Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

Wow. This book was good. I was looking on for a book to listen to, and saw this title and without reading a description knew I had to read it. Then I read the description and knew this book was perfect.

Boston natives T.C (short for Tony Conigliaro) Keller and Augie Hwong are now juniors in high school and one of their assignments was to write about their most excellent year. For them, and one other friend, it is their freshmen year where all of their lives change forever. First Alejandra, the daughter of a Mexican ambassador, moves from Washington D.C to Boston after her father takes a job at Harvard. Second, T.C falls in love with Alejandra, though she hates him (at least she pretends she hates him). Third, Augie discovers he is gay, which T.C knew for years. And fourth, a deaf child brings them all together in ways they never imagined when they try to grant his wish.

Baseball, love and musical theater make this a good book from the start. But it was cleverly written, switching perspectives and means of communication. A lot of it is written in diary form, some is narrated, other parts are emails or instant messaging and some are homework assignments. Augie and T.C have been best friends since T.C's mother died, they are so close that they call each other brothers. The characters were extremely well created in this novel, I especially liked the connection Augie and T.C had as brothers. I listened to this book on my iPod and I could not have thought of a better way to read it. This book was seriously meant to be read aloud. The actors reading for each of the characters didn't just read the book, they acted it out. For example, T.C has a very heavy Boston accent and the actor read it with one. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes musical theater, Mary Poppins or the Red Sox.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Auden, an 18 year old insomniac, decides to spend her last summer before college with her father, his new 26 year old wife and her newborn sister Thisbee in the small beach town they live in. At first she just wants an escape from her mother and a change of pace, but soon she finds herself making friends, something she has never really done before. She also meets Eli, a loner and fellow insomniac. Together they  embark on a "quest" to help Auden experience the childhood she never had.

This is now one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books. It was extremely well written, but I expected that because of the author, and the characters had depth, but that was expected. What I didn't expect was how real the story was. Sarah Dessen's books are all things that could happen and do happen, but this one I feel more people can relate to than Just Listen for instance. Many of Sarah Dessen's books deal with difficult topics such as teen pregnancy, the death of a loved one or rape. While there was death in Along for the Ride it was not the main topic. This is a must read book. So read it. Really, go out get a copy and sit down and read it.  

A-Z Book Challenge

So today I realized I failed my A-Z Book Challenge miserably. The biggest problem was not being able to find the books, so I am going to try again starting now. So look for reviews of these books and the list being posted soon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Recommendations and Comments

Hi everyone. I'm looking for book recommendations, so if you have any please leave a comment. And also please don't leave comments that are advertisements, I hate to say it but I will delete them. Please have comments relate to the blog or the post. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Splendor and Gossip Girl

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted. I have a bunch of reviews coming up for all of you dedicated readers. So because I took so long to jump on the Gossip Girl bandwagon I'm not going to do a full review and because Splendor is the last book of a series I won't do a summary.

Gossip Girl: A-

I enjoyed the story and it is interesting to see into the lives of the wealthy. It is nice to see that those these kids party they are also dedicated to their studies and makes their characters a lot less annoying than those in similar novels. It was also a good look into how gossip can spread like a wildfire and really effect someone's life.

Splendor: A-/A

I really wanted to give this an A or an A+, but the ending disappointed me. I won't spoil it, but not all is well in the lives of our four girls. Two are happy, two are not to start the novel. The couples we love may not survive and new ones may come up. Secrets are revealed and threaten the lives of our beloved society girls. All and all it was a good end to the series and while the ending was not the one I wanted it was still good.

So if you're wondering why I put these two reviews together it is because I often describe the Luxe novels as the Gossip Girl of the late 1800's to early 1900's. While the girls in Gossip Girl are a bit wilder, the characters in each live very similar lives. The characters are at the top of New York society and are what everyone looks at with jealousy. Yet their lives aren't really all that enviable. There are rules to the ways they can conduct themselves and many find themselves wanting to rebel. If you've read both of these series you know what I am talking about.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Blog

Hey everyone! Check out my new blog Teen Travel which can be found at The blog is travel reviews written by teens for teens or families traveling with teens. It is often hard to know whether a location is teen friendly which is why Teen Travel was created. Check it out!

New Puzzle

So this is one of my favorite concentration puzzles. There is another one similar to it that is harder with rectangles. So here is the triangle puzzle. Excuse any not perfect lines because I made this on paint. You can leave your answer as a comment.

