Hades: Alexandra Adornetto

Other reviews have mentioned it, but I will say it again Hades is not hell.  Hades is the Greek god of the underworld, Adornetto.  Jesus, do a Google search.

 

I hated Halo and I vowed to stay away from any of the sequels it spawned.  But Hades was just sitting there on my library’s shelf laughing at me.  Plus, I think part of becoming a good writer is occasionally reading a shit book and Hades easily filled in that category for me.

General Summary: Bethany is stupid enough to get on a motorcycle with Jake Thorn and end up in hell. The rest of the book is about her moping/some weirdo version of the Persephone myth that makes me want to punch someone due to Bethany’s twisted values.

Review:

Let’s start off by being nice.  Because it’s always good to be nice right?  Unlike Halo. Hades actually had a plot.  Sort of.  Things actually happen in Hades.  Grant it, the plot is still pretty flimsy but it’s there.

Okay, now that’s the only good thing I have to say about this piece of shit.  I have read a lot of awful books in the day, but nothing has offended me quite like Hades (at least as of recently).  It not only suffers from awful characterization, pacing, plot holes, poor writing, but it offended me several times personally as well due to the arcane values it preaches.

Let’s start talking about the plot.  As I said we actually have one here but it is paced horribly.  This book could’ve easily been at least a hundred and fifty pages shorter.  Adornetto tends to over describe (even bit characters are described to a T) and when things actually did happen they happened so rapidly I felt like I had whiplash.   Plus, did I mention that it seems like all the conflicts in this book are resolved ridiculously easy with little to no struggle.  This would be one thing if Adornetto didn’t spend three hundred pages telling the audience how impossible it would be for Gabriel and the gang to get Bethie out of hell.

Speaking of Gabriel and the gang, they’re insufferable as ever.  There was little character development in this installment.  Even moments where Adornetto could’ve easily done some character exploration-with the whole Molly crush on Gabriel scene- she didn’t.  I thought, hmm, this is a place where maybe Bethany can think about her poor decision making.  But nope, Adornetto just uses this place to reconfirm the obvious: that Bethany is a special snowflake.

Let me be frank authors, no one likes reading about a special snowflake.  No one.  Good characters have flaws.  Take some of my favorite characters in YA literature: Mimi Force, Mia Thermopolis, and Maggie Quinn.  All these girls are screwed up a little bit.  Mimi can be a bitch, Mia can be neurotic, and Maggie can be stubborn as hell.  And the rest of the characters of the book note this and you know what….I like these characters a lot better than Bethany.  This really was a moment for you to make your character, who isn’t very likable despite what you think, seem a little bit more relatable.  Maybe if Bethany was a little bit more realtiable I wouldn’t be rooting for Big Daddy to roast her.

Yeah, Big Daddy did I mention that’s what they call freaking Lucifer.  I kid you not.  I kept thinking of that character in Cat on the Hot Tin Roof played by Burl Ives until Adornetto described the big bad as looking like Colonel Sanders.  I kid you not.

Oh, and how can one forget about the inconsistencies with the plot.  Remember how poor wittle Bethie was a vegetarian in the first book…well, she is no longer anymore.  She likes ribs because Xavier (excuse me huggie bear) likes them.
Essentially her likes and dislikes are based on his.
No, but we’re constantly told indiscreetly by Adornetto that being codependent on each other in a relationship is healthy.  Even though Cosmo and other reasonable people would disagree.
Ah, codependency it’s what my parents always wanted for me to be dependent on someone else and have no views of my own…not.
But it’s twue love you might say
Individuality is important in a relationship. Having no separation whatsoever can twist a relationship into becoming unhealthy.  And it wasn’t only that codependency was being celebrated in the book that bothered me, but the fact that the book told us what sort of love was real and what sort of love wasn’t real.
To put it simply one of the characters has a unrequited crush on another character in the book.   And we are told that, that love that that character feels isn’t real.
What sort of bull shit is that?
I get that unrequited love isn’t shared between both parties, but that doesn’t change ones feelings for the other.  Look at Lily and Snape in the Harry Potter series if you need any further example about how powerful unrequited love can be.
It wasn’t only the talk about love that bothered me.  There were subliminal messages that Adornetto put in her writing that offended me from a religious purpose as well.  Specifically, there was a priest in hell performing a demonic ceremony, whose name was Father Benedict, who was put there because he failed to protect the innocent.
We can all see what Adornetto is alluding to.  The Catholic sex scandals.  And honestly, when I read this part I wanted to hurt someone.  I am a Catholic.  I usually only go to mass a few times of the year, but I’m still Catholic and this sort of trash offends me.  Let me explain, what happened in the church was deplorable and I think it needs to be talked about, but to be discussed in a YA book like this?  No, just no.  Furthermore, was it really necessary of Adornetto to name the priest Benedict when the pope’s name is Benedict as well.  Really?  What did she think she was accomplishing with that other than offending a large group of people.  The situation with the scandals itself is a complicated one that I really thought was handled quite tastelessly here being scuffed over in a couple of paragraphs.  Maybe I am overreacting, but I think such delicate issues should be handled with care.
This also goes into probably my biggest beef with the book how women and sex are handled which I’ll talk about briefly here.  Not only are the views that Bethany preaches arcane and limited, a lot of them are backwards.  I will be disgusting my feelings about this more in the worst feature part of the review.
Look, I get that Ms. Adornetto is young, but it’s really no excuse.  She is a published author.  Not a self published author who doesn’t have resources available to her to help with the editing process of this book.  But an author with an actual publishing house who is backing her who can supply her with editors to help refine her work. This book really should’ve been written better.  It really shouldn’t have been published.  I have read fan fictions that read better than this book.  That are not offensive as this book.  I feel like even if this book went through a couple more drafts it could’ve been slightly more tolerable.  But no, it’s clear that her publisher only has one thing in mind….

Best Feature: Are you fucking kidding me?  There was no redeemable feature about this book.  I didn’t even care for the cover as much I cared for it’s predecessor.  I mean, look at that girl’s neck on the motorcycle. It looks ridiculously thin.  And the wings that looked so beautiful on the Halo cover look very costume shop like here.  So yeah, nothing, nothing was good about this book I didn’t like one aspect at all about it.

Worst Feature: What about everything…Okay, if I was going to pinpoint what my biggest pet peeve is with this book is the twisted values it preaches.  I don’t like preachy books in the first place.  But it’s one thing when the values are actually something you can sort of agree with.  In Hades though, I wanted to slap Bethany silly many times for the things she talked about.  Let’s talk about how women are treated in general in this book.  Bethany is almost raped in the book until the calvary comes and rescues her.  Xavier is about to throw a temper tantrum too until Gabriel explains that Bethie was being duped by Jake….

Um…I don’t have words.  The point is a character was almost raped.  This should have been handled more delicately and there should’ve been some psychological side effects attached as well.  Like trust issues.  But nope, five pages down the road.  Bethie decides to be Xavier’s teenage bride.

