Waiting on Wednesday (30)

Wednesday December 1, 2010 

Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma
June 13, 2011
Dutton Books
Goodreads Summary: Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home two years later, a precarious and deadly balance waits. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, laced with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept. 

Sounds delish huh! Way mysterious plus sisters and secrets...yum! Oh and the cover is gorgeous!

Book Reviewing 101: Adding Some Depth to Those Reviews!

Friday November 26, 2010

There has been a LOT of discussion lately on Twitter and review blogs on the basis and validity of negative versus "book-bashing" reviews.  I think that a huge part of this lies in the fact that despite being a book lover,and avid reader, not everyone is experienced enough to provide a thoughtful, honest critical literary review. So, with that in mind (and of course being a teacher) I put together a lesson plan of sorts to help anyone interested learn the basics of writing a good critical review. I say this because not every blogger is interested in doing reviews somewhat formally, and I totally understand this. This info is to help reviewers who want to add some depth to their reviews.

This is not a comprehensive list and I am not an expert in writing book reviews. In fact, putting this post together has made me think about my own reviews and what they are lacking. I'm sure we all have those days when we aren't in the mood, so we hastily put together a review and post it, but I think one of my New Year's resolutions will be to make sure most :) of my reviews really stick to the guidelines below.

Book Review Helpful Hints and Guidelines...

Before we start here are some words of wisdom from the UNC Writing Center

  • Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but don't criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be.
  • With any luck, the author of the book worked hard to find the right words to express her ideas. You should attempt to do the same. Precise language allows you to control the tone of your review.
  • Never hesitate to challenge an assumption, approach, or argument. Be sure, however, to cite specific examples to back up your assertions carefully.
  • Try to present a balanced argument about the value of the book for its audience. You're entitled—and sometimes obligated—to voice strong agreement or disagreement. But keep in mind that a bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and every author deserves fair treatment. Harsh judgments are difficult to prove and can give readers the sense that you were unfair in your assessment.

With that in mind, let's begin!

First provide all the basic info like:
Book title
Book release date

You can also provide ISBN, links to purchase the book, links to the authors or books website and/or anything else you think would be helpful.

Next provide a basic summary of the book. Goodreads or the publisher website usually provides this. What is really important is that you don’t give away ANY of the major plot elements that will ruin the story for the reader!

By no means do you have to include ALL of the following in your review. These are just some elements for you to consider when writing it. Whether you liked the book or not, I think it is always a good idea to give supporting details. Instead of saying “I hated this character because she was so annoying.” You can comment on character development and vice-versa if you loved a character.

Looking at all the following questions will also help a reviewer in finding positive aspects of a book they didn’t love. For example, maybe you didn’t like the characters but the setting was detailed and enhanced the story.  

  • From what point of view is the the book narrated?
  • What genre would you classify the book? (Horror, Sci-fi, Dystopian) Find common genres HERE

  • Who are the main characters?
  • What is the author's attitude toward his characters?
  • Are the characters flat or three-dimensional?
  • Does character development occur?

  • What is/are the major theme(s)?
  • How are they revealed and developed?
  • Is the theme traditional and familiar, or new and original? Link to some common themes HERE
  • Is the theme moralistic, psychological, social, entertaining, escapist, etc. in purpose or intent?

  • How are the various elements of plot (introduction, suspense, climax, conclusion) handled?
  • What is the relationship of plot to character description?
  • To what extent, and how, is accident employed as a complicating and/or resolving force?
  • What are the elements of mystery and suspense?
  • What other devices of plot complication and resolution are employed?
  • Is there a sub-plot and how is it related to the main plot?
  • Is the plot primary or secondary to some of the other essential elements of the story (character, setting, style, etc.)?