How many triangles are there?

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Siddhartha is the story of a man trying to find enlightenment. You follow him over his many stages in life. Today for the first time I am going to use a plot description from an outside source because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to summarize this book in language people will understand.

Born into wealth and privilege, Siddhartha renounces his place among India’s nobility to wander the countryside in search ofmeaning. He learns suffering and self-denial among a group of ascetics before meeting the Buddha and coming to realize that true peace cannot be taught: It must be experienced. Changing his path yet again, Siddhartha reenters human society and earns a great fortune. Yet over time this life leaves Siddhartha restless and empty. He achieves enlightenment only when he stops searching and surrenders to the oneness of all. ~

I disliked this book. It was well written, but it moved so slowly for a book where one chapter (about 15 pages) is three years or more. The characters annoyed me, though they had depth. Technically there is very little wrong in this book, but it was one of the worst books I've ever read. I was forced to read the book for English class, so I couldn't put it down and walk away either. The way the characters talked, though not hard to follow, sounded so fake I almost laughed. Granted it is translated from its original German, but still it must also sound fake in German. I also am one of those who doubts that one can achieve Nirvana, so the entire plot of the book is lost on me. Avoid this book unless you like spiritual quests.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Perfect Fifths

At last the new Jessica Darling book! I have absolutely adored this series, except the fourth book which I read the beginning and the end of and then stopped. This latest and last book is written in a completely different style than its predecessors which are written in diary form. This novel is written in third person, but the narrator knows what both Marcus and Jessica are thinking. Yes the focus of this novel is Jessica and Marcus. The story starts three years after the fourth book (for those who haven't gotten this far in the series stop here as spoilers from previous books will be included) where Jessica rejected Marcus's proposal. Jessica is on her way to Bridget and Perry's wedding on St. John and runs over Marcus. No that was not a typo, Jessica actually runs over Marcus in an attempt to make her flight. The rest of the novel fills in the blanks from the missing three years as Jessica and Marcus catch up with each other. The novel takes place in about 24 hours, but there is an attention to detail that has not been present in the previous books.

I absolutely loved this book. I wasn't sure because it was different than the previous Jessica books, but it really worked. It was well written and the banter between Jessica and Marcus is defiantly  what was missing in the fourth book. Fans of Jessica and Marcus get the ending they wanted and they'll be happy to see both Marcus and Jessica have their lives together. The book is well written, interesting and has everything that fans of the series want. Go read it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

NaNoWriMo Again

So, though it is only September I have signed up for NaNoWriMo again. This year however I have surprised myself and signed up for the regular one instead of the youth program. That means I will be writing 50,000 words in November. What have I gotten myself into? Just kidding, it'll be fun.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Persuasion by Jane Austen

So for school we were given an assignment to read Persuasion or Master and Commander and watch the movie of the book we did not pick. Given that Jane Austen is one of my favorite 19th century British writers I chose Persuasion. I also thought that since I didn't have much time to read on my own this summer I would review my summer reading books. So here is Persuasion by Jane Austen.

At age 19 Anne Elliot was persuaded she was to young to marry Frederick Wentworth, a member of the British Navy of no fortune and no title. Eight years later they are thrown back into each other lives when his sister and her husband, the Admiral and Mrs. Croft, become the tenants of Kellynch Hall after the Elliot family is forced to move to Bath to save money to pay their debts. Frederick Wentworth is now a Captain and has made his fortune but still has not forgiven Anne for rejecting him eight years prior.

I quite enjoyed this book and finished it rather quickly compared to when I read Pride and Prejudice which took me awhile to get into. The story drew me in even though I knew what happened having watched the movie during Jane Austen Week on PBS a couple of years before and watching it on Netflix while reading the book. Also the style of writing did not throw me off as it has in the past. The character weren't perfect, they seemed human. Of course for this book to be considered a classic it has to be well written, so I will stop with technical pieces. At points the plot moved slowly, so be forewarned. If you are not used to the style of writing that Austen uses you may have trouble, but it does not take long to get used to it. I highly suggest this book if you are looking for a substantive read which one can actually enjoy. It is not my favorite Austen book, that slot still goes to Pride and Prejudice, but it is a very good book. Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Back...For Real This Time

