Monday, June 28, 2010

Vivacious Violet

Hello Readers! 
I am on a roll with my TBF 2011 reading! I’m bound and determined NOT to have a repeat of last year (where I was trying to finish 6 books less than a week before the festival!), so I’m getting started early. 
I got a great deal on several TBF books on Barnes& this past weekend. I got books by Heather Brewer and Melissa Kantor for $1.99 each! I love a good bargain (and a good book). I can’t wait for them to arrive. There are few things more exciting in life than a package from Barnes&Noble. 
Anyway, today I am not here to boast about my mad shopping skills (nerdy again, right?), but to review “Violet on the Runway” by Melissa Walker. 
Violet Greenfield is tall, skinny, and completely lacking in confidence. She attends public high school in her North Carolina town, hangs out with her best friends, Julie and Roger, and works part-time at the local movie theatre. But all that changes when Angela Blythe, an agent for Tryst Models in NYC, recruits her for a life in the limelight. Violet, who has always felt that she never found the one thing that she was “great” at, jumps at the opportunity. She sets off for New York City, is thrust into the spotlight, and learns that getting what you want is not always easy. 
Violet is a believable and likeable character. In the sneak peek excerpt of “Violet By Design” (the next book in the “Violet” series), Violet says, “I realize the whole hotel opens in the middle around a giant, curving staircase like in “Gone With the Wind” – which, okay, is my secret favorite movie. My public favorite movie is “The Royal Tenenbaums,” which, while a great film with infinitely more cool cred, is no “Gone With the Wind.” It’s lines like this that convince the reader that Violet would make an awesome best friend. 
Fans of “Ugly Betty,” “Project Runway” and “Models of the Runway,” and “America’s Next Top Model” can’t go wrong with “Violet on the Runway.” 
(And a fun fact, Melissa Walker has worked in the fashion industry. Check out her bio online or in the back of one of the “Violet” books for more info!) 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

David Levithan in Entertainment Weekly

Hello Readers! 
This is not a TBF 2011-related post, but I think it will be an interesting one nonetheless. You should all try to get a hold of a copy of the magazine Entertainment Weekly for the week of July 2. In the “Books” section (my favorite section of the magazine!), there is a really fascinating article about how, if “To Kill a Mockingbird” were published today, it may have been marketed as a YA read. 
TBF alum David Levithan (TBF 2007, 2009), author of “Boy Meets Boy,” “Will Grayson Will Grayson,” and more, and editor of “The Hunger Games” series for Scholasitc, is quoted. It’s a very interesting article. I was hoping that I would be able to find it online and attach a link to the post, but it doesn’t appear to be online. 
You can pick up Entertainment Weekly at your local grocery store, or try your library! It’s definitely worth searching for it - any TBF lover will appreciate the article. 
If you happen to get a hold of the article, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of it! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

Hi Bookworms!
I know I promised you this review a few weeks ago, but I just finished “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” by Josh Berk last night. I have to admit, it took me longer to get through it than I thought it would, mostly because I took a break in the middle to read “The Passage.” (Which, by the way, was REALLY good. It’s not by a TBF author, BUT Jennifer Smith, a former TBF author, is mentioned in the acknowledgments, as she served as a first reader for the book.) 
“The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” is about Will Halpin, a (self-proclaimed) fat, deaf kid who transfers from his local Deaf school to be mainstreamed at the public high school. Shortly after his arrival, one of the most popular kids at school dies while on a field trip to the local mine. When an initial police investigation reveals that the student was most likely pushed, Will and his new (and only) friend, Smiley, set out to solve the mystery. 
Will and Smiley are both likeable characters who immediately endear themselves to the reader. Because Will is deaf and Smiley’s knowledge of American Sign Language is limited, they converse primarily through IM conversations and text messages. These conversations are simply hilarious. 
Also interesting, especially to me, since I'm a communication sciences and disorders major (which means that I study disorders that impede “normal” communication), was the book’s discussion of deafness. The little “d” deaf versus big “D” Deaf debate is touched upon, as is, very briefly, the controversy surrounding cochlear implants. The differences between American Sign Language and Standard English grammar are also explained, although briefly. 
All in all, for anyone looking for a quick, fun murder mystery or for anyone interested in deafness or Deaf culture, “Hamburger Halpin” is a good bet. (There’s a pun hidden in that last sentence. You’ll get it if you read the book … there’s something else to motivate you!) 
Let me know, readers, have you read “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin?” What did you think? 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Makeover Complete!

The makeover of Carly Reads is complete! Poke around and check out what's new ... and thanks for not complaining about the funky formatting issues I've been having for the past few days.  I think the final result is well worth it. ;-)

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Carly Reads is undergoing a major blog makeover!  Please excuse our dust ...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What? Carly read another vampire book?

Hello Readers!

Okay so you’re not going to believe it. In my last book review (of “Hex Hall”), I talked about how “Twilight” has made me hate vampires in all forms, but “Hex Hall” made me realize that perhaps I shouldn’t be too quick to judge all fictional vampires. I just finished Beth Fantaskey’s “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.” In “Jessica’s Guide,” Jessica is a senior in high school in rural Pennsylvania. One day, a mysterious, Eastern European stranger shows up at her farmhouse and informs her that she’s his betrothed – and a vampire princess. That’s right. “Jessica’s Guide” is ALL about vampires. And you know what, readers? I really liked it. 

Jessica is a strong, independent character and that (as you’ve all probably figured out my now) is how I like my female protagonists to be. Especially in romance stories. When Lucius, Jessica’s betrothed, first shows up at her farmhouse, she’s convinced that he’s a raving lunatic. It takes quite a bit of convincing before logical, math-loving Jessica believes Lucius’ tale. 

I’m going to venture to say that fans of “Twilight,” as well as non-fans, will appreciate “Jessica’s Guide.” It’s vampires and romance, but Jessica’s definitely not Bella, and Lucius is not Edward. An added plus? Lucius’ letters to Vasile, his uncle who remains in Romania, about American high school and American customs will make you LOL. (Yes, I did just say that. It was really nerdy, I know.)

So, readers, get yourself a copy of “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.” I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Are you reading any TBF 2011 books? Let me know which ones!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

YA Tribe

Hey Readers!

A bunch of our totally awesome TBF 2010 authors (Amy Kathleen Ryan, Alisa Libby, Jennifer Smith, James Kennedy, and Martin Wilson) are posting on a blog created by Amy Kathleen Ryan called YA Tribe. Here’s what Amy says about YA Tribe:

“I came home from the 2010 Rochester Teen Book Festival feeling like I already missed the amazing writers and readers that I met. There's nothing more interesting or exciting than talking about great books, so I wanted to create a forum for the discussion to continue. I invite guest bloggers from all walks, including teen readers, writers, and librarians. We'll also do lots of book reviews, but all our reviews are of books we LOVE. If we don't love it, we don't review it.”

Basically, YA Tribe is my new favorite blog. (You can’t pick your own blog to be your favorite, that’s conceited.) So you should all check it out! ASAP! 

(There’s currently a really funny “movie” by Amy Kathleen Ryan about Amazon Reader Reviews …)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How Hex Hall Renewed My Faith in Vampires

Hey Readers!
I’ve made it this year’s blog resolution to post more book reviews, so here comes another one! I just read Rachel Hawkins' “Hex Hall.” I’m usually NOT a fantasy person. I loved Harry Potter, but hated “Lord of the Rings,” etc. I’m just not into it. However, I REALLY liked “Hex Hall!” It was the perfect book for Memorial Day weekend – it was fun, moved quickly, and had a good mystery to it. I usually try not to compare between authors that are both coming to TBF in the same year, but I’m describing “Hex Hall” as “If I Tell You I Love You Then I’d Have to Kill You” (which is one of my favorites) meets Harry Potter.
“Hex Hall” has a totally awesome female protagonist (Sophie) who goes to private school (okay, reform school) for witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, fairies, and a lone vampire. I don’t like vampires. At all. I hate “Twilight” with a passion. However, “Hex Hall” has a vampire that has made me reconsider my hatred for all things vampire related. And that, my readers, is significant.
So, if only to find out why I no longer hate ALL vampires, get your hands on a copy of “Hex Hall” ASAP. Once you read it (or if you’re ahead of me and you’ve already read it!), leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!