True Confessions of Hollywood Starlet: Lola Douglas

I have a confession to make, sometimes when I’m desperate I watch Lifetime TV.  And I’m not just talking about watching Project Runway or reruns of Reba, I watch Lifetime movies.  Embarrassing I know, but it is true.   Most of these movies consist of a similar plot involving a determined independent woman going through drama-may it be addiction, be married to a polygamous adulterer, or being pregnant at sixteen.  Needless to say, the melodrama gets old pretty fast.  But sometimes, just sometimes there will be a movie that will get your attention such as True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet.  Imagine to my surprise, after I finished watching said movie, that it was based on a YA book.  Needless to say, I had to check it out.

General Summary: Morgan Carter, once America’s sweetheart, has hit rock bottom.  Fresh out of rehab, Morgan is sent to Indiana and has to deal being you’re average teenage girl-she even adopts a pseudo name.

Review: This was a great book.   The plot itself sounds cliche, but Douglas made it her own.  Morgan is just awesome.  She’s has flaws.  She’s far from being perfect and has insecurities as well.  And I have to say this is a refreshing change.  Usually in Hollywood themed books that share this plot (i.e. a celebrity going under cover in high school) the protagonist is usually super sweet and quasi perfect, Morgan isn’t that.  She retains a slightly bitchy edge to her which makes her adventures into mainstream America more hilarious.  I also like the fact that Douglas doesn’t fluff over Morgan’s addictions.  She gives insight into them.  The reader understands why Morgan turned to substance abuse.  And while some might argue that the logic behind her choices is a bit cliche- and dare I say Lifetimey- I would disagree in this case.

Best Feature: Morgan.  I loved Morgan.  As mentioned before her faults were what made this book.  I also liked the fact that at the end of this book, she’s gotten her act together but her life is still far from perfect.

Worst Feature: Cliche plot.  As much as Douglas has made this book truly her own, the plot is one that has been seen plenty of times in YA lit.  I can’t blame her though, at least that much since it is such a great plot to use.  And Douglas did make it her own.

Blockbuster Worthy: Obviously, it was since they made a movie about it already.  On Lifetime no less.  So, I’ll talk about what I think of the film adaption in comparison to the book.  I think it was a fairly good adaption.  Grant it, I really think they should have casted Lindsay Lohan for the main role-since that’s who I pictured while reading Morgan’s story, but I think Jojo did a pretty good role overall .  My main issue with the film adaption was it encompassed all of the fluff that was in the book, it didn’t divulge into what was the biggest bombshell in the book.  Not to give anything away, but it was this bombshell that made this book seem real.  It explained so much about Morgan and without it she honestly seemed like a bit of a spoiled brat.

Overall Rating:

For the Book: Eight out of Ten stars

For the movie: Five out of Ten stars

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Texas Gothic: Rosemary Clement-Moore

I’ve loved Rosemary Clement-Moore’s writing ever since I read her first Maggie Quinn book.  Of course, when I heard she had a new book out I had to grab it and I was more than pleasantly surprised.  Texas Gothic, actually trumped the Maggie Quinn series in awesomeness which is hard to believe.

Summary: Amy Goodnight is playing house sitter for her aunt while she’s gallivanting off in the far East.  However, her summer job of watching Aunt Hyacinth’s herb farm is not as easy as she thinks and it’s not just because Amy’s dealing with a bunch of rowdy goats, five dogs, and  a cantankerous cowboy next door.  No, Amy’s life is made difficult because she’s being haunted.  Although, the paranormal might be considered abnormal to most, it’s not to Amy.  Though, she never thought she’d have to deal with the magical world herself.

Review: Love, love, loved this.  It was a nice refreshing read, exactly what I wanted.  There was mystery, there was romance, the was comedy, there was magic, and above all it was well written.  I’ve always been a big fan of Rosemary’s work, but there’s something about Texas Gothic that makes it stand out from her other works.  Perhaps it’s because the book encompasses a lot of things I like: sassy heroines, mysteries, Texas history, hot cowboys.  Or maybe it’s the fact that the book is so well put together: the character development is spot on, the plot flows effortlessly, and the dialogue sparkles throughout the book.  Whatever it is, I enjoyed it immensely.  So much that when I found out that Rosemary was doing a signing in my hometown I just had to go being the overgrown fan girl  that I am and was more than happy to find out that she’s working on a spinoff to Texas Gothic.

