Monday, March 07, 2011

Close to Famous (MG)

Close to Famous. Joan Bauer. 2011. Penguin. 240 pages.

The last place I thought I'd be when this day began is where I am, which is in a car. Mama's car to be exact, and she's driving headstrong through downtown Memphis with an Elvis impersonator on our tail. I know the Elvis; his name is Huck. 

Foster and her mom are on the run from an abusive boyfriend when the novel opens. They end up in Culpepper, West Virginia. At first Foster isn't sure of this new town, this new place. Small is small and the opportunities seem a bit limited. Foster has big dreams of being a baker, and in Memphis she'd had the opportunity to 'help' at a local bakery. And well, there are only three restaurants in town--an Arby's, a Pizza Hut, and a local place called Angry Wayne's. Her mom, a back-up singer, may manage to find a job at the local hardware store. But Culpepper doesn't seem to be a town with much promise. Then again, Foster doesn't appear to be a kid with much promise. Not until you know her, not until you've tasted one of her delicious cupcakes. Not until you find out about her incredible memory--she cooks everything by memory. And most of her recipes come from the Food Network.

Foster is dreaming of fame, dreaming of her own cooking show, while her neighbor Miss Charleena is recovering from fame. She's had it all. A big movie career in Hollywood, a marriage to a beautiful guy, but it left a sour taste in her mouth. Now she's hiding away in a small town at times dreaming of a big comeback and at other times too depressed to even want to leave her bedroom. Miss Charleena comes to care for Foster, discovers her secret, and is determined to help her young friend. Foster may just give Miss Charleena some unexpected help as well.

I liked this one. It was well written. The characters were wonderfully developed. The small town is given a chance to shine. It's a great little novel with a couple of great messages. It deals with economic struggles, abusive homes, and illiteracy, yet it does it in a natural way, for the most part. I'm not sure I completely believe the big showdown where cupcakes save the day. But there were so many things I liked about it, that it is easy for me to recommend.

"Waiting," he told me, "is a powerful thing. Most folks today just rush off to get something done. You learn to wait, my young friend. You learn to wait and listen and not be afraid of the quiet. Too much noise in this old world. On a battlefield when you're getting shot at, you don't have time to think things through. You've just got to do as you've been trained and follow your best instincts. It's here in the quiet waiting for a fish that you can fill up for when the tough times come."
I knew I'd heard something important. I wondered if he'd taken me fishing to tell me that. (181)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous,  3:23 PM  

I am glad to hear that you liked this book! It sounds like a good story!! Very sage advice on page 181...wait, listen to the silence, and fill-up your reservoir for troubled times ahead.

Brittanie 8:20 PM  

As soon as the library has a copy I will be checking it out. lol I have only read one or two of her other books but I liked them. I am glad you reviewed it because I did not know it was coming out. Good review!

Ms. Yingling 5:44 AM  

Apparently, cupcakes have a lot of magical powers right now. No denying that they sell a lot of books. This is on my TBR list.

Readers Compass 3:40 PM  

This book sounds wonderful! I will put it on my list!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP