Let the Dresses Go: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

 

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

Source: GoodReads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this book.  This did not influence my opinion of the book.

Before I begin this review I want to say thanks to James from Book Chic Club who was kind enough to send me a copy of this book.

You know, as many faults as there were with The Jewel  I do think it makes for an interesting conversation topic-i.e. feminism in YA.

There ain’t any in this book if you’re wondering.

Obviously, the summary of this book should give you an inkling about some of the issues that are going on-women being used as mere objects to reproduce,essentially treated as slaves/pets, etc.  And yes, the treatment is appalling but surprisingly enough, it’s not where I’m picking a bone with this book.

I expected that whole plot point to be horrible.  In fact, I would’ve been upset if it wasn’t horrible. I will give Ewing credit because some of these issues are addressed.  Maybe not in the most thorough of through ways, but at least it’s addressed which is more than I can say for other YA books (cough, Defy, cough).  That being said though, I wasn’t overly impressed with how gender issues were discussed in this book.

Mainly, because The Jewel tries to rely on the same tropes that The Selection used while ignoring the big picture.

And what trope is that?

The pretty dress and makeover trope.  Or as I like to call it the shallowness trope.

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’m a dress junkie.  Half of my random picks can be based off of a dress.  And this book was totally one of them.  But can you really blame me it’s so sparkly and princess like.  And every little girl wants to be a princess in a dress ( a pretty, pretty, dress)…

According to Disney Executives and YA marketing advisors that is.

Well, I don’t know if those marketing advisors use the term princess.  But it’s uses the same technique that Disney uses on the younger audience.

Don’t believe me.

Let’s talk about some of your favorite Disney princesses.  How do you identify her?

Cinderella=blue dress

Belle= yellow dress

Rapunzel=purple

Elsa=that out of stock blue dress that one of my friend’s got in a fist fight to get her daughter one (yeah, true story)

You get the point.

I feel like YA tries to do the same thing with their book covers, and sometimes well with the actual content of their series.  And The Jewel  is unfortunately one of those books where this trope is used, much like The Selection.

All the meat about  gender issues that the book could be exploring in more detail, were for a large part neglected because we had to go into numerous paragraphs of dress porn.

Per example:

At five to seven, I stand outside the doors to the ballroom dressed in a pale green gown that makes the footman’s eyes pop before he can stop himself.  The bodice leaves my shoulders bare, and the skirt falls to the floor in layers like the petals of a flower, their edges woven with glittering crystals.  A choker of diamonds wraps around my neck and diamond earrings hang from my ears. (282)

Fine.  Fine.  I get it.  Apparently, readers like dress porn and we can just read paragraph upon paragraph of it.  But it almost seems silly when we have a story that actually has or should have a lot of issues discussed that don’t involve pantyhose.

After eighty pages of a Toddler and Tiara-ish like auction, I could really care less about how someone wore their hair.  I mean, really do you want more descriptions after this:

I blink rapidly, trying to reconcile her with the image I had of myself in my head.  The image of a pretty girl, slightly plump, full face, big eyes.  The woman I am looking at now is stunning.  Beautiful.  Her cheeks seem thinner, molded to accent her high cheekbones, and her eyebrows arch delicately over luminous eyes, lined in rich purple with accents of lilac and gold.  Her lips are glossed in pale pink, and her hair tumbles over her shoulders in thick curls, one side pinned up with a jeweled clip, encrusted with amethysts that form the shape of a butterfly.  There is a shimmer to her skin, almost as if she’s glowing.  The color of the dress works perfectly and its simplicity only makes her features stand out more (54)

And it’s sort of sad that’s what the author and the publisher thinks that you as a reader want to read.  Maybe I wouldn’t have minded it so much if the story wasn’t so dark and twisted.  I mean, yeah the pretty dresses did add atmosphere but the wrong sort of setting.  Instead of having Violet focus on her dress, shouldn’t she be more or less scared about her future of being a living incubator.  Or despising the dress more than being wowed.

It just seemed so out of place.

And once again, gimmicky to get apparently the shallow female audience to read.

If this would’ve been taken out, I think the book would’ve been a lot stronger.  There were some strong themes there, that made me want to keep reading it.

The world building itself, though only halfway formed is intriguing.  Again, if the dresses haven’t been the main focus then maybe it could’ve worked.  Or at least if I would’ve gotten some explanation to why everyone named their kid after some sort of gemstone or color.

Oh yeah, technically the descriptions used to describe people in the book are almost as bad as their names.  Everyone seems to be associated with some sort of food or gemstone for no apparent reason.  Case in point:

Her skin is a rich caramel color, with eyes nearly as dark as her hair, shaped like almonds and set in a perfect oval face. (4)

To say the least, that gets really jarring after awhile.  I really don’t know why the editor’s pen wasn’t marking that sort of stuff out before they printed the ARCs.  I know if I would’ve been the one at Harper marking up this book there would’ve been lots and lots of red marks.  The food descriptions can be not only offensive but they are amauterish-I totally remember describing a characters eyes as looking like olives way back in the fifth grade.

As for character building.  Well, I did like the villain surprisingly enough.  I think it was because she was the most well formed character in the book.  The protagonist.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Dumb.

Dumb.

Dumb.

I mean, if you were being forced to be a surrogate would you have unprotected sex without wondering about the consequences from your psychopath mistress?

Yeah, thought so.

It didn’t help that she seemed to have no sense of self preservation in the book and completely relied on others to do her bidding.  I mean, I wanted to feel sorry for her.  But after awhile I was like, stop thinking about how pretty the dress is and actually do something.

Well, the only thing she did was instantly fall in love.  With a male gigolo.  Whose motives we told are pure, but I really have to wonder.  Really, I thought romance was not even necessary with this one.  It was a strong enough story without it.  Taking it on the way it was, just seemed silly.

Overall, I think this is an interesting book to read not because it is written well or really has a good message, but because it is an interesting conversation starter.  I really did not like the way things were prioritized here (seriously, pretty dresses over basically being a human incubator) and I think it might be wise to start looking at these things more in detail in YA.

I like to read for fun, but when you do target issues like this, I think that the subject matter discussed in the book should relate to the issues it raises.  Hearing about what Violet wears to dinner, doesn’t add anything to the conversation that matters.  Instead, it makes the consumer feel manipulated and unwilling to by a Violet playing the Cello Barbie (shoes and Cello not included just pretty dress).

Overall Rating: C.  I have hopes for the future book, but you need to get serious and stop trying to make Violet a Disney princess.  Though now that we are talking about princess…I did find this adult Elsa looking dress that I might buy if you know, there’s actually some life event in my life that requires evening wear.

