Monday, February 28, 2011

Flirt Club by Cathleen Daly

Here's a bit from goodreads about this book: When two self-professed middle school drama geeks––Isabelle and Annie (a.k.a. Cisco and The Bean)––fail at their attemps in romance, they start Flirt Club, an after school support group for similarly afflicted friends who decide to take decisive and strategic action with hilarious and touching results.

My Take

These girls were so funny.  I really did like them.  However, to be perfectly honest, this book was not terribly realistic for me.  The girls passed notes all the time.  Just about every teen I know texts these days.  Rarely do they write notes, even if cells aren't allowed at school. 

There was other things too like mentioning The Monkees.  I don't know that many teens today would know who The Monkees were.  Talking about ABBA and the song "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate.  I'm sure teens today would be going "WHO?"

Cisco and The Bean very funny and I loved the exploits of the Flirt Club.  I just think the references fell flat for me and became a sort of distraction.  I kept having to remind myself that it wasn't set in the seventies but in present time.  I'm giving this one 3 flirty kisses!

Note:  Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Goodreads as part of their early book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

This is one of the books for the Contemps Challenge. To find out more about it, please click on the link provided HERE. Here’s a blurb about the book from Ms. Summer’s website: When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but are some questions better left unanswered?

My Take

Eddie’s father committed suicide and she’s become consumed with wanting to know why. I can see how that would could easily become an obsession. It’s difficult enough when people die without throwing in the fact that they committed suicide. It’s also easy for kids to absorb some of the blame for things. They feel that surely they played some part in things. I felt for Eddie trying to grapple with everything and only having her best friend Milo to count on.

Her mother is too deeply mired in grief to even realize the pain that Eddie is in. She’s checked out, emotionally anyway. She can’t see to her own emotional needs, let alone be there for Eddie.

Eddie meets Culler Evans, a student of her father’s. They begin exploring clues left behind by Eddie’s father as Eddie grows closer to Culler. She clings to each message in hope that it will give her the answer she’s been longing for. How will this triangle between Eddie, Milo and Culler work out?

This book was as lovely as a book about a girl’s agonizing trip through grief can be. There’s hope in Eddie’s and Milo’s relationship. The writing was wonderful, evocative, and thought provoking. In the end you realize that sometimes there are no answers. I’m giving this one 4 kisses!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

Here’s a bit about the book from the author’s website: While Sergio is attracted to both girls and guys, he’s only dated girls before. Lance has always known he’s gay, but he’s never had a serious boyfriend. When they meet, there’s an instant sizzle, and they know that they’ve got something special. But will it be enough to overcome their differences?

Allie has been into guys her whole life, and she’s been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Chip, for two years. But when she meets Kimiko, despite everything she thinks she knows about her own sexuality, she realizes she’s falling for her—hard. And Kimiko has been crushing on Allie since the moment they met, but it’s impossible for her to believe that a bombshell like Allie could be interested in her. Can they find their way together to a relationship?

My Take

This was a great story of relationships. All of them come with uncertainty, but especially when you’re a teenager. Throw in some confusion over your sexuality and it’s even tougher.

Lance and Sergio begin seeing each other. The boys best friends meet, Allie and Kimiko. Kimiko likes Allie but feels she’s out of her league. Allie begins to realize she’s attracted to Kimiko, but will she explore those feelings any further?

I liked this book a lot. The only thing that kinda’ bugged me slightly was Lance continually questioning where things might be going with Sergio. It was really a minor issue though. This book has great characters, a compelling story, and fabulous writing. I give this one 4 ½ kisses!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney

Here's a bite (pun intended) about the book snagged from Ms. Kwasney's website:  Doomed loves, failed families, nixed dreams—someone else's leftovers are heaped on our plates the day we come into this world.

Big Macs and pop tunes mask the emptiness as Madeline watches her mom drink away their welfare checks. Until the day Tad, a quirky McDonald's counter boy, asks Madeline out for a date, and she gets her first taste of normal. But with a life that’s anything but, how long can normal really last?

Hanging with Jeremy, avoiding Mam, sticking Do Not Disturb Post-its on her heart, Desiree's mission is simple: party hard, graduate (well, maybe), get out of town. But after Desiree accepts half a meatball grinder, a cold drink, and a ride from her mother's boyfriend one rainy afternoon, nothing is ever simple again.

Too many AP classes. Workaholic mom. Dad in prison. Still, Ariel's sultry new boyfriend, Shane, manages to make even the worst days delicious. But when an unexpected phone call forces a trip to visit a sick grandmother she's never met, revealing her family's dark past, Ariel struggles to find the courage to make the right choice for her own future.

