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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Prom & Prejudice
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Pub. Date: 1.1.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Retelling, Prejudice, Romance, Elite Schools, Friendship
Pages: 231
Description (from Goodreads):

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?
Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

I adored Elizabeth Eulberg's THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, so, coupled with my lifelong love of Jane Austen, PROM & PREJUDICE was a must read. Eulberg's novels are light and rather fluffy and PROM & PREJUDICE is just over 200 pages, making it a quick read... perfect for a weekend.

The characters were likeable and the similarities between Eulberg's reimagined versions of Austen's characters were easy to see. I liked that the reader was able to draw parallels between P&P and PROM & PREJUDICE. Although, i
n PROM & PREJUDICE, Lizzie's mother is, thankfully, nothing like the Mrs. Bennett of P&P. This Mrs. Bennett was much more supportive and considerably less interested in connections.

I did think that there were times when Eulberg would have been better off straying a bit further from Austen. For example, the language was archaic at times and didn't seem to fit the contemporary setting. I would have preferred Eulberg to abandon her attempt to match dialogue... it made the conversation awkward and, at times, almost forced. 

Overall, I'd recommend PROM & PREJUDICE, but I preferred THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB. Read Eulberg's debut first, then pick up her sophomore release if you like the first.

Review copy provided by Amazon Vine.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Between Here and Forever
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: 5.24.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 256
Description (from Goodreads):
Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

I've loved Elizabeth Scott's novels for years... I've read ever one of her Simon Pulse titles starting with BLOOM way back in 2007. Each time I see that she has a new one on the way, I find myself excited, but, unfortunately, BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER fell short of my expectations.

Scott's Simon Pulse novels are relatively light, quick reads, which is nice after reading a dense novel or an especially emotional read. I treat Scott's novels almost like transitions... They have hints of depth and offer small doses of tough subjects without making them the main focus. Instead, they're more romance centered with an underlying issue as the obstacle.

BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER fit this familiar formula, but I didn't love the main character, which was an issue. Instead of being easy to relate to, I found Abby's constant comparison between herself and her older sister Tess to be repetitive and shallow. I call it the Jane Eyre syndrome: If you keep insisting you're plain and not good enough, readers will see you as plain and not good enough - or I will at least.

I did, however, like the 'tough subjects' Scott explored in this novel, like prejudice based on color in a small town and the difficulty of knowing where one fits in. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't read very many novels where the love interest isn't Caucasian. Eli was a refreshing change and he quickly developed into my favorite character.

Overall, BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER was a cute, worthwhile read, especially if you're a regular reader of Scott's novels, but there are others I'd recommend before this one. If you're thinking about picking up a Scott novel for the first time, I'd recommend STEALING HEAVEN, PERFECT YOU, or THE UNWRITTEN RULE.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Win a copy of BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray!

Big Honcho Media has kindly provided two copies of Libba Bray's BEAUTY QUEENS for two lucky winners at The Hiding Spot! See below for your chance to win this hilarious new novel!

2 winners will receive:
(1) hardcover copy of BEAUTY QUEENS

How to Enter:
You MUST fill out this FORMIf you neglect to fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.

Extra Entries:

Not required. Extra entries are detailed on the entry form as well.
+1 Comment on my review of BEAUTY QUEENS.
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated! 

Contest will close June 12th, 2011. Open to the US only! You must be age 13 or older to enter.

Good luck!

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queen
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub. Date: 5.24.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Survival, Pageants, Satire, Girl Power, Self Discovery
Pages: 400
Description (from Goodreads):

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and complete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eye liner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again..

Libba Bray is one of the craziest, off-the-wall writers I've ever experienced. And reading her books is just that - an experience. Bray's novels are always entertaining, but BEAUTY QUEENS took things to whole new level. 

No subject is spared by Bray in the satirical BEAUTY QUEENS... thank goodness. This biting satire calls out the ridiculousness of pop culture, the backwards and shady nature of big corporations, and confronts the idea of beauty and what it means to be a woman.

BEAUTY QUEENS is girl power... not in a cutesy, yay-I'm-a-girl! way, but in a I'm-a-woman-hear-me-roar! way. This book is silly and humorous, but, in the end, it had a serious message. Each of the surviving, stranded beauty queens had something to hide... something that shouldn't have had to be hidden in the first place. There is no checklist for beauty or for being a strong, successful woman and Bray's BEAUTY QUEENS is a testament to that.

BEAUTY QUEENS is a novel I'll definitely be loaning out to the women in my life. It's laugh-out-loud funny, a bit romantic, a bit wild, and a whole lot of kickass. Bray doesn't disappoint.

If my review wasn't convincing enough, the author gives you plenty of reasons to check out BEAUTY QUEENS:

In addition, Scholastic has launched a new online community called This Is Teen to connect readers with their favorite YA authors and books. Visit their page on Facebook for all the latest news on Libba Bray and her new book Beauty Queens:

Review copy provided by Amazon Vine and Big Honcho Media.

Monday, May 23, 2011

inkpop Weekly Writing Challenge: Darkest Mercy

I'm a tad behind in mentioning this writing contest, but I know some of you readers out there are budding authors as well and might be interested in this challenge! If it sounds like something you'd like to participate in, write fast! This challenge closes on May 26th!

From the Forum:

In Melissa Marr's DARKEST MERCY, conflict is escalating in the Dark Court. A missing King, an emerging war and a mistake that could cost one brother his life. Darkest Mercy is a novel embroiled in conflict. As every good author knows with conflict comes resolution.

