Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee

Rosemary Goode is smart, sweet and hard-working, but it seems that the only thing people notice is her weight. Her mother and Aunt Mary want her to shed some pounds - hence the treadmill and tickets to Healing the Fat Girl Within for Christmas. But losing weight is something that Rosemary wants to do for herself, and on her own terms. And so begins the Pounds-Away shakes, the early morning runs and constant checking of the scale. Rosemary finally starts to lose weight, and in the process learns a lot about herself, her family and life in general.

I really enjoyed reading Artichoke's Heart. The writing was good, the characters interesting, and Rosemary's journey was fascinating. There was something in this novel that just kept sucking me in and kept me turning the pages. I become invested in Rosemary, and wanted to see her succeed, whether it be with her weight, with her boyfriend or with her family. Rosemary was a very real person, and whether you're overweight or underweight or average weight, you can relate to her and her problems. I liked that Suzanne Supplee made Rosemary a very defined character, while also leaving her open so that many different types of people could understand her. The plot and pacing were good and I'm really glad I decided to pick this novel up off the library shelf. The only problem I had was in the beginning: Rosemary whined and complained about her weight, while staring at an idle treadmill. She wanted to lose weight, but it took awhile for her to actually get up and do something, which annoyed me. But eventually Rosemary began to take control of her life and my faith in her was immediately restored. If you're looking for an inspiring coming of age novel, definitely read Artichoke's Heart. And how can you resist that cover?

8 out of 10.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cassandra Clare Signing

On Tuesday, me and my friend Molly drove a half-hour away to a Borders Express to see Cassandra Clare for the release of City of Glass! I had found out about the signing when I randomly decided to look at Cassandra's blog and there it was! I believe it was fate.

At 6 PM, Cassandra came out and everyone was so excited. There were over a hundred people there getting their books signed, which is a pretty good turnout. Cassandra first read two passages from City of Glass - one about Magnus and Alec, the other about Jace and Clary. After that people were allowed to ask questions. Some of the questions were spoiler-y for those who haven't read any of the books, but she was asked if she was Team Edward or Team Jacob.

Obviously, she said Team Edward. I don't know if you can see it, but her boyfriend is wearing a Team Edward shirt. It has a picture of a baby vampire on it, which was...different haha.

This is where Cassandra started signing the books. You could get all three signed, but I only had City of Bones and City of Glass. Since there weren't that many people, Cassandra got to talk to everyone for a few minutes which was really cool. I was number 49 in line and my friend Molly was number 50 and we only had to wait about an hour or so.

Here's me with Cassandra Clare! It was so cool to meet her and get a picture. When we went to a Stephenie Meyer signging after the release of Eclipse, there were six hundred people getting their books signed and we weren't allowed to get pictures with Stephenie or even talk to her for than a few seconds. So this was a lot more personal. Below is a picture of City of Glass (!!!) and the inside cover where Cassandra signed it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

Hope is probably the best waitress you'll ever meet - and she's only sixteen years old. Food service is in her blood after all, with her mother a waitress and her aunt a cook. For as long as Hope can remember she and her aunt Addie have traveled the country looking for a diner in need of a waitress and a cook. But when they have to leave New York City for rural Wisconsin, Hope is sad to leave the only place she's called home. What she doesn't realize, though, is that she will learn to love her new town Mulhoney and the Welcome Stairways Diner. The owner, G.T. Stoops, a life-loving man with leukemia, will teach her how to be a better person, as he's running for mayor of Mulhoney.

