Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pretty Little Liars TV Show Update! (And has anyone read Huge?)

A while back I posted about how the Pretty Little Liars TV show had begun filming. I have been stalking the internet for more info on the show ever since and thought I would post some of the stuff I've found for anyone reading this who likes the book series and who isn't obsessively stalking the internet for info.

And for the people who don't know, Pretty Little Liars is the first book in the series, about four ex- best friends who begin receiving anonymous text messages from "A" threatening to reveal their many secrets to the world.

First, here are some promo pictures that I found on the series fansite, who got them from the facebook fan page:

The blonde one is Hanna, and I'm pretty sure the other girl is Mona.


I admit that I wasn't too happy about Ashley Benson playing Hanna because she totally looks like Spencer, but in these pictures she looks great! She seems like she has the Hanna attitude down perfectly. And if she seems this great in the pictures, I'm betting she'll look even better on the show.



Looks like Aria starts receiving her messages from A in episode one, which I think all of these pictures are from. Lucy Hale, the actress who plays Aria, is someone I irrationally really like. There are many celebrities I irrationally hate (coughdakotafanningcough) but I really like Lucy Hale for some reason.


Ezra! I like him as Ezra, since he's not too pretty.


Aria and Ezra! People who have read the books will understand my giggly feelings about the above picture.


Emily! She's definitely not how I pictured Emily, but, at least in this picture, she looks like she has the nervous, innocent Emily-ness.


The facebook page tells me that the above photo is of Spencer. Umm. I totally thought she was a teacher at first. But I'm thinking positive so I'll say that she has the "I'm smart and above you all" face down? Err...yeah.

The only release date I can find for the show is summer of this year, but I've seen a few other comments on sites that say June, but I can't find a source. But the profile picture on facebook says summer so WHOO!

Also, GiveMeMyRemote says that the show has been picked up for ten episodes, so double WHOO!

And if anyone wants to follow the show info like me, here are some links for you:
And the show is going to be on ABC Family, not the CW. It totally seems like a CW show because it is about rich, pretty people, but nope, ABC Family.

On a related note, ABC Family is also adapting the novel Huge by Sasha Paley. I haven't read it but I definitely want to. The aforementioned GiveMeMyRemote article also says this series has been picked up for ten episodes and"follows the lives of six teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other."

ABC Family is also doing a nation-wide casting call to find actual plus-size people to portray the characters. I really like the idea of getting people who actually look like the characters rather than getting 130 pound "fat" people to play them. I'm just hoping they actually go through with the idea because it sounds like it could be really great.

Now I just need to read Huge. Is it any good, people who have read it?

And who is going to watch both of these shows with me?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bookish things I hate: covers edition

This post is inspired by the always-lovely Alea of Pop Culture Junkie, who I love to sekritly snark on covers with.

I feel like talking about book covers, since it seems to be somewhat of a hot topic lately (I think, anyway. But if it's not we can pretend.)

And I thought that since I love to complain, I would just complain about covers rather than list my favorite things. I will save the happy for next week.

(Disclaimer: just because I hate certain cover-y things, that doesn't mean all covers like them are ugly. Most of them are pretty. It's more of the concept I don't like.

And really, I don't HATE most of these. Just dislike. I am dramatic.

And no, I don't mention whitewashing, etc., because that would require a million word rant and I thought that I would just mention cover composition stuff. But seriously, go read this post over at the Book Smugglers.)


- I don't like when covers change midseries. This is an obvious one, but it angers me. Like, my copies of Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever do not match.


These look terrible on my shelves together. Separately, they're great. But together? GRR.

- Black background with an object on it. It seems that the many paranormal book covers have to be black or near-black, and then an object has to be thrown on top of it for contrast or whatever. It annoys me. I know that paranormal covers should probably not be pink or yellow, but do they all have to be so dark with objects?

- I don't like "layered" covers, where there either a two separate pictures on top of each other or a few colors on top of each other and not mixed. And because this is a weird one, I have to pick on a cover and have an example:
s
The girls? Fine. The colors? Eeeeeeeerg. They are blended a little bit, but I still don't like how they are so separated and grr.

---Backs. I just think these covers are weird.

I'll leave this video here, which doesn't have THAT many YA books in it, but you'll get the point:




Friday, February 26, 2010

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

[description from goodreads]

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . .

Review:

The Lonely Hearts Club is definitely not the deepest piece of literature out there, but that doesn't stop it from being totally fun and sweet. Even though it is a bit predictable, it's still satisfying to see everything come together in the end.