Dress porn, I swear.

 

I’d Rather Take a Nap: Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker

 

The best songs come from broken hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family’s bluegrass band, and playing everywhere from Nashville, Tennesee to Nowhere, Oklahoma. One fateful night, Bird fills in for her dad by singing lead, and a scout in the audience offers her a spotlight all her own.

Soon Bird is caught up in a whirlwind of songwriting meetings, recording sessions, and music video shoots. Her first single hits the top twenty, and suddenly fans and paparazzi are around every corner. She’s even caught the eye of her longtime crush, fellow roving musician Adam Dean. With Bird’s star on the rise, though, tradition and ambition collide. Can Bird break out while staying true to her roots?

In a world of glamour and gold records, a young country music star finds her voice.

Source: GoodReads

Apparently, I have to review another sucky book.

I don’t get why I never get to review good books.  But MJ says I can only read kick the puppy worthy books.  Books that are so bad, you almost feel bad about reviewing them poorly.

Whatever.  If that’s what I have to do, I’ll do it.

DSC02191

This is my typical reading expression. Obviously, I am NOT happy.

This  book involves country music.

I like country music because it’s normally associated with barbecue, apple pie, and anything yummy (like chicken fried steak).  It seems this book forgets how yummy country music can be and it just made me want to go to Patty sleepy sleep time.

I mean, the plot is pretty simple.  Which isn’t exactly a bad thing if the book had more to offer.  I like simplicity.  But the book lacked spunk, really anything out of the ordinary.  You had a Taylor Swift wannabe who wanted to become a star.  And one snap and then she had it.

And everyone praised her.  They were like.

Bird you sound good.
Bird you’re pretty.

Bird you’re going to be the next Miley Cyrus-though I don’t think anyone in their right mind should want to be Miley Cyrus.  She’s forever compromised my view of stuffed animals.  And that’s sad because I love my Ricky Raccoon.

Screw you, Miley.

But back to Bird, no struggle to fame.  It was easy peasey.  Just play in your family van traveling round the country and then get a record deal.

It’s odd her family can make so much money  to play full time, even though they have no record deal.  MJ’s dad used to belong to multiple bands, but that didn’t mean that they traveled round the country in the RV.  And he still had to work his day job so that his family could eat.

You know, it’s sad when a Beagle notices the lack of logic a book has.

Same with the whole playing the fiddle versus a guitar thing.  I mean, I know that my human has spent years perfecting one instrument.  You can’t simply pick up another instrument and be Taylor Swift.

Well, Bird can.

And she’s so perfect.  As I was told for three hundred pages.

But not as perfect as me.

I never had to get a requisite makeover scene.  I’ve kept my natural copper ears, big brown eyes, and pretty tri-color coat all my life and everyone at the park calls me cute.  Bird has to get her hair dyed and a lot of spa treatments to make her booty-iful

And you know, everyone including the boy who just kind of pity talked to her before is like oooh Bird you’re so cute.   Even a movie star randomly flirts with her-though that’s a PR stunt but…

I didn’t know getting a beauty makeover could make such a difference.  Obviously, my natural beauty has clogged the power of the makeover idea.

Let’s talk about Bird.  We know she’s pretty (well, now at least) and she’s wonderful.  But what else do we know about her?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

I even know more about the Pomeranian next door than I do Bird.

She’s really boring, Bird not the Pomeranian.  I mean, she always does the right thing to the point it’s sickening sweet.  And then when her manager yells at her….but Bird is right of course and gets rewarded by trending on Twitter.

Oh yes, trending on Twitter is all that.

Well, the book makes it seem like the pinnacle of success.

Not a Grammy, but trending on Twitter.

Good to know.

As for the romance…Adam and the actor guy.

Well, the actor guy is an obvious plant.  You can’t even like him if you wanted to.  Because there’s nothing there.

And Adam, he lacked a personality.  Before Bird got hot he only sort of pity liked her.  Well, it came off as pity like.  And when she became hot he totally cried even though she had a good reason for doing what she did.

He’s such a weasel breath.

MJ really wanted to give this book a higher rating.  It really wouldn’t have been that hard.  All Bird had to do was to have a semblance of a personality and not obsess over a dead fish.

Overall Rating: It fails to amuse me.  F.

DNF Roundup: Series I Just Can’t Finish

A lot of the time I talk about books that I DNF’d, but today I’d thought I talk about some of the series I’ve given up on in the past:

I actually thought I finished this monstrosity until I realized that there’s going to be a fourth and fifth book tacked on to this once trilogy.

Why?

Just why?

There’s really no reason.  The story was resolved in a sickening happy ever after.  To tack on something after that seems unnecessary and very fan-ficish.  And I have no intention continuing it.  Even if they have the most beautiful dress ever on the cover.

I bought  a good chunk of these books, but to be honest I got bored with the first one.  Told myself I’d continue it (one day) and just kept buying them for the dresses.  Pathetic.  I know.

 

There are so many of these, I couldn’t keep up with them even if I wanted to.  And seriously, it’s like every other week that Clare announces YET another addition to this  series.  Wow, her publisher must have a lot of faith in her that’s all I can say.  And she must have a very loyal audience because I don’t know who would read a thirty plus book series that’s essentially a ripoff of Harry Potter.

 

 

The world building is heinous which is a shame because the premises looked pretty damn option.  But because the book felt so fragmented, I just don’t have the heart to continue.

 

I listened to the first book in the series on audiobook and it almost killed me.  The prose is way too dense for my taste.  And NOTHING happens.  Oddly enough, I think there’s a really good chance that this book is going to actually be made into a movie (there’s actual casting done with an actual release date per IMDB).  I know that people are talking about the fate of YA in movies, and they should be worried about this one.  If it’s anything like the book….snore fest.

 

I tried the first one, but after a big fat helping of insta love I was like bye bye.  I do like Gray though, oddly enough.  She’s like my guilty pleasure author.  But I think I prefer her standalones to her series.  If you need something really fluffy but bad for you, might I recommend her werewolf Titanic book.

 

Yeah..uh, no.  I actually gave this series a second chance, thinking it was the protagonist that I had issues with.  But even with a different narrator I just can’t.  There’s only so much YA body shaming, woman hating, shallowness I can take.

 

 

A lot of people really liked this book, but I wasn’t one of them.  And I just don’t have any effort to read the next installment whenever it comes out.  Probably part of it is because the book is associate with James Frey’s packaging company which I have issues with.

