June 2007


Before I leave for three weeks, I’ll leave you with some fun contests to enter!

Over at The Shady Glade, Alyssa is having a contest to win a copy of Circle of Three by Erica Farber and J.R. Sansevere. Go here for details.

YABC
is holding two awesome contests this month. Enter to win copies of Beige by Cecil Castellucci, and the DJ Schwenk books by Catherine Murdock!

Make sure to enter the Teens Read Too monthly contest! Also check out the TRT home page for more great contests.

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AMBER IN THE OVER WORLD is a quick fantasy read that is probably more suitable for tweens or young teens than many of the books reviewed here, but it’s a fun read all the same. Amber is a dragon princess who, when her world is threatened, is accidentally transported to the Over World, or Earth, where the custodians upon whose imaginations the very existence of Amber’s world and others like it reside.

When she tries to warn her father that the wizards are sending an assassin whose plan is not to try and convince the custodian to keep his or her creativity strong enough to sustain their world, but to kill the custodian so that another will be called, Amber herself is pulled into the Over World, where she is turned into a human girl and, when she pretends to have lost her memory (because who would believe that she’s really a dragon princess from another world?), she is taken in by a doctor, Elise, and her young daughter, Valerie.

Now, Amber must find the custodian, save her world, and return home–before Chine gets there first.

AMBER IN THE OVER WORLD is no new favorite of mine, but I’m not sorry I read it, either. The writing style did not impress me at all, nor did the characters. The fast-paced fantasy action, however, soon had me absorbed in the story, anxious to find out what would happen next! If you’re a fan of this sort of book, it’s worth reading.

Rating: 6.5/10

This powerful, highly original novel from the author of ELSEWHERE will not disappoint Zevin’s fans! In this book, Naomi loses her memory after falling on the stairs coming out of school one day after losing a coin toss with her best friend, Will, and going back to the yearbook office to get the new camera. After being rescued by an intriguing boy named James, she realizes after waking up in the hospital that she has forgotten the last four years of her life. She no longer remembers her parents’ divorce, or her new half-sister Chloe, or her best friend, Will, or her boyfriend, Ace. Naomi doesn’t remember who she used to be.

As tragic as it seems (and is), this twist of fate gives Naomi a second chance at her relationships, at her life, at who she is. She’s different, of course. However, her lost memories could return at any time, leaving Naomi and the people close to her wary of who she could become again if her memories were to return. One person in her life (it would be a spoiler to give away who) wonders if Naomi would still feel the same way about their relationship if she had her memory back. Of course, this person is only the one to voice that concern, but can’t be the only one to have it.

In a way, MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC reminded me of books about people who wake up from comas after several years, or I WAS A TEENAGE POPSICLE, in which Floe is “thawed” after being dead and vitrified for ten years. However, Naomi’s situation is, if possible, even tougher. She lived her life, she had relationships with people…And now, they remember it, they remember what things used to be like, but she does not. At least if you wake up from a coma people KNOW you don’t know what’s been going on.

I absolutely loved this book! I was afraid I’d be disappointed after loving ELSEWHERE so much, but the talented Gabrielle Zevin does not disappoint. Her characters are amazing. Naomi is just one of a cast of great, three-dimensional characters. Her writing is brilliant, and Zevin brings her talent to creating not only a unique, realistic character in Naomi, but a voice to go with her. The relationships between the characters were also very well done, especially with the amnesia twist. Zevin did very well in creating relationships where one character remembered years of building a relationship and the other nothing. MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC is a smart, satisfying read sure to capture the attention of readers.

Rating: 10/10

This book was not quite what I expected. It was wonderful, but what I expected was more of a romance, I guess, and while that was in the story, that’s not what it is. So don’t go into it expecting what I did!

That said, I was very impressed with what I think was Benjamin Alire Saenz’s first novel for young adults. Taking place mostly in 1969, it tells of life in a New Mexico barrio ironically named Hollywood, through the eyes of high school senior Sammy Santos. The novel begins with Sammy falling in love with tough girl Juliana, but the book as a whole, as I said, was not the romance I was expecting. Juliana is important to Sammy, but the story itself is Sammy’s, and is told in his distinctive voice.

I’m finding it difficult to give a good, complete summary of this book. It is what it is because of strong characters, the 1960’s setting, and awesome writing. SAMMY AND JULIANA IN HOLLYWOOD is an amazing story about love (romantic love, friendship, and love for family), loss, growing up as a Chicano, and, well, life, all set against a very 1960s backdrop of student protests, the draft, and loud music.

This is an outstanding novel. I found it a little difficult to get into at first, but I think that’s because I was expecting something lighter, and this is serious (and seriously brilliant), intelligent reading. To really get the full story, you need to sit down and read it in big chunks; it doesn’t work so well for a few pages here and there, or at least not for me. Go into it expecting it to be nothing different from what it is, and you will love this powerful, moving, and original novel.

Rating: 9.75/10

April & May 2007 Reading Lists

As I am very behind on, well, everything (and there are reasons but I don’t want to go into it here), I’ve combined these two posts into one.

April:

My top pick for April:
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (which is technically an adult book but is just so wonderful!)

The top SIX runners-up (I couldn’t pick five this month!):
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (the others in this series are of course brilliant, too, but I’ll just list this one)
Buried Onions by Gary Soto
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
While I Live by John Marsden
Princess Nevermore by Dian Curtis Regan
I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum

In April, I read 23 books. They are as follows, with stars for those rating over a 9/10:

Truth and Salsa by Linda Lowery
The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street by Sharon G Flake
Hex Education by Emily Gould and Zareen Jaffery
Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain* (reread)
Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier*
A Sudden Silence by Eve Bunting
Red Handed by Gena Showalter
Blacklisted by Gena Showalter
The Hollywood Sisters: On Location by Mary Wilcox
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty*
Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty*
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty* (reread)
Buried Onions by Gary Soto*
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner*
While I Live by John Marsden *
Princess Nevermore by Dian Curtis Regan*
The Warrior’s Daughter by Holly Bennett
I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum*
Huge by Sasha Paley
Sk8er Boy by Mari Mancusi*
Into the Void (Pandora’s Box Trilogy Book One) by Adam Teachout
Cam’s Quest by Dian Curtis Regan*

May

May was the worst reading month yet for me, numbers-wise (but I’m hoping I’ll read a lot while on vacation this month to make up for it). I might actually be missing a few here as I was ALSO bad at keeping track of what I read, but I only wrote down twelve books.

Top Pick:
First Light by Rebecca Stead

Runners-up (just three as I only read twelve books):
The Queen of Attolia
The King of Attolia
The Nature of Jade

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz* (reread)
Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz*
Playing the Field by Phil Bildner
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti*
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner*
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner*
First Light by Rebecca Stead*
It’s Not About The Accent by Caridad Ferrer
To Catch A Pirate by Jade Parker
Heaven Looks A Lot Like The Mall by Wendy Mass
Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico by Malin Alegria
Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora

UPDATE:
I will be on a plane to London on Thursday. I’ll be visiting several places in England, and then Southern Spain. I’m very excited about this trip, but I won’t have internet while I’m gone! Send me an email or leave me a comment or a message somewhere, but just know I won’t get back to you until at least the end of this month. However, I’ll be bringing lots of books along to read and I’ll have reviews for you when I get back!