Saturday, July 31, 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Today (July 31) is my husband's birthday. Happy birthday!

Bought

What better way to celebrate a birthday than with books. My husband loves thrillers (Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, etc) and fantasy (Fabelhaven series, Ranger's Apprentice). I picked out a Daniel Silva book and two YA thrillers. I want to read the YA books; I've heard good things about them.


Silverfin (Young Bond) by Charlie Higson
Maximum Ride by James Patterson
The Defector by Daniel Silva

Library Stash


Wings by Aprilynne Pike (almost done; very good)
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (Wahoo!!!)
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

The Ghost And The Goth by Stacey Kade

CD Of The Week
Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

The second post of my two day theme of "Books everyone else liked, but I didn't." Actually, dislike is too strong a word. I didn't dislike these books...just am not raving about them.

What was the last book that didn't really get you that everyone else seems to love?

Summary

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood. 

Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother. 

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul

Review

The Dark Devine is an excellent debut by Bree Despain. I really did enjoy the book, although I have more reservations about it than many other reviewers. 

The good: 
1) Grace - I really liked Grace, the main character. She's a strong, kind girl. But she's also human - we see hints of jealousy and anger. Bree creates a 3-dimensional character. 
2) The relationship between Grace and Daniel - Not just good girl falling for bad boy. Grace falls for the sweet Daniel she's known for her entire life. It's him she sees when she looks at Daniel, not his current "bad boy" exterior. 
3) The writing - this is a good and bad. I think Bree is a talented writer. The characters and setting are richly described but not to the point of bogging the story down. While I have some quibbles with the plot, she built a climax that kept me reading to the end, despite a pounding fatigue-induced headache.

The bad: 
1) The writing - actually it's more of the plotting. I had no idea what the paranormal twist to this book was until midway through. The first half of the book, while presumably necessary for set-up, could have been much shorter. It's frustrating to read a book continuously wondering when you're going to figure out what the point is. I also thought the paranormal world could have been described better. It's a really interesting concept but the description was choppy. It took too long to understand. 
2) The Minnesota setting - I live in the Twin Cities, where Bree set the story. Her descriptions of the area were ridiculously wrong. There's no Apple Valley mall. The more rural suburbs near Apple Valley have no woods - they're former corn fields. No one says "going into the city" - it's the Cities - or just Mpls or St. Paul. These are petty complaints, I know. But it really wouldn't have been hard for Bree to do a little Internet research on the setting or else make something up.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hopsy Turvy

It's time for the weekly book blogger hops again! A great opportunity to meet new bloggers and say hi to old favorites.

Check out the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy For Books

Here's the question of the week: Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

I'm Alison. My blog is now 8 weeks old! It'll be two months next week.

Many of the books I've read this year have been by new-to-me authors. I've read YA lit for years, but it's only recently that I've delved so deeply into the genre. To authors that immediately come to mind are Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall), Leah Cypess (Mistwood) and Kimberly Pauley (Sucks To Be Me, Still Sucks To Be Me)



And also check out Parajunkee's Follow My Book Blog Friday



Prophecy Of The Sisters by Michelle Zink

Prophecy Of The Sisters by Michelle Zink

I'm starting a two day theme of "Books everyone else liked, but I didn't." Actually, dislike is too strong a word. I didn't dislike these books...just am not raving about them.

What was the last book that didn't really get you that everyone else seems to love?

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe and her twin sister Alice have just become orphans, and, as Lia discovers, they have also become enemies. The twins are part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other. To escape from a dark fate and to remain in the arms of her beloved boyfriend James, Lia must end the prophecy before her sister does. Only then will she understand the mysterious circumstances of her parents' deaths, the true meaning of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and the lengths to which her sister will go to defeat her. Debut novelist Michelle Zink takes readers on an unforgettable journey where one sister's fateful decision could have an impact of Biblical proportions. Prophecy of the Sisters is the first of three books. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review 

This is a really hard review to write. I feel like I should have liked this book - it has so many characteristics of books I typically love - paranormal, family drama, historical setting, friendship, romance. It reminds me both of Beautiful Creatures and Libba Bray's Great And Terrible Beauty trilogy. But I just could not get into this book. It starts out shrouded in mystery. Lia and Alice Milthorpe's father has just died. Alice is acting very strangely. Then Lia and her boyfriend James find a book that tells of a prophecy of the entrance of evil and chaos into this world. One sister is the guardian of the gate and the other is the gatekeeper, the only one who can let evil enter. Kind, gentle Lia naturally assumes that she is the guardian while her untrustworthy sister is the gate. To her great surprise, Lia is in fact the gate. She desperately wants to prevent the prophecy's fulfillment. With the help of two new friends, Lia embarks on a journey to prevent the gate from opening.