I think this is one of those series where it and I just grew apart.  I really did love the first one, but the second one was a little lackluster.  Sometimes White’s writing can get a bit too migraine inducing for me.  I do think she has a lot of great ideas though and one day I really might finish this one.  But I think I’m going to probably have to take something so that my blood pressure won’t erupt.

 

I keep hearing great things about Sophie Jordan, but I’m not a fan. At least of this trilogy.  It should’ve been rich and vibrant and full of dragon glory.  But instead, it was just Twilight with dragons (bad love triangle included).  I didn’t bother continuing because I already knew what happens.  That tends to happen when you’ve read half a dozen Twilight wannabes.

The Bastardization of the Mediator Series: Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

From the New York Times bestselling author of Halo comes the start of a beautiful and powerful new series.

After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own.

Source: GoodReads

MJ: I think this is the year to fuck up with Meg Cabot series.  First the Princess Diaries series got fucked over by Royally Lost and now Alexandra Adornetto is bastardizing The Mediator series.

Why?  Alexandra Adornetto of all people?

What was Harlequin Teen thinking?  Maybe they recommend the series to Adornetto so that she could get a feeling of what a strong female character but…

You know what, I’ve done enough talking.  I think it’s time to take this review to today’s guest host.  I don’t own property rights to her or her handsome costar since I’m not the great Meg Cabot, but I do envy her sassy sense of dressing, her non-jerky not so dead boyfriend, and her penchant for headbutting ghost.  Give a hand to Ms. Susannah Simon.

Suze Simon: I thought this was suppose to be a lecture on how to ghost bust?

MJ: It’s actually more of a tutorial session.  I mean, you’re going to be teaching someone how to ghost bust.  Someone grossly incompetent.

Suze: I’m assuming that’s not you.

MJ: Obviously, not.  I’ve watched enough episodes of Ghost Adventures to know it’s a bad idea to provoke ghosts and run around like a girl.  And oh, static is so a spirit on the other side trying to talk to you.

Suze (rolls eyes): Reality television.  So, if I’m not here to teach you then who am I teaching?

MJ: Well, Chloe from Ghost House of course.

Suze: Oh, fuck.

MJ: Jesse wouldn’t approve.

Suze: Oh, Jesse can deal.  I don’t want to teach her.

Chloe: Why not?

Suze: Because it’s obvious that you read my story and didn’t listen to any of my advice.

Chloe: I found a boy in my haunted bedroom, didn’t I?  He has an accent and is British.  So, obviously that’s more exciting then your lame-o hot Spanish ghost in your bedroom.

Suze:  Um, my ghost lame.  No.  Resounding no.  Your boyfriend on the other hand, what a chauvinist pig.

Chloe: He’s old fashion.

Suze: There’s a difference between being old fashioned and chauvinist.  And your boyfriend (or insta crush since all you do is notice how good looking he is) is a pig.  Seriously, he says your friends are skanks and you’re totally okay with it?  Do you know what I’d do to Jesse if he did that?

Chloe: Um, not be friends with them anymore.

Suze: No, I’d tell him that he needed to get over it or we weren’t going to be together anymore.  And Jesse would get over it.  Because he’s just that type of guy.

Chloe: But…what sort of relationship is that when you argue and make compromise?

Suze: Argue?  I’m just asking him to respect my friends it’s what a decent person would do.  And I for one would never trash my friends behind their backs.

Chloe: Well, they are silly.

Suze: MJ, why am I here again?

MJ: To teach Chloe the trade of the ghost busting business so she won’t get killed.  Consider it community service.

Suze: Why can’t Slater do it?  He needs to do some community service.  I mean, he almost sent my boyfriend to hell multiple times.

MJ: Fine, Paul get your ass over here.

Chloe (giggly): He’s handsome.  Now, I’m in an actual love triangle.

Slater: Simon…

Suze: Unformed character who thinks pretty people=love.  Let’s talk Paul, what do we do when we have a rowdy ghost?  Do we moan and let other ghosts try to solve our problems?

Slater: Hell, no.  We exorcise the son of a bitch.

Chloe: Exorcise?

Slater: And you call yourself a shifter.

Suze: Mediator.

MJ: Actually, in this book guys it’s called medium.  Which is actually a fairly common term.  But you’re right in the fact that there seemed to be little to no rules when it came to the world building.  I mean, Chloe can just randomly do things like go back in time. Of course, she has a seizure during this which makes little to no sense but…

Slater: Going back to time is difficult.  It took us six books.  And it just didn’t happen random.  There’s a science behind it.

MJ: I’m just saying.

Slater: I’m sure you are, babe.

MJ: You’re too young for me.

Slater: Actually, I’m being aged up in a sequel so if you want my contact info…

MJ (blushes at her one bad boy literary crush): Um, yeah.  I mean, no.  I mean, yeah.  Just to do an interview of course.  Got to keep a blogger professionalism going.

Suze: Don’t fall for it.

MJ: I never said I was.  Though he’s going to be legal though and he is unattached.

Suze: Jesse was always legal.

Chloe: And Alex is legal.  And he’s perfect.  I knew as soon as I saw that golden hair, those blue eyes, that it was meant to be.  And he always saves me.  And doctors me up in his own old fashion…

Suze: What did you just say?

Chloe: I said he fixed my injuries..

Suze: You so got that out of my book.

Chloe: I bet Jesse didn’t ask you questions about why women read Cosmo?

Suze: Actually, he did.

Chloe: Danced when no one could see you?

Suze: Did.

Chloe: Had weird thoughts about having sex with a ghost?

Suze: Regrettably, yes.

Slater: Ew, Suze, ew.  And as for you, did you too do anything original?  I mean, Simon and Rico Suave and pretty vanilla when it comes to the romance department, but they did have a bit of a werido relationship that’s only theirs to create.  I mean, couldn’t you do something like…go on a picnic on the moors?

Chloe: But what would we eat?

Slater: Picnics aren’t all about food, Chloe, if you know what I mean.  Hey, MJ, picnic?

Suze: You leave her alone.

Slater: No, way Simon. But you know, you really could’ve done more to show off England.  I get it rains all the time and according to you the food sucks, and it’s all about Prince Harry.  But there’s really more to that country.

Chloe: Like what, bangers and mash?

Suze: Like a thousand plus years of history.  You could do a better job showing said history. Have some anglo-Saxon ghosts.  But of course you get your boring Heathcliff wannabe.  Well, he’s probably not a Heathcliff wannabe since he doesn’t kill puppies.

Slater: Was that really necessary, Simon?

Suze: You can’t ignore details when it comes to ghosts, Paul.  You know that.

Slater: True.  But they were living the moment.