Write a short story or poem that displays good conflict resolution. While the end results might always be fair to all those involved, your writing should seek to bring peace to the troubles at hand.

Two writing winners will receive a free copy of DARKEST MERCY as well as three books of their choice from HarperTeen. Two comment winners will be selected at random to win a copy of DARKEST MERCY as well as three books of their choice from HarperTeen. 

For more details and information regarding how to enter this challenge, go here.


Big Honcho Media has kindly provided a copy of Jessi Kirby's MOONGLASS and the final installment of Jenny Han's Summer trilogy, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER, for one lucky winner here at The Hiding Spot! See below for your chance to win both of these great summer reads!

(1) hardcover copy of MOONGLASS
(1) hardcover copy of WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER

How to Enter:
You MUST fill out this FORMIf you neglect to fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.

Extra Entries:

Not required. Extra entries are detailed on the entry form as well.
+1 Comment on my review of MOONGLASS.
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated! 

Contest will close June 5th, 2011. Open to the US only! You must be age 13 or older to enter.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Title: Moonglass
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date: 5.3.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Death, Single Father, Grief, Moving, Ocean, Suicide
Pages: 224
Description (from Goodreads):
I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface. 
While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

I've come to find that discovering new contemporary YA authors to love is becoming a consuming hobby, but it's so worth it when I find an author like Jessi Kirby and a book like MOONGLASS.

I'm not the biggest fan of MOONGLASS' cover, but the blurb by Sarah Dessen intrigued me. Dessen has been one of my favorite authors since junior high I always take a look at books that are rumored to be similar to her style... Kirby's debut is reminiscent of Dessen's novels, but is definitely it's own novel. I found that the feelings explored in MOONGLASS are very much like what one would find in a Dessen novel, but Kirby adds her own flavor and flair to her writing that makes it very much her own.

I wasn't positive I'd be Anna's biggest fan. She's kind of... perfect. She has a gorgeous beach body, great hair without having to try, and an engaging personality ... and she's completely aware of it. Luckily, Anna only goes out and displays her assets a couple times before she has her guy pretty well hooked, so the reader is able to overlook her lack of flaws. I'm not proposing that she should have a huge defect, but a little imperfection is generally a good thing.

Anna's relationship with her father was, in my opinion, the most notable aspect of this novel.  I liked that there wasn't a new woman coming between Anna and her father, but rather the memory of Anna's mother and the ghostly remains of her suicide. 

I highly recommend Kirby's MOONGLASS and I can guarantee I'll be reading her sophomore novel!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Title: Miles from Ordinary
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pub. Date: 3.15.11
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Mental Illness, Single Parent, Grief, Hallucinations
Pages: 197
Description (from Goodreads):
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....

Carol Lynch Williams is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite authors... Of her three published titles, I've read both GLIMPSE and MILES FROM ORDINARY and am completely in awe of both. 

I feel the need to point out how very different GLIMPSE and MILES FROM ORDINARY are. Both are powerful, relatively short reads, but GLIMPSE is written in free verse and MILES FROM ORDINARY is written in traditional novel format. Williams' mastery of both forms astound me... Neither story is more or less detailed or profound, the writing is fluid and each word seems chosen for a specific purpose. 

MILES FROM ORDINARY is narrated by 13-year old Lacey, which, under normal circumstances, might bother me. Luckily, a novel by Williams doesn't count as "normal circumstances." Williams has the ability to write a novel with a 13-year old main character in which the character genuinely acts like a 13-year old, but the novel still feels YA not MG. When I read the descriptions of Williams' books and see the young age of the narrators, I don't even pause. I know that the character's age will not slow the plot of soften the book's message; Williams is definitely a YA author.

This novel definitely has a sinister edge. Williams hints at the drama in Lacey and her mother's life, revealing more and more as the novel progresses, building until the truth descends like a torrential downpour and there's no holding back the darkness. 

I highly suggest you read MILES FROM ORDINARY and GLIMPSE... I'm left speechless each time I finish one of Williams' novels. The stories held within these covers are powerful and they need to be heard. I've also heard wonderful things about THE CHOSEN ONE, Williams' debut, and will be reading that as soon as possible. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Title: Girl, Stolen
Author: April Henry
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company BFYR
Pub. Date: 9.28.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 213
Description (from Goodreads):
Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

I admit that GIRL, STOLEN didn't immediately catch my eye. It wasn't until a few trustworthy sources recommended it to me that I really gave it a second thought... The description was, for lack of a better term, cheesy. Luckily, my friends are wise and convinced me to to set aside my first impression because GIRL, STOLEN's quick-witted heroine is definitely worth meeting.

My favorite aspect of GIRL, STOLEN was most definitely Cheyenne. My younger sister is visually-impaired, though not to the extent of our main character, and the author's descriptions rang true. Cheyenne is a strong, smart young woman that's easy to connect with and even easier to be inspired by. I'm excited to share this novel with my sister, in hopes that she too will find some inspiration in Cheyenne's perseverance and strength. 

I suppose there was a slight romantic plot line, but I wouldn't classify this novel as romance. It was hinted at, but wasn't of any major consequence.

Parts of GIRL, STOLEN may be predictable and there isn't much time for in depth development of the secondary characters, but this novel is still a 5-star in my book based solely on the clever main character.

Review copy provided by Amazon Vine.