Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
2010; Dutton (Penguin); ISBN 978-0-525-42327-0 (hardcover)

Summary: At first, leaving Atlanta for a French boarding school is something Anna refuses to like.  She hates leaving behind her little brother, her best friend and the guy she likes.  She doesn't even speak French!  But once Anna arrives at the School of America in Paris, she slowly sees the positives.  Boarding school is a lot like being an adult, and there are tons of movie theaters in Paris for a film freak like Anna.  Best of all, there's Etienne: an American boy with a British accent and a French father, who becomes Anna's best friend.  Friendship isn't all there is between Anna and Etienne, though.  Paris is the city of romance: will that hold true for Anna?

Fluffier than a French pastry, Anna and the French Kiss mixes soul-searching with romance.  Anna takes time to adjust to life in another country, worried about her lack of knowledge and the reputation of Americans abroad.  As she bcomes more comfortable, she's also able to develop her romance with Etienne, who's definitely all a teenage girl could wish for.  The debut novel of Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss is a great choice for hopeless romantics and armchair travelers. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: Paranormalcy

Kiersten White
2010; HarperTeen; ISBN 978-0-06-198584-3 (hardcover).  ARC borrowed from friend.

Summary:  For Evie, the ordinary is exotic.  She wishes she could attend high school, have a locker, eat in the cafeteria, even go to prom.  Instead, she lives in one of the compounds run by the International Paranormal Containment Agency.  Evie can see through glamours to the true appearance of paranormal creatures.  This talent, one that no on other human has, means that Evie can only long for a normal life.  When she falls for a shapeshifter, Evie hopes that this is her chance to be a regular teenage girl.  But her faerie ex-boyfriend and a dark prophecy might keep Evie from getting what she wants.

Paranormalcy has drawn comparisons with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with good reason.  The theme of an extraordinary girl who longs for normalcy was well-mined by that show.  Yet Kiersten White's debut also stands on its own two feet.  A subtle mythology grounded in real-world situations, laugh-out-loud humor, and intriguing characters helps create a fast-paced fantasy.  Evie is a fantastic heroine, slowly maturing into a strong young woman.  While Paranormalcy thankfully does not end on a cliffhanger and resolves the major storylines, here's hoping we might get another novel featuring Evie.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ALA Midwinter Recap

It's been nearly two weeks since Midwinter ended, so what are the highlights that have stuck with me?

--Working with the rest of the amazing Printz committee to select this year's winner and honor books.  I'm incredibly proud of the work we accomplished: the books we read, the discussions we had, the fun we shared in the midst of all this work.  There were so many wonderful books published this year, and not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but I think we picked five very worthy books.

--Spending time with old friends and making new friendships.  My roommate buddies Liz B. and Sophie have been both friends and colleagues for several years, and they make conferences a time for both work and fun.  It was great to have Stacy as our fourth roommate, since I've always enjoyed her blog.  And it was great to meet Sarah, the GreenBeanTeenQueen in person!  (Psst: Sarah's running for the 2013 Printz!  You should check out her blog.) 

--Getting to walk around the exhibits, seeing what books are coming soon and of course, grabbing some ARCs.  What books am I most excited about?  Libba Bray's Beauty Queens, Micol Ostow's family, and Displacement by Thalia Chaltas are calling my name.  There's the sequels Dark Goddess: A Devil's Kiss Novel by Sarwat Chadda and Maureen Johnson's The Last Little Blue Envelope.  And a debut that's definitely intriguing: Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jennifer Violi.  

All in all, this was a memorable Midwinter Meeting for me.  Since I plan to take a break from committees and conferences after Annual in New Orleans, I'm glad I'm taking a break on a high point!  Leave a comment if you want to talk about the Printz or mention an ARC that you got at Midwinter.