Category Archives: romance

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

enchantedSunday Woodcutter, like her six sisters, was named for a day of the week.  I assume it was the day of the week on which they were born, though I cannot honest recall at the moment.  I do remember, though, that her sisters all seemed to be the embodiment of the old nursery rhyme “Monday’s Child,” which predicts children’s characteristics based on their days of birth:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

The number seven always seems to hold some magical and mystical powers in fantasy stories, and this story is no exception.  Being the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter has set Sunday up to be especially magical.  She loves writing, but is hesitant to do so because what she writes often comes true.  After meeting a talking frog, and telling him about her stories, Sunday finds that she finally has a friend to confide in.  He disappears, of course, when Sunday bestows a kiss on the his little froggy head — turning back into Prince Rumbold, whom her family despises.  Prince Rumbold is certain he can make Sunday fall in love with him, though, if only he can get a chance to talk to her and explain…

Happy Reading!

Sidekicks by Jack D. Ferraiolo

SidekicksThanks to my recent stint at Batgirl at the YSS Spring Conference, I finally remembered that I need to post a review of this book!  Let me just start off by saying that I liked this book, but I was a bit put off in the beginning.  I think it’s because the cover had me expecting something that would be more accessible to tweens and younger teens but the story left me feeling uncomfortable recommending this book to someone who specifically asks for a “clean read” for their child.  Perhaps I found the beginning of the book so off-putting just because I am female and just don’t *get* it as much as if I had grown up as a guy.  But, as it stands, I thought that the first several chapters were a bit much.  I mean, does it really take several chapters to get across the point that Bright Boy was embarrassed about an erection showing through his spandex costume? I think not…

For the most part, though, I really enjoyed this book.  I especially appreciated the fact that good and evil were not as typically “black and white” as in many super hero stories.  Sometimes, heroes do very bad things; sometimes, villains are actually misguided altruists.  I loved that Phantom Justice was a campy parody of Batman, whom I think my husband takes entirely too seriously, and Dr. Chaotic reminded me quite a bit of Dr. Horrible.  If you’re looking for a funny story with action and adventure, mystery and suspense, and a hint of romance, you should give this one a try.

Happy Reading!

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares [ARC]

The Here And NowI am pretty sure the only Ann Brashares books I had read before this ARC were from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  It looks like I never reviewed them on this blog, though, so I can’t simply link to what I thought of them.  Instead, I will quickly summarize by saying that they are basic contemporary “chick lit” books.  They primarily dealt with friendship, dating, and body image — and they were both realistic and well written enough that I’m not surprised to see that they’re still popular.  While this book was also well written and has a romantic element to it, it was VERY different in that it has a science fiction angle.

Prenna James is an immigrant, but she didn’t come from another country — she came from another time.  She, along with the rest of the people in her tight-knit community, traveled back in time from a future in which global warming had destroyed the world.  Warmer temperatures melted the polar ice caps, caused massive floods, and also allowed mosquitoes to thrive.  Even though cancer had been cured, human existence was threatened by a blood-borne plague reminiscent of AIDS.  Prenna’s time-traveling community has many rules, but the most important rules are to blend in, to avoid making any changes to “the past,” and to avoid intimacy with outsiders.  Despite worries about getting in trouble, Prenna has a hard time following the rules.  She just can’t understand how they can just sit by and watch people destroy the world instead of trying to make a difference.  Plus, of course, there’s the fact that she’s falling for an outsider named Ethan…

Happy Reading!

Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach [ARC]

fat boy vs the cheerleadersIn honor of Teen Tech Week, I decided to review a book that I read as a digital ARC.  (If there are any teachers/librarians out there who would like to get digital ARCs, by the way, I highly recommend checking out Edelweiss and NetGalley.) Though I was reluctant to use an e-reader, I really have come around.  Though I still prefer “real” books, I am learning to appreciate my e-reader — especially when it means that I will have a better chance of receiving, and sometimes even instant access to, a review copy!

I don’t recall where I first saw the cover of this book, but I was intrigued by both the title and the cool cover.  I wanted to find out more about it and whether it might be a good fit for my library’s YA collection, but I couldn’t find any professional reviews.  So, I decided to get a digital review copy from Edelweiss and read it myself.   I am SO glad I did!  I loved the main character, Gabe/Chunk, and thought the unique way the story was told — in the form of a written statement/police interview — worked surprisingly well.