Hi. Sorry for not posting in so so long, but I got a job as a counselor in training at a camp and with my school reading I did not have much time to read for pleasure. I do have a few reviews for you though, including the books I read for school. Upcoming reviews include the books The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. It's late so I have to go, but those reviews should be up soon!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Movies

Summer movies kicked off well before the official start of summer with the blockbuster Star Trek. For all those who have not seen it because they claim to not be "trekies", go see it if it is still in your local theatre. As it is a prequel you don't need to know anything about it, but there are jokes thrown in for those who know the old movies and tv series.
This summer looks to be a great movie season with the sixth Harry Potter movie coming out July 15 (took long enough, it was supposed to come out when Twilight did). Though the trailers for it have been scarce, you can find them all over the internet. If you haven't read the books in a while or ever, I would suggest reading them. Personally I just reread the sixth (for the 18th time since I got the book) in preperation for the movie. 
Also the sequel to the hit movie Transformers. Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, though hard to believe, has even more action than the first movie. Though many critics gave it bad reviews, they are being to critical. The movie was made to enjoy, and it does. Even in the most intense battle scenes there is still humor thrown in.
And finally, The Proposal. I was kind of skeptical of this movie, it looked funny but I wasn't sure if it was going to stand out. It was very similar to many romantic comedies, but that didn't matter because it was light hearted and made me laugh. With darker and/or more depressing movies like My Sister's Keeper (depressing) and Harry Potter (darker and depressing) coming out, it is good to have a movie that is fun and light and makes us laugh.
If I started rambling, I apologize. I now leave you to go enjoy the summer and all of its movies. I will have a new review soon. however first I need to find a new book...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

Lori has always been one of the guys when it came to her next door neighbors the Vader brothers. They spend their summers together on the lake wakeboarding and working at the marina. The youngest of the Vader brothers, Adam, is one of Lori's best friends. But Lori secretly has a huge crush on the middle brother Sean, a crush that only Adam knows about. When Sean steals Adam's girlfriend, Lori and Adam pretend to be going out to make Sean and Rachel (the girl Sean stole from Adam) jealous. But plots run deep, and there may be more to this one then what meets the eye.
I had a good time reading this book. As it belongs to the Romantic Comedies collection, it had a perfect amount of humor and romance. The characters are believable, which for these novels sometimes doesn't happen. Sure the story was slightly predictable, but it was highly enjoyable and some parts took me by surprise. I recommend this book as a beach or pool read or just a light read when you want to smile.

Monday, June 8, 2009

1 Exam Left

One more exam left! After tomorrow I will be devoting my full attention to the blog and making sure there are regular reviews. I know I have said this before but I mean it this time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm Back

Woah, I haven't posted since April! But that has not stopped the blog from hitting 766 hits between November 1 and May 1. Thank you to all who visit and your patience will be rewarded as soon as my history research paper is turned in... the thesis of the paper- Japanese pop culture has invaded America.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Since I put up the new view counter in November there have been over 6oo views of Exercise Your Mind, though I cannot say how many are mine... Thank you everyone for reading and I promise some new reviews and really cool topics in the coming months!

Teen Ink

Hi everyone! I recently posted a short story to Teen Ink's website and I would love some feedback, so leave comments and rate it.

Thank you and here is the link:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Interview With Robin Benway

So, I was wrong when I said Susan Colasanti would be the next author on the blog, Robin Benway in fact is the next author to be interviewed for the blog. Robin Benway is the author of the popular teen novel Audrey! Wait. She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her career and the book. (I loved her book, in fact it passed around my group of friends at school because I loved it so much!)

Me: What inspired Audrey! Wait?

Robin: "Audrey" was like a perfect storm of inspiration. I had recently quit my job with the vague idea of writing some sort of book, but I didn't know what it would be about. In lieu of having an actual job, I was listening to a lot of music, and I heard so many songs that referenced someone's ex-girlfriend. They all seemed a bit one-sided and I was curious what the ex-girlfriend would say about the lyrics. Also, I went to visit my grandmother and her neighbor's kids had a band in their garage and they kept playing these pop songs with such enthusiasm that it was hard not to enjoy it. That inspired the idea of Evan & his band, and everything just started to fall into place.

Me: Were any of the characters based off of people you know?

