Goddess Review


Before I give a thumbs up or thumbs down on Suzanne Supplee’s newest book “Somebody Everybody Listens too” I need to tell you I am so not a country music person. I don’t own any CD’s and I don’t think my car radio has ever been tuned into a country music station. Out of the zillions of country songs out there I may only like a handful of them.  

Honestly, I wasn’t all that enthused about the plot when I read the book jacket at first but decided to read it because she truly has the gift of storytelling which was so apparent in her first novel “Artichoke’s Heart.”  So what was the verdict?  Did I like it as much as her first novel? You bet I did! “SomebodyEverybody Listens to”  is a good poolside book.  It is light and refreshing read.  Supplee proves once again that she is a YA novelist to reckon with.  I can’t wait to read her next book.

Retta Lee Jones can sing and has dreams of making it big one day in Nashville as a country music star but everywhere you turn in Nashville, there is someone who wants to be the next big star. It’s easy to dream just not so easy to do.  Retta’s story begins right after graduation. The world is pretty much her oyster as long as it includes transportation and costs less than $514.76 which is all the money she has in the world. She knows what she has to do but in the meantime, she is working as a waitress at the Bluebell Diner helping her parents with expenses around the house. Every minute of every day she ponders whether she should stay or go. As luck would have it, Retta finds transportation, an old jalopy her Aunt has coveted for many years.  It’s now or never and Retta throws her guitar and some clothes in the car promising to keep in touch and drives off to find to follow her dream in Nashville. 

Don’t think for a minute that this is the end of the story. She didn’t just arrive in Nashville, meet a record producer and become famous over night. The path was a little more rocky starting with a fender bender and a mugging that robs are of all the money she has leaving her homeless sleeping in the backseat of a car.  Sounds just like country song doesn’t it? In fact as I was reading the book,  in my head I was doing it all with a country twang.

Retta is so likable that you can’t help rooting for her. You want her to catch a break. You want her to become a big star. It is scary to go out on your own and do your own thing.  I get it though. I get Retta’s insecurities and fears.  Years ago I moved far away from home with a plan and not much else ready to make my mark on the world.

I enjoyed the brief biographies of country legends,  Supplee added in the beginning of each chapter, such as Patsy Cline, Shania Twain and Dolly Parton. These people, like Retta was learning, didn’t become stars over night and worked very hard to get where they are.  Any country music fan will get a kick out of the little bits of information but don’t worry you do not need to be fan of country music to be fan of Suzanne Supplee.

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perfect-chemistry-paperback

Normally I don’t read romances but the first few pages of Simone Elkeles book Perfect Chemistry just sucked me right in.  This book is a tale of teenage love and of cultures clashing (to say the least)  

Captain of the Pom Poms, Brittany Ellis is perfect or that is what she would like people to believe.  Blond hair, blue eyes, killer body and  always dressed to the 10’s but as we all know looks can be deceiving.  Alejandro “Alex” Fuentes, Mexican, a member of the Latin Bloods is the quintessential bad boy. He exudes raw masculinity with his swagger and unsettling gaze.  At Fairfield High you wouldn’t hear Brittany Ellis’s and Alex Fuentes’ name together in the same sentence at least if the world was in correct alignment.  They are from completely two different worlds – Northsiders and Southsiders do not mix – think The Outsiders –  but their chemistry teacher doesn’t really care about that and the two are forced to partner up for the year.     

 Ay dos mios I totally get why Brittany Ellis has fallen for Alex Fuentes.  There is something about the bad boy that girls just love.  Alex is muy caliente with his black hair that falls in his eyes and washboard abs that you can see beneath his shirt. It was only a matter of before those two hooked up. Every time those two snipped and snapped at each other, the pages of the book just sizzled with electricity.  Perfect Chemistry, aptly titled, is what Alex and Brittany had.  

