Haston, Meg. How to Rock Braces and Glasses.
Kacey is not only popular, she is mean. She is a presenter on the school television broadcast every morning, giving advice, which is almost always snarky. She cares a lot about what she wears, and just got a new pair of violet colored contact lenses. When she forgets to use eyedrops with them, they cause an eye infection. She is fitted with a pair of heavy, tortoiseshell eyeglasses. A little while later, she gets heavy duty braces which result in a lisp. The understudy for her starring role in the school play is brought in, and she finds her friends drifting away from her. She gets involved with a boy who has a rock band because he wants her to sing with them, but she thinks he is beneath her because of his bad fashion choices. Of course, she manages to be triumphant in the end, and becomes a nicer person as well.
Strengths: This is cover blurbed by Lisi Harrison, author of The Clique series, and this book will appeal to that crowd. It is also going to be a television series coming out in February, so there will be demand for the book.
Weaknesses: As a Geek American, I always find this sort of book insulting. I also have trouble believing that there are that many middle school students who care about fashion. And the eye doctor would have let Kacey pick out prettier frames-- he wouldn't have had a pair all ready to go right there. Interesting that the television series has Kacey portrayed by an African-American actress; the violet contacts, along with descriptions of her putting her hair in a "loose chignon" and her mother having "auburn curls" made me think she was white, but there is no reason she had to be other than those brief descriptions. This is one that I will buy but not necessarily like.
Cabot, Meg. Abandon.
Pierce died in an icy pool after hitting her head and falling in, but because of the cold temperatures, she was brought back from the dead. Her mother blamed her father, so the two of them have left the east coast, where Pierce was involved in a scandal at her school after the accident, and now live on a small island where her mother grew up. Pierce still feels weird, and it doesn't help that she is enrolled in the "New Pathways" program for troubled students at the school. SPOILER ALERT: It turns out that when she died, she went to Hades and met John, who is now running the underworld. He took a fancy to her when she was young, and now wants her to stay with him. There is also some complicated family history that will no doubt be resolved in book two and three of the trilogy.
Strengths: I nice mythological twist on paranormal romance, and middle school appropriate. Meg Cabot seems unable to write anything bad.
Weaknesses: Totally random title. Means nothing. I am never thrilled with quirky Southern settings, but this one wasn't bad.