Robin: I think all of the characters are influenced by people I know, even if it's in subtle ways. Audrey & I share a love of music; Victoria is very much like my best friend, Adriana; Jonah has the same laid-back attitude as my brother; etc. I was a little nervous that people would recognize themselves and be pissed off that I used their personalities in a book, but it turns out that no one ever recognizes themselves in a book! I gave Adriana the first third of the manuscript to read and I was terrified that she would be upset at Victoria's character since they're so similar, but all she said was, "I love it! Am I gonna make an appearance anywhere?" She had no clue that she was all over the book! That still cracks me up and I still tease her about it.

Me: What is your favorite part of being a published author?

Robin: My favorite part is getting letters from people who've read "Audrey". I really can't tell you what a thrill it is. Readers, if you're ever wondering if you should send an email to an author to tell them that you enjoyed their book, do it! You have to understand that I spend most of my day sitting in front a laptop, so any time I get an email or comment, it makes my day and, in a way, inspires me. I want to write books that are worthy of the people that read them.
I also love that I've been able to support myself by writing. When I was sixteen, when I was going through a difficult time in high school & just wanted to graduate and get the heck out of there, I wrote in my journal that all I wanted to do was move to a big city, get an apartment, and become a writer, and it seems I've done just that. What a relief!

Me: What did you think about the success of the book?

Robin: Hmm. Well, the book seems to have been pretty successful, so I'm absolutely thrilled by that. I don't google myself, I don't read reviews, and I never go on Amazon to look at sales rankings because that just stresses me out SO MUCH. So I feel like I'm in a bit of a tunnel as far as knowing about the success of "Audrey". I tend to judge those things by emails and comments from readers, as well as how happy I am with the book I've produced, and "Audrey" has well surpassed my expectations in both those areas. I love the book and when I find out that readers enjoy it too, that's what makes me happy. Everything else is just a wonderful bonus.

Me: I know many people compare this to choosing a favorite child, but do you have a favorite character?

Robin: Wow. All of my characters have wonderful qualities, but when I went back and read "Audrey" all the way through, I was surprised at how much I loved Jonah. He's just so calm, so mellow, and the perfect antidote to Victoria's bossiness and Audrey's craziness. He's also sweet and so tolerant throughout the whole book. I'm pretty sure he & Victoria get married one day. Pretty sure.

Me: What do you suggest to people, especially teens, who want to be authors?

Robin: If you want to be a writer, you have to write. This is something I have to tell myself every single day, especially when I have no idea what to put down on the page. I've been writing professionally for a few years now, and I've finally figured out that if you just keep going forward, eventually the pieces start to fall into place. Don't be afraid to try out an idea. Sometimes the "backspace" button is your best friend. And more than anything else, be extremely kind to yourself. If you can't seem to finish an idea or a story, don't worry about it. You'll either figure it out or come up with something better. I speak from personal experience on this!
Also, don't worry about rejection or not being "good enough" or never getting published. Just be tenacious, take care of your characters, and write everything down. I mean, everything! Some great ideas have slipped away because I didn't jot them down, and I SO regret that now! Learn from my mistakes!

Me: How did you get started as a writer?
Me: Did you always know you wanted to write?
Me: Have you done anything else but write?

Robin: I was always writing things down, especially as a little kid. I never liked school, even though I got good grades, so it was always nice to come home and escape into these fantasy worlds I had created. I was always the kid who had to have the window seat in the car, so I could look out and daydream throughout the trip. I think I always thought I would just write on the side and then have a "normal" job, but as I got older, I realized that writing on the side wasn't enough anymore. I needed to start doing it full-time, and that's when I decided to take a year and try my hand at writing a book. That book was "Audrey", so I'm so glad I made that decision!
As far as doing something else besides being a writer? Well, I've been a babysitter, a smoothie-maker, a sales rep, a book publicist, a bookstore employee, and a PR director for Book Soup, which is a fabulous independent bookstore in West Hollywood. I always thought that if I worked around books and authors, it would be enough, but it wasn't. It just made me want to write more!

Me:Do you love music as much as Audrey does in the book?

Robin: Audrey got ALL her love of music from me! Right now, I'm listening to my "morning" playlist, which is actually called "Morning 3" because I already have "Morning 1" and "Morning 2" playlists. It's a bit obsessive, I know. It includes Cat Stevens, Neko Case, the Weepies, Laura Marling, and now Bon Iver because I woke up today and needed to hear "Re: Stacks". Music is probably my number one inspiration when I have to write. Or pay bills. Or cook dinner. Or go to bed. Like I said, it's obsessive.