It’s not only sexual assault or attempted sexual assault that is handled so tastelessly in this book.  It is the nature of sex itself.  People have sex for numerous reasons.  I didn’t like being told by Bethie it’s purpose was purely to have children.  And yeah, sex can result in pregnancy.  But conceiving children isn’t the only purpose of sex, as the contraception industry would tell you.  I also just loved how sex was referred to by Beth and Jake.  Let me just tell you how much I hate the term “make love” by a demon who is preparing to rape his kidnap victim.

No.  Rape isn’t making love.  Rape is rape.  It is a violation of ones body.  It is usually act of power by some asshole-in this case Jake- who has decided to violate ones personal space in the worse of ways by having coitus.  Equating it to making love is atrocious.

It’s not just sex and rape that are handled deplorably as well.  Morals are also handled horribly.  Many of the people who are in hell shouldn’t be in hell.  They’re not evil people.  They made mistakes.  If Adornetto truly done her research on Christianity she would know that there is a place called purgatory.  Where people who have committed sin, but aren’t totally sadistically evil go before they’re allowed in heaven.  Having people who are in hell from merely sinning from omission is the biggest load of bull shit I ever heard.  Christ is suppose to be a merciful figure, I don’t think he would send children who have sinned a bit but aren’t evil to the likes of serial killers and murders to hell just because they failed to report something to the authorities or whatever.  Is Though Shall Report/ or Though Shall not be Indirectly Responsible a commandment let alone a mortal sin, I think not.

Adornetto there’s a place in the middle called purgatory you could’ve just ran a search on Google for it, girl.

Appropriateness:  Once again, this is a book that tries to present itself as being squeaky clean but I wouldn’t let my preteen near it with an eighteen foot pole.  The values it preaches are awful.  Despite Bethany’s stanch to not drinking and cuss, there is drinking and cussing in the book.  As I stated before there’s lots of sex talk in this book and I don’t like the way the author approaches it.

Overall Rating: No wings.  None.  I’m not giving this book even the dignity of getting one angel wing.  It offended me on so many levels as a woman, as a Catholic, and as a member of the human race in general.  Am I planning on reading Heaven?  Not if I have to pay for it, but if I’m in the mood to be snarky and I can get it for free like I got Hades then why not?    It would be interesting how all this shit gets solved.

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Serpent’s Kiss: Melissa de la Cruz

Gorgeous cover as usual.

Melissa de la Cruz is one of my favorite authors, I probably mentioned that a thousand times.  However, even the best of the best can have a bad day.

General Summary: Everything is all hunky dory in North Hampton or is it?  Soon enough the Beauchamp women-and men- find themselves dealing with a great evil and wait for it….pixies.

Review:
I feel like I just found out that Santa Claus isn’t real and that the Easter Bunny got ran over by a semi.
Yep, that should tell you how disappointed I was with this book.  Melissa de la Cruz has published some great books.  The Blue Bloods series, for example, just awesome.  Grant it, I do understand why people have grown annoyed with them recently, but I do think the last installment was a definite improvement over book five.   But this book, this book….
Oh dear lord, it read like one of those House of Night books with some Jar Jar Binks and Charmed thrown in.  And okay, I do like Charmed, but this book isn’t like when Charmed was good and Phoebe was with Cole not that freaky  cupid guy and…okay, I am babbling.
 
Let’s discuss the problems with this book.   Probably my biggest problem with this book was the characterization.  Let me be honest, in the first book I was really found of one only one of three leads (Ingrid).  In  this book I don’t even like Ingrid anymore.  To put it simply, there is some annoying business about Ingrid being a virgin that was used as some weird form of comic relief.
Then there’s Freya.  A character who I’m suppose to like even though my introduction to her was her cheating on her fiance.  But I’m forgetting that she was really suppose to be with her fiance’s brother so that’s okay too.  Besides, Freya there’s her mother Joanna who is suppose to be the most mature/mother character out them all.  In the first book I found her to be boring.  In this book, she was a little bit more interesting, but that doesn’t mean I like her.  I found a lot of the things she did immature and I honestly wanted to slap her a couple of time.  But she was nowhere near as annoying as her son….

Oh, Freddie.  You give dumb asses bad names.  This is a character that is supposed to be a god.  A god who was in limbo for thousands of years and yet is tricked by a weaker god into signing a contract in blood because-hey, that’s how contracts are become a legal enforceable document.  Phh, who ever heard of consideration…

It’s not just his sheer stupidity when it comes to contracts that makes Freddie a virtual idiot.  Take the fact that he was obsessing over a girl for most the novel and then he finds out, well, that there are complications.  And he just gets over it within the span of five pages-obviously, he has not read New Moon.
Pacing in general was a huge issue with the novel.  I think it not only negatively effected character development, but the story itself.  Things dragged throughout most of the book and when they happened, it honestly felt like the book was on acid.  This probably wasn’t helped much either since the pixies (who played a relatively major role in this book) reminded me of Jar Jar Binks.
So, with a plot that just dragged and then dramatic things sudden happened and issues were suddenly resolved, it was really hard to just get into the story and explore what sort of things could’ve been offered in this book.
Best Feature: Norse Mythology: Norse myths are interesting and I don’t know a lot about them.  Even after reading two of these books.  I’m still stating that this is probably the books best feature because it really does make the book unique.  But honestly, I probably found out more about Norse mythology from the Thor movie than I did these books.  Names and certain aspects of the Norse world are merely skimmed over.  Unlike the Blue Bloods series where de la Cruz excels at world building, this series leaves me confused.  I just think there were many moments where de la Cruz could’ve expanded the world building in this book and she just didn’t.
Worst Feature: Characterization:  Horrible.  Just horrible. One of the best things about the Blue Bloods series is it’s characters.  Although, Schuyler has a tendency to be a little perfect, de la Cruz does make her heroine have faults.  And then there’s Mimi who I think has to be one of the best and most bitchy characters in YA.  The same goes with the romantic leads in these books.  But in Witches…the characters don’t have any internal logic.   Freddie just makes a lot of plain stupid decisions, as does the rest of the cast.   Plus, as I said before most of the cast is not likable.  This might be in part because some characters who I want to know more about, like Killian, are pushed to the back-burner unless Melissa wants to throw in a raunchy sex scene in a greenhouse.
Appropriateness: This is an adult book and it really should only be read by adults or older teens.  There are some pretty raunchy moments.  Though the sex scenes aren’t explicit, the way they are handled just sort of has me shaking my head.  There’s some cursing in the book too and some drinking as well.
Blockbuster Worthy: Probably not at the moment.  The extraordinary amount of cheese in this novel, made what was sort of interesting plot smell foul.  In fact, I often felt like I was watching a bad episode of Charmed when reading this book.  Nevertheless, I will cast some more of the roles.
Killian: Matt Bomer.  If there’s anyone who can play Freya’s pretty face boyfriend it’s Matt.  Just look at that face.
Matt: Jeffery Donovan.  He plays a spy on TV so I don’t think it would be that hard for him to play a cop.  Plus, in order to be successful this series needs all the eye candy it can get.
Freddie: I figured even if Freddie was an idiot if this series every did make it to television/movie medium I needed a hot face to dull out the pain.  And Taylor Kitsh would easily do that for me.
Overall Rating: I am giving this book four out of ten broomsticks.  I could’ve given it a lower rating and I was tempted too.  However, despite the cheese and bad characterization, there could be potential for this series.  Grant it, Melissa is going to have to work her butt off for me to actually like this series.

