Magan: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby (website | twitter)

Publisher: Walker Children’s Books (imprint of Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Pages: 272
Upcoming Release Date: February 28, 2012
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: ARC received at ALA Mid-Winter

Summary: Jo is one of the youngest, best, and tiniest paparazzo. She can score pictures few others are capable of, and for this reason, she’s given one of her biggest assignments. She has to go undercover to find out the reason a certain teen celebrity is really in rehab. Along the way, she questions whether the money is worth potentially destroying someone’s career… the very same someone she happens to be falling for.

I was immediately attracted to Shooting Stars when I saw the girl on the cover was holding a camera; my two loves were combined – photography and reading. However, I must admit, this can also be a dangerous combination. I read Famous, a book also about a teenage photographer, and very strongly disliked the book because I couldn’t stop thinking about the un-likelihood from a professional standpoint. I hoped that Jo’s story would feel more authentic and real.

My initial thoughts were that the story was definitely fun, but maybe a little bit cheesy. I was impressed by how well Rushby described the job of a photographer. Jo’s character was easily relatable and enjoyable to get to know. It wasn’t until she became a resident at the rehab center and went undercover, though, that I really understood how much more there would be to Jo’s story.

She has big, big dad and family issues. She meets people in the facility who are dealing with some pretty crushing life issues, too. And then there was the huge twist in the storyline that definitely shocked me. When this happened, the whole story changed for me because I wasn’t expecting it at all. The book went from silly to more serious in a split second.

It was a change that was definitely welcomed. As I was reading, I could see the moral dilemma that Jo was going to face. I was going to be really upset if there wasn’t something more to come out of Shooting Stars than Jo scoring a bunch of money for a job well-done. In the end, I also like reading and feeling like I’ve learned something. This will be a great book for teenagers to walk through Jo’s situation and decide how they would follow through with the job.

As a result of the big surprise, there was a lot of character development and growth for Jo. I enjoyed seeing her figure out what her goals were and how much being a paparazzo impacted them. Her attempts to get shots with her hidden cameras were pretty hilarious and I loved seeing her fall in love. For a girl who isn’t close to many people, Jo had a lot to learn about letting her guard down to be in a relationship.

This was a really fun, quick read for me. I am happy to have read a book involving photography that I enjoyed. Shooting Stars comes out on Tuesday, February 28th. Don’t forget to it add it to your to-read list!

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Magan: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (website | twitter)
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Pages: 307
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: ARC Received from Publisher at ALA Mid-Winter
How I heard about it: Recommended to me by one of the reps at ALA

Summary: Colby and Bev have been best friends since they were 9. It’s been their plan for years to go on tour with Bev’s band after high school graduation and then to tour Europe for a year immediately after. Colby’s left questioning his friendship with Bev when she suddenly backs out of the trip with no explanation.

The Disenchantments was one of the books I was most excited to have received from ALA. I admit: I was completely pulled in by the cover. Add in a road trip and music, and I’m sold. There were things I absolutely loved about this book, and other things I wish had been a bit more. I’m just going to break things down into a list of things for you guys…

Good: I didn’t realize this was written from a male’s POV. I never would have guessed that based on the cover. It’s always nice to read from a boy’s perspective, but I think the cover implied that things would be a little more light-hearted than they were.

…but: Don’t get me wrong. The cover is gorgeous, but a bit misleading. Colby is incredibly infatuated with Bev, his best friend. I suppose the cover of The Disenchantments makes sense if you think about how consumed Colby was with this girl. He absolutely lived and breathed for her, but the whole book was not sunshine and rainbows.

Good: I really enjoyed the characters and all their messed-up craziness. Bev made me feel angry and mad at her for stringing Colby along and making him jealous of all the other people she pretended to be interested in. Colby had so many things going through his head that he couldn’t quite verbalize because he didn’t want to ruin his relationship entirely with Bev.

…but: Sometimes the way Bev and Colby handled situations was so immature. For two people with so much independence, I expected their actions and behaviors to match. I wanted to yell at them and say, “NO! You idiot! Don’t say that!

Good: The time frame for the whole book is a week, while Colby is on tour with Bev’s band. The week is pretty packed and dense. A lot, lot, lot of things happen. They meet a lot of people and experience great things, but there’s a ton of detail about everything they did.

…but: I wanted the characters to be talking more instead of doing so many things. Maybe this boils down to my impatience, but I needed Bev and Colby to get real and talk. They needed to sit down and have the conversation they were both avoiding: Why did Bev back out on the European trip?

Good: I really got a sense for how much these two had been through. We’re given their history and back stories. We understand how long Colby has loved Bev.

…but: When the suspense was over and I finally knew why Bev had changed her mind, I felt a little let down. I felt like there was a TON of build-up to something that didn’t seem so monumental, considering Bev is 18 years old. I would have understood the feelings and emotions more if she had been a younger character; she’d been carrying around the secret for so long that I guess I expected the feelings to dissipate somewhat. I still felt confused by why she wouldn’t have talked to Colby about everything.

The Disenchantments is still a book I’m very glad to have read. Please don’t think I’m telling you to stay away from it. Definitely give it a try! I think some of the things I’m discussing are a bit nit-picky, and I really do look forward to seeing how you respond to this book.

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