Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Best Friend, the Atlantic Ocean, and Other Great Bodies Standing Between Me and My Life With Giulio

Author: Jane Harrington
Pages: 174
Published: 2008, Darby Creek Publishing
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Cover score: B+
Overall Grade: B+

When Delia told her best friend Brady to bring back a "code-red Euro hottie" after her trip to Europe, she didn't know that Brady would take it so seriously--and bring home a true-blue Italian exchange student! Even though Delia knows that Giulio is Brady's boyfriend, she can't help but crush on him--plus, she knows that the average teenage relationship lasts only 34 days (32 left to go). However, between trying to learn Italian, managing the school football team, and recording her thoughts and feelings in her English journal, Delia may discover that maybe she and Giulio aren't meant to be...
My thoughts: Ohmygoodness, I love Delia. She was funny, honest, lovable, and frank. I really liked how the novel was in journal format--it made the narration feel more personal and relatable. Delia's voice was super-honest, and she often had me laughing out loud over her crazy schemes to steal Giulio away from Brady.
I wished that the characters of Giulio and Brady were a little bit more developed, though. I also think that the plot could've used some more detail and twists and turns, but it made for a light, breezy read, which was excellent for my pre-finals book slump.
I really couldn't help but root for Delia the whole way through--right up to the surprising (but super-satisfying!) ending. She's someone that I'd love to have as a friend--no matter how silly, quirky, and utterly (but adorably) oblivious she is!
Perfect for summer, this book (and its prequel, 5 Things My Geeky Jock-of-a Best Friend Must Do in Europe) will have girls ages 12 and up wanting more of Delia and Brady--and Jane Harrington's addictive writing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

In My Mailbox

Another great week in books--another busy week of schoolwork! ): 3 more weeks until summer....please, please, hurry!

Many thanks to Random House and Kate Lied of Bloomsbury!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Father Knows Best guest review

Author: Lynda Sandoval
Pages: 232
Published: Bold Strokes Books, April 15 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Cover Score: C
Overall Grade: C

The summer before senior year is supposed to be amazing, according to Lila. She has a super cute boyfriend and is happy. But things get ugly as soon as her dad starts to date her boyfriend's mom. Think that's weird? Then she starts sleeping over--ew! Lila's best friend, Caressa, is leaving for an internship at a Broadway musical in NYC, and Meryl is busy working at the local health foods store. To make matters worse, Lila's arch-nemesis Jennifer is pregnant--and Lila's boyfriend could be the baby daddy. What was supposed to be a relaxing summer could turn out to be the worst ever.

My thoughts: Hmmmm...where to start on this review. Once I finished this book, I thought: great! I'm done. Never once was I reading this book and thinking, this totally sucks, or this is the best book I've ever read in my life. It's just okay. I finished reading Father Knows Best a few weeks ago, and when I turned on my computer to write a review, I had to refresh my memory on the plot. To me, that says a lot about the impact this novel had on me. Even though this book was just an eh read, there is some major drama in the story. When you add in teen pregnancy, gay marriages, and young affairs, this book seems somewhat memorable. If there were not such controversial aspects in the plot, it would've been totally forgettable.
My advice to Ms. Sandoval: write about Caressa, who lives in New York City for the summer doing makeup at Broadway play! Now that sounds like an amazing, exciting read! If you see this book at the library and have nothing else to read, go for it. However, it won't be on your Top 10 favorite books list.
Thank you so much to fellow book reviewer and friend Megan D, who used to blog over at Chicklita Reads, for her opinion on Father Knows Best. Stay tuned for more featured guest reviews by Megan on Bookworm Readers!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Best Frenemy Review & Contest

--Part of the My Best Frenemy blog tour--
Author: Julie Bowe
Pages: 240
Published: Dial, May 13 2010
Genre: Middle grade fiction
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: A-