Best Feature: Kick ass heroine.  If you’ve read Texas Gothic and my blog,  it shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise that I loved Amy.  I’m all about sassy protagonists.  And Amy is one kick ass heroine.  I like the fact that Rosemary makes her Amy realistic.  She has faults and she’s not all knowing, or powerful, or perfect by any means.  She’s just someone you can relate to despite all the weirdness that goes on in her world.  Plus, Amy likes cherry limeade which is always a big plus.

Worst Feature: Um, nothing.  I tried to nitpick about something that I didn’t like about this book, but I really couldn’t find anything.  I was going to say that it was a stand alone, but then I found out about the spinoff (which is starring one of my favorite supporting characters in the book) so I can’t complain about that either.

Blockbuster Worthy:  Duh.  Obviously, I liked this book and it would make an awesome movie.   It has all the elements needed for a summer blockbuster: action, romance, the paranormal-which means the need for killer special effects.  Yeah, I definitely would like to see a film production for this.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Amy: Emma Stone.  Okay, so I’m sort of type casting her for every sassy red head YA character.  But I really liked her in Easy A and I think she would make the perfect Amy.

Ben: Hunter Parrish.  I think he looks like he could play the cantankerous young cowboy well enough.  Well, God knows he looks good enough to play him.

Overall Rating: Ten out ten stars.  Yes, it’s just that good.

The Magnolia League: Katie Crouch

I have no words for my deep distaste for this book.    Usually, I try to be positive in these reviews.  But this book there was little to no redeeming qualities about it. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.  And it’s not just because of this article that the authors wrote about YA lit that caused my opinion about the novel to become sour.  I actually bought the book in good faith.  It had an interesting premises, Southern debutantes meets paranormal, but boy did it fall flat on its ass.

Basic Summary: Alexandra Lee is forced to move to Savannah, Georgia from her hippie dippy commune after her mother dies in a freak bus accident.  She complains about this immensely because she doesn’t like her grandmother, believes no one in Savannah is “real”, and she misses the love of her life and the commune (cough, pot farm, cough) tremendously.  Things get even worse when Grandma tells Alex that’s she’s going to have to be a debutante.  But these debutantes, they’re not your typical white gown wearing spoiled little rich girls, they’re involved in hoodoo.  And pretty soon Alex is getting everything she wants emaciated body and lame boyfriend included.

Review: Okay, I know that even my summary sounds harsh, but I can’t help it.  I can’t help but be angry when I think of The Magnolia League.  I think it’s in part because there was so much potential yet this potential was never realized.  Instead, the authors wrote the book in the worst way possible.  I’ll start with the first and most obvious problem with the story: the main character.  Alex is just not at all likable.  First of all, she complains for the first half of the book about her new life in Savannah.  I get it, honey, you miss your life as a damn hippie  with your pot head boyfriend on that commune you grew up with.  It doesn’t matter that your grandma has bought you a designer wardrobe, offered you a car, and practically bought you friendship with the two most popular girls in town.  They’re not good enough for you because they’re not “real”.  If this isn’t bad enough, the authors try to show that Alex is not accepted by her peer group by showing some less than real conversations where poor Alex gets made fun of because she’s supposedly fat  and wears her hair in dreads.   Let’s just say this doesn’t work, these conversations don’t make me feel sorry for Alex especially with the way she reacts to them which is sort of bratty and immature.  However, as much as I didn’t like Alex during the first half of the book she was even worst post her instant makeover–which include instant pretty hair and size zero Barbie body.  At least, the second half of the book went faster than the first.  Though that didn’t mean the book was any better since it was terribly rushed.  Seriously, it was just as if the authors slapped the last hundred or so pages together.

