Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review and Interview (T2T): Exclusively Chloe by J. A. Yang

Welcome to the first Traveling to Teens tour that I am doing here on my blog! Today we have the supremely kind and interesting Jonathan Yang, debut author of Exclusively Chloe! Since May was Asian and Pacific Islander Awareness (APIA) Month, Jon and I thought it would be nice to have a more culture-related Q&A post. I found his answers fascinating, and so I hope you enjoy too!

Q&A with Jonathan Yang

1. Can you tell us about your cultural background? Where were you born? What was your childhood like? How important is your culture to you?

I'm Chinese but by way of Taiwan. I was born in Taiwan and moved to the States when I was six. Growing up as a typical Chinese kid, the emphasis was always on discipline and academics. My Saturdays for twelve years straight were taken over by Chinese school, which I hated at the time, but realized how many positive influences it left me with as I got older.

During college, I was involved in Asian Pacific American organizations, both as a social and activism outlet. Some of my fondest experiences from college was joining and producing culture shows that encompassed traditional Chinese dances, arts, culture, all blended with Asian American influences. The school I went to, the University of Michigan, had a very active and involved APA scene.

2. How does your culture affect what you write about and how you write, if it does?

Mostly, being Chinese means that I'm always really intrigued by the work of other Asian American artists, and whenever there is a lead character that is non-Caucasian, I perk up and pay extra attention. I think it influences my writing because there's always a certain responsibilty to put some of my own culture in a work, even if it's something as simple as having an Asian as a prominent character.

3. It's still, unfortunately, unusual to find minority protagonists in YA lit, and I love that Chloe-Grace is Chinese American. What inspired you to write her character and give her the qualities that she has?

With the adoption angle of Exclusively Chloe, it seemed really natural and timely to have Chloe-Grace adopted from China. I had really wanted to create a lead Asian American character and to show that while it was a part of her, it didn't define her.

Before writing my own book, I hadn't been exposed to many minority protagonists, especially Asian ones, in YA and it was thrilling to read the works of Justina Chen Headley, An Na, Grace Lin, and Lisa Yee. Since then, I've kept a sharp eye out for any minority protagonists and see how other authors explore and illuminate that experience. Recently I've been reading Cindy Pon's "Silver Phoenix" and Neesha Meminger's "Shine, Coconut Moon," both of which are wonderful in all respects but also special because of their strong minority main characters.

4. How did you come to write YA lit?

I sort of fell into it. It was a genre that I hadn't been previously aware of but I had a natural affinity and writing style that seemed to fit. Plus, many of my favorite books, movies, tv shows seemed to involve teenagers and I love exploring the moment when people transition from a child to an adult, which is such a powerful time in everyone's lives and full of intriguing moments and thus stories.

5. Will we be seeing more Asian American characters from you in the future?

I'm sure that will happen. I'd love to take Chloe overseas, or more into her Chinese heritage, or to explore Asian American characters from a different angle away from the Exclusively Chloe universe, something that can be reflective of my own experiences.


Exclusively Chloe by J. A. Yang

Tags: YA, Hollywood, adoption, paparazzi


Being the first celebrity adopted kid doesn’t make Chloe-Grace’s life easy. The Chinese American has had her fair share of the limelight, even before her superstar parents file for divorce and publicly party, to Chloe-Grace’s humiliation. Tired of a life that’s constantly in the tabloids, not to mention her best friend Rachelle’s love for all the attention, Chloe-Grace decides to go “undercover.” She learns that her biological parents and younger brother live in a less classier neighborhood nearby, and decides to attend her brother Henry’s “normal” high school in an attempt to be anonymous and maybe connect with her family.


Exclusively Chloe depicts the harsh realities of Hollywood politics without being too trashy. Chloe-Grace is a relatable and likable protagonist, a young girl caught in between the glitz of celebrity life and a desire to know what it feels like to be normal. If you’ve ever wondered what Brad and Angelina’s lot might feel like as teenagers, there is an excellent possibility—one can hope!—that they will turn out like Chloe-Grace: a down-to-earth girl who doesn’t take her glamorous situation for granted, yet knows how to have fun with what she has.

Besides for Chloe-Grace, however, most of the other characters are not that interesting. You have your basic attention-obsessed best friend, flamboyant homosexual stylists, career-oriented parents, super-nice everyday classmates at the “normal” high school, the perfectly sweet romantic interest. The stereotypes and generalizations bogged the story down for me, leading to an unsatisfying conclusion that was too neat, too easily wrapped up.

The shortcomings can be cast aside, however, if you’re simply looking for a fun and new look into Hollywood life. Chloe-Grace’s story of the trials and tribulations of being a celebrity-adopted kid will be the one everyone can turn to for a glimpse at how they live—at least until Maddox and his brothers and sisters hit puberty.

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5


Thank you, Jon and Penguin Books for sending me a copy of the book. And another BIG thank you to Jon for answering my questions! Other stops on the T2T Exclusively Chloe blog tour can be found here.

NYC Teen Author Carnival--A Synopsis

I don't think I can ever get over how incredible the Teen Author Carnival at Jefferson Market Branch Library on Thursday afternoon was. It was my first time ever going to a teen author meet-and-greet/Q&A/signing, and it was so much more than I had ever dreamed of, because A) there were 40-something authors I knew there, B) a lot of them knew who I was (!!!), and C) they are some of the kindest people on the face of the earth. Period.

Here is a run-down of the authors I met and talked to:

Michelle Zink (Prophecy of the Sisters), who has the instinctual warmth of the ideal mother or teacher, and her children, who are all gorgeous, friendly, and, perhaps most important of all, avid book lovers. As the first YA author I ever talked to, she had a high standard to set, and boy, did she set those standards high! Speaking to Michelle is like talking to your favorite teacher or professor, and she has a smile and persona that just draws people in. Plus, her hugs are great. AND she and her daughter made me a glowstick necklace that I pretty much wore all around NYC as I later ran to catch my bus back home. :) So nice to finally meet you, Michelle, and I hope to see you again in the future! <3

Melissa Walker (Lovestruck Summer), who recognized me from my blog (!) and is super-cute and friendly in person (just like she is on her blog!). Plus, later on she talked about how much she is loving Swoon by Nina Malkin, which makes the two of us in the same (awesome) boat.

