Sunday, August 28, 2011

Prom and Prejudice

I'm a complete sucker for lots of things...Meg Cabot, dachshunds, To Kill a Mockingbird, bargains, mysteries, and Jane Austen and anything Jane Austen-ish.  I love to read the Pride and Prejudice spin offs like The Phantom of Pemberley and Me and Mr. Darcy, but these are for the older crowd.  What I really love about Elizabeth Eulberg's Prom and Prejudice is that it could introduce the younger set to the Elizabeth-Darcy awesomeness in a way that is lighter and modern.  Then, the well meaning, strategic true Austen fan can steer them into the classic Austen after they've already been bitten by the bug.  Because, truly, how can you not be?  He's Darcy! (squeal!)

Prom and Prejudice  (watch the trailer here) is set at the exclusive girls school of Longbourn, where prom is the biggest deal in the world.  I mean these girls have custom couture gowns, the editors of Vogue descend upon the school to scope out the trends- it's the whole nine yards.  It's the equivalent of the first party of the "season" in Austen's time.  Longbourn girls of course go to prom with gentlemen from the neighboring boy's school, Pemberley Academy (how could they not?). 

As with all schools there are the haves and the have-nots.  In this situation, the students who are on scholarship to Longbourn are the have-nots.  Enter one Elizabeth Bennett (Lizzie), who is a talented piano player and quite sensitive to her position as a scholarship student.  Those snooty Longbourn girls don't treat her very well, OK, they treat her like crap.  She gets milkshakes thrown in her face, her coat stolen, and lots of other wretched things.  But through all of this she can count on her best friend, who is truly the nicest person in the world, Jane Netherfield.  Jane obviously has an impetuous sister named Lydia.

Lizzie comes to know Darcy through Jane's relationship with the dashing and sincere Charles Bingley.  Their relationship seems ill-fated, but manages to pull through.  Lizzie and Darcy have the classic "I hate you" turned "I love you" relationship you'd expect, but there are some great twists.  Of course George Wickham comes on the scene to cause tons of trouble and allow Darcy to become the shining hero we all know he can be.

Aside from it's Pride and Prejudice overtones, I really like how the book shows the hardships of making your way in a place where you might be different and uncomfortable.  Lizzie learns she really has a place at Longbourn, despite how she is treated by some of the other girls.  And, there are some unconventional reactions to traditions.  I like it when people (real or fictitious) do what's best for them instead of always what's expected.

Elizabeth Eulberg (see her read from Prom and Prejudice) also wrote The Lonely Hearts Club (watch the trailer here).  I haven't read that one, but I'm sure that it includes her witty style and would be a great read.  The author's note references lots of great writers like Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins as giving her advice or praising her work.  With guidance like that, I'm sure we will see more of Eulberg.  Keep it coming!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dream Dark

So, way back in June I gushed about my love for Beautiful Creatures (watch the trailer here) and Beautiful Darkness (watch the trailer here).  And, as much as I love it, I think I forgot how tightly the story of this series holds my attention.  But, after reading "Dream Dark", I am back in love with the masterfully created tales of Gatlin, South Carolina and the Caster World.  Well, and there is that little bit about it being To Kill a Mockingbird-esque; I mean there is a dog named Boo Radley.  Are you kidding me?  It's like Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have a window into my soul.

As if these ladies weren't genius enough to bring us the awesome story of the Caster Series in book form, they knew we could not possibly get enough or wait for Beautiful Chaos. So, they've released "Dream Dark", a short story delving deeper into the mysterious transformation of Wesley Jefferson Lincoln.  Mr. Lincoln is known better by the nickname Link, but now he is also known as the Linkubus.  There are certainly parts of his transformation that he is thrilled to experience.  For example, he's becoming more appealing to the ladies.  I'm imagining his transformation going something like this.


<---Link    Linkubus  

Pretty darn good transformation, am I right?

But, since this is a short story, at the precise moment I was about to squeal "OMG this is awesome", it was over.  Alas.  But, along with "Dream Dark" are the first five chapters of Beautiful Chaos.  If there is one thing I am now certain of, it's going to be amazing.

Now, a commercial break.  "Dream Dark" is only available as an eBook.  If you've been thinking about an eReader, now is the time people.  For the mere price of $1.99 you can find out just what the heck a Linkubus is. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vixen (Flappers #1)

Have you ever been watching a show, and you thought to yourself, "this is really a good episode"?  Then you keep watching, it gets better and better, and you have no idea there is only five minutes left and there is absolutely no way all the ends could be tied up, then low and behold the dreaded "To Be Continued" pops up, and you are furious and excited at the same time.  Well, that is exactly what it was like reading Vixen by Jillian Larkin. (Watch the trailer here.)