Gabe’s “friends” call him Chunk [a reference to a character from an 80s cult classic, The Goonies], and he has long accepted that moniker.  After all, he is fat.  Huge.  Beyond hope.  After his mom left, he and his dad both began to feed their feelings.  One of Gabe/Chunk’s biggest problems is his addiction to soda — but the money from the soda machine in the school cafeteria helps to fund the school pep band, so he is OK with wasting his money and drinking all the extra calories… until the day he finds out that they’ve been bamboozled.  Without public knowledge, the school board decided to take the money from the soda machine and give it to the cheerleaders for a new dance squad!  Gabe/Chunk decides that he is not only going to enlist the help of his friends to win back the money for the band, but he is going to let his grandfather [a former champion body builder] help him win back his body.  Though I admit that the description sounds like it could get a little preachy, I am pleased to report that this story was often hilarious and that Gabe/Chunk had an authentic teen voice.  I’m definitely hoping for more from this author.

Happy Reading!

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

Gorgeous18-year-old Becky Randle, a recent high school graduate, works for a local grocery chain and lives in the trailer she inherited when her mom died (from complications of diabetes/being morbidly obese).  One day, Becky thinks she hears her mom’s ringtone and, while searching for the phone, unearths a phone number on a scrap of paper inside an otherwise empty jewelery box.  She wonders if the phone number has anything to do with the cryptic thing her mother said on the day she died — “[S]omething is going to happen to you. And it’s going to be magical.”  So Becky decides to take a chance and calls the number.  It’s almost too good to be true when the person on the other end of the line offers her $1000 and a plane ticket to New York City, but she has nothing to lose and decides to check it out.

Upon her arrival in NYC, she is brought to see fashion designer Tom Kelly, who offers to make her three dresses and to transform her into the most beautiful woman in the world.  Becky doesn’t believe him at first, but her best friend Rocher uses some extremely colorful language to convince her to go for it.  (Rocher’s expletive-laden exclamations were often hilarious, and one was so good that I actually pulled over and recorded it with my cell phone so I could later play it back for my husband.  AFTER the kids had gone to bed, of course!)  Anyhow… Tom comes through and works some sort of crazy magic and Becky really is transformed!  She becomes Rebecca — who is tall, thin, and gorgeous, with perfect skin and hair.  She can eat anything she wants without gaining an ounce, and this gives her loads more confidence than Becky ever had.  The only problem is that Rebecca needs to fall in love and get married within a year or everything will go back to the way it was before.

Happy Reading!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkJust as it took me WAY too long to get around to listening to this audiobook, it has taken me WAY too long to post my review…  Not cool, Chrissie.  Not cool!  (Especially since it won a Printz Honor and that should have been excuse enough to post about it.)  I need to do something about my back log of books to be reviewed, and some of my readers are on February break this week, so I need to get down to business and start pumping out some extra book reviews.  Enjoy!

Eleanor & Park takes place in 1986, so it is technically “historical fiction” to the teens I serve today…  I mean, they weren’t even BORN yet!  (Wow, that makes me feel old!)  Though it was fun to reminisce about big hair, bold makeup, “Walkman” tape players, and phones on a cord, this story was not a fluffy look back on the 80s.  It was a touching story about how one person can make all the difference when the whole world seems to be against you.  About how halting conversations about shared interests, like comic books and music, can open the door to friendship.  And about how a barely-there friendship can blossom and turn into love.  Park’s family is “Leave it to Beaver” perfect, and he is relatively popular at school.  Eleanor’s home life is horrid and the kids at school take great pleasure in bullying her about her clothes, weight, and unruly red hair.  And yet, Park can’t help himself.  He doesn’t care what everyone else thinks about “his” Eleanor.  He only knows he will do whatever it takes to try and make her happy.

To be completely honest, there was only one thing I didn’t like about this book… It ended!  Seriously, though, I *really* hope that the ending was not just a “form your own opinion about what happened” thing but, instead, left it open for a sequel.  A girl can hope, right?!?  ;-)

Happy Reading!

Living With Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Living With Jackie ChanI usually hate admitting when something makes me feel this stupid, but I just have to share this crazy story with y’all.  I got about half way through Living With Jackie Chan and actually got into a conversation with a friend about how much I love Jo Knowles’ books before I realized this was a companion book to Jumping Off Swings!  Seriously…  I was telling her about how Jumping Off Swings affected me so much that I literally could not put the book down before I finished it, woke my husband up with my crying, and then had to go in and cuddle with my sleeping son [at 2am] before I could calm down enough to sleep.  (I was pregnant for my daughter at the time, so I guess you can blame some of it on the hormones too!)  When I started to describe this story, I stopped talking mid-sentence and said, “OH MY GOD!  Josh is the guy from the first book!”  Yeah…  I’m quick like that!  Maybe it wasn’t mentioned in the book review I read when I ordered this book?  And, I know I didn’t read the book flap before starting to read the book when I picked it up off the shelf…  But, still, I loved Jumping Off Swings so much that it’s hard to believe I forgot the character names and also didn’t put two and two together when I first started this story.  /sigh