Maureen Johnson (Suite Scarlett), who is an absolute riot up on stage, with her deadpan humor, and really intimidating to talk to off-stage. I only just managed to get her autograph in my just-bought copy of Suite Scarlett, and then I went to cower in a corner, the shy and star-struck reader I was. Eep! Anyway.

Jessica Burkhart (Canterwood Crest novels), who signed a copy of one of her Canterwood Crest books for my 8-year-old cousin, with whom I was talking about Jessica's books. Thanks, Jessica! You are so sweet.

Jenny Han (Shug, The Summer I Turned Pretty), who wrote a lovely note in my copy of Shug. Nice to finally meet you in person as well!

Sarah Cross (Dull Boy), whose book I bought because of all the good reviews I've read, and also because she encouraged me to go to TAC on Wednesday night on Twitter. She then ended up writing what has to be the best personalized note ever written in a book (hint: it was about my glowstick necklace). Aaaand there's not much else to say about that, except *grin*.

Michael Northrup (Gentlemen), who turned out to be one of the funniest people there. We bonded over our mutual second-degree black belts (except mine's in karate, and his is in tae kwon do), and then we decided never to get on one another's bad sides, and then to call the other for help should one of us be stuck in a life-or-death situation. Hands down one of the coolest people I met (and no, Michael, I am not just saying that to avoid being beaten up...or am I?).

Scott Westerfeld (Uglies trilogy), who *gulp* I was apparently talking to for 5 minutes with Michael and Marie (cupcakewitch) before realizing who he was. And then after that I couldn't talk anymore. Talk about being starstruck. Oh, and he's really tall. And wasn't even supposed to be there, which is probably why I didn't recognize him immediately.

Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle trilogy) and her adorable son. Libba was kind enough to sign all three of my books for me, even though she had to go somewhere else soon. She also wrote the touching Prop 8-related post about her father, and she also strongly promoted her YA author band, Tiger Beat (which I unfortunately couldn't go see Friday night, although I really wanted to). So, in three words, she is amazing.

I also saw from a distance/heard: David Levithan (Love is the Higher Law), Aimee Friedman (Sea Change), Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments trilogy), Holly Black (Tithe--a surprise!), Elizabeth Scott (Living Dead Girl), and oh gosh oh gosh there were just too many to list here.

The awesomeness continues with actually meeting fabulous YA book bloggers for the first time:

Marie (cupcakewitch) was the first person I saw as I walked into the library--HER library. She's chill and friendly and helpful and clearly has the best job ever. I'm so happy I got to finally meet you. :)

Sharon (sharonlovesbooksandcats), who wore her infamous unicorn sweatshirt (see Michelle Zink's website to see what I'm talking about) and was a thrill to be around, even if she claims she was too shy to go up and ask the authors a question!

Alea (Alea Pop Culture) and her mom, all the way from Minnesota. She, her mom, Sharon, two other bloggers, and I all went out to dinner after TAC (and it was a good thing I didn't get my remaining pizza wrapped, because otherwise I would've missed my bus for sure!), and they all made me feel really, really young in my under-21 state, haha.

Steph (Reviewer X), who was off. The. Wall. The girl is gorgeous, she loves books, and she is just filled with boundless energy while she hugged and squealed and talked to just about everyone in the room. Really nice to meet you, and I hope you take BEA and NYC by storm this weekend!

Lenore (Presenting Lenore) and her husband Daniel, who came late to TAC, but what the heck? It's the fact that they made it--all the way from Germany--that counts! Plus, Lenore is incredibly nice, just like she is online.

Other bloggers I met for the first time were Dominique (The Book Vault), Korianne (Korianne Speaks), and Genevieve. Great people, everyone who was there. Thanks to the bloggers who organized the amazing event for all of us!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Publication date: June 1, 2009

Tags: YA, summer, romance, mermaids, mystery

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Miranda has spent her whole life among science experiments and cold hard facts. So an unexpected summer at the Selkie Island mansion that her mother inherited after the death of Grandmother Isadora throws Miranda for a huge loop. Selkie Island is engulfed with mists of mystery, legends of alluring sea creatures and mermaids that spend their lives half-in, half-out of the water. It is also an island of old-fashioned Southern manners and beliefs, things that Miranda, born and raised in Brooklyn, can hardly believe are part of her legacy.

Miranda’s newfound summer gentile friends urge her to become an item with T.J., a respectable and handsome young man from an equally privileged Southern family. However, Miranda finds herself more and more attracted to a mysterious island native, Leo, whom she can’t help but associate with Selkie Island’s legends of mermaids and mermen. The question, though, is not whether Leo is indeed one of the mystical creatures, but how much self-conscious Miranda is willing to risk for her happiness.


In SEA CHANGE, Aimee Friedman has written an uplifting and magical summer read. This book has all the elements that a summer book demands: an exotic setting, secrets, multiple love interests, stormy emotions, and magical mystique. Selkie Island, with its variety of characters—from the friendly fishermen in the natives’ village to the status-obsessed rich summer vacationers who are Miranda’s neighbors—is a locale that has captured my attention and desires.

However, SEA CHANGE is a book that relies mostly on mystery and plot to move along, which explains but cannot be an excuse for the lack of depth in most of the characters. Most notable how abruptly and incompletely Miranda and Leo’s relationship develops. Physical attraction and “perfect” banter does not a believable relationship make, and I definitely felt like I was missing something that connected these two characters with each other.

Similarly, most of the supporting characters also rely on clichés and stereotypes to make their point. I never got a clear picture of Miranda’s island friends, and there were many times when I felt like SEA CHANGE got dangerously close to the line between sweet, feel-good read and cliché-ridden summer-mystery love story.

Overall, however, SEA CHANGE was still a feel-good read that I greatly enjoyed reading. I would recommend it and its intriguing mysteries as a light read, perfect for a beach or poolside day.

Similar Authors
Judy Blume
Donna Jo Napoli
Cameron Dokey

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - Okay, so I don't think the cover has anything to do with what actually happens in the book, but I still really like it. I love the blue tones, and there's an almost ethereal quality to the models that lends itself well to the magic and mystery of SEA CHANGE. Well done!

