Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Summer Giveaway Hop!

This hop is sponsored by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and BookHounds.

I just got back into town after a long weekend of weddings and scrubbing chocolate fountains, so I'm basically going to copypasta my last giveaway. I have for the taking 

A $10 Amazon Gift Card!

For our international friends, you can get a book worth $10 or less from Book Depository. Please ensure they ship to your country.

So here's how you enter:

Mandatory entry: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect.

+1 entry for friending on Goodreads
+1 entry for following on Twitter
+1 entry for tweeting about this contest

To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest runs from August 1 to August 7. Winner will be decided by  and then announced on this blog sometime on August 8. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to e-mail or a new winner will be picked. 

Please be sure to check out all the blogs in the hop (a full list is at the end of this post). Also, check out my In My Dreams giveaway.Thanks for stopping by and GOOD LUCK!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

Title:Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy
Author:Bil Wright
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Imprint:Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date:07/26/2011
ISBN:1416939962 (ISBN13: 9781416939962)

Carlos Duarte knows that he's fabulous. He's got a better sense of style than half the fashionistas in New York City, and he can definitely apply makeup like nobody's business. He may only be in high school, but when he lands the job of his dreams--makeup artist at the FeatureFace counter in Macy's--he's sure that he's finally on his way to great things.

But the makeup artist world is competitive and cutthroat, and for Carlos to reach his dreams, he'll have to believe in himself more than ever.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)

Carlos Duarte knows exactly who he is and what he wants from life. When he hears about a chance to apply at Macy's to work at one of their make-up counters, he knows this is going to open the doors to his dreams of becoming a famous make-up artist. Carlos soon learns that this may prove to be more difficult than he had first though. Throw in problems with his sisters, a crush, and dealing with severe homophobia , and Carlos soon has more on his plate than he thought he'd have to deal with.

Carlos is a fun person! He is so sure of himself, and you can't help but feel positive while reading about him. I have no doubt that he would be everything he wants to be in life. He had a lot of things to deal with in this book, and he did it all with a fabulous sense of grace. I had two small complaints. One was that Carlos could seem a little bit too much like a stereotype. It just seemed to pull me out of the story and didn't really fit who I felt Carlos was. The other has to do with the homophobia directed at him. He just seemed a little too passive about it for me. I really didn't feel a reaction about it one way or the other from him. I just wanted a little more there.

Those issues aside, I thought this was a fun book. I think it's great to have a book like this with an out and proud teen. While coming of age type coming out stories have their place, it's awesome to just have a fluffy book. While some serious issues are dealt with, over all this book is just plain fun. It helps to emphasize the "normal-ness" of Carlos. So overall I thought this was an enjoyable book.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Addie on the Inside by James Howe

Title:Addie on the Inside
Author:James Howe
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Imprint:Atheneum Books
Pub. Date:07/26/2011
ISBN:141691384X (ISBN13: 9781416913849)

The Gang of Five is back in this third story from Paintbrush Falls. Addie Carle, the only girl in the group of friends is outspoken, opinionated, and sometimes…just a bit obnoxious.

But as seventh grade progresses, Addie’s not so sure anymore about who she is. It seems her tough exterior is just a little too tough and that doesn’t help her deal with the turmoil she feels on the inside as she faces the pains of growing up.

Told in elegant, accessible verse, ADDIE ON THE INSIDE gives readers a look at a strong, smart, and sensitive girl struggling with the box society wants to put her in. Addie confronts experiences many readers will relate to: the loss of a beloved pet, first heartbreak, teasing…but also, friendship, love, and a growing confidence in one’s self.

You Are Who They Say You Are

They say in the seventh grade
you are who they say you are,
but how can that be true?
How can I be a /Godzilla-girl /lezzie loser /know-it-all/
big-mouth /beanpole /string bean/ freaky tall/
fall-down /spaz attack /brainiac /maniac/
hopeless nerd /*bad word*/brown-nosing /teacher’s pet/
showing off /just to get
attention –
and did I mention:
How can I be all that?
It’s too many things to be.
How can I be all that and
still be true to the real me 
while everyone is saying: 

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


Told through poetry, Addie on the Inside is all about Addie Carle, a young woman on a mission to make the world a better place. She's having to deal with a lot of stuff- lack of development physically, overabundant development mentally, first boyfriend, fitting in socially, and so many other things. By the end of the book, some things have drastically changed for Addie. However, nothing will ever change her sense of justice and desire to do some good for the world.

I love that authors are experimenting for young adults and writing in verse. It's a great way to show that self expression can be done in many different ways. That being said, I'm not sure this book was entirely successful. It was a bit difficult to get into the story. Of course, I have not read any of the other books with these characters that preceeded this one, so that may have been part of the problem. Sometimes I felt like Addie didn't read like a girl to me, and to be honest there were times I didnt' really like her at all. I understand her need to champion the causes she believed it, but at times she came across as rather pretentious. 

Addie did seem to soften up some as the book went on, so I began to like her much better towards the end. I guess there were just too many hard edges on her at the beginning of the book. I think is a good book for teens who are activists looking for a kindred spirit. They will certainly find much to admire and possibly emulate. I appreciate the author's experimentation using verse to help get to know Addie better, and as things changed for Addie she because a character I had much more sympathy for her. There are probably a lot of people who will feel really moved by Addie's story, I just wasn't one of them.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In My Dreams Experience Blog Tour: Author Guest Post and Giveaway

Welcome to the In My Dreams Experience Tour Part 2!

Next up is a guest post from the fabulous

First off… I want to thank Lisa from A Casual Reader's Blog for letting me visit, and for giving me
the great idea for this post.

A Writers Paradise…or Not…

Yes, I live in Maui, Hawaii and have a wonderful backdrop of which to sit, and meditate, and gain inspiration for my novels… But do I use it? Not as much as I’d like. I have three specific places where I write, so I’ll start with my least favorite…

Place #1: Is where I’m at now. In a dimly lit room, on a very uncomfortable, and I must say… the ugliest, student-chair ever. It’s pale pink, thinly padded, and has some kind of mysterious, circular black smudge on it that cannot be removed. It was plucked from a warehouse… a freebie, which my husband happened to rescue before going to the dump. Thanks honey. It does beat sitting on the floor, though. We haven’t gotten around to getting a new one, so here it remains… day after day. One day, I wish to have one of those luxury leather chairs. Black. The ones that you can sink into, and actually feel comfortable in, for any given length of time. I guess that day will come when I sell enough books. Please book fairy… sell, sell, sell!

This is definitely not my favorite place to write, because I do most of my work here during the day: bookings, reservations, etc… In front of me is an extra-large 32” screen. Now this, I like, because I can see the words very clearly. Does it affect my mood? Yes, but mostly in a negative way. There’s usually way too much going on around me at this spot that I can’t think, and the fact that there’s probably way too many EMF’s passing through me (enough to give me a sunburn) doesn’t help either.

Place #2: This is a great spot. When my husband has sunset weddings to perform, I usually pack up my laptop, and hit the road. In case you were wondering… he is a Hawaiian officiate, and performs nearly 30 weddings per month. Yep… he’s busy and in demand! So, anyway… spot #2 is usually at some beach. Most times my hubby will park the car so I can see the beach, but I don’t like to write on the beach. I get too distracted. So, I usually stay in the car, in the AC, where it’s cool, it’s quiet, and there is beautiful scenery all around me… a perfect formula for writing. This is a place where I can usually write a few pages at a time…

The downfall… His wedding ceremonies only last 30 minutes. That’s the time frame I have to cram pages in. But I must say… most of my better pages came from this spot, and there is a part in the book that was inspired by one of these beaches. Secret Cove, to be exact, but it’s not a secret anymore. It has now become one of the most popular wedding spots!

Place #3: This is my very favorite place. This is the place where most of my writing is done. It is either early in the morning, or late at night, in bed, pillows fluffed behind my back, and laptop resting on my lap. I can normally write 5-10 pages at a time, and can usually squeeze around two hours of un-interrupted writing, if I’m lucky. Because I’m in a relaxed state here, everything seems to flow better.

