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Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

Haaaaay!

Holy junk! With this review I am finally up to date with my reviews! It is an amazing feeling! Whoot!

Today’s review is of the fourth and last book in E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series, Real Live Boyfriends.

Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.

Real Live Boyfriends by E. LockhartNot only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,
And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.
Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)

Roo has lost most of her friends. She’s lost her true love, more than once. She’s lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she’s never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews on this series, you’ll know that Ruby is one of my favorite characters.  Throughout this whole series Ruby is struggling with change and acceptance and how to take care of herself while also taking care of her friends.  And in Real Live Boyfriends you see Ruby finally get it. It seems like things finally click into place. Not that Ruby is perfect, she’s still far from it, but she now knows how to work with what she has. She is just so relateable and I know that I second guessed everything like Roo does in high school!

I normally like Ruby’s parents a lot. They’re also incredibly imperfect and hilarious making them easily to love. But in this book Ruby’s mother drove me crazy! It seemed like she was acting like a whiny baby who couldn’t handle it when things weren’t easy for her.

This series is just one of the best in contemporary YA (definitely YA!).  They are realistic without taking themselves too seriously and just an all around fun series to read. If you’re interested, just know that Real Live Boyfriends is the fourth and last book in this series, so start with number one The Boyfriend List, you won’t be sorry!

Author: E. Lockhart

Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Dec. 28, 2010)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 225 pages

Series: Final book in The Ruby Oliver quartet

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, plural. If my life weren’t complicated, I wouldn’t be Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver Quartet)

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Cringe-Worthy Decisions: How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen

Well hello there!

As you may already know, every summer I read all fifteen of the Florida Sunshine State books so I can better promote them to students at school and because I love middle grades fiction. Well,  How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen is the sixth How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal AllenSunshine State book I’ve finished this summer.

Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker’s Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar’s a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And his brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up Dad’s attention, leaving no room for Lamar’s problems.

Until bad boy Billy Jenks convinces Lamar that hustling at the alley will help him win his dream girl, plus earn him enough money to buy an expensive pro ball and impress celebrity bowler Bubba Sanders. But when Billy’s scheme goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother’s shot at college and every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?

How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy has this rhythm to it that is just awesome.  Seriously, just read this first paragraph:

“Since Saturday, I’ve fried Sergio like catfish, mashed him like potatoes, and creamed his corn in ten straight games of bowling. And it’s just the middle of the week. People call Wednesday “hump day,” but for Sergio it’s “kicked-in-the-rump day.” I’m his daddy now, the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler ever.”

I literally re-read that over and over again because I just love the way it rolls off the tongue!  Allen writes this way throughout the whole book.  There are so many sentences and paragraphs that you can’t help but re-read out loud because they just sound so good!

Lamar is an incredibly likable character.  He’s your average kid struggling to get out from under his brother’s shadow and deal with life after his mother died. He’s awesome at bowling, but bowling isn’t basketball and in his town, basketball is king. Lamar is hilarious and the dialog between him and his best friend Sergio is laugh out loud funny! I don’t know if my students will get Lamar’s love for bowling, but Lamar is so personable they will definitely like him. You just can’t help but like him.

So, as the title suggests, Lamar makes some really bad choices and one awful one that affect everyone he knows.  Lamar is like any kid (myself at that age included) where life is all about what you feel at the moment. Sometimes this running off emotion thing leads to horrible decisions with major consequences, which Allen portrays well in this book.  Lamar knows it was wrong the second he follows through with his choice and is forced to deal with what happens after.  Some things get wrapped up nicely, and some don’t, but Lamar knows himself better because of his mistakes.

How Lamar’s Band Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy will resonate with anyone who has ever been an emotionally driven teenager (ummm everyone at some point!) who has made some cringe-worthy decisions and had to deal with the aftermath. Middle grade readers and up will enjoy this book about “the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler ever”!

Author: Crystal Allen

Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harper Teen (February 22, 2011)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy

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It’s Real Life: The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante

Howdy!