And a huge thank you to Aimee and Sheila Marie at Scholastic for sending me a review copy!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Featured Blogger (9): MssJos!

I first got to know Melanie (who goes by MssJos online) of Reviews of Young Adult Literature (now Royal Reads) when she won my contest for Don Calame's book Swim the Fly. We both enjoyed it immensely, and since then I like going to her blog to read short but sweet reviews of books that may or may not work well in the classroom, which is a great selling point for me since I plan to become a teacher! Thanks, Melanie, for agreeing to be a featured blogger on my site!

1. Welcome, Melanie! Tell us about yourself in a few short sentences.

I’m MssJos on my blog (that’s my initials and my husbands’) but most everyone knows my name is Melanie Sullivan (if you have e-mailed me and I have responded). I am currently finishing up my master’s degree in secondary education so that I can teach high school English (it’s looking like 10th grade again but possibly 12th at this point--still waiting to hear). I live in Birmingham, Alabama with my husband and our 2 dogs Roxie and Reese. I spend what little extra time I have reading, cooking/baking, going to the movies, and running with my dogs (if being dragged behind them counts as running).

2. Tell us about your blog. When did you start it and why? What interesting things can visitors expect?

I began my blog initially as a way to keep track of some of the books I was obtaining in an effort to build my in-classroom library (sadly, many school libraries are outdated). After attending a Scholastic Warehouse sale in December of 2008 I spent an entire winter break reading and realized I was having trouble remembering which characters and themes were in which books so I started my blog as a reading log for myself. Also, I wanted parents to be able to read my reviews of any book I was sending home with their child, and what’s more accessible than a blog?

Visitors can find reviews of YA novels both new and old, suggestions for the classroom for each book (when applicable) and links to author websites and teacher guides if available. I also have a featured Book of the Month giveaway every month and author interviews and guest posts every now and then.

3. As a teacher, do you try to incorporate YA lit into your classroom, and if so, how do you do so? Can you share with us your class's reading list, so that we can all be jealous and want to be your students? :)

There is a great deal of debate about this currently--I am pro-YA lit in the classroom so that’s a resounding YES! I try my best to link themes of the classics to current YA lit such as Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak based on the theme of ostracism/outcasts. YA lit can provide a sturdy bridge of relevance between the themes in canonical literature and current issues in students’ lives, not to mention teens are typically quicker to pick up more modern books when given a choice. I always say reading is like anything else--you have to practice to get better and I find that students who frequently read YA lit on their own generally perform better in school required reading as well. I love to incorporate modern re-tellings of the classics, like Jody Gehrman’s Triple Shot Betty novels for instance, or Shana Norris’ Troy High, to help students see themes and concepts without getting bogged down by language and to illustrate the ability of these stories to transcend time.

As for my reading list (we’ll go with 10th grade though I am still waiting to hear which grade I will actually teach this fall) I am required by the state of Alabama and my school district to have students read: Julius Caesar, The Scarlet Letter, A Separate Peace, The Crucible, Lord of the Flies, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My personal summer and independent reading list is super long and students just pick three to read throughout the year and complete independent projects on. In the name of saving space I will just tell you the 5 most commonly chosen are: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, and of course, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. (Though you might be surprised how many male readers pick up Twilight—I was!)

4. Quick! Name 3 favorite books and why you think everyone should read them.

Ahhh, “Quick!” made my mind go blank! Geez, there are a ton of books I think everyone should read but the top 3 in the YA lit category that come to mind would have to be:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - because it is such a beautifully written honestly raw perspective that will make teens think twice about the way they treat each other and the “outcasts.” This was also the book that got me back into reading YA lit as an adult.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – again, wonderfully written and gripping, this tale of teen suicide sheds light on the (sometimes damaging) ripple effects teen behaviors can have on others.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – this one is kind of random, but it’s a classic that, in my opinion, built the foundation upon which YA lit still stands.

5. What is your dream pet?

This is really weird but if I could have one as a pet I would love to have a dolphin, I love them and I think they are precious!

6. It's not weird; dolphins are adorable! So what do you enjoy doing on a rainy day?

READING of course! :) Actually to be honest, I get a lot of writing and grading papers done on rainy days, if I lived somewhere like Seattle I might have a novel published by now, or at least have finished my master’s thesis!

7. What books are you most looking forward to reading?

Along with the rest of the world, I am on the edge of my seat for Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire. I was so impressed with The Hunger Games and how well young adults took to it that I can’t wait to see what’s next. I am also trying to get my hands on Beth Kephart’s Undercover because I hear the language is beautiful and relevant for language arts. This is another list that could go on forever, I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the vast amount of YA lit being produced right now.

8. Ohh you definitely need to read Undercover. Now what are some things you just LOVE to receive for presents? :)

Sadly no one gets me these anymore because of my overflowing bookshelves, but gift cards to bookstores make me beyond happy! Free movie tickets are nice too! :)

9. And finally, tell us 2 interesting/strange things about yourself that can spark conversation.

Oh wow. Hmmm well, I have won some cooking/baking contests so if I ever tire of teaching I would like to start my own café/bookstore. And let’s see (how bad is it that I am struggling to think of 2 interesting things about myself?)…I once got stuck in an elevator in the Louvre with my college roommate…it was humiliating but it’s a funny story I suppose :)


Well, if anyone is writing a scene in which their characters get stuck in an elevator, you know who to go to for a primary source! :) Thanks for answering my questions, Melanie, and for being a supporter of YA lit! You should definitely stop by her blog at Royal Reads to say hello and tell her I sent you!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

TAC/NYC, here I come!

I am filled with nervous excitement. This is the first time EVER that I'm going to be going to a YA author Q&A session/signing. Frightening, isn't it? That I've been reading YA for seven years, and this is the first one I'm going to? I only just found out about this afternoon's NYC Teen Author Carnival at Jefferson Market Branch Library yesterday, and quickly made up my mind that

A) I'm not at school near Philly, but actually home and close to New York,
B) I'm actually not busy for once, and
C) did you see this incredible lineup??