Dumb Asses in YA

There are lots of dumb asses. The Nostalgia Critic has made a brilliant video of  dumb asses in movies .  However, dumb asses are not only limited to film.  They also exist in YA lit.  And therefore, I think I the duty and displeasure to discuss some of them.


1) Bethany Church from Halo by Alexandra Adornetto: Bethany Church can perform miracles.  She actually makes me like Bella Swan.  I know…  In the history of YA lit though, or at least the YA lit I’ve read, there has not been a character that is as big as a  sanctimonious bitch as Bethie is.  My hatred for her has not dwindled even after months of finishing the book.  There is nothing likable about Bethany and I guess that’s sort of sad considering that she’s an angel and I’m supposed to like angels. I mean, it’s sacrilegious not to like angels right,  but I can’t.  I just can’t.  Bethany has just grated on my nerves to the point of no return.  First she constantly reprimands the use of technology, and I love my Mac so that’s not going to get us to be pals.  And okay, I know that technology has caused some problems in the world, but without technology a lot of good things (like medicine) would cease to exist.  So stop with that shit Bethie. And while you’re at it, stop acting like every kid who wears black is going to hell.  It makes you sound like you’re the prep form of  Tara Gilesbie

I’ve stopped ringing bells thanks to Bethany.

2) Nora Grey from The Hush Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick: Oh, Nora Grey (a.k.a. the girl who thinks it’s okay to date your attempted murderer).  Do we even have to discuss how epically dumb this is?  However, I think maybe Nora can’t help the fact that she’s so dumb.  There’s so many dumb things about her world.  Like the fact that divine powers decided to make said attempted murderer her guardian angel and then there’s that annoying friend of hers…..


3) Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: Clary Fray think she’s a bad ass, not a dumb ass  But let’s get real here, she’s as dumb as a box as rocks.  Being impulsive is one thing, but being a virtual idiot with no impulse control is another.  I think one of the biggest pet peeves I had with the Mortal Instruments series was her lack of impulse control.  It makes the other  problems in the book look miniscule.  God, do I really want to shake her multiple times throughout the reading of the series.  Stop and think and a lot of the shit that happens in the series wouldn’t have happened.  Plus, I honestly don’t get why Clary continued to find Jace attractive when she thought he was her brother.  


4) Grace Brisbane from The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series by Maggie Stiefvater: Grace reminded me a lot of Bella Swan save for the fact that she chose Jacob rather than Edward, though it should be noted that there are no vampires in this series.  My big problem with Grace is that she trusts everything that Sam tells her without a second thought and then invites him to be roommates with her.  Okay, so this is a very common problem in YA paranormals.  But it really, really, really, annoys me.  Plus, did I mention Grace has “special” feelings when it comes to wolves.  The impression I got from it wasn’t so much dumb as it was disturbing.  




5) Zoey Redbird from The House of Night Series by PC and Kristin Cast : Ugh, Zoey Redbird.  I’m not even going to discuss that name which sounds more hippie dippy than  Cherokee .  Zoey is everything I hate about YA characters.  She’s essentially a Mary Sue that got published who like Bethie is a self righteous twit.  I understand that  when you tell a story in first person characters are going to be bitchy since a lot of the story is their inward monologue.  But people like Zoey, they’re just really horrible people.  Plus, she can’t keep her pants on.  Every boy on campus, save for her token gay best friend, seem to fall in love with her.  Just gag me now.

6) America Singer from The Selection by Kiera Cass: I was tempted not to put her on the list since somehow this book always seems to end up on my pet peeve lists.  But I think The Selection is sort of like Twilight, it just embodies everything I hate including dumb ass main characters.  And yes, America, you are a dumb ass.  You enter into a competition just because your asshole boyfriend tells you to and then he breaks up with you…for what being nice?  So after you whine about this for awhile, you find yourself confiding with the prince and spilling all your little secrets.  America, did it ever occur to you that if you tell Maxon something he doesn’t like this might happen?

7) Alexandria Lee from The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch: Oh, where do I start.  Alex is a piece of work.  First, something I just have to say in all caps: SIZE SIX IS NOT FAT!  Yep, Alex keeps harping about how morbidly obese she is just because she’s a six.  It also doesn’t help that the rest of the morons in the book tell her the same thing.  No, being a six doesn’t mean you have puppy fat.  In fact, a six is below average.  An average American woman wears a size fourteen.  Size issues aside, Alex is obnoxious is so many ways.  Throughout half of the book she talks about how fabulous her boyfriend Reggie is-he’s not he’s just a pothead who calls her Pudge.  Oh, what an endearing nickname.  It doesn’t help that said boyfriend and Alex live on a pot commune that’s just so great because it doesn’t follow the man.  Also, don’t you know, having a grandma who tries to help you fit in and buys you a car-yes, a freaking car- is bad.  But living on a pot commune that’s the sort of life to live.  Give me a break.  

Yeah, Cartman.  I agree.

8) Ginny Weasley from The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling: I might love Harry Potter, but I can’t stand Ginny.  I’m sorry.  And it’s not that Ginny is a bad character.  It’s just that…well, I really do think Harry and Hermione would’ve gone better together and the idea of one big happy Weasley family together just bothers me.  But that’s irrelevant to this discussion.   The point I’m trying to make is that  Ginny isn’t a very bright character. Especially in the second book.  I mean, the girl’s a pureblood she grew up in the magical world, she should know better than to write in mysterious journals that write back.  However, maybe it’s because  she’s a pureblood that she doesn’t grasp the stupidity of her situation.  I’m sure any muggle born who has watched Lifetime television knows the importance of having face to face relationships.  Otherwise, your lover may be doing ten to twenty in  Azkaban.

Essentially change the title to The Boy She Met in the Diary and you have the Ginny Weasley story.

9) Bryn Clare from Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: While I liked a lot of things about Bryn, she is a dumb ass.  Her impulsiveness almost borders on the stupidity levels of Clary Fray and it doesn’t help that she thinks she deserves to be beaten because that’s just pack mentality.  Bryn, honey, you’re not a wolf.  Therefore, I don’t think pack mentality applies to you.  Plus, I think I remember hearing something on the Dog Whisperer  how aggressiveness does not equal a pack leader.  Perhaps, it’s time to submit Callum to Cesar.