You can probably guess part of the ending of this book based off the summary alone; I know I did. However, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing because the road to the end wasn't as predictable as it could have been. The Lonely Hearts Club (the club in the book, not, you know, the book itself) never seemed to be without drama; school, friend, and boy issues were constantly causing trouble. After the admittedly slow but interesting beginning, when all the other problems showed up, there was a never a dull moment. There were a few cheesy and unrealistic but still sometimes kind of adorable moments, but they definitely weren't dull.

Penny is such a refreshing narrator because she's actually not a loser. There are too many "My best friend is way prettier than me why can't I be more like her I am so unpopular wah wah wah" characters in YA nowadays, so reading from the point of view of someone well-liked was just so lovely. That, and the fact that she took on a leadership role and didn't hide behind her friends, made me adore Penny. She had a realistic backstory, filled backstabbing friends and icky boys, that made all her actions made sense. I understood where she was coming from, which was so nice.

I wish that Penny's friends weren't as obnoxious, her parents showed up more often because they were hilario, and that the book wasn't so cheesy at parts, but honestly, my biggest complaint about The Lonely Hearts Club is that my book smells really weird (not that I smelled it on purpose. I could smell it from like 8 inches away). It's pure fun- predictable, sometimes sickeningly cute, fun. Could have been better, yes, but I know that every so often I need to read something that's more feel-good and sweet.

Book details: Point/Hardcover/$17.99

Links: Elizabeth's website/blog/twitter

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amy Brecount White Interview


Today I have an interview with the lovely Amy Brecount White, whose debut novel Forget-Her-Nots comes out on March 2! This interview is also a part of a blog tour and super awesome contest, which you can find out more about if you read to the end. ;)

But first, if you haven't heard of the book, here's the description from goodreads for you:

When someone leaves three mystery flowers outside her dorm door, Laurel thinks that maybe the Avondale School isn't so awful after all — until her own body starts to freak out. In the middle of her English presentation on the Victorian Language of Flowers, strange words pop into her head, and her body seems to tingle and hum. Impulsively, Laurel gives the love bouquet she made to demonstrate the language to her spinster English teacher. When that teacher unexpectedly and immediately finds romance, Laurel suspects that something — something magical — is up. With her new friend, Kate, she sets out to discover the origins and breadth of her powers by experimenting on herself and others. But she can’t seem to find any living experts in the field of flower powers to guide her. And her bouquets don't always do her bidding, especially when it comes to her own crush, Justin. Rumors about Laurel and her flowers fly across campus, and she's soon besieged by requests from girls — both friends and enemies — who want their lives magically transformed — just in time for prom.

---

The book sounds totally awesome, and I cannot wait to read it. And to tide you over until Tuesday, when the book comes out, here's Amy's interview!

1) Did you know a lot about flowers before you started writing Forget Her Nots, or when you started writing you were like "this book requires a lot of knowledge about flowers? *runs to library*"?

I probably would have told you that I knew a lot, but it was one of those didn’t-realize-how-much-I-didn’t-know situations. I’d always planted lots of flowers and herbs in my own gardens, but once I started researching the language of flowers, I knew I had to do a LOT more. I’m a total geek, so I love reading about how flowers were used by different cultures at various times in human history.

ALERT: WAY COOL RESEARCH FACT!

One of the historic details in Forget-Her-Nots came about in a total random and serendipitous way. I was flying home with my daughter from a family event, and there was a thunderstorm, so we nearly missed our connecting flight. We ended up getting on the plane just before it pulled away from the gate, and I had to quickly take a seat that wasn’t my assigned one.

Turns out, I was sitting next to a real live Indian Chief. He was the acting head of the Hupa tribe in Hoopa Valley, CA., and was going to Washington, D.C. to discuss water issues. He was fascinating to talk to, so when I happened to see article in the paper that mentioned the Hupa tribe and the new Native American museum, I read the whole thing. I found out that the Hupa tribe has a really cool flower dance they do when a girl becomes a woman in the tribe. So I researched it and included that in my novel, but never would have read the whole article if I hadn’t randomly sat next to the head of the tribal council.

Or was it random?

2) That is an AWESOME story. Hupa is very fun to say. I read on your website that you were an English teacher. Did you learn anything from teaching that helps in writing?

Definitely. I taught at both all-girls and co-ed schools, so I felt comfortable creating classroom scenes. (My WIP – String Theories -- has a lot of school scenes, too, and several teacher characters.) Some people get freaked out by the idea of teaching high school, but I loved it. I love the energy and enthusiasm and intensity of those years. Teaching helped me to remember my own teen experiences, to create new ones, and – I hope – to bring it all to life vividly.

Nowadays I’ve even given tidbits of teacher-y advice on Twitter!