As three girls from three different decades lives converge, they discover they are connected ways they could never imagine. Each of them finds strength that brings her closer to healing a painful past, and faith that there is a happier future.
My Take
This wound up being my final book of the year.  This little gem was number 100.  I saw this on a list for teens, made by teens, for my library (I try to keep up with what they're talking about).  I enjoyed this book a great deal.
One of the girls sections was even written in free verse.  You know that's been my thing lately.  Anyway, for all of their differences, these girls had undercurrents of similarities.  You know we're all more alike than we realize.  They were all very different people though.  The times were different and I thought that part was really cool too.  I had my favorites of the girls, but loved their stories individually and the meshing of them as well.
I kept thinking, now I know these girls have to be linked in some way.  It took awhile, but did start becoming clear.  However, there was one final link between all of them that I never saw coming.  It was like lightning out of a clear blue sky.  Where did that come from?!  It was awesome!  Hats off to Ms. Kwasney for sneaking that one in there and blowing me away with it. 
I loved this book because it told you that while yes, we come into life with leftovers, it's all in how you use them.  It told girls that it's okay to value who you are and NOT allow yourself to be abused or taken advantage of.  It spoke to the strength of women, whether we know it or not.  We, as women tend to sell ourselves short or let ourselves feel 'less than'.  This book celebrates women in all of their flawed, broken, but still amazingly strong states.  And the cover is very cool really.  I'm giving it 5 kisses!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Here's a super brief bit about this book from Ms. Schroeder's website: Chasing Brooklyn, Simon Pulse, 2010 an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee; a 2011 Texas Tayshas selection

A romantic companion novel to I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME about a girl and a boy and the ghosts who haunt them. Another story of love, loss, healing and hope for the fans of Lisa's first novel.

My Take
Okay, I haven't yet read I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME.  But we know by now that I love a great verse novel.  Lisa Schroeder is one of the best at writing novels in verse. 
Brooklyn's boyfriend Luca has died and she's doing her best to cope.  When another of their friends dies he hurls her back into the depths of despair.  She's wondering how of if she will ever manage to claw her way completely out of it. 
Nico is Luca's brother and he's coping with the loss of Nico in his own ways.  Gabe's death makes him angry and is another hurtle for him to clear.  Luca begins, through ghostly visits, making it clear that Nico needs to reach out to Brooklyn so that they both can heal.
They both had to come to realize that it's okay to go on living your life.  They also struggled with their feelings and trying to determine if establishing a relationship with one another was a betrayal to Luca.  Will they remain friends or will that ultimately be too much for them?
This book was the best verse novel I've read yet.  The story was deeply emotional and the verse was lovely.  Nico was such a great guy and Brooklyn was as lovely as the flowers she draws.  This book was poignant and spoke to the healing powers of love.  I'm giving this one 5 kisses!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

Here's a bit from Ms. Schutz's lovely website: Annaleah and Brian had something special—Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn’t need anyone else. It didn’t matter that it was secret. All that mattered was what they shared.

And then, suddenly, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living on the outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss no one will let you have?

My Take

Yes, another book in verse.  This one was all free verse.  More than being about loss it was about overcoming grief.  Figuring out how to move on with you life and feeling okay in doing so.  The sudden loss of her secret boyfriend Brian, paralyzes Annaleah.  She's flash frozen and defined by that moment.  Slowly, she begins to understand that she cannot move beyond it all without the help of those that surround her.  I loved the words of wisdom that Brian's grandmother departed to her.  Although, my favorite quote from the book is, "Someone should arrest him before he befriends someone else."  In the moment it was funny.  The cover is beautiful as well.  I'm giving this one 4 kisses!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Best and Hardest Thing by Pat Brisson

This is a novel in verse.  Ms. Brisson's website has information regarding the the types of poetry used in this book and a brief bite about the book: Fifteen-year-old Molly Biden is tired of being thought of as the good girl. She gives herself a make-over in order to capture Grady Dillon’s attention. But exactly how far is she willing to go to get the guy?

My Take

This book was wonderful and touching.  Molly decides she's tired of being known as only the good girl.  She sets out to change all that.  And boy, does she ever!  This book has humor, sadness and even hopefulness thrown in.  One of the things I really loved is that it's not all free verse.  When a different form of poetry is used, it's listed.  I particularly loved the poem Molly wrote to her virginity. 
Once upon a time, I used to write a great deal of poetry and wouldn't mind getting back to some of it.  I'm actually considering re-working one of my ms to possibly be a novel in verse.  It might be fun. :)  I'm giving The Best and Hardest Thing 4 gentle kisses!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Everything Is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis

Here's a link to the author's website, Ms. Ann Dee Ellis.  Here's a bit about the book from it's goodreads page: Stuck at home caring for her severely depressed mother and abandoned by her father, Mazzy has only the day-to-day dramas of her neighborhood to keep her busy. But between flirting with the boy next door and worrying about the fact that she's flat-chested, Mazzy has to face the fact that her mom is emotionally paralyzed by a family tragedy. As readers delve into the story, they'll eventually discover what it was that tore Mazzy's family apart, and they'll see what it takes to put it back together.

My Take

Mazzy is quite the colorful character.  She is doing her best to care for her mother who is in the throes of severe depression.  I love the fact that we aren't slammed with the tragedy that plagues this family right in the beginning.  We meet the various characters through Mazzy. 

The devastating effects that tragedy can have on the family is evident within the pages of Everything Is Fine.  Mazzy is doing her best to convince everyone around her and even herself that everything is indeed fine.  This is another lovely book of verse.  I loved that Mazzy started using art as an outlet for her feelings as well.  I'm giving this one 3 1/2 sweet kisses!

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