Perfect Chemistry told in alternating voices was a fun book to read. I even learned a little too – some flavorful spanish words I think my vocabulary was lacking. The book,  lighthearted and  bit cliche with a couple of steamy scenes thrown in didn’t take me long to finish.  Both of the characters were really appealing – Alex especially.  He was a complex young man showing both toughness and tenderness.  Mostly I think this book will appeal to girls but because of Alex’s status as a gang banger, boys may gravitate to the book as well  

I only have one complaint – I wanted more and yes this is coming from the non- romance reader. It seemed like there was a hurried ending. I was still reeling from the climax when suddenly the book was done. I felt like I was missing something. Its a good thing that the sequel Rules of Attraction is due to hit the bookshelves early next year.

I remember saying at the end of Perfect Chemistry that my only complaint about the book I had been that I wanted more, well I can finally say I got more and it was absolutely worth the wait.  Rules of Attraction, the sequel to Perfect Chemistry is downright steamy thanks to another one of those hot Fuentes boys. 

Carlos is the epitome of a bad boy.  He has gang affiliations, just wants to party, never plans on settling down.  In other words he is the exact opposite of his brother Alex who has settled into a comfortable existence with his girlfriend Brittany. Did I mention he is angry too?  The way Elkeles writes, the descriptive words she uses (granted quite a few are in Spanish) allows you to feel the anger radiating off Carlos at times.  Carlos is not a happy camper.  First he was uprooted from Chicago and was taken to Mexico because of problems his brother caused and now he is forced to live with his brother in Colorado because of his own issues.

It was no surprise that Carlos was going to hook up with Kiara. They met on the first day of school. Kiara was to be his guide to help him adjust to the new school and being the good girl she is jumped in wholeheartedly not realizing just how bad his attitude really was. You know girls like Kiara, for all I know you might even be a Kiara. She comes from a good family, has never done anything horrendously bad – basically issueless though thankfully not boring.  I would have put down the book if she was boring because Carlos no matter how interesting he was needed her to keep the story flowing. I was able to see the romance starting to brew a mile a way but I was okay with the predictability. Like I said before teenage girls, especially the good ones can’t seem to get enough of those bad boys.

All in all I liked the book.  It held my attention which I can’t claim that every romance book has done in the past. The romance in the book was muy caliente and watching the duo fall in love was very entertaining. The book told in alternating character viewpoints allowed you to get into both of the character’s heads.  From what I hear a 3rd book is in the works and this one will center around the littlest Fuentes Luis. All I can say is bring it on.

Every once in a while I will read an extremely sappy happy book.  Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater was this month’s candy for me.  It was a rainy day and I curled up in my favorite pj’s in my favorite chair and read and read and kept on reading.  The next thing I knew I was done with the book and the rain had slowed into a drizzle. This review should have been posted months ago when I first read this book. It was recommended to me by another librarian and I in turn recommended to someone else and soon a whole bunch of us had read the book and we all loved it so much that it is now a Florida Teen Reads 2010 selection.  This book will definitely get the girls who love supernatural romance vote.

The story of Grace and Sam comes out in alternating chapters.  Grace has always been fascinated by the wolves who live in the forest which is her backyard.  Especially the yellow eyed one.  Many years ago when Grace was little she was attacked by the pack and a yellow eyed wolf saved her from certain death.  Over the years this wolf and Grace have kept tabs on each other. Sam was that wolf. During the summer months, Sam is human, a very cute human too but when the chilly air arrives in the fall, Sam’s body wants to change back into his wolf form. Winter is both of their favorite seasons because it is then they get to see each other even if it is from afar.    

Early in the season one year, a local teen is killed by the pack of wolves, and the families in town vow revenge and form a hunting party to get these wolves. Nothing can be more devastating for Grace. What if her yellow eyed wolf is hurt or even worse was killed? But as fate would have it she and Sam meet for the first time as boy and girl.  She finds him on her back porch wounded, shot and naked. One look at each others eyes, they knew who each other was. Grace knew that this boy was her wolf.

I got completely caught up in Grace and Sam’s love story. Their struggle to remain together despite the odds reminded me of Romeo and Juliet and of course, Twilight. I found myself really hoping that the two of them would end up together, both human or both wolf, but together. As the novel progressed, and the characters became more and more fully defined, Stiefvater’s absolutely beautiful writing was showcased.  Her descriptions of places, smells, and emotion, were so fresh  – but more importantly – added so much to the story without being too distracting.   Linger is the title of the second book in this series and it comes out in a few weeks.  I already have it on reserve at the library and hopefully it will be a breath of fresh air as its predecessor was.

