Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Once Upon a Curse

by E.D. Baker.

This girly fantasy revolves around a family curse that makes the girls in the family turn ugly and nasty when they touch a flower after their 16th birthday. This is a family of witches, so nasty is REALLY nasty. The youngest in the line is about to turn 16, and is betrothed to a boy she loves, but she is determined to end the curse or stay single so as not to put him through it.

So she pursues an answer, using magic, traveling back through time, and so on. Doing something with that answer when she returns is another story, because her aunt is making it difficult, not to mention throwing other wrenches in the birthday celebration that must be dealt with. She and her fiance work together and come a long way, but it looks like hope is lost until a surprise twist.

This took me a while to read, because it doesn't pull you along, the way some fantasy-type books do, with adventure. So although the character is a smart, strong young lady, and I like her relationship with Eadric, this was really just sort of lukewarm. A real fan of princess-y books might love it, though.

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Monday, November 19, 2007


The Mysterious Adventures of Pauline Bovary

by Edeet Ravel. Book two. (Book One reviewed here.)

The continuing adventures of Pauline continue in much the same vein, although she seems somewhat more sophisticated in her writing. Perhaps all her practice has paid off, not to mention the quotations she has sprinkled throughout this second novel at Zane Burbank III's advice...

Pauline loses her best friend Genevieve to the city, where she has gone to train for Olympic skating glory, and also loses her boyfriend to the folly of thinking another, newer boy was pretty exciting, if confusing. Her parents seem to find their feet post-divorce with new companions, which throw her off a bit, but by the end, things have settled, and she finds herself ready for new adventures, which she will be sure to write about in book three.

Fun, girly, fluff, quite charming still, but growing up some. Her involvement with boys remains pretty lightweight - she is, she says, too young for anything more than kissing yet. This is one of the things that keeps this a nice intro to chicklit for younger girls, while she also brings in touches from novels like Madame Bovary, which Pauline is reading while she lives and writes her own story. I would like to hope that that and the quotations might make some readers curious about some classic authors, too, which would be a nice touch.

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Friday, November 16, 2007


The Thrilling Life of Pauline de Lammermoor

by Edeet Ravel.

Pauline is writing a novel, adhering closely to the advice of Zane Burbank III's book You Too Can Write a Great Novel! She is also in middle school in a mid-sized Ontario town, with a handful of good friends, an even better imagination, and newly divorced parents who provide lots of fodder for the trenchanct conflict she is trying to inject into the story at Zane's behest. What follows is a bit scattershot (but it is divided nicely into chapters that are not too long, contain plenty of dialogue, and try not to cover too many topics in each), and full of the charm of a girl of that age trying to tell a story while constantly interrupted and always having something else to say as things come up (it's so hard to avoid long tangents when you are 13!). Funny, sweet, still very innocent, and really, really cute. A great choice for girls looking to try something chicklit-ish in feel, but without lots of drama and mean girls and serious boy action. (She does develop a relationship, but one that grows slowly from friendship, and is not going anywhere quickly.)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Missing Abby

by Lee Weatherly.

Emily was best friends with Abby. The two used to play fantasy games and draw dragons and aliens and other worlds, and had a great time. But when a popular bully turned her sights from Abby, who ignored her, to Emily, who was truly tormented, Emily decided to change schools and escape all of it, transforming herself into someone who could fit with the popular girls, someone who would never be into something as freakish as fantasy.

She even had an uncomfortable run-in with Abby on a bus one day, when it became clear that Abby was a little bitter that she had changed and totally cut off their lifelong friendship. Emily was only thinking of leaving it all behind, pretending to be someone else... until the news came on. Abby was missing, and Emily, as it turned out, was the last person to see her.

Emily is torn between trying to keep a good face on for her new friends, to pretend she didn't really know this goth-y girl that well, and feeling really terribly guilty and worried about Abby. She falls in with Abby's "freak" friends, trying to help them find her, and even gets herself into serious trouble with her parents when she brushes off her friends and disappears when she thinks she knows where Abby might have gone.

In the end, she finds herself a hero of sorts, which helps mend fences with her parents, and finds that her new friends are actually real friends, who don't care if she is into fantasy as well as fashion. In fact, they had met that bully from Emily's old school, and thought she was a major bitch. Emily finally finds a place for herself - a blend of the Ems who like trendy clothes and cute boys and the Emily who likes to dream up crazy, magic-filled worlds. It's a nice ending, something I'd wish for for any teen, to discover that they can be who they are and still be accepted.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007


The Titan's Curse

by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, bk. 3.

I really loved the first book of this series, was ho-hum on the second, and am somewhere in between on this third installment.

This is a quest Percy is not supposed to go on, but since his friend Annabeth is in danger, he goes anyhow, and joins the quest, along with one other demi-god, his satyr friend Grover, and two of Artemis' huntresses, who are determined to go, because she, too, is in trouble. The titans are rising, still trying to gather the strength to overthrow the gods of Olympus, and the prophecy about a child of either Zeus, Poseidon, or Hades looms.

The quest involves lots of peril and some more familiar monsters, some not-so-familiar monsters, and even fun add-ins like the statues at the Hoover Dam. After tricking the titan Atlas and ending this attempt at uprising, the remaining heroes of the quest visit Olympus, high above the Empire State Building, and learn a few things fromt he gods themselves, as well as enjoying a great victory feast. In the end, Thalia heads off the possibility that she will be the one in the prophecy, leaving Percy a couple of years to figure out how to thwart the Titans before he figures in it himself.

The book delivers lots of fun action, but still not quite at the pace of the first volume. It also sets up the continuation of the series perfectly, so we know there is at least on more before the big showdown. Even though I feel like this series hasn't totally lived up to the potential of the first book, I'll still read it, because they are entertaining, certainly.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007


Pants on Fire

by Meg Cabot.

Life is going along pretty well for this small town girl until Tommy Sullivan came back to town. She was dating the school's hottest football star (brother of a local hero), front-runner in the upcoming Quahog Princess pageant, and top of the class. But it wasn't really working for her. The pageant, she was into for the prize money so she could buy a professional camera. And, as she reasons, if she was so into Seth, she wouldn't be kissing Eric behind his back, right? She's up to her eyebrows in little lies meant to keep everything in balance, keep all the right facades in place. But Tommy's arrival blows everything to bits.

Tommy, who was run out of town four years ago after exposing a cheating scandal among the town beloved Quahog football team and forced them to forfeit the only state championship they hadn't won in some 16 years. Tommy, who had been sort of her friend, before insisting on going public with the scandal. Tommy, from whom she distanced herself in a big hurry to avoid becoming a pariah in the town. Tommy, who has returned tall and hot and just as smart as he ever was, and who apparently doesn't care any more about the town's Quahog obsession than he ever did. She is both drawn to him and terrified that he'll both ruin her carefully constructed social life and find out she was involved in spraypainting a slur about him on the gym wall (which remains, after 4 years). In the end, things blow apart in a way she wouldn't have predicted, but aren't as bad as she would have predicted, either.

This is slightly different fare for Cabot, but not by much. It retains that trademark fun Cabot voice, but is a little further from the Princess Diaries territory than many of her previous chicklit offerings. Good fun, fluffy stuff, as usual.

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