  • What are the intellectual qualities of the writing (simplicity, clarity, conciseness, balance)
  • What are the emotional qualities of the writing? (humor, black humor, wit, satire, tragedy, empathy)
  • What are the aesthetic qualities of the writing? ( rhythm, illustrations, structure, time shifting, coincidence, dualism, imagery, fantasy, suspense, analysis, humor/cynicism, and thinking aloud)
  • Does the author use in specific literary devices that hinder or enhance the overall story? (red herring, analogy, poetic justice, irony) Find a complete list HERE
  • How effective is dialogue? Effective dialogue moves the plot forward. It deepens, or layers, characterization. It creates immediacy and intimacy, and it subtly conveys information and emotions capable of sparking reader empathy. Read more about dialogue HERE.

  • What is the setting and does it play a significant role in the work?
  • Is a sense of atmosphere suggested, and how?
  • What scenic effects are used and how important and effective are they?
  • Does the setting influence or impinge on the characters and/or plot?

This is not an absolute list of course, just things to think about when writing a review. If you have a comment or something you'd like to add to the list please let me know

If you think this list is helpful, spread the word!

I found bits and pieces of the basis of this list all over the web but I mainly referred to this website....http://www.lavc.edu/library/bookreview.htm

In My Mailbox (48)

Sunday November 21, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

A nice surprise this week from Harper! Lots of yummy books to read :) I loved the first Wereling book so I'm looking forward to Dark Moon too!

Hope you had a great week too!

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Teeth: Vampire Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow, with contributions by Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Claire and Holly Black and more.

Book Review - The Ruby Notebook by Laura Resau

Friday November 19, 2010

Note: The following is a guest review by my principal here at HMS, Elaine C. Thanks Elaine!

The Ruby Notebook 
by Laura Resau
September 2010
Delacorte Press
Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Zeeta and her flighty English-teaching mom, Layla, have traveled the world together, settling in a different country every year, making a whole new set of friends and adopting new customs. This year, they’ve chosen to live in Aix-en-Provence, France, an enchanting city full of fountains, creamy yellow light, and a fascinating group of scarlet-clad street performers.

Zeeta soon begins to receive mysterious notes and gifts from someone she calls her fantôme, or ghost, admirer. But she is expecting her boyfriend, Wendell—the love of her life, as her friends call him—to arrive in Aix for a summer program very soon. Zeeta brushes off her curiosity about her fantôme, and her simmering attraction to one of the street performers, Jean-Claude, until Wendell arrives and she begins to fear that her feelings for him have truly changed. Perhaps—like Layla—she’s simply not made for long-term romance.

As Zeeta tries to draw away from Wendell, however, circumstances seem to force them together. Zeeta’s friendship with a local antiques dealer and his reclusive artist friend leads to a dangerous adventure. When Zeeta and Wendell join forces to find a secret underground spring whose water is rumored to bring immortality, they are forced to reconsider their own desires, and their beliefs about true love. Yet as soon as Zeeta decides that her mind has cleared, she’s confronted with the biggest shock of her life: the incredible true identity of her fantôme.
Vibrant, warmhearted, and evocative, The Ruby Notebook is a remarkable novel about learning to accept love in all of its wondrous and imperfect forms.

Review: In this follow up to The Indigo Notebook we again take an intriguing look at the free-spirited lifestyle of an artist mother which she has also imposed on her 16 year old daughter Zeeta. Their latest adventure is a move to Aix en Provence, France (another addition to the 16 countries they have lived in.) Zeeta is trying to live somewhat normal life and keep Wendell, the boyfriend from Ecuador who had been adopted by US parents, as her true love for more than a year.  Zeeta struggles with making a life, new friends, and new school requirements as she and her mother live in a new country each year.  

When Wendell finally arrives, Zeeta has already started her new friends among the gypsies, including Jean-Claude, a handsome singer and player for street performers.  Her feelings for Jean-Claude and the disconnect between her and Wendell begin the conflict of her old life versus her new one.  Even more mysterious is Wendell's ability to have visions of the future, including Zeeta in a new red dress and water.  As Wendell joins Zeeta's search for the Fountain of Youth and her fantome's identity, Wendell and Zeeta search for the truth and for the love of each other.

An enjoyable read with beautiful detailed settings interwoven with a little bit of mystery and a touch of magic!

This is me, this is my library :)

Thursday November 18, 2010

Every year the computer class does teacher profiles for our school website. I thought I would share my page from this years class so you can see me in my natural habitat :)

Enjoy...and laugh...

