Jillicious Reading: March 2011

3.19.2011

White Cat
The Curse Workers, Book 1
by Holly Black

Summary: Cassel is the only “non-worker” in a family of “workers” (magic-users).  He feels like a misfit not only in his family but also at his boarding school.  Things go from bad to worse when he wakes up on the roof of his dorm with no idea how he got there.  His life is becoming as terrible as his nightmares.  

ThoughtsWhite Cat is an absorbing, edgy fantasy. The mood is dark and puzzling as secrets are cautiously revealed and Cassel starts to put together the pieces of his past.  He is a perfect narrator: clever, cynical, and totally teen.  I listened to the audio version of the novel.  It’s read by Jesse Eisenberg, star of The Social Network, and he provides an excellent voice for Cassel.  In White Cat, Holly Black creates a fascinating world full of mobsters, magic, family drama, danger and enough reality to satisfy non-fantasy fans; I can’t wait to return in Book Two, Red Glove!

Click to read more about author Holly Black and The Curse Workers series.
  

3.18.2011

Close to Famous
by Joan Bauer

Summary: Foster and her mom are running away from Huck, her mom’s abusive boyfriend, when they unexpectedly end up in the little town of Culpepper, West Virginia.  It seems like a good place to start over, so the two set out to create a new life in this quirky little town.  Foster loves to bake and dreams of being on the Food Network.  With the help of new neighbors and friends, she gets busy “making the world a better place one cupcake at a time.”

ThoughtsClose to Famous is a charming novel full of eccentric characters and gentle life lessons.  I really liked spunky Foster and her can-do attitude.  She is a classic Joan Bauer main character: a strong girl that boldy takes on the challenges in her path.  Cupcakes and aspiring bakers have become common in recent literature, but Close to Famous eats up the competition.  And, it’s definitely best read with a plateful of freshly-baked treats!      

Visit Joan Bauer’s website to read more about Close to Famous and other novels. 

What Happened to Goodbye
by Sarah Dessen

Summary:  Moving from town-to-town with her father, McLean constantly reinvents herself at each new place.  When they land in Lakeview, she is forced to deal with these created identities and discover who she really is.    

Thoughts:  I love, love, love Sarah Dessen!  I’m crazy about novels of self-discovery, and Dessen reigns as the queen of this scene.  What Happened to Goodbye does not disappoint.  McLean’s journey is marked with authentic soul-searching as she tries to make sense of her world and her changing family.  The characters have Dessen’s trademark quirkiness and depth.  In this novel, Dessen returns to Lakeview, a fictional town from previous novels, and it was fun to see connections with former characters.  I devoured the book, and then had the horrible, familiar feeling when it ended… now, I have to WAIT for the next one!  

Read more about Sarah Dessen and her novels on her charming website.   

Exciting note for Dallas fans:  Sarah Dessen is coming to the Dallas Museum of Art on May 22, 2011 through the museum’s BooksmART program!  Visit the DMA website for details and tickets.        

Prisoners in the Palace: 
How Victoria Became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel
by Michaela MacColl

Summary: Liza’s world is turned upside down in an instant when her parents die suddenly.  She is left penniless and instead of preparing for the season of high society balls & prospective husbands, she is forced to take a position serving as a maid to Princess Victoria.  Court life is not at all what Liza expected; it’s full of gossip,  scheming, power struggles, espionage, and even romance.       

ThoughtsPrisoners in the Palace is a delightful historical fiction novel.  The author clearly researched her subject extensively and created an exciting story based on the true happenings and diary entries of the future queen.  The book gives an accurate portrayal into the always-tumultuous British monarchy through the eyes of Liza, a spunky, likable heroine.  As a fan of historical fiction and a hopeless Anglophile, I thoroughly enjoyed the view into Victoria’s early years in this well-written, engaging novel.  

Click here to read more about Michaela MacColl and what’s next for this interesting new author!  

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