The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette VigilanteI’ve been working my way through the fifteen Florida Sunshine State books this summer like I usually do.  I was recently able to finish my fourth book out of the fifteen, The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante.

Ever since her brother’s death, Dellie’s life has been quiet and sad. Her mother cries all the time and Dellie lives with the horrible guilt that the accident that killed her brother may have been all her fault.
But Dellie’s world begins to change when new neighbors move into her housing project building. Suddenly men are fighting on the stoop and gunfire is sounding off in the night. In the middle of all that trouble is Corey, an abused five-year-old boy, who’s often left home alone and hungry. Dellie strikes up a dangerous friendship with this little boy who reminds her so much of her brother. She wonders if she can do for Corey what she couldn’t do for her brother-save him.

I’m predicting now that this will be a popular one at school based on two things. First, the cover and second the story itself.  A lot of my students pick fiction covers based on if the characters look like them or not. It happens. It is what it is and I sometimes do the same thing. I know my students, and what they check out and talk to their friends about and they’ll like this book for the story too. I’ve mentioned before that a very popular book in my Media Center is A Boy Called It, which tells the  story of a young boy who is abused by his mother. Because The Trouble with Half a Moon deals with a similar narrative, I’m pretty sure my students will be interested. What can I say, they’re intrigued by other people’s pain. I think its part of trying to understand the world we live in.

The Trouble with Half a Moon is the deeply moving and also troubling story of a girl named Dellie who is struggling with intense guilt over her little brother’s recent death, and simultaneously trying to save an abused little boy, Corey, in her apartment building. Dellie is a realistic character dealing with two very real situations. She is compassionate and knows when to stand up against wrong doing, but she is also struggling to break free from the sadness that has overtaken her family, especially her mother. )

The most troubling thing about this book is Corey’s story.  Troubling because it is real life.  Corey’s story happens all the time, I know because I work in the public school system and come in contact with kids who have stories like Corey’s.  His mother, in all her badness and sadness is real too.

What I really appreciate about The Trouble with Half a Moon is that solutions don’t come easy for these characters and the ending is not wrapped up in a tight and pretty bow. The reader is left wondering at the possibilities but is allowed a snapshot into the beginning of Dellie’s family’s road to recovery.  There is hope, which is what is most important, I think.

This book was at times, difficult to read, but I’m so glad I did.  I’d recommend The Trouble with Half a Moon to middle school aged readers and up, but because there is some tough stuff in this book parents you should really read it too and talk about the subject matter with your kids.

Author: Danette Vigilante

Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile (January 6, 2011)

Format: Paperback

Length: 181 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: The Trouble with Half a Moon

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Waiting on Wednesday: Before You Go

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Happy Wednesday everyone!

As you know Wednesday is the day I place the spotlight on an unreleased book that I’m looking forward to reading. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and is a weekly meme I love participating in!

Before You Go by James PrellerThe book I’m sharing with you today is called Before You Go by James Preller. Now, I was introduced to James Preller when I read his book, Bystander this past year as it was on the Florida Sunshine State list for grades 6-8. It was one of my favorites and my students loved it too. I’m also proud to say that I also had the opportunity to meet James Preller at the annual FAME (Florida Association for Media Education). You can read about that awesome experience which included me meeting other authors and geeking out a bit here.

So, Preller’s new book, Before You Go, is scheduled to be released by Feiwel & Friends on July 17, 2012 so it’s less than a month away! The cover is awesome and incredibly ominous, which I think fits the subject matter well.

The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again.

Wow. I have to admit that the subject matter intimidates me a little as it sounds like it’s dealing with some intense stuff- accepting a painful past and moving towards redemption while overcoming guilt. Normally this wouldn’t be my first choice in plot (I tend to like things a little happier!) but I have high hopes because I enjoyed Bystander so much. Plus James Preller was such a friendly guy that I’ll probably read anything he writes in the future! Seriously, he was so nice he let me interrupt his quiet planning time in a cafe, before the sessions began, with my generally book geekiness!

I plan on buying Before You Go for my Media Center because I know that my students who read and liked Bystander will be interested in his other books.