Tag Archives: young adult

Book Season 2009

Day 19There’s a time every year that I call “Book Season“. It’s usually around August to September, when all book stores I frequent go on sale, and usually ends right by Manila International Book Fair. These times are practically heaven for me as I get to buy a whole lot of books (then again it’s not like I don’t buy a lot off-season too), which all get added to my growing TBR list. In fact, there are still books on my TBR list from book fair two years ago. Haha.

I’ve always had somewhat of a generous stash every year after Book Season. This year was a bit different though. Good, yeah, but kind of different.

I hit MIBF last Saturday to see if I can find anything I like and buy it. I ventured into the fair with a list of books that I don’t necessarily need to have. The past years I have a list of books that I must have but this year, it’s just…”Okay, if I find it, I’ll probably buy it.” When I got to the fair, I ended up buying some pens from the Pilot booth and then three more books in National Bookstore (which I realized that I can still buy in National Bookstore with the same discount).

And all books I bought were in hardcover. And you know how I don’t like hardcovers.

But still, I think it’s a pretty good haul. They’re all “hot” books anyway:

Book Fair Haul
Book Fair Haul

I finally gave in and bought the hardcover copy of Sarah Dessen‘s Along for the Ride. Couldn’t resist, plus I can’t wait to read it anyway (and I’m almost done reading it!). The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins were highly recommended by Blooey, so there. :)

Hm. All sales ended yesterday, I think, and I just realized…almost all books I got to buy on all sales were from the Young Adult section:

2009 Book Saeson Stash
2009 Book Season Stash

From top to bottom:

  1. My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra (Powerbooks)
  2. Be Strong & Curvaceous by Shelley Adina (Fully Booked)
  3. Who Made You a Princess? by Shelley Adina (Fully Booked)
  4. The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt (Fully Booked)
  5. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt (Fully Booked)
  6. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (National Bookstore)
  7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (National Bookstore)
  8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (National Bookstore)

Not bad, not bad. I’m just surprised it’s almost all YA. I can see a trend coming in, haha. I find myself gravitating towards that section of the bookstore ever so often. Maybe I should go back to YA for NaNoWriMo.

Right now there’s no other book I want to buy yet. I was thinking of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol but it’s too expensive for me, plus I figure I can borrow it somewhere. :) I also wanted to buy those cool Austen reprints at National Bookstore…but I figured I could buy it next time. Or ask for it as  a Christmas gift. Support my Classics reading challenge! Give me Classic books (preferably Jane Austen :P).

Till next year, I guess?


When it Happens (Susane Colasanti)

Rating: [rate 3.0]

When It Happens (Susane Colasanti) Sara and Tobey couldn’t be more different. She is focused on getting into her first-choice college; he wants to win Battle of the Bands. Sara’s other goal is to find true love, so when Dave, a popular jock, asks her out, she’s thrilled. But then there’s Tobey. His amazing blue eyes and quirky wit always creep into her thoughts. It just so happens that one of Tobey’s goals is also to make Sara fall in love with him. Told in alternating points of view, Sara and Tobey’s real connection will have everyone rooting for them from the minute they meet!

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I spotted it as a recommended read in Amazon, and it took a while before I finally got myself a copy. When I saw it at the newly opened Fully Booked in Eastwood Mall, I grabbed it (in an impulse, I might say).

It’s an interesting read. I think the last he-said/she-said novel I read was Flipped, and I loved that novel. This one is just…well, interesting. I liked the two characters fair enough, and even the supporting characters were more interesting than say, an  orange nj dentist. I did find myself rooting for Tobey and Sara, and I’m actually quite interested to watch Say Anything, the movie mentioned in the novel.

However, there’s just something in the storytelling that felt a little off for me. I don’t know if it’s the present tense format, but I felt like the story lacked a bit of description, except when Sara starts painting or drawing or something. I felt like it lacked a bit of the smooth flow that other books have. I mean, for example, during one party that the characters attended, there was a part there that says: “Going Under is playing. Evanescence rocks.” I know it may be because it’s written to make it sound like how teens probably think nowadays, and maybe it just doesn’t gel with me quite much. Maybe because I’m not so good with descriptions that I like books with long and flowing descriptions?

