Sunday, August 21, 2011

Alex Flinn. CLOAKED

I'm really impressed by the diversity of genres that Alex Flinn writes in, as well as the quality of writing in all of those different areas. Her more serious books, like FADE TO BLACK and BREATHING UNDERWATER are memorable years after reading them. But the more lighthearted books are just as memorable. BEASTLY was the first book she wrote with a fairy tale inspiration. Then A KISS IN TIME followed.

CLOAKED is an adventurous, joy ride! Johnny is an average shoe repair guy working in his family's shop in the lobby of a South Beach resort. His father was a shoe repair guy, and his grandfather was a shoe repair guy. Pretty exciting, right? Yeah, that's what Johnny thinks too. When the Alorian princess comes to stay at the resort, Johnny hopes to get a glance of her to add a little adventure to his life.

But, Johnny gets way more than glimpse of Victoriana. His wish of adventure is granted when she asks him to save her brother who's been abducted. The only catch is that her brother will be difficult to locate, since he was turned into a frog. And he's somewhere in Miami. But, if he's able to bring her brother back, then Victoriana will marry him and he'll be rich beyond his wildest dreams. Johnny decides to go on the quest armed with a magical cloak that Victoriana claims will transport him anywhere he wishes.

Surprises abound in this adventure! Johnny discovers secrets about witches, giants and animals who used to be human. He also gets quite a shock to learn that his best friend was keeping a magical secret from him.

I loved the combination of new ideas coupled with classics that felt familiar, such as The Frog Prince and The Elves and the Shoemaker. Plus, there are some more obscure fairy tales that intrigued me enough to want to know more. Luckily, the Author's Note in the back answered my questions. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter that referenced a particular fairly tale were a nice touch and gave you a little foreshadowing at times. You will enjoy the ride in CLOAKED!

By the way, I was able to get Alex Flinn's autograph at ALA in June, so I couldn't help but show off the picture of us. I've wanted to meet her for years, so that's while my smile is so big that my face can barely contain it!

Also, check out the book trailer for CLOAKED:
And her newly designed website for all of her other great books!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sarah Mlynowski. TEN THINGS WE DID (and probably shouldn't have)

This is one of those books that feels like a girls night out. It feels like you're hanging out with some girlfriends and you're all telling funny stories and enjoying yourself immensely. I really had a great time reading it! It also took me back to high school and some of the things that I did and shouldn't have, which I'll refrain from posting here to the public domain to protect the innocent. :)

The story begins with April becoming the luckiest teen on the planet. Her mom lives in Paris with her new husband and April's brother. April lives with her dad and his new wife. However, her dad gets a job promotion in Ohio. April doesn't want to move to Ohio in the middle of her junior year. She has a lot of friends and a great boyfriend. So, she begs her father to let her stay with her long-time friend, Vi. After some tricky negotiations, her father reluctantly agrees. Little does he know that Vi's mom will be traveling for a few months starring in the play version of Mary Poppins. So...that leaves Vi and April living alone as teens.

Here are a few highlights of the "ten things" they did and probably shouldn't have:

#4 Bought a hot tub
#8 Threw a crazy party
#9 Hosted the Mr Teen Universe contest

As you can imagine, they have a lot of fun. But they also learn a lot. April realizes that Vi has been dealing with a lot more adult responsibilities than a teen should. Does April want to take that stuff on? Or does she wish she could just live with her parents again an enjoy being a teen a while longer? In the meantime, they adopt an adorable cat, hang out in a hot tub called Hula and have a few parties.

This is laugh out loud funny, a little bittersweet, and has a ton of memorable characters! You won't want to miss this one.

I wasn't too surprised that I would have so much fun reading this when I realized what other books I had read by Sarah Mlynowski. Click here to see them. She has a knack for coming up with unique ideas. GIMME A CALL was completely unique and brilliant, while HOW TO BE BAD is one of my all-time fun-fests!
Check out more about this fabulous author here.