August 2006

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In Such A Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess grabbed and held my attention from the first page to the last. New Jersey teenager Meredith was supposed to have nine years of safety from her father, so she’d be eighteen and out of the house when he was released from prison, but three years later, when Meredith is fifteen, her father gets out for good behavior. No matter what he did to Meredith and to other children before, Meredith’s mother is more than ready to take him back.

Meredith isn’t alone, though. She has her grandmother, the mayor of the town, who wants Meredith to move in with her to escape her father. She has Andy, her best friend, the guy she is in love with, who was also scarred by Meredith’s father as a child. She has Andy’s mother, who moved across the street from Meredith’s family just to keep other children from the horror from which she couldn’t protect Andy. She has Nigel, a retired policemen who has a plan to get Meredith’s father back in jail and away from children. Even though Meredith is far from alone, she still feels that way when she can’t even count on the people every kid is supposed to be able to count on: her parents.

Meredith wants to get her father back in prison. She wants her mother to go back to visiting him instead of having him in their house. She wants to be able to go into her own home without fear. She wants other kids to be safe, too. She doesn’t know what that’s going to take, and she’s certainly not unafraid, but she isn’t going to let him hurt her, or any other kids, again.

This moving, powerful novel is one that should not be missed. When it is released in January, be at your local bookstore, ready to get a copy! Once you start reading it, you won’t be able to put this book down. I wasn’t! It’s an emotional book that is beautifully, powerfully written and unique, and it’ll stay with you long past the last word.

Laura Wiess’s characters are as well-written as the rest of the book, very realistic (in some cases, scarily so). They’re three-dimensional characters in an equally (and, again, scarily) believable story that will certainly be a favorite of anyone who reads it. I know it’s one of mine now! Don’t miss this book. I am giving it a ’10’ rating, but, I must say, it doesn’t deserve that ten–It deserves a twenty, at least!

Rating: 10/10

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Lauren Barnholdt’s Reality Chick tells a story from inside one of those tell-all reality TV shows instead of what everyone else sees on television screens. In this entertaining novel, Ally Cavanaugh auditions for a show called In The House about students attending college in Syracuse, New York. To her surprise (she thought herself much too normal), she gets a spot on the show. Why, though? Perhaps it’s the fact that she has a boyfriend who is a basketball star in Florida, and she’s sure they’re going to be together no matter what.

College would be different enough without the constant presence of the cameras, or the fact that everyone she knows can see every little detail of Ally’s life every night on television. The only people who really know what it’s like are her roommates: James, Simone, Drew, and Jasmine. She’s also got her best friend, Grant, but she doesn’t know if she can trust anyone else. Is it Ally’s friendship they want or a chance to be on TV? Forget what they want–what does Ally want to do with her life?

Reality Chick is, yes, a story about a girl figuring out her life. Yeah, there are a ton of those, but this is an interesting twist. Ally Cavanaugh is figuring out her life while America watches it for entertainment! This is a fun read, well-written and with an l plot that is definitely part of the lives of people today–reality television is everywhere, and even if most of us are watching it on TV instead of living it, it’s still something that is very familiar. Ally is also a character who’s easy to relate to, and very believable. All of the characters in this novel are believable, and readers can see people they know in these fictional characters. No one here is exactly what they seem to be, either, which is also a lot like reality. And why shouldn’t it be? They’re all on reality TV.

Lauren Barnholdt grabs the reader’s attention from the beginning, when Ally and Grant are trying out for In The House, to the end. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next, and the tidbits from ‘Now’ Ally made me even more eager to find out what happened ‘Then.’ Pick up Reality Chick as soon as possible! This book is definitely going on my ‘favorites’ shelf.

Rating: 9/10

Playing With Fire by Gena Showalter

Earth, Wind and Fire aren’t just a band anymore…

Used to be my greatest achievement was holding a job more than three days. Now suddenly I can shoot fireballs, chill your drink, or blow-dry your hair at fifty paces with a blink of my eye!

It all started when this crazy scientist dropped something in my grande mocha latte. Of course I got wicked sick. Next morning I’m waking up with this total hottie bending over me. He tells me 1) his name’s Rome Masters, 2) he’s a government agent and 3) I can control the four elements with a thought.

He seems even less pleased by my (apparently irreversible) transformation that I am. . . because now he’s supposed to kill me. The only good news: I didn’t make this bed of trouble, but Rome sure seems to want me to lie in it. With him.

