Tuesday, June 03, 2008

5 books a day keeps the librarian away! (or makes us love you)

So I was hanging out on iTunes last night when I see something interesting-- a new artist called Charlotte Sometimes. iTunes was so happy to know that she named herself after a Cure song. I wonder if either iTunes, or Ms. Sometimes, knows that the Cure song they feel so "in" knowing about is actually about a classic children's book? Probably not.

Anyway, 3 more reviews to round out the day. These books really don't have anything in common except that I read them recently.

Allie Finkle's Rules For Girls: Moving Day Meg Cabot

Can you believe that this is the only Meg Cabot I've read? I know! Luckily, I have The Princess Diaries lined up for the this weekend's challenge. (It's been neck-in-neck in the poll with Gossip Girl for first place. Right now they're tied. Also, the Alice McKinley books are a strong second. All are on tap for this weekend, baring last minute voting shockers.)

Anyway, I'm a late convert to the House of Meg. Ah well. This book, the first she's done for middle grade readers and the start of a new series, is a great introduction, methinks.

Allie has a list of rules to help her run her life:
You Can't Let Your Family Move Into a Haunted House
Don't Put Your Cat in a Suitcase
Don't Get a Pet that Poops in your Hand
Don't Stick a Spatula Down your Best Friend's Throat
and more.

And Allie needs these rules as her family is moving across town and her best friend is, well, kinda lame. Allie's not happy about either of these prospects. Especially because the new house is big and scary and her new school will not be as new and shiny as the one she currently attends. She can try all she wants, but her parents aren't buying her excuses as to why they should stay exactly where they are.

Allie is hysterical and believable and Cabot perfectly captures the trails and tribulations of 4th grade friendships, except that many of her observations about friendship are true even when 4th grade is a successfully repressed memory.

AND! We get the next in the series, New Girl in August!

full disclosure: This is an ARC provided at ALA midwinter to my dear friend Ann who scoured the exhibition floor for me and snatched up ARCs she thought I would like. Because I have KICK ASS friends.

Sunita's Secret Narinder Dhami

Ok, this book isn't published in the US, but it's available for cheap with free shipping and super-fast delivery from The Book Depository, which is where you should be getting all of your British books. I love these people. They are awesome. (Seriously, when I bought the British version of Clarice Bean, Don't Look Now because I couldn't wait until it came out in the US? Not only did I have it months before anyone else, but it ended up costing me, at the most, the same amount as if I had purchased the US edition. SERIOUSLY.)

Anyway... Sunita's father used to be an accountant and he embezzled a ton of money. Before he was caught, Sunita lived the high life. But now he's on the run from the law and Sunita, her twin siblings, and their mum are living in a small house, hiding from the neighbors...

Sunita wanted to keep her past a secret, but Celina, the most popular girl in her grade makes sure that can't happen. Everyone thinks she's a thief, just like her dad. To cheer herself up, she starts doing secret good deeds for others, and the idea spreads like wildfire... but then, Celina takes all the credit!

Set at Coppergate School, the Dhillon sisters make an appearance, but the action is post-Superstar Babes.

What I most like are Sunita's new friends, especially Zara, who decides that since they're both social outcasts they should be friends, purely as a business arrangement to make the school day a little easier... Also, I think Sunita's conflicted feelings about her father are spot-on, as is the family's desire to hide from the world, and how they eventually come out of their shell, little by little.

Fans of Dhami will definitely want to make the effort to track this one down--it's well worth it.

Project Paris: The Fashion-Forward Adventures of Imogene Lisa Barham

So, this is the second book in a series that starts with A Girl Like Moi and continues with Accidentally Fabulous, which comes out in August.

In this installment, Imogene and Evie are off to Paris for the summer. Evie is interning at a design house and Imogene is covering couture week for the fashion forecasting house she works for. And then... the models go on strike. Imogene is being called back to New York unless she can come up with something really big. When the girls find an abandoned collection of dresses, they decide to show them. Only... whose the designer? And when their web of lies catches up to them, what will they do?

Overall, I give it a resounding "meh". I could never believe Imogene as a character. She switches between 12 and 35. She was never believable at 18 unless she was talking about the boy she left behind, but even then I didn't understand what the fuss was about (maybe if I had read the first in the series?) I never connected with her, and frequent readers know I connect with almost every person to grace a page.

Also, I didn't understand her fashion choices. Barham obviously wanted Imogene to be chic and for her clothing not to date the book. But... that means it wasn't fashion forward and for super-classic high fashion? She ended up dressing much older than she was.

The whole thing devolves into madcap slapstick and it would make an entertaining movie for some it-girl du jour, but the action doesn't show up well on the page.

I will say that I was impressed by the production value--full color illustrations throughout the book! I actually quite liked the illustrations. They were light and frothy and what the book wanted to be, but ultimately wasn't.

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