Ok, now I'm just going to go through the books I read last year, book by book. Some I've already covered, some I haven't.
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Carolyn Mackler
Already covered. Liked. Virginia is fat and average looking in a family of thin super-stars. Her parents are self-involved and overy concerned with her weight. Her best friend has moved across the country. The older brother she worships get suspended from college for date rape. This deals with the typical teenage stuff of being lonely, being fat, your parents not understanding you and touches briefly on some of the darker aspects such as self-mutilation and eating disorders without fully exploring them. (And can I just say THANK GOD for that?! I'm so sick of over-blown books for teens soley about those topics. A lot of the reviews slammed it for not dealing more with these topics, but that's not the story Mackler came to tell, but she also didn't want to ignore such topics, because they did fit in well with the story.) Not as deep as she wanted it to be, but I still liked it PLUS it's been banned in Carroll County MD junior highs and was temporarily removed from the high school shelves.
Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment KitchenJulie Powell
This got some bad reviews, because it was based on her blog, and I guess it kind of reads like her blog or doesn't add to it or something. Having never read her blog, I liked the book. Basically, Julie is bored and frustrated in her life and needs a project, so she cooks her way through every recipie in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogs about the experience. Nothing earth shattering here, but still an enjoyable read nonetheless. So much so that last time I was at the book story, I bought Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine
OH MY GOD. I love this book! So awesome. Slightly original tale, slightly fractured. Totally AWESOME. Kids lit, but the first time in a while that I stayed up waaaaaaaay past my bedtime to finish a book. (Plus, it was Newberry honor!)
At her birth, a fairy tried to give Ella a gift and chose obidience. Ella will always be obidient, so if you ever tell her to do something, she has to, no matter what. Little things, like "Give me your toys" to big things like "betray your country. So here is Ella, trying to break the curse and live her life and grow up. And then her mother dies and her father remarries to an awful vain woman with two step daughters that make her clean the fire... the traditional parts of this tale don't come into play until deep into the book, long after you've fallen completely in love.
Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America Dan Savage
Hilarious and thought provoking. And has some stuff about Iowa. And I was laughing so hard over a side tangent on rainbow striped butt plugs that a guy asked me about it on the metro. I did not tell him that the paticular passage was about butt plugs. Also, Dan Savage doesn't look anything like I thought he would. Way too young.
Drina Dances in Italy Jean Estoril
Oh Drina. Why are you out of print? You were the best ballet books ever! This is the fourth book in the original five book Drina series. In this one, Drina's back from Chalk Green and back at the Dominick School and readjusting to life in London after living in the countryside. Her grandmother declares she must spend the spring holidays with her Italian grandmother and relations. Drina's nervous and anxious, but then finds out that the Dominick company with be touring Italy around the same time!
The Painted Wall and Other Strange Tales Michael Bedard
If you've ever read Chinese ghost stories (such as Stories About Not Being Afraid of Ghosts, so if you've ever studied early Chinese lit) then this book is really similair. A bit annoying in that Bedard doesn't speak Chinese and didn't translate but read a bunch of translations and "adapted" them somehow? It seems like every other thing I've read on the subject. But they're still fun stories.
My Cup Runneth Over : The Life of Angelica Cookson PottsCherry Whytock
I talked about this one already a bit, but I liked it. This is the story of Angel, who is bigger than her mum or her friends and loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooves to cook. A cute tale dealing with teenage weight issues and mother/daughter issues without getting deep or preachy and it has recipies after every chapter, which is fun.
My Scrumptious Scottish Dumplings : The Life of Angelica Cookson Potts Cherry Whytock
Already covered. Lovely (and yummy). This book immediately follows My Cup Runneth Over with a family trip to Scotland, where Potty throws a fit when the croft that claims to make the only haggis that Harrod's sells is NOT the haggis at Harrod's. When they get back to London, Potty starts a major campaign that gets them banned from the store! Plus, Mercedes has moved to Florida! And then Angel and her mum go off to a health spa and Angel has some words for the chef and gets to cook all day long. If you liked the first one, read the second!