The Darlings Are Forever

Reviews

The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor

Jane, the actress, has just started school at The Academy of the Performing Arts. She’s a small fish swimming in a sea of talent. But when she’s the only freshman to land a role in the spring musical, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, she finds herself more than just head over heels for her new school, she also finds herself head over heals for her Director, Mr. Robbins.Kantor has spun a true piece of realistic fiction with well-rounded and well realized characters. Readers will easily identify and relate to Jane, Victoria, and Natalya on some level. What is really great about Kantor’s characters is that they aren’t scandalous, they’re simple, everyday girls who encounter everyday problems with school, with boys, and even with budding and changing friendships.The Darlings Are Forever is just that – darling!

* I (obviously) really, really liked this book, but there was one very minor thing that bothered me: it’s written in third person. Persoanlly, I prefer reading books in the first person mostly because I find there to be some disconnect with the characters and the plot when it’s written from a third person perspective. In all honesty – this didn’t hinder the book at all, but it made it a big harder for me to get through (it took me over a week and a half to read it).

Victoria, the romantic of the trio, is more than that. She’s a Darling, she’s a baker, but she’s also the sweet, innocent daughter of soon to be elected Andrew Harrison. All she can hope for is that no one at Morningside realizes who her father is, but when she sneaks out to go to a fancy party where there’s booze and boys, will her parents find out? Will it be the end of her social life, or worse, will it be the end of her father’s political campaign?

And then there’s Natalya, the closet genius who’s struggling two very different, opposing worlds: her normal world full of good friends, lots of laughs, and chess no matter how uncool it is or a world of money, privilege, and the hottest parties. Will Natalya trade in her smarts and her fellow Darlings for a spot in the in-crowd, or will she be the same chess loving girl she has always been?

The Darlings, who’ve been lifelong buddies since grade school suddenly find themselves being pulled in three opposing directions. Are they strong enough to withstand the pain and anguish high school brings? Is their friendship strong enough to withhold the demanding changes and pressures their new lives have created?

The Darlings Are Forever* written by Melissa Kantor is an incredibly sweet and fun book to read. Examining the lives and the honest emotions of three high school freshman, older readers will find themselves reminiscing about their own experiences, while younger readers will be fantasizing about the glamor and pitfalls high school will offer them.

Way Back Wednesday: Goosebumps, The Dead House

Way Back Wednesday

Title: Goosebumps, The Dead House

Author: R. L. Stine

Published/Publisher: 1992 by Scholastic

Recommend: Yes

Summary: After supposedly inheriting a creepy old house, Amanda and Josh both start experience strange things – seeing and hearing people who aren’t there. But when they realize they’re next on the chopping block, it’s up to them to save their entire family from The Dead House!

Rating: 5/5

Brief Memory: I remember reading a lot of Goosebumps books, but not this one, I remember loving them so much because they were meant specifically for kids when most scary movies and/or books weren’t. I also loved the television show!

Bonus: Want to see the Welcome to Dead House Goosebumps episode? Sure you do. For your viewing pleasure here’s Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3, and Part 4

The Lonely Hearts Club

Reviews

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

When Penny Lane Bloom’s heart is broken by the one person she never suspected, she swears off guys … forever. Or at least until she’s out of high school, which ever comes first. Enter The Lonely Hearts Club – a club that focuses more on strengthening the bonds between friends than strengthening relationships with the opposite sex.

Penny Lane doesn’t set out to make a statement, instead she sets out to find out who she really is, and to make the most of her remaining time in high school. But when the word of The Lonely Heart Club spreads, she has more club members than her basement could fit, a statement is exactly what she makes.

But when romantic sparks start to flare between Penny Lane and a friend, will it mean the end of The Lonely Hearts Club, or will it mean the end of the Penny Lane we’ve all come to know and love?

Elizabeth Eulberg’s debut novel is unforgettable. Its full of honest emotions, laugh out loud moments, and most of all a lot of heart. The Lonely Hearts Club is extremely well written, and is full of characters that are insightful, smart, and one of a kind. Readers will be able to identify and sympathize with Penny Lane and her fellow Lonely Hearts Club members.

