Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a news junkie. And I love following major cases. I am also a Law and Order addict. So when I received an advance copy of Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl, I was thrilled.

Alice has lived with Ray since she was ten. The neighbors assume he is her father, and look upon him as a hard-working father struggling to make ends meet.


A funny word.

Because Ray is the farthest thing from a father.

Kidnapped when she was 10, Alice is now 15. Her life is a nightmare and she wants nothing more than for Ray to kill her, ending the abuse and violence she has been tortured with daily. She knows it’s coming soon, because she is getting too old for him- he likes little girls, not teenagers. But before she can die, Ray forces her to find the new “Alice”, a replacement.

This book is haunting, nightmare-inducing, and horrific. It’s not a story that readers will identify with, but you won’t be able to put it down. Alice’s situation is beyond description. You will want to stop reading, but you won’t be able to. I read the book in one sitting, unable to stop even though I wanted nothing more than for it to be over.

I don’t think a review can do this book justice. Living Dead Girl is a fantastic YA book (for older teens), and has significant crossover appeal in the adult market. Scott has captured Alice’s voice in an unforgettable manner. She is equal parts 10 year old and jaded adult. She is a good person and a horrific person. She is deeply flawed, but only because of what Ray has done to her. As a character, she is completely fascinating. Scott has produced an unforgettable novel that will be a hit with teens and adults alike.


Princeton Children’s Book Festival/Blogger Meet-up

Save the Date! The Princeton (NJ) library will be holding its annual Children’s Book Festival on September 13.  Check out the list of confirmed list of authors that will be in attendance!  Some of my favorites are Dan Gutman, Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead, and Sarah Beth Durst.  I will definitely be in attendance- will you?

Still curious?  Here’s a bit more information from the website:

The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is an annual event each September at the Princeton Public Library and the Albert E. Hinds Memorial Plaza.

Our community is one that loves their library and loves books. The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is a celebration of this pairing. This well attended event continues to grow yearly and promises something for everyone. Here you may meet your favorite author or illustrator, listen to them discuss their work, have a book autographed or just have the opportunity to talk to them about their inspiration.

From picture book authors and illustrators to children’s fiction writers, live entertainment for children and their families and many activities throughout the afternoon, The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is an event that should not be missed.

The Princeton Children’s Book Festival is Saturday, September 13, 2008 from 12-5:00 PM.
The Festival will be held at the Princeton Public Library and the Albert E. Hinds Memorial Plaza located at 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08542.
For additional information about the Festival please contact Allison Santos.

Liz B. over at A Chair, A Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy suggested a NJ/PA bloggers meet up.  I’m in– are you??  Stay tuned for more details!

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker

Violet Greenfield wants nothing more than to be able to fade into the background of high school. Unfortunately, her height makes that almost impossible. To compensate for her long legs and ever-growing body, she tries to dress inconspicuously and avoids drawing any attention to herself. Even her job, at the small hometown movie theater is designed to keep her hidden- anyone in their right mind (even Violet) goes to the megaplex across town to see a movie.

In Violet on the Runway , Violet’s life is forever changed the day she meets the woman in Chanel glasses at the movie theater. In the midst of complaining about her movie-going experience, the woman is stunned by Violet and hands over a card for Tryst modeling, asking if Violet is “signed anywhere”. Violet accepts the card, but laughs it off. However, over the next few days the card burns a hole in her pocket. Is this woman, Angela, right? Could she possibly be model material? She eventually decides to take the plunge, which takes her and her mother to New York for go-sees, appointments with designers. When four designers choose Violet to walk their Fashion Week runways, she is suddenly thrust into a whole new world.

Is modeling all that it’s cracked up to be? Can Violet survive being a runway model, the next “It” girl, and a high school senior? Can her life back home and her relationships with friends and family stay intact? Most importantly, can Violet survive, intact?

I really enjoyed this book! It was a great look at the world of modeling and glamour, but with a likable heroine. Violet is genuine and real, you feel like you know her. She struggles and makes mistakes, but you don’t blame her. She just wants to be something more than P-L-A-I-N. And really, isn’t that what we all want in middle school and high school?

I plan to recommend this to students who enjoy THE CLIQUE novels and Meg Cabot’s AIRHEAD. And I am thrilled that it is perfectly acceptable for 6th graders. I often have a hard time finding acceptable readalikes for these books, and Violet on the Runway fits the bill. Even better? It’s a series (be sure to check out Violet by Design and Violet In Private )! I already sent a recommendation to a few of my former students who I know will enjoy Walker’s books.

This month, Melissa Walker’s Violet books are the pick of the month at readergirlz. And there’s more! I was excited to see an opportunity to win a signed copy of the book on Hope’s Bookshelf. And the author, Melissa Walker, is having a release month party on her blog where she is giving away a book she has read and loved every day. The grand prize is going to be signed copies of the Violet trio.

Breaking Dawn Thoughts (Spoilers included!)

I am not going to do a full-on review of Breaking Dawn because they will be all over the place soon enough. Plus, the Twilight series is like candy to me, fluffy fun. I love the series, but I don’t think it warrants a literary review. I don’t want to ruin my happy thoughts. 😉

I am interested in your thoughts, though! So please comment and let me know what you thought.

