Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fancy White Trash ~ Marjetta Geerling review

Fancy White Trash
Viking Juvenile
240 Pages
May 15, 2008

Amazon description:

Finding love is simple with the One True Love Plan.

“If only life were as easy as your sisters.” Abby’s heard that one before. And it’s true —Shelby and Kait aren’t exactly prim and proper. Abby is determined not to follow in their footsteps, so she has created the One True Love Plan. The most important part of the plan is Rule #1: Find Someone New. This means finding a guy who hasn’t already dated Shelby or Kait. But when Abby starts falling for the possible father of Kait’s baby, she has to figure out if some rules are meant to be broken.

This debut novel, a modern comedy of errors, is as lighthearted and irreverant as its title.

Fancy White Trash is amazing in beacoup ways--it's quite possibly my favorite book of 2008 It's a book that could have just been absurd in Jerry Springer way but instead it was amazingly absurd in a jerry Spring if it were taken over by..well, Marjetta Geerling and you found out that the two sisters with the same boyfriend also had this other sister who was trying to just be normal and had n awesome best friend and was trying to find herself a best friend and get on with her life while the whole town expected her to turn out like her mother and sisters.

Basically, it's a book that could have gone off the deep end and been too crazy to even be enjoyable, but what saved it (and I hate to even use that phrase) was also what made me love it so darn much: Ms Geerling loves her characters and knows them inside and out.

I'm nto sure I've read any other book lately (maybe ever) where it was so obvious and apparent that the author wrote the story absolutely knowing her characters and liking them, too. (And with at least 7 or eight characters prominent in the book, that's sayign something.) Sometimes it's obvious a book is driven by the storyline and the characters are made to work within that story, sometimes the plot and the characters both make the story work, sometimes the characters drive the story.

I'm not sure that this book was solely driven by the characters (because the events really did make the book humorous and enjoyable and touching and amazing)... But, I'm going to sound like a broken record here and tell you that you just need to read this book because of how perfect the characters are. I adore them all.

I don't own this book (I got it from the library) but once I give up my plan of finding a way to get a signed copy (I have some books with my name all pretty in the front and my adoration of this book makes me want the same for it), I'll buy one.

I wanted to get this posted though, so that you could all know how amazing and fantastic and wonderful and lovely and lovely and awesome the book was (I made my mom read it and she agreed--possibly to a lesser extent because, well, I'm in love with it) and use holiday money to buy it!!

So: Fancy White Trash? 11/10

Marjetta Geerling please write some more books! Everyone else please buy her book! You'll love Abby and Kait and Cody and everyone!! really, just buy it, please?

Switch ~ Carol Snow review

Harper Teen
September 9, 2008
224 Pages

After reading 13 Reasons Why, I felt a need to read lighter books-and one that I could finish quickly. Switch by Carol Snow was my ultimate choice.

Here's a synopsis from the author's site:

Not much happens in Claire Martin’s sleepy little beach town, but that’s okay.
Let her hang out with her best friend, dream about her favorite lifeguard, and
swim on the high school team, and she’ll be happy.

Only one little problem:

Whenever Claire she gets too close to lightning, her spirit shoots into another
girl’s body. Usually she’s back to her old self in no time – but suddenly she
finds herself stuck as someone else: a breathtaking summer visitor who has
caught her crush’s eye.

Will Claire ever figure out how to get back to her old life? And, more importantly, will she want to?

Switch wasn't a book that's going to really change anyone's life or pose any earth shattering questions...but it is a fun litle book (I read it during the course of one day). As the title might suggest, most of the story transpires during Claire's big 'switch' so you dont' get a lot of her life before she switches with Larissa.

While Larissa and Claire are switched you do learn a good bit about both girl's lives-but most of it is pretty superficial. ..A lot of it was pretty predictable stuff (from the rich family Larissa's acting as nanny for to Larissa and her parents to Claire--though saying how would be spoilery).

So, while this book doesn't present anything new and some of the characters seem to be (slightly) formulaic/predictable, there were also well thought out points around the entire 'switching' events and I liked that the book centered on a longer switch but also explained why it was longer.

It would have been possible to just say that the entire switching bodies in general was strange and unpredictable so the long-term switch was just a fluke. That would have detracted from my enjoyment of the book, though, so I'm glad that Ms Snow kept up a consistent reason for why Claire wasn't switching back.

I also quite enjoyed the secondary story surrounding Claire's grandmother and the way it (and she) developed through the book.