So those are my writing spots. But no matter what place I’m in… I enjoy every minute of writing. It’s like a therapy for me – releasing, relaxing. I just hope that my readers enjoy it as much!

Oh – and before I go… there is a new novel out there called In My Dreams. I hear it’s a pretty good read, by a fairly cool author. You might want to check it out!

Thanks Cameo! For my thoughts on In My Dreams, check out my review.
And finally, the part you've all been waiting for- THE GIVEAWAY!

I will be giving away a Kindle copy of In My Dreams. If you do not have a Kindle, it is easy to get the Kindle app so you can enjoy this great book on your phone, tablet, or computer.

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite place to spend time. Whether it's writing or just thinking, what place inspires you most? Make sure you leave your email address so I can contact you!

This contest will run from July 22nd to August 7th. A winner will be picked on August 8th by The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked. Don't forget to visit all the rest of the stops on the tour! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

In My Dreams Experience Tour Schedule:

July 17: Review @ Books Ahoy
July 18: Author Interview @ The Fable Faerie
July 19: Author Interview & Giveaway @ The Subtle Chronicler
July 20: Guest Post & Review @ Cup of Tea Reviews
July 21: Author Interview & Giveaway @ Bookish
July 22: Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway @ A Casual Reader's Blog
July 23: Review @ The Book Addict
July 24: Review & Giveaway @ Enchantedbooks
July 25: Guest Post @ Letters Inside Out
July 26: Author Interview & Giveaway @ Darlene's Book Nook
July 27: Review @ Books for the Insomniac
July 28: Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway @ I'm A Book Shark
July 29: Author Interview, Review, & Giveaway @ StephLikesBooks
July 30: Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway @ Much Loved Books

In My Dreams Experience Tour: Review of In My Dreams by Cameo Renae

Welcome to the In My Dreams Experience Tour!

I have two posts for this tour. 

First up, my review of the book!

Title:In My Dreams
Author:Cameo Renae
Pub. Date:04/28/2011
ISBN:1461083990 (ISBN13: 9781461083993)

It was happening again. The dreams. The nightmares. It was something seventeen year-old Elizabeth "Lizzy" Hayes thought she'd outgrown; dreams that would come true; detailed premonitions of how people would die. This time she dreams about her boyfriend, Michael Young, and soon discovers that he's been found... dead. 

Michael hasn't crossed over because he was murdered, and now his murderer is coming for Lizzy. His spirit won't rest until she is safe, and as a newbie spirit, the easiest way for him to make contact is through Lizzy's dreams. When she dreams, it's as if he hasn't died.
Lizzy must learn to pull on her inner strength to survive horrifying events. Meanwhile, in the spirit world, Michael learns everything he can about his supernatural gifts to help. But will it be enough to save her?

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


Lizzy has dreams that seem more like premonitions some times. So when she has some bad dreams involving her boyfriend Michael, she begins to worry. Her worries are soon justified when Michael's parents call to tell Lizzy that he has passed away. Now Lizzy's life has been turned upside-down, and Lizzy has to try and make sense of it all. Her dreams are her one place of comfort though, as she gets to communicate with Michael there. She soon learns the truth surrounding his death and that she is in danger. What follows is an exciting adventure that crosses both real life and Lizzy's dream world. At its heart though is a sweet romance and proof that true love will overcome any obstacles.

I really enjoyed this book. I found that the author has a beautiful sense of phrasing. The story flowed so well. I was immediately drawn into the book. One thing I really appreciated was that the romance was able to be sweet without being too cloying. I enjoy romance, but I think sometimes it can overcome the other aspects of the plot. I felt that didn't happen in this case though. Michael and Lizzy were a great pair, and I was cheering for them. This book is a super fast read, and I really wanted to read it all in one sitting. There was a lot of action, but I never felt like it was too rushed. Overall, I think this is a great read for anyone who loves romance and paranormal books. 

Book provided for review.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: Precious Objects by Alicia Oltuski

Title:Precious Objects
Author:Alicia Oltuski
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date:07/19/2011
ISBN:1416545123 (ISBN13: 9781416545125)

In the middle of New York City lies a neighborhood where all secrets are valuable, all assets are liquid, and all deals are sealed with a blessing rather than a contract. Welcome to the diamond district. Ninety percent of all diamonds that enter America pass through these few blocks, but the inner workings of this mysterious world are known only to the people who inhabit it.