But again, the overall story is good and a pretty much enjoyable, but it’s not really going to be in my favorites list. Maybe I was just too used to Sarah Dessen type novels, hence the conclusion. I’m still looking forward to reading Colasanti’s other novels, though. :)

Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s usd to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and — for the first time — feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s an adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.

Don’t you think that’s such a pretty cover? There’s really something about Sarah Dessen‘s book covers, and I know how much it appeals to its target audience.

Lock and Key is about Ruby Cooper, who moves into her siser’s place after her mother left her behind to fend for herself. Ruby has gotten used to taking care of herself ever since her sister left and her mom could hardly be counted on. She was so used to not owing anyone for help that when she moved to her sister Cora’s place, all she wanted to do was go back. But her new family was insistent on letting her stay and taking care of her, especially Jamie, Cora’s husband, who wanted to provide a good future for Ruby. Ruby is stuck, and despite all good things happening to her, she couldn’t help but feel wary of all this good fortune. She knows that Cora’s world isn’t her world, but she knew she couldn’t count on her mother anymore. But can she really learn to trust all the other people that’s coming in her life?

All the typical Dessen elements were in the story: Ruby, the sort of troubled child who’s left to fend off for herself; Nate, the cute neighbor who Ruby falls for but then has a secret of his own; Olivia, her classmate who she didn’t really like at first but then became friends with; Harriet, her boss at her job who was even more of a control freak than Ruby. There are also old friends who are only in the book to appear that they’re not really “friends”: Marshall, Ruby’s sort of boyfriend and Peyton, the closest thing she had to a best friend. Though not set in the summer, like other Dessen books were, this one still spanned a couple of months, almost half a school year if I got it right. There’s a lot of looking into the past, and backstories and family events and little symbolisms that made the story poignant.

I liked how Dessen was descriptive with Ruby’s past and everything around her  — from Ruby’s new room to the key that she kept hanging around her neck. The thing about Lock and Key for me, however, is that it read too much like Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos, with the mentally unstable and possibly a drug addict mother (who would probably pay for appetite suppressants over her daughter’s needs) leaving the daughter to fend off for herself and someone coming in to save the daughter. I couldn’t help but recall that other novel while reading this one. It’s not entirely the same, but the similarities just feel a bit odd.

But if you’re a Dessen fan, you’ll love all the Easter eggs in this novel. You’ll find a character from almost all of Dessen’s past novels. I especially love it when Kristy and Bert from The Truth About Forever showed up in one scene. :D

Lock and Key is a good read, but I think it’s not really as good as The Truth About Forever or Just Listen or This Lullaby.

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 5.0]

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen)A LONG, HOT SUMMER…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen — things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

The blurb does not do justice with the whole book. It says a lot about the story, but nothing about the amazing characters.

Macy Queen strives to be perfect. Not because she wanted to, but she felt like she needed to. After the death of her father, she started hiding inside herself, convinced that her mother needed her to be strong. Macy tries to get perfect grades, gets the perfect (and smart) boyfriend, and is prepared to face the long summer with the things expected of her.

But with anyone who tries to avoid the proper stages of grieving in losing a loved one, it always catches up on you. That summer, Macy’s world turns upside down when she meets the Wish Catering crew. There’s Delia, the very pregnant owner of the business; Kristy, the fashionable girl who befriends Macy and gets her to go to the parties they go to; Monica, Kristy’s sister who barely utters a word (and probably can’t say a word about weight loss pill); Bert, the Armageddon-obsessed dorky guy who drives an ambulance; and finally, Wes, the guy with the past (as the blurb mentioned), and probably the hottest fictional guy I’ve ever read about. :P Seriously, there’s something about how Dessen wrote about Wes that makes me crush on him. :P

The cast of characters is one of the things that make this book interesting. I can’t imagine not having any of them there, even the two snobby girls at the library that Macy hates. Their reactions to the plot felt so real that I felt like I was there with them while reading it. I don’t think there’s any catering company that has as many disasters as the Wish catering crew did, but it’s that chaos that makes them who they are.

Story wise, it’s pretty straightforward. The things that happened aren’t that unexpected, really, like Macy’s mom’s breakdown or her leaving the job. It’s what you’d expect to happen in a storyline like this, and even if it is expected, it worked. The characters managed to carry the whole book through and leave an important lesson about grieving and imperfection.

