Saturday, July 31, 2010

Forgive My Fins

Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Pages: 293
Published: Katherine Tegen Books, 2010
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: 12 & older
Cover Score: C+
Overall Grade: A

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it's not just her huge crush on gorgeous swimmer-god Brody Bennett. It's already tough enough that she's a mermaid princess, living on land to take a break from underwater life. Even more, she's living next door to an obnoxious biker boy who loves seeing her mess up--especially in front of Brody. To top it all off, mermaids like her bond for life with their "mermate"--one kiss ties you to a person permanently, so she's attempting to win over the perfect Brody's love. Little does she know, a romantic mishap involving mistaken identity leads to a tidalwave of confusion and drama...and possibly the best mistake she's ever made.

My thoughts: Well, I can honestly say that I loved Tera Lynn Childs's latest. Before diving into Forgive My Fins, I had really enjoyed her first book, Oh.My.Gods, which was filled with the same creativity, humor, and lightness that I found again in Forgive My Fins.
One of the strongest points of this book, I think, was the "mermaid" aspect. It was fresh (I'm so over vampires), and Thalassinia made for a perfect setting that was enchanting and colorful, as well as fun to read about. I really felt like I could picture all of the settings and characters and events in my mind! Another great point of the story were the well-developed, lifelike characters. I loved Lily, who made a wonderful protagonist, and where shall I start regarding Quince? Seriously, I adored him--if only he were a real person...
Although very predictable, Forgive My Fins was a quick, lovable story that I never wanted to end. Even though it starts off a bit slow, definitely give this one a try: it's an ideal summer read. I want more of Lily and Quince, now!!

Must-Read! Check it Out Don't Bother

Monday, July 26, 2010


Author: Artist Arthur
Pages: 256
Published: Kimani Tru, 8/1/10
Genre: Paranormal
Age Range: 14 and older (for some disturbing content)
Cover Score: B+ (so-so, kinda boring)
Overall Grade: A-

As if moving from New York City (and leaving her father behind) to the middle of nowhere in Connecticut isn't bad enough, now Krystal Bentley is seeing dead people. Well, just one particular (and very cute) dead person--Ricky Watson, a boy her age who was killed a year ago and has unfinished business: he wants Krystal (as a ghost-whisperer, she's the only person that can help him) to help him find his murderer. But now Krystal's strange power draws two other kids with supernatural abilities to her: Sasha, a rich girl, and Jake, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Together, they are the Mystyx, and their powers are manifesting. They set out to learn who killed Ricky, and the connection between Ricky's murderer and creepy texts being sent to teenage girls...Darkness is coming, and the Mystyx need to be prepared.

My thoughts: I didn't know what to think coming into Manifest. Nowadays, there are so many stories about girls who can talk to ghosts and girls who fall in love with dead boys. The paranormal genre is getting a bit overdone, so I was expecting the same old, same old plot from Manifest.
There was still the same general story line, but the addition of Krystal's family problems and the murders of the girls added a new spice to the story. Sometimes, all the different aspects of the plot (Krystal's home life, her ghost-whispering abilities and Ricky, the sexual predator, her love life, and the Mystyx) got a little jumbled, which is why I think the story took so long to get to the point and the exciting conclusion, but it was still refreshing to see a 3-dimensional plot.
I can't stand a whiny main character, and Krystal complained a lot, so I got a bit frustrated sometimes. I would've liked to have seen more details on the other two Mystyx, and regarding Ricky and Franklin too.
I did really like how realistic Krystal's family problems were--teens will be able to relate. Also, I was really happy that the main character was half African American, part Cherokee: I like books with diversity! The ending was a great shock: I pleasantly surprised at how well Ms. Arthur tied up all the loose ends and showed me who the killer really was. To me, the last chapter wasn't necessary--the book was perfect ending after the exciting conclusion, leaving me wanting more.
Fans of Lee Nichols' Deception will love this author's YA debut!

*ARC provided by Lisa Roe of The Online Publicist

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Author: Sara Shepard
Pages: 330
Published: HarperTeen, 2007
Genre: Realistic fiction/Mystery/Thriller
Age Range: 13 & older
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A

In seventh grade, Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna's best friend Alison went missing--and now, 4 years later, she has been found dead. The girls are shocked and horrified, but even more so when they continue receiving creepy text messages from an unknown "A"--messages threatening to reveal secrets that only Alison knew. For Spencer, she and Alison had a secret together than no one else knew: one that had to do with the night that Jenna Cavanaugh was blinded. And now that the Cavanaughs have moved back to wealthy Rosewood, Spencer's afraid that Jenna's always-creepy stepbrother Toby wants revenge...but will she be able to tell the other girls before they're all in danger?

My thoughts: Yep, I'm hooked. "Amazing" is an overused word--but it's the only way to describe the Pretty Little Liars series. I seriously don't know how Ms. Shepard does it--the plot line was thick and complicated, but by the end she's wrapped up all the loose ends into an ohhhh I get it now! way, leaving you wanting more.
Before picking up this series and watching the ABC Family TV show, I guessed that the books were just trashy chick-lit. Never judge a book by its cover. The first book set everything up, but Flawless had more action and mystery and creepiness. Flawless was intense--I absolutely couldn't stop reading!
I loved all of the characters. They felt life-like and I liked how, even though the story was narrated in third person, I felt like I could really get into each girl's head. My favorite character would probably have to be Aria, though.
I know I'm a little late for (finally) giving the series a try, but I'm totally obsessed now--anyone out there who hasn't read Pretty Little Liars, go ahead and get yourself a copy, and make sure you have the next book in the series on hand. I just got the third book, Perfect, from the library, and I'm ready to dig in.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Author: Sasha Paley
Pages: 259
Published: Simon Pulse, 2007
Genre: Realistic fiction
Cover Score: A (yummy s'mores!)
Overall Grade: B+

Privileged Wil's health nut parents are forcing her to spend the summer at Wellness Canyon (aka fat camp). Reluctant to leave behind her flat screen TV and luxurious beach house, she's determined to get the ultimate revenge by gaining weight. Meanwhile, perky and enthusiastic April has been saving up her money all year in order to attend, and is pumped to shed the pounds.
But when the girls are assigned as each other's roommates, the fur starts to fly. Wil's sneaking off to 7-Eleven, April's determined to get into the popular crowd, and soon they're even crushing on the same guy. But between reduced-fat snacks and fitness hikes, the girls both get humiliated by the same person--and revenge is in store. Can these two, overweight, unlikely friends come together to form the perfect prank? Maybe this summer will be one to remember.

My thoughts: I've been watching the TV show (based off of this book) on ABC Family, and I fell in love with the cast of quirky characters and the drama-filled, honest, and funny plotline. However, I was a bit disappointed at how different the book was--in fact, it fell a little flat for me.
While I loved April and Wil as main characters, the book could've used more well-developed secondary roles. In the show, this kind of character keeps the story really interesting and fresh. I was expecting to see more characters that I know from the show: like Dr. Rand, Amber, Chloe, Ian...Now I know that the show is a loose adaptation of the book.
However, I really liked the "fat camp" setting. It was unique and was a perfect background for all of the self-discovery and growth that went on in the book. I also liked the relationship between Wil and April, even though it was super-predictable. Even though I hate whiny characters (ahem Wil), their dynamic was perfect for the drama that went on, and I liked the alternating points of view (though I'm not a big fan of third person).
Even though the book could've used a few more twists and turns and better-developed characters, it makes for a fun summer read. If you're a fan of the show, or if you just want a book that's funny and sincere, give Huge a try.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Reading?

...The dreaded assignment. I always am so hesitant about summer reading. I read enough on my own, so I always think why do I need to read another book, scouring it for hidden meanings just so I can crank out an essay that I'll probably never see again? I have specific genres that I enjoy reading, and I like choosing my own reading material so that I can really enjoy it. Then there's always the possibility of having just one mandatory summer reading choice--a book from 30 years ago that you've never heard of.

I've had some assigned reading that I really liked--The Outsiders and Marley and Me were both great novels, but other than that, I've just obediently chugged through my vacation English work. I'm all for suggested reading lists--but mandatory??
But this year--gasp--I actually enjoyed my summer reading book. Our school is pretty good at giving us lots of different choices that cover all sorts of genres. Out of the 4 diverse novels that we could pick from, I chose Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Algoquin Books, 2006). It had a slow start, but by the end, I was actually surprised at how much I really loved it: it was well-written, exciting, and riveting. It has mature content, so it's more adult than YA, but I'd easily recommend it to older teens. I'm so excited that there will be a Water for Elephants movie coming soon!