I give this book a 3 star review, because it is quite well-written, and I think will appeal to others much more than it did me. The elegant prose makes it seem like it was written in the time it is set (1890). The entire book feels very Gothic, like a dark and misty night. The paranormal element of the prophecy and flying through other worlds is complex and well-developed. The prophecy is revealed subtly, symbolically. It requires you to actually think. I think the series will become even more interesting with future books.

My main problem with this book was the characters. I just didn't care about them. Lia was the most interesting. She is kind, honorable, and brave; she wants to defy the prophecy regardless of the personal cost. I thought Alice was woodenly evil, despite occasional hints of sisterly kindness. Sophia and Luisa were nice girls, but I didn't get a real feeling of personality. James, the love interest, wasn't a big enough part of the story for me to develop any feelings for him. The pacing of the book was also too slow for my taste. It took to long for me to understand the prophecy at all (I don't know that I ever really understood it). Sometimes a slow build-up creates anticipation and excitement, but I was just confused. I kept waiting for the book to become a page-turner, but it always kept me just interested enough to keep going...nothing more.

Rating: 3 / 5

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (8): Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine spotlighting upcoming releases.


Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
October 12, 2010


This doesn't rank high on the creativity list. Everyone and her sister are drooling over the release of this book. But even if we all know it's coming, I'm putting it up as my WOW because I'm super excited for it.


Summary


Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen. 

Sometimes life-ending. 

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Musings

There are three main things on my plate right now: Reading, blogging, and fiction writing. It seems that I can do two at a time well, but not three. The past few days, I've been doing reading and writing. I'm still posting to the blog but got really lazy about commenting back. I'll try to rectify that tonight.

I started Only The Good Spy Young by Ally Carter yesterday afternoon. I finished it yesterday evening. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so good! It caught me from the very first page, something Ally Carter's books don't usually do. I could not put it down.

I started Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta this morning. I'm only 30 pages in and I'm struggling. I don't get it. Clearly, 30 pages is not enough to understand what's going on, but I don't have a clue of the ultimate plot. The writing is excellent though, so I will soldier on. But tonight, I'm feeling the urge to blog and write over the urge to read.

What was the last book you couldn't put down - the last book where like just stopped while you read?

Tween Tuesday (7) - Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme created by GreenBeanTeenQueen, one of my favorite blogs. Surprise, surprise - it features books aimed at Tweens.


Much Ado About Anne (Mother Daughter Book Club) by Heather Vogel Frederick


Summary


The mother-daughter book club is back! 

This year the mothers have a big surprise in store for Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan: They've invited snooty Becca Chadwick and her mother to join the book club! 

But there are bigger problems when Jess finds out that her family may have to give up Half Moon Farm. In a year filled with skating parties, a disastrous mother-daughter camping trip, and a high-stakes fashion show, the girls realize that it's only through working together -- Becca included -- that they can save Half Moon Farm. (courtesy of Goodreads)


Review


The second book in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series is just as good as the first. The girls are a year older and in 7th grade. The yoga moms choose Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea as the reads for the year. This book is mostly about the girls' lives with just an occasional reference to L.M. Montgomery's works. The first book spent more time actually discussing Little Women. The Anne books are still discussed substantively and frequently, but it often feels like the references are just thrown in there to keep with the series' premise. Ultimately, I'm reading this book because I'm interested in the girls' lives, but I would have preferred more references to the Anne books. 

I'm glad that the girls are aging with the series. They are at a difficult age this year - no longer little girls, but not yet grown up. Tween cattiness is a strong presence in the book. Becca Chadwick is invited to join the book club. She does nothing to lessen her "mean girl" reputation during her membership in the book club. Poor Emma is her main target. But Emma, Cassidy, and Jess are not above stooping to Becca's level to get revenge. Megan is stuck in the middle; she considers the book club girls her friends but also likes Becca. 