Hopefully going to this will make me feel better about not registering for BEA even though it's in my home city. In addition to meet a ton of favorite authors, I'm looking forward to meeting some bloggers that I've gotten to know over the past few months. I only hope that I won't end up being the shy, reticent one in the corner, too afraid to walk up to people I know and chat with them! If you're going to be at TAC and you see a shy Asian girl there, please say hello! I'd love to meet as many people as possible. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

From Becca's website:

Falling in love was never so easy . . . or so deadly.

High school sophomore Nora Grey is irritated to find herself partnered in biology class with a "tall, dark and annoying" senior named Patch. But their barbed exchanges only showcase their undeniable chemistry, and Nora soon finds herself lured toward Patch's shadowy past, frequently enlisting her best friend Vee to help uncover his secrets.

Then, a vindictive young man from a nearby private school begins stalking Nora. He's been double-crossed, and he wants payback. Nora goes to the police, but they don't believe her. Alone and vulnerable, she turns to the only person she believes can help her - Patch. But when she discovers scars on his back, she realizes she may be in more danger than she bargained for: Patch, a fallen angel banished to Earth, has crossed centuries on a single-minded mission to get his wings back. But for his wish to come true, someone must die...and Nora may be the perfect sacrifice.

Where do I even begin? The cover. Let's start with the cover. Becca recently released it, and how attractive is it? I love the desaturated colors, the posture of the model, the creepy-looking birds around him, the light... it's perfect. Plus one for Simon & Schuster.

And then there's the synopsis, which sounds like a cross between Twilight (girl meets intriguing, sexy, and dangerous guy in a high school science class) and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series (the Nephilim, the race of half-angels). There is just something attractive about non-human love interests, dangerous races of creatures, and fatal love. I can't wait to read this book.

Hush, Hush will be released by Simon & Schuster on October 13, 2009.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King

Tags: YA, pirates, adventure, Ireland, Jamaica

Rating: 3 out of 5


Emer Morrisey has not had an easy childhood. Growing up in poor rural Ireland during the Cromwell invasion, Emer loses her family at a young age and is forced to live with her cruel uncle’s family. Her only friend is Seanie, a neighborhood boy. When her uncle forces her to marry an old Parisian, Emer escapes to the Caribbean, where she eventually ends up a successful pirate.

A series of coincidences brings Emer and Seanie back together again. Just as they plan to retire from piracy and spend the rest of their lives together, a hated figure from Emer’s past tears their plans apart. Emer is cursed to live a hundred lives as a dog before finally becoming a human again.
Now, in the late twentieth century, Emer has been reborn as Saffron Adams, a girl from a run-down, messed-up family in Pennsylvania. And she’s really determined to get back to Jamaica and reclaim the treasure that only she knows is buried there…


THE DUST OF 100 DOGS has a frightfully original concept that takes a while to get into, but once you do, look out! You will get caught up in Saffron and Emer’s story. I particularly liked reading about Emer’s life, the chapters of which are interspersed in between Saffron’s story and that of Fred Livingstone, a slightly crazy rich pervert who lives in a glass mansion in Jamaica. Sound a little random? Well, yes, but his story is tied in with Saffron’s, and I found it remarkable how A. S. King paralleled Emer and Saffron’s adventures, 300 years apart.

While the idea was great, I couldn’t really get into the way it was executed. Saffron fell flat for me, although this is sadly understandable, since she is more a vessel for Emer’s desires. Saffron’s family was depressingly run-down, flat, and unsympathetic, and the episodes that occurred during Emer’s childhood felt too prolonged for me. Issues such as homosexual urges and rape were brought up in an uncomfortable and incomplete manner that begged explanation…which we don’t get.

I’m ambivalent as to how I feel about THE DUST OF 100 DOGS, but nevertheless it is still a highly original and adventurous book that many will enjoy.

Similar Authors
Lisa McMann (Wake)

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Cover discussion: 5 out of 5 - ...but can we just say that I LOVE this cover?? Who knew how much three primary colors could express? The simple almost-symbolism of it marks this as one of my favorite covers ever.

Support Teen Lit Giveaway WINNERS!

I apologize profusely for the time it took to finally put this post up. Let's just say that, in between it being a busy time of the year for me, the entries were also INCREDIBLE and PLENTIFUL, and required a lot of sorting, listing, and deciding.

Random winners first. After taking the nonrandom winning entries out of the lot, there were 428 entries. has decided that the first winner, who will get their choice of two of the "new" and three of the "old," is:

Congratulations, B!

The second winner, who will get their choice of one of the remaining "new" and two of the remaining "old," is:

Congrats, Lauren, and you fully deserve it for having referred so many people over!

And finally, the third winner, who will receive the last remaining "new" and their choice of one of the remaining "old," is:

#369 - Llehn!

Congratulations to all, and I will be emailing you in order if you've left me your email address.

And now, before I announce the winner of the special award, who will receive THREE 2009 YA book releases of his/her choice, as well as be featured as a Friday Featured Blogger on my site, let me just say that I was absolutely staggered--staggered--by things that people were writing about. It literally made me tear up to hear of so many teachers, librarians, consumers, readers, bloggers, authors, and just book lovers in general, all doing everything they can to support teen literature, whether it be using YA lit in the classroom, starting book clubs, volunteering, donating their old and beloved books, or spending all their pocket money on YA books. And this is happening ALL OVER THE WORLD. Can I just say that I am absolutely honored to be part of such a loving and supportive community? You have all inspired me to do even more to support teen lit in the future, and I hope that all of our dreams and goals can come true, because everyone deserves them.

Like I said, I had numerous amazing entries and thus had difficulty selecting the winners. There were so many touching stories, stories that made me smile and cry and nod my head in empathy. I wish I could buy books for all of you; honestly, I do.

In the end, however, I couldn't manage to pick just one winner, so there are TWO, both of whom will receive three 2009 releases of their choice.

Tiqa Khairi said...

Great contest!

So how have I been and/or plan on supporting teen literature in the present and future?