Best Feature: Interesting plot.  For what it’s worth, The Magnolia League, had a very interesting premises  though it ended up falling flat on it’s face which is really sad.

Worst Feature: Unrealistic characters.  Sure, we might occasionally have a main character who’s a vampire, or who has psychic powers, or is an undiscovered princess of a small European principality–all such things that do not  occur in regular life– but despite this these characters seem like real people.  Alex, her friend and family, they just seem like caricatures  at best.  I honestly wonder if this book was intended to be a parody of sorts.  It would explain so much.

Blockbuster Worthy: With major revisions by a screen writer-maybe.  This is one of those book where I’m 100% sure a movie would be better than a book especially if the movie deviated heavily from the book.  I’m sure a smart, sassy, and savvy screenwriter could fix up the Magnolia League in no time.  Well, hopefully it would be a pretty tough job.  Here’s my cast:

Alex: Demi Lovato.  I’ve never seen any of her work, due to my disdain of the Disney Channel, but I sort of pictured Alex looking like Demi before her hooddoo induced makeover.

Reggie: For some reason I picture Andy Samberg.  I don’t know why.  Okay, maybe I do.

Ms. Lee:  Courteney Cox.  Yes, I know I want Courteney Cox to play a grandma.  There’s no way that Monica could play grandma.  But when Grandma is supposed to look thirty-eight, then I say Courtney could very well do the role.  At least, that’s who I picture her looking like.

Thaddeus:  Chord Overstreet.  His character on Glee pretty much sums up Thaddeus blonde, bland, and pretty on the eyes.

Overall Rating: Two out of ten magnolias.

When You Wish: Kristen Harmel

 When I got ready to go to Ireland I grabbed a few books that were on the bargain bin at my local bookstore to read while I was traveling and When You Wish was one of them and  it was an unexpected treat.

General Summary: Super star Star Beck has had her fill of fame and fortune. After hearing some news about her long lost father, she decides to give it up and with a bad hair cut, a little hair dye, some Clark Kent glasses, and a cool ride, she finds herself leaving her Hollywood life goodbye and saying hello to the average life of a teenage girl.  Of course, mayhap occurs.

Review: This was a cute little book.  It was nothing extraordinarily special, but it definietly made my train ride to Waterford go by faster.  I should just say that this wasn’t the first book that I read by Kristen Harmel, but it’s the first YA book I’ve read of hers.   Harmel has a very relatable and likable voice that translates into YA lit very nicely.

Best Feature: Hollywood with substance.  There are lots of Hollywood-ish YA books out there.  And I have to admit I’m sort of a junky for them.  I blame it on all the Entertainment Tonight viewing I did as a kid.  That and  People Magazine– which Ms. Harmel just happens to work at.  However, unlike a lot of the YA Hollywood themed books today, this one has substance and isn’t pure fluff.  At the heart of it, Star is a teen whose dealing with her own problems-hello, mommy and daddy issues- and I thought that was a nice touch to the book.

Worst Feature: Naive Characters.  Although, charming, I expected Star to be a little more worldly than she was.  Though I can’t blame her.  She does have sort of a crazy controlling stage momma after all.  And if she wasn’t so naive, then there wouldn’t have been a book about her.

Blockbuster Worthy: Oh yes, definitely.  This book would easily translate to film easily.  I easily see it on ABC Family or Disney Channel.  It has that ultimate cuteness factor to it that those channels love.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Star: Miley Cyrus.  Though I’m not much of a fan, I think Miley would be the perfect Star.  She can sing and Ms. Hannah Montana obviously isn’t afraid to wear a wig either.

Nick:  Hmmm, since I get a very Disney-ish vibe from this book I’m going to suggest one of the Jonas Brothers- yeah, I know, but I have my reasons.  I think one of the Jonas bros, you can pick which one, would actually do very well in this role and there’s  no singing in the book-save for Star, so I could potentially watch one of them in this movie without hurling.

Overall Rating: Six out of Ten stars.