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* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.
Just Your Average Princess, by Kristina Springer ****+ This was great fun! I really liked Tina's first YA too (The Espressologist), and this was just as good. I liked Jamie's character. She was a good person, and even when pushed to the point of doing something stupid, she worked hard to make up for that. I really felt for her -- in fact, I wanted to hold her and comfort her when she was going through the worst of her struggles (especially with her dad) -- she's definitely a sympathetic character. The romance was sweet, and I also liked how Milan's witchiness was explained (it was realistic). This is a sweet and nice book, clean and good for even younger girls. The story: Jamie's life is filled with hard work and small town living, but she's good at doing what needs to be done. And she's accepted that things are what they are (like her dad's silence and inability to be outwardly supportive of her). But when her cousin Milan comes to stay with them, and Jamie sees her parents doing everything they can to show their concern for Milan (and not Jamie, who continues to work hard), it becomes too much -- especially as Danny, the boy Jamie's crushed on forever, also seems to be taken by Milan's charms. Jamie wants to know why Milan dislikes her and why she's even *there*, in the first place - and when digging, she finds some dirt. Now she has to decide how far to take it and what kind of person she really is. (YA romantic comedy, released 10/11, publisher: FS&G)
Looking for It, by Michael Thomas Ford **** I found this intriguing. It reminded me a bit of Maeve Binchy's writing, except it doesn't take place in Ireland. But it had a similar mix of poignant, sad, and hopeful characters. I liked the hopeful parts; as always, the sad and tragic parts weren't really to my taste, and I skimmed over many of Pete's segments. I definitely enjoyed the multi-narration attack (though this is more popular and common in adult books, so it wasn't surprising). I can't say I really loved any of the characters except Mike and Thomas -- both of whom I could have read an entire book about just them. But the others were interesting, and I was glad it ended on a hopeful note for them. The story: A group of gay men are searching for love, though not all of them realize that's what's missing from their lives. Mike, a bartender, has done well at keeping his distance from romantic entanglements, and is surprised when he meets a priest who intrigues him to the point of taking a risk. Thomas, the priest, always assumed love wasn't for him, as the church isn't fond of gay relationships. Russell and John, seven years into their relationship, have hit a tough patch, and both need to decide if they're willing to work to keep it going; Simon, who recently lost his long-term partner to cancer, believes his chances for love died with Walter. And Stephen and Greg feel like they're not lovable enough to attract a long-term partner, so they both let others treat them poorly. (Adult contemporary, GLBTQ, released 2005, publisher: Kensington Books)