10) Kate Winters from The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter: I’ll admit it, I thought Kate had potential.  But she turns into this angry jealous banshee in the second book of the series.  And then there are her decisions that leave a rather painful cliffhanger at the end of this book.  When will YA heroines ever learn to use…for spoiler purposes I won’t go any further.  The point is, Kate is a character who regressed.  She had potential, but once she got with her YA Love she turned into a Bella Swan in multiple ways.  Plus, is it really necessary to be that mean to your own sister?

Hey, Kate it’s not your sister’s fault your husband’s an asshat.

Well, these are the dumb asses I decided to feature.  Believe me I could continue, but instead I’m going to end it here.  Feel free to comment on any dumb asses I failed to mention or if you agree or disagree with my picks.

Trend Spotlights: Hooray for Hollywood Part III: Girl in the Picture by Melissa de la Cruz

I think Melissa de la Cruz is the queen of high couture YA fiction.  I always feel like I’m stepping into a life of luxury when I read her books.  Girl in the Picture was no exception.

General Summary: Devon, Casey, and Livia are all in France.  Each participating in someway to the movie, Juicy.  Devon is the star of the show, Livia is the producer’s daughter, and Casey is Devon’s costar’s assistant.  However, things aren’t peachy on the set of Juicy and of course the book deals with this distress.
Review:
Be forewarned if you don’t like light reads you’ll probably not like this book.
And okay, there is some substance to this book.  There are little mysteries here and there, but the book in essence is about a summer in France.  On a movie set, no less.  But still, it’s about living it up in France.  Which I love, but others might not like.
In typical de la Cruz style the novel revolves around three protagonists.  I can’t complain about any of them.  Each of them were unique in their own way.  Okay, so maybe I did want some more of Devon’s backstory.  But I thought…well, that’s what sequels are for right?  Well, yes but this book isn’t going to have a sequel…it was but….it’s complicated.
As for the plot itself it’s pretty simplistic.  I often wonder if de la Cruz wrote this book in her sleep.  Writing about glamorous people is obviously her forte.  But Melissa is better than this book.  If you’ve read her Blue Bloods books, you know that plotting is one of her specialties as well.  And while there is a plot to this book, it’s a bit of a snooze fest to the very end where things pick up.
Best Feature: St. Tropez: Have I mentioned that I want to go to France?  All kidding aside, I would’ve gone there to study abroad if it had been an opiton.  It’s essentially the perfect place to set a book, see Anna and the French Kiss.  However, I have to say I am really happy that Melissa decided to set Girl in the Picture  in St. Tropez rather than Paris.  It sort of gave a different look at the country.  And I will have to say with Melissa’s writing I felt like I got to experience France when in fact I haven’t.
Worst Feature: Cliffhanger Ending: Usually I like cliffhangers, but in this book you’re never going to find out what happens to these girls unless you read Melissa’s FAQ’s.  The series got canceled because Melissa decided to focus her energies on other projects.  And I guess I can appreciate that.  I’d rather have one good book with an unresolved ending then a bunch of sequels that were quite shitty.  But still, things were just starting to get juicy…..
Appropriateness: There is some cursing in this book, teenage drinking and drug use are seen and discussed.  Additionally there are some sex scenes and sexual related material that happens in this book.  It’s definitely not for younger teens.
Blockbuster Worthy:
Devon: I don’t think there’s an actress fabulous to handle Devon.  I almost, almost suggested Lindsay Lohan-only because of the addiction issues.  But no, just no.  Devon is better than that.  Plus, she’s biracial (yeah, for diversity in YA books).  So, I don’t know who could pull off this amazing character except for maybe the girl on the cover.
Casey:AnnaSophia Robb:  I know, I casted her for The Cinderella Society recently, but here’s a role I think she would be even more suited for.  Casey is suppose to be this innocent character and I think Robb has the look.
Livia: Lindsey Morgan sort of looks like I imagine Livia.  So, yeah, I’m casting her.
Hollywood Analysis

 

Social Issues: Topics such as the price of stardom, addiction issues, fame whores, and the pressures of fame are discussed in this book.
The Rich and the Glamorous: If anything, exploring the lives of rich people is Melissa’s forte.  With this book, you really got to see what being a star is about.  The pros and the cons.  There are some amazing parties in the book and there are some rather awful days on set.  Plus, did I mention that this book has it’s very own stylist.  Yes, Mao you entertained me much more than Tim Gunn does.
Star Power: The book takes place in third person and follows around three girls.  Only one of them is a star.  However, I will say that having three characters who have various positions in the entertainment industry makes for an interesting tale.  With Devon we see how stardom can affect a person for good and for bad.  I really enjoyed her point of view in the novel because Devon wasn’t a goody goody YA celebrity-a la Kaitlin Burke– or for that matter a Hollywood YA bad girl like Morgan Carter.  The other POVs were interesting as well.  I liked seeing how a daughter of a mega rich producer life would be, as well as the life of an assistant.
Makeover Montage: There’s no Pretty Woman  or even Princess Diaries  moment in this book.  However, Casey does have a nice shopping experience at Cavalli.
Hollywood Hurrah: Even though this book didn’t actually take place in Hollywood, I felt like I felt like I was experiencing Hollywood culture.  Melissa has talent in making a reader feel like they are actually there, experiencing what the characters in her book are going through.  And that takes talent.
Overall Rating: I really liked this book.  It wasn’t great literature by any means, but it did make for a pleasant summer read so I’m giving it seven out of ten seashells.

The Cinderella Society: Kay Cassidy

First Impressions: We’re in for a very pink and fluffy drive.

There are some books I just have to give second chances too.  The Cinderella Society  is one of them.  I think the book has an extraordinary message, but I just couldn’t finish it the first time around.  Something about it just didn’t engage me.  When cleaning out my bookshelf the other week I found it sitting there collecting dust and decided to give it one more chance.  So let’s see was it better the second time around….

General Summary: Jess Parker is a new girl who is incessantly tortured by her classmates, until one day she is invited to become a member of the exclusive group of girls called The Cindys.  Once a Cindy, Jess finds the world opening up to her.  However, being a Cindy isn’t all fun and games as it seems especially because of the Wickeds.

Review:

If there was any book I wanted to like this was it.  It had a powerful message about girl empowerment and anti-bullying.  However, this book just didn’t work for me.

There were many problems with this book.  I guess to get down with the nitty gritty of it I’ll start talking about the plot in general and pacing.  Essentially Jess is invited into this ultra secret society of powerful women, a.k.a. the Cindys.  And we learn that there is an ongoing battle between them and another ultra secret society of powerful women who favor the color black too much, the Wickeds.  Interesting set up, it has a lot of potential.  However, there were far too many plot holes for the story.

Right now a lot of fan girls are probably telling me that the book is fiction and I should just let go of my sense of logic. Alright, let me just say that I understand that it’s fiction but in order for a fictional world to work there has to be some sort of logic to that world.  Why else do you think that world building is a big issue in fantasies?   In this book though there is no logic to the Cindys or anything really.