Tween Tuesdays (18)

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Tween Tuesdays is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!

The Coming of the Dragon
by Rebecca Barnhouse
October 2010
Random House
Goodreads summary: Rebecca Barnhouse weaves Norse gods, blood feuds, and a terrifying dragon into this spectacular retelling of the end of the Old English poem Beowulf.

When he was a baby, Rune washed up onshore in a boat, along with a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. Some people thought he was a sacrifice to the gods and wanted to send him right back to the sea. Luckily for Rune, King Beowulf disagreed. He lifted the boy from the boat and gave him to Amma, a wisewoman living on a farm far removed from the king’s hall, to raise as she saw fit.

Sixteen years later, Rune spends his summers laboring on the farm. And at King Beowulf’s request, he comes to the hall each winter for weapons training. But somehow he never quite fits in. Many people still fear he will bring a curse on the kingdom. Then a terrible thing happens. On a lonely crag on a mountain that belongs to the giants, someone awakens a dragon. It is time for Rune to find the warrior inside himself and prove to the doubters once and for all that he is a true hero.

My thoughts....This is an imaginative tale that focuses on a certain character towards the end of the story Beowulf. In the original story Wiglaf goes with Beowulf to seek out a dragon that has attacked Great-Land. This is the first time Wiglaf has gone to war at Beowulf's side and he proves to him what a great and noble warrior he is. When Beowulf damages his sword wounding the dragon and is burned by the dragon's fire,Wiglaf is the only man fighting with Beowulf to overcome his fear of the dragon and stays by Beowulf's side. He maintains his courage and goes to Beowulf's aid crying words of encouragement. Ultimately, Beowulf names Wiglaf the heir to his kingdom.

The author focuses on this part of the Beowulf story and adds depth and detail of her own to weave an intricate coming-of-age story of a young boy, Rune (although not a part of the original tale, this is the nickname given to Wiglaf in the book.) An author's note at the end of the book states that her story is weaved around questions she has always had about the Beowulf tale...What was it about that dragon that scared away even the noblest of warriors? What was it about Wiglaf that gave him the courage to stay?

This would make an excellent classroom read to add depth to any lessons regarding the Beowulf poem. An adventurous, dragon-slaying tale that is a must for middle school libraries!

What's Your St@us by Katie Finn

Monday November 15, 2010

What’s Your St@tus?
A TOP 8 Novel
by Katie Finn

Sixteen-year-old Madison still loves logging on to Friendverse to see what her BFFs and her cute new boyfriend Nate are up to. But the latest social networking craze is Status Q, which is all about rapid-fire status updates. When one of Mad’s friends has to pull off a high-pressure heist, the gang relies on Status Q to send code messages to each other…all in the middle of a school dance! Will up-to-the-minute social networking save the day…or lead to good old-fashioned disaster?

Madison MacDonald thinks things are finally working out!

Followers: 300

Status Updates:

mad_mac         Nate and I have been together for two months, and it’s wonderful!  Life is good!

mad_mac         Well, except for the fact that I still might be failing history.

mad_mac         And I no longer have a BFF.

mad_mac         But aside from those things!

mad_mac         Okay.  So, um, apparently I’ve just been put in charge of the school’s priceless heirloom.

mad_mac         And the assistant headmaster has a vendetta against me.

mad_mac         And it seems I’m being blackmailed.

mad_mac         Gathering together a crew. I’m going to try and pull off a heist.  Without getting caught. Or expelled. Or arrested.

mad_mac         Also, I think I may have just accidentally wrecked my relationship. . . .

Madison MacDonald is trying not to panic.

 My Thoughts...This is one of those books that I will have a hard time keeping in the library. Once the word spreads it will be on hold until I scrape up the $$$ to get a few more copies! The mix of social media sites and of course the usual teen angst will keep readers turning the pages. Nothing too deep here, just a good old fashioned fun and fluffy read!

Katie Finn is the author of Top 8 and What’s Your St@tus?. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @katiefinnwrites and visit her online at www.katiefinn.com.