Suze: Yeah, until his ‘evil’ ex girlfriend or dead girlfriend since they didn’t actually break up was in there.

Slater: Don’t be too hard on her, Maria was a bitch too.  Remember?

Suze: But that was different, I didn’t blame Maria for all her mistakes.  Diego  was just as responsible for putting Jesse in the ground.  Isabelle did nothing but  cheat on her husband with Alex.  But instead of Alex getting any of the blame, it’s all Isabelle’s fault that every thing went to shit.  Also, I love how she appears this decomposing monster and he looks like a supermodel.

Slater: I personally, thought de Silva had a maggot in his nose.  The evil ones are always ugly.

Suze: Yes, just look at yourself in the mirror.  But seriously, there’s nothing in the world that tells why Isabelle looks the way she does while Alex looks perfect.

Chloe: Because he’s good.

Suze: Whatever. And your medium powers.  Just randomly come up.   Aided by supposed paranormal investigators who have no respect for your privacy.

Slater: I so would’ve exorcised them.

Suze: A headbutt would’ve done just fine.

Chloe: They were just trying to help.

Suze: They almost killed you.  You lack common sense.

Chloe: So, what am I suppose to do then?  I mean, really?

MJ: That’s a hard one for me to answer.  I mean, I really don’t have much control over your future Chloe.  And neither do Suze and Paul.

Chloe: Then why are we staging this intervention?  It was just for you to hook up with a fictional character, wasn’t it?

MJ: Um, no.  But that was a perk.  Actually, it was to point out the flaws of this book.  And how eerily similar it was to The Mediator series.  Which you’d think would be a great thing, since that series is probably one of the best paranormal YA series out there.  The thing is, even though it’s a blatant ripoff, it still reeks of Alexandra Adornetto’s signature faux pas regarding misogynic  views  and insta love.  Though, I will give Ally’s new editors this, they cut a lot of the purple prose out.  Oh, it’s still there.  But it’s much more bearable now.

Chloe: So, this has no purpose?  Other than to show what a flop of a character I am.

MJ: Well, yeah.

Slater: OOh, burn.  MJ, totally taking you out to dinner  for that.

Suze: This flirting is just getting sick now.

MJ: It’s my fantasy.  It’s not sick to me.  Though, I do get why you’d be sick of it.  He’s Slater after all.

Suze: Yeah, well, good luck, Chloe.  You’re going to need it.  You seem incompetent about ghosts, in a world that’s building is pretty much a house of cards.  Also, if you stay with the chauvinist your never going to grow as a person.  Especially since he’s dead.

Chloe: Well, you got with a dead guy.

Suze: Used to be dead.  And on that note, I got to go seventh book and all and I really don’t want to be around those two-wait, did they already leave( looks out the window and sees MJ and Slater getting into Slater’s Porsche obviously to do something non-book related).   Ew!

Chloe: This is going to be me sitting here all by myself isn’t it?

No one answers.  Then suddenly a ghostly voice starts calling Chloe’s name.  Cue “spooky” music.

Chloe: Who’s there.

Ghost: Your future.

Chloe( frowns as the ghost gets clearer): NO!  NO!  NO! I don’t want to end up you.  I don’t want to have sex for the first time with alligators and be obsessed with a boy with nut color hair.

Bethany: But don’t you love Alex.  Aren’t his eyes so blue.

Chloe: Well, yeah, but what I feel for Alex..he’s so.  Damn, it.  I’m just like you am I.

Bethany: Pretty much.

Chloe: Do they have any vodka around here?

Bethany (looks at Chloe aghast): You’re underage that would make us a drunk harlot.

Chloe (grabs MJ’s vodka): Oh, screw you.  If I’m going to be like you at least I can be drunk throughout the entire process. And it’s totally legal in the UK, dumb bunny.  Even I know that and I didn’t realize that 911 was different there.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a D.  Adornetto has improved technically, I’ll give her that, but her handling of character development and sensitive subject matters still sucks.  While this won’t quite offend so many people as her Halo trilogy did, it’s still going to get people like me drunk and into the convertible of a former YA bad boy who turns out to be quite the good kisser even if he’s a bit slimy.

 

 

 

Well, Isn’t That Accurate: How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler

Maggie Dempsey is tired of moving all over the country. Her parents are second-generation hippies who uproot her every year or so to move to a new city. When Maggie was younger, she thought it was fun and adventurous. Now that she’s a teenager, she hates it. When she moved after her freshman year, she left behind good friends, a great school, and a real feeling of belonging. When she moved her sophomore year, she left behind a boyfriend, too. Now that they’ve moved to Austin, she knows better. She’s not going to make friends. She’s not going to fit in. Anything to prevent her from liking this new place and them from liking her. Only . . . things don’t go exactly as planned.

Source: GoodReads

She’s not related to Patrick Dempsey if that’s what you’re wondering.  If she was, I might’ve liked Sugar Magnolia (Maggie) better.

If you want to really know how to be unpopular all you have to dress in an inconspicuous manner and have a desire to do something other than socialize (like read YA books).  Of course, you might get French Fries thrown at you in the school’s courtyard, but that’s another story for another time.

This book though tells you that the only way to be unpopular is to be a weirdo.  And that all unpopular kids are somehow mentally off in a way that meets none of the description in the DMS IV that I know of-I wasn’t a psych major though, so that might be the problem.  The point is, this book.  It just made me annoyed and angry and gave me a fucking migraine.

 

So let’s begin shall we before I get out the vodka and do something stupid.

Let’s start with the quote where I knew I was going to have to deal with extraordinary stupidity:

A tall guy is standing in the middle of the desks with his hands cupped around his mouth for better amplification.  He seems like a total Young Republican , with his pressed navy slacks and powder blue button-down.  His hair is neatly parted and combed, probably with some sort of mousse or gel in it.  He reminds me of the Mormon missionary kids Rosie and Les are always inviting inside for tea and a talk on the Bhagavad Gita. (19)

Well, at least he didn’t have blue eyes.

But this is the love interest, kids.  And I’m sorry but I don’t find Young Democrats or Republicans  or any Young Politicos sexy.  As for young Mormon missionaries, I don’t think they are really trying to look sexy when they’re doing mission work.  But if that floats your boat and you give the most cliche YA love interest name (Jack), well, then…

Jack’s your man.

He’s swoon worthy.  You know, being the class suck up that tells everyone to shut up at the beginning of class.

Y’all sit down and be quiet! (19)

I hated kids like that in school didn’t exactly lust over them.

Though, Maggie wasn’t that much of a princess either.

I have had comments that just hating characters aren’t enough to make someone hate a book, but I think if any of those individuals read this book they’d be agreeing with me that it can ruin a book.

Especially if it’s in first person.

Maggie was just mean.

Yes, I said mean.  Anyone who is a nerd in real life is going to hate her. Heck, anyone who loves old TV shows, vintage clothes, and culture is going to hate her.

This is it.  The perfect recipe for supreme dorkdom.  I’m in the school cafeteria, dressed like a color-blind geisha pulling food out of a Star Trek lunch box while sitting between my parents and across from Penny (145).

Save for the popular people in this school apparently and Penny and everyone else.

But I don’t see why?

Maggie’s stunts are just so cringe worthy that I had to put the book down several times to prevent my wall from getting dents in it.    You think flashing a guy with your undies is going to make him not like you.  It will make you a dumb ass sure…but since most guys like to get in girls pants I don’t think that this is exactly going to be guy repellent.

Then there’s the clothes.

Maggie’s unpopular clothes consists of things that you’d see out of Lola Nolan’s closet.  I’m serious.  It’s just some bizarre thrift mart wear.  That’s really not that bizarre, I was a creative writing major who had morning classes and whose building was frequented by the homeless-I saw some weird fashion shit.  I just don’t know why we had to have that scene with her parents coming to the school…well, I guess they had to come to show the kids how to do vagina exercises.

‘You know what else you should do for those infections?’ Rosie leans forward and her beads tap rhythmically against the tabletop. ‘ You should do vaginal exercises.’

I hear a choking sound in back of me as one of the giggly girls start hacking and coughing.  Turning toward the noise, I find all six of them red faced.  Five out of embarrassment, and one from lack of oxygen.

‘Someone your age really should practice these movements,” Rosie keeps on saying to Penny.  ‘All you girls should.” She turns to include the group behind us.  ‘It will aid urine flow and enhance pleasure during intercourse.’

The girls exchange wide-eyed glances and start laughing incredulously.

‘Here,’ Rosie says.  ‘Let me demonstrate.” (146-147)

Yes, vagina exercises.

I’m sure that the Young Republicans’ Old Republican parents are just going to love it.

But apparently, they did. Since nothing was said in the book about people complaining.

I get that it’s Austin, probably the most liberal of Texas cities, but it’s still Texas.  Even though, it’s weird.

Vaginal exercises.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Oh, but it gets better.

Get the popcorn, because this next part of my probably not that epic of a rant is going to be about Maggie’s new b.f.f: Penny.  And boy do a have a lot to say about Penny.

Let’s first talk about mental development issues.  I actually like YA books that explore characters who have a developmental disorders.  I think it adds a fresh perspective to YA.  Like in Isla and the Happily Ever After  I liked that the main character’s best friend had high functioning Autism.  Stephanie Perkins did a great job with the character Kurt.  She didn’t demean him or belittle  him.

Penny?

Well, I don’t even know what the DSM IV would label her as.  I just know I felt so bad for this horribly betrayed character and whatever affliction that she might have I wanted to give her a hug.

Because truly someone could not be that annoying without suffering from something.

But the impression I got in the fifty percent that stomached my way through, is that there really is nothing wrong with her save for a leg issue and some asthma.

But I still couldn’t really like Penny even though I wanted to hug her?

I mean, would you like someone who talked about their snot production?

I get sinus headaches all the time.  I was born with very narrow nasal passages, so teh mucus gets trapped inside my forehead and becomes infected. (69)

I think not.

I was hoping that at some point this book would bring out some sort of moral lesson, but other than rolling my eyes and being disgusted.  I learned nothing.  Maggie was a disgusting human being.  She’s falling in love with a tool that thinks it’s her fault she’s being sexually harassed, and she’s friends with a major dweeb.

Jack rakes his fingers through his sweaty hair.  ‘Look.  Just trust me on this,’ he continues, his voice barely audible.  ‘That guy is scum.  You don’t want to egg him on.’ (176)

And that would be perfectly okay (well, tolerable) if there were robots or something in this book to make it remotely entertaining.

But there are no fucking robots.

There’s not even one explosion.

There’s nothing but ew look at that hideous dress, I’ll wear it to be unpopular.  Yay!

Don’t bother guys.  A part of me thinks it’s even dirty to fail this book.  I think it’s best we pretend it doesn’t even exist.

Top Ten Tuesday: I Want It Now!!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  If you love top ten list and are as uncreative as I am, it’s the perfect meme to join.  Today’s theme is books that you want desperately but don’t yet own.  I’ll be using mostly books that are unreleased since I have a horrible habit of just buying what I want even though I should be saving that money for something else.

 

10)

Nutcracker retelling!  Nutcracker retelling!  Nutcracker retelling!  To be honest, my enthusiasm for this book has sort of dwindled as of recently.  There have been some reviews that make me think this review might turn out to be a mega bitch fest.  Still I’m excited only because of the Sugarplum fairy, Mother Ginger and her clown children, and the Nucracker prince.  Of course, I still think I’ll be disappointed but I have to try…right?

More About the Book

9)

I’m a little on the fence about this since I didn’t like her Starcrossed series, but the synopsis has me wanting to suck it up and read this book.  Do I think I’ll especially enjoy this one?  We’ll see.  I hope, pray to God, Sweet baby Jesus-ing it that there won’t be a MC obsessed with either sandwiches or pumpkins.

More About the Book

8)

With Winter being pushed back-yeah, I’ll mention that once or twice because I really wanted Winter soon than it’s actual anticipated release date-I have to get all the fairytale retellings I can get.  And even though this one seems a bit of a Lunar Chronicles ripoff, I’m still oddly excited.

More About the Book.

7)

Because I like over the top contemporaries.  And there’s a Princess Diaries comparisons. Enough said.

More About this Book.

6)

Can you sense a theme?  I’m really in the mood for a Princess Diaries-ish book.  And if I wanted to cheat, I could totally get this one now.  Of course, I’d have to order it from the Book Depository and have to gasp, read BritishEnglish-such a hard feat for a ‘merican , but I’ll probably wait it out.  Only because I’m a hardback purist.

More About the Book

5)

I like slapstick space books (see Mothership).  Which is no surprise since I spend most of my Friday nights mocking the latest episode of Ancient Aliens-though occasionally, if you get passed all the alien bull shit there are some interesting tidbits of history in those shoes.  This book looks like so much fun though.  And I want a fun book.

More About the Book.

4)

Yes, Armentrout’s books can be predictable and cheesy.  And that guy looks like he’s Zack Attack’s long lost twin from Saved by the Bell, but I actually sort of do like this series.  It’s plot tricks are cheap and gimmicky and the gargoyles and basically more or less something to make the  model like beings in the book do something.  But I still enjoy it and look forward to its next installment.