I want to hear from you...What does your school do for summer reading assignments? What books did you have to choose from this year? What was your favorite summer reading book of all time?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sarah Mlynowski Blog Tour

I'm so honored to be a part of bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski's summer blog tour for her recent YA release, Gimme A Call (read my review here). Today, Sarah will be telling us about what to indulge in this summer--and more importantly, what to read!

Things I am obsessed with this summer: taupe nail polish (so pretty), Whole Foods homemade tortilla chips (try one now. Trust me), Fresh bath products (the lemon scent), GLEE )why didn't anyone tell me how awesome it was so I could have started watching it from the beginning? Oh, right, everyone did. Well, why didn't I listen?) and these seven books:

1. If I Stay by Gayle Forman. So sad and beautiful. So well done. You've probably already read it (it's been on the NYT list for months now) but if you haven't, you want to pick it up before the movie and sequel come out, don't you? I promise it'll make you cry. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a paranormal romance about a girl, a horrible accident, and the power of love.

2. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Also sad and beautiful! Also about loss and love. Although this one has a love triangle. Or maybe a love rectangle. Regardless of the shape, an excellent read.

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver. It doesn't pub until February 2011, but I scored an ARC at Book Expo. So glad I did. It's a dystopian Romeo-and-Juliet story, and it blew me away. Also it made me cry.

4. Thirteen Plus One by Lauren Myracle. Thank goodness--no crying! Only uncontrollable giggles. This is the fourth book in the Winnie Years series. If you haven't already read the first three, go do
that now. I'll wait. La, la, la, la. Done? Good. Now go read Thirteen Plus One. You want to read about "nekkid boy bottoms", don't you? Of course you do.

5. One Day by David Nicholls. A guy and a girl. Every July 15th for twenty years since the first July 15th they met. Judging from the insane amount of press this paperback is receiving, I'm not the only one obsessed with this smart and bittersweet book.

6. Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter. The fourth book in the Gallagher Girls series is just as awesome as the first three. Danger! Adventure! Romance! Fun! Cutest covers ever! Start with number one, but have number two on hand because you're going to want it ASAP.
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I'm only on page ten. But already--wow. Like with Glee, I'm a bit late to the, um, game. But why didn't anyone tell me? Oh right, they did. Anyway. Need to finish book one and two before the final book comes out in August.

If you need me I'll be in the bath, eating tortilla chips, listening to the Glee soundtrack, admiring my toenail polish, and catching up on my reading.

Thanks so much to Sarah and Meg O'Brien of Random House Children's Books for including me in the tour!

Visit yesterday's stops here and here
Become a fan of Gimme A Call on Facebook:
Watch out for Sarah! She'll be stopping by Ally Carter's blog next, so keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Author: Terri Clark
Pages: 257
Published: HarperTeen, 2008
Genre: Mystery/Romane
Cover Score: C-
Overall Grade: B+

18-year-old Trinity Michaels has an unusual gift: she can dreamwalk, which means that she can physically go into other people's dreams when she's asleep. But after helping solve a murder case by dreamwalking into the victim's dream, the psycho murderer Rafe wants revenge--and now that he's broken out of the mental hospital, he's stalking Trinity in her dreams. With the help of super-cute Dan Devlin, who's evil lawyer father kept Rafe from being permanently locked up, Trinity is determined to find Rafe before he finds her...but can she trust Dan?

My thoughts: Don't let the cute, chick-litty cover fool you--this book is darker than it seems! The concept of the story was creative and unique: I'd never heard of dreamwalking before, and it made an interesting addition to an already suspenseful plot line. Trinity made a great narrator, I really understood what she was going through and she was both honest and funny.
I wish the mystery had had just a few more twists and turns, but overall it was pretty well written with good detail. Don't read this one before bed--it could get pretty creepy and sometimes a bit gory! I also felt like the plot seemed a bit abrupt and sudden: Dan and Trinity's relationship felt like it happened too fast, and the ending was cheesily predictable.
Sleepless was one of those super fast-paced books that you absolutely can't put down until you're done (I easily finished it within a day). If this book weren't a paperback, I wouldn't buy it. However, if you are going on a trip to the beach, the $5.99 price tag is worth the day or so of entertainment it brings--take Sleepless along for a fast, easy, suspenseful, and thrilling read!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging

Author: Louise Rennison
Pages: 247
Published: HarperCollins, 1999
Genre: Realistic/Humorous fiction (diary format)
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: A-