It’s a real girl powered read, and one that any music fan – especially a Beatles fan – could really appreciate!

By These Ten Bones

Reviews

By These Ten Bones by Claire B. Dunkle

When two travelling strangers wander into Maddie’s small Highland town they bring with them more than just wares for selling. The old drunkard, Ned, and his nameless handsome young carver bring something far more terrifying than material goods. The townspeople are highly suspicious of the two strangers. But young Maddie is different from her fellow small-minded townspeople. She finds them mysterious – intriguing even, especially the dashing young wood-carver.
But things start to change when Maddie starts having vividly real dreams. Dreams that she finds ultimately come true. After a hulking, lurking demonic shadow seeks Maddie out in the dead of night, seeking her for her blood, Maddie knows she’s know the only one to change. Suddenly the whole town has.

Hell bent on finding who or what has been stalking young Maddie’s the townspeople are in a mighty uproar claiming evil spirits are among them, the monster of the loch has left the depths of the water to wreak havoc on the land, and even a witch that must hang and burn be among them. This shadow, whatever it is, is a mystery to all. That is, except for Maddie.

When Ned the old drunkard traveller reveals what is really behind this terrifying mystery, Maddie knows she has to search within herself to find the strength to ward off such an evil. But will Maddie be as strong as her foretelling dream says, or will she end up dead – losing not only life, but those she loves most.

By These Ten Bones by Claire B. Dunkle is a hauntingly original spin on a tale that has been woven many times before. Her perspective of werewolves is fresh and allows for a book that reads like a cross between an old folk tale and a campfire horror story. With a combination of genres, from horror to mystery to romance, Dunkle has written a book that can suit any readers tastes and preferences.

Dunkle’s writing is clear and concise. Any questions readers may have entered the book with will be left satisfied by the end of it two hundred plus pages. Evenly paced, not fast nor slow, Dunkle really does a great job building, not only Maddie’s life and world making readers feel as if they were the one’s living there, but also building fear within each reader. She has created a werewolf that no one has seen and read about before, something so fearful that it would put all those other werewolves to shame.

We Survived … The NYC Teen Author Festival

Food For Thought, Random
In case you didn’t know, this past week was the NYC Teen author festival, something I personally have been looking forward to for … a year. Last year was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but this year was EPIC!
 
All the author’s were so incredibly nice, and I really want to say Thank You to them for taking time out of what I’m sure is a busy schedule to hang out and sign books for all us fans! Also, Books of Wonder thanks for hosting such an awesome event. If you’re in or around NYC Books of Wonder is a must see – it’s probably the most charming bookstore’s I’ve been to in a long time – and if that wasn’t enough of a reason try the cupcakes! And of course, a big THANK YOU to all who planned/organized these awesome events!
 
My NYC Teen Author festivities kicked off Tuesday night when my partner in all book related crime (no worries, there’s no actual crimes being committed!) Miss Print went to the Readers Theater event featuring Holly Black, Judy Blundell, Gayle Forman, Eliot Schrefer, and David Levithan. Each author didn’t just read a piece a their work, oh no! they dramatically read their pieces, and if this wasn’t great as it, they assigned different roles to the other authors in attendance. What does this make for? A really funny and entertaining night, for not just the authors, but for those of us in attendance.

Holly Black read a portion from The Good Neighbors, Judy Blundell read a portion from her latest Strings Attached, Gayle Forman read a piece from her forthcoming Where She Went, and Eliot Schrefer read a portion from Geek Fantasy Novel (written under E. Archer), and David Levithan didn’t only read, but he also moderated.

I have to say that my favorite moment is when David Levithan provided the sound effects for what a fire burping rabbit would sound like. It still echoes in my head, and honestly I find it just as funny now as I did five days ago. It was a job well done all around.