The Good:

  • The wedding- I am glad it happened, and I loved how everyone was involved. I especially loved that Jacob came back.
  • Esme’s island. How perfect!
  • The werewolves. I thought the pack was absolute perfection, and the division of the pack was even better.
  • The second part of the book being in Jacob’s voice. I will be honest and admit I did not like it when Meyer’s went to Jacob’s voice in previous books. But in this one? I loved it. Jacob was a welcome break from Bella’s drama. And I loved getting to see Jacob mature and grow a little more. I would definitely read a book about Jacob in the future.
  • Jacob imprinting in Nessie. This is going to be in the good and bad column, I love when books tie up loose ends and leave everyone happy. Having Jacob imprint on Nessie really made everyone one big, happy family. But at the same time…..
  • The Volturi came back! And were creepy! And bizarre!
  • I thought that naming the baby Renesme was actually pretty realistic. What I mean is, so many young mothers today use these crazy names! Even if they think they are doing good, naming the baby after other people important to them, the names still sound crazy. And while Bella could be mature in some ways, she is also very immature. I thought the crazy name fit her personality. Plus, how true is it that everyone else always picks the nickname for a kid, and the mother never likes it!
  • The happy ending appeased me. Realistic? Hell no. Fulfilling and pure fantasy? You got it! I mean, we are talking about vampires here, people. Realism was never really the issue for Twilight.
  • I loved that we met more of the nomads, the South America vampires, and the Irish.
  • We got to see more of Carlisle, which was great. He is one of my favorite characters and spends way too much time in the background.

And the Bad:

  • The book felt rushed, despite being almost 800 pages long.
  • The conflict with the Volturi was extremely rushed. It was also anti-climactic.
  • Bella whined even more than usual, and was kind of a witch to Edward when she got pregnant.
  • Nessie, Nessie, Nessie. She just seemed to be a Mary Sue character. She never really developed beyod what we learned about her the first time Bella held her.
  • Bella got everything she wanted in a neat little bow. Edward, a baby, her whole family involved in her life, a new girlfriend to take care of Charlie, Jake in her life, she gets to stay in Forks, etc.
  • There was a major gross factor in this book, with Nessie tearing out of her mother’s stomach. It almost felt like Meyer was writing for the movie version of Breaking Dawn, knowing people would want ACTION!ACTION!ACTION! The Twilight movie preview doesn’t make me want to see the movie because it seems to dwell on the horror/vampire aspect of the story, which the book never did. But this time it seemed like the book was being written to fit that version of the events.
  • The wolves aren’t werewolves? Just shapeshifters? And this information is thrown out there randomly, in the last 50 pages, with not more explanation?
  • The sex. I’m sorry, but this was not a book I expected to revolve around sex for 600 pages. And while there are no graphic sex scenes, it was alluded to enough to make me uncomfortable reading it. Had I expected it going in it would have been different, but I didn’t. The headboard, torn pillows, etc were a bit much for me.
  • The fact that Bella was willing to stay human longer just for sex. I don’t believe Twilight should be looked at as a “message book” (it’s fluffy candy, like I said), that irritated me. It wasn’t even necessary because they didn’t end up at Dartmouth. The book would have been better served if that aspect had been left out. It was disconcerting to see Bella begging Edward to ravish her, even promising to stay human for him. It was just plain uncomfortable.
  • The lack of Edward in the book also annoyed me. He is my favorite character (I can’t wait for MIDNIGHT SUN) and it seemed like he was placed on the backburner for most of the book. That seems like an odd choice, as most of the teen audience for the books loves Edward.
  • The running in the trees. Was that placed in there purely because of the impending movie?? When the movie preview came out the fandom was shocked to see Edward running along the tops of the trees. That was never mentioned in the books, and suddenly it’s the only way they move in the last installment. Hmmm…

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t make any accurate predictions about the outcome of BREAKING DAWN (other than the Volturi returning in some form). I loved that I had no idea what was coming, even if I did figure out the ending halfway through the book. All in all, I enjoyed the book. It was a happy ending, everything was tied up, and everyone was given their happily (for)ever after. And hey, when I was at various stores this weekend I saw no less than 10 women and teen girls purchasing the book. This was at Target, Walmart, and other various non-bookstores. That always makes this Language Arts teacher smile!

Breaking Dawn

No spoilers!  But I am done.  I am satisfied.  Detailed review to come in the next few days.

The Rise of YA

Say what you will about the decline of pleasure reading among kids, but YA is alive and kicking. How do I know this? How about the fact that “Hundreds of teens camped overnight outside the San Diego Convention Center for a chance to see early footage of the film and get a glimpse at the cast of heartthrobs set to bring the teen-vampire tale to life.”.

What are they talking about? Apparently, Twilight has taken over Comic-Con this year. That’s right, teens who have read and loved a series are such huge fans that they are taking over one of the biggest conventions of the year. Insane! And I absolutely love it. 🙂

Even better? The article about Twilight fans at Comic-Con is on the front page of Yahoo. Hopefully, this will introduce more adults (and teens) to current YA books. Even if Meyers is not the world’s greatest writer, even if the Twilight saga is not exactly “literary”, even if the books are silly romances- they are getting teens to read! And they are getting adults into the YA section of the library or bookstore. Now we just need to keep both the teens and adults in there and reading!

Breaking Dawn Quote of the Day

Those of you like me, who are anxiously awaiting the the release of BREAKING DAWN, should be sure to check out Stephenie Meyer’s website. She is posting a quote from the book each day leading up to the release. She also did this with ECLIPSE and it’s a ton of fun to try and predict how the quotes are related to the book.

Quote of the Day

My favorite?

Renee: “Alice wouldn’t let us do anything else. Every time we tried, she all but ripped our throats out.”

This means Renee knows!  At least, I think it means that she knows Bella and Edward are a bit different…..

So what do you think?  What is your favorite quote?