Saturday, August 20, 2011

Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen

Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As one of the characters remarks, this is sort of a mashup of Lord of the Flies and the National Enquirer (more like TMZ, I'd say, but whatev). It took me a little while to warm up to this one, mostly because the MC Francesca is kind of a pain in the butt. Also, boy, she has a lot of nicknames, not really confusing, just kind of wtf (it's cute that she notices it, too). But, I digress. Because irrespective of what name she's going by (Bam?), she pretty much stays a pain in the butt through the whole book, although through some clever inexplicable author magic, over the course of events she becomes an extremely endearing PITB that you can't help but feel for and fall in love with. Part of her charm is that she tells a great story, and the other characters come to life through her eyes as the story progresses. The "celebs" are a wacky bunch, each with their own issues and baggage, but they also have real personalities and hidden strengths and vulnerabilities, which become apparent as time on their desert island without rescue peels back the veneer of their carefully constructed personas. Part of the fun is identifying the various characters with their real life counterparts (gossip blogger Dicole Richie is the most obvious example, c'mon you are laughing now, that is funny, admit it!) Anyway, I did come to care about Francesca, who really came to life as the story moved along (and it is really a pretty good page turner, btw, I had to read part of it under my desk after I got to work yesterday!), and although this is not deeply wrenching emotional territory, I did find the denouement moving and tender, something I really wasn't planning on (good thing I was still under my desk, potentially embarassing moment alert). So, this is really a good read, I liked it a lot. I think one of the things I admire most about this is that is takes an idea that is almost a parlor game (one that Francesca and her friend play in the beginning, btw), and makes it fresh, funny, real feeling and a great break from reality. Re-reading that sentence makes me wonder if I've mentioned enough how funny this book is, it's not just a study in Franny's emotional growth. It's clever, witty and smart. In fact it's so good that I put it on my immediate re-reads shelf, and I'm doing that now. So, to sum up, this is a lovely confection, albeit with some substance to it, but still a spun sugar castle that can't bear the weight of too many heavy feet tromping through it. So put on your slippers and enter, don't worry, there's enough acerbic, ironic j'ne sais quois to avoid any diabetes issues, and you will definitely enjoy the trip!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Moonglass, by Jessi Kirby

MoonglassMoonglass by Jessi Kirby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The summer before Anna's junior year, her father moves them back to the beach where he and her mother met. Aside from being uprooted, this stirs up memories, issues, emotions and questions that they had both suppressed since her mother's death when Anna was seven.

Wow, what a powerful read. I was not expecting this at all, I thought it was kind of a beachy summer albeit bittersweet book (I mean, look at the cover, right?) but it really affected me on many levels. First, it is a very well crafted book -- all the elements which seem so random and disparate and fragmented come together like the stones in a kaleidoscope suddenly forming a recognizable and impactful image that you realize was there all along, you just needed to shift focus to see it(sorry for the crazy extended metaphor, there ;). Second, the story is so believable and real you are completely drawn into it. The characters and the setting are also beautifully drawn and have a depth and intensity not found in many books. Sarah Dessen blurbs the jacket, and it is reminiscent of her best books. It has that dreamy, intense and vivid summer languor that she is so good at creating, but it has its own authentic voice, too. One of the best of this summer for me!

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