More About the Book.

3)

 

Because Winter has now been pushed back by almost a year, because of Fairest.  That means, I have to put all my Winter fangirl-ness on this book.  To be honest, I’m really excited about getting Levana’s story.  She’s one of the only few YA villains who is actually worth her stated evilness.

More About the Book

2)

A Sleeping Beauty retelling that doesn’t look lame.  And Aurora actually looks like a bad ass.  And there’s gender bending.  This book had to be written for me.  Really, it did?  It wasn’t…liar.

More About the Book

 

1)

 

This one has genies, a non-WASP heroine, and it actually looks like the story is going to have layers of depth on it.  Plus, I loved Heather Demetrios’s debut, so I’m looking forward to reading more things by her.

More about the book

Obviously, They Forgot the Disclaimer:How to be Popular by Meg Cabot

Do you want to be popular? Everyone wants to be popular or at least, Stephanie Landry does. Steph’s been the least popular girl in her class since a certain cherry Super Big Gulp catastrophe five years earlier. Does being popular matter? It matters very much to Steph. That’s why this year, she has a plan to get in with the It Crowd in no time flat. She’s got a secret weapon: an old book called what else? How to Be Popular. What does it take to be popular? All Steph has to do is follow the instructions in The Book, and soon she’ll be partying with the It Crowd (including school quarterback Mark Finley) instead of sitting on The Hill Saturday nights, stargazing with her nerdy best pal Becca, and even nerdier Jason (now kind of hot, but still), whose passion for astronomy Steph once shared. Who needs red dwarves when you’re invited to the hottest parties in town? But don’t forget the most important thing about popularity! It’s easy to become popular. What isn’t so easy? Staying that way.

Source: GoodReads

Meg Cabot was like one of my role models growing up.  Which is a pretty difficult tasks to do considering the other woman on that list (note to self: one day publish said list on my blog).  However, as extraordinary as some of her books are, there are some that aren’t so good.

And now that I’m older and more cynical (thanks to reading five thousand YA books-well, probably less than that but it feels like that much) and the market has grown,well, this book really sucks.

I hate to say it, but it does.

Have I really changed that much as a reader?

Probably yes and no.  My  thoughts of the book originally were meh.  I wasn’t that impressed, but upon reread I was just shocked at how bland and insipid it was.  And that this book came from the Meg Cabot.

The story itself is simple but decent.   Simplicity can be a good thing though, some of my favorite contemporary romances are simple.  But at times, How to be Popular felt too cookie cutter.  Every single aspect of the plot was predictable and the Cabot tropes were all there.

Nothing out there at all.  And I could’ve totally gotten that if the characters felt a little bit more realistic.

Realistic and likable.

Because it took me more than a little time to warm up to Steph.

Dare I say, I don’t like her.

Yes, I’m going to say it.  I do not like Steph Landry and I totally understand why people were making fun of her for all those years-stupid Big Gulp aside.

Do you really you think it’s perfectly okay to play peeping Tom on your best friend and then crush on another guy while constantly slut slamming anyone who might look a little bit better than you?

Really?

Throughout reading this my head I kept thinking, is this really from the same woman who created Michael Moscovitz, Mia Thermopolis, Suze Simon, and Jesse de Silva.

Well,  the book cover says it is.

But the book felt so phoned in, guys.  Steph and Jason there were some cute moments…but as far as the panty melting scenes that you see in other Meg books.

Not there.

I almost felt like Jason was some prize given to Steph at the end for making good life choices.

Dumb.

The tension was there, obviously.  But her crush easily moving from Mark to him felt sudden and out of place.

Logic: But it is a standalone and there wasn’t enough time to give it a sequel.

Yeah, and who’s fault is that?  Seriously, maybe have a few more scenes where Steph is conflicted about her feelings than the sudden epiphany and I would’ve bought it better.

Besides, the characters being remarkably bland for a Meg book, I also felt like the setting was lackluster as well.  I get that her midwest set books are based off of the town she was raised in (or at least I’m assuming they are), but it seems with each of these contemporaries the setting gets more and more blah and the characters in the town get more flat.

And yes, despite what some people may say,  flat characters and settings can effect the value of a book.

And it did here.

Its especially obvious with its simplistic plot.  I think had Steph and Jason been as fleshed out as other Cabot characters, I could handle the cringe worthy plot of learning that popularity isn’t everything.

Another thing would’ve been to tone down the mean girl/slut slamming tropes that frequented this title.  I will give Cabot credit, this book was published in 2006 when a lot of people weren’t noting this god awful trope.  And she tried to remedy it by having some of the so called popular girls end up nice, but honestly Lauren just felt unrealistic.

And after five years of bitching about a Big Gulp you think someone would’ve told her to stuff it already.

Just saying.

Overall, this probably isn’t the best book to read if you’re new to Meg Cabot.  In fact, if you are a Cabot virgin I recommend starting with either Diaries or The Mediator and moving on from there. How to be Popular is probably one of her weaker titles.  While it does try to convey a good message, it’s sometimes unintentionally preachy.  Also, while I do like Cabot’s use of pop culture references I couldn’t help but frown at the mention of starlets who passed (RIP Brittany Murphy).  Die hard Cabot fans like myself though, might enjoy this. However, this die hard fan…um, no.

Overall Rating: C-

 

Raiders of The Lost Book Shelf: This Is Why I Need My Own Library Database

I cleaned out my bookshelves (again) the other day.  Which means, I get to talk about more goodies that bought back when Borders was still in business and I thought going to law school was a good idea.

Game?

Well, if your not you probably want to skip this post.  Otherwise, let’s get going down memory lane.

 

 

Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty – especially if they learn of her Sight – and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.
But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr’s stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so this one really isn’t that old.  But I forgot I had it.  I usually don’t do faeries so it really surprised me when I found it sitting in a box.  I think it was the cover. Way back in the day, my mom and I sort of were obsessed with Irises so I probably bought it because of that.  You know, I really should read it.  One of these days.

Complete text of Witch and Curse in a single volume.

Holly Cathers’s world shatters when her parents are killed in a terrible accident. Wrenched from her home in San Francisco, she is sent to Seattle to live with her relatives, Aunt Marie-Claire and her twin cousins, Amanda and Nicole.

In her new home, Holly’s sorrow and grief soon give way to bewilderment at the strange incidents going on around her. Such as how any wish she whispers to her cat seems to come true. Or the way a friend is injured after a freak attack from a vicious falcon. And there’s the undeniable, magnetic attraction to a boy Holly barely knows.