 

If you are a Twilight fan then you will like The Short Second life Of Bree Tanner.   Having said that I will also say that this novella by Ms. Meyer was nothing special.  In fact when I heard she was writing this book, I wracked my brain trying to figure out who Bree was.  I almost didn’t finish reading it.  I put it down several times but because someone gave me the book I decided to finish it.

In case you forgot like I did, Bree was one of the newborns. She was made to be in an army of newborns that Victoria uses to destroy the Cullens.  She surrendered to Carlisle and then was killed by Jane at the end of the book.  Eclipse will be in the theater in two days so I understand why the book has come out and the timing of it but still if we were going to get into the psyche of any vampire I would like to get to know Victoria.  She would be a fascinating case study. 

Maybe I am tiring of vampire books or maybe I am just tired of all the Twilight hoopla.  The best thing about the book was that Edward and Bella were not mentioned and it was really short – less than 200 pages. You can read it in one sitting. Actually it is like reading one long chapter – there was only one break in the entire thing.  I did appreciate that Meyer tried to give us a different perspective.  Newborn vampires are different breed all together and we got a glimpse into it. I wasn’t thrilled with the book, but it should satisfy fans who want more of a Twilight fix.

You can download it for free until July 5th, or buy a hard copy.  I recommend buying the hard copy but then again I am a sucker for good causes – $1 from each hard copy goes to the American Red Cross International Fund.

There is nothing like a good mystery.  I just love books that keep me on the edge of my seat. Throw in a some steamy romance and you got a book that will keep you up way past your bedtime. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting drew me in from the beginning but then again I am a sucker for the paranormal.  I did stay up past my bedtime too.  It was quite an enjoyable read but if you are an avid mystery reader like I am, you may figure out the plot twist with the killings before the end. Now with that being said, Derting with this debut shows promise and I think she will develop a legion of fans if she turns out more books like this.  

Violet can sense the dead and not the ones that died of natural deaths either. Hell of a talent don’t ya think? I think she could be quite useful to a police department. As she was growing up she found mostly animals and she always wanted to give them a proper burial.  She can sense like a sixth sense, imprints left on the animals by the killer. These imprints showed as sounds, tastes or smells and were so distracting that they would drive her crazy at times. Violet certainly didn’t see her talent as gift and it is not something that wants the world to know either.  Luckily her parents and her friend Jay do everything humanly possible to keep her safe.  

Speaking of Jay…..(here is where the “throw in some steamy romance” come into play) Violet is crushing on her best friend something awful. They have been best friends forever and these growing feelings on her part just complicate everything. Over the last year, Jay has grown into a hottie and girls just are drawn to him like bees are to honey. Luckily for Violet, Jay has eyes for his BFF only though the romantic tension builds between them for quite awhile before she finds out. Their love story albeit sweet was a little, okay more than a little, over the top.  I just knew those two were going to get together.  

Now comes the discovery of the dead girl and then another and then another. Remember I thought she would be very useful to a police department…turns out that….feign surprise, please….a serial killer is on the loose and is terrorizing teenage girls. It was just a matter of time before Violet went from detecting animals to dead people and what a coincidence it is that her Uncle Stephen is the chief of police in a neighboring town. Violet may be the only person that can stop this person, and is more than willing to put herself in danger to help catch this guy. Crazy or brave, you decide. I loved how (and this was best part for me) were the chapters that were told from the killer’s point of view. We got a glimpse into the psyche of a crazy guy as he hunts and abducts his victims.    

I read many reviews of this book before I picked it up.  For the most people loved it.  I can’t say I loved it. I can say however I liked it. The first half of the book was much better than the second half. It slowed down a bit and while it was still enjoyable, it wasn’t holding my interest as much as it did in the beginning.  I kept reading though because I found the characters likeable but by the end it just seemed really predictable and expected. I wasn’t shocked liked I was in the beginning. I just found out that there is going to be a sequel so this is not the last we see of Violet Ambrose either.  She will be back in 2011 in Desires of the Dead. I am sure I will stay up past my bed time once again with that book too.

