Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beach Reads!

Henderson, Laura. Flirting in Italian.
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 12 June 2012

Violet is an art student in London who sees a picture hanging in a small museum, and the girl in the picture looks just like her! She manages to arrange to travel to Italy and study in a small Italian language course with Catia, who runs a sort of finishing school. This gets her near the castle from which this painting came, and also away from her very overprotective mother who looks nothing like Violet. Joined by fellow Brit Kelly and Americans Paige and Kendra, Violet settles into a routine of learning Italian and nicieties like flower arranging, going out with Catia's children, and falling for the handsome but wicked Luca. The housekeeper at the castle has an odd reaction to Violet, and she does bear a strong resemblance to the current owner's sister when she was young. When someone tries to lock Violet in a secret passage and she is late poisoned, it's clear that there are secrets that someone would like kept that way.
Strengths: The biggest need for books for girls that I have in my library is for romances, but it can be hard to find one that is intriguing and middle school appropriate. This was both. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a huge favorite, so anything where girls travel does well. The relationship between the classmates is a nice touch.
Weaknesses: The whole mystery aspect of this seems weak to me. Why not just ask is she is adopted instead of planning a whole scheme to get to Italy? There is a bit of drinking, but never ends well. I don't see another book to this one, but the last paragraph hints at one.

Zeitlin, Meredith. Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters.
(1 March 2012)
Kelsey Finklestein vows that THIS year will be different. She will rock at soccer, and since her arch nemesis has moved away, she has a shot at Jordan Rothman. While she does okay at soccer, an older girl, Julie, has something against her, and she gets stuck playing goalie. Her nemesis' cousin has moved to town and threatens to take over, but turns out to be a nice person. Jordan is dating someone... one of her good friends! The school year continues with these ups and downs (a boy is interested in her, but is a horrible sloppy kisser), but Kelsey manages to get through them with the help of her friends.
Strengths: This reminded me of Ellen Conford books, and I was all set to give it to one of my students who likes both sports books and romance books.
Weaknesses: *Sigh* Too much talk of sex. Not a lot of doing, but just a lot more discussion than I was comfortable with. This was a real shame, because I was enjoying it.

Coriell, Shelley. Welcome Caller, this is Chloe.
1 May 2012
Chloe has a great life-- she's just been elected dance queen and has two great friends. Things start to go south when her friends are upset at how she treated them after being elected queen and stop talking to her. Her grandmother's Parkinson's is getting worse, and she may have to go into an assisted living facility. Worst of all, she has an annoying new guidance counselor who has denied her junior project (that had to do with soap opera vixens) and signs her up instead to help with the failing school radio station. Since her friends aren't talking to her, and have convinced most of the school that they shouldn't talk to her, either, Chloe figures that she might as well work with the radio station. She gets a call in program that ends up doing well. Can Chloe manage to pass her junior project, save the radio station, make peace with her friend situation, and maybe even find romance? You bet your vintage shoes.
Strengths: Light, fluffy, improbably-- this is a great beach read. I've not been buying as much girly lit since the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies went belly up, so I will probably have to buy this one.
Weaknesses: Not a lot of internal consistency (her friends won't talk to her, but everyone turns in to the radio program?), and a fairly high slappage factor. Yes, Chloe is enthusiastic, but she also is highly insensitive to those around her. I didn't care for the acerbic Clementine any more. And what WAS with the vintage shoes? What teen is going to spend $200 on a pair of shoes?

1 comment:

  1. Those do look like fun quick beach reads! I love the title "Flirting in Italian."