In Precious Objects, twenty-six-year-old journalist Alicia Oltuski, the daughter and granddaughter of diamond dealers, seamlessly blends family narrative with literary reportage to reveal the fascinating secrets of the diamond industry and its madcap characters: an Elvis-impersonating dealer, a duo of diamond-detective brothers, and her own eccentric father.

With insight and drama, Oltuski limns her family’s diamond-paved move from communist Siberia to a displaced persons camp in post–World War II Germany to New York’s diamond district, exploring the connections among Jews and the industry, the gem and its lore, and the exotic citizens of this secluded world.

Entertaining and illuminating, Precious Objects offers an insider’s look at the history, business, and society behind one of the world’s most coveted natural resources, providing an unforgettable backstage pass to an extraordinary and timeless show.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


In Precious Objects, Alicia Oltuski gives an insider's look into the world of diamond dealing. Her father works in the diamond district of New York City. It's a different world there, entrenched in tradition and religion. Through good times and bad, the dealers have formed their own code of ethics and way of doing business. They are a unique family of sorts, but things are slowly changing with new technologies and new generations of dealers. The allure of the sparkling stones will never change though.

This book does a very thorough job over covering many different aspects of diamonds. From their usage throughout history to their important role in shaping the political and economical structure of many parts of Africa, diamonds have never been just jewels. The author does a fabulous job of keeping things from ever getting too dry. I learned so many different things about diamonds, both about their physical characteristics and the more esoteric traits that have made them so highly desirable. More than this though, I felt like I really got to know the dealers of these jewels. You get a real sense of their passion for their trade and the diamonds themselves. They understand the gems like no one else can, and this allows them to understand each other in ways no one else can.

I thought this was a very enjoyable book. Anyone with an interest in diamonds will find something of interest in here. More than that though, I think this book is a fabulous study of the dealers themselves. They are some unforgettable characters, and they seem like a bit of a dying breed. Things may be changing for the dealers, but they will forever be immortalized in a beautiful way in this book.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer

Title:The Secret Ingredient
Author:Laura Schaefer
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Imprint:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date:06/28/2011

It’s nearing the end of summer before ninth grade and Annie has been busy working as a barista at her grandmother's teashop, Th Steeping Leaf. In between serving up chai lattes and matcha frappes, Annie has gotten involved in a scone bakeoff with one of Louisa's tea suppliers. The winner gets an all-expenses paid trip to London for a tea vacation! Annie The competition is tough and sabatoge is in the air when suddenly Annie's food blog begins attracting mean comments. Then there's the whole matter of a stolen kiss with Zach Anderson in the Steeping Leaf stockroom. Could Annie's former sworn enemy become her current love interest? With the help of her two best friends, Genna and Zoe, can Annie come up with an awesome contest entry and sort out her love life before the end of the summer?

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


This was a very cute book. There were a lot of interesting things in it. and it is certainly age appropriate. Annie wants to win a contest to bake the best scone and win a trip to London. Not only does she have to make a winning scone recipe, but she also has to get ready for her first year of high school. And deal with boys. And be a good friend. And get people to follow her food blog so she can make it to Chicago to bake her scones and win. That's a lot for one summer!

There was some very interesting information in here. If you have a middle-school aged girl interested in tea, she will certainly get a lot of information about different kinds of tea. There's also a lot of talk about healthy eating. Annie's friend Genna wants to become an actress and feels she needs to lose some weight to do it. Some very good points are brought up in the book about how Genna needs to concentrate less on cutting out foods and more on adding healthy foods. This is a great lesson for young girls, and there are even some tips on good things to eat. They also talk about how moderation is the key, and it's always ok to eat treats that aren't as healthy in moderation.

There is a lot of talk about locally grown ingredients and gardens that I loved. It's fun to try and get involved in your food. It never comes off as preachy though. Overall, this is just a sweet book that I think many girls will enjoy. There are also some scone recipes in there I'm dying to try. They look delicious! 