And again, on Wes: I agree with what Sarah Dessen wrote in her book info:

I think that in a lot of ways, he was the kind of guy I was always looking for: one who wasn’t so interested in the “perfect,” girl, whoever she might be. A boy who likes flaws, who sees potential in everything. While Delia’s company may represent chaos, Wes to me is hope. To him, nothing is ever finished, or broken. It’s just waiting to be incarnated, to begin as something new, again.

Now who wouldn’t fall for a guy like that? :P

This is the type of book that I will re-read every year, just to get that tingling and fluttery feeling whenever Macy and Wes would start getting close. :) This is certainly one of the best YA books I’ve ever read. And if you’re into YA, I suggest you read it too.

Keeping the Moon (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Keeping the Moon (Sarah Dessen)Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.

After finishing this one, I have read all of Sarah Dessen’s books except for Lock and Key whose paperback version is still not out. So let’s just assume I’ve read everything from this point. :P

Sarah Dessen is here with another great book, Keeping the Moon. I didn’t really understand why that is the title of the book while reading it, until the subject of the moon was brought up. And it tied up pretty nicely with a very nice ring to it. :) Anyway, Dessen has done it once again with a good storyline that is not only fit for young adults but also in those who are past that age but is still worried about impressions and looks. In this book, Colie was a fat kid who used to have a fat mom until her mother (and her) lost weight. Her mother became Kiki Sparks, fitness extraordinaire, and she just became Colie, who was somewhat missing all her flabs. On her mother’s European tour, she gets sent to her aunt, who is somewhat weird (with her outrageous outfits and the notes found on everywhere around her house), and meets a wacky cast of characters – Morgan, Isabel and Norman.

More than the story, it was the characters that drew me in the novel. There’s Mira, Colie’s aunt, who, as mentioned earlier, was kind of eccentric, and did not care one bit about how other people thought about her. There’s Morgan, the overdramatic neighbor who is in love with a baseball player and would make deviled eggs when she’s upset. There’s Isabel, Morgan’s housemate, who scares Colie at first because of her attitude towards her, but turns out she actually has an interesting past. And finally, there’s Norman, the guy who lived in Mira’s apartment, an artist, and a rummage sale freak with all odds and ends found in his room (I bet if he could find a way to squeeze in some automotive lifts in his room, he’d have those too).

As with other Dessen books, this was set over the summer, where a lot of things happen. Colie goes from a reserved girl who hid herself from the crowd because of what people at her school say about her, to a girl who learns to appreciate herself for who she was, and learns that she deserve respect just like every other person does. She draws strength from the people she meets over the summer in her confrontation with a bully, and then finds that she can also give strength to other friends who needs someone to be strong for them.

It’s a really nice story, and I liked reading it because it had a really nice message about perfection, self-respect and self-image. :)

Some of my favorite quotes in the book:

If something doesn’t work exactly right, or maybe needs some special treatment, you don’t just throw it away. Everything can’t be fully operational all the time. Sometimes, we need to have the patience to give something the little nudge it needs. (Mira)

You should never be surprised when someone treats you with respect, you should expect it. (Isabel)

Geek High (Piper Banks)

Rating: [rate 3.0]

Geek High (Piper Banks)At this school, everyone’s a geek. And Miranda Bloom still can’t fit in…

Miranda is a math genius with divorced parents, an evil stepmother, and no boyfriend in sight. She can’t even fit in with the other geeks at the Nottingham Independent School for high-IQ students, because they actually have useful talents. Miranda, on the other hand, is known as “The Human Calculator,” which doesn’t amount to much when people have, you know, their own calculators.

Then Miranda gets stuck planning the school’s Snowflake Gala. And as she struggles to find a date and drum up some school spirit at Nottingham-aka “Geek High”-she finds that who you are means more than where you fit in.

I found this book and picked it up because I thought the cover was cute and the premise was interesting. I like geek books, and I was still on my young adult novel mode, so this seemed perfect.

I don’t know if it’s because I just finished reading Robin Palmer’s Cindy Ella recently shortly after I read this, but this one read a lot like that. I liked the story, I liked the characters and the entire thing, but there wasn’t really anything new about it, at least for me. The usual cast of characters were there: Miranda and her two sidekicks/best friends, her evil stepmother (who seems really evil), her stepsister who eventually becomes her friend, the guy she likes, the guy she ends up liking and the huge problem that is set on her because she tries to be different from what everyone expects her to be. It just feels a bit too formulaic and similar with what I’ve read a few books back.