Meet 14 year old Georgia Nicolson, whose life is very unnormal: her parents are from the Stone Age, her three year old sister likes to hide used diapers in her room, and her mixed-breed cat Angus is certifiably insane. To top it off, there's the boy factor: Georgia's heartbroken over beautiful, gorgeous, guitar-playing Robbie, who Georgia can't even talk to without stammering and staring. Luckily, Georgia's got her best friends on her side...but will she ever be able to nab Robbie?
My thoughts: I've heard so much about this book: it's my favorite, it's SO funny, it's AMAZING...I saw the movie adaptation of the best-selling books, loved it, and knew I had to try the series (why hadn't I thought of this before??).
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging was genuinely hilarious, clever, and witty. I was often laughing out loud. Georgia was just so wonderfully random, honest, and super-sincere. She had a great voice that really made me feel like a fourteen-year-old girl was talking to me. Georgia's problems were all so silly, described in hilarious detail. I felt like I could really sympathize with her, as she was so relatable.
And oh, the British terms used in the story: now I have the urge to go around saying "prat" and "tosser". I loved the cute little glossary in the back of the book, it was very clever!
The only thing that I think could've been improved were some descriptions. I couldn't really picture what the rest of the characters looked like, especially Robbie. The Robbie interactions were brief, and I think that Ms. Rennison could've used more detail when it came to him, because he and Georgia's relationship seemed really abrupt to me, unlike in the movie.
Overall, I am thrilled that I picked this silly, oh-so-funny story up, and look forward to the next book in the series. Definitely a must-read for all teenage girls!

PS. Which cover do you prefer: the paperback (top left) or the hardcover (lower right)?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pretty Little Liars

Author: Sara Shepard
Pages: 286
Published: HarperTeen, 2006
Genre: Mystery/Chick lit/Thriller
Cover Score: A (love the dolls!)
Overall Grade: A

In 7th grade, Aria, Emily, Spencer, Hanna and queen bee Alison were best friends. They did everything together. They were inseparable. And Alison knew all of their secrets. That year, Alison went missing and the 4 girls drifted apart--and now in their junior year of high school, they're reunited, each with a dangerous secret that no one can ever know. Spencer's coveting her sister's boyfriend, Aria likes her new teacher a bit too much, Emily's friendship with the new girl is complicated, and previously-chubby and awkward Hanna is using dangerous methods to stay gorgeous. But when the girls start receiving mysterious texts, emails, and IMs from an anonymous "A" (containing secrets that only Alison knew about), they're together in their suspicion. After all, Alison is dead. Right?

My thoughts: I'm totally hooked on this storyline. After I started watching the TV show on ABC Family, I couldn't get the addictive, suspenseful plot out of my mind. I knew that I needed to read the books, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would they be trashy? Different from the show? Light and fluffy, or serious and dark?
Ms. Shepard's writing is natural and intoxicating: I got pulled into the plotline and couldn't put it down until I'd finished it (and then went straight to the bookstore to buy the 2nd book, Flawless). It's so unique, and Ms. Shepard writes a well thought-out, creative mystery that has chick-lit appeal with an underlying darkness. Her descriptions were vivid, and each character was well-developed and had an interesting background.
Although the book isn't short, it was a quick page turner for me. With a major cliffhanging ending, you'll definitely want to have a copy of Flawless on hand. I can't wait to find out what's next for the Pretty Little Liars--this series is a must-read!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

Author: Cherry Whytock
Pages: 163
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2003
Genre: Realistic fiction
Cover score: B
Overall Grade: A-/B+

Compared to her cute, tiny friends, Angelica Cookson Potts (aka Angel) feels like a huge, wobbling whale. Even though she loves cooking, eating, and all things Jamie Oliver (the Naked Chef), she just feels big around her classmates, tiny ex-model mother, and Adam (aka the Love of her Life). Angel decides it's time for some Life Changes in order to nab Adam and to not look like a total blob at the upcoming school fashion show--starting with an all-cabage diet that has, er, explosive results. But with the support of her 3 best friends, Angel may just realize that being "big" isn't so bad after all...
My thoughts: What a cute, cheeky British read! Angel was an ideal main character--funny and honest, I felt like she was relatable and super down-to-earth. I hate whiny main characters, but Angel was the exact opposite: she was so lovable!
The other characters in the story (Angel's friends, family cook, wacky parents) created a colorful backdrop for the refreshing, unique story. I loved the strong, love-yourself-for-who-your-are message behind some of the silliness, and I also loved that Angel cooked! The recipes in the story sound super-yummy, I definitely want to try some out. And the super-cute little doodles that were scattered throughout the book made a great visual for the story and added a personal touch that really added to Angel's voice.
My only complaint would be that the book might be a bit too short for my liking. After all, it was only 163 pages. Ms. Whytock took a perfect amount of time getting to the point, but the ending ended up feeling rushed and kind of abrupt. Plus, it was a bit predictable.
Still, what a fun, quick, and cute read! I'd definitely recommend this to the teenage girls that I know: I can't wait to see what's next for Angel in the sequel, My Saucy Scottish Dumplings (crazy titles, huh?)!!

