s writing was exhilarating but was also soft and delicate. The whole picture was seen in her direct prose but the smallest details weren’t left out. I think this book has the least Is ever used which is something the author should be proud of. Though, at the beginning, the scenes were sometimes a little confusing, it introduced the characters realistically. The second half of the book is what put me on the edge of my comfy blue recliner because that’s where the characters start growing and changing their ways. Many people have said this but this book was beautiful. And sweet. And educational, in more ways than one.

Contains:

*sensuality


Sunday, July 5, 2009

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is where I share with you the books I've gotten in the mail or the library. Maybe you'll find a book you want to read along the way!*

(idea by TheStorySiren)


Chasing Boys by Karen Tayleur

An insightful coming-of-age novel for girls with no interest in being “Pretty in Pink”.

El Marini just isn’t fitting into the new life she’s been forced to create without her dad. Her mom and sister have accepted his absence and moved on, but El is convinced things will get back to normal if she just keeps her feelings of loss to herself and waits it out.

Life at her new public school would have been unbearable if weren’t for Eric Callahan. As her crush grows to epic proportions, she’ll do anything to be more like the popular girls he notices, even buying the first pink top she’s ever owned. But then she meets Dylan, a quiet artistic-type who is both unnerving and annoying as he shines a light on El’s misguided attempts to attract Eric. El’s need for acceptance will hit home with teens as she finally sees that chasing boys has distracted her from making peace with the past and finding herself.

(This cover is super cute and I can't wait to read it! I really want to prove that it will 'hit home with teens' and flipping through the pages, I really like I'm going like this one! *received from the publishing company)

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

From the author of Saving Juliet comes a romantic comedy that is good to the last drop. When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be.

(Saving Juliet sounded like a cute book so when the publishing company offered me to review this book, I gladly accepted! This author, I'm thinking, might be a keeper. *received an ARC from the publishing company)


In What If. . . You Broke All the Rules (by Liz Ruckdeschel), Haley will turn 16 on Valentine's Day. But there won't be any big parties or celebrations to mark the occasion—her parents are so distracted by their own lives that they forget her birthday. Haley's dad is absorbed in finishing his documentary, and Haley's mom is spending waaaay too much time with a former coworker from San Francisco. With Perry and Joan preoccupied, Haley will suddenly find herself in a world without rules. Will Haley turn into a wild child or do the responsible thing? And how will Haley choose to spend her spring break—with a trip to Paris with Sasha, to Sebastian's hometown of Seville, making a movie in New Jersey with Irene, or in the Hamptons with Coco, Whitney, and their crew? It's up to you to choose Haley's destiny!

(I've read two previous What If? books and completely enjoyed them. I hope this one doesn't let me down! *traded on PaperbackSwap)






Across the Pond by Storyheart

This doesn't have an official synopsis on the Barnes and Noble website but all the customers have rated it 5 stars. So that's a plus! :) *received from the author to review








I feel a little bad that I haven't read much lately and haven't written many reviews (I'm aiming for at least one a week.) and my to-read stack of books keeps ... on ... bringing ... in ... more. But I'm not complaining! I like books! I just need to find the time to read all of them. :)

That concludes what I've gotten in my mailbox this week! If you've read any of the books above, please leave a link to your review in the comments. I'd love to see what you thought of them! In return, I will definitely leave a comment on the review.