First book in the series:

Mini Book Reviews!

Friday November 10, 2010

I read much faster than I write....what does that mean? It means that I will plow through four books in three days and then before I know it I have ten books in a pile that need to have reviews written. So, I'd rather do some mini reviews than let those books end up with late-ish reviews! So, without further adieu.....

The Things a Brother Knows
by Dana Reinhardt
September 2010
Wendy Lamb Books
Goodreads Summary: Finally, Levi Katznelson’s older brother, Boaz, has returned. Boaz was a high school star who had it all and gave it up to serve in a war Levi can’t understand. Things have been on hold since Boaz left. With the help of his two best friends Levi has fumbled his way through high school, weary of his role as little brother to the hero.

But when Boaz walks through the front door after his tour of duty is over, Levi knows there’s something wrong. Boaz is home, safe. But Levi knows that his brother is not the same.
Maybe things will never return to normal. Then Boaz leaves again, and this time Levi follows him, determined to understand who his brother was, who he has become, and how to bring him home again.

Award-winning author Dana Reinhardt introduces readers to Levi, who has never known what he believes, and whose journey reveals truths only a brother knows.

Review: This is a great story about a younger brother's sensitivity to his older brother when he returns from fighting the war. Levi's character is crafted carefully, completely, and intricately through his relationships to his two friends, his grandfather, his parents, and his own internal struggles to become a young man.  When Boaz leaves on a journey, Levi follows him, anxious to know where Boaz is going, but more importantly, why. Levi refuses to turn back, to go home, and ultimately brings Boaz back from his psychological terrors. The name of the war is not mentioned but that is the point...Boaz could be any soldier who has fought in any war. The heart of the story lies in the  trauma of war itself and Levi's mission to bring his brother back from the brink using his greatest asset...love. 

An excellent read that is, of course, very timely. I would definitely recommend this book to middle school and high school libraries.

The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff
September 2010
Goodreads summary: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: I really enjoyed this creepy story. I felt the storyline was very original and the variety of creepy, descriptive characters through out the book made me keep reading just to see who Mackie would meet next. His journey is a tough one has he ventures to find his origins and the complete story of who and what he is. What he discovers about himself and his family's past changes everything. I really liked Mackie and his best Roswell. Roswell grounds the story in a way....with all the supernatural and creepy goings-on, he sticks by Mackie no matter what. Even when he finds out certain things about his best friend, he there, beside him thick or thin. Mackie's sister is also another great character and her love for Mackie is undeniable. Even she has secrets to tell Mackie. There is also a love interest for Mackie, Tate but trust me, this isn't your typical paranormal romance!
I'm a fan of this book and would reccomend it for ages 14 and up.

Both of these books are....


Tween Tuesdays (17)

Tuesday November 9, 2010

Tween Tuesdays is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!

Today we have a couple of books that will be a big hit with any of the scads of Diary of a Wimpy Kids fans....trust me, I can never keep those books on the shelves so anything I can use as a "Hey, those aren't in right now but try this one" book is a complete necessity as a middle school librarian!

NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society
by Michael Buckley
September 2009
Goodreads Summary: Michael Buckley is at his comic best in this madcap new series sure to appeal to kids looking for a quick, exciting read.

Combining all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school, NERDS, featuring a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school, hits the mark. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities! They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.

M is For Mama's Boy
by Michael Buckley
September 2010
Goodreads Summary: In this second outing for the 5th grade super spies, Duncan Dewey, codename "Gluestick", is the point of view character. This time the group must fight a very unlikely villain - he still lives with his Mum. In other words, it's the NERDS against a nerd.

Why I like them and think you will too...Two words: funny and clever. I found myself chuckling frequently through out these two reads at the often corny but hilarious hi-jinks. The books read like case files with a "high-tech" security system included, this and other cool spy gadgets will keep kids turning the pages. 

A fast paced read with Cartoon Network style illustrations that will be well worth your money. I'll admit that these books are probably a step above the Wimpy Kids books as far as reading levels go, but you don't have to tell them that!