Like Jess?  Though the Cindys state their reasons for choosing her of all people to join their little club.  I just don’t see what they see. Jess is  a weak character-I’ll go more into that in a later part of my review-and I really didn’t see anything that special about her.  Plus,  from what I saw at the beginning of the novel the Cindys really didn’t do anything except giving their characters makeovers and getting Tyra Banks (okay, a Tyra wannabe who now runs a coffee shop) to spy for them.

Did I mention how many supposedly famous people are in this book?

It’s ridiculous.  We have a supermodel turned barista, as well as a couple of celebrity spawns, and the book takes place in small town Georgia.

Georgia is known for peaches, not celebrities.

Okay, it’s one thing to have maybe one famous person turning up in this small town, but more than one? It just doesn’t make sense. Neither does having an exclusive salon either.  If you want all these things in your setting, then place your book in a bigger city.  While I would still have qualms about all these celebrities living outside of LA or New York City, it would actually make a lot more sense if this book took place in Georgia if it took place in Atlanta or Savannah not the freaking suburbs.

Besides this plot hole, I was also sort of confused by the Cindys themselves.  They are suppose to be the protectors of the normal kids, but they don’t do jack shit to help Jess when she’s normal.  She is tortured endlessly and is isolated because of a Wicked at the beginning of the book.  Ignored by the Cindys until she’s magically invited to their slumber party and inducted into their secret society.  Okay, being a victim of bullies for most of my life, I know that one of the biggest weapons they have against a person is isolation.  When you isolate someone they feel helpless.  They have no one to turn to and that’s when bullies often win.  So essentially ignoring a girl for the first several months she lives in town while she gets tortured  is not protecting said character.  It’s actually enhancing the bullying.  So Cindys, my first impression of you was not very good at all.

It probably didn’t help matters that their was about sixty pages or so of the book just focused on Jess’s makeover.  Look, I get that looking good helps you feel good.  But I really wish that there wouldn’t have been as much as an emphasis on this aspect as there was.  It bogged down the book.  In fact, I often felt like I was reading a self help book about appearances rather than a YA novel.  The book seemed to go nowhere and I lost interest not only once but twice.

As for the characters.  Generic names were used so I often forgot who was who.  Jess goes from having no friends to being essentially a member of an exclusive high school sorority full of several girls who I instantly forget about because no time is spent developing their characters so I didn’t know Gaby from Gwen or whoever.  Even the love interest is sort of forgettable.  All I know is he’s your typical YA love interest who doesn’t appear to notice the main character and is always attached to some blonde, but halfway through the book after she becomes “hot” he’ll notice her and he’ll say he’s always liked her.  Yeah….I was not impressed.  Plus, it didn’t help matters that Jess only liked Ryan because he had a jaw like Jake Gyllenhaal.

 

As for Jess herself.  She was just sort of meh….She wasn’t offensive.  I’ve read books with characters who are far more obnoxious than her.  I just didn’t like her.  I thought she was weak and a bit shallow.  And yeah, most teenage girls are weak and somewhat shallow to an extent, but I didn’t really see any substance with Jess.  I also found it hard to believe that a girl who moves around so much would always be in cheerleading.  It’s not that I don’t doubt Jess’s skill as a cheerleader, I was just always under the assumption that a good portion of being a good cheerleader was knowing your community and being able to interact on a social level with your teammates.  Jess who has moved around constantly and who admits to not having much social interaction with anyone does not fit my definition of cheerleading. But hey what do I know I was only a band nerd….

Shakos the essential reason why being in band makes you a nerd.

Best Feature: Good Message.  I think this book has a great message, but honestly I often felt like this was being constantly slapped in my face.  Look, this might be a pet peeve of mine but I hate it when books with messages become message books.  What is a message book?  A book that clearly thinks I need to learn something from it.  Which is what this book does.  While I do appreciate what it’s trying to preach, I just don’t like the idea of being preached to in the first place.  I leaving preaching for, well, preachers.

Worst Feature: Lack of Plot.  Okay, so the book does have a plot but if takes forever to get to.  The first hundred pages or so are just an introduction to the Cindys and plans for the big makeover.  And while I do love makeover scenes as much as the next girl, I just don’t think that there needs to be that much buildup to said scenes.

Appropriateness: It’s pretty clean.  Alright, so there is some bullying in the book.  Pretty moronic bullying if I’m going to be honest about it, but when is bullying smart?

Blockbuster Worthy: Maybe a Disney Chanel movie of the week?  Honestly, I wouldn’t be too interested in seeing it either on the big or small screen, but I could see preteens enjoying it.

Jess: The main character’s name is Jessica Parker, so of course I thought about Sarah Jessica Parker whenever I read her name.  Naturally she can’t be played by SJP because of the thirty year age difference, but I have the next best thing AnnaSophia Robb who’s playing SJP Carrie in The Carrie Diaries on The CW this fall.

Ryan: Shia Labeouf: I know he doesn’t have Jake Gyllenhaal’s jaw, but I think Shia is pretty enough to make him one of those boys.

Lexy: Lea Michele.  What do I say, she’s has sung songs from Wicked.  Therefore, she’d be perfect to play a Wicked.

Overall Rating: Four out of ten slippers.  Look, I think this book has a great message.  I like that it talks about  anti-bullying/ female empowerment, but as much as I tried I couldn’t get into this book.  I even tried to give it a second chance, and still we were not meant to be.

Super YA Nanny: Bad Parents in YA

Like love triangles, bad parents are a predominant feature in YA books.  It’s understandable that hands off parents are going to be a norm in the genre because many of the conflicts that exist in YA could be resolved by mere parent intervention.  However, sometimes hands off parenting goes a little too far.

Meet your YA bad parent mascot: Charlie Swan.  You  all saw this one coming.  He is probably the poster child of bad parents in YA fiction.  His daughter basically goes chaotic after her boyfriend ditches her and does nothing for months.  I had an interesting chat with a few friends recently about this.  While I suggested that it would’ve been helpful if Charlie enrolled Bella into therapy after her ordeal, others suggested that Charlie should’ve been questioning why Bella was in the woods in the first place (i.e. it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that Edward sexually assaulted her and then dumped her in the woods).  Good point.  Needless to say, if I were Charlie I would’ve not accepted the Edward/Bella reunion the way he did.  But then again, Charlie Swan is essentially a necessary prop in Meyer’s novel like many other YA parents/caretakers are.

Never fear though, bad YA parents, Super  YA Nanny is here.  She’ll get you back on track on how to parent. Or at least, she’ll make some suggestions on how these lackluster parental units can get back on track.

 

Like them or not, one thing people can agree about The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy is that the main character has some pretty awful parents.

The Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Brisbane: Self absorbed describes this couple perfectly.  They are absentee parents at best.  Mr. Brisbane even has a little bit of Charlie Swan going on with him

The Kid: Grace Brisbaine.  A girl who is obsessed with her  wolf.  We’re talking about a girl who is in love with an animal, no joke.  I seriously think Grace would make out with her wolf if she could and she sort of does later on in the book but that’s a long story….

What Super YA Nanny Suggests: Get your kid into therapy so that you can deal with any possible issues regarding bestiality.  Plus, get her pet cat so maybe she can focus on animals other than wolves.  Also, start paying more attention to her so won’t let random boys sleep in her room.

One of my big complaints-and others- with the Secrets of my Hollywood life is the parents.  If it wasn’t for them, I probably would’ve enjoyed the series much better.

The Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Burke: Typical Hollywood stage parents who mooch of their celebrity daughter and make feel like she has to support them.
The Kid: Kaitlin Burke: America’s sweetheart. Who finds herself often struggling between her career and college dreams.  It doesn’t help that her mom-ager is constantly pulling her one way while her friends are pulling her another.
What Super YA Nanny Suggests: Kaitlin should hire herself an outside manager and if that doesn’t work get herself emancipated and move out of her parents house.  Separation is key here for a healthy relationship.  Otherwise, Kaitlin will find herself attending rehab while her mother uses her fame to get a  reality TV show…oh, wait that’s another celebrity.

I wasn’t planning on featuring Blue Bloods again, but if Allegra Van Alen doesn’t qualify as a bad parent in YA lit then I don’t know who does.

The Parent:  Allegra Van Alen:   Allegra is a vampire socialite  who’s made some rather horrible choices and falls into a coma, leaving her mother to raise her kid.  It’s later revealed though that the coma wasn’t as involuntary as one might first believe.  Plus, as soon as Sleeping Beauty wakes up she ditches her kid with a one hell of a legacy.
 
The Kid: Schuyler Van Alen.  The product of Allegra’s illicit affair.  Allegra has basically been one of those hands off mothers leaving Schuyler to fend for herself.  It doesn’t help that Schuyler is also viewed as a pariah in the vampire community.
What Super YA Nanny Suggests: This relationship is toast.  If Allegra wanted to abandon her child it would less cruel if she would’ve found Schuyler loving parents and have her be adopted.

I love Meg Cabot to death, but I have to say Pierce’s parents suck.  This is actually sort of surprising since I love most of the parental features that Meg comes up with.

The Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Oliviera: You’re typical divorced couple, Mr. and Mrs. O are constantly fighting.  Although, unlike most divorce couples, I think Mr. and Mrs. O still have a thing for each other.
The Kid: Pierce Oliviera.  Pierce has had a lot of emotional turmoil in the past few years, girlfriend came back from the dead and now is dating the lord of the underworld.  Plus, it doesn’t help that her parents are constantly fighting and she’s moved.  It’s no wonder that she’s having issues.
 

 

What Super YA Nanny Suggests: Get over your own relationship melodrama and start focusing on your daughter.  Grant it, some of the melodrama could be enhanced by furies, but it’s not that difficult to see what is wrong here.  Mr. and Mrs. O obviously still have feelings for each other and both are stubborn people-hence they fight a lot and hence they neglect their daughter.  Some headway was made in Underworld  where the two of them seemed to stop throwing insults at each other when they thought Pierce was kidnapped, but there’s still some major work that needs to be done here.

There were many things I found to be throw up inducing about the selection.  One of them was parental behavior.

The Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Singer.  How would you like it if your mom pimped you out?  That’s what America’s mom does.  And grant it, she lives in a dystopia world where everyone wants to marry a prince.  But really would you try to pimp your daughter out to essentially a stranger?  Um, no.  Plus, you haven’t figured out your daughter’s been sneaking out for the past few months….seriously?
Mr. and Mrs. Singer, I’m sure you don’t dress like Pimp Dog.  Therefore, you have no right to pimp your daughter out.
The Kid: America Singer.  A Mary Sue in the making, I kid you not.  America is indecisive and somehow always ends up being right.  Also, did I mention that she’s incredibly beautiful…character issues aside, I think that America makes some really horrible choices in The Selection.  Choices that could’ve been permitted by some good parenting.
What Super YA Nanny Suggests: Pull America out of the contest, surely her parents still have some rights when it comes to her since she’s over eighteen-though knowing Cass’s weird world building Prince Maxon is now probably in charge of her life.   And try to teach her the importance of honesty.

Parents to Note:

It should be noted that while their are tons of horrible parents in YA there are a few good parents.  I’ve listed a few below.

Mr. and Mr. Nolan from Lola and the Boy Next Door: Lola’s parents try to stay involved in her life, even if that means forcing her and her deadbeat boyfriend to eat brunch with them every Sunday.  Plus, unlike most parents in YA Mr. and Mr. Nolan aren’t afraid to ground Lola when need be.

 

Ali from Raised by Wolves: I really admire Ali from pulling out her foster daughter from an abusive situation.  In this day and age abuse is often fluffed over in YA especially when it’s a paranormal, so kudos to you Ali.

Prince Phillip and Helen Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries: Princess Mia’s parents aren’t perfect, but they generally do try to take care of their daughter.  I think this is really shown in Princess Mia when Mia is sent to therapy for her depression.  Bravo Mia’s parents, unlike other parents who let their daughter just sit their for six months catatonic, you take action and that rocks (although, I definitely missed Mia’s Lifetime movie marathons after you took her TV out of her room).

Mr and Mrs. Weinstien from The Magic and Manhattan series.  While they have their faults, I do think the Weinstiens care for their daughter.  And while Mrs. Weinstien really should’ve informed her ex about her magic powers, it’s obvious that both parents do try to interact and care for their daughters.

Rachel Morgan from The Gallagher Girls.  Despite the fact that she’s letting her daughter become a spy, Rachel does try to care for her daughter.  Of course, that still doesn’t keep her disappearing for three months….but nobody’s perfect.

Raised by Wolves: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

As far as YA book covers go, this one isn’t that bad.  In fact, I’d say it’s rather decent.

I was impressed earlier this year when I read Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s Every Other Day.  The book took an interesting look on the paranormal which was one of the reasons I was excited about reading Raised by Wolves.  However, being a busy law student  it just sort of sat there until I decided to clean out my bookshelves recently.

General Summary: Bryn has been raised by wolves: seriously.  Although, she’s human Bryn still has to abide by pack rules-think cave men like behavior and values.  Of course, since she’s  a teenager she doesn’t want to follow these rules.  Especially when she spots a mysterious teenage boy who’s locked in a cage of all things.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book.  There are parts of it that come off very strong.  Barnes really does know how to create great paranormal worlds that feel realistic.  I think it’s because her approach to the paranormal is very scientific which makes sense given her  background.  The pack, odious as they are, do act like wolves (Note, I don’t know much about wolf behavior though other than what I learned from The Dog Whisperer).  However, I think maybe taking a more scientific approach with the wolf pact was a little less than desired….

Essentially my knowledge on wolves.  And who says TV isn’t educational?

Byn is beaten in the book because she doesn’t follow pack law.  This is a big no-no for me.  And I get the concept that alphas discipline  when the rest of the pack does not comply thanks to Cesar Millan, but I think having Bryn attacked the way she was, was just wrong.

While I understand that books need conflict, I really hated Bryn’s reaction to what happened to her.  Or for that matter, her not doing anything proactive to prevent it from happening.  She knew how the pack would act if she disobeyed, she acted way too impulsive in my opinion.  And yes, I know she’s a teenager, but teenagers can still think and *gasps* be cautious when need be.  What was even worse was the aftermath when she blamed herself for what happened and sort of grew a weird dependence on Chase.

Okay, it wasn’t that bad of a dependence as far as YA books go, but authors I’m pleading with you I hate the concept of mate, soul mate, imprint mate,  bond mate, etc. unless it’s done correctly. Meaning the character must have some element of choice.  Despite what some people think arranged relationships are not romantic even if there is supernatural/divine intervention.

Other than these few complaints, I really enjoyed the book.  Despite my problems with Bryn, I’ll admit that she’s no Mary Sue.   She has faults and she’s not too strong of a character or for that matter too weak.  I also liked her mom, Ali, as well.  She sets Bryn straight and is actually a proactive parent-which is something you don’t usually see in YA lit.


Best Feature: Mystery: There is a rather interesting mystery going on in this novel.  Unlike most werewolf books that focus primarily on the romance, this book actually has a plot.  So yay you book!

Worst Feature: Stockholm Syndrome: As I stated in my review, I wanted to slap Bryn for thinking that it was okay for anyone to mess around with her.  Seriously, Bryn.  Fight back.  Don’t be like that girl from that Lifetime movie.

Normally, I would applaud someone for having a pacifist attitude.  But dude, they are beating the shit out you.  Defend yourself.

Appropriateness: This book is pretty violent.  A teenage girl is beaten and it’s a sanctioned beating.  For that matter, the teenager’s mindset towards the abuse is a little demented.  There’s also some talk about people belonging to other people (i.e. they marked them to become their mates etc.) and that’s a little bothersome to me.

Blockbuster Worthy: It could be an interesting movie.  I mean, it would be a lot better than Twilight- whose werewolf mythology I still haven’t figured out since Stephenie Meyer keeps changing her mind in order for me to purchase that Twilight encyclopedia (Meyer, it’s not going to happen).

Bryn: India Eisley: I just see Bryn looking like this.  Shrugs.

Chase: Tom Sturridge: I’m sorry but he’s my go to guy when a character is suppose to be dark haired, blue eyed, and gorgeous.

Overall Rating: Six point five wolves?  It was really close to being a seven wolves review for me, but some of the values that Bryn grew up with just made me feel a little sick to my stomach.  I will give Barnes props for addressing that what Callum and the pack did to Bryn was wrong, but I couldn’t get past the fact that a part of Bryn thought she deserved her punishment and wanted to return to such a society.

Trend Spotlights: Hooray for Hollywood Part II: My Double Life by Janette Rallison

Is it just me or does the girl on the cover look a bit like Tori Spelling?  Plus, she doesn’t look half Latina at all.  Just saying…

General Summary: Alexia Garcia has always been told that she is a dead ringer for pop star, Kari Kingsley.  She’s such a dead ringer that Kari and her manager get this harebrained scheme to have Alexia be Kari’s double at little events, so that Kari can record her album and pay off her debts.  However, things don’t go as expected when Alexia falls in love with Kari’s arch-nemesis  and Alexia i has a secret of her own that when it gets out….

Review:

This was a really cute book.  It wasn’t really a deep read so much as a fluff read, but I really enjoyed it.

I think probably the biggest problem with it was the pacing.  Certain parts of the novel seemed to be dragged out while other parts were fluffed over.  I was really hoping that a certain plot point would’ve been revealed a lot earlier than it was, so that the aftermath would be explored more.

However, despite the pacing I did enjoy the book.  Alexia had a great voice, was a well rounded character, and I enjoyed how she grew as a character throughout the book.  While the book has a light tone to it, it does actually explore a lot of issues and that’s nice.    It’s honestly the best Rallison book I’ve read to date.

Best Feature: Diversity: I loved the fact that Alexia was half Latina.  In a genre that often feels like it lacks diversity, it was refreshing to have a character that was not Caucasian.  Be that as it may, I sometimes got a little annoyed with Rallison’s characterization of Alexia’s culture.  Take for instance, the use of Spanish in the novel.  While I loved the fact that she included Spanish throughout the book, I got a little annoyed at times because I thought things were overly translated.  For instance, Alexia tells the reader that grandmother means abuela.  I honestly think that context clues could’ve shown what the translation meant, so it seemed a little bit heavy handed.

For those of you wondering about context clues.

Worst Feature: Pay off: Alexia’s secret, which I won’t divulge, isn’t revealed to the last thirty or so pages of the book.  I really wish the big reveal would’ve taken place earlier or at the very least relationships between certain characters would’ve been explored more.

Appropriateness: This book is very sweet.  There is hardly anything inappropriate in it.  There is some talk about drug addiction in the book, but it is merely mentioned.  Also, there is talk about gambling and bad credit card debt, but it is handled tactfully.

Blockbuster Worthiness: Yes, this would be a cute movie.  I would probably watch it.  The book actually reminded me a lot of What a Girl Wants, so I know it would work.  Here’s who I’d cast.

Lexi/Kari: I’m thinking Vanessa Hudgens.  While originally I wanted to cast Selina Gomez, I think Vanessa has more of a Kari look to her.

Grant: Justin Beiber, ah no.  Actually when I think of Grant, I picture him looking a bit like Zac Efron.  And yes, I know you could arguably make a case that Zac is just as lame as Justin Beiber.  But unlike Justin Beiber, I think Zac was worthy of his screaming teen fans.

Alex Kingsley: Jack Wagner.  He sort of looks like the way Alex Kingsley is described and he is a signer.  But I find it interesting that his personal life reflects the book in a strange way.

Hollywood Analysis

Social Issues: Lots of social issues are explored in this book and not all of them involve Hollywood issues.  While Alexia’s reaction to fame is seen throughout the novel.  Her life itself is shaped by fame.  Not to give to many spoilers away, but a big reason who Alexia is who she is, is because of Hollywood.  It’s also interesting to see how Alexia is treated as celebrity vs. being an employee of a celebrity.

The Rich and the Glamorous: Yes, this book does describe celebrity lifestyle pretty well.  I also like the fact that it describe the role of the people behind the scenes.  In a way that was more interesting that Kari’s dysfunctional life that included Becky Bloomwood shopping habits.  Though the Becky Bloomwood-ness of this book is noted.