Wednesday, again Miss Print and I were in attendance for the performance of Tiger Beat – a band composed of authors: Libba Bray, Natalie Standiford, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Barnabas Miller. This is my second time seeing Tiger Beat and I have to say – they are AWESOME! (I kid you not!) They played everything from Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” to their own original YA Song which proudly claims “Holden Caufield is NOT an A**hole.” (See Tiger Beat link above) In between songs several authors were on hand to do some rockin’ readings: Philana Marie Boles, Libba Bray, Barnabas Miller, Jon Skovron, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Rita Williams Garcia.

All the readings were great! But I just have to point out Jon Skovron – I absolutely loved his reading from his book Frets & Struts, to the point where I had to run out and buy it (review coming soon! Look for it!). As he read, and gave different voices to his characters, I couldn’t help but think how he really did capture the voice of guys in bands! As a music lover myself, I really appreciated that!

And finally the even of all events – the massive teen author signing featuring forty-eight prominent teen authors (for a full listing click here). Held at Books of Wonder from one to four, the event was insane, but insanely awesome. Armed with more books that I ever toted for Grad school I had the chance to meet some of my favorite authors, have them sign my books, and even had a few seconds or so to chat with them.

So who did I get to sign my books? The list: Maryrose Wood, Maggie Stiefvater, Natalie Standiford, Leila Sales, Sarah Mlynowski, Terra Elan McVoy, Lisa McMann, Melina Marchetta, Barry Lyga, David Levithan, Gwendolyn Heasley, Kim Harrington, Elizabeth Eulberg, Sarah Beth Durst, Matt De La Pena, and last (but certainly not least) Judy Blundell. I know – that’s a lot of author’s and a lot of signed swag!

In a few short hours I found out the Elizabeth Eulberg (The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice) really does love The Beatles, that all the Princeton NJ factoids in Sarah Beth Durst’s book (Enchanted Ivy and Ice) are true to the actual Princeton NJ (being from NJ this makes me very happy), that Terra Elan McVoy majored in poetry in college (which I find fascinating and awesome!), and We Were Here is Matt de la Pena’s favorite! So, it was a fun AND educational day!

Book of the Week: Edith & Little Bear Lend a Hand

Book of the Week, Children's

Edith and Little Bear Lend a Hand by Dare Wright

Published:  1972 by Random House

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love how Edith, even though she’s a doll, is chic. She’s a trend setter, especially at the height of the books popularity.

I love how creepy  is is that Edith, Little Bear, and Mr. Bear are all staged/posed in such lifelike/realistic poses – waiting for the bus, hanging on the monkey bars. I feel this shows just how talented Wright was a photographer…not to mention patient.

I like how the black and white photographs only add to the books creepiness.

When Mr. Bear announces that he is moving Edith and Little Bear to the country because of the city’s dirty atmosphere, Edith and Little Bear do not like the idea, I love how they decide to take matters  into their own hands and change Mr. Bear’s mind. They are proactive, and I think it shows that children too to able to be part of a greater change.

I love how Edith and Little Bear decide that in order to change Mr. Bear’s mind they need to protest and picket. And even more amusing that they decide they have to dress up like a hippie – beads and everything – to get noticed.

I like how this book is more detailed than “The Lonely Doll” I feel it shows Wright’s growth as a writer.

Even though they think their efforts of making things change went overlooked they really weren’t. This shows that hard work pays off in the end, and that’s what really matters.

I feel the same love for New York City as Edith and Little Bear does.

I love how the photographs depict the New York City landscape. It gives more character to the book.

It’s a book, that even though it’s older it’s still relevant – especially since Edith and Little Bear are doing everything they could to help clean the environment in which they live. We’re still struggling to find better solutions to clean up our environment.

Shows the importance of recycling.

Mr. Bear is a real grump. It’s kind of funny, especially how he represents the parental figure in the book.

The book shows that there really is no place like one’s home.

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out

Reviews

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood

It’s strange how in a matter of a second everything can change. One minute Morgan’s life was seemingly right. She was dating the self-assured soon-to-be-senior stud Raph, getting to shed her quiet nobody image, and she’s even taken to hanging with the cool kids – even if they are his friends and barely notice her. Raph may have been a lot of things but above all he was her boyfriend.
 