The girls face grown-up situations this year and handle them with varying levels of grace. Emma hates being teased by Becca about her weight, so she tries to do something about it. She also has some interesting boy issues. Megan is trying to choose between friends and is stressed over the preparation for her big fashion debut. Cassidy is devastated that her mother is dating; she stubbornly refuses to accept "Stan the man's" kind overtures. Jess faces the most grown-up problem: her family is on the verge of losing their farm. 

None of the characters, parents included, in this series are perfect or purely evil people. Emma, Cassidy, Jess, and Megan are clearly the heroines of the series, but they make their share of bad choices. Becca is the chief antagonist, but we get to know her better in this book. We better understand why she is the way she is, even if she is hard to sympathize with. And the parents are not immune from mistakes, particularly Becca and Megan's mothers. 

The Mother-Daughter Book Club is a fabulously fun series. It's not a perfect set of books, but has fewer flaws than many Tween books. I'd recommend the books to any girl and her mother.


Rating: 3.5 / 5

Monday, July 26, 2010

Manga Mondays (8): Kitchen Princess vol. 3 & 4 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

Kitchen Princess vol. 3 & 4 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

Thoughts on Najika, the main character: 

I really like Najika. She is sweet and kind, a stereotypical "good girl." But she also has spirit - we see her temper, her cunning, and her humor. Since my manga experience is mostly limited to Fruits Basket and Kitchen Princess, I cannot help but compare Tohru and Najika. Fruits Basket is a more mature series. As a whole, the characters go through more serious situations an emotional struggles than do the characters in Kitchen Princess. But Najika seems more real than Tohru. Najika is not nice 100% of the time. The only hint of depth to Tohru's character we read is her extreme sadness at her mother's death and her constant recitation of her mother's wise advice. But otherwise, she is so unfailingly nice that she seems fake. Najika has also struggled with the loss of her parents. And she is terribly homesick over leaving her orphanage and its headmistress, who treated Najika like her own. Her sweetness, when balanced by a temper creates a more three-dimensional character.

Warning: My manga "reviews" often contain spoilers. I find it hard to adequately discuss a volume of manga without talking about it in more detail than some might like.

Kitchen Princess Vol. 3:

At the start of this volume, we learn more about Sora and Daichi. It turns out the brothers are at odds, in large part, because Sora approved of his father's remarriage while Daichi disapproved. Akane spies Sora and Najika having a tender moment. Even though she has a crush on Daichi, Akane can't stand Najika being loved by either brother. She plots to shut down Fujita Diner, the diner where Najika cooks, as revenge.The board of trustees of the school is about to shut down Fujita Diner when Najika and Fujita-san wow the board with rolled sandwiches. It turns out that lazy Fujita is a classically French-trained chef who can be very charming.


The book continues with a trip home to Hokkaido where Najika tends to her ailing orphanage headmistress. Najika has a real way with kids - she is nice and empathetic but can also be strict when necessary to get kids to behave. Najika is truly happy in the orphanage tending to her "family."



Najika begins to wonder if Sora or Daichi is her Flan Prince. Why she didn't wonder this before, I don't know...she's a bit slow. :-)  But she's still utterly clueless that Sora and Daichi are both in love with her. Akane has definitely noticed though. She does her best throughout the book to thwart Daichi's interest in Najika.



Kitchen Princess Vol. 4:

Najika is thoroughly confused at the start of this volume. Daichi is cold and distant all of a sudden and Najika doesn't know why. It turns out to be a big love-triangle confusion. Daichi bought Najika a new watch, but Akane took it instead and told Daichi that Najika gave it to her. Then Sora gave Najika a watch as well! Much confusion. Things settle themselves out and Akane's duplicity is discovered.



Akane and Najika have a blowout in the cafeteria. Najika drops the niceties for a few minutes and tells Akane what she really thinks of her. Akane is publicly shamed before the entire school. Najika's mean-side disappears like smoke. Soon enough, she is making a special dessert for Akane to use in a food competition.