Well, I cant say what I'm doing so far is great (but I like to think that it is). I've only started book blog review (although its been neglected for a while now, so BUSY!) which I think really expands my knowledge on teen literature and also help me make new friends. Woot! :p

I've been supporting teen literature even before I realize that ohmigod, I love teen literature!! Other than the obvious, 'duh I read', I go and tell most of my friends about these books and occasionally, they are forced to listen about some new book I found out about. I guess after having to listen to everything I tell them about books, they went out and buy books too. Now, I share books with my friends (thus saving my pocket money lol)

I'm not entirely sure what I plan to do in the future to support teen literature but I'm thinking of hosting an imaginary teen library where anyone can borrow anything. My idea was ; I'd post a list of books available on the web, and if anyone is interested in borrowing the books, they have to pay a certain amount of fee for unlimited books borrowed in a year. After that, I will mail the book to them, with the due date. After the due date is up, that said person will have to return the book back to my address. I know this sounds too good to be true(a girl can dream, can't she?) but the library in Malaysia is so sad, trust me. Seriously, its terribly sad. Also, after I finish school, I'm so gonna work at a bookstore and actually interact(maybe even stalk, lol) with the customers who goes to the teen literature section because I've always wanted someone who shares with me their opinions and suggestions about books every time I enter the bookstore but everyone just minds their own business, so I'd like to change that.

And of course, I will continue follow teen book bloggers/authors and support them!

my ideas mostly are to increase the interest on teen literature here on Malaysia. You'd be sad to know how outdated most of them are even when there are really good promising books available here.

Tiqa Khairi's entry made me both smile and cry. I wish I had a group of book-loving friends when I was a teenager, but what struck me most was her dream of starting a "virtual" library, which is something that I can relate to, something I've always wanted to do.

dissectingperfection said...

My family moves a lot, and by moving, I don't mean down the street, or across the state, or even around the country. We've officially lived on every continent except Africa and Antarctica for an extended period of time (and the former doesn't look too far off, either). Most places I end up in have poor reading programs, and the teens aren't quite well-versed in the concept of Teen Literature. There aren't any libraries that stock good books for them to read, and even the bookstores have limited options. So what do I do? I import as much as I can via friends and family in the States, or elsewhere in the world, and become my own library! Right now I'm reaching out to about 20 teens who love reading as much as I do, and we have informal book discussions whenever we can. It's like having a library and a book club, and it makes for some great debates and topics to discuss. And that's how I support teen literature! (Even though it makes it a pain to move to a new place with all my book collection!)

I have trouble just keeping my book collection straight between college and home, which are only one state away from each other, let alone all over the world! I was impressed with Mya's determination to keep reading, to keep building her collection of books, even as she traveled internationally.

Congratulations, the two of you; you both deserve it. If you've left me your email, I'll be emailing you soon.

Review for Tour: Starfinder by John Marco

A huge thank you to Trish Collins and John Marco for asking me to be part of this tour!

Book One of the Skylords series

Tags: MG, YA, steampunk, fantasy, dragons, war, aviation


Thirteen-year-old Moth is only a penniless orphan boy, but he has always dreamed of flying, which in the mountainous city of Calio is the dream to go for. Moth lives with Lady Esme, a bird, and Leroux, an old Eldrin Knight who tells stories of mysterious creatures beyond the Reach, the fog-covered land that stretches infinitely to Calio’s north.

No one ever took Leroux’s stories seriously, least of all Moth—until the day Leroux dies and Moth finds out that Lady Esme is not a bird at all, but rather an enslaved Skylord, one of the mysterious but powerful creatures that are rumored to rule the Reach. Along with his friend Fiona, Moth and Lady Esme escape into the Reach with the Starfinder, an instrument of terrible power that the Skylords once used to wield power over everyone in the Reach.

They intend to help Esme turn back into Skylord form, but things are not that easy. Fiona’s grandfather, Rendor, comes after them for the Starfinder, too. Moth, Fiona, and Lady Esme encounter a great number of startling creatures—both friends and enemies—as unusual alliances are forged and both sides prepare for a great war…a war over the Starfinder and the destiny of the humans’ claim to the sky.


STARFINDER is a book for anyone who craves an action-packed adventure with unique creatures coming out of the pages left and right. Most of the characters, though hastily introduced, come to win our sympathies, despite perhaps being an imperfect creature or even one of the bad guys. Moth’s determination to fly could lead to his downfall, and I found it interesting to see how Fiona’s stubborn temper changed over the course of the novel.

Like the characters, many of the plot twists seem to come out of nowhere, which made following the book difficult at times. Every once in a while I found it hard for me to suspend my disbelief as another fantastical object—a magical suit of armor, for example—was introduced to us without preamble. Additionally, Marco’s writing and his book hovers uncertainly between a middle-grade and an adult fantasy, almost as if it can’t make up its mind as to which it wants to be. Moth and Fiona certainly talk their age, but the rest of the narration flits between plodding obtuseness, a slow pace that adults can stand more than kids, and a too-obvious telling-not-showing, which I presume is its unsuccessful attempt to be more age-appropriate.

That being said, I believe that STARFINDER’s appeal can transcend age and genre boundaries. Ignoring the average writing and sometimes unbelievable plot points, John Marco has written a swashbuckling adventure novel that only gets better as the pages go along. (My favorite scene, in fact, was the last battle, a scene of such epic proportions and vivid imagery that I couldn’t put the book down then.) If you enjoy sci-fi/fantasy movies such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films, pick up STARFINDER. It’s the written equivalent of “Nausicaa and the Valley of the Winds.”

Similar Authors
Kristin Cashore (Graceling)
Neal Shusterman (Unwind)
A. S. King (The Dust of 100 Dogs)

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

Tags: YA, activism, consumerism, environmentalism, angst

Rating: 4 out of 5


High school junior James Hoff hates Consumer America. He is against gas-guzzling, exhaust-emitting cars; malls; colleges; and pointless food-drive-running, fundraising do-gooders like his ex-girlfriend Sadie Kinnell, whom he still unfortunately has feelings for.

James exercises his feelings through his writing, but what happens when that’s not enough? When his life crosses paths with Sadie’s once more, this time in a fight to save a local pond from development, James can no longer hang on to his pessimistic attitude if he intends of growing up and giving himself a purpose in life.


Told in English essays, screenplay dialogue exchanges, and diary-like entries, DESTROY ALL CARS is a unique approach to the development of a young and interesting pessimist. This book’s strengths lie in its writing and its protagonist. The variety of writing formats perfectly yet uniquely captures the confused, angsty, and passionate mind of a teenage boy and makes for great reading.