Vixen tells the story of the seemingly perfect Gloria, her cousin, Clara, and her supposed best friend, Lorriane.  The girls are struggling to find their version of a perfect life during the roaring 20's in Chicago. 

Gloria seems to have it all.  She is a beautiful socialite, who is engaged to Sebastian Grey.  On the surface, Sebastian is every girl's dream, every girl except Gloria.  Gloria wants to break free from the perfect girl she must be and embrace the flapper lifestyle.  But it's not easy for a society girl to insert herself into the world of jazz and the mob. 

Lorriane has always been Gloria's best friend.  But, she is tired of being in Gloria's shadow.  She is tired of being overlooked by Marcus, her unrequited love.  But he has eyes for another.  (Don't they always!)  Lorianne becomes ruthless and then remorseful.  You'd almost like to feel sorry for her.  Notice I said almost.

Clara, oh Clara.  Clara has come to Chicago from Pennsylvania.  Or, at least that's what she tells everyone.  What she doesn't tell everyone is that instead of the "Country Clara" she pretends to be, she has spent time being a sophisticated flapper from New York.  However, her time in New York placed some skeletons in her closet that she hopes will stay hidden.

In addition to the three main darlings, there is also a host of characters who all are more than what they seem.  From the seemingly perfect Sebastian, to the piano playing Jerome, to the playboy Marcus- man, they're all up to something.

So, what I'm saying is that the cliff hanger is worth it.  And, we are in luck because #2 in the Flappers series Ingenue became available August 9.  I cannot wait to see what happens next.  And, I know we shouldn't judge books by their cover, but these are so pretty!

Note: These books are probably better suited for older teens.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It seems like there's the country mouse/city mouse type in a lot of families.  The city mouse always seems so put together and chic.  But sometimes, it's the country mouse who ends up having it all.  That's what happens in Meg Cabot's Jinx.  Jean "Jinx" Honeychurch is the classic country mouse, while her cousin Tory is the glamorous city mouse.

Based on a legend from Cabot's own ancestry, Jinx (read the first chapter here) is the story of two girls descended from a supposed witch.  Because Tory has always had a penchant for the dark-side, and Jean has earned a reputation of being a...jinx, the family believes that Tory is fulfilling the prophesy of inheriting grandma's powers.  Tory even has a cult following of devotees who idolize her supposed powers.  But, because of some very strange happenings Jean must move to New York and live with Tory's family.

Now, while under the same roof Jean begins to to catch the attention of Tory's crush and of Tory's friends.  As you may have guessed it, bad girl Tory isn't keen on this.  As Tory begins to plan her retaliation against Jean, the truth about who is the recipient of the family power begins to surface.  And, along the way Jean must learn to embrace what she's always run from in order to save her life.

This one is classic Meg!  It's funny, has unexpected twists, and a great story line.  I love it.  Did I mention I'm a Meg Cabot fan?  Here are some photos I took when I attended a stop on the Overbite Tour.  Meg was as fantastic in person as I hoped (and she wears Lilly Pulitzer, perfect!).  I still want to be her friend!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Beauty Queens

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to write a whole entire book based solely on random topics drawn from a hat?  Well, I think if you read Libba Bray's Beauty Queens you could have that experience.  If you are a fan of beauty pageants, pirates, Lost, and irony, this is the book for you.

The book follows the contestants of the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant as they travel to a tropical location for some fun times and a photo shoot, when, much to everyone's surprise the plane crashes, killing all of the adults and many of the beauty queens.  Luckily, however, the mishmash of contestants are able to piece together their preparation as pageant girls and construct a plan for survival.  This in and of itself makes for an exciting read, but when readers learn that the sponsor of the pageant, the Corporation, is truly a villainous organization, things start to get interesting.

One thing I like about the book is the inclusion of all the hilarious       footnotes 1.  Bray integrates commercials and product placement throughout the novel imitating how commercial this world really is.  One of the funniest things about the footnotes is that even though they are completely ridiculous, I found myself being reminded of actual products as I read them.  Scary, right?

In addition to managing to weave together the most seemingly random of topics to create a story, Bray also weaves together lots of different types of characters.  There are the confused, the damaged, the pressured, and the rebels- just like in real life.  And just like in reality, we don't usually know the real story behind people.  We usually only see what's on the surface.  Well played Libba, well played.

On a side note, I also love The Gemma Doyle Trilogy which includes Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing also by Libba Bray.  They tell the story of a group of girls who share a magical bond and are full of mystery and intrigue.  Her novel Going Bovine earned her the Printz Award.  Not too shabby!  And, as if that weren't enough, she toured with Meg Cabot this summer promoting Beauty Queens.  Any friend of Meg Cabot certainly gets my vote!

1. Note: This book is probably more suited for high school readers than middle school.