Fiore, Kelly. Taste Test
August 27th 2013
by Walker Childrens
Nora has been helping her father in his Southern barbecue restaurant her whole life and loves to cook, but she is anxious about winning an opportunity to compete on the reality television show Taste Test. She has to be away from her father and her best friend Billy for an entire semester, and if she wins the competition, she'll spend the following year studying cooking in Paris. To make matters worse, the "dorm" for Taste Test is super fancy, and the other competitors make her feel like a hick, especially roommate Joy and hottie-but-snotty Christian Van Lorton, whose father is a celebrity chef. Joy is somehow involved with one of the judges, and Christian is a formidable competitor in the kitchen. He and Nora fight a lot, which the producers pick up on. A string of accidents (exploding pipes, etc.) plagues the set, and Nora tries to figure this mystery out as she is trying her best to win the cooking competition and also figure out how she really feels about Christian, as well as her friend, Billy.
Strengths: Fun cover, middle grade appropriate romance, cooking-- lots to recommend this one. A fun read. I liked Nora a lot.
Weaknesses: I didn't quite feel that Nora really was that good a cook or liked it that much. The relationship with Christian was rather trite, and the story line about the accidents didn't add much, although it might be just enough so that my romance readers who don't want to read a mystery for class can count this!
Leavitt, Lindsey. Going Vintage.
March 26th 2013
Mallory breaks up with long time boyfriend Jeremy because has a virtual girlfriend in an online game. When their social networking site blows up with this information, and Mallory finds a list of things her grandmother wanted to do during HER junior year in high school, Mallory swears off technology and plunges into "going vintage". She has some clothes and a high school year book of her grandmother's which she found while cleaning out grandmother's house in preparation for her move to an apartment. Among other things, the list instructs Mallory to be in a pep club, make her own homecoming dress, and have a steady. There's not much time, but she embarks on the project, working closely with Jeremy's super cute cousin Oliver. She asks her grandmother for help sewing, and bonds with her sister Ginnie as well. Mallory is concerned about her parents-- money is tight and they fight a lot, and Mallory thinks her mother might be having an affair. In the end, Mallory learns to be less reliant on technology but appreciates it, and learns some things about her family.
Strengths: I have a collection of 1950s teen etiquette books and novels, so I could understand Mallory's preoccupation with this time period. I also appreciated that her grandmother let her know that while the technology has changed, people haven't, and teens still struggle. This was a fun, light romp with serious undertones that I really enjoyed.
Weaknesses: I'm not sure if the cover will entice girls or drive them away. I think it's gorgeous. (Pink and green is my favorite color combination!) Still, I think they will enjoy the romance and family interactions.
Have a copy of Sarah Ockler's The Book of Broken Hearts (May 21st 2013
by Simon Pulse
) that I will be passing on to the high school; not only does too much of the first chapter describe the main character's too tight shorts riding up on her, the chapter ends with an f-bomb. Too bad. I really liked this author's Bittersweet, and the cover is gorgeous.
Another disappointment was Monica Seles' Game On; while it wasn't bad, it was more about the elite sports training school's rich students and their lifestyle than it was about tennis, and there was just a bit too much mention of sex for middle grade. Nothing graphic, but just too much.