Switch wasn't a book that's likely to change your life, but it is a book that you can read when you want to enjoy something that won't take too long to read and won't depreess you either (like I said, I read it after 13 Reasons Why).

7.5/10 (Sorry the review was so long in coming--I have some virus/bug/cold thing that refusues to really go away and seems to be teaming up with my migraines...add in Christmas shopping and, well...)

I'll try to write the Fancy White Trash reivew and schedule it to post tonight! (So you can buy that book with any Christmas/Hannukah/Whatever money you get because it's fantbulous)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Girl-ness = Yay :)

I owe you some reviews (two that I know of) but holiday-ness (and a bit of lingering sickness) has delayed that...

But in the meantime (as in today and tomorrow) you should definitely check out Reviewer X's Girl Week: "This week = a celebration of strong female characters & feminism in YA lit!"

Because, really? How amazing is that? Reviewer X Blog

(I did try to write some reviews but you really don't want the ones I've been coming up with while sick...they're nonsensical)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Contest Links

A contest to win a copy of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula (her first Casa Dracula book). Just tell her your favorite red-or party-clothing by this Thursday. (and hey, I'm not even entering this contest so I'm not getting an entry or whatever, I just think you should try to win the book.) It's not a YA book, but it's also in the general fiction section so I think most anyone could read it-not kids or anything, but...

And if you're curious, my favorite holiday clothing-it's party-ish and has some red on it and I wear it with red tights (because I'm like that) and I'm not entering so I can answer how I please-is a aquay blue velvet dress I have for Christmas. It has stitching along the top and bottom and straps that makes it look all Scandinavian...(or elfish maybe...but maybe that's just my pointy boots).

So to get in the spirit, I've decided to have a huge contest now, since I'm in the giving mood of the holiday season. So, in honor of the impending release of IN TOO DEEP, I'm giving away the COMPLETE GOSSIP GIRL series! Yes, books 1-11, ending with DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME! So, what do you have to do to win? Funny you should ask . . .

The Rules:
1) Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you'd like most for Christmas this year, and ALSO who you think Drew will end up with bythe end of THE ELITE series. Will it be Mad? Casey? Someone elseentirely? Will Drew end up alone and miserable? Will he turn gay? :)
2) Post the IN TOO DEEP countdown widget on your blog or MySpace, and post the contest on your blog or MySpace as well.

And then check out Stephanie Kuehnert's awesomeness--or the awesomeness she'd like from you :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

MySpace Update

Currently I'm not on MySpace.. MySpace isn't compatible with IE6 anymore (it gave me a huge message when I tried something) and I can't view blogs at all (mine, my page about my blog, anyone else's) and IE7 makes my comuter act all wonky (I had to uninstall it when I had it on before) and Firefox did something with my anti-virus...

Basically, I'm off MySpace for not because all the solutions possible end in my computer breaking and I love, love this computer because it has no problems (I'm way careful) and not using MySpace is a lot easier and cheaper than buying a new laptop :)

If I can use someone else's laptop to mass copy-paste my reviews over some days then I'll still try to do that... *thinks of all the contests she's going to miss :(*

13 Reasons Why ~ Jay Asher review

13 Reasons Why
October 18, 2007
304 Pages
(and it's $10.97 on Amazon right now which I believe is less than it's been...)

Maybe you've been lucky and not had to deal with suicide at all...and in a way I have been, but there was also a year where a girl my brother'd been in classes with for two years killed herself (they're pretty sure it was at least partially because of some anti-depressants she'd started). Then within the following school year a girl in the grade behind me commited suicide and I think one other girl as well (I was in the hospital that fall, my memory of then's kinda sketchy). Suicide's one of those things that's not contagious, of course, but if it happens once it's more likely to happen twice and the more likely to happen three times...

I know that fall I wondered 'why' numerous times. We lived in a good area, had great schools, people said the girls had friends/were their friends, they seemed happy... But obviously somethign wasn't right.

And isn't that the question we all ask? Whether it's a friend or someone we hear about on the news or a celebrity or our neighbors' cousins' boyfriend..when someone kills themself, you wonder 'Why?'

And that's what 13 Reasons Why is all about. One day Clay arrives home to find a taped up shoebox with no return address sitting on his doorstep; inside he finds a series of cassette tapes. The tapes are filled with the voice of Hannah Baker, Clay's classmate and crush, who commited suicide several weeks before, explaining what-and who-led to her death...essentially 'why' she commited suicide.

This is one of those books that was always just sort of around, I saw it at B&N, at Target, I saw it on everyone and their mother's blog but I never felt like reading it (I know I even picked it up once or twice at Barnes & Noble). I'm not sure if it was the subject matter that kept me from reading it (I didn't feel like reading about suicide?) or what but finally it was on one more persons blog and I decided to just read it already--and then the two libraries I can get books from had it due back in November and the people kept it till December...

I am so, so glad I finally did read this book. The back flap states that Jay Asher got the idea for the book while listening to one of those audio tours at a museum and thinking about how the womans's voice was in his ear but she wasn't there...and I think that really did carry over into the book because instead of being creepy or trite or anything else it could have been, having Hannah really narrate so much of this book, was...endearing?

It was a story where I knew the whole time that she was dead and that this was just a fiction book so there wasn't anything more to it but I wanted there to be someway for her-and Clay-to have a happy ending at the end. I really wanted to just shake some of the other people... Because it was told after the fact, you just knew that nothing could be done about the things that were happening and that made things all the more heartwrenching--but that much better, too.

I hope that people will read this book and see how they can't stop the 7th person or the 12th (did I ever say that there are 13 people who will get the tapes? oops), maybe they'll recognize some things that we can all do in real life to not be that 7th person. Because we might not do something that's bad enough to on its own, but I think 13 Reasons does a great job illustrating how everything we do adds up...and can be Why.

This (like Such a Pretty Girl) is another book that I think would be good for schools to read because it's a good subject matter to be discussed but also enjoyable writing/something that you'd read for pleasure unlike so many school chosen books.


(Amazon's pictures for the book have the map that's part of the story--is that with the book if you buy it? like I said, I got it from the library so it was all plastic sealed..)

I hope that's an okay review for you Stargirl-I really did love the book :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wow, Really?

I go away for a few days because of this virus/bug thing (I had Zombie Blondes* scheduled to post) and I get a post linked by Vampire Wire and Literary Escapism--I feel all included now :)

Thank you. Anywho, I was up late helping with some paper editing and now I'm on dog duty (and still with the bug) and wrap-up-presents-before-people-get-home duty but I'll do my best to get Fancy White Trash and 13 Reasons Why's reviews written (I might have one post Monday if I do). Then I need to read some adult books again ;)

Oh! and whatever was going wrong with this blog, Windows updated again and I seem to be able to access it from my computer again (I know, a sane person wouldn't have tried so often if it froze their internet.._

and I might start something on Twitter...that Live Bloggy stuff...might not, I'm not sure

*I need to italicize book titles more often :(

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zombie Blondes ~ Brian James review

Zombie Blondes
Feiwel and Friends
240 Pages
June 24, 2008

Henceforth to be known as the Miley Cyrus Zombie Book (you'll get it if/after you've read it--the why's spoilery).

Hannah and her father pack up their car and move every few weeks or months, whenever their money woes catch up to them. This time it's to Maplecrest a small--yet ghost-like--town.

Hannah has the moving thing down, who is who in the schools: who the jocks are, the 'it' girls, etc but is this school like all the others? Her new friend Lukas sure doesn't think so. Sure, the cheerleaders-Maggie, Morgan, and a few other M named girls are making her life hell but there's no way the town's anything other than an annoying small town with a hateful group of girls. Right?

My thoughts on this book? I liked the whole zombie premise--it's why I wanted to read the book after all. But I did feel like there wasn't really anything new in the book. Hannah starting the new school went much the same way about any story of a girl being the new girl goes: she knows no one, things suck, one person immediately befriends her, a group of popular girls make her life hell. I don't really have a problem with that 'formula' (as unrealistic as it may be) as long as it's a set up to something else better...

I didn't think it was, though. This book felt like a lot of tell and not a lot of show. There seemed to be a whole lot of Hannah's recollections (even to begin current happenings) or just Hannah telling things...the actual events of the book seemed to be limited. There were also too many similes for my taste (I had to return the book to the library before I could get quotes and Amazon's search won't give me any, but searching 'like' I get 190 returns; not all will be similes but there will be some with 'as' so...).

There was a scene towards the end that I almost felt like te rest of the book was written just to have a story for that scene... and a few things didn't really work out for me but maybe I wasn't reading as carefully by then as I needed to so I'll admit that could be my fault and not the books.