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Last Archangel Blog Tour

Welcome to The Last Archangel Blog Tour!

Xandir has been exiled to earth until the end of time. But when his cherub trainee disappears, Xandir makes a deal with rogue angels and giants that could restore life to the mortal woman he loves and end his assignment as a destroying angel in exchange for helping them bring about the end of the world and all of mankind.

(Summary  and cover via Goodreads.)

Be sure to check out the author Michael Young's Facebook Fan Page and Twitter.

Title:The Last Archangel
Author:Michael D. Young
Publisher:Cedar Fort Books
Imprint:Bonneville Books
Pub. Date:07/14/2011
ISBN:1599558947 (ISBN13: 9781599558943

I was drawn in to this book by the summary and the cover. It looked like a unique and interesting read, and it absolutely was. Xandir is an angel that has been sentenced to exile on Earth until the end of the world. When someone with questionable motives presents Xandir with an opportunity to hasten the end of his exile, Xandir is faced with a difficult choice. Throw in his new apprentice cherub Jerom and a woman he Xandir was assigned to be guardian over, and Xandir quickly has his hands very full. 

This was a very enjoyable book. I found the beginning to be a bit confusing, but the story quickly found it's legs. It was a great read full of action and danger. Xandir was wonderfully ambiguous. He describes himself one time as a "fence sitter," and I think this is accurate in a good way. He is complex in his reasoning, but he never becomes someone you can't sympathize with. I also thought Eden's story felt a bit unconnected to Xandir (aside from his assignment as her guardian angel), but this was all tie together in the end in ways I did not imagine. 

I think what the author did best for me was create some fabulous characters. Jarom, Xandir's new apprentice, was fantastic! I was definitely left wanting to know more about him. Eden's friend Judy was another great person. She was able to be strong, supportive, and fierce all at once. I also adored Yearti. I don't want to say too much and spoil anything, but Yearti was awesome. 

This book had all the makings of a great book. If you want action, adventure, and even a little romance, look no further. I felt like this was a unique concept with some surprises in the plot. The characters are probably the most enjoyable part of the book. They are extremely memorable, and help to make this book a very fun read!

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Title:Sometimes It Happens
Author:Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Imprint:Simon Pulse
Pub. Date:07/12/2011

On the last day of her junior year, Hannah's boyfriend Sebastian dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah's side...until it's time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava's boyfriend, Noah, who's such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah's good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction--and one night, into a passionate kiss. 

The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Sebastian, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think...

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


The story of this book is told through a series of flashbacks, all leading up to the first day of school. The summer starts out with Hannah discovering her boyfriend kissing another girl at a party. Things soon go from bad to worse as Hannah's best friend Ava tells her she's leaving town all summer to go be a camp counselor. However, Ava leaves her boyfriend Noah in charge of taking care of Hannah. With Noah's help Hannah soon has a new job, a new friend, and a new perspective on life. When Hannah makes a huge mistake, will she ruin everything?

I actually enjoyed this book, which kind of surprised me. I'm not usually a huge romance fan, but this book was fun and fast-paced. From the cover I thought it was going to be serious and angsty, but it was actually the opposite. I felt like the relationships were fairly realistic and not too rushed. Mistakes were made and owned up to. It was shown that there are always multiple sides to stories, and sometimes the only thing we can control is our actions. However, the book was never preachy.

It really did feel like a summer book. In the end, you could sense not only the change of some relationships but also the change into a new school year and new phase of life even. I think a lot of people, both young and older adults, will be able to feel for the different characters. This book kept me interested until the very end, and I had a great time reading it.

Galley provided by publisher for review. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park

Title:This Burns My Heart
Author:Samuel Park
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date:07/12/2011
ISBN:1439199612 (ISBN13: 9781439199619)

Chamara is difficult to translate from Korean to English: To stand it, to bear it, to grit your teeth and not cry out? To hold on, to wait until the worst is over? Such is the burden Samuel Park’s audacious, beautiful, and strong heroine, Soo-Ja Choi, faces in This Burns My Heart, an epic love story set in the intriguing landscape of postwar South Korea. On the eve of marriage to her weak, timid fiancé, Soo-Ja falls in love with a young medical student. But out of duty to her family and her culture she turns him away, choosing instead a world that leaves her trapped by suffocating customs.

In a country torn between past and present, Soo-Ja struggles to find happiness in a loveless marriage and to carve out a successful future for her only daughter. Forced by tradition to move in with her in-laws, she must navigate the dangers of a cruel household and pay the price of choosing the wrong husband. Meanwhile, the man she truly loves remains a lurking shadow in her life, reminding her constantly of the love she could have had.

Will Soo-Ja find a way to reunite with her one true love or be forced to live out her days wondering “what if ” and begin to fully understand the meaning of chamara?

He is not just telling her to stand the pain, but giving her comfort, the power to do so. Chamara is an incantation, and if she listens to its sound, she believes that she can do it, that she will push through this sadness. And if she is strong about it, she’ll be rewarded in the end. It is a way of saying, I know, I feel it, too. This burns my heart, too.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


This Burns My Heart is the story of Soo-Ja, a woman in post-war Korea who is having to forgo the life she desires to fit in with the customs and culture of her country. After a hasty marriage, Soo-Ja is soon trapped in a life of virtual servitude to her in-laws. As her life turns out vastly different to what she had imagined when younger, she continues to run into a man who she had quickly fallen in love with right before she got married. In Yul, she sees a life that could have been, full of love and comfort. Soo-Ja must decide whether to pine after that which she wishes she had or make the best of what she does have.

I absolutely loved this book! There was such beauty and grace to Soo-Ja. Never did she wallow in misery, even while wondering how her life would have been different if she had married someone else. She understood that her life was made by her choices. Soo-Ja had wonderful perspective on everything. I also really enjoyed the aspects of Soo-Ja's wants versus tradition. In a culture steeped in tradition, Soo-Ja knew there were certain expectations made of her. Although they did not make her life easy, she did the best she could to satisfy those traditions and make her own life as she saw fit. She was a beautiful example of adapting and making the best of all situations.

The writing was outstanding. Everything flows so well, and you get a real sense of who all the characters are. I was so moved by this book. This is the kind of book that makes you feel so many things, but in the end I was incredibly uplifted. I am recommending this book as highly as I possibly can. It has been my favorite book so far this year, and I am sure it will be on many "best of" lists to come.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Freedom Giveaway Hop Winner

I'm happy to announce that the
Freedom Giveaway Hop Winner is:

Cheryl Abdelnour

Congrats! Thanks to everyone who entered, and please
come back for more reviews, book tours, and giveaways!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Nerd Girls by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Title:Nerd Girls: The Rise of Dorkasaurus
Author:Alan Lawrence Sitomer
Publisher:Disney- Hyperion
Pub. Date:07/05/2011

Maureen, a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed dork-a-saurus, is totally addicted to cupcakes and hot dogs and thinks that her body looks like a baked potato. Allergy-plagued Alice can’t touch a mango without breaking out in a rash, and if she eats wheat, her vision goes blurry. Klutzy to the extreme, Barbara is a beanpole who often embarrasses herself in front of the whole school. These outcasts don't have much in common—other than the fact that they are often targets of the ThreePees: the Pretty, Popular, Perfect girls who rule the school.

But one day Maureen discovers that the ThreePees are planning to sit next to Allergy Alice in the cafeteria and eat peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches on whole wheat toast with mango marmalade for lunch. And Maureen decides that it's time to topple the eight-grade social regime. She joins forces with Alice and Barbara and the Nerd Girls enter the school talent show, determined to take the crown from the ThreePees. Will their routine be enough to de-throne the popular crowd? Or will their plan backfire and shake their hold on the bottom rung of the social ladder?

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


When I first started reading this, I thought I was going to hate it. The beginning really turned me off. I'm glad I stuck with it however, as there were a lot of really good things about it. I'll start with what I didn't like first. The main character, Maureen, was not that sympathetic. I understand self-deprecation, but Maureen was a little too harsh on herself and everyone else she saw. Also, she didn't really read like a female character. It really did come across as a guy trying his best to get into the head of a tween girl, and it just didn't quite succeed for me. 

