Tag Archives: Scholastic Books

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Book Reviews
August 12, 2010 posted by Morgan

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things. But life is messy, and it’s very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they’re no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to sleep with yourself – but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out. Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices – and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

Painting people into camps is really easy to do: either they’re good or bad, respected or mocked, smart or silly. For Natalie, high school – and life – is a pretty simple game of either-or. And she knows what she is: she’s a senior. She’s student council president. She’s going places. There’s no room for the other side, and definitely no room for the myriad shades of gray that make up the vast middle. Not That Kind of Girl opens up with Natalie recounting a story that’s become legend at her private school, Ross Academy.

It’s a story about a freshman girl who started dating a senior boy, and when she wasn’t ready for anything too physical, he ruined her reputation, and changed her life. Natalie uses that true story as one of the reasons why she has chosen to just opt out completely. After all, if she doesn’t play the game, there’s no chance at losing it. And she’s got her eye on the future – even if that means missing out on some of the present. Natalie’s steadfast resolve is threatened by the new crop of freshmen girls, though, who are led by her former babysitting charge. Spencer is brazen, overtly sexual, and totally in charge of her life. But when her antics get her in trouble, Natalie decides to take her under her wing and show her – and the rest of the so-called Rosstitutes – what self respect means. Natalie was sure she was going to teach the freshman girls a thing or two about how to thrive at Ross Academy, and how to rise above the misogyny and sexism that run rampant through the hallways. But instead, they start teaching her lessons – the hard way.

Throw in a deep attraction to one of the very boys Natalie is railing against, and you’ve got yourself a classic high school story with a feminist twist. I loved this book. Siobhan Vivian is a master at the contemporary high school scene (see her other works, like Same Difference, to understand) and this latest release – due out in September – further demonstrates her skills at depicting the ins and outs, the blacks, whites, and grays of teenage life. I’ve been Natalie – in both the good and the bad ways – and I was pleasantly surprised to see how she grew and changed throughout the story. Her thinking about high school relationships feels simplistic but is actually quite nuanced, and the differences between her and Spencer, and her and her best friend, illustrate how complicated male-female dynamics are, especially in a contemporary high school, where the playing field is never level and the responses are never entirely fair.

The supporting cast of characters feel like they were hand-picked from my own high school memories: the entitled, demeaning jock; the young teacher eager to leave her mark; the best friend who turns out to be different from what you thought. And I found myself gripped by the fast-moving plot, which spanned a year in the life of Ross Academy. There are no mermaids or sirens, vampires or ghosts in this book. What there is is a striking, gorgeous high school reality – straight up and dirty. Embrace it.

Pages: 304

Publication date: September 1, 2010

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: “I had expected Mike Domski to retaliate for Friday’s pizza incident, of course. I knew he’d want to embarrass me like I’d embarrassed him. But his attack was worse than any grease stain. It was degrading.”

Skeleton Creek – Patrick Carman
Book Reviews
January 29, 2009 posted by Nikki

Skeleton Creek – Patrick Carman

Bit of a thrill junkie? Then you’re going to love this one. I suggest you hold on to your seats, folks, because you’re in for one hell of a ride. Skeleton Creek is an anomaly. And a very, very good one at that! Patrick Carman calls it “cross platform storytelling” because it incorporates both the traditional use of text, as well as video footage to tell the story.

A terrible accident occurs one night when Ryan and Sarah are messing around at the local closed down dredge. In the darkness, Ryan falls over – or maybe someone pushes him *gasp* you’ll have to read it yourself to find out – and he tumbles through the support barrier, knocking him unconscious and shattering his leg. He winds up in the hospital, and both Ryan and Sarah’s parents forbid them from seeing each other anymore.

On the night of the accident, Sarah had her video camera and caught the whole thing on tape. When she watches it back, something shows up on the tape that has her bones rattling inside her body. She secretly sends the video to Ryan, who is equally freaked by the image on the tape, and the two start an investigation behind their parents’ backs.

You wont believe what they uncover …

Ryan’s part of the story is delivered via his journal. While he’s cooped up in bed recovering from his fall, writing absolutely everything down is the only thing that stops him from going insane. Sarah’s part is delivered entirely through video. She blogs messages to Ryan, and she also uses her camera to document her investigative findings.

The video sections make Skeleton Creek. It would still be a great story without them, but they add a new level of interaction with the characters that you just don’t get from ordinary books. Although most of the information is delivered through Ryan’s journal, several key pieces come from Sarah’s footage. I found myself reading as fast as I could in order to get to the next password quicker (videos are posted on a website and the passwords given in the text are required to access them). The pieces of the footage taken at the dredge are actually really creepy, and they give the story authenticity. The whole thing has a real Blair Witch feel about it, but in its own unique (and supremely good) way. The last scene (delivered by video) had me sitting on the edge of my seat, and as the picture on screen faded into blackness I clapped both of my hands over my mouth to muffle my scream. There was no part of me – not even a tiny subconscious part – that saw that one coming. It’s definitely a strong contender for the Best Cliffhanger of 2009 award.

Oh why must you torture us so, Patrick? WHY, WHY, WHY?

The good news is, though, that the sequel is out in the summer of 2009 (the American summer, that is), so interested parties wont have to wait too long.

Skeleton Creek is not suitable for those with heart conditions as reading/viewing may cause hot flushes, and excess pounding of the myocardium. Other side effects include interrupted breathing patterns, sweaty palms, and nervous behaviours such as excessive foot tapping, nail biting and grinding of the teeth. If symptoms persist upon completion of reading, you can email Patrick at fanmail@patrickcarman.com as I’m sure he’d love to hear all about it!

A fly by the seat of your pants read that will captivate both male and female audiences.

Available February 10, 2009

Rating:: ★★★★★

A New Concept in Young Adult Fiction
December 17, 2008 posted by Nikki

A New Concept in Young Adult Fiction

yaReaders, you must check this out!

Best-selling author Patrick Carman has a new book coming out in February 2009 called Skeleton Creek. This is not your average YA novel, however, and Carman uses actual video footage to tell half the story!

“In a new, groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts – Ryan’s text in the book, and Sarah’s videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book.”

Click here and here to learn more about Skeleton Creek.

For those that don’t know him, Patrick is known for his Land of Eylon series, as well as his Atherton series.