Me: Are you working on any new books?

Robin: I am in fact working on a new book right now, and I'm so excited because I JUST figured out this weekend how it's going to end! I've been working on it for six months without having a clue about its conclusion and now that I know it, I can't wait to work on it. This is when my job gets really fun.

Me: As part of my blog I’ll give readers a topic to think about. Do you have a topic that you would like readers to think about? (It can be anything- current events to pop culture, anything that you would like others to think about.)

Robin: The thing that keeps coming back to mind is the idea of gossip websites, the paparazzi, & privacy issues. I know it relates to "Audrey" in a way, but I'm curious to see what other people think about this. Is it out of hand, or is this something that famous people have to deal with because of the professional they've chosen? How much is too much? I used to read a lot of gossip websites, but after a while, I realized they were depressing me. It just started to seem invasive and the commenters could be so cruel. I don't know, I'm just interested in seeing other people's opinions on the subject.

Thank you so much to Robin Benway and I can't wait for her new book! If you haven't read Audrey! Wait you should go find a copy of the book and read it as it is very good.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Ruth planned to wait out the last few months before she turned eighteen on her own until people discovered her mother was gone. But when it is discovered that her mother abandoned her, Ruth is sent to live with her sister who is ten years her senior and her sister's husband. Ruth hasn't seen her sister in ten years when she left for college. She is given a chance to start over, with new clothes, a new school and a new home. No one understands what she is going through, except for her neighbor, who happens to be the most popular guy at her new school, who may be hiding a pretty big secret himself.

Personally, I loved this book. It had the right balance of the serious topics of abuse and child abandonment and humor. The characters were easy to like, had depth and most importantly were believable. The plot, as mentioned dealt with some pretty serious issues, but still was very enjoyable and not overwhelming. With many teen novels being about trivial things that have no substance, it was nice to find one that had substance while still written for teens. Now don't get me wrong, I love these books about trivial things with no substance, especially during the school year when many of the books you read are depressing (Night by Elie Wiesel anyone?), but what I liked about this book was that it had substance but it wasn't overwhelming and depressing, as those topics are kind of depressing. This book gets five stars.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Hey everyone! I know there hasn't been a new review in awhile and I am very sorry. I have a bunch of books to review and they keep piling up, so there should be a few new ones this week as I don't have school. There also should be a new author interview soon, once I figure out the questions and email them. The author is Susane Colasanti author of When It Happens.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Topic To Think About

          So, since it's been big in the news the past few days, the new topic is steroid use in professional sports. Most recently Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has admitted to using steroids after reported that he had tested positive in 2003. Also Miguel Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP in the MLB has been charged with lying under oath, he now joins the ranks of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
         My opinion on this is that using steroids or performance enhancing drugs is wrong and stupid, but I understand why the players do it. No one is blameless in this horrible era in baseball in particular. Fans, the media and management loved it when the huge home run numbers started coming in and the immense pressure already on the players grew. I am getting entirely fed up with people saying that these sports stars who used steroids don't deserve the records they got and are ragging on them because a) they have never felt the same pressure and b) steroids and performance enhancing drugs do not make a player great, they make it so they work out longer and build muscle faster. A bad hitter isn't going to become a good hitter just because he takes steroids, it takes a talented player to make steroids work to their advantage. It doesn't make it right, but we as fans or members of the media need to remember that we put the pressure on the sports stars to perform, and this is what they felt they had to do to perform to our expectations.

Now I want to hear your opinions, so post comments on this post or in the C-box, or you can email me at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is a sci-fi novel that is set in a Utopian society. Tally lives in a world where being pretty is valued over everything. At age 16 you get the surgery and enter the world of the Pretties. Before that you are an Ugly and even before that you are a Littlie. A few weeks before Tally turns sixteen she meets Shay, a girl who is planning on running away before her surgery. After Shay runs away, the authorities tell Tally either she helps them find Shay and turn her in or not be pretty. When Tally decides to find Shay, she has no idea what she has gotten herself into.