3) Yeah, the idea of teaching high school definitely freaks me out and I am IN high school. So, did you come across any weird flower names or meanings while writing the book, or were they all pretty normal? Do you have any favorite meanings or flowers?

There are a lot of weird meanings and some poignant ones too:

- a deep red carnation means “Alas, my poor heart.”

- the bud of a white rose means “a heart ignorant of love”

- lettuce means “cold-heartedness,” although I can’t imagine putting lettuce in a bouquet

- oats mean “the witching soul of music.” So I guess you could give oats to a friend playing in a concert … if it was a really good friend who wouldn’t think you odd.

These meanings are taken from the Victorian classic, “The Language of Flowers,” illustrated by Kate Greenaway. There are lots of other sources you can find online, too, with odd meanings. I generally followed tradition, but Laurel does want to make up one meaning for herself in FHN.

I really do love all flowers, but I have a special place in my heart for the scent of gardenias. As a gardener, what’s so cool about flowers is that you await each one in its time. We have four full seasons in Virginia, and flowers bloom from late February (witch hazel, hellebores) through November (sedum, chrysanthemums). So I anticipate and look forward to the unfolding of each blossom.

4) Some of those definitions are very specific. I love it. Now I need to find a friend to give oats to. You've also written a ton of non-fiction articles. How do you think writing all those articles helped you with your fiction writing?

Writing non-fiction helps your fiction, because journalists have to meet a word count for an article. I became good at getting to the point and tough about editing my own words. That really helps me, because – as you can tell from Forget-Her-Nots – I do enjoy writing vivid and sensual descriptions, but one has to keep the action moving. My writing is a lot tighter, and I choose my words very carefully because of my journalism experience.

5) What are you most excited about having your book FINALLY be out?

Yes, “finally” is the word. My publisher, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, really wanted to have a spring release. So I actually sold the novel in Dec. of 2007! People have no idea how long the publishing process can take. It’s been a wait but incredibly worthwhile. This is my dream come true, and that’s worth waiting for.

---

Thanks so much for your fabulous interview, Amy!

And now, for those of you who read all the way to the end, I have the blog tour info for you!

You can check out prize details and rules here and the schedule for week one here.

Basically, each stop on the tour will be posting a flower in their post, and it's your job to collect all the flowers that week and email them to Amy so you can enter the contest. I encourage you to check out the above links for more details. (:

The flower for this stop is the scarlet poppy, which means "fantastic extravagance" Isn't that festive? I thought so, especially since I first read it as "fantastic EXTRAVAGANZA."

And be sure to check out Amy's blog and twitter for more info on Forget-Her-Nots!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. (:

Today's pick:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Only description I could find, from this article: "a new he-said/she-said love story about two New York City teens."

omgomgomgomgomgomg need. I am quite possibly the biggest David Levithan fangirl ever, and I love Rachel too. I also love their previous co-written books, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, so much that it's kind of scary. I don't really know what this one is about, but I know it will be amazing.

Released October 12, right after my birthday. Maybe it will show up in stores early as a birthday gift? *hopes*

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

[description from goodreads]

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

Review:

This book is totally my type. Contemporary fiction, kind of sad, emotional, but still hopeful. This is what I love to read. And yet, I didn't love The Secret Year. I needed to read it twice because the first time, I got mad at it. There was a scene that was so very much like The Outsiders that I was literally angry (but admittedly, I'm way too emotionally attached to The Outsiders). I was hoping that I would like the book more when I read it a second time, but I still had the same reaction minus all the anger because really, the scene is only vaguely The Outsiders. But when I first read it I read too fast and thought "these greaser wannabes will never be Ponyboy and Johnny. JOHNNY! *cries*"

One of my main problems was that I never connected to Colt. Something about his voice just never sparked an interest. Because I didn't connect with him, I didn't particularly care about what happened to him. I know he was sad over Julia's death, but I never got a sense of why he was so sad; in flashbacks, they didn't interact that much, and when they did it was mainly physical. Julia's diary entries didn't help much either because they weren't that many, and after Colt read them he would usually be upset with her in one way or another.

The plot also could have been improved. The book is made up of more subplots than plots, and each subplot only gets a few chapters of screen time. The book is not that long, and therefore neither are the subplots, which definitely was not good. So many things were going on- Colt's grief; his relationships with new friends, his family (specifically his brother), his friends, his best girl friend (not to be confused with girlfriend); the "war" between the rich and poor kids; and other school stuff. Not much time is spent on any of these things, so I was never satisfied with how they were handled. There was so much potential for them to be great- they were all intriguing ideas, but there just wasn't enough time spent developing them. They were decent on their own but I was just frustrated because they could have been so much better.