I really liked Hope Was Here. It was well-written and the characters, plot and details were nicely fleshed-out. I have not read any books by Joan Bauer, but I was extremely impressed with this one. The whole novel just felt homey and safe, but was also one that took risks and was emotional (I admit that I cried at the end). I liked how an underlying theme was the food service and how Hope and her aunt both felt most comfortable working in a diner or restaurant. It was also a nice touch how Hope's Aunt Addie was able to extract wisdom from the food that she was cooking - it showcased Bauer's unique style and insight. The characters, some of which could have had more personality, were fun to read about, especially G.T. He was a one-of-a-kind man, and probably the only honest politician out there. His run for the mayor was also a nice touch and gave the reader an interesting look into politics. I liked how the fact that he had leukemia never stopped him from doing something he loved or setting out to accomplish a goal. He was a wonderful model for how everyone should live their lives. I recommend this book to all readers, and even if you don't like it, your mouth will still be watering for some of Addie's delicious home cooking.

8 out of 10.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Hannah has an interesting family. Her father is a second Hugh Hefner, while her mother is just like a Playboy bunny, complete with skimpy outfits and a daily live webcast to showcase her "talents." This, unfortunately, is not like something Hannah likes to bring friends home to. So Hannah manages to keep a low profile at school, not talking to anyone besides her friend Teagan. But when she's at work at BurgerTown, she has a hard time not being noticed. Having a crush on co-worker Josh doesn't help matters, and neither does having sort-of feelings for other co-worker Finn. Hannah's life is full of drama already and now that her dad wants her back in his life, things are going to be crazier than his reality TV show.

Elizabeth Scott is one of my new favorite authors and I still can't believe how many books she has written in such a short period of time. As always, Something, Maybe did not disappoint. After reading Living Dead Girl, Hannah's problems seem trivial in comparison, but this book was perfect if you want a light and funny read. How can you not laugh at Hannah's family situation? It's definitely a lot different from the usual family dynamics and it was something I really enjoyed reading about. I'm glad that by the end, Hannah began to accept that her family was not normal and learn to love her mom even with the skimpy clothes. The romance part was cute, but unfortunately extremely cliched. I knew who Hannah was going to end up with just by reading the back cover. I still liked this book a lot and recommend it all fans of Elizabeth Scott.

8 out of 10.
Release Date: March 24, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

GoldenGirl by Micol Ostow

Spencer, Madison, and Paige are the It girls of Bradford Prep, an exclusive school on the Main Line. Living in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia has its perks: money, big houses, trendy clubs in the city. But all is not well with the golden girls. When a new student, Regan, is accepted to Bradford, Paige seems to have a problem with her, one that Spencer and Madison can't figure out. As the feud between Regan and Paige intensifies, Spencer will have to decide where her loyalties lie.

GoldenGirl was a good book, but unfortunately wasn't too original. It was just like Gossip Girl or The Elite: rich girls and their drama. There were a few differences, though, that made me enjoy reading this book. One, it was set on the Main Line, which is this really rich suburb of Philly. I liked this because for once the book wasn't set in New York and I also live really close to the Main Line (not in it, unfortunately). So it was cool recognizing the names of places. Another thing I like was that this book was told through Spencer's blog entries. Since it's the 21st century, the journal format is beginning to be replaced with blogs, so it was something different from the norm. And what was really cool about the blog entries was that the publishing company created real blogs for all the characters, in addition to websites for the school and clubs that the characters go to. I was looking through the blogs, and the characters even comment on the posts! I thought that was so funny and really makes the book come alive. As for the plot, there isn't much to comment on. It was like any other Gossip Girl type book, but it did leave the reader hanging at the end. Even though GoldenGirl contained the usual scandal and drama usually associated with wealthy teenagers, I still enjoyed reading it and recommend it if you want a "guilty pleasure" book.

7 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - 8

Another week and another look at a new, upcoming book! All credit is due to Jill from Breaking The Spine.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
I am so excited for this book, it's not even funny. The Hunger Games was amazing and this will probably be even better. I don't know how I'll be able to wait until September 1, 2009 for the release!
Also, I just saw on another blog that The Hunger Games is being made into a movie! Visit Temppett Too for all the details.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Look Familiar?

Hm, I think I've seen this somewhere before. But where was it?

