Thursday, June 30, 2011

Don't take me to Scarborough Fair!

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

When I read the description of this book, the story (based on folk song "Scarborough Fair") intrigued me. The summary sounds weird: Elfin Knight, goat horn?! What? However, once I opened the book, I was inexorably drawn into Lucy's story. Her character is practical and likable. I loved having a peek into warm family life. Lucy is determined and the love story with Zach is sweet. This book has some major issues though, including prom night and rape, that make it more appropriate for older teens. This book manages to stay grounded in reality, despite magical elements.

Song to Read By:  "Scarborough Fair" Simon and Garfunkel version: or the Sarah Brightman version, which sounds more magical:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Secret Society? Frankie Wants to Join

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie starts her sophomore year at the fictional private school, Alabaster Academy. Over the summer she got curves in all the right places, and  popular senior boy Matthew notices her when she falls off her bike. Later, she realizes he likes her as an adorable damsel-in-distress, not in- control and expressing her opinions. This spurs her on to delicious hijinks of infiltrating a secret society on campus and running the show, in her very own creative way.

Will she gain the acceptance she's longing for? Or just enjoy the rebellion? This book has real depth and social commentary.

Song to Read By: Oxford Comma" by Vampire Weekend (watch out, cursing is involved in this song):

Monday, June 20, 2011

Which is better? Reel Life or Real Life?

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

The idea of having a filmmaking, teenage girl as the main character is new, and I enjoyed learning about filmmaking as I read. At first, it was hard to adjust to the character’s voice. Sometimes it sounded like it was trying too hard to be a teenager, like saying “for real” too much. The bitter sarcasm was oozing. By the middle of the book, I liked Viola and her group of friends, who were all well-developed as characters. There was a fun hint of mystery (the starlet in red, May McGlynn). Viola showed major girl power at the end.

Song to Read By: "Fly Me to the Moon (live)" by Frank Sinatra in honor of Viola's 1920sish short film:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lurking in the Tunnels...Beautiful Darkness!

Beautiful Darkness
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I liked the sequel better than the first book, Beautiful

Creatures, because Ethan became a more interesting and

complex character. He didn’t purely adore Lena anymore, and

he found a more unique role for himself. Ethan wasn’t just

narrating exciting events anymore—he was involved in a

quest of his own. Since I’m a library nerd, I also liked Olivia’s

 character and the time spent in the Caster Library and in the

 Tunnels. This book had more conflict and plot twists, and

less of Ethan and Lena sitting around googly-eyed in love,

 cuddling at Greenbrier.  Read it now!

Song to Read by: "Only Wanna Be with You"  by Hootie and

the Blowfish:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Traveling by Airmail

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Lively. Fast. Fun. Breezy. Light. A great travel read. 13 Letters lead 17-year-old Ginny across Europe, letters written by her favorite artistic aunt. The characters are quirky and the dialogue is realistic.

In a few lines, Johnson captures the setting, the essence of the places Ginny visits, from London to Paris to Amsterdam to Copenhagen to Corfu. I had so much fun going on this trip with Ginny. This book isn’t your typical girly adventure in Europe—there was more content, art discussion, and character development.

 Can’t wait to read the recent new release The Last Letter by Maureen Johnson.

Song to Ready by: "Cathedrals" by Jump, Little Children:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Past, Present, Paris, Brooklyn, Music and the French Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi, a girl from modern-day Brooklyn finds a diary written by Alexandrine, who lived during the French Revolution and helped young Louis-Charles, the king's son.

The details of the past are gritty. Andi relates to the diary because she's healing after tragedy--her brother Truman died almost two years ago. She blames herself.

 In modern-day Paris, Andi meets a colorful crew of musicians and researches a fictional composer. Andi loves playing guitar--the eclectic music references and the revealing of a hidden Paris are the best parts.

 The book is long but gets really good on 375—don’t give up!

Song to Read By: "If I Ever Feel Better" by Phoenix (a French band):

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Through Adam's Eyes...Where She Went

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
the sequel to If I Stay

Shooting Star’s rocking the charts, but Adam’s unhappy, anxious. He’s lost the joy for music that sustained him. In New York City, he hears Mia play at Carnegie Hall. They go on a Farewell Tour of New York City. They’re both leaving on tour the next day.

This book is not about how life is supposed to be, but how it really turns out.  I enjoyed Mia’s perspective more than Adam’s, but the book was still raw with Forman’s immediate writing style. My favorite parts were the expository flashbacks. Overall, a satisfying sequel.

Songs to Read By: While reading, for some reason his band reminded me of San Diego's Augustana. Try "Either Way I'll Break Your Heart Someday":

Friday, June 3, 2011

If I Stay.....This book is bursting with HEART

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

What would I do, at 17, if I were in Mia's position? I don’t know. At first, this book seemed too sad to read--a girl in a coma, deciding to stay in this world without her family or go?  Some questions we could never answer for someone else.

As I read, I realized the book is more: her love for music, complex relationships with Adam, Kim, her family. Feeling out of place or completely loved. Going to music camp. Deciding between pursuing her talent or staying with her love. What life offers and takes away. You’ll cry. So worth it.

Song to Read By: "Glosoli" by Sigur Ros. This song is moody, complex, and magical. This was the artsy Icelandic band mentioned in the book. Adam had Mia listen to this band At the back of the paperback edition of the novel, the author explains music mentioned in the book. You can see the playlist on this site:


Magic and Southern Gothic= Charming and Mysterious

Beautiful Creatures 
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I loved being immersed in the Southern setting, black swamps, Spanish moss, and "haint blue." I like the main character, Ethan's, taste in literature. The set-up of this book reminds me of Twilight in reverse--the boy is the Mortal and the girl is the Other.  That was refreshing. Ethan’s more interesting than the blah-Bella.  The plot can be slow, but the quirky characters and accurate dialogue/dialect make up for it.
 Overall, the book manages to be just enthralling enough to keep me reading and running to the library for the sequel, Beautiful Darkness
Author/book website:

Songs to Read by: Anything by Kings of Leon from their album "Only by Night." The spooky "Closer" or 

my personal favorite, "Revelry:"