Holly, Amanda, and Nicole are about to be launced into a dark legacy of witches, secrets, and alliances, where ancient magics yield dangerous results. The girls will assume their roles in an intergenerational feud beyond their wildest imaginations…and in doing so, will attempt to fulfill their shared destiny.

Source: GoodReads

This is actually two books bundled into one volume and I think I have the second bundle too.  I remember at the time I bought it I was on a witch hunt-a hunt for witch books.  And I was working on this really lame manuscript that involving witches that’s how obsessed I was.  Obviously, it did not work out.  I think I ended up hating my main character and having her get hit by a truck and the love interest decide to join the villain in a bad boy.  The point is, at one time in my life I’d buy anything if it had witches in it and this was one of those books.

C Birdy

“Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life.”

Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man–any rich man, no matter how awful.

But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call–by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all.

Unfortunately, he is also the richest.

Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father?

Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it!

Source: GoodReads

Is this even YA?  We had to read this I remember when I was in middle school when were were studying the middle ages.  It was a pretty decent historical even though there were no hot guys in it.

 

Everything is changing around Lucy Loverling, and a turning point is exactly what she does NOT need. Suddenly she has to make all sorts of decisions including what she wants to be. And it seems that everyone else knows who and what she wants to be except her. Izzie has become friends with the glamorous Nesta, and Lucy isn’t certain she likes a threesome. Nesta and Izzie look sixteen, but Lucy, at fourteen, can still pass for a twelve-year-old.

But then one day Lucy sees the most wonderful boy crossing the street, and things do start to change — in all areas of her life…

Source: GoodReads

This book seemed so cool back when I was in its targeted age group.  Bridget Jones’s Diary had just come out in theaters and being obsessed with Colin Firth I was ready to read and watch anything British.  The book now though…well, seems very cliche.  The series does have a lot going for it though, I mean the girls are diverse enough and I feel like there are some good stories.  But yeah, cliche.

Manhattan meets Verona in this time-bending twist on Shakespeare.

When Mimi is magically thrust into the middle of Shakespeare’s Verona, she must find a way to help Juliet fight for her future happiness. Will she be able to give this classic tragedy a happy ending?

Source: GoodReads

Was the bubblegum and sunglasses really necessary?  Apparently, the cover artist thought so.  Though to me it makes me not want to take the book seriously. Which is probably why it collected dust.  It looks like it should be interesting though.  I do like Shakespeare retellings, even though almost everyone fucks them up.

 

 

 

Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London. Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head…and wakes up in the year 1815!

She stumbles about until she meets the kind-hearted Emily, who takes Callie in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. Sparks soon fly between Callie and Emily’s cousin, Alex, the maddeningly handsome – though totally arrogant – Duke of Harksbury. Too bad he seems to have something sinister up his ruffled sleeve…

 

From face-planting off velvet piano benches and hiding behind claw-foot couches to streaking through the estate halls wearing nothing but an itchy blanket, Callie’s curiosity about Alex creates all kinds of trouble.
But the grandfather clock is ticking on her 19th Century shenanigans. Can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, win a kiss from Alex, and prove to herself that she’s more than just a loud-mouth klutz before her time there is up?

 

Source: GoodReads

That pose.  Seriously?  You know what, not going to judge.  The shoes look okay.  Though a little too chunky for my taste.  Then again, not really a Prada girl.  I sort of like Choos better.  They come in better colors.  Though I can’t afford either, so who am I to judge?  The book itself I remember sort of being bland and cliche.

Thrill Ride!
One-day admission: $15Summer job:

Pros:
Living on my own (plus roommates)
Rides are free (but avoid the roller coasters—too scary!)
Super-hot coworker . . .

Cons:
Periodic homesickness
Dressing like Gretel for job in fairyland gift shop
Super-hot coworker . . . and boyfriend back home. Too thrilling!

 Source: GoodReads
This is the equivalent of a YA Harlequin, but man did I eat it up back in the day.  Once again, flat character.  An obvious HEA.  But still, eat it up worthy.
Are you predator or prey?
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APPLY IN PERSON BETWEEN 2:00 AND 4:00 PM.
Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.
Source: GoodReads
This one.  Sigh guys.  It was bought when I was on the Twilight high and well.. it was back when I didn’t know how to say no to series.
Do you want to be popular? Everyone wants to be popular or at least, Stephanie Landry does. Steph’s been the least popular girl in her class since a certain cherry Super Big Gulp catastrophe five years earlier. Does being popular matter? It matters very much to Steph. That’s why this year, she has a plan to get in with the It Crowd in no time flat. She’s got a secret weapon: an old book called what else? How to Be Popular. What does it take to be popular? All Steph has to do is follow the instructions in The Book, and soon she’ll be partying with the It Crowd (including school quarterback Mark Finley) instead of sitting on The Hill Saturday nights, stargazing with her nerdy best pal Becca, and even nerdier Jason (now kind of hot, but still), whose passion for astronomy Steph once shared. Who needs red dwarves when you’re invited to the hottest parties in town? But don’t forget the most important thing about popularity! It’s easy to become popular. What isn’t so easy? Staying that way.
Source: GoodReads
Yes, it’s a Meg Cabot look on my lost book shelfs.  Surprising, I know.  But this one was one of her more bland additions.  While the book is cute, it wasn’t that memorable.  In fact, until I read the blurb I sort of forgot about what it was about.  Which means reread.  And since there are no Cabot releases this year, I need a reread.
Ten Things is about Jamie, a teenage girl from Sydney’s south west who lives two lives: at school and in the outside world she is ‘Jamie’, a bottle-blonde with an apparently Anglo Aussie background; at home she is ‘Jamilah’ a Lebanese-Muslim who is proud of her cultural identity. Jamie struggles to maintain her two personas as the rules of her over-protective father collide with the normal adolescence she perceives other teenagers to have and which she so desires.Life appears to be looking up for Jamie when the most popular boy in school begins to show an interest in her. Added to that she gets an after-school job and makes an email friend, John, the only person with whom she can be completely honest. However her fate as a social outcast appears sealed when her father’s Stone Age Charter of Curfew Rights threatens to prevent her attending the much-anticipated Year 10 formal and her Arabic band is hired to play at the formal.

Source: GoodReads
I bought this book excited that it had diversity in it.  Then I remember reading the reviews about how it was preachy and it just sat in the shelf until I moved it to the unit.  I saw it at the library today though.  So, I might decided to try it.  I really do wish we had more books that featured Muslim teens since it is one of the world’s largest religions.  However, I really don’t want preachy.

