Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hot Lunch by Alex Bradley

Title: Hot Lunch
Author: Alex Bradley
Year of Publication: 2007
Genre: YA
Pages: 276
First Line: "True, there was a moment, right after Ms. Valeri had explained the assignment and announced that everyone should select a writing partner, when I knew I should pay attention and at least try to find a partner who I didn't hate."
Summary: Got lunch? If you don't, you'll have to eat the hot lunch, and that's risky business these days with the new additions int he kitchen: Molly and Cassie are cooking.

Molly is a blue-haired sophomore who can't stand most of her classmates at her hippie-run high school, Sunshine Day. She especially can't stand Cassie, mostly because Cassie is blond and perky and just too normal. When Molly and Cassie are forced to collaborate on a school project, however, their bickering escalates into a FOOD FIGHT in the cafeteria. But because Sunshine Day isn't your average high school, the girls' punishment isn't detention--it's to work in the cafeteria as lunch ladies.

Their only hope of escape is to actually cook good food and earn their way out. But they'll also have to cook up a way to get along in order to get themselves out of the kitchen.

Source: Back of book

Review: This book wasn't great but it wasn't awful. Some parts were pretty good and a certain aspect of the book was fairly unpredictable. Half-way through I realized it might have been a little bit better if Maureen Johnson had written it, but I enjoyed the "hands-on" reading because it included four recipes, one of which I plan on trying out at some point. The plot was pretty original, except for the Molly-Cassie relationship, which was fairly generic. A little bit preachy but not to the point where it was overly annoying. Worth a look if you've got a slow day.

Worst part: Something was missing from the book. I'm not quite sure what, but I felt like that throughout.

Best part: I really liked the Patty Cable situation. It was similar to a lot of other books, but it seemed totally fresh.

Grade: C+

Other Books by This Author: 24 Girls in 7 Days.

Other Notes: - Alex Bradley is the pseudonym for Jeremy Jackson
- His Alex Bradley blog is pretty funny. There are only three posts but you can find it by searching Alex Bradley on Google.
- He looks a little bit like John Green.

14 / 50 books. 28% done!

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

Title: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times
Author: James Finn Garner
Year of Publication: 1994
Genre: Satire, fairy tales
Pages: 79
First Line: (Of the Introduction:) "When they were first written, the stories on which the following tales are based certainly served their purpose--to entrench the patriarchy, to estrange people from their own natural impulses, to demonize "evil" and to "reward" an "objective" "good."
Summary: Once upon a time, in the olden days, heavy-set middle-aged men would congregate in their elitist clubs, sit in over-stuffed leather chairs, smoke air-choking cigars, and pitch story ideas and plots to each other. Problem was, these stories, many of which founds their way into the general social consciousness, reflected the way in which these men lived and saw their world: that is the stories were sexist, discriminatory, unfair, culturally biased, and in general, demeaning to witches, animals, goblins, and fairies everywhere.

Finally, after centuries of these abusive tales, which have been handed down--unknowingly--from one male-biased generation to the next, James Finn Garner has taken it upon himself (that's right, yet another man) to enlighten and liberate these classic bedtime stories and retell them in a way that is much more in keeping with the society in which we live today.

Source: Back of book

Review: I read this while writing an essay about politically correctness, but I had been meaning to read it anyway. It wasn't quite as "smart" as I had expected it to be, but it was pretty funny and absurd in some parts. It only took half-an-hour or forty-five minutes to read so it's worth it if you're waiting at the doctor's office or just want a little laugh.

Worst part: I was disappointed with the lack of a real biting intelligence but that isn't to say it was stupid.

Best part: The concept of this collection is really interesting.

Grade: C+

Other Books by This Author: Politically Correct. . .

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

Title: The Fetch
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA, supernatural, historical
Pages: 379
First Line: "Calder was a Fetch, a death escort, and had been since his own death at the age of nineteen."
Summary: Calder is a Fetch, a death escort, the first of his kind to step from Heaven back to Earth. The first to fall in love with a mortal girl.

But when he climbs backwards out of the Death Scene, into the chaos of the Russian Revolution, he tears a wound in the ghost realm, where the spirits begin a revolution of their own.

Source: Back of book

Review: After reading A Certain Slant of Light (which is not a sequel or companion -- just by the same author), I had really been looking forward to reading more of Laura Whitcomb's stuff. When this finally came out, I was really excited to get my hands on it and when I finally did, I was disappointed. While the cover of the book advertises it as a "supernatural romance," it isn't, really. There is very little romance in it. That would have been okay if it hadn't been billed as such. The plot was really disorganized and all over the place, making it hard to remember what, exactly, was happening. While the idea was intriguing, it was not executed well. I'm not sure if I would bother recommending this to someone, unless he was very interested in the Russian Revolution and the Romanovs.

Worst part: Probably just how disappointed I was. I had loved ACSoL and this just was not the same caliber at all.

Best part: There were a few scenes towards the end of the middle that were kind of cute but the rest of the book was lacking in those kinds of scenes!

Grade: D

Other Books by This Author: A Certain Slant of Light.

12 / 50 books. 24% done!

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Title: Stargirl
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Year of Publication: 2000
Genre: YA
Pages: 183
First Line: "When I was little, my uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it."
Summary: From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of "Stargirl, Stargirl." She captures Leo Borlock's heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal.