Read an excerpt

Order your copy from Barnes and Noble or Amazon or Books A Million

And if you’d like a chance to win signed copies of *all* Gena Showalter’s books, all you have to do is post this entry, too. Post the cover, the blurb, the links, and this contest announcement, then head over to Gena’s blog ( ) and let her know you posted the material. A name will be randomly selected on September 3rd from those who do!!

Wuthering High is a novel by Cara Lockwood published by MTV Books, and I must say, the MTV Books are certainly much better than readers might expect from a name known mostly for reality television. In fact, these books are fabulous, no matter what you’re expecting, and Cara Lockwood’s story is no exception. In Wuthering High, Miranda Tate is a spoiled but still likeable character who, after a few mistakes involving her Dad’s car and stepmother’s credit card, is sent off to Bard Academy, a boarding school for misbehaving teenagers.

At Bard Academy, a few things happen that Miranda didn’t exactly expect from what she thinks about reform schools. She’s having terrifying nightmares involving Kate Shaw, a girl who went missing from the school fifteen years earlier. When she tries to escape through the woods, she finds herself going in circles. One of her teachers, Ms. W, always leaves wet footprints. If those little oddities aren’t odd enough, there are some eerie coincidences concerning classics such as Dracula, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. For instance, there’s Heathcliff, remarkably similar to the character in Wuthering Heights, who seems to think that Miranda is really Cathy, another character from the novel. Something weird is most certainly going on, and Miranda and her new friends Hana, Samir, and Blade have to find out what it is–fast.

This is a book that is definitely worth reading! Cara Lockwood’s characters are interesting, well done, and realistic, and readers will be able to relate to Miranda’s situations with her parents and friends (although perhaps not teachers). The character of Miranda also shows realistic character development instead of being the same slightly bratty fifteen-year-old throughout the book. Aside from her great characters, Cara Lockwood’s story in Wuthering High is entertaining and original. It’s better than just another overused idea with a few differences in details and characters. This novel is one that will keep readers hooked from the very first page to the end, and eagerly awaiting the next novel from Cara Lockwood about Bard Academy.

Rating: 10/10

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What If…Everyone Knew Your Name: a choose your destiny novel is an interesting idea. It’s a lot like those Choose Your Own Adventure Books you read as a kid, but this, instead of being a fantasy-adventure story like those, this one is a YA novel. It’s about Haley, a fairly average fifteen-year-old girl who has just moved to suburban New Jersey and is starting school at her first public high school. She starts out average, so that the reader can pretty much choose everything that happens to her as the story goes on.

You make every little decision for her, even the ones that seem really minor, like riding the bus to school or getting a ride from her father. You decide who she wants to be friends with and what crowd she wants to be a part of. You decide everything about her.

While an interesting idea, and fairly well-written, this book isn’t for everyone. If you’re all about finding out what will happen, this book might not be for you, because you decide what happens. It’s a cool concept, though, and a fun read, especially since you can read it more than once, with a different story and outcome. The characters aren’t particularly three-dimensional, but I guess they have to be simple enough so that it is believable that they would make any one of the very different choices you choose from. This book is fun, but not a must-read.

Rating: 7/10

**This review is also posted on**

Simone Elkeles has a book coming out that I just can’t wait to read called How to Ruin a Summer Vacation. I haven’t read this book, but I will definitely be buying it once it is released in October! I’m posting because it’s one of the upcoming releases I’m most excited about, and you should be excited, too! You can check out her website here, see what you think. I am also posting because there is a cool interview with Simone posted at Veronika Asks (click on ‘Interviews’ and you’ll see it). Check it out; it’ll have you even more anxious for October to come!

Copied and pasted from Simone’s website:

How does a fashionista teen end up on a farm in the middle of Israel with her estranged father? Oy, vey doesn’t even come close to describing it.Camel

For Amy Nelson, the last thing she wants to do is go to that country she hears about on the news channels. For one, she’s not Jewish…or Israeli. Okay, so her father is, but that’s another story. Amy swears she’s got red, white and blue blood running through her veins, and needs amenities to survive.

Read Amy’s journey and find out if this American teen survives the struggles of dealing with a father she hardly knows, Israeli teens, and an extended family while traveling in an unknown land full of history that touches her heart, wild animals that scare her to death and…cute boys?!?

It will be part of Llewellyn Press’ FLUX imprint, due to be released in October, 2006.

Other exciting upcoming releases I can’t wait to read include (but are certainly not limited to) Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer, Devilish by Maureen Johnson, and I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum.

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