Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Savvy Girl

Title: Savvy Girl
Author: Lynn Messina
Pages: 252
Tilt (Harcourt Paperbacks), August 2008
Genre: Coming-of-Age/Contemporary Fiction
Recommended to: Teen girls, 14 and up
Rating: B+

Seventeen year old Chrissy Gibbons is more than excited to start her summer internship with stylish women's magazine Savvy: she can't wait to get a head-start on her future as a journalist, and the competition to land a monthly column in the magazine called "Savvy Girl" that's offered to the four teen interns only spices it all up. But then Chrissy befriends the glamorous British fashion editor for the magazine, Jessica, who takes her to all the coolest and most fashionable parties, and Chrissy begins to forget about the whole point of the summer: becoming a better writer, which does not have anything to do with partying and boys. She'll have to struggle to make the deadline, but by then will her chance at being the Savvy Girl be gone?
  My thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed Savvy Girl: it was fun, sweet, and realistic. I liked how it didn't feature a perfect character who never made mistakes; Chrissy did make quite a few, but she ended up learning from them. I also loved how Ms. Messina incorporated a sub-plot into the story, with Lily and Graham, and how the dialogue was sassy and fresh. While incredibly well-written, I found parts of Savvy Girl to be a bit cliché: girl gets internship, girl ditches friends for someone glamorous she admires, girl realizes she's made a mistake, girl works hard and gets all of her friends back. However, Savvy Girl, featuring an entourage of realistic, lovable characters, is a colorful, fast-paced novel that will have girls eagerly flipping the pages until the very sweet, perfect ending.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Monday Muse: Sasha Watson

This week's Muse: Sasha Watson
Author of: Vidalia in Paris
Featured in: An interview
Bookworm: What made you want to write a novel set in Paris?
Sasha: I've lived in Paris off and on throughout my life, and I wanted to write about all the wonderful, exciting, and sometimes draining and difficult things about being a young American in that amazing city. Maybe I also wanted to keep a part of myself in France by writing about it. I have to admit that my mouth waters whenever I read the scene where they're eating fresh bread and chèvre at Julien's home in the country.

Bookworm: How are you like Vidalia, and how are you different?
Sasha: Well, the differences are in the facts of our lives. Vidalia is a painter and I'm a writer; she's the only child of a single mom, and I have two siblings and two parents; her mother is a bit nuts, and mine isn't...and on and on. We're similar on the inside though. We're both passionate about art; we both believe in transformative love; and we both ultimately fall back on our own strength and resilience when things get hard.

Bookworm: If you could meet any characters from the book, which one would you choose?
Sasha: Definitely Vidalia herself. It's funny, but in some ways she feels like more of a mystery to me than any of the other characters, even though she's the most developed. I'd like her to show me around her house, introduce me to her mom (yeah, I'm sneaking her mom in there), tell me about her art and what she plans to do with it. Oh, and I'd really like to see the rabbit houses, too. 

Bookworm: Where is your favorite place to visit in Paris?
Sasha: I love the northern part of the city, the 11th and 12th arrondissements, in particular. Belleville is a wonderful, eclectic, energetic part of the city, where lots of people and cultures intermingle. (It's also where Vidalia goes with Marco on their first gallery outing). That part of the city has so many spots that I like: the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, the Canal St. Martin at night, the Père Lachaise cemetary, and the MK2 movie theater on the Quai de la Loire.

Bookworm: What's your favorite thing about French culture?
Sasha: My favorite thing about French culture is its intelligence. People, even very young people, are expected to be aware of politics and art and culture, and to have opinions about them. Everyone is constantly engaged in the exchange of those opinions and ideas. People read great literature on the Mètro; philosophers are quoted on the radio; there are prime-time television programs in which intellectuals discuss the events of the day. Of course there's also a lot of fluff and silliness, just like anywhere, but the life of the mind holds an honored place in popular culture.

Bookworm: What was your publication process like?
Sasha: I spent three years both writing and learning about the young adult publishing industry. I went to conferences, studied the business, familiarized myself with editors, agents, and lists. Along the way, I saw Joy Peskin speak at the New School, and immediately liked her. I soon figured out that I liked the books she edited, too. When I saw that she was teaching a writing class in Urban Fiction, I decided to join. In that class, I began working on a story that would eventually become the novel I'm working on now. As I got to know her, my admiration for Joy and her skill as an editor only grew. At the end of the class, I asked if she'd be interested in reading Vidalia, and the rest is history...

