Monday, June 28, 2010

Review: Mackenzie Blue series

Title: Mackenzie Blue
Author: Tina Wells

Book 1:
Meet Mackenzie Blue, aka Zee
She has it all—smarts, talent, humor, and style. . . .
Is it enough to survive middle school?
Countdown to a 7th Grade Meltdown
1. Your BFF moves away.
2. Someone steals your diary and reveals your deepest secrets—to the entire class.
3. You have one chance to become a rock star and one chance to totally blow it. Guess what!? All three happened to me! School's a disaster already. Don't get me wrong—I love Brookdale Academy and I have a fabulous crew of friends. (At least, I think I do.) But, if I'm going to survive, I need all the help I can get! 

Book 2 (The Secret Crush):
Mackenzie Blue has a crush!
But how can she get Landon—the cutest boy in school—to notice her? The class's new rock-and-roll musical is her chance.
Reasons why our musical is going to be amazing:
  1. I could be the star!
  2. Landon could be my co-star . . . which means we'll hang out together.
  3. Working on the sets, props, music, script, and costumes will be tons of fun.
There's so much to do, I'd better get started!
Between her crush, the musical, and her friends—not to mention school work—Zee is torn in a thousand different directions. With all the real-life drama going on, will she lose sight of what's really important?

Book 3 (Friends Forever?):
Mackenzie Blue is hitting the trails!
It's time for Brookdale Academy's camping field trip, but Zee has much more to deal with than a lesson about nature. . . .
1. My BFF, Ally, is visiting all the way from Paris! Ooh la la!
2. My friends and I are so going to win the environmental scavenger hunt!
1. We have to stay in teeny-tiny log cabins. How will we all fit?
2. The legendary (and terrifying) Mountain Man . . . 

Since this series is geared more towards pre-teens, which is an audience I don't usually review for, I'm reviewing the whole series in one post. Even though my main focus is on young adult books, I'll sometimes review books meant for either a bit younger or older audience. This series looked interesting, so I figured, why not?

There were so many things in these books that reminded my of myself in 7th grade. Zee being embarrassed to have her dad drop her off at school, problems making new friends, first crushes, etc. The series was a really fun and positive one. Something I could definitely see myself reading in 6th or 7th grade. I liked how there were bits of her diary entries and IM conversations included, but sometimes the IMs were a bit annoying because I can't stand chat speak. I also enjoyed the aspect of the band, which ended up playing a big part throughout all 3 books. I was a "band geek" in middle school, so I could really relate to a lot of that. It's refreshing to see a book with groups other than the typical jocks, cheerleaders, etc.

Overall, I think this is a great series for a younger audience. It deals with a lot of problems that girls at that age can relate to, and ultimately a positive solution was found for each of the problems. I'd definitely recommend it to tween girls looking for something cute to read.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 7/10
Overall grade: C

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: Lifted

Title: Lifted
Author: Wendy Toliver
Publication date: June 8th, 2010

Being bad never felt so good.
Poppy Browne never stole anything in her life before moving to Pleasant Acres and meeting Mary Jane and Whitney. But when Poppy walks out of the mall with her two new friends and her first pair of stolen jeans, she's hooked.
Before long, Poppy is lifting whenever she gets the urge--it's never about the merchandise, it's always about the thrill. But when her secret gets out, Poppy's clique turns on each other. As she watches her life collapse around her, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie...and how far she'll go to protect herself.

This book had a great way of showing two important lessons: 1) People aren't always as nice or mean as they might seem to be; and 2) Trying something just once, even if on accident, can lead to a spiraling addiction. I absolutely loved this book. Poppy seemed like someone I would get along with great, minus the shop lifting, of course. It just goes to show how easily someone can be influenced by peer pressure when they're trying to fit in in a new place. Watching Poppy get into shoplifting and then becoming fully addicted to it was interesting and eye-opening. It's amazing how quickly something that seems innocent at first can escalate into a huge problem.

The fact that Poppy attended a Baptist school threw me off at first. Until the shoplifting started, I was wondering how in the world that would be incorporated into a book that seemed so pure otherwise. But everyone at Calvary High seemed to have their own little secrets, which was really interesting and made me think twice about my view of religiously oriented schools. Addiction and peer pressure can influence anyone, no matter how "pure". 

I loved a lot of the characters, but my opinions of some of them were changed drastically by the end of the book. At times, it became almost like a mystery trying to figure out who was doing things with good intent and who wasn't. But of course in the end it all fell together, and I was happily satisfied with the ending. There was something about the style of Wendy Toliver's writing that I loved, and I can't wait to read more of it.
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cleaning the bookshelves!

It's time for my spring cleaning, which means that I'm also trying to lessen the amount of books on my shelves. But I feel bad just donating them, because I want them to go to loving homes. So I figured I'd ask here, would anyone be interested in getting a flat rate box stuffed with books? I'd ask $15 per box, mostly for shipping but a couple bucks to recoup a bit of the money I've spent on these books. I have too many books and not enough time to type up a complete list, but I'd love to stuff as many as I can in a flat rate box and send them to someone looking for new books to read. I have enough books to do a couple of these, I think. Any takers?

Here's a slightly crappy cell phone picture of a few of the books (I'm still going through the rest of them):