Monday, November 9, 2009

Review: The Clique by Lisi Harrison

The Clique (The Clique, #1) The Clique by Lisi Harrison

My rating: 4.25/5.0

My Review:

While currently reading the Gossip Girl series, I didn't know what to expect from The Clique series. I was pleasantly surprised. This seems to be a good series for middle school girls and while the girls aren't completely innocent, they aren't quite as worldly as the high school girls in the Gossip Girl series.

The Clique introduces us to the girls of The Pretty Committee and the new girl Claire who desperately wants to be a part of The Pretty Committee. I found this book to be true to how middle school life really is. Cliques exist unfortunately and most girls want to be in the popular girls clique. I didn't think Massie, Dylan, Kristen or Alicia were particularly cruel. They weren't nice to others, but they weren't completely mean acting to me. Massie seems the worst of the lot but that is what you would expect from the leader. I liked that the book showed the vulnerability of the Pretty Committee along with that of Claire.

I also like that Claire doesn't let go of too much of herself to be a part of this group.

This is an enjoyable afternoon read for girls of all ages. I enjoyed it and went from finishing this one right on to the next one.

About the Book:

Meet The Clique…

Massie Block: With her glossy brunette bob and laser-whitened smile, Massie is the uncontested ruler of The Clique and the rest of the social scene at Octavian Country Day School, an exclusive private girls’ school in Westchester County, New York. Massie knows you’d give anything to be just like her.

Dylan Marvil: Massie's second in command who divides her time between sucking up to Massie and sucking down Atkins Diet shakes.

Alicia Rivera: As sneaky as she is beautiful, Alicia floats easily under adult radar because she seems so "sweet." Would love to take Massie's throne one day. Just might do it.

Kristen Gregory: She's smart, hardworking, and will insult you to tears faster than you can say "my haircut isn't ugly!"

Enter Claire Lyons, the new girl from Florida in Keds and two-year-old Gap overalls, who is clearly not Clique material. Unfortunately, for her, Claire's family is staying in the guesthouse on Massie's family's huge estate while they look for a new home. Claire's future looks worse than a bad Prada knockoff. But with a little luck and a lot of scheming, Claire might just come up smelling like Chanel No. 19....

The Clique... the only thing harder than getting in is staying in.

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Review and Opinions Wanted: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

My rating: 4.0/5.0

An interesting quick read that middle grade kids will enjoy.

Mixing a chapter book with comics and drawings on every page makes this easy and enjoyable to read. My son has read all of these books and was thrilled when his book fair coincided with the release week of this book.

The rating above is based on readability and the fact that my son loved it.

Now on to my personal thoughts:

I let him read through all of these and didn't think anything about it. Then my husband flipped through it and didn't like what he saw, so he asked me (being the more open-minded one) to read it and see what I thought.

So I did and I was surprised. I'm not sure I like this book - this child wants to sit around and play video games and not do anything with his family. He admits he and his dad have nothing in common and even goes as far as to call the police on his dad during one episode because he thinks his dad is going to leave him somewhere when his dad is just taking him to a baseball game.

I am disturbed by this child and I'm not sure why. I really don't want the values he is espousing to be planted in my child's head. Maybe I need to read the first three, maybe they are better and I would understand the character more.

I am Christian but I don't usually feel strongly about books. I wouldn't hesitate to let my boys read Harry Potter as I have read the first one and loved it and see no harm in it. But I do see harm in this book. At least from my stand point.

So help me out here - have you read this series - am I wrong - I'm willing and really want some other opinions here. I don't believe my opinion is the end-all and be-all, I'm unsure as far as these books are concerned.

So tell me your thoughts on this series. Should I let me son read the next one whenever it comes out or should I discourage him? What do you think of the book?

About the Book:

It’s summer vacation, the weather’s great, and all the kids are having fun outside. So where’s Greg Heffley? Inside his house, playing video games with the shades drawn.

Greg, a self-confessed “indoor person,” is living out his ultimate summer fantasy: no responsibilities and no rules. But Greg’s mom has a different vision for an ideal summer . . . one packed with outdoor activities and “family togetherness.”

Whose vision will win out? Or will a new addition to the Heffley family change everything?