Fourth grade is busier than ever for Ida May. Her best friend is making new friends, a game of truth or dare is stressing her out, her parents refuse to let her get her ears pierced, and her frenemy has a big secret! Add a risky triple dog dare (gulp) into the mix, and Ida's going to need some major help from her friends...
My thoughts: As always, Julie Bowe's latest in her Friends for Keeps series was sweet and honest. Ida makes a wonderful narrator and main character--readers of the same age group will feel that they can really relate to her. Ms. Bowe certainly did her research--she's got the typical fourth-grader down! I loved the whole truth-or-dare aspect of the plot. It spiced up the storyline and gave the series a new pop.
However, I found that My Best Frenemy didn't outshine the two previous books in the series. Compared to My Last Best Friend and My New Best Friend, it kind of almost fell flat. Although it was significantly longer than the others, this new story didn't have nearly all the drama and action that I loved in both previous stories. Also, I was disappointed that Stacey didn't have a larger role in the plot.
Still, readers ages 8-12 will love Ida and devour her latest adventures. The story gave me an overall warm-and-fuzzy feeling, and I definitely want to see what's next between Ida and Jenna in the next book, Forever Friends (coming out June 2011 from Dial)!
Want to win a copy of My New Best Frenemy and some cool swag? Comment below with your email address. US entries only, please. Contest ends May 25--good luck!
Visit the next stop of the MBF tour over at the Literary Word.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In My Mailbox

Yikes--where did this week go? I seriously need to catch up on reading and reviewing--meanwhile, here are a few weeks' worth of In My Mailbox:

Thank you to Random House for the following:
  • The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
  • Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
  • Party by Tom Leveen
  • Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson
  • Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simmer
Thank you Bloomsbury:
  • Demon Princess: Reign Check by Michelle Rowen (June 2010)
  • The Daughters by Joanna Philbin
  • Boys, Bears, and A Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
  • Alphas #2: Movers and Fakers by Lisi Harrison
  • The Clique: These Boots Were Made for Stalking by Lisi Harrison
  • S.A.S.S: Up Over Down Under by Micol Ostow and Noah Harlan
Happy Mother's Day, and Happy Reading!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Monday Muse: Interview with Karen Day

Today's muse: Karen Day
Author of: No Cream Puffs
Bookworm: Welcome, Karen! To start, please tell us what your inspiration was behind No Cream Puffs!
Karen: I was the first girl in northern Indiana to play Little League with the boys back in the 1970s. It was such an amazing experience that I knew I wanted to take from it and write about it. But I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say. I didn't want to write about a girl who faces all these odds (the town, boys, parents) and comes out on top because she's so strong. That story has been done so many times. I wanted the conflict in the story to be primarily internal. So, I went back and reread some of the authors from my graduate studies in psychoanalysis. And that really helped me to think about Madison as a complicated girl who is trying to break away from her strong mom, who wants her dad and who is struggling with friends and her place in the world. So you see, for me the novel is about much more than baseball! {Bookworm: Wow--that's a lot of in-depth, cool research!}

Bookworm: Did you play sports when you were younger?
Karen: Yes, I was a big jock! I played baseball, basketball, ping pong and kickball. I also played tennis and by the time I was 12 I was the best player in northern Indiana for my age. I gave up all other sports and really concentrated on tennis, traveling around the Midwest and playing tournaments. Eventually I quit, when I was 18, but it was a great experience.

Bookworm: How are you and Madison, the protagonist of No Cream Puffs, alike? How are you different?
Karen: Madison and I are alike in several ways. We were both natural athletes. We were both conflicted about playing with the boys. We both don't know what to say in situations. We both had conflicts with our moms. But I grew up in a different family than Madison. And I think she is much braver than I ever was!

Bookworm: What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
Karen: When I'm not writing I am most likely hanging out with my three kids (ages 15, 13, 9) and our new Lab puppy. Or cooking, doing yoga, reading, listening to music.

Bookworm: What do you like most about writing for the MG/YA genre?
Karen: I so clearly remember feelings, clothes, conversations, teachers, smells from middle school! So it feels very natural for me to write from this age. But I guess what I most like is that kids at this age are beginning to realize who they are and what their place is in the world. I like capturing that moment of change, how they react, the decisions they make, what happens to them. It's so full of richness!

Bookworm: What was the last book you read and loved?
Karen: I read a mix of adult and MG novels. My latest favorite adult book is called Cost, by Roxanna Robinson. And I just finished Dairy Queen, by Catherine Murdock, which I also loved.
Thanks so much, Karen! Visit Karen on the web here
Watch out for Karen's latest, A Million Miles from Boston, hitting shelves spring 2011!