I started reading this book and almost gave up on it. With a creative plot, you would think that the author could come up with better names. Come on! Uglies, Pretties, Littlies, New Pretty Town, Uglyville. Seriously those are the least creative names for places and groups of people I have ever heard! But once I put that aside I enjoyed the book. The plot dragged at points, especially when Tally was alone. I thought the idea was not quite original, a supposedly Utopian society that isn't as perfect as it seems, in ways it reminded me of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The way the story was told though, was what set it apart. In Fahrenheit 451, free thinking was banned while in Uglies it was never really banned. I give this book 3 stars.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Hey everyone! Tomorrow is the inauguration of President Elect Barack Obama. I'm down in D.C for the festivities, and let me tell you this city is ready to party! So because of this, there may be no new reviews for a few days. When I get them up however, there will be a lot as I just finished a bunch of books. Have fun tomorrow!!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Author Chat: Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott is the author of many young adult novels, including Perfect You, Living Dead Girl and Stealing Heaven

Me: You have written a good number of books, do you have a favorite?
Elizabeth: Nope! I can't pick a favorite--all of them have good memories for me!
Me: When writing one of your books, has an idea for another occurred   during the writing process?
Elizabeth: Always--which is how I can tell I have to keep going and finish. I  
write the idea down, and then turn back to what I'm working on. It's  
hard, but otherwise, I'd never get anything finished!
Me: You have a few new books coming out soon, what are they about?
Elizabeth:Something, Maybe will be out on March 24th and it's about Hannah, who  
has parents who redefine the word embarrassing. Her dad made a  
fortune showing pretty girls--and his "party" lifestyle--all over the  
Internet, and her mom, who was once one of her dad's girlfriends, is  
now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of  
attention for far too long, Hannah has learned how to stay out of  
sight...and that's how she likes it.
Of course, being unknown isn't helping her get noticed by gorgeous,  
confident Josh, who Hannah knows is her soul mate. Between trying to  
figure out a way to get him to notice her, dealing with her parents,  
and wondering why she can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn,  
Hannah feels like she's going crazy. She's determined to make things  
work out the way she wants....only what she wants may not be what she  
Love You Hate You Miss You will be out on June 2nd, and it's about  
loss, grief, love, and learning to give yourself--and life--a chance.
Me: When did you decide to become an author?
Elizabeth: I didn't actually decide to be an author--I sort of fell into the  
whole thing! I started writing for fun when I was 27 (old, I know!)  
and after years of my friends trying to talk me into getting an agent/ 
seeing if I could be published, I decided to go for it (to get them  
to quit asking me, quite honestly! :-) ) and got *very* lucky.
Me:What do you suggest to teens who want to pursue writing?
Elizabeth:Well, I'm guessing you've already gotten the writing part down, so  
I'd suggest learning as much as you can about the publishing industry  
and the business end of it (and it is a business!) and also to just  
read as much as you can--and don't just read one kind of book, read  
all kinds!

 Questions about Perfect You **May Include Spoilers**
Me:What was the inspiration behind this book?
Elizabeth: I decided to write Perfect You after getting an idea for a story  
about a family who had to deal with an extremely demanding relative  
moving in. The original idea was very (*very*) different from how the  
story ended up, but that's one of the fun things about writing ---  
there are always surprises along the way!
Me: Kate’s father quit his job to sell infomercial vitamins, why did   you choose vitamins over everything else sold in infomercials?
Elizabeth: Because that's what I knew he'd be selling, plus the brand name made  
the perfect book title! :-)
Me: For most of the book Kate has trouble trusting Will who has been  nothing but nice to her, but easily trusts Anna who had ditched   Kate for her new popular friends. Why did she trust Anna again so   easily but not Will?
Elizabeth: Because when you've had a friendship end unexpectedly and you miss  
that person, really and truly miss them, how can you not hope, if  
even secretly, that they'll decide they miss you and want to be  
friends again? Loosing a friendship is, in many ways--I think--even  
harder than a breakup. Friendships tend to last for a long time and  
play a huge role in your life, and do have one just stop--it's life- 
As for Will, well, he does have a reputation, and Kate--and everyone  
else--knows all about it! Plus, she's been burned pretty badly--her  
family is falling apart, she misses her best friend, she's dealing  
with her grandmother--is it any wonder she finds it hard to believe  
that something good could happen to her?

Thank you Elizabeth!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Caribbean Cruising

Caribbean Cruising by Rachel Hawthorne. Lindsey's mom is getting remarried, on a cruise full of hot single guys! Lindsey has never been on a cruise before, but she does have some ideas for what she is going to do with her ten days at sea- snorkel, meet cute guys, kiss cute guys, climb a waterfall, have some margaritas and find the perfect guy for a summer fling. But, unfortunately for this planner, her plans start to fall apart, especially in the area of finding a guy. Lindsey soon discovers it's impossible to have a fling when you're actually falling in love...