I loved the general story though. Trying to get back at the mean girls is probably not the best motivation in the world, but it worked well in how it gave the Nerd Girls a chance to form true bonds of friendship. I liked that the ending wasn't completely resolved, but it still made me feel good about what happened. I think the idea of acceptance of people no matter their quirks is very important, and I think it was handled really well in this book.

Overall, I ended up enjoying the book a lot. That surprised me when I considered how I felt in the beginning. I think that girls will really enjoy the "girl power" in this book, and hopefully it can help them feel better about loving themselves as they are. So over all, I give this book the thumbs up.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert B. Garant and Thomas Lennon

Title:Writing Movies for Fun and Profit
Author:Robert B. Garant and Thomas Lennon
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date:07/05/2011

A hilarious and revealing guide to the movie industry by two writers whose movies have made over a billion dollars.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


I should start by mentioning that I have no interest in writing a screenplay. I do however love The State, Viva Variety, and Reno 911!, so I was very familiar with the authors of this book. Naturally I was dying to read it. It was everything I expected and more. There was tons of humor mixed with some really useful information. My favorite section was probably the chapter on determining if you had made it in Hollywood by where the different studios sent you to park.

Through all the humor, you get a real sense of passion for writing. They don't just do this for money; they write because they feel compelled to. They go through their process of writing an outline, pitching to studios, and then writing the screenplay. There is also a lot of useful information about how the studio system works and what to expect from the entire movie making process. I also learned a lot about all the different writing and production credits and the arbitration system with the writing guild. It's all very complex and fascinating.

Clearly if you are interested in writing screenplays, there is a lot of useful information here. Even for us non-writers though, there is so much stuff to learn from this book. Naturally, it's all relayed with tons of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in movies. It is sure to entertain!

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Cinder and Ella Giveaway Winner!

I actually contacted the winner on July 1st, and then it was a holiday weekend so I didn't post it, but the winner is:



Congrats!! Thanks to everyone who entered, and please check back for more giveaways!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: Olga: A Daughter's Tale by Marie-Thérèse Browne

Title:Olga: A Daughter's Tale
Author:Marie-Thérèse Browne
Pub. Date:06/07/2010

Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is a story about heritage, identity, and belonging. It’s one family’s experiences of hardship, discrimination and love. Set in Jamaica and London between the years of 1900 and post war England, the reader is taken on a journey with one family through history and cultural change.

Written with diary entries and letters, "Olga – A Daughter's Tale" is based on a true story about cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman and about her moral courage, dignity, resilience and, in particular, love. It is the story of a remarkable woman who because of circumstances made a choice which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica. That is, until nearly half a century later, when her past caught up with her

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


What an amazing story! This book starts with Lucy Sinclair, a young wife who moves from England to Jamaica with her husband. Her sisters soon follow, and younger sister Becky soon creates a bit of a scandal by marrying a black man. Becky has 11 children, and this is where Olga's story begins. Olga is a sweet girl who always wants to be good, but she is a bit naive at times. Her family goes through their own adventures and scandals. Olga goes to England and eventually becomes stranded due to World War II. In England she endures the trials and tragedy of war, along with a few personal problems that occur. Throughout it all Olga remains remarkably resilient and courageous. She is determined to do the best she can at all she does, and she manages to take care of herself even in dire circumstances.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is that it is a true story. The story is told through a series of letters, newspaper clippings, and diary entries. I found this to be a marvelous way to get into the different character's personalities. I enjoyed this way of telling the story. I found it to be an effective way to tell everything that happened without unnecessary amounts of long exposition. There were many topics of great interest to me. Olga's life was made much more difficult by the racism she faced in Jamaica and England. Another very interesting part to me were the descriptions of life in London during the war. You get a feel for how frightening it must have been to try and go on with your life while bombs were falling.

I enjoyed this book so much, and it really makes me want to go look into my family history. While I may not have relatives with a life as exciting as Olga's, I certainly think there are stories of interest to me. This book was very interesting and quick to read. It shows the good and bad parts of what happened to a family, and Olga persevered through it all. Olga is a remarkable woman, and I'm glad that I got to read her story.

Book provided by author for review.