Monday, February 28, 2011

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Release: 2004 (originally 1999)
Pages: 228 (paperback)
Publisher: Speak
Source: Own
Book Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Colie has never fit in. First, it was because she was fat. Then, after she lost the weight, it was because of a reputation that she didn't deserve. So when she's sent to stay with her eccentric aunt Mira for the summer, Colie doesn't expect too much. After all, why would anyone in Colby, North Carolina want to bother with her when no one at home does?

But Colby turns out to be a nice surprise for Colie. Almost without trying, she lands herself a job at the Last Chance Bar and Grill. There she meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel - two best friends who teach her what friendship is all about and help her to appreciate who she really is. 
"Believe in yourself up here and it will make you stronger 
than you could ever imagine" (Dessen 88).

Dessen is truly a master at young adult realistic fiction - from endearing and quirky characters to the depth of the themes and messages, she rarely fails to write stories teens (and older) can relate with and grow from reading. Colie Sparks is young, moody, and has a lip ring her mother hates. She was once overweight, but lost it all when her mother became a fitness instructor. Even with the lost weight, she still isn't confident in herself - in fact, she's anything but confident. She overreacts, she hides and slinks away when she should stand up for herself, and she's other words, she's a teenage girl coming into her own self. Reading this novel now, it's easy to see how young she is, and while she may be mature in some aspects, her youth shows.

Colby in the summertime jumps off the pages. And the characters are wonderful: Norman and his artistic, laid-back approach to life is endearing; Mira's almost child-like joy in the small things and her ability to see past what's "broken" is wonderfully inspiring; and let's not forget the dynamic duo - Morgan and Isabel - both with their own quirks (I'm particularly fond of the scene we first read about Morgan - it gets me laughing every time) and plenty of memorable and touching moments. It's easy to get drawn into Colie's new life, the subplots of the other characters lives, and I couldn't ask for better characters to read about (except, of course, for the Wish Catering crew in The Truth About Forever - I could read about them all day, everyday).

A coming-of-age story set in a summer town with interesting characters (not to mention an artsy guy, sunglasses, and plenty of time spent in a cool roadside cafe)? Sign me up for a summer like that.

Highlights: I always get something out of Dessen's novels - always. Dessen's words are true to the heart, and there's always something to learn or take away with you. I love novels like that - the ones that are both enjoyable and meaningful to me. Dessen truly speaks "teen" and her characters always seem like real people I could meet somewhere. 

Lowlights: It seems like it jumps around a bit, this might have been a novel that could have done better with more pages. The writing didn't feel as cohesive as Dessen's other novels. This isn't by far Dessen's best novel, but it is highly enjoyable. Colie's youth was frustrating at times, but she's young, so I get it. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

My Reviews of Other Works by Sarah Dessen:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In My Mailbox 47

I think this week was my best book week ever, because I received a novel to review that happens to be written by one of my favorite authors (so, naturally, I was really really excited when I opened the package). 

For Review:
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen 
(Eeeeeeek!!!!!!! I can't believe I got it!! I grew up on Dessen's novels, so I'm thrilled to be reviewing this one!*)
Where She Went by Gayle Forman (!!!!)
Betrayal by Lee Nichols (Haunting Emma #2)

Bought (Kindle e-books):
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen 
(I'm loving Water for Elephants so much right now)
Eye Candy by Tera Lynn Childs

Bought (Printed Books):
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon 
(Adore this book - so glad I finally got a copy, & with the pretty cover)

From Elana Johnson:
Two bookmarks (one signed) + bottlecap w/ the cover of Possession on it! 

Thank you so much to the wonderful people at Penguin, Elana Johnson, and Kate from Bloomsbury!

What did you get this week? 


*Please excuse my total fangirl-ness when it comes to Sarah Dessen and her novels ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (times two)

WOW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Release: April 19th, 2011
It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. 

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. 

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. 

If she fails...

Can we just fast-forward to April? Anyone got a time machine? ;)

And the other book I'm waiting on (but doesn't have a summary):

Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn - due out in July. 

What are you waiting on?