To avoid falling into the pit of believing that the supporting characters are underdeveloped in this novel, it’s important to keep in mind that DESTROY ALL CARS closely follows the thoughts and beliefs of its protagonist, James. We see the world as James see it—see it in all of its screwed-up, apathetic, apocalyptic anti-glory. James cannot fully understand the motivations and actions of the people in his life, and thus, neither can we. And that is perfectly okay.

James is far from being the most attractive or likable protagonist ever. He doesn’t hesitate to criticize others’ charitable acts as useless, yet fails to do anything productive himself. It is his hypocrisy, however, that makes him appeal to me: the world is full of well-intentioned hypocrites, not perfect knights in shining armor. James’ flaws make him a realistic, believable, and, ultimately, enjoyable protagonist.

DESTROY ALL CARS is not for the light-hearted; it challenges you to think about universal environmental issues and the sense of uncertainty and inadequacy one experiences in adolescence. Nevertheless, it is a great read, a far cry from other, often vapid or painfully awkward novels that try to give you glimpse into a teenage boy’s mind.

Similar Authors
Don Calame (Swim the Fly)
Laurie Halse Anderson
Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

A huge thank you to Sheila Marie at Scholastic for sending me a copy to review!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Awards Pileup

Well, this post has just been piling up and piling up since the end of March. So it's not that I'm more loved than some people--I'm just incredibly behind on posting this! lol

First off, I've been interviewed over at Mrs. Magoo Reads! Sophie (better known as Mrs. Magoo to the blogging world) has no shortage of awesomeness, and her blogger profiles are always a delight to read and an honor to be proud of. If you still can't get enough of my, er, writing style and want to know about my reading, writing, and blogging history, as well as some of my thoughts about blogging and publicity, feel free to check it out. Thanks!

Secondly, I am absolutely bowled over that Malinda Lo, author of the upcoming exciting-sounding Ash, which I mentioned on one of my previous Waiting on Wednesday posts, has chosen my blog to be one of her Sites of the Month! Can someone help peel the perma-smile off my face, please? No, better yet, just leave it there. Happy is good! Malinda's a Wellesley alum so she's probably very familiar with the academic stress of small liberal arts schools, which she mentions. A really big thank you to you, Malinda, for the honor, and if you don't frequent her site, uh, why are you not? It's awesome. You should check it out. She's supremely friendly.

And now onto the slew of awards...

Thanks to Just Your Typical Book Blog, Iryna from A Garden of Books and Donna from Bites for nominating me for the Splash Award! I love water (clearly, as I am a swimmer), so I'm not afraid of this one. :)

Oh man, laaaaaame. They have now rejected my application for comedy school.

The Rules:

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom your received your Splash award.

Jenny of Wondrous Reads and Wendy have given me the prettypretty Proximidade Award:

This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY--nearness in space, time, and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to 8 bloggers who must choose 8 more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Thank you to Jenny, Just Your Typical Book Blog, Donna, Stephanie , The Book Girl, The Epic Rat, AND H of About Books for Teens (whew! hope I didn't miss anyone!) for this snazzy Sisterhood Award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Purplg8r at So Many Books, So Little Time gave me the Premio Dardos Award!

This award acknowledges the the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.

The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Bahaha, and H from About Books for Teens, thekoolaidmom from Mt. TBR and Sylvia gave me this (incredibly frightening) Zombie Chicken Award:

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their words.

And Mishel from Mis(h)takes--which is an eye-catching blog name, by the way--my friend Jenny from Wondrous Reads, and Senfaye gave me this wonderful "Let's Be Friends" award!

"The Let's be Friends Awards stands for this: These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers."

Thank you thank you! This is what I aim for when I blog--to make friends and to spread my love and knowledge of reading. That's the best part about blogging. :)

Thank you to Sarah, the awesome librarian from GreenBeanTeenQueen, and Jenny at Wondrous Reads for giving me the You Don't Say/Super Comments award! Besides the fact that I will drool all over this award because the icon features a panda (pandas!!!!), I'm honored because this award is given to bloggers who take the time to comment on blogs, which I sincerely try to keep on doing.

A. K. Willett of Black Rabbit Ink, Liyana, Kay of InfiniteShelf, and MssJos gave me the One Lovely Blog award, which is really pretty in a pastelly, tea-and-crumpets kind of way (which I secretly love)!

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Thanks to the ever-cool Donna at Bites and Deltay at LucidConspiracy for this Your Blog Rocks award!

The rules are:

1. Rockin' bloggers who are awarded should pass it on to up to 5 blogs that rock your world either for content, writing, layout, or whatever!

2. Be sure to display the badge on your blog and leave a link to the person who gave it to you.

3. Write a post about it, and don't forget to thank the one who gave you the gig!

4. Oh yeah, and be sure to inform your nominees about their award by leaving them a comment. It's just good manners.

Thank you, Jenny, for giving me this Enchanted Blog Award!

The only requirement for this award is that you share it with whomever you like, sharing the love is always a good thing. The blog has to show only one characteristic, caring. So, start sharing this enchanted award with five other bloggers. Let your bloggers know they have received this enchanted award. (Remember, fairies are fickle wee things, don't incur their displeasure by ignoring their gift.)

Ashley at Books Obsession gave me the Kreativ Blogger Award! Ashley's a new blogger but she's already on fire. Thank you so much!

I've been charged with identifying seven things I love, and then passing the award on to seven other bloggers.

Seven things I love are:

1. Autumn. I want to have an October wedding. Foliage, and need I say more?
2. Shotglasses and postcards. One a current collection, and one an ex-collection (but still fun to receive).
3. Broadway musicals. So, the example is that while driving back home from school the other day, I listened through three musicals: Aida, Wicked, and Hairspray. Clearly I am part of the cool crowd.
4. The sun. I am dysfunctional on rainy days, or days that look gloomy and threaten rain. Bleh.
5. Stitch. Ya know, the fuzzy blue alien from the Disney movie. That's right. I currently have a collection of stuffed toy Stitches going. And I sleep with them every night!
6. Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films. I have a crush on just about all the male characters in those films. And for reasons which you will see soon (check: layout)...
7. Heavy duty cardboard letter storage boxes. They're so much fun to carry around, and, uh, I just bought a bunch of them from Costco earlier today, so it's not like I was TOO influenced to choose this as #7...