Living With Jackie Chan is a continuation of Josh’s story.  After getting Ellie pregnant, he feels like a horrible person and finds it difficult to move on with his life.  His Uncle Larry agrees to let Josh live with him while he finishes high school.  And, while starting over in a new city with a “clean slate” seems like a good idea, Josh finds it impossible to embrace this fresh start.  Even if no one at the new school knows what happened last year, HE knows what he did and can’t manage to forgive himself.  Fortunately, Uncle Larry convinces Josh to help out with his karate classes at the local YMCA — which provides Josh with a positive new focus and a chance to make a new friend, Stella.

Happy Reading!

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon

Somebody Up There Hates YouWhen people ask Richard Casey what’s wrong with him, he likes to reply that he has SUTHY syndrome.  He waits an uncomfortable beat and then explains that SUTHY stands for “Somebody Up There Hates You.”  After all, what other reason would there be for a 17-year-old to be in hospice care with a terminal cancer diagnosis?  If I hadn’t already read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, I may not have believed it was possible that Seamon could have written so much humor into this story.  Between Rich’s wry sense of humor and his bumbling romance with a girl named Sylvie [the only other teen in the hospice unit], I laughed out loud often enough that my cat gave up on falling asleep in my lap — and that never happens!  If you already read TFiOS and need something to hold you over until the movie comes out in June, you will probably enjoy this story too.

Happy Reading!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger LilyTo be completely honest, I chose to read this book last summer because it counted for a square on the Adult Summer Reading BINGO card!  (It was a gardening theme, and the book had the name of a flower in the title.)  The fact that I didn’t get around to reviewing this book until now, nevertheless, is not any indication of the quality of the story.  I am just *very* bad at reviewing books as soon as I finish them.  I have such a back-log to get through that I often play “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to pick which one to do!  :-)

Though this book tells the story of a 15-year-old girl named Tiger Lily, it is actually narrated by a fairy named Tinkerbell.   [Yes, the same Tinkerbell you've heard of before!]  Tiger Lily, a native girl who has always lived as an outcast of sorts within her tribe, is desperate to find a way out of marrying a horrid man to whom she has been betrothed.  Tiger Lily spends time in the woods to avoid her tribe and to try to escape her life, if only for short periods of time, and ends up running into Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.  Not only does she fall for Peter, fully knowing she can’t actually make a life with him, but then Wendy Darling shows up in Neverland…  If you aren’t don’t get your heart broken at least once by the end of this story, you don’t have a heart.

Happy Reading!

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore [ARC]

manor of secretsI was very resistant to use an e-reader for quite some time, but recently got a Kindle Fire so my nearly-4-year-old daughter could have a tablet to play with while her older brother plays video games.  (She doesn’t quite get how to play yet and always gets frustrated.  But, I digress.)  The main point is that I still didn’t really anticipate that I would actually use my tablet to read ebooks.  Until, that is, my director told me the first chapter of Cress was available on NetGalley!  (For those of you who don’t know, Cress is book three in the Lunar Chronicles — which began with Cinder and Scarlett.)  It was amazing… but it was only one chapter. So, I decided to see what else was available.  As I was browsing through titles to request, I found this book.  Talk about kismet!  I was anxiously awaiting the new season of Downton Abbey and just *knew* this would give me a quick fix.  I was not disappointed!

Charlotte Edmonds is expected to be a perfect lady.  After all, how will she land the perfect husband if she doesn’t dress, speak, and act exactly as society expects?  She seems to be a constant disappointment to her mother, Lady Diana, who has her sights set on a marriage proposal from Lord Andrew Broadhurst before Charlotte even makes it to her first season.  Even though her best friend, Fran, seems content to play by the rules and to hope for a marriage proposal from a suitable man, Charlotte longs for more — for fun, spontaneity, and a career as a writer.  When Charlotte spies a scullery maid, Janie, sneaking away from a garden party to wade in the lake on a hot summer day, she decides to try it too.  Thus begins an unlikely friendship between the girls.  Secret rendezvous and rule-breaking abound as Charlotte and Janie try to find a way to live the lives they want instead of the lives they’ve been pigeonholed into, and all of The Manor’s secrets come spilling out.  The ending is tidy enough, but just begs for a sequel.

Happy Reading!