Monday, August 30, 2010


Okay, so I know it's been out for almost a week now, but my copy just arrived.  While I am beyond thrilled about this, I am very disappointed with the Barnes & Noble shipping service.  Usually when you pre-order something from them, they make sure it ships in time to be to you by the release date.  That soooo did not happen this time and I am miffed.  I will be writing a strongly worded something-or-other via their customer service feedback website.

Now, if only I could suspend time so that I could read this and then move into my new house - which is also taking place this week!

Friday, August 27, 2010


Okay, you're probably wondering what in the world DUFF stands for.  Well let me tell you: Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Author Kody Keplinger, who was 18 when she wrote the book, really lays it all out there.  I'm guessing that Kody wasn't very far out of high school when she wrote this, and I don't say that because the writing is immature or bad.  It's very raw and very real, which for a lot of teenagers that's exactly what high school is.  Because this is a professional blog I am writing and because of who I work for, this will be a slightly unconventional book review.  First, I will try not to skimp on details but also be mindful of my readership.  Second, I will not commit to recommending this book on this blog.  If you want more details and information about the book, you can talk to me in person the next time you see me.

The story is told through the eyes of high school senior, Bianca Piper, who feels like the least attractive one of her circle of friends, especially her best friends Jessica and Casey.  Her rampant cynicism and low self-worth are not helped any when Wesley Rush, the hottest, richest, and most-womanizing guy at school chats her up one night at a teen club.  His motivation: her hot friends.  His method: be nice to the DUFF - designated ugly fat friend.  The immediate result: Bianca's Cherry Coke in his face.  Wesley is not dissuaded by this and tries again the next weekend.  Bianca loathes Wesley for who he is and how he treats women, but her life is a bit messy and the only thing she can think to do to blow off steam without actually punching Wesley is to kiss him.  The worst part: she really, really likes it.  And so begins 6 weeks of trying to drown out the stress in her life by secretly hooking up with Wesley several times a week.  Funny thing is that when we open ourselves up to people, either physically or emotionally, we can't go unchanged.

Disclaimer: If this book were to be made into a movie and not edited, it would be rated R for language alone.  However, be ye also warned that there is promiscuity by the boatloads.

P.S. I do have to say that I did read it cover to cover in half a day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Rise of Renegade X

Another hit by a first-time author (Chelsea M. Campbell).  At least, I think so.  If any of you have ever seen the movie Sky High, this book is kind of like that, only more on the irreverent side and geared toward a more grown-up audience.  So don't let the cover fool you into thinking that it's a cute, quirky story.  Okay, it is quirky, but definitely for the high school crowd.

Damien Locke is turning 16, and in Golden City where superheros and supervillains abound, this is a big deal.  Why?  Because Damien is the son of a supervillain and at midnight on his 16th birthday his right thumbprint will rearrange itself into a V for villain.  But when midnight comes, the worst thing in the world happens...his thumbprint morphs into an X.  This can only mean one thing: his father, who he has never known, was actually a superhero.  Caught in between two worlds - hero and villain - Damien finds himself having to choose between his mother and father, his ex-girlfriend & supervillain Kat (who he still really likes but won't admit it) and his wannabe sidekick Sarah (who wants him to be a hero), and whether or not he can overcome his debilitating fear of heights to see if he can fly.

It was hard to put this book down!  This is going to be a book that almost any teenage boy, into superheros or not, will love.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shadow Hills

 Persephone "Phe" Archer has been having very disturbing dreams ever since her older sister, Athena, died. Stranger still is the letter that arrives for Athena months after her death from Denevish Prep school in Shadow Hills, which happens to be the subject of Athena's last dream diary entry.  Phe is drawn to figure out why she is dreaming so vividly of a place on the other side of the country from her.

So Phe leaves L.A. and enrolls in Denevish only to find that Shadow Hills has a past shrouded in mystery and very secretive locals.  Though she's never been anywhere near Shadow Hills she knows she is connected to it somehow.  As Phe learns more about Shadow Hills, she learns more about her own destiny, but she also gets closer to danger.

Oh look, a book I didn't really like.  This doesn't happen very often because I read things with a fairly open mind and with one of Ranganathan's 5 library science principles in the forefront of my conscience: every book it's reader.  So even if a book isn't great literature I'm probably going to like it still. This is Anastasia Hopcus' first novel and I'm not sure she's got the knack of writing YA fiction for young adults yet.  Phe is only 15, but seems like she should be 18 at least.  I'm all for a willing suspension of disbelief, but I don't know any 15-year-old girls who aren't totally self-absorbed.

I also found the narrative to be a bit bumpy and some of the secondary characters were just in the way of the story.  Others seemed like they were going to be very important in the beginning but then faded halfway through, which made me feel kind of sorry for them.  It also bugs the living daylights out of me when YA authors feel compelled to add details that make it seem like they want the reader to know that they know what's cool.  Hopcus did this a lot with clothes & music, particularly at the beginning of the book.

Or maybe I'm just really cranky today.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Too many details and previous reads.

I've realized since starting this blog it doesn't seem like I've read very many books.  The truth is, I do read more than what is posted on here but in between (or sometimes concurrent to) the titles that get posted on here, I end up reading books I've read before.  This usually happens on weekends, when I've either left a book at work or finished one and don't feel like making a run to the library to find something else.  That sounds terribly lazy of me, but for me there are some books worth reading repeatedly like Harris and Me by Gary Paulson or the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. 

Not really knowing how many people are actually looking at my blog (there's a noticeable lack of comments on my posts that's making me feel very insecure), I thought I would link my Shelfari list as well.  This has all the books that I can remember reading over the last 7 years-ish.  Forgotten titles pop into my head all the time though.  Hopefully the list will get a lot more fleshed out soon as my husband and I are buying a house and I will get unpack the boxes of my books that have been hidden away from daylight for over a year.  I'll put the link in the little area on the right as well so no one has to go and find this post again.  My Shelfari also lists what I'm currently reading and what I plan to read.  It's quite a handy little web 2.0 tool.

Anyhoo, over a month ago Lois Lowry posted something on her blog about authors who give too much description about their characters.  The book I'm currently reading is having this particular issue.  I do hope the author cuts this out soon and is only doing it now to establish character personalities.  Otherwise, I don't know how much I'm going to be able to like this book.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Things I Know About Love

Sometimes love is like flying through a large flock of turkeys...

Livia's had a rough time of it lately, what with surviving leukemia and all. Her sixth form year (she's British) was awkward and quiet, having spent too much time in hospitals and not enough time at parties. Her summer promises to be much more entertaining as she gets to spend an entire month in Princeton, NJ, where her older brother is finishing a year of his studies. She's only an hour away from New York and her brother's cute friend Adam from back home is also in Princeton. Oh, did she mention how cute Adam is? Now if only her mum and brother would stop worry so much about her leukemia relapsing.

In a slight narrative twist, author Kate le Vann alternates between long blog entries by Livia and shorter ones by Adam. Yes, they are both big nerds - she loves Star Trek and he loves computers - but they both freely admit it. The other thing is...Adam is completely 100% head-over-heels for Livia. Up to this point Livia doesn't think she knows much about love, only having had 1.5 experiences with it, but she's determined to find out as much as she can with Adam.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Not-So-Great Depression

When this book arrived from the publisher (Roaring Book Press) I thought it was going to be a silly, poorly-written, fluff of a teen book (sorry, Amy Goldman Koss). Okay, so it's definitely for girls, there is plenty of screaming & giggling, and it probably won't change your life or your view of the world, but it's read-aloud-portions-to-whoever-is-around funny (thank you, Amy Goldman Koss).

Ninth-grader Jacki's life is pretty charmed. Even though her parents divorced when she was 8, her older sister Brooke is leaving for college soon and her younger brother Mitch only thinks about food, sports, & his iPod, they are a happy family. Jacki has everything she needs - Emily, her best friend; a really cute boy named Adam B. to distract her; an organic baker father to bring her fresh baked goods; and a lovely home with a pool in L.A. The only thing she doesn't have in her life is a hamster (she's working on this) and a clear idea of what she wants to be when she grows up (unlike her sister).

Her history teacher keeps going on and on about a big recession but it never really hits home with Jacki until her mom loses her high-paying, high-stress job. A series of not-so-great events threaten to ruin what started out to be a pretty decent year. The only job offer her mom finds is in Casper, Wyoming, even if they don't move there they will probably have to sell their house, Jacki breaks her foot, and her sister's dreams of going to a fancy university out East are crushed by their family's tanking investments. They are forced to re-think what it is that makes them happy, both as a family and as individuals. As they start to formulate what the next year of their lives will look like the most profound statement of the story is made during a conversion among Jacki, Brooke, and their mom. I recount it here:

Brooke says, "It will be a year worth living."
I [Jackie] laugh, "All years are worth living."
Brooke shrugs and says, "Some are spent waiting to live."

While Jacki serves as narrator and the principle voice in the story, she didn't necessarily feel like the main character somehow. It felt much more like it was about her whole family, which was refreshing to me. It was very nice to read a book for high school girls that was light-hearted in tone even though it dealt with some real-life issues. Jacki is a somewhat self-centered airhead but what ninth-grade girl isn't at some point? This was fun reading!