Monday, April 27, 2015

Buzzkill by Beth Fantasky

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 360
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 14+

When Millie discovers the head football coach with his head bashed in, she decides she wants to be the one to find out who did it. This could be the article she needs for the school newspaper. But when every sign points to her dad as the murderer, she becomes obsessed. With the help of her two friends and the mysterious Chase, she's tracking down the murderer--and uncovering things she doesn't want to know.

Millie is the "anti-Nancy Drew." She's ungraceful, uncoordinated, and unstylish. But she's an interesting character because of those flaws. Fantaskey doesn't try to hide the parallels (or lack of) between Nancy and Millie. Everything from the yellow of the cover, to talking about Nancy Drew and how she would solve this murder gives the reader a sense of nostalgia. Then there is the fact that they both have two friends, and a boyfriend (well, kind of, on Millie's side).

It was a nice mystery with interesting characters. Not quite Veronica Mars, but still fun and clever, with handsome guys. There are a lot of false leads, breaking in, and competition. Unlike some YA mysteries, I wasn't ten steps ahead of Millie the entire time. There also wasn't any sex or language. It's a great book for a wide range of ages, especially mystery lovers.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Swap by Megan Shull

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 382
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 12+

Ellie is just starting seventh grade, but it seems that everyone is changing, including her previous best friend. Jack is going into eighth grade as one of the most popular boys in school, but gets into a fight the first day. In the nurse's office with his dad's reaction hanging over Jack's head, and Ellie without any friends, they say that it would be better if they could just switch lives. Then suddenly, they have! For two days they must navigate all the intricacies of the other person's life, not knowing how they will get back into their own bodies.

It was an interesting idea and the book certainly had it's moments, but I found myself from the start wishing that Ellie and Jack were older, perhaps just starting high school. As it was, I felt that they acted older than 12 and 13--especially Jack.

And, maybe I'm just really out of the loop when it comes to how teens talk, but the dialogue felt a little stilted to me. It was filled with all kinds of slang and wording that broke up the dialogue. In my (albeit limited) interaction with teens, it is completely possible to understand them and speak with them in a natural way. Jack and his friends especially were difficult to understand, and their conversational topics seemed forced.

The end seemed to be rushed, with no reason for them to so quickly have changed back. It was also a little predictable. What I can say is that the awkwardness of having a girl and boy change bodies was mostly smoothed over. With the age of the main characters, I'd say that it is marketed towards 12 year olds, which is what I said, but the length of the book and some of the situations I think would make it better for someone a little older.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Birthday Giveaway!

It's my birthday, but I want to give YOU something! I have an extra copy of Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun.

More info
If you would like this copy, leave a comment. The winner will be chosen randomly on Friday. 

Good luck and good reading!

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 278
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 14+

Six weeks after starting at Wickham Hall, Liv is killed. But Liv isn't the first girl to die, or haunt, the school. With her friend Gabe--the only person who can see the ghosts--and her boyfriend Malcolm, Liv needs to find out who killed her. Was it the ghosts? Will Liv need to kill the next girl? And what about the Victors, the secret society on campus?

It took me a while to get this book from the library, but I wish I hadn't waited. I was completely drawn in to Wickham Hall and the strange things surrounding it. Gabe seeing ghosts, the Victors, and the stories of the dead girls that came at different intervals throughout the book.

It could be a little spooky--at least, for me, because I am easily spooked. And, of course, those spooky moments always came at night before I went to bed. But it was something that was easily overcome throughout the rest of the story. The one complaint I had is with the girl who died in the 1970s. Each of the other girls seemed to have a natural voice when telling their story, but I felt that Talkington tried too hard with how she spoke.

This book is appropriate for most teens. There is little language (if any) and no sexual situations.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, April 6, 2015

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Laydon

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 245
My rating: 5 stars
Ages: 12+

I usually start my reviews with a synopsis of the book, but I feel that the title says it all. And if you have never heard of The Princess Bride--where have you been the past 27 years? And if you have never seen it, go and see it now!

The Princess Bride has been a part of my life for . . . well, basically my whole life. I have very distinct memories of watching it every Sunday with my family when I was young, curled up against my dad so he could protect me during the Fire Swamp scenes. I also remember thinking, as Wesley fought the ROUS, "I wonder if they are friends?" So, in a way, I feel as if I've been waiting for this book my whole life.

I loved everything about this book (though I would have made a few different copyediting choices, but I'm pretty sure that's just something that as an editor I notice more than the usual reader). Elwes tells the story with love and admiration for the cast and crew. I was at turns laughing and blinking away tears. There were also blocks of quotes for other members of the cast, as well as Rob Reiner the director. It's so validating to know that something you love so much was loved, and is loved, by the people who made it.

The parts that really got to me the most was when Elwes talked about Andre the Giant. He seemed like such a kind man, and everyone spoke about him with such fond memories.

The only drawback is that I now have the strongest desire to watch the movie to pick up on all the little things I just learned are in the movie, broken toes and all.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon. But I do recommend buying this book right away!