Maybe it’s my own prejudices, but for now this book is just an okay book. Nothing too stellar, just one of those nice young adult books to read. Maybe when I get a copy of the sequel I’ll change my mind.

Dreamland (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Dreamland (Sarah Dessen)Wake up, Caitlin.

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else — her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lacluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

This is definitely a far more serious Sarah Dessen book that all the others I have read. Dessen’s novels deal with serious issues, but this one feels even more serious than the other ones, from the very cover to everything inside. That level of seriousness kind of made me feel like even I was in dream land, like everything was surreal.

The story’s good, with remarkable characters, especially Cass and Boo. Cass only has a few lines but her disappearance and small reappearance had a huge impact in the entire story that I kind of wish there was more of her. I got annoyed at Caitlin for not standing up for herself but I also felt concern for her the way her family and friends did. However, I feel like there’s a lot more things that could have been uncovered, like why Rogerson did what he did, and what happened to him next. Then again, it was Caitlin’s story, so the focus was more on her, and how she recovered.

It was good, but it’s really not something I’m looking forward to read again and again, unlike The Truth About Forever or Just Listen. It’s also not something I’m going to let someone read when she’s new to Sarah Dessen’s work. Dreamland is good, but I honestly think it’s not as good as the others.

Cindy Ella (Robin Palmer)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Cindy Ella (Robin Palmer)Prom fever has infected LA—especially Cindy’s two annoying stepsisters, and her overly Botoxed stepmother. Cindy seems to be the only one immune to it all. But her anti-prom letter in the school newspaper does more to turn Cindy into Queen of the Freaks than close the gap between the popular kids and the rest of the students. Everyone thinks she’s committed social suicide, except for her two best friends, the yoga goddess India and John Hughes-worshipping Malcolm, and shockingly, the most popular senior at Castle Heights High and Cindy’s crush, Adam Silver. Suddenly Cindy starts to think that maybe her social life could have a happily ever after. But there’s still the rest of the school to deal with. With a little bit of help from an unexpected source and a fabulous pair of heels, Cindy realizes that she still has a chance at a happily ever after.

I love retellings. Ever since I read about this NaNoWriMo story about putting characters from Greek mythology into one story, I’ve always wanted to write my own retelling of something. I like to see how authors make an old story into something entirely new, but still sticking to the original story.

Cindy Ella is one of those books. I already liked Robin Palmer’s Geek Charming, and I was thrilled when I found Cindy Ella in National Bookstore. It’s obviously a re-telling of Cinderella, set in Castle Heights High, the same setting as in Geek Charming.

Here we draw the similarities with the original fairy tale:

  • Cindy Ella – Cinderella, obviously
  • Clarissa – her stepmother
  • Ashley and Britney – her stepsisters
  • Adam Silver – prince charming
  • Noah and Craig – Cindy’s fairy godmothers
  • Prom – the ball

The only people I can’t put into the original story are India and Malcolm, Cindy’s friends, and her dad.

But who cares, really? Cindy Ella is such a fun book that sometimes you forget that it’s based on the fairy tale. There are a ton of laugh out loud moments, especially with Malcolm and his gay antics, as well as some more “I crush on this guy but he turned out to be gay” quotes. The ending brings us right back to the original fairy tale, which felt a bit anticlimactic for me, but it’s still good with just the right amount of tingles. :)

It’s cute, fun and definitely enchanting. :) I definitely have Robin Palmer in my favorite authors list now. :)

A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity (Kathleen Gilles Seidel)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

A Most Uncommon Degree of PopularityLydia Meadows, a former lawyer turned full-time mother, is startled to discover that her daughter Erin is one of the popular girls, a tight foursome whose mothers are also great friends. Lydia has always thought of popular girls as ambitious little manipulators who enjoy being cruel. But Erin is kind and well-adjusted. Maybe this popularity thing wont be so bad after all. Then a new student ruthlessly targets Erin to boost her own popularity, and Lydia wonders what to do when her daughters phone stops ringing. And the uneasiness among the girls begins to affect the friendship of the mothers even though they are all grown women who should know better. Has their driven energy, once directed toward their careers, turned into an obsession with the social lives of their daughters?

So I got this on a whim because I thought the cover was cute. :P It took me a while to actually start reading it but once I did, I couldn’t stop.

