Books4Hearts – Book Reviews: July 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Although the skirt hung in a stiff tube around my legs, maybe with my new white silk blouse it didn’t look half-bad-
“You look like a giant tube of toothpaste.”
Maybe not.
You know those people who have everything planned out? The six year olds who already know exactly who they are going to marry? And the thirteen year olds who are already taking AP classes*? Well, Vassar Spore (named after a woman’s college) is one of those. Only to the extreme. She has her entire life planned out, including writing a book, going to Vassar college, marrying for love, having three children by the age of about 35, and the entirety of her life. The Spore family is known for their planning. Everything is planned out. They have schedules of their schedules. Vassar is well on her way to her goal.
Until the box arrives.
The box is from Vassar’s grandmother, Gertrude (Gerd). And it totally messes up her plans. Grandmother Gerd blackmails Vassar’s parents into forcing Vassar to backpack across Southeast Asia. While Vassar is on her trip, she meets a, to quote the jacket cover, “Malaysian cowboy-slash-bodyguard her own age”, she learns secrets about her family, and more then that, she learns to turn her life backwards… and Carpe Diem, seize the moment.
What made people climb mountains? Those lunatics who climbed Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, Everest- what drove them to waste all that time and energy to simply get to the top of a land mass?
The title caught my attention. I mean, it’s a famous (latin) phrase. The cover also caught my attention. It’s interesting. I love the style… the swirly bits in the leaves and her hair, and the natural brown and green. I read the synopsis, loved the idea, read the book, and loved the book. I’d give it 5 stars… This book had a good ending! No stars needed to be removed for a crappy ending.

*I have nothing against these sorts of people. If you have something against these people, I would recommend not saying anything, as I and a lot of my friends are them. 😀

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Angels on Sunset Boulevard by Melissa De La Cruz

“Hi, Taj. Glad to see you and Johnny are back.”
It all started with a website. TAP is a social site for people- you go and meet friends. You create wishlists and people buy you the things on them. You get free stuff. You get to go to awesome parties. And at these parties the ones who are truly “tapped” get to go through the ritual. They get to drink the drug and have everything disappear. At least for a while. TAP is for people like Taj- people who aren’t necessarily happy at life. At least, Taj wasn’t, until she met Johnny. Then she met Nick. Then things started getting complicated. Kids start disappearing… at the TAP parties. And in the midst of everything, Johnny Silver, the going to be awesome superstar, disappears. And Taj wants out. But does Taj know more then she reveals? Is the character hiding… even from the reader?
Taj made a face. “What if he doesn’t like Kapusta?” she asked, her nose wrinkling at the thought of eating the pungent cabbage and sauerkraut slaw. She’d only mentioned it to Nick as a joke.
“How can he not like
This book strongly reminded me of the Spy Girl books… of which I haven’t done reviews (I don’t think.). It is a very interesting book, with likeable characters. I didn’t like the ending, though. I realize it’s the first in a series (*grinds teeth togther* agh! They should say so on the cover so poor innocent people like myself don’t go read it, then realize that they have to get the next stupid book!), but the ending was entirely a let down, really. I liked Taj, and I don’t get why she… does the things she does at the end. That aside, it was a well written book with an interesting premise. I’d give it three stars.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

He had never disobeyed the order to hide. Even as a toddler, barely able to walk in the backyard’s tall grass, he had somehow understood the fear in his mother’s voice.
Luke is a third child who lives in a country where third children aren’t allowed. No one is supposed to have more then two kids, but there are always some who break the rule. They create shadow children, thirds who have to hide their entire life to avoid the population police. It’s not a happy life for Luke- when the forest next to his farm gets cut down, he has to avoid going outside altogether. Then avoid the kitchen. He feels useless, he can’t go outside and help farm. he can’t do anything inside, either, to avoid anyone coming and looking in windows. He’s trapped. Until he meets Jen. Jen’s another shadow child, one who communicates to hundreds over the internet. And she has a plan. A crazy plan.
Would he dare? Of course he wouldn’t but still, still- The first time he looked out the vents and saw maple leaves shot through with shades of red and yellow, he panicked.
The first thing that went through my mind when I picked up the book was “ooh… cool cover. Cool title.” Thing that went through my mind when I read the synopsis: “That. Sounds…. interesting.” So I brought it home from the library, and read it. It was a quick read (though that was probably helped by the fact that a) I’m a quick reader and b) this version was in large print), but decent. Warning, however, it was sad. Quite a bittersweet ending… it had hope for the future, but it was also incredibly filled with despair. I’m not quite sure what I think about the end, so I took off a star just to be safe. I’d give this book three stars (though it might be four if I could make up my mind about the ending.).

Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft

I’m sort of a corny TV and movie addict in general. I am a dork.
Self professed “dork” (not really) Carli is an actress. She’s been assigned a role as a “Sheila Smith” in a new TV show, about girls who live in a boarding school. But Carli doesn’t know what boarding school is like. Why would she? She’s never gone to one, never wished to go to one. Which is why she is assigned to Winchester School of the Arts. Winchester is the “laundromat” for students- it’s where all the other schools send their dirty laundry. The kids who were expelled. The delinquents. Everyone there is there for a reason. Most of them have stories. Like Fun (who is REALLY Fellini Udall Newport, but hates his name, for good reason). Fun was expelled from Winchester. His father wants him to graduate high school, though. His father is the director of the show that Carli has been cast in. And Carli “Sheila” needs someone to show her the ropes of the school, to make sure that she actually figures out how to be Sheila. And everything is just hunky dory until Carli gets there, and finds out that a girl, one of the only “normal” people there, Darcy, has disappeared. In one of her shame spirals, Carli decides to find Darcy. The mystery pulls together people who Carli never thought she’d meet, much less be friends with, and brings a whole new understanding to all of their lives.
Which brings me back to the series: My character is not a dork. Her name is Sheila Smith, by far the worst of the bunch: the shcemer who won’t let anyone stand in her way, the queen bee, the foul seductress… place every standard Mean Girl stereotype here then triple it. (Yikes!) But the problem is…
I am a dork.

This is another one of those fluffy girly spy mysteries. Like “I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You” and “My Fair Godmother” (although that isn’t a spy book, the characters seem pretty similar) and, (although I haven’t done a review on them) the “Spy Goddess” books. I liked this book, though. It was interesting, I liked the characters, and the mystery was intriguing. The ending is completely bizarre, but somehow the author seems to make it work. very odd. but anyway, I’d give this book four stars.
“You think this is humorous?”
The color drained from my face. “No, I…I don’t know. Headmaster Stanton sounds like a Muppet.” It was the first thing that popped into my head. “Or someone who’s just breathed in, like, a big balloon of helium. Doesn’t he?”
For some reason this struck Fun as funny. He started laughing. He laughed so hard that Stanton stopped talking. He laughed so hard that every single kid in the dining hall turned to look at us, standing in the entranceway- the last four students to arrive on the tragic opening day of the new Winchester school year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *