Daily Archives: September 3, 2009

Fever 1793 – Review

Mathilda Cook, better known as Mattie, is your typical teenager living in Philadelphia with her mother and grandmother, during the year 1793. Mathilda, too young to be taken seriously by her mother and too old to be treated like a small child constantly bickers with her mother. She has a crush on the apprentice of the town painter, even though her mom has better matches in mind. Despite helping her mother run their coffee house, Mattie still doesn’t feel as if she’s being given enough credit for her responsibilities. The book begins with the death of a close friend, who died of the yellow fever. As Mattie and her mother try to keep up appearances and live their daily routines, they can’t help but notice the rising death toll of those inflicted with the yellow fever. As the yellow fever spreads across the city, Mattie is separated from her family, and must soon learn to make some difficult choices about her life and her future.

Mattie is a strong-willed character in the novel, she takes after her mother, and is determined to fight her way through this epidemic. Although separated from her mother, Mattie still manages to stay optimistic and is resourceful in helping others. The story is chilling, when you think about this kind of wide-spread death toll in such a short amount of time. The medicinal treatments at the time did more harm than good. Dr. Benjamin Rush, although ahead of his time in other fields, fell far behind in terms of valid treatments for the fever. While French doctors prescribed rest, fresh air and lots of fluids, Dr. Rush encouraged blood letting, forced vomiting and diarrhea, elements that most likely killed more people than saved.

I really enjoyed Fever 1793, although not as much as I enjoyed Anderson’s other work, Wintergirls. I liked Fever 1793 for the historical setting, and particularly the appendix in the back with more historical tidbits. Mattie is a wonderful role model and a character most girls can relate to.

Fever 1793
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2002
ISBN 0689848919
272 pages

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Don’t forget to enter the Its My Birthday, Book Giveaway, contest being held all this month. The first winner will be selected next Wednesday, Septmeber 9th.

L.A. Candy – Review

For anyone else that watched either Laguna Beach (not I) or The Hills (guilty as charged), then finding out that the main character, Lauren Conrad wrote a YA novel that basically summarized her life as a reality star was big news.

I admit, based on my bias of the show, I went into this book with low expectations. Oddly enough, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

LA Candy is about two high school graduates who move from Santa Barbara to Hollywood. Jane Roberts begins an internship with well known event planner, Fiona Chen. Her best friend Scarlett Hart enrolls at USC, University of Southern California. During their first week in LA, they meet a few cute guys with suspect relationship statuses, enter Braden. They also meet a TV producer, Trever Lord, who insists that they join his hip new reality show LA Candy that will air on PopTV. The show is about 4 girls living in the city, a sort of Sex and the City for a younger generation. Scarlett and Jane enlist, and become swept up in the glossy new world of forced friendships, Gaby and Madison, lies and broken hearts.

Truth be told, this book is basically a behind the scenes look at life on The Hills. The “nonscripted” show isn’t as pure and undirected as the studios would have their young generation of viewers, ages 16-34, think. The book started out pretty rocky with way too many parenthetical side thoughts which seemed more like notes to the author than notes to the reader, plus a lot of descriptions of Jane and Scarlett looks all cluttered together in a short span of pages. The writing is appropriate for the age group, but certain segments seemed really dumbed down at times.

Once the girls actually signed the contract for the show, the book got much better.  The story took over and the writing had an easier flow. The characters weren’t really anything original. You have Jane: the girl-next-door, Scarlett: The incredibly sex and overly smart one, Gaby: the ditz, and Madison: The evil, spoiled prepster from the East Coast. The book focused more on the relationships forming in this book than the actual reality show, but I did like how certain elements were woven into the story. With Scarlett not playing along with the rules, the certain directions the girls would receive via text messages during filming. Although none of the girls actually went through any significant transformations or epiphanies, this is still a fun book that most high school teen girls would eat up, especially those with dreams of moving to LA and becoming the next big star. The book ends on a major cliffhanger, so I’m sure there will be a sequel on its way. Although now that I’ve gotten this read out of my system, I don’t think I’ll be picking up the next book.

LA Candy
by Lauren Conrad
HarperTeen, 2009
ISBN 9780061767586
326 pages

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