A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity is actually a mom-book more than a teen book but in a way, it’s also a teen book. Did that make sense? It’s about a mom who’s so focused in the life of her daughter that her world revolved around her school, her activities and her friends who also have daughters in the same school. Life was controlled and at peace as much as they can tell, until they saw their daughters in matching drawstring skirts and realized that…well, they’re popular.

I couldn’t really relate to the entire popularity thing since I don’t think it’s really such a big deal back when I was studying, but I felt bad for Erin once the new girl came in and took the attention away from her. I identified so much with Lydia and how she felt antagonized by everyone else, even her friends, from what the new girl is doing to her daughter. I also liked how Lydia’s other roles in life were shown and how it meshed with everything else in her life. There were her friendships, her relationship with her husband (who is also a lawyer — not sure if he’s an offshore injury lawyer or something else), and also with herself as a woman who has needs. I also found it very clever that Erin the daughter hardly spoke in the novel and yet I felt her presence because of Lydia’s love for her. Kathleen Gilles Seidel made realistic characters that I felt like I was actually involved in the Alden community, like I was a part of the changes happening there.

The book is also as much as a social commentary as it is a mom/teen book, as it shows how ruthless some people can be to gain popularity, and how much lengths moms of teen girls will go to protect their daughters and to make sure they are not left out.

Overall, this is a good book, with somewhat of a sad yet hopeful ending. No one likes saying goodbye, and Lydia certainly doesn’t, but the final choice she made in the end is ultimately for the good of her children which is a very admirable thing to do. :)

Geek Charming (Robin Palmer)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Geek Charming (Robin Palmer)Dylan Shoenfield is the princess of L.A.’s posh Castle Heights High. She has the coolest boyfriend, the most popular friends, and a brand-new “it” bag that everyone covets. But when she accidentally tosses her bag into a fountain, this princess comes face-to-face with her own personal frog: selfprofessed film geek Josh Rosen. In return for rescuing Dylan’s bag, Josh convinces Dylan to let him film her for his documentary on high school popularity. Reluctantly, Dylan lets F-list Josh into her A-list world, and is shocked to realize that sometimes nerds can be pretty cool. But when Dylan’s so-called prince charming of a boyfriend dumps her flat, her life — and her social status — comes to a crashing halt. Can Dylan — with Josh’s help — pull the pieces together to create her own happily-ever-after?

Don’t you just love the cover of this book? It screams young adult/chick lit! No wonder I wanted it! Okay, fine, I’m not such a fan of how they cut the head off (at least it’s not at the neck — big no no!), but it’s so pretty, and the actual cover has glitters on it. Talk about whimsical. :P

I’m glad that this book is really good inside too, aside from having a pretty cover. I’m starting to get really fond of re-telling of fairy tales and old stories I know, much like Jasper Fforde‘s Nursery Crime series. Geek Charming is a retelling of The Frog Prince, set in the bright, sunshiney and somewhat materialistic world of Castle Heights High. I don’t know why, but I could somehow imagine the setting even if I haven’t ever been to Hollywood. And then again, I imagined everything just bright and sunshine-y too — maybe it’s a personal stereotype I have.

It’s a really cute and charming story, much like it’s title. Told in alternating point of views between the protagonists, it’s somewhat cliche, but not really. Then again, it’s a re-telling, so what can you expect? Dylan was really annoying at the first few chapters and I really wanted to sock her for being so stuck up. I mean, yeah, you’re rich, and you could probably afford one or more car insurances for your BMW, but do you really have to be so selfish? However, she started becoming more human after some time, and I started sympathizing with her. I liked Josh from the beginning, being the geek that he was, although I kind of felt that his “sickness” is kind of exaggerated.

It’s really more of a friendship/self-discovery story more than a love story, which was refreshing in a way. I liked how Dylan and Josh’s friendship developed throughout the book, and it gave the characters more depth. The other characters were just as amusing, especially Sandy, Josh’s mom.

It’s a quick and light read (I read straight it over the weekend), something that helped me get over the darkness that is Adam. :P It’s cute, but not exactly stellar or life-changing. It’s something I’d recommend someone to read but not really get something really deep, unless if you’re around that age, I guess. But it’s good, just not as good as say, Flipped. I can’t wait to get a copy of Cindy Ella, and all other books that Palmer will come up with. I think I just found myself another author to watch out for. :)