Star Power: Throughout the book Alexia learns what it’s like to be a celebrity: sort of.  I mean, she’s really a celebrity via poser.  But what I would like is to see what happened after her real identity was revealed.  Read the book and you’ll know what I mean.

Makeover Montage: There is a makeover scene in this book.  Alexia has to have her hair dyed so she can look like Kari after all.  And there is a Rodeo Drive shopping scene as well.  But is it an epic makeover scene…um, no.

Hollywood Hurrah:  I would say that yes this book gives a nice overview of Hollywood but I did want something more.

Sing it Belle, we want something more.

Overall Rating: I’m going to say seven out of ten Oscars.  While I read this book pretty much straight through it wasn’t particularly memorable which is sad because it could’ve been.  It had the potential, it just sort of fell flat.  I will definitely  be checking out Janette Rallison’s future books though.

Sisterhood Everlasting: Anne Brashares

Even the cover looks Nicholas Sparks-ish.

 

Nostalgia Moment: When I was a teen my favorite books were the “pants” books (a.k.a those books that were turned into movies with that girl from Gilmore Girls  and that other girl from Joan of Arcadia).

General Summary: Ever wondered what happened those girls from the sisterhood of the traveling pants books, besides the fact that Bridget is on Gossip Girl  and is dating Ryan Reynolds and neither Carmen, Tibby, or Lena have been seen since their respected shows got canceled.  Well have no fear, this book answers all these questions.  And then some when Brashares takes the sisterhood ten years into the future.

Review:

I’ll admit it, despite the fact that the logical part of my brain kept screaming that this was just an attempt to milk the already milked out cash cow, I couldn’t help but get my hands on this book as soon as I saw it JFK airport last year and finished it by the time I got to Ireland.   It also might have finished because I couldn’t stand are choices of in-flight movies (seriously, Just Go With It was the only quasi decent movie I watched on the plane ride and that’s saying something).

My ultimate relationship with this book was much like I was about it’s existence.  I had lots and lots of bones to pick with Brashares, but at the end of the day the nostalgic lover for these books in me loved this book.

The major issue I had with this one: a certain character’s death.

The character, who I won’t be naming for those who are weary of spoilers, was one of my favorites.  Having him/her die so early in the book was real mean of Brashares in my opinion.  I wanted some time with this character to at least say my own good byes to him/her, but Brashares didn’t give me that chance.  She pulled the plug so fast on this character that I was left gobsmacked.

After being frustrated about this throughout most of the book, I reflected on this.  And came to the conclusion that maybe  killing off the character the way Brashares did was the best decision she could’ve  made.

It sounds awful,  it really does.  And when I heard that this character died I was like fuck what a stupid plot device, but the thing is this particular plot device actually gave way to a very poignant story.  Okay, sure there were times I thought I was reading a Nicholas Sparks novel with the way I was wailing, but it really was a beautiful ending to the series.

 

I will mention though that I felt a lot of disconnect in this particular installment with the other books in the series.  While the character still contained core details, I sometimes  felt like I was reading about different characters.  Take the characterization of Carmen for instance.  While it’s still Carmen I’m reading about, it’s not.  Parts of her character seem to have been twisted and contorted I could say the same with Bee (whose character has seemed to devolve to what it was in the early books, for a good chunk of the book).

 

Best Feature: Closure.  If you were like me and still had many answers after Forever in Blue and didn’t like the fact that the whole Lena and Kostos thing was never resolved.  You’ll probably like this book.  Questions about who the characters end up with, what they’re doing with their lives will be answered.  While I did like the ending of Forever in Blue, I enjoyed this one.

Worst Feature: Character’s Death:  Once agian, I am not going to go into spoiler specifics,other than  I was upset that a certain character died and for that matter so early in the It really almost made me put down the book.  However, I am glad I continued reading it because I felt that Brashares did give her characters a nice ending.

Appropriateness: This is an adult book, unlike the other books in the series.  Though honestly, I am a bit reluctant to call it part of the series since there’s a big disconnect in this novel and its predecessors.  Never the less, this book deals with serious subject matter such as death, sex, alcohol consumption, and abortion.   However, I thought the way these subjects were handled was done with grace.

Blockbuster Worthy: Well, it’s already been done twice.  Could there be another movie, yeah I guess so. But I think the first two movies wrapped up everything nicely so why do a third.  Oh wait, this is Hollywood we’re talking about….

Overall Rating: Six out of ten pairs of jeans.  There were parts of it I really liked, but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel that this book was a bit unnecessary and for that matter that parts of it felt like bad fan fiction written by Nicholas Sparks.

Trend Spotlights: Hooray for Hollywood

Thanks to those who voted, I will now focus Trend Spotlights on books dealing with Hollywood.   I can’t tell you how much this pleases me.  Perhaps this song will help:

All kidding aside though, I do like reading about celebrities.  Especially YA books about celebrities.  I don’t know what it is about celebrity lifestyle that I find to be so readable.  But I have to say some of my favorite YA books deal with celebrities.

According to one study, the one thing that people want more than anything else is fame.  I don’t think this is accurate in my case, I wouldn’t want to have the paparazzi following me around commenting on the current outfit of choice ( which in my opinion is rather bleak:  pink college t-shirt and khaki shorts), but that’s just me.  I think MTV and the rest of the reality television world  prove this statistic.

So books about celebrities are actually socially relevant since they tell what happens when you become famous.

Arguably.

There will be some (okay, most) people that won’t buy that argument.  But I still think it is one of the viable theories about why Hollywood books are so insatiable.

Besides, exploring fame.  I also think people are drawn to life about the rich and glamorous because they are rich and glamorous.  The majority of history, with a few exceptions, focuses on the elite in society.  Sure, it’s annoying since these people only make up a small percentage of the world.  But everyone wonders what it would be like.  Plus, rich people get into some pretty interesting fights.

Of course, anyone can imagine themselves in Jimmy Choos and being famous, but Hollywood itself.  It has it’s own mystique.  I think there is something to the phrase star power and it’s interesting watching what makes a star or how someone stays a star or for that matter even interacts with stars.

Of course Hollywood makeovers always make these books more enjoyable too.

Makeovers don’t always have to include a shopping montage and haircut to be cool.  Often, characters undergo life makeovers from fame.

So to sum it up,  things I will be look at during this  Trend Spotlights Analysis:

    • Social Issues: Questions will include the social ramifications of fame, how Hollywood changes one’s perspective on life, and life style.

 

    • The Rich and the Glamorous: Essentially I’ll be analyzing how the book depicts rich people’s lives.

 

    • Star Power: How celebrity power affects the character or characters in this book.  This category will often overlap with the social issues category, except it will be more character driven.

 

    • Makeover Montage: I’ll be looking at how good the makeover scenes in these books are and how relevant they are to the entire story.

 

Alright, so that is the gist of what Trend Spotlights will be about next month if you have any suggestions on books to read feel free to leave them in the comments.  And I will leave you with this.