Southbury Teen Review Blog

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Beauty Queens April 25, 2013

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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WARNING:  THIS REVIEW IS NOT APPROVED BY THE CORPORATION

Attention all Miss Teen Dreamers!  Get your sequins and self-tanner ready.  It’s time for the most hilariously LOL book you’ll read all year.  Not that you read books, right? Because beautiful people don’t read, of course.

What happens when teenage pageant contestants are trapped on a deserted island?  Imagine Lord of the Flies meets Gilligan’s Island – with superb product placement and corporate endorsed dictatorship.  The surviving Teen Dream contestants must battle hunger, snakes, and exploding hair remover.  Each girl has their own agenda, their own hopes and dreams.  Some enter the pageant because it’s a chance at scholarship money, some to prove just how sexist pageants are, and some because looking good is the only thing they think they’re capable of.  As the girls battle the dangers of the island, they cope with their own insecurities and learn they’re much more than what society and their families expect.

Libba Bray has once again given us a cutting edge satirical commentary on our world.  The Corporation, Ladybird Hope and MoMo B. ChaCha are all too familiar characters, or caricatures of recognizable figures.  The there’s a girl to fit every stereotype, but there’s more than meets the well made-up eye.  Bray pokes fun at these conventions by showing us just how ridiculous they are.  A champion of the strong female character, Ms. Bray gives us several to choose from.  A riot from beginning to end, with a serious message

For even more laughs, check out the audiobook version voiced entirely by the author.

 

Fat Vampire: A Never-Coming-of-Age Story April 22, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 5:57 pm
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Fat Vampire:  A Never-Coming-of-Age Story by Adam Rex

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Vampires generally fit into one of two categories.  Drop-dead (pun completely intended) Hollywood gorgeous or something like Nosferatu.  Sadly, Doug Lee is neither of these.  Doug is stuck forever at fifteen and pudgy.

Since the accidental run in with a half-mad vampire that left him with a severe case of vampirism, the geeky Doug has been struggling to figure out just what it takes to be one of the undead.  Doug gets so desperate he actually attempts to drink the blood of a panda at the zoo while at San Diego Comic Con.  Once back home (finally) in Pennsylvania, Doug has to find another source of blood besides cows.  Maybe a nice goth girlfriend that’s into the whole vampire scene, but finding a girl is not as easy as it looks.

Things are starting to look up when a kind of vampire support group gets wind of Doug and offers him a tutor, even if that tutor is really out there.  Unfortunately the “Panda Mishap” has the crew from the TV show Vampire Hunters on the look out for him, so things are about to get complicated for Doug.

Fat Vampire is a satirical look at teens, internet addiction, and the whole vampire craze.   A story you can really sink your teeth into, this one is definitely worth a read.

 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons February 24, 2013

Filed under: Books,The Classics — Heather @ 8:06 pm
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cold comfort farmMiss Flora Poste is orphaned by the death of her parents and must find a solution to her sudden situation.  She writes to her plentiful relatives in hopes of finding a place to live.  She chooses to take up her residence with the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex.  Flora hopes to find diversion among her lowly relatives.  She comes from London, after all. Convinced she’ll find disaster and ruin in their rural existence, she sets out on her adventure.

Flora “cannot tolerate a mess,” yet that’s exactly what she finds in Howling (yes, that’s a town).  The farm is everything she imagined and much, much more.  Aunt Judith speaks of a wrong done to Robert Poste that must be atoned for, but don’t ask her what it is.  Her lips are sealed.  Flora’s cousins have other things on their minds.  Reuben wants the farm and suspects Flora has come to take his inheritance.  Seth, when not impregnating the hired girl, longs to be a movie star.  And Elfine dreams of poetry and Dick Hawke-Monitor, the young lord down the lane.  Flora, or Robert Poste’s child as she is called, sees immediate need for intervention.

“There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm” is the mantra bellowed by Aunt Ada Doom, Flora’s great aunt. When only a child, the old lady “saw something nasty in the woodshed” that has forced her to take to her room and never venture past the farm gates.  Her manipulations and antics keep all the members of the Starkadders afraid to leave Aunt Ada or the farm.  Ask anyone and they’ll tell you there is a curse on Cold Comfort Farm.

Flora systematically works her magic on the members of her extended family.  She transforms Elfine from a will-o’the wisp into a proper modern lady fit for marriage (not to a first cousin).  Amos, Judith’s husband, takes Flora’s advice and leaves to preach across the United States in a Ford.  This leaves Reuben with the farm.  Seth is discovered by a famous movie producer and is whisked away to Hollywood.  After Flora shares her magazines and travelogues, Aunt Ada emerges from her room to announce she will travel the world starting with the French Riviera.  The doom has been lifted from Cold Comfort Farm . All the Starkadders live happily ever after.  And Flora Poste flies off to marry the man of her dreams, Charles.  After all, he does have heavenly teeth!

This novel is a hoot!  Cold Comfort Farm is a sharp parody of romantic fiction popular at the time.  Stella Gibbons creates cringe-worthy yet endearing characters not soon forgotten.  You’ll in for a good time with this one, just mind the sukebind’s not in blossom!

 

Withering Tights: The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey by Louise Rennison February 13, 2013

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Do you long for the crazy adventures of Georgia Nicolson as much as I do?  Well, lament no further.  Tallulah Casey is the remedy.  Tallulah is Georgia’s younger cousin, and let me tell you all that wackiness runs in the family.

Tallulah is off to the moors of Yorkshire, yes the land of Heathcliff (that’s a Wuthering Heights reference people!!)  She’s attending Dother Hall, a performing arts school, for the summer.  Kooky locals, cute boys, fabbity fab friends, and an owl named Connie keep our heroine occupied in the country.  And don’t fret, cousin Georgia’s comedy mustache is in good hands.

Louise Rennison again earns her title as the reigning Queen of Teen.  Tallulah is just as funny as Georgia, but with a bit more compassion and room to mature.  Withering Tights is a light-hearted romp you’re sure to enjoy.  I’m already looking forward to the second installment in the series, A Midsummer Tights Dream.

 

It’s Kind of a Funny Story February 12, 2013

Filed under: Movies & TV — Heather @ 11:20 pm
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Its-Kind-of-a-Funny-Story-Poster

PG-13, 101 minutes, Focus Features

This 2010 adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s novel by the same name was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  Lovers of Vizzini‘s book need not be disappointed by the film version, perhaps owed to the fact that Vizzini himself was one of the screenplay writers.

Fifteen year old Craig Gilner is over-worked and anxious about his high-pressured High School, the fictitious Executive Pre-Professional, modeled after Stuyvesant High School in NYC.  His depression has spiraled out of control until one night he contemplates jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.  Instead, Craig goes to the ER, where he soon finds himself a patient in the psychiatric unit.

Spot-on casting of Keir Gilchrist as depressed and suicidal teen Craig Gilner, Emma Roberts as self-mutilater Noelle, and Zach Galifianakis as psych ward regular Bobby round out the ensemble.  Look for notable cast members Viola Davis as Dr. Minerva and Jim Gaffigan as Craig’s dad.