And finally (and I'm pretty sure this is the big one), I am in awe that I have been awarded the People's Choice YA Book Blog Award for Best Newcomer.... and this is ALL because of you, lovely friends, authors, bloggers, and fellow lovers of reading. Thank you SO much for this great honor. I'll be sure to think of it when I'm having a bad day, and it'll cheer me up. And then in the meantime I can keep on blogging! Hehehe.

Congrats to the other deserving winners and runner-ups. Oh, and thanks to Steph Bowe for hosting these awards and for making these wonderful graphics. Can you think of someone who's incredible, and not just because she shares my name? :)

And oh dear God if I've forgotten you in the landslide that has become this post I deeply apologize. I'm NOT going to let things pile up like this again, and thus, next time, I can actually pass these well-worn awards on. It frightens me!!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: Hunger by Michael Grant

Book Two of the Gone series (Gone review here)

Publication date: May 26, 2009

Tags: YA, dystopia, horror, supernatural, thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5


The FAYZ is a twenty-mile-diameter zone where all people over 15 years old have disappeared. It’s been three months since the infamous Thanksgiving Day battle in Perdido Beach that involved the townies, the prep kids at troubled Coates Academy, and some other terrifying creatures—such as talking coyotes—and superpowers—like levitation, firepower, and more. Food is running out in the FAYZ, and kids are losing their once steady resolve to stay humane.

There is a divide growing between the “freaks” (those with the superpowers) and the normals, but Sam, the town-declared mayor and overall hero/daddy type, has other worries on his overwhelmed hands as well. Caine and his Coates Academy cronies have something sinister planned…but worse than that is the developing certainty that an indescribable force of evil is behind everything, and will stop at nothing to gain a form.


If you think Michael Grant couldn’t get better than GONE, the first novel in this series, think again and again and again! HUNGER completely blows the first book out of the water in terms of action, suspense, horror, and intrigue. It includes all the positives of GONE—the multicharacter points of view, the supernatural, the killer kids with superpowers—and adds more exciting components.

One of my favorite aspects of the GONE books is their ability to weave an engaging story from multiple characters’ points of view. This allows readers to understand everyone’s motivations and faults, passions and lapses in judgment, for an ultimately more believable and enjoyable reading experience. With the exception of purposely-made-evil villains, it’s easy to picture these characters as simply frightened teenagers thrown into a nightmarish life, every day trying to balance morality with survival.

Of course, the GONE series would not be such a success were it not for its elaborate and utterly fascinating plot. It is clear from every chapter that a lot of thought and preparation has gone into this series. Fans of Harry Potter and TV shows like “Lost” will be able to enjoy GONE and HUNGER’s complexity, subplots, supernatural elements, and budding romances. Basically, this series has everything, and each book’s 500+ pages will pass by in an all-too-fast flash that will leave your palms sweating, your heart racing, and your mind hungering for more from this talented author.

Similar Authors
William Golding (Lord of the Flies)
Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games)
J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter)

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - If I had to guess what the cover designers were going for, the two models would represent Caine and Diana, which wouldn't be too bad of a fit. However, I most like the orange tint of this cover. If the rest of the series continues in this manner, there'll be a plethora of rainbow-colored spines on my bookshelf!


Tanner, happier, more well slept, well-read... and in crazy catch-up mode! Wildwood for a week was great. The beginning of the week was cold, so it mostly consisted of me and my boyfriend walking up and down the boardwalk all day. However, by Tuesday it was sunny enough to go down to the beach, and to experience all of the goodness that comes with beaches: sand under nails, tan lines, the smell of sunscreen and sweat, salt drying on skin, scary people with ridiculous Jersey-shore outfits (you know what I mean...), nighttime movies.... Ahhhhh. (That's a contented sigh, for clarification's sake.)

Look out later for the reinstatement of reviews, contest news, and more stuff that I have planned! It's good to be back. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

*Off On a Much Needed Vacation*

Well, now, I will be moving into my summer and remaining-college-years apartment tomorrow and Saturday. (Can someone say NEW BOOKSHELVES? Okay, bookshelves in general. Cuz I have zero right now. Scary to hear, right?) And then Saturday afternoon my boyfriend and I are driving back home to attend his best friend's engagement party, and then Saturday night we are driving down to the Jersey shore and spending a week by the (unfortunately cold) beach. But still, a beach!

Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether or not I will have Internet access, and I already promised the boy that I wouldn't be my usual loner-girlfriend self (i.e., wanting to read books/check my blog/write when he's around) for the week. Soooo I'm off until next Friday or Saturday! If I get Internet I'll try to post but don't expect it, otherwise you'll be sad and I would hate to make you sad! :( Hehe.

I'll be bringing (and hopefully reading) the following books with me (most are for review):

Hunger: a Gone Novel by Michael Grant
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson
Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Exclusively Chloe by J. A. Yang
     and, er, probably some other titles that I don't have on hand

Happy reading, everyone, and enjoy May!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review: You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

Publication date: May 19, 2009

Tags: YA, road trip, family, death

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Sixteen-year-old Emma Healy has never felt like she belonged in her family full of professors, geniuses, and success stories. While her much older siblings went on to college and careers, Emma has kept to herself, dreaming of “normal” birthday parties and conversations that didn’t revolve around obscure literary figures.

Emma’s neighbor, Peter Finnigan, is a Civil War-obsessed nerd who wishes he had a family like the Healys. Instead, it’s just him and his cop father, forever separated and at odds by the taboo subject of Peter’s mother, who died giving birth to him. When Emma discovers a birth and death certificate for a twin brother she never knew she once had, it’s as if she suddenly feels complete. This discovery leads Emma and Peter to take a road trip from New York State to North Carolina to visit Emma’s brother’s grave, but what they discover is not grief and loneliness, but rather togetherness in all senses of the word.


Jennifer Smith certainly knows how to write. Her narrative reads like one of those twelve-page character description exercises that writers occasionally do in order to get to fully know their characters. At the end of the book, we know Emma and Peter inside out. Neither one is without flaws, but all of their complexities, worries, passions, and dialogue simply sing through the pages. Jennifer is in real command of the language here.