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Article: Jane is my Co-Pilot: The Fine Art of Making Sense and Sensibility Totally Ridiculous by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Jane is my Co-Pilot: The Fine Art of Making Sense and Sensibility Totally Ridiculous
By Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters,
Authors of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Since writing Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, I've gotten a ton of feedback about how nice it is that I've made Jane Austen appealing to certain readers -- meaning readers who previously suffered a persistent allergy to The Classics. I am complimented for taking the prim and decorous Jane Austen and making her, A) really violent, and B) really funny.
The first compliment I will gladly accept. Over the decades since Sense and Sensibility first appeared, it has been noted by scholars and casual readers alike that the book is sorely lacking in shipwrecks, shark attacks, and vividly described decapitations. I believe it was the poet and critic Thomas Chatterton who admired the novel's careful plotting and social critique, but lamented the total absence of vengeful ghost pirates.
But I can't take credit for making Jane Austen funny. As is well known by passionate fans of Austen -- I have yet to meet any other kind -- the old girl has always been funny. Take for example Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, a set of secondary characters in Sense and Sensibility. The periodic appearances of the Palmers comprise what any comedy writer will recognize as a running gag. Mrs. Palmer is chatty and trivial, while Mr. Palmer (a delightful Hugh Laurie in the Ang Lee version) is gruff and unaffectionate. What Mrs. Palmer labels "droll," the reader -- along with Elinor, our sensible heroine -- recognizes as plain distaste for his wife, her friends, and everybody else in the universe. Every time those Palmers show up, we know we're in for the next variation on the same great gag.
Note that Austen doesn't do to the Palmers what Charles Dickens would: Exaggerate their core traits to the point of absurdity. (Also, she doesn't name them something like Mr. and Mrs. Featherwit). The Palmers are funny, but they're plausible, and their primary function in the book is to provide not laughs, but a corrective to Marianne's rosy ideal of married life. So Austen makes them funny, but not ridiculous.
Making them ridiculous was my job. When the Palmers appear in my monsterfied Sensibility, I give Mr. Palmer's drollery a murky, weird-tales back story, part of the preposterously elaborate foreshadowing of my H.P. Lovecraft-inspired denouement.
I play the same game, of comically amplifying what's already there, in varying ways throughout the book. Colonel Brandon, stiff and formal and middle-aged, becomes a stiff and formal and middle-aged man-monster. Genial Sir John becomes genial adventurer/explorer Sir John. Had Austen made all her characters ridiculous in that Dickensian way, if she had been the kind of writer who is forever winking at her readers, my book would be (as they say in improv comedy) a hat on a hat. But because Sense and Sensibility is so eloquent and restrained, Sea Monsters gets to go way over the top.
This is true even on the simple level of vocabulary. Austen's precise early-19th century diction is the textual equivalent of Eustace Tilly, the top-hatted, monocled figure from the cover of the New Yorker: Her writing simply oozes good taste. The trick was to appropriate that ever-so-tasteful and old-timey Austenian style to describe things she never would have:
In the profound silence that followed, their ears were filled with a low thrashing sound, as the corpse of the bosun's mate was noisily consumed by devil fish. At length the captain drew upon his pipe, and spoke again. "Let us only pray that this is the worst such abomination you encounter in this benighted land; for such is but a minnow, when compared to the Devonshire Fang-Beast."
"The . . . what?"
Even more fun to play with than Austen's eloquent vocabulary is her universe of enforced emotional rectitude. The Dashwood sisters live in a world where one's feelings are not blurted out -- or, at least, they're not meant to be, as sensible Elinor is continually reminding sensitive Marianne. It's a constant struggle to keep one's emotions hidden beneath the surface; all I did was literalize that metaphor in the most preposterous way, by adding deadly and dangerous monsters which appear literally from beneath the surface.

There was one factor above all that made Sense and Sensibility such a fun comic foil, and that is the place the book holds in the cultural firmament. One question I've heard a lot (or read a lot, as it's the sort of thing that comes up on blog comment-threads), is "Why didn't you do PersuasionThat's the Austen book that actually takes place on the water!"
The answer is simply that Persuasion, unlike Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice, may be a great book, but it is not a Great Book. It has not gathered around itself the unmistakable stink of importance.
Sense and Sensibility, on the other hand, stands in the literary tradition as Margaret Dumont stands before Groucho Marx, as the Chairman of the Reception Committee in Duck Soup: Prim and proper and radiating worthiness -- just waiting, in other words, for someone to hit it with a pie.
©2009 Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters, authors of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Author Bios 
Jane Austen, coauthor of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, is coauthor of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has been translated into 17 languages and optioned to become a major motion picture. She died in 1817. 
Ben H. Winters, coauthor of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, is a writer based in Brooklyn.
For more information please visit and

What Are You Reading Monday - November 9

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see J.Kaye's Book Blog and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:
  • The Sugarless Plum by Zippora Karz (review) 
  • The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin (review)
  • Love's Reflection by Carol North (review)
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney (DS's book)
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison (library) 
  • Best Friends For Never by Lisi Harrison (library)
  • Revenge of the Wannabees by Lisi Harrison  (library)

Reading Now:
  • Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough (review)
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (audiobook with DS)
  • Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz (audiobook)
  • Across the Endless River by (review)
  • To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt (review & tour)
Reviews Completed Last Week
  • Love Your Body, Love Your Life by (review)
  • Merchant Kings
  • To Desire a Devil 
  • Kissing Games of the World
  • Children of the Dust
Reviews to do:
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison
  • Best Friends For Never by Lisi Harrison
  • Revenge of the Wannabees by Lisi Harrison
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
  • Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
  • The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate (review)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (library)
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale (library)
  • Only In Your Dreams by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Relentless by Dean Koontz
  • Hunted by P.C. and Kristin Cast
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • True Colors by Kristen Hannah

Summary -

It was a good week reading and review wise.  I expanded my reading horizons with non-fiction and science fiction and The Clique books.  I really enjoyed everything I read and look forward to catching up on more reviews this week.  It's a full one with scheduled reviews and tours so I will busy.  Have a wonderful week all!