Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teen Fiction Tuesday: Wild Roses

Wild Roses, by Deb Caletti

Publisher: SimonPulse
Pages: 296 (paperback)
Reading Level: 14 and up
Enjoyment Level: Mid-high

This is the first book I’ve read of hers. She was the keynote speaker at this year’s Houston Teen Book Con and she was so great! I loved hearing her speak. Naturally, it made me want to read something she’d written and this one sounded the most interesting.

From GoodReads:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Morgan lives with a time bomb (a.k.a. her stepfather, Dino Cavalli). To the public, Dino is a world-renowned violin player and composer. To Cassie, he’s an erratic, self-centered bully. And he’s getting worse: He no longer sleeps, and he grows increasingly paranoid. Before Cassie was angry. Now she is afraid.

Enter Ian Waters: a brilliant young violinist, and Dino’s first-ever student. The minute Cassie lays eyes on Ian, she knows she’s doomed. Cassie thought she understood that love could bring pain, but this union will have consequences she could not have imagined.

In the end, only one thing becomes clear: In the world of insanity, nothing is sacred. . .

I probably should stop going into books with expectations. I thought this one would have a much more dramatic ending than it did. From the beginning, the situation that’s foreshadowed from Cassie’s retelling made me very nervous about how this would turn out. There’s a lot of building up, and of course, that made me want to read and read. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed when it came down to it.

The characters, however, are very interesting. I liked Cassie and I felt like she told her story in a way that made it accessible. I cared very much about what would happen to her and between her and Ian. I also really liked Ian, and the side characters we met along the way. We’re not meant to like her stepfather, of course, and I didn’t, but he was a well-drawn character. The only one I felt was lacking was Cassie’s mother. She just wasn’t quite rounded out enough for me.

Overall, though it wasn’t what I expected, I found the writing to be done well and I enjoyed getting to know Cassie and her situation. I can’t say this one would be great for reluctant readers, but it’s a good showing for anyone who likes straight up teen fiction. The musical element is interesting, and Cassie keeps the story going with a great voice and deep connections to her fellow characters.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Monday, June 20, 2011

MiddleGrade Monday: Princess for Hire

Princess for Hire, by Lindsey Leavitt

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 239 (paperback)
Reading Level: 10 and up
Enjoyment Level: High

This one has been on my list for a while, and I was so excited to see her at this years Houston Teen Book Con. I picked it up and had it signed while I was there.

From GoodReads:

When Desi Bascomb gets discovered by the elite Facade Agency–royalty surrogates extraordinaire–her life goes from glamour-starved to spectacular in a blink. As her new agent, Meredith, explains, Desi has a rare magical ability: when she applies the ancient Egyptian formula “Royal Rouge,” she can transform temporarily into the exact lookalike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?

Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras. Like, what do you do when a bullying older sister puts you on a heinous crash diet? Or when the tribal villagers gather to watch you perform a ceremonial dance you don’t know? Or when a princess’s conflicted sweetheart shows up to break things off–and you know she would want you to change his mind?

In this hilarious series debut, one girl’s dream of glamour transforms into something bigger: the desire to make a positive impact. And an impact Desi makes, one royal fiasco at a time.

For some reason, I thought this would be for older kids, but it’s definitely middlegrade reading. I flew through it quickly, and really enjoyed the story. I like the unique take on the princess theme. Desi gets to live the lives of princesses, even if she isn’t one herself, but it helps her take charge of her real life, too.

Desi is a great main character. She’s fun and she’s got a mind of her own. There are some things she struggles with, which make her grounded and realistic, despite the magic of being a princess-double. Desi wants to help people and make an impact. She doesn’t always stick to the rules and she deals with the consequences of that – and things still turn out okay in the end.

The other characters don’t necessarily fade into the background, but they don’t feel like major players either, except for Meredith. There are definitely things going on with her. I like how she interacts with Desi. Despite coming across as dismissive, we get to see why she’s like that and we get to see why she makes the best agent for Desi.

If you know a little girl who dreams of being a princess, this one is for her. It’s a good one for the pre-Princess Diaries age group. The story is excellent and it’ll keep even reluctant readers reading to find out how Desi gets into and out of her spots of trouble.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teen Fiction Tuesday: The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test, by Aimee Carter

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 293 (paperback)
Reading Level: 14 and Up
Enjoyment Level: High

***Spoilers Below***

This is my first review since I got my stuff stolen out of my car! I lost a bunch of reviews I’d already written to post. Bummer, right? Well, I’m still kind of picking up the pieces, but luckily, I’ve kept my spirits up by reading some awesome books.

From GoodReads:

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

I’ve decided it’s time for me to stop paying attention to “trends” in the market, and yet, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve read two fairly-recently-published books having to do with the Greek gods. And they’ve both been fantastic. The Goddess Test wasn’t quite what I expected, either, which is always a good thing.

I liked the whole set up of the plot. Kate is a nice character who is in a lot of pain, but doesn’t let that stop her from being a good person. She’s also driven, trying to change her situation with the tools that are presented to her. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but I like how she deals with the consequences.

The other characters were just as good. I found myself hoping Henry would win out in the end. Hoping that he would be able to care about Kate and save himself. I also really liked seeing how the other characters interacted, and knowing that all of the Greek gods would come into play, I tried to figure out who was who.

I only had one tiny grumble, and that’s about how quickly Kate decided she was really in love with Henry. I expected it to take longer and develop more slowly, but it didn’t. Other than that… I really liked how the mystery came together and how the ending met my expections but didn’t become completely predictable. It left me wanting more. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

The Goddess Test is fun and interesting. Not too deep, but certainly not just fluff. Despite it taking place during the fall and winter, it would make a nice summer read. I highly recommend it.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate