Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Tour: The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenie

The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie
Publisher:Westside Books
Publish Date: December 15, 2010
Hardcover, 334 pages
ISBN: 978-1934813447
Young Adult, Fiction

** I apologize, I am running behind and have just started this book.  It has started off great and I look forward to finishing and reviewing The Princess of Las Pulgas tomorrow.  **

About the Book:
After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas. 

About the Author:
Native Californian C. Lee McKenzie has always been a writer. But she's also been a university professor and administrator, and for five years, she wrote and published a newsletter for university professors. Her fiction and nonfiction for young readers has been published in the award-winning e-zine, Stories for Children, and Crow Toes Quarterly has published her ghostly tales. When she isn't writing, Lee hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Gatos, California. She is also the author of Sliding on the Edge, a young adult novel published by WestSide Books in Spring 2009.

FTC Information: I received this book through The Teen Book Scene to review for the current tour.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Popular by Alissa Grosso, Character Interview: Nordica

Character Interview: Nordica

1.  What was going through your head the first time you met Hamilton?

I thought she was an angel disguised as a high school girl. 

2.  How is it being the youngest member of the clique?

I always feel about three steps behind everyone else.

3.  How do you think being in Hamilton's clique has helped you?

I would be nothing without Hamilton and the clique. I owe everything to them.

4.  How do you think being in Hamilton's clique has hurt you?

Then again, maybe I would have been happier being nothing. It certainly would make life less stressful.

5.  Photography is one of your passions, what led you to realizing you were a good photographer?

I don't think I'm a very good photographer. I mean, it's not like my work will be in magazines or newspapers or even the yearbook. I just like being able to snap pictures of people and preserve moments forever. Really, the camera does all the work. I just press the buttons.

6.  If you could do anything to make your mark in your Senior year next year, what do you think it would be?

Do you have any idea how terrifying this question is? I have no idea how to make my mark. I wish I could just fast forward through all of senior year. But I can't. So, I don't know what I'll do.

7.  If you had to describe yourself, how would you?

I'm just an ordinary person who happens to be friends with some pretty amazing people. So, most days I feel like a fish out of water, or at least like a little fish who somehow wound up swimming with a school of much bigger fish.

About the Book:
PopularFor reigning popularity queen Hamilton Best, the very idea of graduation is filled with fear. She's always been the star of Fidelity High's most exclusive clique, idolized for her perfection and her fabulous parties—you know you're "in" when you make Hamilton's guest list. As high school draws to a close, Hamilton is about to lose everything that makes her who she is.

To make matters worse, the clique is slowly coming apart at the seams. Although the hand-picked members—Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly—all have their own agendas, desires, and secrets, they do have one thing in common: they're desperate to break away from Hamilton. Yet Hamilton has the biggest and most shocking secret of all, one that only her devoted boyfriend Alex knows. If the truth got out, it would completely destroy her fragile world.

And she'll do anything to keep that from happening.

About the Author: 

Early Days and Education
Alissa was born in Hackensack, New Jersey in 1975. She grew up in the Garden State living in Hackensack, Ramsey and later Byram Township, NJ.

She graduated from Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope, NJ where she ran on the cross country and track teams. She earned a B.A. in English from Rutgers University graduating with highest honors and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Professional Life
Alissa worked for Waterloo Foundation for the Arts while attending college as well as after graduating from college in a number of different capacities. She later worked for the Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, PA where she worked in both the circulation and youth services departments, and was the Children's Coordinator for Norway Memorial Library in Norway, ME. She also worked as an editor and writer for Journal Newspapers in White Haven, PA. She presently works as an independent library sales representative for Unique Books, Inc. and is the author of the forthcoming YA novel Popular.

What She's Doing Now

After living for several years in Pennsylvania and briefly in Maine, Alissa has returened to New Jersey and presently lives in Clinton.  When she isn't visiting libraries or busy playing outdoors, she is hard at work on her next novel. 


Teen Book Scene is hosting a giveaway of one copy of Popular, and it's open internationally.  Just comment on this post and for more entries to win, go to other posts during the tour and comment on them.  Giveaway will end a few days after the end of the tour and will be announced on A Good Addiction.  Be sure and come back on June 7th when I have my character interview with Nordica, for another chance to enter.

Book Review: Shattered by Melody Carlson

Shattered: A Daughter's Regret (Secrets)Shattered by Melody Carlson
Publisher: NavPress
Publish Date: April 15, 2011
Paperback, 199 pages 
Fiction, Young Adult, Life Issues

 ISBN: 978-1600069499
Book #2 in Secrets

My Review:
Why I read this: I have been hooked on Melody Carlson since I read her first book last year and have read every book I could review by her since.  

My thoughts:  I'm going to do this review in two parts, something I'm considering doing in the future for my YA reviews, first part from the parent perspective, the second as a review of the book.  Let me know what you think.

As a parent:  Shattered covers a number of issues that teens face today and one of the biggest is taking control of your own actions.  Not blaming others and not taking on blame for things that are out-of-your-control.  I think we all hope our kids don't have to learn in such an extreme way that Cleo learns in.  I think this also takes on too much parental control and how a little freedom can help kids, but it never really puts down the parents in any way.  Ms. Carlson is a parent herself so I think this book is well-thought out.  Concepts in this book are tough, but handled in a way that I think this book is optimal for teenagers 13 and older.  A great book to talk about with your teen or for a teen book group - there is lots that can be discussed.  And after saying all the value this book has, let me tell you it is an enjoyable book as well.  As this is a Christian book, there is no bad language, but there is drug use, but this is handled in a way that does not glamorize it in any way. 

My Review:  Shattered is a very powerful book.  Cleo goes against her mother's wishes one night and it leads to the ultimate life-changing occurence for both Cleo and her family.  The book open introducing us to Cleo, her over-protective mother and her best friend Lola.  It's Lola's last night in town and she has won tickets to a Christian band concert in the city.  Cleo's mom won't let her use the car to get to the concert and doesn't want her going into the city with just her friend, but she has plans that night.  Cleo then hatches a plan to get her best friend and herself to the concert without her mom knowing.

This little lie leads to major consequences in Cleo's life and the rest of the book takes the reader through how Cleo handles this situation and how her family and some new friends help her as she faces the guilt, the consequences and more bad decisions she makes.  I think the plot was handled well and kept me interested.  I would liked the book to be a little longer, but felt everything was covered well.  The reader gets to know Cleo most, but I enjoyed getting to know Cleo's aunt Kellie and her help in her life as well as Cleo's long-time crush, now boyfriend, Daniel.

A sensitive subject is handled very well by Ms. Carlson.  I haven't read the first book in the Secrets series, but I don't think they are linked like typical series.  I think the Secrets series is just a series dealing with teens keeping secrets that weigh them down and how to go about confessing these secrets and getting back to relationships with friends, family and of course God.

A  few powerful quotes that really stood out to me:

Even after the house finally got quiet, I still couldn't sleep. By midnight I was playing Ghost Girl again, wandering throughout the house, wishing and wishing I could undo everything . . . or somehow fix this mess.  But that's impossible.
 The second:
All except for one part of the sermon that somehow sticks.

"God has the heart of a mother. Like a mother, God's love is unconditional. Like a mother, God's forgiveness is complete."

And one final one (this is Aunt Kellie talking to Cleo):
"We can blame ourselves for things that were beyond our control for a lifetime, Cleo.  We can torture ourselves for years and years. But someday, we have to accept that we don't control anyone but ourselves.  And then we have to account for all the time we lost fretting over those things we couldn't control."

I enjoyed Shattered and think young adults and adults will as well.  Ms. Carlson has hit another home run with this one and I will be going back to check out the first Secrets novel, Forgotten.  And stay tuned for the third in the series, Trapped in the future.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

About the Book:
Everybody does it—sneaks out of the house now and then. It's harmless enough, right? Not this time. Cleo Neilson faces the chilling consequences of her actions. Now she has a secret and can’t tell anyone, and it’s breaking her heart. As Cleo fights through her grief and guilt, she learns about faith in God and forgiveness through him. As teenage girls read Cleo's journey, they too will learn the value of having faith and receiving forgiveness as well as just how dangerous it really is to keep a secret.

About the Author: 
Melody Carlson is the best-selling author of more than 150 books, including the TrueColors series (TH1NK/NavPress). Her first book in the Secrets series is titled Forgotten. She has won various awards for her writing, including The Gold Medallion and The Rita. Melody currently lives in the beautiful Oregon Cascade Mountains with her husband.


FTC Information: I received this book through Glass Road PR for the blog tour and an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.