Obviously, I was underwhelmed by The Secret Year. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It was just good. It was realistic, yes, a bit emotional, yes, but it could have been so much better. I will definitely read Jennifer's next book because I did enjoy the writing style in The Secret Year, but I only hope that I like it more than this.

However, I have noticed that people who generally like contemporary fiction better than fantasy (like me and my buddy Jordyn) don't like this book as much as people who generally read fantasy. Obviously that isn't true for everyone, but maybe if you don't read as much contemporary this would be a good intro to it? *shrugs*

Book details: Viking/Hardcover/$16.99

Links: Jennifer's website/blog/twitter

Monday, February 22, 2010

Labyrinth

This post is mainly for Chelsea (The Page Flipper), Gail (Ticket to Anywhere), and author Julie Kagawa (whose book, The Iron King, is totally awesome). They have been bugging me for months to watch Labyrinth, and on Saturday I finally did. I was so moved that I just had to write a post about it.

Here is the trailer for those of you who don't know what it's about and are still reading this:



The first thing I thought when the movie was over was "is this what being on drugs feels like?"

I think that sentence sums up my thoughts on the movie pretty well, but I will continue.

I should have know I was in for a treat when I heard my dad cackle upon seeing the movie box.

The movie starts out pretty normal. Sarah, our protagonist, is reciting some lines about goblins and runs home when she realizes she needs to babysit her annoying stepbrother (or something like that). We find out that she hates babysitting her stepbrother and hates her stepmother for making her. Perfectly normal.

But then these guys show up:


I'm sorry, but these goblin things are terrifying, especially since they are waiting for Sarah to wish her brother away so they can steal him. That's just a little shady.

And then she does wish him away, blah blah blah. Then David Bowie, the goblin king, shows up. He looks like this:

Not as scary as the goblins, but give him twenty years and I bet he'll start looking like the creepy ones.

[And by that I mean the movie Bowie, not real Bowie, because he still looks pretty much the same.]

He tells Sarah that her brother is in his castle, and she has 13 hours to get through a labyrinth or her brother will be his FOREVER! *ominous music*

And that's when it really gets odd.

First, we meet this thing:

This is Hoggle. I'm not sure what kind of creature he's supposed to be, but I'm guessing he's the ugly, estranged cousin of the Seven Dwarves.

And then this happens:



I'm still not sure what happened in that scene, but listening to Bowie sing distracts from the crazy going on back in the labyrinth.

Sarah is trying to make it through the maze, but she is failing. She is failing hard. She spends half her time trying to find someone who can help her get through the maze instead of trying to do it herself.

She also whines a lot.

As she looks for someone to help her, she encounters all sorts of creatures, including:


Ludo, who seems to be a cross between Donkey Kong and a bison, with a bit of orangutan thrown in.

These critters are apparently called The Fire Gang, but I prefer to call them "the dancing, drugged up pink things."

I'm not sure why these things were relevant to the plot, but they at least provided plenty of o_O moments.

Honestly, I don't know what else to say about Labyrinth. It was just so astounding that I am at a loss for words. Nothing I say can do the crazy justice.

I'll just leave this picture here, which I took right after the movie ended:

Contest winners!

I'm totally behind on posting winners, so here are a bunch! Winners, please email me (khyrinthia@gmail.com) your address so I can forward it along to the person mailing out the prize!

The Naughty List winner: Jill of the O.W.L

A Match Made in High School: Diana Dang

My Soul to Save: Zoe, Jessy (findjessyhere), Sarah (two_of_hearts...)

Congrats, winners! Please email me ASAP. (:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (18)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. (:

[descriptions from goodreads]

Bought:

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Rin is sure that something is wrong with her…something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she’s lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies—magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters—as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin’s own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.

Once again, Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale brings readers to a world where great friendships, unexpected plot twists, and a little dose of magic make for incredible storytelling.

---I love the first three books in this series, so I'm hoping this one is just as good.


The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)

Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.

---I already started this one and so far it is hilario. But will it stay that way? DUN DUN DUN

For review:

Num8ers by Rachel Ward

Whenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die.

Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!

---This one sounds very interesting, so I'm excited to read it.


For Keeps by Natasha Friend

Josie’s never met her dad, and that’s fine with her. To Josie, Paul Tucci is just a guy who got her mom pregnant and then moved away. It all happened sixteen years ago, when Josie’s mom was still a teenager herself. But now Paul Tucci is back in town, and Josie has to deal with not one but two men in her life—her father and her first boyfriend, who Josie fears will hurt her just like Paul hurt her mother.

---I love this author's middle grade books and bet this one is just as good.

Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

In a secret underworld, ninjas and vampires are one and the same.