Ah, yes! It's the cover of Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph! I thought this was the weirdest thing, seeing the cover of a book being used for an ad. I never realized, until I started seeing blog features dedicated to this, that publishers use the same pictures for different books. And evidently they also use them for cold sore ads. This was so funny, I just had to share this with you guys!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

Catherine Howard is the opposite of King Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves: young, beautiful and thoroughly English. So after his divorce, she seems to be the perfect candidate for marriage. But the luxury and power that comes with being queen isn't enough for Catherine. She wants to produce a male heir and is still upset over the fact that her relationship with Thomas Culpeper never blossomed. These thoughts are dangerous for a queen, especially one who is the cousin of infamous Anne Boleyn. As intrigue at the royal court becomes more and more scandalous, Catherine must hope that her power-hungry family doesn't leave her out to dry... on the chopping block.

Tudor England is my favorite time period to read about. There's something about the intrigue and gossip that takes place in the court of Henry VIII that fascinates me. Me and my friend will do anything to experience this era: books, movies, even TV shows (The Tudors, anyone?). When I heard about The King's Rose, I was so excited. It was another Tudor book, but it was also about Catherine Howard, a queen that I didn't know much about. Unfortunately, I wasn't very impressed with this book. First, I felt like it should have started with Catherine first arriving at court and then Henry taking an interest in her. Instead, it started right when the king was about to propose to Catherine. This made the book choppy and also didn't leave room for much background information. Next, the plot moved millimeter by millimeter. Nothing happened. Sure, Catherine went to a ball and then got a new dress, oh and went to this palace for Christmas, blah blah blah. It was so boring and I couldn't understand why nothing was going on. This made it hard for me to get into. Finally, the last forty pages there was some action, but a little too late considering it was 292 pages long. Overall, The King's Rose wasn't too too bad, but if you're looking for a good read about the Tudors, get a book by Philippa Gregory instead.

6 out of 10.

Release Date: March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - 7

Ahh, the smell of upcoming books. Okay, you can't smell them yet, but you can get excited for them, which is the purpose of Waiting on Wednesday. This weekly book lusting was created by the lovely Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago. Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.
This book looks like it could be funny, but sad too because of the brother's death. I think it looks interesting, though, and the cover is gorgeous. Twenty Boy Summer will be released on June 1, 2009, right in time for summer.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary's village is the last heartbeat of humanity. Her community, located in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, has endured droughts, disease and the Unconsecrated, flesh-eating zombies that are always trying to find a way into the village. After her parents die and her brother disowns her, Mary goes to live with the Sisterhood, a group of women who know everything about the village. As Mary gets accustomed to life in the Cathedral, she begins to discover things that she can't believe. But Mary's search for answers is cut short when a breach in the fence leads to an Unconsecrated attack. Will Mary and her friends be able to survive?

I was a little wary of The Forest of Hands and Teeth at first. From the summary, I wasn't sure I was going to like it, plus it was a little vague. But I was proven completely wrong. This book was amazing. It is set in the future, after our world collapses from a virus that causes people to turn into zombies, also known as the Unconsecrated. The people in Mary's village are the last humans alive, or so they believe. In a world without hope, Mary still has this gut feeling that there is more to the world than just her village. She is a resilient character who overcomes loss and despair and continues to move forward. Unlike everyone else, she is not content to live out her life in the village; she wants to leave and see if there really is an ocean, like in her mother's stories. These traits made Mary an interesting character to read about. Mary's faith that there was more to the world was a big theme in the book and the mysterious ocean was a symbol for Mary's dream of a better life.
Another aspect that made this book so wonderful was the romance. There was a bit of a love triangle present, but the love between Mary and Travis was so strong and pure. Carrie Ryan wrote Mary's emotions beautifully. As I was reading, I became Mary and felt all the things that she did. As for the zombies, don't be turned off if you don't like horror. The zombies added an element of fear and hopelessness that made The Forest of Hands and Teeth perfect. I still can't believe how good this book was and highly recommend it for all readers.

9 out of 10.

Release Date: March 10, 2009