I think that the book’s weak point, the one thing that made me not like the book as much as I would’ve wanted to like it, was its plot. Road trips are a pretty common plot in YA lit, and so it’s hard to redo the age-old plot without falling into a rut. Emma and Peter’s road trip, while completely realistic, with things such as the New Jersey Turnpike and the Gettysburg battlefield described in a mesmerizing yet straightforward and thus believable way, was also unfortunately not very exciting or engaging.

They pick up a stray dog who never gets a name, they visit a bunch of random places and have conversations that sometimes run deep and sometimes turn into arguments…these are all nice things to think about, because they happen in everyone’s lives, but when these incidents and family flashbacks make up the majority of the novel, something gets lost. Never mind the fact that this book has a strong message: family is not just about similarities, but also about staying together despite the differences. It’s a great message…provided you don’t get lost along the way.

I also wasn’t much a fan of the Emma-and-Peter romantic coupling. I felt like I knew it was going to happen, and yet while reading the book I REALLY didn’t want it to, I wanted the book to break the stereotypes of boy-girl get-togethers at the end of the novel, but alas. Maybe I didn’t get a clear image of Emma and Peter as compatible human beings. They are great as individuals, yes, but together? I need more convincing.

Overall, however, YOU ARE HERE is far from being a bad and unenjoyable book. Jennifer Smith is definitely a strong writer whose talent deserves to get noticed. Readers who enjoy character-driven books will like YOU ARE HERE, and for those of us looking for a faster-paced read, well, you’re going to have to wait for another book.

Similar Authors
Susane Colasanti (When It Happens)
Catherine Ryan Hyde (Becoming Chloe)
Sarah Dessen

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - You can't see it from the image above, but the blue background is actually semi-transparent, so that you can see the vague likeness of a road map beneath. It's this subtle layering of images that I love. Other than that, however, I'm ambivalent. The car in the book is YELLOW, anyway, not blue. The model's windswept hair is pretty, though.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review: Summer Girls by Hailey Abbott

Tags: YA, summer, series, boys

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


In Pebble Beach, Maine, summer is about to get hot and nasty. Jessica, the All-American athlete with the killer body, has set her eyes on Liam, the local playboy, and is willing to do anything to get to him—including getting information out of his younger brother, Connor.

Jessica’s cousin, the glam New York fashionista Greer, arrives in Pebble Beach reluctantly while her parents are in the midst of a divorce, but perks up when she’s challenged to win the heart of Brady, who sees past her airs and looks. However, Brady has an ex-girlfriend who is just a step short of Satan’s spawn…

And finally, Lara, whose mom has just recently married Jessica’s uncle, is surprised when she falls for a wonderful guy on the first day of summer. It could be the perfect romance…except for one tiny little fact: Drew is Jessica’s older brother, and thus her cousin. How will the summer turn out for the three girls?


Let’s just say off the bat that I don’t like this type of book and therefore found it extremely difficult to find merit with it. I prefer to read literature that’s slightly more intellectual than describing the boys as “Abercrombie-hot” and throwing out a bunch of classy brand names to describe a girl’s wardrobe. SUMMER GIRLS has both of those and more. The characters are all “types”: the sporty-hot chick, the glam-hot chick, the offbeat-hot chick, the playboy-hot guy, the sporty-hot guy, the wholesome-boy-next-door-hot guy…have I been clear enough yet?

I don’t even mind character types as long as they are done well, as long as we can put ourselves in their shoes and see where they are coming from in their thoughts and actions. But you don’t really get to do that with SUMMER GIRLS. Individually I can believe each of these girls’ stories and maybe even enjoy them, but when you throw them together and insist that they go from practically strangers to BFFs in the course of several very turbulent weeks without adequately exploring the dynamics of their friendships and family, well, I have a problem. It’s as if the author decided that the three girls would have their separate plotlines, but they had to converge somehow, so—boom!—they live together. Uh, okay? And then what happens? There is so much more that happens when three almost-strangers live together than what is portrayed in this book.

Still, the summer is coming up, and Hailey Abbott’s series has done well in years past. SUMMER GIRLS will find its audience in the hordes of preteen girls who want to live vicariously—read: have random hookups, get their hearts broken by summer flings, and wrap everything up neatly at the end of the season—while in reality they’re stuck on an unexciting beach with their unexciting, same-old, same-old family.

Similar Authors
Melissa de la Cruz (The Au Pairs series)
Beth Mayall (Mermaid Park)

Writing: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Another three-parter WoW post because all of a sudden I'm stumbling across so many brilliant sounding reads that I want to share them with you all!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere. At least, that’s what I thought. Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. 

Can we just say that if you are not immediately attracted to the stunning cover, then the mysterious synopsis should attract you? I love books where the characters or locations have mysterious histories abound with the paranormal. And there seems to be a strong love interest. Plus, people like Vania and Karin keep on raving about this book on Twitter and Goodreads, pretty much driving me mad with anticipation. And Kami and Margaret are very active on their blogs and on Twitter, which builds up the exictement even more. It sounds like it's gonna be great!

Beautiful Creatures will be released in hardcover by Little, Brown on December 1, 2009.

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it?

A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors and she can clearly do no wrong. I very much enjoyed her previous adult novel, Austenland, and so am looking forward to reading this one!

The Actor and the Housewife will be available from Bloomsbury on June 9, 2009.

And finally, I don't like to post WoW choices if they don't have a cover, but I really really really couldn't resist this one, because this just might be the most highly anticipated book on my list for the next few years. From Megan McCafferty's website:

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Alessandra Balzer at Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Children’s Books acquired World English rights to New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty’s new novel in a two-book deal from Heather Schroder at ICM. Bumped is a sharply funny and provocative dystopian novel set in a world where only teens are able to have babies, and are contracted by adults to carry them to term. Megan is best known for her Jessica Darling series, which started with Sloppy Firsts and most recently ended with Perfect Fifths.

Can we say, "Holy....!"? Megan's gone dystopian lit! This is going to be awesome. I have no doubt that she'll conquer this new genre the same way she redefined chick lit/YA lit with the Jessica Darling series.


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