I'm really not sure how much of how I feel about this book is perhaps a dislike of the writing style or if it just doesn't work regardless of liking the style or not. I'm going to rate it based on my opinion, though, (I do try normally to rate on the plot/storyline/characters/etc moreso than the style because that's so much more subjective)...


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Readers vs Reviewers in Contests

I do have reviews coming (of 4 books), honest, but first I have a question:

to authors, those with review blogs and those that just read the reviews... What's your opinion on some book contests now being for 'readers' only and not reviewers? And does that include blog reviewers (like me)?

Besides buying books (and the super hiatus-y Teen First Look), winning contests is so far the only way I get the books I review... (okay, I got 2 from Penguin in May and one from super Marta Acosta, but the other 99.9%..)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Rec List

Okay, this doesn't have pretty italicized titles or links yet but if I don't post now and update the post with all that, you might never get the thing, so...here:

Some (slightly) random holiday recommendations for different people that could be on your list :)

Kids Books

Middle Grade (since I realized one of my ‘Kids Books’ was more MG)

Adult Books (Old & New-ones where I think they're similar but also that the 'old' ones have good new ones by the same author and the 'new' ones have good older ones by the same author...)
Old=Billie Letts' The Honk and Holler Opening Soon (Also the author of Where the Heart Is that they made the movie of). Her new book is Made in the U.S.A.. New=Joshilyn Jackson's The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, an older book of hers is Between, Georgia.

Old=John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany (it was made into the movie Simon Birch, fyi). A newer book of his is Until I Find You. New=Wally Lamb's book The Hour I First Believed. One of his older books is She's Come Undone.

The older book is Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent -I just did that one because it looked like the first with a character that's in others, but other books are in paperback/cheaper (I think the newest one he has is maybe 2006, though) and the newer one is John Grisham’s The Appeal in paperback-but he has another book coming out in January and Playing for Pizza that came out September 2007.

Books into Movies (the Books):

Historical Books (from Fiction to Fact):
(see what I did there I went from all fictional to factual on the same subject/time period)

Other historical fiction:

Innocent Traitor is the story of Lady Jane Grey (I was bad and didn't know more of it when I read the book, so I'm not going to tell you more either :P), it's fictionalized because the books a novel, but the author also writes nonfiction books so it has enough fact/history in the story to make everything seem very true.
The Last Wife of Henry VIII is a (again fictionalized) first person story of Catherine Parr...Henry VIII's sixth and last wife. It's way, way fictional but hey, Blood Ties was also Henry VIII related but non-historical yet enjoyable. it still gives you the basic who's who and what order the major things happened in. For some things you do need a history lesson sure, but you'll know more (some wrong maybe) than without reading it.
A Company of Swans is another of Eva Ibbotson's semi-historical fictions (the history's not really the focus). From Amazon: "For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. Defying her father’s wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon."

Good (some old) YA books

*to be fair, I haven't actually read Black Tuesday yet-but I have it and really want to ;) (If you want another to substitute, Audrey, Wait! is an Amazon Bargain Book right now)

‘Classics’ besides Austens and Dickens
There are obviously others (Pride and Prejudice which is Austen and Tess of the I-Can't-Spell-it-ervilles which is not) but Rebecca and The Awakening are two of my favorite books and I love Fahrenheit besides it being a great book to red for what it's about..

Some of these overlap: My Brother Sam is Dead is also MG, Killing Mr Griffin could also go in the movie category because I think it's what they used for Teaching Mrs Tingle-sort of (Lois Duncan also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer), Fahrenheit 451 was also a movie (not terribly good and from the 50s or something but still a movie), Rebecca was a great Hitchcock movie, too, Charlotte Doyle's probably also MG, Countess Below Stairs is YA..maybe upper MG?-and whatever Countess is, Comapny of Swans is as well.
Blood and Chocolate is also YA and I thought Holes was MG/YA but then colleges had it on their summer reading, so...I'd still say MG/YA but if mybe someone knows something I don't about it ;) The Caroline B Cooney books are in YA but they're probably MG, too as long as you think the content/stories are fine for whoever you're getting them for :)
And maybe I'm just weird but My Brother Sam is Dead was my favorite book in middle school... I didn't make a seperate List for Boys but the Tripods book is on there because of my brother liking the series in middle school, I Am Legend's about the only book I think he's actually finished lately, and he still agrees the Giver's great (we're also giving it and The Phantom Tollbooth to my cousin this year...). I gave him (my brother) Storm Front too but I don't think he's actually read it yet-he likes the show though so..
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