I love books that have strong female characters. Recently I have been reading a lot of books in the sci fi/fantasy realm that has strong female protagonists.  I couldn’t get enough of Katniss in Hunger Games and Dru from Lili St Crow’s Strange Angels series has won me over as well.  Now let’s talk about my newest favorite heroine – Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. 

Graceling is the story of Katsa, a young woman who has is graced with skill of killing.  Interestingly enough, Katsa’s name in old Greek means pure and torture.  A lot of people in her world have Graces and most of the time these people are feared. You can tell a Graceling from other folk by the color of their eyes.  Graceling’s have two different eye colors – Katsa has one blue and one green.  But Katsa is more than just an assassin we come to learn through the pages as she struggles with her own insecurities while still maintaining her inner strength, courage, maturity, and loyalty.

 She lives with her Uncle Randa who is a king in one of the seven kingoms in this book.  Uncle Randa is not a nice guy and he takes advantage of Katsa’s grace  by making her do his dirty work whether she thinks it is right or wrong. It is an unhappy existence but one that she has come to accept. To counteract Uncle Randa’s missions, she and some others have secretly set up a Council and they work together to keep the seven kingdoms stable instead of being at odds.  

 On one mission rescuing a prince who has been kidnapped, Katsa meets Po. Po is Graced too and (which doesn’t hurt) handsome, agile and confident though some would say he is cocky. Oh and he is a prince too. I knew when they first met, with that first smirk that she had met her match. Po is as good of a fighter as Katsa. Their relationship from the git go fascinated me to no end. He challenged her in every sense of the word, totally infuriating her. He smoothed out her rough edges and believe me, Katsa has a lot of rough edges. I think he was a good influence on her. As in many epic romances, she hated him at first but soon, unexpectedly for Katsa, the hate turned into love. 

 There are so many reasons to like Graceling. The book was fast paced and original. It will appeal to both the people who crave action as well as some romance. Cashore does an excellent job with character development.  Katsa is such a complex being. She is strong and wild and at times tender. There is more to Katsa’s and Po’s Graces than meets the eye. Graces are not stagnant, as in their case and they continue to grow and evolve throughout the story. The fantastical world complete with kingdoms she presents in this book just reverberates with excitement and suspense. All in all it’s well-written, quick to read, and thoroughly enjoyable book.

I was hungry both for some food and a good read the day I spied Suzanne Supplee’s book, Artichoke’s heart.  How can you not be drawn to a book that uses decadent chocolate pieces to entice the reader?!    

Plus size people have a lot more to deal with than just their weight. Many people look at them as if they were stupid, lazy, slobbish, out-of-control, or greedy. Obese kids at school often are made fun of. The ramifications can be felt for a very long time. Rosemary Goode is a big girl, she tips the scale at anywhere been 195 and 203. Everybody has an opinion on her weight too – her mom, her aunt, people at the beauty shop she works at both customers and employees and classmates. Self help books are scattered through her house to help her and a treadmill is camped out in her room thanks to ‘Santa”.  

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight or break a bad habit knows that they have to do it for themselves and not for someone else.  The tipping point for Rosemary came over Christmas break when she gained some weight and was no longer able to fit in even the largest of the large clothing she owned. Going back to school after break and being made fun of by the Bluebirds, the ultra popular group, is going to suck if she can’t find anything to wear.  If that is not bad enough her mother’s hacking cough seems to be much more than just a cold and she is worried.  On a good note, the guy she was completely crushing on, Kyle, a really cute jock, actually smiled at her and a a girl who she never dreamed of being friends with turns to her for advice and comfort.  Suddenly Rosemary is seeing possibilities and the change that everyone wanted her to make was now being done for herself.

While technically the book is about Rosie and her struggles with her weight, the underlying theme of the book is family, friendship and love. I loved Rosie and found it easy to relate to her.  Something can be learned from every character you meet in this book. My heart just felt like bursting with song when Kyle told Rosemary “well…when you look at a person’s eyes or her smile, you can’t tell how much she weighs.” Now tell me this guy is not a keeper….. I think this book would be a good selection for a mother/daughter book club. Overall, this is a nice story about finding self-esteem and gaining the strength to take charge of one’s life.

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