Bookworm: Are you planning on writing any more books in the future?
Sasha: I'm working on another book right now. This one is about a different character entirely, but I would really like to return to Vidalia once I'm done with this one. As you can see from my answer to the Which character would you like to meet question, I'm not done asking her questions or exploring her world.
Thank you so much, Sasha for the wonderful interview!
Check out a review for her fantastic new YA novel that came out in October, Vidalia in Paris, by clicking here

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Clique Summer Collection: Claire

Title: Claire
Author: Lisi Harrison
Pages: 134
Poppy, August 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Recommended to: Tween girls, 11-14
Rating: B+

   It's summer, and while Claire Lyons' friends and fellow members of the Pretty Committee are jetting off on their glamorous vacations, she's back home in Kissimmee, Florida, where she feels that she can really be her Keds-wearing self that she was before moving to Westchester and befriending fashionable alpha Massie Block, something that her three FBFFs (Florida BFFs) don't really like. Fortunately for Claire, it's time for the local Miss Kiss pageant, something she's wanted to participate in for practically her whole life BF (before Westchester), and Claire realizes that this could be her chance to win back her friends and make Miss Kiss history. Unluckily for her, she has two surprises in store: one, she's selected to judge the pageant, resulting in having to make one of the hardest decisions of her life; and two, Massie makes an unexpected trip to Orlando and seems to be ruining Claire's friendships, her reputation, and her perfect summer....It's the ultimate "Battle of the BFFs" and the heat is on...
   My thoughts: Ahhh. Another breezy summer confection by one of my favorite authors. The minute I opened the glossy front cover, I was whisked away to Orlando and was sucked into Claire's world. Fast-paced and moving the whole time, I finished the last book in the summer collection in less than a day. Harrison is clearly an excellent writer: her descriptions of clothing, setting, and characters paint a colorful picture in the reader's mind, making flipping the pages of her juicy novels an absolute treat; and her dialogue is realistic and packed full of hilarious Clique lingo (Ehmagawd!). Claire is most definitely one of my favorite characters (right up there with Kristen and Dylan): she has real problems and has the hardest time fitting in. She has to make big decisions, has a loving heart and a good conscience, and makes mistakes just like any normal person. She's utterly lovable, unlike some of the other members of the PC (read: Massie, who you just can't help hating). The only thing that bugged me was the ending [spoiler]: after Claire's judging position got rebuked for helping her friends out, her three Florida pals threatened to make her choose between them and Massie (also upset with Claire for different reasons), which Claire wittily responded to by saying "I choose me" and losing all of her friends. But in the parking lot later on, Massie and Claire have a moment, which I guess means that Claire chose Massie, who said she would never make friends choose each other. Anyone else confused about the ending? All in all, Claire was an absolute blast to read, although Dylan is still my fave!

Other books in the Clique Summer Collection:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid: Daughter of the Diva

Title: Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid
Authors: Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
Pages: 227
St. Martin's Press, 2005
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Recommended to: Teen girls, 12-15
Rating: A

When fifteen-year-old Leigh Reid learns that she'll be spending her summer with her drama-queen actress mother who left Leigh and her dad when Leigh was three, she's anything but happy. After all, why spoil a perfectly good summer to jet off to Ireland to "bond" with her mom, Annika, on the set of her latest movie, Danny Boy when she could be doing a trillion other, more interesting things that don't require flying halfway around the world to spend two months in a country full of sheep? Instead, when Leigh arrives in Ireland, she finds it not to be so bad. After all, one of Annika's costars is a young Irish boy named Sean with killer looks and a gorgeous accent, and Leigh's even met a couple of friends on-set while she works as her mom's personal assistant. But then Leigh's offered a minor part in the film, and she finds herself working with her mother. Unfortunately for her, Annika's not used to sharing the limelight, and she'll make it as hard as she can for her daughter to succeed....
   I simply loved this novel. I picked it up at the library just for kicks with not very high expectations, but soon after I started reading I realized that this well-written teen novel had more depth than it seemed. With a plot that was well-rounded, characters that were unique and absolutely lovable, and fresh dialogue that sometimes had me cracking up, I can't say that I didn't enjoy Vivien. The backdrop was so well-described that it made reading an absolute treat. I adored how, at first, Annika's character is utterly hatable and Leigh's view of a different country and culture (Mutton? The Blarney Stone? Sheep galore? What kind of a country is this?). My favorite part was how fast-paced and moving the story was. It never dragged or had me bored, what with the crazy characters and Leigh's Irish escapades. Right until the end, I couldn't put the book down, and when I was finished, I practically was screaming for the sequel (which, by the way, I HAVE to get--hopefully it'll be as good as this one!). The only thing I would've changed was the ending-I thought it left a lot out, but perfectly set up room for a sequel (which I know there are-two of them, to be exact): however, I was so sad to say good-bye to all the crazy and funky characters that the two authors expertly concocted! 
   I don't think Vivien is too well-known, but in my opinion, it should be. After all, it's pretty rare (not to mention lucky!) when you find a book that you really love, love, love!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vidalia In Paris