Sora makes a big announcement in this volume. He confesses to Najika that he is her Flan Prince - he rescued her from the river in Hokkaido. Daichi is furious with Sora for his admission and with Najika for loving him. Why is Daichi upset? Is Sora telling the truth? Or is Daichi just jealous? We shall see...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I let my blog slide a bit the past few days. I came across two fabulous Twilight fanfiction novels (200,000+ words!) that kept me reading obsessively (I was up until 2 AM on Friday). Since I was reading the novels on my phone, I read them everywhere I went, all day long. If you want good Carlisle/Esme/Edward canon fanfiction, I highly recommend No Longer Alone and A Coming Of Age by EliseShaw. A Coming Of Age is still a work in progress. Waiting for the next chapter is going to be painful.

Here are my library books for the week:


Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey


Emma vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori
Emma vol. 2 by Kaoru Mori

CD of the Week:


Gorilla Manor by Local Natives

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Hopping I Go

It's time for the weekly book blogger hops again! A great opportunity to meet new bloggers and say hi to old favorites.

Check out the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy For Books

Here's the question of the week: What book are you currently reading?

I'm Alison. My blog is now 7 weeks old!

I am currently reading Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French. Julian, a 12 year old boy, is in his evil uncle's office one day when he's sees an email addressed to his uncle, "the moron." It's from a girl who is protesting the plan to cut down ancient redwood trees next to her family's property. Robin and Julian strike up a correspondence and Julian sneaks away to her house for the summer. This starts off a whole series of adventures that I've haven't read yet.

I am also reading Kitchen Princess vol. 5 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi



And also check out Parajunkee's Follow My Book Blog Friday




In A Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth

In A Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth

Summary

When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart.

When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different — dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy —her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan’s life,meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on.(courtesy of Goodreads)


Review

Two girls: Quiet, obedient, loving Amelia has been ill for years with a bad heart. Fast, sassy, Eagan lives to skate but also rebels against her mother's pressure and wants the most out of life. When Eagan dies in a freak skating accident, Amelia gets her heart. Suddenly Amelia takes on some of Eagan's sassy, bold personality and even her interests, like purple lollipops and skating.

I read every Lurlene McDaniel book out there as a teenager. I had a morbid fascination of teenagers struggling with life threatening illnesses. If you like Lurlene McDaniel, you will definitely like this. Actually, Lurlene has a new book out called Heart To Heart, which has almost exactly the same premise as In A Heartbeat. Without hesitation, I would read In A Heartbeat over Heart To Heart (not that the latter is bad...In A Heartbeat is simply better).

The book is told through alternating viewpoints of Amelia and Eagan. Amelia is joyous at receiving a new chance on life, but also mourning the death of her donor and trying to understand her strange new personality quirks. Eagan is in a limbo-like state and needs to come to terms with her life and death. She tells her side of the story through a series of memories of her life, focusing on her tempestuous relationship with her mother, her close relationship with her grandfather, and her new relationship with her fabulous boyfriend Scott. I thought the switch between Eagan's presence and her past was seamless. The author also deftly wove Amelia post-transplant life and Eagan's pre-and-post-death life together. It has a similar feeling to If I Stay by Gayle Forman and even a bit of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. In A Heartbeat is a quick read. As you turn the pages, you will be sobbing tears of both joy and sadness.

Rating: 4 / 5

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (7) - Pies And Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine spotlighting upcoming releases.

Pies And Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick

The fourth installment of the tween series, The Mother Daughter Book Club comes out in September. I've read the first two books and really enjoyed them. I can't wait to read the third and fourth.

Summary

No summary yet :-( But I'm so excited about this book that I'm putting it up as my WoW anyway. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tween Tuesday (6) - Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme created by GreenBeanTeenQueen, one of my favorite blogs. Surprise, surprise - it features books aimed at Tweens.


Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick


Summary


The book club is about to get a makeover...
Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma's already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month.
But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can't help but wonder: What would Jo March do?
Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick will delight daughters of all ages in a novel about the fabulousness of fiction, family, and friendship. (courtesy of Amazon)

Review

I've been meaning to read this book for years. The concept of a Mother-Daughter Book Club sounded wonderful. The Mother-Daughter Book Club fulfilled my expectations. Four 6th grade girls, who are all polar opposites, are forced by their mothers and father to participate in a monthly book club. Over the course of the year, they make their way through Little Women. The girls' personalities resemble the four daughters in Little Women. Cassidy, the hockey obsessed jock, is most like Jo...just a bit different than the typical girl. Emma is like Jo in that she's a writer but like Meg in other ways. Megan is like Amy - artistic and selfish. Jess is Beth - quiet and sweet.