Source: Back of book

Review: I loved Stargirl. The book did have a few flaws but as soon as I got a chance, I went to the library and picked up the companion, Love, Stargirl. While the character of Stargirl was very unrealistic, it had some really deep things to say about who we are and other big questions. Even though it's a relatively short book, it seemed to move slowly in some parts. Despite that, part of me wishes it had been longer. I will say that Stargirl and Leo don't really match very well. I didn't see the why for them.

Worst part: Aside from their relationship, there wasn't a whole lot of answers about why for Stargirl in general. That was kind of annoying.

Best part: The whole idea for it was pretty brilliant. It took a twist on a story that's been told dozens of times and made it new.

Grade: B+

Other Books by This Author: Knots in my Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid and Crash.

11 / 50 books. 22% done!

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

No spoilers.

Prophecy of the Sisters
Author: Michelle Zink
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 343
First Line: "Perhaps because it seems so appropriate, I don't notice the rain."
Summary: Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

Source: Back of book

Review: I'll be blunt: I hated this book. I had been really looking forward to reading this one, and then. . .ugh. It was badly organized, characters weren't even characters. . .Just don't read it.

Worst part: The whole. Bloody. Thing.

Best part: James was a cutie. That's about it.

Grade: F

Other Books by This Author: Unknown.

10 / 50 books. 20% done!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

Includes major spoilers (noted before and after).

Killing Mr. Griffin
Author: Lois Duncan
Year of Publication: 1978
Genre: YA
Pages: 222
First Line: "It was a wild, windy, southwestern spring when the idea of killing Mr. Griffin occurred to them."
Summary: They only planned to scare their English teacher.

They didn't mean to kill him.

But sometimes even the best-laid plans go wrong.

Source: Back of book

Review: I wasn't aware this was written in the 70's until I started writing up this review. From that perspective, I'm more impressed because I feel the plot is more original. The writing wasn't fantastic -- typical horror style, nothing terribly amazing but not awful, either. Characters were pretty two-dimensional and fairly predictable. I really liked Mr. Griffin's character. Plot was somewhat predictable. A quick read and kind of interesting. Probably worth it if you need something to read on the go. Plus, it's physically a tiny book.

Worst part: Part of the end was really confusing. Begin Major Spoiler. At the end, Susan was all, "I love Mark." But I hadn't seen anything that would have indicated that throughout the book. It didn't make sense and wasn't really relevant to the plot, either. You can be easily influenced by someone without loving them. And I think Mark should have been compared to Hitler more. /End Major Spoiler.

Best part: Mark was probably the best part but he could have been done even better.

Grade: B

Other Books by This Author: I Know What You Did Last Summer and others.

9 / 50 books. 18% done!

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

No spoilers. This books is probably better for older teens.

Title: The Bermudez Triangle
Author: Maureen Johnson
Year of Publication: 2004
Genre: YA
Pages: 370
First Line: "The host stood at his podium under the pink-and-yellow neon arch and surveyed the three girls who had just come through the door."

Summary: The Bermudez Triangle is:

Nina Bermudez, who TiVos every episode of Trading Spaces because watching people rip down bad decorations soothes her.

Avery Dekker, who worships Jack Black but has learned to play Billy Joel's "Piano Man" by heart just so that she can hate it in detail.

Melanie Forrest (a.k.a. Mel), who inspires guys to develop instantaneous, epic crushes--the kind that cause them to want to iron their clothes and listen to the lyrics of slow songs.

Lifelong best friends Nina, Avery, and Mel face their first separation the summer before their senior year, when Nina attends a ten-week program at Stanford. But how much can happen in ten weeks?

Plenty, it seems. Nina finds herself blindsided by Steve, the adorable ecowarrior down the hall. Too bad he lives in Oregon and she's from upstate New York. When the Stanford program ends, she has to wait 8,736 hours before she can see him again.

At least she'll soon be reunited with Mel and Avery. But Nina isn't the only one whose life was turned upside down in ten weeks. While Nina was gone, Mel had her real first kiss. With Avery.

Source: Back of book

Review: Before you get concerned about it being like Sisterhood, it's not. It's more mature and the plot is much different. All-in-all, not what I expected, and probably some of the more quality writing I've seen from Maureen Johnson. It did feel a bit long at parts, and sometimes stuff was totally unnecessary to include and just slowed down the plot. You don't have to be a lesbian to enjoy the book -- it's fun in general. Hank Green (John Green's brother) recommended the book as a "should be read in high schools" (because there had been a banning issue) and I'm not sure I would go THAT far because I don't think it was of THAT much quality. But it was good and if you've got the time, it's worth a look.

Worst part: There were several parts of the book that felt like it was just dragging and I was ready to move on.

Best part: Avery's character was really well done, I felt.

Grade: B+

Other Books by This Author: Suite Scarlett, Devilish, Girl at Sea, The Key to the Golden Firebird and others.

8 / 50 books. 16% done!

Monday, February 1, 2010

And the winners are...

Recently, the American Library Association announced the 2010 Young Adult book award winners.
Going Bovine by Libba Bray won the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. (Libba Bray is also the author of the very popular Gemma Doyle Trilogy). For all of the 2010 winners, check out the website for the 2010 Youth Media Awards. Happy reading!