Friday, March 27, 2015

Books Recently Read

Foreign ExchangeForeign Exchange by Denise Jaden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jamie has a lot on her shoulders. She lives with a single mother and takes care of her disabled brother. She seems to be in the shadow of her wildly beautiful, model-wannabe best friend, Tristan. This friend has a good-looking brother, Sawyer, who is Jamie’s crush. Jamie is full of longing—for romance, excitement, and a familial bond with her father.

When Tristan goes to Europe to go into modeling, that seems like a good time for Jamie to do so as well—for a class trip, to see her long-lost father, and to meet up with Tristan. In Europe, things seem to spiral out of control. I don’t want to reveal too much, but it gets intensely dangerous for Jamie and company. The suspense, romance, and deep characters make this a wonderful page-turner.

Blonde OpsBlonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Bec is thrown out of her private school for hacking, her mother ships her off to Rome. In this new summer setting, Bec will be an unpaid intern at a fashion magazine. Things become really odd—her boss, the editor, is harmed in a highly suspicious accident. There’s also a kidnapping of a very important person who’s a political figure. It’s up to Bec to use her hacking and investigative skills, as well as her intuition. This book was non-stop action and fun. Along with the suspense, there was also a lot of romance and fashion thrown into the mix.

Books for kids : Did You Know My Mom Is Awesome? (Beginner readers, Bedtime story, Kids Books, Children's Books): Series Books For Kids-beginner readers (Bedtime stories children's book collection 1)Books for kids : Did You Know My Mom Is Awesome? (Beginner readers, Bedtime story, Kids Books, Children's Books): Series Books For Kids-beginner readers by Shelley Admont
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very sweet story about one awesome mom. The illustrations are charming. My only complaint is that, comparing it to other picture books, it's too wordy for a beginning reader. There were some areas that could have been shortened.

The Ancient: An Anthology by The SevenThe Ancient: An Anthology by The Seven by Troy Lambert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We're all familiar with the tale of the magical lamp from which a genie pops out and grants wishes. In this anthology we have seven fresh lamp tales, with each author adding their own modern spin to the story. The stories are all suspenseful, and they have an added layer of horror, history, or sci-fi. The characters are well developed with their back-story interspersed throughout, as well as matters of the heart. Some stories involved pets and children—those really tugged at my emotions. All together, the pieces ranged from good to excellent. I would give this a 4.5, rounded to a 5. I received this in exchange for an honest review. I’m so glad I had a chance to read the anthology.

One Hundred Thirty StarsOne Hundred Thirty Stars by Shelley Sly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story follows “Birdie,” although her real name is Kelly. Because of travel constrictions, she hasn’t seen her father in ages, although her mother allows her to email him. Email is not enough. The opportunity finally comes to get to know him when there’s a family vacation, and Birdie will see Arthur in full form. He takes her to a video game convention, where he dresses in costume because he’s a cosplayer.

At this convention, he is over the top, loud, singing, and attention seeking. Also, someone reveals to Birdie the real meaning behind the nickname he’s given her—she’d prefer Kelly instead. I kept reading to see if this relationship turns around since Birdie/Kelly had something else in mind, but this vacation is turning out all wrong.

Birdie’s conceptions were challenged, and we’ve all had high hopes clash with reality. This book is also appealing since many people desire a close relationship with their parents. Birdie is a female character, but this isn’t a girlie book. I believe boys would choose this book because of the video game angle. This is an enjoyable middle grade novel with many great qualities.

The Year of the BookThe Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anna does not seem to have a lot in common with the other girls in school. Her mother is a housekeeper, which she doesn’t openly talk about. She goes to a Chinese language school during the weekends. Also, she just lost her friend, Laura, to a mean girls clique. She dives into reading—books are entertainment and information, and they stave off the loneliness.

When Laura is going through a horrible time with family, Anna becomes closer to her. This is the part of the story I felt mixed about. I understood that Laura needed someone's support and that the two girls were affable with each other, but on the other hand I felt Anna was being used since Laura didn’t turn to her new friends, whom she had dumped Anna for. Maybe Laura could have been the new girl or a fellow introvert—something else that caused her to lean on Anna. Still, this is realistic and the author does give dimension to Laura and the mean girls.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this story. I liked the diversity and reading about Chinese and Chinese-American culture. Aspects of Anna’s life become better and stronger as the story progresses. I loved her character and will look into reading the other “Year Of” books by the author.