Throughout the year the girls' lives interweave far beyond the book club. They go to the same school, so are involved in the same sports events, plays, and dances. Emmma and Jess are best friends. Cassidy is very different than Emma and Jess, but quickly becomes their friend. Most of the conflict revolves around Megan. She hangs with the popular, mean-girl crowd led by Becca Chadwick. They delight in making fun of everyone, but especially Emma who can't afford new clothes and Jess, Goat-Girl, who lives on a farm. Their cruel pranks and comments perfectly fit with my memories of middle school. Megan has to decide if she really wants to hang with girls specializing in cruelty or be with her kinder but less popular book club friends.

I especially like the portrayal of the parents in the book. They are not perfect people. They embarrass the girls, they lose their tempers, they place their own hopes, dreams, and fears before that of their daughters. This is the age where kids really start discovering their parents flaws and it's nice to see a book that portrays parents realistically as good but imperfect people. The book wraps up the conflicts pretty neatly, perhaps a bit too neatly to be real. Still enough issues were left unresolved to provide interesting plot points and conflict for future books. All in all, a pleasant and enjoyable read! 

Rating: 4 / 5

Monday, July 19, 2010

Manga Mondays (7) Kitchen Princess vols. 1 & 2 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

Kitchen Princess is a shojo manga series. It is written by Natsumi Ando and drawn by Miyuki Kobayashi. It is published by Del Rey Manga in the US and has a Teen rating. The first few books at least seem more geared to younger teens or tweens.

I really enjoy Kitchen Princess. Nothing about the plot is life-altering but as a self-professed foodie, it is great fun to read a book littered with delicious desserts and with recipes. And even if you don't love the series, the volumes go so fast, that there's little reason not to read them. I can easily finish a volume in 20-30 minutes.

Each chapter centers around a single recipe. The recipe manages to work its way into the plot - some a bit awkwardly. The end of each volume includes a collection of the recipes for the corresponding chapters. Surprisingly for a Japanese manga, most of the recipes are for Western concoctions - cakes, flan, creme brulee, sandwiches, pie, etc. I haven't tried making any of them but they do look good.


Warning: My manga "reviews" often contain spoilers. I find it hard to adequately discuss a volume of manga without talking about it in more detail than some might like.


But I think my reviews of Volume 1 and 2 contain minimal spoilers.

Volume 1:

This volume introduces us to the main plot. Najika Kazami is an orphan living in Hokkaido. When she was younger, she was rescued from falling into a river by a boy who, as an odd comforting gesture, gave her a bowl of flan with a silver spoon. The spoon was embossed with Seika Academy's crest. Najika-chan has been seeking her "Flan Prince" ever since. She earns a spot in Seika Academy with the express goal of finding her flan prince. 

The flan prince doesn't just show up at Seika Academy. Instead, she befriends two brothers. Sora is the model student, the "good boy." His estranged brother is Daichi, the dashing, volatile "bad boy." Daichi and Najika get off to a bad spot when he catches her climbing something and nicknames her "monkey." But the chemistry between them is electric. Najika also is attracted to Sora, whose kindness makes her transition to Seika easier. 

Najika is placed in Class A, a special class for extra talented students. No one understands what Najika did to deserve a spot amongst the stars. She is not overly brilliant at school, wealthy, nor a celebrity. The popular girls, led by a young model named Akane, give her a rough time. They don't think she's qualified to be in the special class. But Najika proves herself to be truly special - at cooking.

Volume 2:

Akane is a main feature of this volume. The story begins with Sora and Daichi convincing Najika to stay at Seika Academy, despite the fact that most people don't like her. Akane is the leader of the Anti-Najika group. She is jealous of Najika's cooking skill, but mostly jealous of Najika's friendship with Daichi. Akane has a big crush on Daichi.

The most significant part of this volume deals with Akane's eating disorder. To further her modeling career, Akane eats less and less. This threatens not only her health, but her prospective career as well. Najika works with Sora and Daichi to create Akane's favorite childhood recipe, Peach Pie, in hopes that Akane will eat. The search for the perfect pie recipe is hilarious. It adds levity to an otherwise serious topic. I don't think the eating disorder aspect is handled well. I like that they bother to bring up the issue at all, but the idea that just finding a great recipe will get someone with an eating disorder to eat is ridiculous.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Winner: Eclipse Movie Companion Giveaway!

