Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The New Girl


Meg Cabot’s second installment in her middle-grade level series Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls is just as fun, sweet, and reminiscent of my own fourth grade experience as the first one.

Not that it’s a retread, of course. Not in the slightest.

Since Allie, her parents, and her little brothers have made the BIG MOVE, that was such a huge part of the plot of the first book, Moving Day, now it’s time for her first day at her new school as (say it with me now) The New Girl.

Thankfully I never had to deal with that dilemma as a fourth grader – but even more thankfully, I didn’t have a big, scary girl in my class tell me she was going to beat me up after class like Allie does.

My childhood was mostly peaceful.

Sadly, poor Allie’s isn’t. Not to mention that things aren’t looking so peachy for getting her promised kitten.

Once again (remember how I mentioned the “satisfaction guaranteed” sticker in an earlier review?) Meg Cabot’s book whisks the reader away to pure entertainment – even if in this case there are less (okay, no) hot guys and kissing.

Allie is so relatable and cute, not to mention so smart and kind, she is a great role model for young girls – without being obvious about it. She’s an animal rescuer/veterinarian in training, which I love. And one of the best things so far in Meg’s series is that she doesn’t shy away from some of the less cheery subjects (such as the girl who wants to beat Allie up, or tension between her Mom and Grandma).

But I can’t forget to mention the most important, vital part of this book: It’s HILARIOUS.

Allie’s antics, her family’s discussions, the general situations Ms. Cabot puts her characters in – be ready to laugh. Seriously.

So, hats off to yet another success to Meg Cabot. Let the books keep coming.

Because there’s no doubt I’ll keep reading.

How about you?

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Space Between Us


Have you ever read a bestselling or highly acclaimed book (usually written for adults, since YAs are usually so woefully underappreciated) and just not got it? You know - it's depressing, disturbing, or just plain boring?

Well, The Space Between Us is NOT one of those!

I'll admit that I went into it thinking it was... I've been burned before by so-called "Women's Literature", but Thrity Umrigar's bold, yet gentle, foray was a force to reckoned with. I simply could not dislike it.

Taking place in modern day India, the setting is unique and intriguing but anyone who has read as many books as I have knows that beautiful or different settings do not make a book interesting in the slightest. It's like a person looking great on the exterior, but what's on the inside? The characters are the heart and soul of a book.

And The Space Between Us lavishes the reader with honest, flawed, empathetic characters that pull at your heart strings while still making you cringe during their worst moments.

Bhima is a harried housekeeper and has been for many, many years. She has swam through the bitter waters of life and come up to the surface just that - bitter. Her once happy life has dissolved into an existence based on work, going home to a slum where people go to the bathroom in the same place, where the smell drifts to the streets, and the privacy is at a minimum. And now, the one person that had made her life glimmer with hope again - her college attending granddaughter - is unwed and pregnant and refusing to say who the father is.

Sera is a tired woman herself. After years of mental and physical abuse, she is now free of her husband (deceased) but feels empty. All she has is her beloved daughter and her charming son-in-law who are about to bring a little grandchild into the world. Things are looking up for her, but she is still troubled by her past. A past only Bhima truly knows, having been her housekeeper for years and having witnessed the evidence of Sera's injuries and bruises.

To give too much more would be to disservice the journey the reader goes on with these remarkable women. It is a story with no clearcut answers, but enough to keep the pages turning lightening fast. I was surprised by just how entertaining the book was, in terms of not wanting to put it down. You wish for the best, but you fear for the worst.

Thrity Umrigar writes with an elegant style, letting us delve into our heroine's memories first hand - instead of just telling us. I enjoyed it thoroughly and found it be refreshing in it's honesty. But I will divulge one disappointment - without giving too much away - I felt that one of the character's story deserved a bit more of a conclusion. I understand the position Thrity left it in, and I appreciate it's poignancy, but I did put it down wanting just a bit more. If anyone reading this review has read this beautiful book, let me know what you thought of the end. You'll know what I'm talking about, I think.

But I definitely recommend it. It was a stunning piece of work. And proof that with a wonderful writing style and excellent character development a simple story (in premise) can become much more.

P.S. What do you guys think of the final results of the Hottest Harry Potter Character poll? A tie (Ron and Harry both got 37% of the votes)! And Neville (12%, a tie with "Other") got a vote! I'll get up a new poll as soon as I can think of one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet and Vicious


I received this book, Claudia Gabel's third installment of the In or Out series, from an awesome contest site, teensreadtoo.com. Honestly, though, I would recommend others to start from the beginning of the series rather than to jump right into the third book like I did. Which I usually don't do. But, ya know, I wasn't gonna go buy the others JUST because I won the third.

I can't help but feel that this book (and the others in the series) have suffered from Bad Cover Syndrome. This is just a personal opinion, and nothing against the girls on the cover or the people who designed it - but it just looks marketed way too young. Even though the two main characters are 14, they seem much older - and I wouldn't classify it anywhere near a Babysitter's Club book, which is what the cover kind of made me think of.

Okay - besides the cover now.

Shy Marnie and social-climbing Nola used to be best friends, but after some wild and hurtful accusations, that is all in the past. Now they are enemies. Marnie has moved on to a top-tier boyfriend, popular friends, and parties in her honor. Nola, in the meantime, is left in the dust to deal with her unrequited (it seems) crush on her friend Matt, a meddling 17 year old babysitter for her little brothers that seems to think he needs to watch over her too, and no best friend to talk to it all about.

But then Nola finds a mean, vengeful streak that releases some of her anger onto Marnie and Marnie starts to realize her picture-perfect new life, yeah well, between the secret meeting between her new best friend and boyfriend and her ever so tension-filled cling to the thin string connecting her to the clique, it ain't as great as she thought it would be.

I actually enjoyed it quite thoroughly. I was thrown by the fact that Marnie and Nola are only supposed to be 14, when I'd guess them more around 16 or 17, but maybe I'm just getting older and 14 seems so much younger now (I'm 20, if you were wondering, not 40, lol). At first I was kind of bored, but then it really started to pick up with all the twists involving the two main characters.

Not to mention all the HOT guys.

Seriously. Is this Poughkeepsie place (where the book takes place) real? Because maybe I want to move there! There were five, yes count them - FIVE incredibly hot guys in this one book alone. Sure, one was sleazy enough to be kicked off the list - but STILL. How is that POSSIBLE? Lol. Anyway, it was a fun read that did make me interested in reading more of the series and see what happens next!

But I'd recommend starting with the first novel - In or Out. Go for it.

And let's go book our tickets to Poughkeepsie! Who's with me?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Relapse

Oops. Why no new book review?

Well, I've suffered a bibliophile relapse. I tried to fight it. I was unsuccessful.

I'm rereading.

Yep. And I'm not rereading something I can post on here as I usually would (shame on me!) - because I already have reviewed it on here.

Seriously. I just read it.

That's right. I'm rereading The Summoning. It's that good.

And I guess the release date has been moved up. Buy it now! Here's a link to the bibliophile's ultimate dealer (at least the bibliophile who really needs the extra savings, like me), directly to this frakktastic book: http://www.amazon.com/Summoning-Darkest-Powers-Book/dp/0061662690/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214956135&sr=1-1

I promise to quickly finish it up, and return to my duties. It might be a review of Ann Brashares' adult novel The Last Summer (of You & Me). It might not.

I'm fickle that way.

Anyway, keep the faith! I WILL post again soon!