---Well that's a lame summary, but do you really need anything else? NINJAS!


I also got a second copy of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson this week, and I'm taking it as a sign that I should hurry up and read it already.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cliches I never want to see again.

A follow up to last week's "Cliches I'm not tired of...yet." If I see any of the following cliches again, I may be forced to take action or rip my eyes out or something equally drastic.

I was normal until he came along.

A normal girl. She's not popular, but she has a super close friend or two. She gets good grades. She might have a messed up family (absent mother or father, most likely), or maybe she's the one who is messed up, but something messed up is going on. She probably has only one hobby or no hobbies at all because she's so focused on school and her family/friend relationships. She lives a perfectly happy, normal life. That is, until she sees him. Once she catches him staring at her, she's a goner. She can't stop thinking about him, even though she tries not to. She unwillingly befriends him, and then she finds out he has a secret. A big secret: he's...some sort of dangerous supernatural creature. But she falls in love with him anyway.

(No, I am not only referring to Twilight.)

THIS SITUATION MAKES ME MAD. It's not SUPER common, but I have seen it multiple times and it's just ugh. *headdesk*

Cheerleaders suck.

Mean, popular, cheerleaders that hate our main character for no good reason. I mean, really? I can't believe this still shows up. Maybe it's because I can't relate because my school doesn't even have a cheerleading squad, but come on. This one is just plain annoying.

My best friend is prettier than me.

The best friend who is way smarter, prettier, more interesting, and more popular than our main character. This one is definitely made worse because the main character feels the need to mention how their best friend is better than them all the time. If the best friend was really more interesting, I think we would be reading her story, not the boring main character's.

I get it, the main character has low self esteem, but can't I read about someone with even a bit of confidence for once?

I take algebra every year.

--The main character takes algebra. This one is a little silly for me to hate, but I always notice that most of the time, the main character takes algebra no matter what grade they're in. It's not that hard to figure out what math a sophomore or junior takes, because a lot of them sure don't take algebra.

You could even be a little more specific a say Algebra II, but no, it's always just plain old algebra.

Or you could avoid this problem altogether by just saying "I have math homework today" instead of "I have Algebra homework today." Because really, it's mainly the annoying kids nobody likes who say things like "Hey ___, do we have any honors algebra II homework today?" or "My honors Algebra II homework took forever last night, but I totally understood it."*

edit: apparently some people are "offended" by this one. I know some juniors still take algebra, but the vast majority don't and unless the majority of YA characters suck at math, I don't get why they take it and why it even needs to be mentioned. Or maybe YA characters are too busy getting the answers to life's questions from English or art class to pass math?

---

That's all I can think of at the moment, but there are more, TRUST ME. Anyone else have any least favorites?

*
Of course I didn't take these phrases from the annoying kid no one likes. ;)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Beauty Shop for Rent by Laura Bowers

[description from goodreads]

Abbey Garner has a plan: to earn a million dollars by the time she's thirty-five. Financial independence will allow her to break the cycle of unhappiness endured by the women in her family. Determined to fulfill her dream, Abbey works at Granny Po's struggling beauty shop, where the feisty Gray Widows go to primp, polish, perm . . . and, of course, gossip. There, among the hair dryers and perm rods--and with the help of a new friend--Abbey finds the courage to open her heart and take risks required for her to live life to its fullest. Debut author Laura Bowers creates a funny and touching first novel about family--both the one we are born to and the one we create ourselves.

Review:

*happy sigh* It's books like these that remind me of why I like contemporary fiction so much. Beauty Shop for Rent, while not the most exciting book ever, is sweet, fun, and just plain good.

Abbey is a refreshingly normal main character because she's just so practical. She's not completely obsessed with boys (she gets annoyed with her friend Sarah's obsession with her boyfriend) popularity (she hates when her friend, Kym, tries to make friends with the varsity cheerleaders), and she gets nervous easily, but always for a good reason. Instead she focuses on her future and relationships with her friends and family. Abbey's interaction with her Granny Po was funny and realistic; they both understand each other and got along together well, but they still frustrate each other and teas each other constantly. Her mixed feelings and reactions to the other characters were realistic as well; she was annoyed with her friends but wanted to help them, she was nervous and excited about the new potential renter of the beauty shop, and she was angered by her mother even though she really wanted her in her life. She was a perfect narrator, and I loved seeing her deal with all her problems.

