I'm not normally a fan of chicklit but I loved this book. In fact, if I hadn't lent it to someone practically the moment I finished reading it, I'd be rereading it now.
Here's why I like it so much:
1. It makes me happy and peaceful and thoughtful. How many chicklit novels do that?
2. The heroine Cornelia Brown is kind and gracious and her head is screwed on the right way round and ever so securely. I like heroines you can admire and imagine as your best friend. I do not like heroines who are neurotic about their weight and obsessed with finding a man, and do stupid things like run up huge debts cos they are shopaholics, or lie in order to get a date. Nothing worse than a desperate woman. Brown is not desperate. Quite the oposite.
3. The other heroine, Clare, who is 11and lovely, vulnerable and adorable.
4. One of the male leads, a beautiful man called Mateo Sandoval who also happens to be sensitive, smart and generous in all ways. And he's straight!
5. The unpredictable storyline: Cornelia meets the man of her dreams (a Cary Grant lookalike). She then meets his daughter. And ...? I'm not saying the ending comes out of nowhere and bites you in the bum: As you turn the pages and learn more about the characters, you begin to see and suspect how things might turn out, but it's never ever a dead cert. De los Santos keeps you in suspense and guessing all the way, and the ending is one that leaves room for all kinds of wonderful possibilities and developments. I hope she writes a sequel.
P.S. Sarah Jessica Parker's production company has bought the film rights to this book and the movie will star Parker as Cornelia Brown. One word: Mistake!
Who hasn't read and loved Little Women by Louisa May Alcott? Well, I was surprised to discover that many of my friends and acquaintances are Alcott-virgins!
I first read the book when I was about seven. It was an abridged, picture book edition with the most wonderful illustrations that made it clear that the illustrator had a soft spot for Jo: She was drawn so that her hair was certainly not her "one beauty".
After I'd read the book at least a dozen times, I went on to read the unabridged edtion as well as the sequels Good Wives, Little Men and Jo's Boys.
I recently recommended it to a Tots to Teens reader who said she didn't "dare" read it because
classics were boring. Well, this one definitely is not. I happen to think everyone should read Little Women at least once in their lifetime. Which has got me wondering ... if you could pick five books (of anyy genre) that every man, woman and child had to read, what would they be?
Have a think about it. And in the meantime ...
Author: Cecily von Ziegesar
Publisher: Little Brown and Company, 227 pages
Where You Bought This Book: I received a review copy from a book distributor.
3. Serena etc
What It’s All About: This is the sixth book in the series about spoilt, rich kids living in New York.
What I like About It: Nothing. The teens all take themselves way too seriously. They are a selfish, ignorant bunch that need a good slapping!
What I Dislike About It: Practically everything! There’s nothing likeable about any of the characters who all act pretty mean and self-centred. Yawn. I couldn’t finish the book and I’ve never been able to finish any of the others in the series.
Well, actually, I haven’t read any of the above, but they seem to be the same sort of bitchy fare – celebrating shallow, mean and clothes-obsessed adolescent females.
I read the second of The Clique books: Best Friends for Never, by Lisi Harrison, and it was even worse than Gossip Girl. The way the characters constantly go "Ewww" and "Ehmegod" really gets on my nerves (Summer in The O.C. TV series does this, wretched girl. BTW, there are now The O.C. novels too!)
On the other hand, I quite like The Princess Diaries books. At least most of the characters in that series seem to have brains of some description. They may be silly at times, but they aren’t vapid and superficial. And Princess Mia has a good heart and a strong sense of social justice, bless her her sparkly tiara!
Name of Reviewer: Daphne Lee
As promised, my 2 sen on those young adult books I'm recommending in this Sunday's Tots to Teens:
(Macmillan, 178 pages)
Story: Katherine meets Michael and they fall in love. After several dates that include lots of kissing and some heavy petting, they decide to bite the bullet and go all the way. Of course, things are less than perfect the first few times, but they do get better – phew!
Katherine has very progressive parents and a hip and happening Grandma who advises her on contraception (we should all be so lucky!) so she doesn’t have to go through the normal cloak and dagger that most “teens-on-the brink” do.
I like the bit where Katherine gets her period on a special weekend getaway. That’s such a big deal when you’re a teen and time with your beloved is so precious!
What I find very cringe-worthy is “Ralph” – I won’t say anymore. Read the book!
NB: This book was a big deal when I was a teenager. It's still a pretty candid account of a teenage girl's first sexual relationship. It was written in the 70s so there is no mention of AIDs, which in itself presents an interesting discussion point for parents and teens.
Lost and Found
(Simon and Schuster, 244 pages)
Story: Daniel is grieving the death of his grandmother and guardian when several things happen. First, he meets Laura whom he tries, reluctantly, to adopt for his class’s “Adopt a Granny” programme. Second, his grandmother’s house is sold and the beautiful Jade moves in with her parents and beloved baby brother, Finn.
Daniel falls in love and finds solace in Jade who is not only pretty, but warm, bright and fun to be with.
He also grows close to Laura who is grieving too (for her father). The two help each other cope with the loss of a loved one.
Daniel introduces Jade to Laura and the three get along well until Laura notices that Jade seems share a uncommonly close bond with Finn. Secrets then come to light that nearly destroy the new relationships Daniel has built.
NB: Bereavement is the central theme of this beautiful story, which also deals with statutory rape, motherhood, love and commitment.
I like the way Mendes brings her characters to life with just a few simple phrases. Jade, especially, just dances out of the page at you: “The girl stood on the step, shimmering with colour,” “Her dress sang with rainbow-coloured stripes.” Lovely!
(Young Picador, 138 pages)
Story: Ellen is 14. The two people she loves most in the world are Link, her brother, and his best friend James. Then one day, a classmate asks if Link and James are a couple, which starts Ellen thinking hard and asking all sorts of difficult questions about their relationship – with each other, with her, and with her parents, especially her homophobic father.
NB: Ellen keeps the tone of this book light and almost flippant despite the serious themes of sexual orientation, parental acceptance, emotional blackmail and underage sex.
I love the fact that Ellen and James become a couple, and it’s interesting how practical yet romantic their relationship becomes.
Ellen is so grown-up and smart for her age. And yet she’s vulnerable and babyish in some ways: I like the mix. She’s a very attractive, charismatic character. And James is just gorgeous. They make a really sweet couple.
(Puffin Books, 246 pages)
Story: This is the sequel to Blue Moon, in which Mia deals with pregnancy. In this book she’s just had her baby and has to cope with motherhood (and breastfeeding!). She also has to deal with the pain of growing apart from her school friends as they continue their carefree teenage existence and she has to struggle with the responsibilities and difficulties of single-parenthood.
Mia’s parents are supportive of her decision to raise baby, but she feels that they don’t understand what she is going through. Will, the baby’s father, is also no help. He tries to get close again, but it’s clear that he’s motivated just by what he wants and seems to have no understanding of and interest in what Mia is experiencing as a mother.
It is when Mia meets another young, single mum, Colleen, and has someone to share and empathise with that things to start to look up and fall into place.
NB: As a mother I have to say Green writes very accurately and sensitively about what it’s like to care for a new baby, especially if it’s your first. I could really feel for Mia and found a story a very compelling and emotional one.