Check out the cool NERDS dedicated website HERE

Book Review - You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

November 8, 2010

You Are Not Here 
by Samantha Schutz
October 2010
Push, Scholastic Press
Goodreads Summary: Annaleah and Brian had something special -- Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn't need anyone else. It didn't matter that it was secret. All that mattered was what they shared.

And then, out of nowhere, Brian is killed in an accident. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living on the outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss no one will let you have?

Ramblings...To be honest I've never been a fan of Nicholas Sparks or the Lurlene McDaniel tearjerkers, and for the most part I know I'm in the minority because I have tons of readers here, even at the middle school who check out those books until they are falling apart. Me? For some reason I just can't help feeling completely manipulated and emotionally assaulted! I have this semi-horrible personality issue where, while reading, watching a movie etc., I automatically put myself in the place of the main character. For example, I refused to read My Sisters Keeper because I knew I'd be emotionally exhausted for days afterward as I relived each moment of pain and suffering. My daughter on the other hand, LIVES for these types of movies...So, one day, we are watching TV together and My Sisters Keeper is on HBO or one of those channels and she starts watching it, I get up to leave and she begs me to stay for some sort of demented mother-daughter bonding moment. I still haven't forgiven her to this day...there was a point in the movie that I cried from there until the very end. I seriously had to put an icepack on my eyeballs so I didn't look like I'd had the crap kicked out of me (when, yes, emotionally I really had been...) My long-suffering point is, if I enjoy a tearjerker of a book, you'll know it was worth it!

Why I like this book...First of all, I really enjoy books written in the form of poetry as a change-up to my regular routine, it's just a nice change. I also know that it will popular amongst the teen reluctant reader crowd because to them, these books aren't as "wordy" and intimidating. I've created a whole section here in my library for them and their circulation rate has tripled! I also enjoyed this book because the plot was pretty original. I've never read a story of a teenage girl who had a "secret" relationship with a boy who ends up dying. How do you grieve when no one really knows you existed? I can't imagine the pain and frustration Annaleah feels as she mourns in silence while inside she screams for assurance and understanding. Her loneliness is palpable. I think the reason this "sad" book worked for me is because there is no tragedy "climax". We learn about Brian's death in the first couple of pages and the rest of the book is about Annaleah working through her grief and loss.

Characters....Annaleah was a bit frustrating at times because she kept dwelling on the same things over and over, but I know that this is a characteristic typical of most teens. I have two teenage girls myself, I have felt like pulling my hair out at times when they wallow in a situation and refuse to move forward. Grief is a process different for everyone and Annaleah struggles at first to move forward. Brian is that boy that a lot of girls like, but who keeps everyone at arms length. I don't think he purposely kept Annaleah a secret, I think he was trying to keep to different worlds from colliding....an alternate reality, so to speak. Annaleah's best friend Marissa knows about Brian and tells her that he is bad news from the very beginning. This makes it hard for Annaleah to lean on her when she knows Marissa never really liked him anyway. Ethan is a boy Annaleah meets after Brian's death. He tries to get close to her but will her grief and unwillingness to let go of the past get in the way?

Final thoughts...A skillfully written tale of tragic first love with an overall theme that life does go on. I can see this being a huge hit in high school libraries. There are a few sexually themed scenes that prevent me from keeping it here in the middle school but I know the girls here would love it too :) 

In My Mailbox (47)

Sunday November 7, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

I received TWO giant Librarian review boxes from Scholastic and Bloomsbury this week of late winter/early spring releases.....enjoy :)

Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge
Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Justin Bieber First Step 2 Forever: My Story 
I Will Save You by Matt De La Pena....LOVE this author can't wait to read!
The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin
Lucy and the Green Man by Linda Newberry
My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg

Vesper by Jeff Sampson
Wishful Thinking by Alexandra Bullen
Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett
Trackers: Shantorian by Patrick Carman

Warp Speed by Lisa Yee
The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
A Templar's Gifts: The Book of Tormod #2 by Kat Black
Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer
Clarity by Kim Harrington
Phantoms in the Snow by Kathleen Benner Duble
 Entice by Carrie Jones--which I'm reading right now!!!