So what if he was more cocky than self-assured? That’s what she loved about him. So what if he made plans that never included her friends? So what if he wanted to change her image? Change is a good thing after all, isn’t it? 
 
But when that change suddenly doesn’t involve her anymore, Morgan finds her self being dumped in front of the vending machines. Okay, so maybe things did need to change, but they didn’t have to end up like this. In a rash state of mind Morgan chopped her once strawberry blonde hair off. Piece by piece her dyed locks fell to the ground, and with them Morgan’s relationship.
 
Seeing this as a desperate cry for help her parents ship her off to a bike tour across Ireland. Ok, so Ireland isn’t the worst place to be shipped off to – there’s the beautiful scenery, and the beautiful boy Morgan hopes will soon be her rebound boyfriend. But when Morgan flips over the handle bars of her bike, she doesn’t just land in a ditch. She finds she’s landed herself in a whole other time period, in a whole other world filled with fairy folk, evil curses, and the strangest yet: she’s been sent to save the land!
 
Why I let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood is the kind of book that will transport its readers into the heart of the action. Adventurous and quirky, readers will definitely love and sympathize with Morgan from the get – go. She’s a witty, unique, and often cynical character that truly represents the teen angst mindset.
 
 Playful and well written, Wood does a great job at providing just enough detail, but still manages to leave us wanting more. It’s a good thing this is the first in a trilogy! Quick paced and action packed readers will have a hard time walking away.
Why I Let My Hair Grow Out is genre-bending book fueled by reality and a heavy dose of fantasy. Wood seamlessly weaves two worlds into one, and not surprisingly, it works effortlessly.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

One Lucky Leprechaun: St. Patrick’s Day Hop

Contests

Yes, it’s true, The BookBandit Blog will be participating in the St. Patrick’s Day Hop hosted by Kathy of I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Cindy from Books Complete Me.

One lucky leprechaun will have the chance to win a set of three books: Volumes 1 through 3 of W Juliet*, story and art by Emura.

W Juliet, Vol. 1: “Sixteen year old tomboy Jto Mirusa has been chosen to play Romeo in “Romeo & Juliet”! The problem? She doesn’t want the male role! So, who will be Juliet? The favorite for the part, beautiful and vain Tsugumi, my compete with the cute new transfer student, Makoto Amano. But Makoto has a secret, and if rival Tsugumi, or anyone in school finds out, it could ruin Makoto’s life, dragging Jto down as well!”

W Juliet, Vol. 2: “Sixteen year old Jto Mirua has become fast friends with her schoolmate and fellow drama enthusiast Makoto Amano. The problem? Makoto’s a boy who must pass as a female drama student in order for his family to approve of his acting ambitions. Just as Jto and Makoto begin to feel the impact of their strong attraction to each other, Takayo, a fiancee imposed on Makoto from childhood, and his sinister brother Takashi, have decided to transfer into Makoto’s new school! Add a college-age lothario and a spoiled rich girl actress, and what chance and gender-bending true love possibly have?”

W Juliet, Vol. 3: “Makoto Amano wants to become an actor, but his stern father has dictated that the only way Makoto can achieve his goal is to spend the last two years of high school as a girl! He pals up with tomboy Jto Miura, another gender-bending actor and his partner in crimbe – but are they more than pals? A high school field trip to an amusement park has Jto and Makoto switching clothes just to hang out together, and their friendship is threatened when a classmate sees through the ruse. Later, back in the drama-club, cute new student Kohei is determined to win the “woman” of his dreams: Makoto!”

The Details: The giveaway is open to all US residents (only). Giveaway is open from March 17th, 12:01 am until March 20th at 11:59 pm. To qualify you must leave a comment (saying anything) on this post. Winner will be chosen at random (via Random.org) and will be contacted via e-mail on the morning of March 21st. Winner will have two days (until March 23rd at 11:59 pm) to reply with mailing address. If address isn’t received by that time another winner will be selected.

And since this is a hop, make sure to check out the other blogs participating, and enter to win some really great prizes!

*These book are all discarded library books. They are readable (obviously) and are in good condition, but there is some wear and tear.