Title: Vidalia in Paris
Author: Sasha Watson
Pages: 282
Viking Press, October 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Recommended to: Teens, 12 and up
Rating: A-

When high-school senior-to-be Vidalia Sloane is accepted for a summer-long art scholarship in Paris, France, she's overjoyed. Happy to get away from her borderline-crazy mother, sheltered home life, and practically nonexistent social status, Vidalia leaves for Paris ready for a fantastic summer of change and opportunity. But when she arrives in Paris, things aren't quite going her way: her host family is anything but warm and caring, her new art teacher is seemingly harsh and not open to her creative talent, and her former best friend is being more hostile than usual towards her. But then formerly-invisible Vidalia meets two boys: Julien, who works at an English bookstore and is funny, sweet, and a great friend to Vidalia; and Marco, the gorgeous, dangerous art dealer who Vidalia instantly falls for...As the summer wears on, Vidalia keeps herself involved in a very difficult art project, but soon finds herself in a load of trouble due to Marco and his profession, and she'll have to choose between her passion for him and what truly is best for her and her reputation.
   All I can say about talented new author Sasha Watson's debut novel is this: absolutely phenomenal. I don't rate many books as A+, but if any YA novel fit this category, it would be Vidalia in Paris. Ms. Watson combines the perfect amounts of romance, mystery, and summer fun into her first young adult book. Well-written with well-developed, realistic characters, Vidalia was a thrill to read. By the time I hit the middle, I couldn't stop reading, and was sucked into Vidalia's city experiences. I was addicted to the dialogue, Marco and Vidalia's escapades through the City of Light, and the sparkling setting that was so well-described by this up-and-coming author that I could practically picture Paris as I read through Ms. Watson's poetic descriptions. The plot was perfectly thought out, and I especially loved Vidalia's character: she was real, making her own mistakes and learning from them. I can't wait to see what's next from Ms. Watson!  

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Monday Muse: 60 Seconds With....Christine Hurley Deriso

Today's Muse: Christine Hurley Deriso
Author of: Talia Talk
Starring in: A 60-Second Interview
Bookworm: What was your favorite part of writing Talia Talk?
Christine: My favorite part of writing TT was capturing moments I noticed or language I overheard from my teens and their friends and sneaking them into the book.

Bookworm: How long did it take you to write Talia Talk?
Christine: It took me about four months to write, but my editor wanted some major revisions, so rewriting it took just as long.

Bookworm: What book are you currently at work on?
Christine: I'm currently working on a young-adult novel about a teen whose sister died before she was born. She spends the summer reading her sister's journal and discovering all kinds of secrets about her life.