 

Insta Love’s the Devil: Mortal Days by Ann Aguirre

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly… bad things are happening. It’s a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what–she can trust. Not even her own mind…

Source: GoodReads

When I saw this book in the bookstore I immediately thought of She Devil.

This book is no She Devil though.  There’s no Roseanne Barr type character who gets revenge while not obsessing over her faults. What we get is a book with a very insecure main character who becomes instantly beautiful and confident at the same time.  While moments before, being suicidal.

Look, suicide is a huge deal.  And a complex subject matter that is impacted by a number of different factors.  I think what I found wrong with Aguirre’s book is what I find a lot wrong with the depiction of teen suicide in the media today.  They focus on one area and that’s it.  Yes, the bullying that Edie received in the book was heartbreaking, but I didn’t realize the extent of the bullying till the last half of the book.  Up to then, I thought it was standard high school garbage-i.e. Edie is not the most attractive girl in the world and is unfortunately picked on-the fact that the trauma that drove her to take such drastic was never really that addressed.  And for that matter, issues such as depression and other contributing factors that make one want to make such an awful choice  aren’t addressed in the book.  Just make my inner Book Hulk rage.

Seriously.  Magic Kian fixes Edie’s flaws with magic plastic surgery and she’s a-okay.  Gets a boyfriend with the snap of her fingers at camp.

So, moral of the story pretty people don’t have problems?

Please.

That’s how I really felt a lot of the time in this book.  Annoyed.  But it did have potential.

Some.

Besides, the whole insta beauty=insta self esteem boost, the other insta thing that bothered me…you guessed it Edie’s relationship with Kian.

Never was there a ship that I so didn’t get.

And oh yeah, I get a lot of ships.  Even if I don’t like them.  I get them.

But Kian? He’s like the bland younger brother of Matt Bomer who has the creep vibe of Edward Cullen.

Yeah, ew.

To be honest, I liked Edie a lot better when he disappeared for a hundred pages.  But when he reappeared, I still didn’t like him.  He did nothing but screw around with her and give her a creepy plastic surgery-ish makeover.

I mean, maybe it works for some people like in the Greek myth, Pygmalion, but I really don’t like the idea of having someone shaping your appearance into what you want.

It’s just creepy.

Also, he totally got her into this mess that’s going to take her a trilogy to solve and he gave her no explanation whatsoever.

Despite my rants, I think Mortal Danger did have some neat ideas to offer.  Though to be honest, they weren’t very well thought out.  Maybe as the series progresses the world will feel more fully formed.  But as of now, the book really felt fragmented and the character often felt like they weren’t fleshed out.

Take the Big Bad, from the way he was described, he might as well had been in a Rankin Bass Christmas special as Frost Miser. Or Arnold’s pathetic version of Mr. Freeze.

Yeah, I wasn’t that scared since all I needed was a blow torch.

I have hopes that things will pick up though, and maybe that’s why I didn’t just outright flunk the book.  The end of the book makes the potential that the sequel might have intriguing.  And despite the major issues I have with Edie, I think she could grow into a likable character.  As for the ship though….me thinks not.

Kian you might look like Matt Bomer’s hotter younger brother, but that doesn’t mean you do anything for me with your Edward Cullen stalking and manipulating.

Overall Rating: C-/D+ there’s potential if you can squint, but you might want to hold off to see if the sequel improves things.

Randomness: YA Musicals

Can this please be a thing?

Or maybe I shouldn’t wish for this (see High School Musical).  But with all the YA adaptions out there today, I’m surprise there hasn’t been a musical version of some of our favorite (and least favorite books) yet.  And adapting books into broadway shows have been done time and time again.  So, why not for YA?  You’d have some instant numbers in there.  The poor misunderstood protagonist, a trio that conveys the angst of the torment of a love triangle, and of course the ballad where the heroine taps into her her secret powers.

It’s been done before.

Though grant it, not for a YA book.  So, I thought for this post of randomness.  I’d talk about a few books that I’d think would be perfect to be turned into a musical.

 

1)

The Princess Diaries has already had the YA movie treatment, but I think its plum for picking for musical status.  First of all, Julie Andrews starred in it and she’s the queen of musicals.  Grant it, her vocal chords were damaged.  But still.  If Julie Andrews is in your movie that means its destined to become a musical.  Besides that there are plenty of musical moments with Mia lamenting about being a princes, her mom dating her algebra teacher, and the Cultural Diversity Dance.

Suggested Song Titles:

  • “Princesses Suck”
  • “The Paparazzi Parade”
  • “Tall Drink of Water” (this one was actually in the book and if it ever did hit the broadway stage it has to be made into a song).

 

2)

 

Cruel Beauty has a slightly dark vibe to it that makes this Beauty and the Beast retelling perfect for the stage.  I think with the Gentle Lord is described there’s almost a Phantom like feel to this one-note, it is not a Phantom retelling.  I just love how much darkness this story oozes though.  And we already know that a more straight up version of the fairytale was a smash.  So, why not try a more mature route.

Suggested Song Titles:

  • “The Dreaded Gentle Lord”
  • “Born to Die”
  • “Dressed to Kill”

 

3)

 

Based off of the summary, this book looks more ABC Family worthy than musical worthy, but I think there’s potential for Don’t Look Back.  Believe it or not, there are a few good musical mysteries out there.  I think making this one into a musical rather than a traditional movie or TV show could make this book stand out.  Plus, I think using songs could be an interesting way to show the flashbacks.

Suggested Song Titles:

  • “I  Once was a Bitch”
  • “You’re So Sensitive?”
  • “Murder She Did?”

4)

I’m not a fan of this book (okay, I’m a big fat hater), but I think changing Halo into a musical could do it some good.  Sometimes, great music can elevate the flimsiest of flimsy of plots.  And God knows, there could be some pretty cool flying sequences on the stage.  And a love ballad or two can also help insta love.  Why I chose Halo for this feature is I think that there is some potential with the book as much as I hate it.  Plus, doesn’t stuffy Gabriel have a job as a music teacher?  See.  Anyway, if a liberal adaption is done. Then well…it could be good.

Suggested Song Titles:

  • “Flying Fantasy”
  • “I Used to be Vegan, Till I Met You”
  • “PROM!”

5)

Rural romances having always been made for the perfect plot and setting for musicals (cough, Oklahoma, cough).  And Magnolia oozes cheesy goodness that would make well a pretty wonderful musical.  As for the special effects…well, if The Wizard of Oz has been doing tornados on stage for years it should be no biggie.

Suggested Song Titles:

  • “Love to Hate You”
  • “Storm of Feelings”
  • “What Happened to Us”