PS: Sorry for the lack of posts this week - I've got Midterms (and I'm sick...gotta love the timing) from today until next Tuesday, but the blog should hopefully get a couple posts going before then!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox 46

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren, inspired by Pop Culture Junkie

For Review:
e-ARC of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes by Amber Kizer

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Loved this book!)
The Witches of Santa Anna by Lauren Barnholdt and Aaron Gorvine (Kindle -- books 1-3)

From Tera Lynn Childs:
6 Bookmarks for Sweet Venom (signed)! Giveaway this week!

Thanks to Amber Kizer, Tera Lynn Childs, and the wonderful people at ABC Family.

What did you get this week? 


Friday, February 18, 2011

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Release: January 25th, 2010
Pages: 336
Publisher: Egmont USA
ISBN-13: 978-1606840795
Source: Publicist
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.
Review: Magic? Check. Appeals to my love of fairy-taleish stories? Check. Great protagonist? Check. A dash of romance? Check. Awesome mystery? Double check. Need I say more?

But in case you do want more, I shall oblige. The False Princess starts off with a surprise that comes as a blow to Sinda - formally Nalia, the princess of Thorvaldor. Considering the circumstances she's in a bit of shock, but she takes it much better than most of us probably would. Her growth from this point to the very ending is one of the things that makes this novel special. Her life gets turned upside down, and yet she makes the most of it and changes gradually to become a character that I enjoyed reading about.

O'Neal expertly makes this story seem realistic and very vivid. From the small villages and their hardworking residents to the large cities with their bustling, busy scholars, O'Neal made everything come to life and jump off the pages - especially the magical aspect of the story. The supporting characters hold this novel together (I especially loved the villain - which is weird, I know). Almost all of the characters were unique and memorable, especially one that gets introduced later on. I don't think I've ever quite read a novel where I enjoyed almost all of the characters before, but I loved most of them in O'Neal's story.

The False Princess is a story that proves to be engaging, endearing, and truly magical from start to finish.

Highlights: Betrayal, magic, lies, engaging writing....How can you go wrong? O'Neal wrote this story wonderfully, it was impossible to set aside. There were twists and turns, and "no way!" moments. I never quite knew what to expect but I was not disappointed.  

Lowlights: It would have been nice to see the romantic interest to have a bit more depth to his personality, but I did like how the relationship between them made sense (ie: it wasn't some random "I just met you two days ago and I'm instantly in love with you now" relationships, for which I am grateful).



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pretty Little Liars: Happy Valentine's Day

Last year, I was part of a game hosted by ABC Family for the TV series Pretty Little Liars (my final recap of the experience here). In OctoberNovember, December, and January, I found some wicked surprises in the mail from PLL's evil brilliant character "A" 

And just yesterday, I got another surprise from "A" in honor of Valentine's Day:

The chocolate link led to....This Video

And can I just PLL is currently my newest TV obsession? Seriously, did anyone catch Monday's episode - whoa!!! Just when I think I know everything, they go and throw in some new characters (loving Caleb) and new twists! =)

Want to catch up on the most recent episodes? Head over to ABC Family's website to watch!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cover Reveal: Sweet Venom

Tera Lynn Childs upcoming novel, Sweet Venom, has a cover! 

Short summary: Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in a world where monsters lurk in plain sight.
Fan it on Facebook or add it on Goodreads! Or want to learn more? Tera has more info about Sweet Venom over at her website

So what do you guys think of the cover? Love it? Hate it? Like it? I'm loving the floating/moving(?) hair - it definitely makes me think of Medusa! I wish it was October ;)


Saturday, February 12, 2011

In My Mailbox 45

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren, inspired by Pop Culture Junkie

For Review
The Screaming Season by Nancy Holder
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker 
(I had the pleasure of getting to read this one a few months ago as an online ebook, so it's nice to get a chance to reread it as a printed book! And I'm quoted inside! How cool!)

Bloodline by Kate Cary

Thanks to Erin and Nancy, 
Sarah from St. Martin's Press, Kate from Bloomsbury, and Nina from J'adore Happy Endings!