Bookworm: What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Christine: Some current favorites are Death Cab for Cutie, Elliott Smith (RIP), Steely Dan, Emmylou Harris, and Ray Davies.
Hope you enjoyed your 60 seconds with the fabulous Christine! Don't miss her latest book, Talia Talk, bopping into bookstores tomorrow! Congratulations, Christine, on the new release and thank you for the interview!
To read a review of Talia Talk, click here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Talia Talk

Title: Talia Talk
Author: Christine Hurley Deriso
Pages: 192
Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 11, 2008
Recommended to: Preteens, ages 9-12
Rating: B-

Moms can be pretty embarrassing, right? Well-imagine if your mom was the host of a hot TV show and was always blabbing about something you did when you were little (like sticking crayons up your nose or throwing up on your piano teacher's shoes) that was totally humiliating! Welcome to eleven year old Talia Farrow's life. But this year, she's entering middle school, and has a plan: she and her loud, bossy best friend Bridget are going to audition for the school's news broadcast/Podcast program, the Oddcast. There, Talia can have her own commentary, Talia Talk, where she can get back at her mom for everything embarrassing she'd ever done: even if it means blabbing about her mom's new top-secret boyfriend! With school issues, friendship troubles, and family problems, Talia's sure got her hands full...
   While I found Talia Talk to be a sweet read for younger bookworms, I found that it lacked a strong central plot. From the beginning to the middle, it tended to lag on, leaving me a bit behind. While I loved Bridget's hilarious character, I found the fight between her and Talia to be a bit juvenile and pointless. Realistic and witty, Talia Talk is definitely a fun, modern read, but simply lacked the excitement and race to the end that other books possess. However, Deriso has real talent when it comes to inventing realistic, unique characters: throughout the course of the book I enjoyed learning more about Bridget, Meredith and Brynne (whose behavior often had me laughing), Jake, Mom, and Talia herself. Our protagonist Talia has a fantastic voice that many young readers can relate to, and Deriso excellently captures how it feels to be the low man on the totem pole when it comes to middle school. And the cover is absolutely phenomenal: I love how colorful and clever it is, especially since it's shaped like an iPod! 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Results of Popular Vote Contest!!!!!

The results for the Popular Vote contest are in, and the winner is......(drumroll, please!).......

Mrs. Magoo! 

Congratulations! I'll send out your autographed copy of Micol Ostow's Popular Vote tomorrow. To enter, you had to think of a creative slogan for your presidential candidate of choice (oh-and many congratulations to our new president, Barack Obama-yay!). Mrs. Magoo's campaign slogans were as follows:

McCain + Palin= McPain

We had some very clever entries, so you can still check them out here.
And if you entered but didn't win, watch out for another Bookworm Readers contest (I'll officially post about it next Friday with all the details)-it should be fabulous! And while you're at it, take a look at our lucky winner's blog, Mrs. Magoo Reads: she's giving away a copy of Jennifer Ziegler's novel, How Not to Be Popular; as well as the giveaway on Chick Lit Teens to win signed copies of three awesome books (don't forget to say who referenced you)! Good luck!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bookworm Readers!

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you.....
On October 12, Bookworm Readers turned one year old! I was so busy with other things that it's completely slipped my mind-oops. (Just in case you were wondering, Jacqueline Wilson's How To Survive Summer Camp was featured as the first review). So why not celebrate now? And there's a lot to celebrate: Bookworm would like to thank all contributors, authors, and readers of BR for all their support! Bookworm Readers has sure come a long way! I'll be having a super-cool birthday contest within the next couple of weeks, so be sure to check back to see what I'll be giving away! (Hint: Linda Gerber and Mary Hogan have
 already contributed).
(: Bookworm 

Books to Get You in the Election Mood

Hey, everyone!
It's November 4, and that's election day! I sure hope all of you who can vote got out there and put in a ballot for what you believe in! As for those of you who aren't yet 18, you can't vote yet, but you can most definitely get into the election mood by checking out some great political-based books for teens! Here are some of my recommendations:

- Popular Vote by Micol Ostow
- My Perfect Life by Dyan Sheldon
- Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
- Soccer Chick Rules! by Dawn FitzGerald

Happy reading! And don't forget to check out the crazy-cool contest giveaway of a signed copy of Micol Ostow's Popular Vote! Click here for details.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Monday Muse: Linda Gerber

This week's Muse: Linda Gerber
Author of: The Finnish Line and Death by Bikini 
Starring in: An interview
Bookworm: How long did it take you to write Death by Bikini?
Linda: DBB was kind of a long process because it started out as a different concept than what it ended up as. I wrote a complete manuscript the other way then rewrote the whole thing and then tweaked and tweaked and tweaked until my publisher and I were both happy. The other books have been much quicker.