The Winner of The Eclipse Movie Companion (plus bookmark) ngiveaway is:


Congratulations Monica!


In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Here's my book stash for the week from the library:


Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
North Of Beautiful by Justine Chen Headly
The Rise Of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi, And Sashimi: A La Carte by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki (a food based manga)

My CDs from the library for the week:


The Forbidden Love EP by Death Cab For Cutie (I'm trying to amass every single Death Cab album)
Destroyer Of The Void by Blitzen Trapper (very excited for this one)
XX by XX

Friday, July 16, 2010

Secrets Of My Hollywood Life 5: Broadway Princess by Jen Calonita

Secrets Of My Hollywood Life 5: Broadway Princess by Jen Calonita

Summary

Her star power in demand on a hit Broadway play, Hollywood teen starlet Kaitlin Burke packs up her entourage (ok, her showbiz family, friends, assistant, and publicist, but not the dreamy boyfriend) and moves to the Big Apple for the summer. Kaitlin is the toast of the town and she hits the most exclusive New York nightspots, enjoys the best food (Hello, Magnolia Bakery), and even guests as a celebrity host on Saturday Night Live! But New York isn't all cupcakes and virgin daiquiris. Long distance and a handsome new costar put a huge strain on her relationship with Austin, and it turns out Broadway divas are a whole different breed of neuroses and competition from Hollywood starlets.

Review


I am a huge fan of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and eagerly awaited the arrival of the fifth book. Broadway Lights is just as cute, fun, and sweet as its predecessors. 

Hollywood switches to New York for this installment (as you might guess from the title). Kaitlyn is starring in a Broadway play for the summer. Her entire world makes the move to NYC with her - Liz, her family, Nadine, Rodney, and even Sky. Lauren and Ava are continual crashers as well. The only missing character is Austin, who is at Lacrosse camp in Texas. The two struggle to keep their relationship going as obstacles come between them - bad phone skills; a cute Lacrosse girl; Kaitlyn's handsome co-star Dylan; etc. The Broadway scene matches the LA scene in cattiness, as Kaitlyn learns from her co-star Riley. 

The book follows the same plot formula as the entire series - Kaitlyn is a sweet, normal girl who goes through life trying to be the best she can be and please everyone while still having some backbone. She loves fashion and embraces the celebrity culture without becoming status-obsessed like her mom or conceited like her brother Matty. In some ways Kaitlyn never grows in these books, other than to rediscover that she's already a great person and just needs to stay true to herself. But she's such a likable character that I don't mind at all. She needs to stay the same more than she needs to change. On the other hand, Liz and Sky both grew as characters in this book. Broadway Lights also continues with the insider information about Hollywood and Broadway culture. I love learning "how things really work," whether it's true or not. The book also has lots of information about NYC, especially the cupcake shops. I get a kick out of the script excerpts from the play at the beginning of each chapter - mostly because it's so ridiculous - I can't imagine it being a Broadway production. 

My chief complaint about the series is the name-dropping of celebrities. I enjoy the detailed description of fashion and name brands; it's fun to hear about what people are wearing. But the name-dropping is rather silly - "my friend Miley...my friend Vanessa." Some is fine, but I got tired of it after awhile. More importantly, the name-dropping of celebrity and fashion brands dates the books. In five years, the celebrities and fashion will be old news. That's sad because the characters and basic plot are timeless. I'd hate to see the books disappear.


Review: 4 / 5

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hopping Away

It's time for the weekly book blogger hops again! A great opportunity to meet new bloggers and say hi to old favorites.


Check out the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy For Books

Here's the question of the week: What book are you dying to get your hand on? 

I'm Alison. My blog is now 6 weeks old!

I'm really looking forward to Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. It's out this week but I haven't picked it up yet. I'm also looking forward to the last Vampire Academy book (December), the fourth book in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series (September), and the new Lauren Oliver book (Spring 2011, I think). Those are only a few. It seems like a new Must-Read gets added to my list every day!


And also check out Parajunkee's Follow My Book Blog Friday



 
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