Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers--Lynn Weingarten

Title: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2011.
Pages: 352 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None


Lucy starts her sophomore year with a plan—to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Alex. Alex also starts the year with a plan—to break up with Lucy. Embarrassed and broken hearted Lucy meets up with three strange classmates who claim to be able to heal her heart but only if she can get a guy to fall in love with her and break HIS heart within seven days. At first Lucy balks at the plan, but then she gets the brilliant idea that she will use the magic the girls promise her to get Alex to fall in love with her again and hold on to him for good. Things do not quite work out the way she plans in this paranormal romance.

Although the backdrop of the book is magical, Lucy learns some real life lessons as well. She starts the week very na├»ve and insecure, but by the end of the seven days she has realized that love does not mean being someone’s biggest fan and always trying to please him. Lucy becomes a much more independent and powerful girl. The story starts slow but picks up speed quickly and the three girls—the sisterhood—are interesting characters. They are much more mature than Lucy and their lack of parental involvement leads to a lot of drinking, cursing and late hours. Nothing is out of character and the language makes sense for the story, but it makes this a definite teen and not tween book.


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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Cabinet of Earths--Anne Nesbet

Title: Cabinet of Earths
Author: Anne Nesbet
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2012.
Pages: 272 p
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None


“It was his own grandmother who fed Henri-Pierre to the Cabinet of Earths, long ago when he was only four.” Anne Nesbet’s fantasy novel instantly hooks readers with this opening line and keeps them engaged throughout the entire story. Although it opens up with poor Henri’s tale, thirteen-year-old Maya and her five-year-old brother James take center stage when they move to Paris and discover the Cabinet of Earths and its sinister secrets. Henri’s ancestors found a way to merge science and magic and to use that merger to achieve immortality, but at a terrible cost. Maya has enough on her plate, dealing with her mother’s cancer, homesickness, and jealousy, but the Cabinet of Earths chooses her as its next keeper. She must decide between saving her mother’s life and doing what she knows is right.

Nesbet has written a unique, interesting fantasy with just enough suspense to keep readers turning the page long into the night. The language is descriptive and lively; the Cabinet of Earths and the mysterious Henri-Pierre’s house leap off the pages. Fantasy readers of all ages will enjoy this story, especially middle school students.


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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Borrowing Abby Grace Episode 2: Girl Steals Guy--Kelly Green

Title: Borrowing Abby Grace Episode 2: Girl Steals Guy
Author: Kelly Green
Publisher: Backlit
Pages:
Source: Kindle eBook from the author
Compensation: None

Fans of Borrowing Abby Grace are in luck... As of December 2011 Amazon has both of the first episodes in the series on sale for just $0.99. Don't miss your chance to get these books at a bargain price. 

We first met Abby Grace when she woke up in the back of a van during a kidnapping attempt and discovered she was a shadow--a soul sent into other bodies to solve a crisis. In this second episode, Abby thinks her mission is pretty cut and dry. Her best friend is inconsolable over her breakup with the star quarterback, so clearly she needs to reunite them. It turns out to not be quite as clear-cut as she thought. Abby's (host's) best friend has a pretty big secret and the fact that she's *not* pining for the quarterback is only a small part of it. Abby also helps her host body with an overly aggressive boyfriend.

Girl Steals Guy is just as enjoyable as The Shadow, although the romance aspects might turn off some boy readers. The more we read of Abby--the real Abby underneath her host body--the more we like her and hope that she is able to find her way back to her true self. Kelly Green's writing is sharp and witty. There's just enough information to help Abby (and the reader) solve the mystery without a bunch of boring backstory. The stories truly are episodes--quick reads that we hungrily devour and eagerly look for the next one.
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Borrowing Abby Grace Episode 1: The Shadow--Kelly Green

Title: Borrowing Abby Grace Episode 1: The Shadow
Author: Kelly Green
Publisher: Backlit, 2011
Pages:
Source: Kindle eBook from the author
Compensation: none

Borrowing Abby Grace had me hooked from the very first line:
"The first thing I realized when I woke up in the back of the van was that I had no idea at all how I'd arrived in the back of the van."

A young girl wakes up (in the back of the van) not knowing who she is or why she is there. She quickly feels the danger of her situation and jumps out of the back of the moving van. She is brought to her home--that she doesn't remember--and the image she sees in her bedroom mirror does not match the image she sees when she looks down at herself.

This exciting new episodic series is reminiscent of Quantum Leap, but not a blatant copycat. In this first episode we learn that Abby is a shadow: people in trouble "borrow" her soul, her essence, her being, so that she can solve their problems. In The Shadow, Abby must help find "her" missing brother and reunite her dysfunctional family. Once she does, she leaves that body and goes on to the next, always hoping the next will be her own body. She's helped by a mysterious boy Will who is only visible to her and can only tell her certain things. She guesses that she (and Will) are dead and ghosts, but Will never confirms this. Okay, so it's pretty close to Quantum Leap for teenagers (without the time travel), but as a big fan of Quantum Leap I didn't feel offended.

The Shadow is an excellent introduction to the series. Kelly Green has written a suspenseful page-turner (or whatever one calls the quick swiping of digital pages). Each episode is short and packed full of action with a strong snarky, yet vulnerable, female lead character. We're interested in the mystery Abby has to solve, but also in *her* mystery. This series is perfect for reluctant readers, particularly those who may not be interested in picking up a hardcover printed book, but will check out anything with technology. Although the main character is a girl, this isn't an overly girlie series, and boys shouldn't be ashamed to read it.

Readers will be eager to continue Abby's adventures and see if she ever makes the final leap home (I couldn't resist).
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