Bookworm: Which Death was your favorite to write?
Linda: It's hard to say-like choosing a favorite child. But I guess I would say Death by Denim [coming May 2009] because by the time I started working on that book, I knew the characters well and I enjoyed putting them in the new setting.

Bookworm: How many books are you planning to write in the Death By...series?
Linda: At the moment, there are three complete. We have discussed doing more, and perhaps I will when I am done with my current WIP. I'd still like to spend more time with Aphra and Seth.

Bookworm: If you could meet any of your characters in person, which one would it be?
Linda: Seth. Absolutely.

Bookworm: Will you be writing any more S.A.S.S. books in the future?
Linda: I doubt it. I've only lived in two foreign countries so far and I've covered both of them in the S.A.S.S. books I did write-Now and Zen and The Finnish Line. I think that will do me. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind!

Bookworm: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Linda: READ! Ride bikes, listen to music, hang out with my family, watch movies.

Bookworm: What was your most favorite Halloween costume ever?
Linda: A costume that I wore? That's tough. Once I went as Peter Pan and my BF was Tinkerbell. :) My favorite costume for my kids is easy - it's a monkey suit I made when the oldest was two years old. Over the years, each one of them wore it when they were that age and they were each adorable. *sniff*

Bookworm: Anything else that your readers would want to know about you or your books?
Linda: Yes! I will be the guest blogger on the Penguin Blog November 10-14th, giving answers to FAQ and some true-confession-style insights on the creation and writing of the series.
Thanks so much to Linda for the grrrrreat interview!
Click here to check out a review of S.A.S.S.: The Finnish Line.
Click here to check out a review of Death by Bikini.
Review of Death by Latte coming soon! (:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Death by Bikini

Title: Death by Bikini
Author: Linda Gerber
Pages: 225
Puffin Sleuth, May 2008
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Recommended for: Adventurous teens, ages 12 and up, primarily girls
Rating: A

Aphra Behn Connolly leads a life that's very different from those of most sixteen year old girls. For one thing, she lives on an isolated island and helps her dad run a tucked-away five-star tropical resort that's a shelter for rich and famous celebrities who need a break from the public eye. And then there's the fact of not seeing her mother for four years when she left without a reason...Basically, Aphra's life is pretty simple, but then a mysterious family of three (including their hot son, Seth, and a load of dangerous secrets) arrive unexpectedly the day before one of the guests appears dead on the beach, seemingly strangled by the strings of her bikini top, and Aphra knows that her quiet, secluded life has been permanently altered...Aphra knows that the Mulos are hiding from something (or someone)....but what could it be? And could they be involved with the way-too coincidental murder that occurred right after they arrived? Aphra soon finds that their new guests' shady pasts have put everyone on the island's lives in danger, and she must protect the Mulos and their many secrets as well as her own life...because she doesn't know who to trust now.
   To put it simply, this novel is awesome. After I hit the middle, I simply couldn't out the book down, maniacally flipping pages until I reached the exciting climax that had my heart pumping. The plot is so well-developed that I actually thought I was Aphra. Her internal monologue is so realistic, and her personality is just so totally kick-butt (I'm jealous)! One of the best parts of Death by Bikini, I think, is the fantastic dialogue. I love how Ms. Gerber makes it seem like real people are talking, and all the realistic accents and such. The setting is so well-described that while I was curled in my beanbag chair, I actually believed I was crashing through the tropical jungle with a killer on my heels in the pouring rain. And I loved all of the red herrings that Ms. Gerber presented! I thought I'd nearly solved the mystery, but boy, was I wrong as I neared the end! Which brings me to my next point: the one thing I was disappointed with was the end. I know it was probably meant to be a cliffhanger, but [spoiler] WHY OH WHY did Seth have to leave? Boo hoo hoo. Poor Aphra. At least there's a sequel, eh? And hey, lucky me, lovely Linda sent me a copy and it's sitting right on my bookshelf....Yay! Really. This is probably the best teen mystery I've read in a long while. This series is a total winner, and I love, love, love it. Consider this novel highly recommended. (:

Don't Forget to Vote for Erin!

Hey, everyone! Just wanted to remind you about the Popular Vote contest that's ending on November 7, something that you don't want to forget about! Click here to enter to win a signed copy of Micol Ostow's Popular Vote! Good luck!

Official Election Day countdown: 3 days!