This book was extremely entertaining. The plot was kind of reversed from your normal teen romance, instead of the teen looking for love and instead finding a bunch of flings (or the right guy without the flings) it was a girl looking for a fling who found love instead. While you will have seen many similar characters in other books and tv shows, the story is told in a way that makes these characters unique. With interesting plot turns, and some actual morals, this book leads to a good read. 5 out of 5 stars.

Interview With Megan McCafferty

Megan McCafferty is the author of the popular teen books Sloppy Firsts, Second Helping, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings and the upcoming Perfect Fifths which will be available for purchase on April 14, 2009. I was able to interview Megan on her books and how the Jessica Darling books were born.

Rachel: One of the things I liked about the character Jessica was she wasn’t extremely perky, and actually seemed real. In the first two books I loved reading her views on high school and the popular students. Were you in anyway like Jessica in high school?

Megan: Thank you! Perky is booooooring. Jessica is very moody, but her imperfections are what makes her relatable. As for how much she's like me, you can actually read my (retro)blog where I've posted journal entries and creative writing from my high school years to form your own opinion. But my stock response is that I started out with the truth and then started lying my butt off. However, I was most like Jessica in Sloppy Firsts. That's the book that is closest to my real life when I was in high school. For example, I was devastated when my best friend moved away, felt misunderstood by my parents, resented my shallow friends and—yes!--was obsessed with the disreputable bad boy in my class. That said, very little in any of the books happened to me in the same way it happens to Jessica. As the series progresses she really comes into her own as a character to the point where I was cringing as I wrote some of the things I made her say and do because I would never say or do those things myself.

Rachel: How did Sloppy Firsts come to be, what was the inspiration behind it?

Megan: I wrote the type of book that I enjoy reading. Yet of all the comic coming of age novels I had read, none came close to reflecting what my life was like in high school. So instead of complaining about it, I started writing that book. I kept a journal between the ages of ten and twenty-six and had taken numerous creative writing classes over the years so I had a lot of raw material to turn to for inspiration. I took some of the most vivid writings—about my crappy job on the Boardwalk, how bored I was in school or the pain of all my unrequited crushes—and added, subtracted, rewrote and revised until it started to make sense as a novel.

Rachel: Of the four books so far, they range from being a week in Jessica’s life to a few years. Which do you find harder to write, the shorter length of time or the longer?

Megan: FYI: Perfect Fifths (which comes out on April 14th!) takes place over eighteen hours that Jessica and Marcus spend in/around an airport. The pacing is radically different than Sloppy Firsts which covered a whole year. Writing this book required working in miniature—to examine and express each fleeting gesture and half-sentence. All five books posed different challenges, but that's one of the reasons why I varied the format from book to book. I'd get bored writing the same book over and over again.

Rachel: What do you recommend to teens who want to get into writing?

Megan: Read as much as you can. And write even more than you read. Period.

Rachel: Did you ever expect the books to be as popular as they are, and when they became popular what was your reaction?
Megan: The only time I think about the popularity of my books is when I'm asked a question like this! I'm proud to have invented characters who resonate with so many different readers all around the world. I've gotten email from an insomniac track star in Bulgaria who said that reading about Jessica Darling changed her life. I mean, that's craaaaaaazy to me. But making that kind of connection and getting readers excited about books gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction. That's what motivates me to do what I do and why I can't imagine doing else.

Thank you for Megan for doing this.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kissing Snowflakes

Kissing Snowflakes by Abby Sher. Sam has been dragged along with her brother to Vermont for a "family" ski trip. Sam's father has just remarried, and this is their honeymoon, but Sam's dad decides that this is the perfect opportunity for Sam and her brother Jeremy to get to know Kathy their new and impossibly perfect and perky stepmom. Sam's plan is to stay at the Vermont inn they are staying at and not ski at all, but is persuaded to give it a try, where she meets Drew. Drew is a gorgeous ski instructor, who shows Sam how to ski and how to kiss. But is Drew the right guy, or is someone else the one Sam should be with?
So, to start off, this book has a fairly typical plot, which would have been okay, but some of the characters got on my nerves. First off, though in the book Sam points it out, Drew is extremely corny and uses horrible pick up lines. And Kathy, well she is closer to a 12 year old in personality than a grown woman. By the end, I was enjoying the book, and the end was good- exactly how you want it to end. It was well written, but some of the characters just seemed pretty fake. I liked it, but I'm not going to say you have to read this book or go get it now like I do with great books. It gets 3 out of 5 stars, it would have been 3 1/2 or 4, but Kathy was too perky.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Royally Jacked

Royally Jacked by Niki Burnham. Valerie has a good life, she isn't popular but she has good friends, is a good student and even has a possible boyfriend. She even thinks her family is pretty normal. Life is pretty good.... Until her mother announces to the family that she is a lesbian and is leaving Valerie's dad for her vegan girlfriend. And if it couldn't get worse, Valerie's dad who is the Chief of Protocol for the President of the United States has gotten a new job with the royal family of a small European country with a name that is very hard to pronounce. Valerie is given the choice to stay with her mom and her new girlfriend or go with her dad. She decides to move with her dad to the place she has only heard of once before in Geography. She soon realizes that this was a mistake- until the prince befriends her, and when that happens who knows what will happen next...
When I first read the description of this book, I knew I had to read it, and I'm so glad I did. While the book is short, only 230 pages, it is funny and well written and a plot (while starts off realistically, turns into something a girl can only dream of) that is interesting and makes you want more. Valerie is a typical teenage girl, shallow in all the areas she's supposed to be, but intelligent and not as shallow as she makes herself out to be. Her A-list friends Jules, Christie and Natalie are funny and really help Valerie through what's going on, even though they don't know the whole truth behind the divorce... Obviously they are mad at Valerie for leaving, but of course they don't know the true reasoning behind it. As I have said before, I judge a good book by if I don't want it to end, and this was one of them. Luckily, there are sequels, so I will be reading those shortly. I highly reccomend this book, especially for beach reading. That is for those of you lucky to be able to go to a beach and not get frostbite this time of year.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year's Resolution

My New Year's Resolutions

1. Finish the A~Z Reading Challenge
2. Review each book I read (except sequels)
3. Give a topic to think about more frequently

To get going here is a topic- Do you think downloading music off limewire and other free downloading sources is wrong? Post your responses in the Cbox or as a comment.

The Luxe

I did a short and I mean short review of The Luxe back in June, so this is just a longer more formal version of the review.
The Luxe by Anna Godberson.
It's 1899, and Elizabeth Holland and her sister Diana rule Manhattan's social scene. Elizabeth is every man's dream- beautiful, well-mannered everything a woman should be in 1899. Diana is the exact opposite of Elizabeth, though good looking, she wants nothing to do with the expectations of being a young woman in high society. But all is not perfect, the Holland sisters learn that their high status in New York's elite is threatened. Anyone- including Elizabeth's back stabbing friend Penelope Hayes, the handsome and oh so rich bachelor Henry Schoonmaker and the Holland's housemaid Lina Broud with aspirations much higher than being a housemaid- could ruin everything.
The fate of the Holland family is in Elizabeth's hands and she must choose true love or family duty. Then, Elizabeth's carriage overturns, throwing Elizabeth into the rough current of the East River. While of Manhattan mourns, some start to wonder was this accident really an accident or was this life too much for their beloved socialite or even worse, did someone want Elizabeth gone?
Where appearances matter more than anything, five teenagers lead exceptionally scandalous lives, luxury, scandal, false friendships, love and deception run amok in Manhattan.

This book was one of the best historical fiction books I have read. Many historical fiction novels drag and get boring because everything is so innocent and proper, that it seems fake. Of course, many people lived their lives exactly how it is described in those books, it just does not always make for good reading. But The Luxe was fast-paced and scandalous. Sometimes when telling people about the book, I say it is the Gossip Girl of 1899. It is a perfect combination of romance, suspense, scandal and historical detail. The characters are great as is the dialogue. The sequel to the book Rumors is equally as good, and I cannot wait until the third book, Envy, comes out later this month. This book receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A~Z Reading Challeng 2009

So first off, it is still weird to be writing 2009! Does anyone know where 2008 went, because I sure don't. So this year I am going to be doing the A~Z Reading Challenge, where you read one book who's title starts with each letter of the alphabet for example 'T' could be Twilight. The number of books is pretty easy, but finding the books will be the hard part. Maybe next year I'll move on to the 100+ challenge....