There's a lot going on in Beauty Shop for Rent, and, for the most part, all the events are balanced well. Some could have been developed a bit more, especially because they seemed rushed at the end, but others were done perfectly. A potential renter comes in to the book early so the action gets started right away, and reading about Abbey's apprehension and Granny Po's annoyance with it was both fun and made things a little less predictable. Abbey's search for the truth about her mom and the rest of her family could have perhaps been developed more, but the constant ups and downs in Abbey and her mother's relationship were realistic and provided plenty of drama. Abbey's friends, her dad, and her potential-boys all kind of got put to the side and made occasional appearances, but even though they weren't present much they still provided plenty of entertainment.

Beauty Shop for Rent is a feel-good sort of book- it's heartwarming to see Abbey find all the answers she's been looking for, and perhaps more importantly, it's just really fun to read.

Links: Laura's website

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock


[description from goodreads]

When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can't help admitting, maybe he's right. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn't so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won't even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Review:

It's a shame that I read this book before my obsession with the show Friday Night Lights started, because I'm sure that I would have loved it even more that I already did.* If I read it during my crazy FNL watching period, now I might be saying "OMG IT REMINDED ME OF DILLON TEXAS AND AND MATT SARACEN AND AND OMG AMAZING!" But because I read it during my "I still hate everything related to football" stage, I'm more "this book is entertaining and great but football...ew." (Even though, really, this book doesn't have THAT much football in it. There are more cows.)

Dairy Queen has a whole lot going on, but it is surprisingly slow in the first few chapters. It takes DJ what seems like forever to discuss the problems mentioned in the summary because she spends so much time introducing her farm life and how Brian ended up working on the farm. She also seemed to ramble, and even though her rambles and explanations entertaining and humorous, they take a while to get used to because of her distinct way of speaking. She narrates the way she speaks- with long sentences, incorrect grammar, and with a very "Wisconsin" accent.**

However, once DJ finally starts addressing her problems, her personality shines. She reveals that she's concerned about her family's well-being, her struggles with her best friend, and her complicated, maybe-romantic-maybe-not relationship with Brian. I loved that even though she was more than annoyed, confused, and frustrated with her problems, she was still able to make them a bit funny with her blunt narration. Even when the drama wasn't huge, she made the book fun to read.

Even though it takes a while to get started and the language takes a while to get used to, Dairy Queen is sweet, funny, dramatic, and easy to relate to***, with a fantastic main character to boot.

*Although the sequel, The Off Season, is way more Friday Night Lights than this book. But still! Football!
**I don't really know what a Wisconsin accent IS, but it's like...not Southern but closeish? I DON'T KNOW.
***Even though most people probably don't play football on a dairy farm. Or just work on a dairy farm.

Book details: Graphia/Paperback/$8.99

Links: Catherine's website

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. (:

Today's pick:
Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser

[description from author site]

Alyssa Bondar’s world is falling apart. She has just entered her sophomore year at Glenfair High, the only place to hang out is behind the CVS, Keith her cross-country crush keeps sending her mixed signals, and her best friend Lana has started the school year with large breasts and a sexy attitude–-attracting the attention of the most popular kids in the school, a group Alyssa clearly doesn’t fit into.

Alyssa’s Jewish, like most of Glenfair, but since she’s also Russian, Alyssa feels even more separated from other teens. How many other Jewish families have a New Year’s tree with ornaments? On top of all this, Alyssa’s once stable home environment has become chaotic.

Alyssa is used to alcohol accompanying every meal and event in the Russian culture. But when Alyssa’s mother loses her job, the usual drink or two changes into a full-time happy hour. While Alyssa’s father uses news reports of war unrest in the Middle East as his escape from reality, Alyssa is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered family alone. As her mother’s alcoholism gets worse, Alyssa must decide how much she can and should handle before she crumbles as well.

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CONTEMPORARY!!!

I have been dying for some "normal people" books, and this one sounds like it could be totally awesome. It sounds very emotional and intense, which is definitely my type of book. I also love when culture... stuff is included in books, so bonus points!

Released in November- oh so very far away.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vampire Diaries Event!

This post is mainly for Chelsea of The Page Flipper, Mitali of Alley of Books, and author Heidi R. Kling, so that they will stop trying to hurt me to get the pictures of Ian Somerhalder. But if you are a fan of the Vampire Diaries TV show, FEEL FREE TO READ ON.

So, on Saturday Catt of The Dreamer Reader and I went to a Vampire Diaries event. The event was supposed to be a signing with the cast and then a Q&A, but it ended up only being Paul Wesley (Stefan) signing, and then him, Ian Somerhalder (Damon) and Nina Dobrev (Elena) doing the Q&A. The band A Fine Frenzy performed before the Q&A as well.

Catt and I waited like two hours in line for the signing, because we are fangirls like that. We made friends with a girl who was wearing bright orange pants, and we talked to her the whole time, which made waiting not-as-bad.