PS. Which cover do you prefer, the purple UK one to the upper right (which is the one that was in my public library) or the American version, above?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Princess for Hire

Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Pages: 239
Published: Disney/Hyperion, 2010
Genre: Fantasy
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A-

Desi Bascomb's hopes for an amazing summer are quickly disappearing. Stuck with a job that includes dressing up as a groundhog for the local pet store, all that unpopular Desi wants in life is a bit of glamour and the ability to have an impact on people. So when an impeccably-dressed woman in a shining bubble offers Desi a job as a substitute for princesses, Desi jumps at the opportunity. Now, with the help of Royal Rouge, a magical transforming powder, Desi can stand in for any princess that just needs a break from royal life. But being a princess is more than just wearing a tiara and waving to paparazzi. What does one do when a bullying sister puts you on a date-only diet? Or when you are expected to perform a tribal dance you don't know? Desi's determined to help make the princess's lives better...even if she has to break the rules.
My thoughts: I had high hopes for this book. First of all...just look at that cover. It's just so pink and girly and sparkly. The content of the story was just as fluffy and enjoyable as the cover suggested.
Desi's character was super funny and relatable. I could really feel for her, through every crazy and hilarious situation that her unique job put her in. I loved the creativity in the plot line. Subbing for princesses? I've never seen something like that before! Ms. Leavitt set up a well-developed new world that was fun and refreshing and full of girl-power. It reminded me of Kay Cassidy's The Cinderella Society, except with better-outlined details and more action.
The story was a quick read, and one of my favorite parts was learning about all the princesses that Desi got to sub for. I loved all the different cultures and expectations for royalty brought up in the book (it kept the book fresh and interesting), and I loved how spunky and confident Desi was--she had a real voice that brought humor to everything.
Overall, a great debut from Ms. Leavitt that will resonate with girls all over. I can't wait to see what's next for Desi!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Little Blog on the Prairie

Author: Cathleen Davitt Bell
Pages: 374
Published: Bloomsbury, 2010
Genre: Realistic fiction
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A-

Thirteen year old Gen Welsh was looking forward to having a normal, relaxing, summer--that is, until her mom signs their family up for "family frontier camp". Now, instead of hanging by the pool, Gen is reluctantly stuck in a camp that reenacts pioneer life in 1890--right down to milking cows and wearing sunbonnets. Farm life is harder than she expects: not only is her family failing the frontier competition, but a real life "Nellie Olson" is threatening to steal Gen's newfound crush, Caleb, who's at camp, too. Using a contraband cell phone, Gen relays all of her camp experiences to her friends at home. But when they turn her texts into the most popular blog on the Internet, Gen's beginning to enjoy what if she gets caught?
My thoughts: The thing that I loved most about this book was how fresh and creative it was--from the witty title right down to the unique plot line. Before reading this book, I had never heard of "family frontier camp", but it sure made a great premise for a book!
Gen was so funny--and even though she could sometimes be whiny, she always had something clever to say about the crazy situations Camp Frontier put her in. There was lots of comic relief in this book: imagine a reluctant city girl plunked down into 1890. The scenes that involved sharing a room with her whole family, milking a cow, visiting an outhouse, wearing bulky pioneer clothes, and eating endless beans and grits had me cracking up out loud: it was absolutely hilarious! I also loved the modern twist of the blog added into the plot. It brought more entertainment and excitement and moved the story along.
The book rolled along smoothly and quickly (although a bit boring in places), and Ms. Bell didn't waste words. She described every situation so vividly that I could picture them.
However, I still wish that Caleb's character could be better developed. I just felt like I didn't know all that much about him.
I hope to see more of Gen in the future--perfect for middle grade readers, Little Blog on the Prairie doesn't disappoint.