Book Review - Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Friday November 5, 2010

Not That Kind of Girl
by Siobhan Vivian
September 1, 2010
Push, Scholastic Press
Goodreads Summary: Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things. 

But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

Why I liked it...Underneath all the romance and teen angst in this story lies the heart of a feminine kick-ass heroine. Natalie, like a lot of teenage girls, is extremely conscious of how people (especially  her teachers) perceive her. She is giving it her all to be the best at everything...schoolwork, class president, friend and mentor. All of her best intentions are blown to bits when she falls for a guy who doesn't exactly fit into her perfect plans. Natalie finds herself taking chances that she never, ever thought she would take and when she ends up in a fight with her best friend she feels her whole world falling apart.

Well, I also have to mention the romance part :) the writer does an excellent job of making the heart all aflutter as Connor and Natalie secretly meet to spend time together. Watching (well, reading) as Natalie falls for Connor despite her unwillingness to do so is bittersweet and I found myself rooting for her to give Connor a chance.

Characters....The ones I really like the most in addition to Natalie are Spencer, freshman to Natalie's senior who Natalie used to babysit. Spencer is a whirlwind of girl who has come to wield her sexuality as a weapon. In her bid to prove how unfair it is that boys who sleep around are cool and girls who do are "sluts", Spencer learns that stereotypical norms are hard to change. I also had some appreciation for Ms. Bee...I'm not sure if you had one, but I did...that female teacher who was adamant about being a "Ms." and who promoted the feminine agenda with a vengeance. Ms. Bee's affection for Natalie is genuine but her desire for her to be a replication of herself is a tough standard for Natalie to live up to...and does she even want to?

Final thoughts...I really enjoyed this book and I think its a great read for any teenage girl. As much as we want to deny it, the feelings of love and desire are expressed by both boys and girls, but sadly it's our girls who get branded with the Scarlett letter when things go bad. Natalie is a great example of a teen who comes to terms with who she wants to be and the reality of how life sometimes gets in the way.

Favorite quote from the book..."I had always known what kind of girl I was...until I didn't."-Natalie

Best for high school due to sexual situations

Review - Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Wednesday November 3, 2010

Cate of the Lost Colony
by Lisa Klein
October 12, 2010
Goodreads Review: The greatest unsolved mystery of American history--what happened to all the colonists who landed on Roanoke Island in 1587? This novel traces the fortunes and misfortunes of one Cate Archer, banished to Virginia by a jealous Queen Elizabeth because of her dalliance with Sir Walter Raleigh. What will be her fate in this dangerous New World? 

Why I liked it... I'm a huge fan of historical romance and this one has a few of my favorite real life characters and details. First, I love anything about Queen Elizabeth "The Virgin Queen" if you know anything about her history you know she was a hardcore ruler who had to basically shun any romantic notions in order to maintain her rule. The results of this really play out in this story so it was another interesting twist to think about.

Also, the story of the mysterious Roanoke Colony has always been fascinating to me. The idea that an entire group of colonist can simply disappear is just bizarre. The stance taken in this story seems most likely to me and if you want to read more about the colony try here:Wikipedia-Roanoke Colony.

The author also does a fantastic job of intertwining real-life facts within Cate's story and the book even gives you a list of characters and tells you which ones are real and which ones are fictional. 
Main Character/Narrator: Catherine "Cate" Archer is a strong-willed girl who finds it hard to live within the confines of the social restrictions of her time where woman are basically to be seen and not heard. After the death of her parents she finds herself a ward of the Queen and then banished to the New World where her sense of adventure leads her on a perilous and wondrous journey. She finds herself divided between to men...one in her new world and one from the past. Her choice could seal her fate as well as her fellow colonists.

Final Thoughts...I very much enjoyed enjoyed this historical romance. It is well written and I really enjoyed the portrayals of each character, most notably and as I mentioned previously Queen Elizabeth. The author does a great job of showing both sides of her...the lion and the lamb.  

Appropriate for ages 12 and up!