I was wearing my Salvatore jacket, which I totally did not realize related to the show. The jacket has a patch with the name "Salvatore" on it, like the on in the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist movie/book. But Catt pointed out while we are waiting that Salvatore is Stefan and Damon's last name. When she told me, I realized that I actually had something to say to Paul since I had no idea what to say before.

When I got up to him I had my hair back so he could see the patch, because I wasn't going to starting yelling "HEY LOOK AT MY JACKET THAT I DIDN'T EVEN MAKE FOR THIS EVENT!" I was just going to say that in a subtle, quiet way. And it worked. I walked up in front of the table, and he pointed at the patch and said "That is awesome."

Obviously, before I went up to him I thought I was going to be ~calm, cool, and collected~, unlike the million other fangirls. Obviously, that plan went away once he complimented my jacket.

After he called my jacket awesome and I died, he was like "did you make that?" and I was like "Yes, it was for a Halloween costume," which is technically true. I just didn't specify what the costume was. And then he called my jacket awesome again and was like "thanks for coming!" and I said "thanks for signing the poster and dealing with all the insanity!" and he was like "I'm just doing my job."

Meanwhile, on the first floor of the mall, my amazing mother was saving Catt and I a spot in the Q&A area, but Catt had to leave after the signing part (boo!) and I got to push my way through a ton of people to get to where my mom was so I could have a space. Luckily for her, my mom got to leave the mob of people that she had been standing in, and she got to go some place that was probably much less warm.

And then I stood in the mob for an hourish, until A Fine Frenzy finally came out and played for the mob.


(Alison, the lead singer)

They were fabulous, but after like 4 or 5 songs they had to leave, and then...we all waited.

Paul was still upstairs signing stuff, and Ian and Nina were snowed in earlier in the day so they were on a helicopter and plane and such, trying to get to the event as soon as possible. The emcee guy was trying to make the 2 or 3 hours (YES, THAT LONG. I AM DEDICATED and knew that if I left and didn't get pictures of Ian, Heidi, Mitali, and Chelsea would yell at me.) There was trivia and then he asked for question suggestions to ask the cast, and most of the questions were things like "will Ian marry me?" or "who is the better kisser, Ian or Paul?"

I think that tells you everything you needed to know about what the people there were like, but to give you a better idea, one of the rules for the signing was "don't touch Paul."

Eventually, Ian and Nina arrived at the mall, and they came on to the stage with Paul. Then the insanity really began.

That is the mob, minus all the people on the side.


Paul and Ian talking about how they are brothers IRL or something like that. I couldn't hear.

You might be wondering what questions were asked and what their answers were. I wish I could tell you. All I could hear was the Paul grew up with cats and that Nina wouldn't tell who the better kisser is. Also, in the beginning Ian acknowledged a girl with an "Ian will you marry me?" sign by saying that he's not ready for marriage, and then the girl cried.
'
Ian also danced (warning: this video is probably really, really loud):


video

I have no idea what he's saying in the video either.

I seriously could not hear anything else over the screams of the fangirls. For some reason, all the Ian fangirls were around me, and the entire time they screamed his name or "IAN, WILL YOU GO TO PROM WITH US?" They also threw pieces of paper at him. I have no desire to know what was on those bits of paper.

(Paul and Nina did not get as many screams. At least, not ones that I could hear over the Ian fangirls.)

(I don't think I would ever want to be Ian Somerhalder, even for a second. He was really nice about all the screams and acknowledged some of them, but if that were me I would have ran away.)

And because I have no idea what was happening during the really short Q&A (I don't think the cast knew either, because they kept having to ask each other what the emcee dude asked), here are some pictures:

Paul and Ian's arm.


Nina and Ian


All of them, plus some of the hands of the crazies in front of me.


More crazies, plus the cast.

Nina and Paul and some white thing someone was holding. I think it's a magazine. Who knows.






I find the above picture very funny for some reason.

Sorry most of these are blurry, but you would be taking blurry pictures if you were being jostled around by crazies too.

And I think most of you read this post in search of the answer to this question:

Is Ian as gorgeous in person (or from afar)?

I will answer that question with a question: do you really need to ask?

More importantly, he seems nice even though I think most everyone there was ready to jump over the fence in front of the stage to get to him.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wherever Nina Lies Giveaway!




Hey peoples! Today I have a contest for all of you (who live in the US- sorry, international people!)

Three winners will get a paperback of Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, which is a totally awesome book.

Here's a description of the book, in case you need one:

Nina was beautiful, wild, and adored by her younger sister, Ellie. But, one day, Nina disappeared. Two years later, everyone has given up home that Nina will return, but Ellie knows her sister is out there. If only Ellie had a clue where to look. Then she gets one, in the form of a mysterious drawing. Determined to find Nina, Ellie takes off on a crazy, sexy, cross-country road trip with the only person who believes she’s got a chance—her hot, adventurous new crush. Along the way, Ellie finds a few things she wasn’t planning on. Like love. Lies. And the most shocking thing of all: the truth.

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Sounds great, right? IT IS. To find more about the book, you can check out the website too.

Fill out the form to enter!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In honor of Valentine's Day...


Since it's Valentine's Day, you should have expected a reviews of a books by the author I love the most. =0

[both descriptions from goodreads]

How They Met, and Other Stories

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a confection from David Levithan that is sure to appeal to fans of Boy Meets Boy. Here are 18 stories, all about love, and about all kinds of love. From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down. What is love? With this original story collection David Levithan proves that love is a many splendored thing, a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.

Short review:

GAH! GAH! GAH! AMAZINGNESS! Each story is just lovely. Though some of them have a few similarites, each are distinct and stand on their own. Some are long, some are only a few pages, but they're all either sweet, a little sad, hopeful, and just so...love-y.

A few of my favorites:

Starbucks Boy
involves a boy, the little girl he's babysitting, and a boy who works at Starbucks. It's the first story, and it was so sweet that I was even more excited to read the rest.

Alumni Interview: A boy is interviewed by his secret boyfriend's dad. Hilarious, awkward, and has a perfect ending.

Breaking and Entering: A boy breaks in (using a key) to his ex-boyfriend's house and walks through it, remembering everything. It's sad, but still beautiful and hopeful.

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Marly's Ghost

When Ben's girlfriend, Marly, dies, he feels his life is over. What could possibly matter now when Marly is gone? So when Valentine's Day approaches, it makes sense that this day that was once so meaningful to Ben leaves him feeling bitter and hollow. But then Marly shows up-or at least her ghost does-along with three others spirits. Now Ben must take a painful journey through Valentine's Days past, present, and future, and what he discovers will change him forever.

Review:

As you might have guessed, Marly's Ghost is a retelling of A Christmas Carol, but set on Valentine's Day. Because it follows the original tale so closely, everyone who has read the story or at least knows the basic plot will find Marly's Ghost predictable. It is predictable, but that doesn't make it less enjoyable. It's a sweet story, with David's signature amazing writing, and it's just so...lovely. Not David's best book, but still great. I would say that this isn't the first David book you should pick up, but you should read it eventually. (:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cliches I'm not tired of...yet.

This post is inspired by author Rachel Hawkins (her debut Hex Hall comes out in a few weeks!) who tweeted a few weeks ago about how she wasn't sick of the love triangle involving a girl caught between two brothers. (At least, I think it was Rachel. LET'S HOPE SO.) And I must say I agree with her, which led me to thinking about other cliches I'm not tired of (yet).

Most of these things haven't really reached cliche territory yet; they're just common things that might be on the way to cliche. But still, I'm not tired of them and probably never will be.

  1. I agree with Rachel Hawkins: a girl caught between new brothers will never get old. Love triangles are a bit annoying, but when there are brothers involved it seems so much more epic and exciting. Two boys who don't like each other caught in a love triangle? Boring. Friends? A little more exciting. Brothers? EPIC.
  2. Musicals are often used to show ~growth~ in a character or make the plot more exciting or something. I don't really care what they are used for, but I sure do love when they show up! I've noticed a few more musicals showing up in books which I am very happy about because musicals RULE.
  3. Secret societies. Whether the main character is in them or fighting against them, I LOVE secret societies. They're just so sekritive and ninja-y and awesome.
  4. Cults are still interesting to read about, even though there are more "cult books" coming out soonish. And I don't think I'll get tired of reading them anytime soon, because each time I come across one in a book I am still horrified, disgusted, and fascinated.
  5. Overly weird/quirky narrators. Every so often I come across another Georgia Nicolson-like character, who is crazy, hilarious, and gets into all sorts of unbelievable situations. I love these narrators because they are far more entertaining than the girls who have to deal with their supernatural boyfriends or their dead friend/parent/whatever.
  6. Small towns. In books, they always have a lot more personality and are way more fun than bigger cities. I do sometimes get sick of main characters complaining about their small towns where everyone knows what they're doing all the time wah wah wah, but small towns are fun.
These are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. Got any others?

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Match Made in High School Giveaway!


Thanks to the lovely author, I have a giveaway for A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker for you all (well, all of you who live in the US and Canada). All giveaway details are on the form, but here's a book description from goodreads:

When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.

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Fill out the form to enter!