Fun But a Bit Disjointed Revisit: Queen of Babble Series by Meg Cabot

Ah, Meg Cabot, my YA gateway author. If you read this blog, you know that I own pretty much all of Cabot’s full novels—I gave up trying to collect the short stories years ago, unless they involve a character that I adore from a book or series. Needless to say I was a Cabot-aholic back in the day though I’ve sort of weaned off of her books a bit since I started blogging. Still, I find time each year to binge read on a few (or a lot) of her books. Sometimes the reread is fantastic (see Mediator and Princess Diaries reread mini-series) sometimes not so fantastic, see reviews on How to be Popular and Pants on Fire. Since I was in the process of cleaning out my shelves, I recently reread the Queen of Babble series. The result—uh, I didn’t hate them but there was a real disconnect between the first book and the rest of the series. Honestly, to sum up my feelings, if Cabot hit autocorrect and changed Lizzy and the rest of the cast’s names she could’ve had a standalone and a duology. Still though, there was some nostalgia there. Let’s get looking at this trilogy shall we:

 

What’s an American girl with a big mouth, but an equally big heart, to do?

Lizzie Nichols has a problem, and it isn’t that she doesn’t have the slightest idea what she’s going to do with her life, or that she’s blowing what should be her down payment on a cute little Manhattan apartment on a trip to London to visit her long-distance boyfriend, Andrew. But what’s the point of planning for the future when she’s done it again? See, Lizzie can’t keep her mouth shut. And it’s not just that she can’t keep her own secrets, she can’t keep anything to herself.

This time when she opens her big mouth, her good intentions get Andrew in major hot water. So now Lizzie’s stuck in London with no boyfriend and no place to stay until the departure date written on her non-refundable airline ticket.

Fortunately, there’s Shari, Lizzie’s best friend and college roommate, who’s spending her summer in southern France, catering weddings with her boyfriend, Chaz, in a sixteenth-century château. One call and Lizzie’s on a train to Souillac. Who cares if she’s never traveled alone in her life and only speaks rudimentary French? One glimpse of gorgeous Château Mirac – not to mention gorgeous Luke, the son of Château Mirac’s owner – and she’s smitten.

But while most caterers can be trusted to keep a secret, Lizzie’s the exception. And no sooner has the first cork been popped than Luke hates her, the bride is in tears, and it looks like Château Mirac is in danger of becoming a lipo-recovery spa. As if things aren’t bad enough, her ex-boyfriend Andrew shows up looking for “closure” (or at least a loan), threatening to ruin everything, especially Lizzie’s chance at ever finding real love…

Unless she can figure out a way to use that big mouth of hers to save the day.

Source: GoodReads

So, set aside this one really works even after eight years.

Yeah, its pop culture references are a little dated, but not as dated as Princess Diaries. I actually sort of liked Lizzie in this one. Yes, she was dumb.

Oh, how will I be saying Lizzie is dumb throughout most of these reviews. The character is just innately stupid. I mean, while her so called major is cute. Really, fashion history??!?!?!?!? And she justifies it because she had free tuition.

Uh, no.

Whatever.

In the real world, Lizzie would probably be lucky if she could get a job at Kohl’s. Just saying.

Anyway, this is your fairly typical girl goes to Europe and falls in love stories that are nice to read about in the summer. Really, the series is sort of an inverse of British chick lit where a British chick goes to America and does pretty much the same thing Lizzy does ( see Shopaholic series sequel and the whole concept of I Heart New York, oh and that Jemima J book). Seriously, I mean there’s even the stereotypical set up: one book establishing the character, one making it in the big Apple, and one that focuses on getting married…okay, sort of getting ahead of myself and not all those books I listed follow that exact format.

But a lot of them do.

The point is, the plot is generic but cute. You know what you’re getting into and the book is by Cabot so that is sort of an added bonus. And as for a predictable book, I really liked it. Like I said, Lizzie is as dumb as a box of rocks but she is endearing in this book. The babbling thing makes sense enough, and I liked the set up with her and Luke even though it was a little too much of a coincidence to happen in real life.

The thing I did not like though, is that when I was rereading this book I kept thinking of the rest of the series and shaking my head. Because unlike Insatiable, where I sort of figured who the love interest was going to be—and boy I think he’s probably one of Cabot’s worst heroes—it wasn’t so obvious here. Even on reread, yeah, there might’ve been a few hints of what was yet to come but it wasn’t that obvious and I can get why some fans of this series would be hurt.

Still though, if you really like certain aspects of this book give it a try. I mean, you can always act like the book is a standalone. Really, I basically autocorrect Lizzie’s name to Izzie  for books 2 and 3, Luke into Duke, Chaz into Chad, and Sherri into Sheryl. It works people. Totally works.

Overall Rating: I’m giving the first book a B+. It holds on it’s own but is a little predictable.

Lizzie Nichols is back, pounding the New York City pavement and looking for a job, a place to live, and her proper place in the universe (not necessarily in that order).

When “Summer Fling” Luke uses the L word (Living Together), Lizzie is only too happy to give up her plan of being postgrad roomies with best friend, Shari, in a one-room walk-up in exchange for cohabitation with the love of her life in his mother’s Fifth Avenue pied-à-terre, complete with doorman and resident Renoir.

But Lizzie’s not as lucky in her employment search. As Shari finds the perfect job, Lizzie struggles through one humiliating interview after another, being judged overqualified for the jobs in her chosen field—vintage-gown rehab—and underqualified for everything else. It’s Shari’s boyfriend Chaz to the rescue when he recommends Lizzie for a receptionist’s position at his father’s posh law firm. The nonpaying gig at a local wedding-gown shop Lizzie manages to land all on her own.

But Lizzie’s notoriously big mouth begins to get her into trouble at work and at home almost at once—first at the law firm, where she becomes too chummy with Jill Higgins, a New York society bride with a troublesome future mother-in-law, and then back on Fifth Avenue, when she makes the mistake of bringing up the M word (Marriage) with commitment-shy Luke.

Soon Lizzie finds herself jobless as well as homeless all over again. Can Lizzie save herself—and the hapless Jill—and find career security (not to mention a mutually satisfying committed relationship) at last? 

Source: Goodreads

See, a lot of people really hate the third book in this series but to me the second book is the worst. I mean, by the third book you know that the series is headed for a train wreck but the second book really just sort of gives you whiplash because everything is just so different from the first book.

First there’s Lizzie, who I even think got dumber between books. I don’t know how she did that too, because she was almost at Bella Swan level of stupidity in the previous book—I mean, really walking around commando in an airport (ew).

But I relent, in this book she is so oblivious to what’s going around her. I often wonder if her relationship would’ve been salvageable had she actually had the intelligence to speak out and not focus on trying to hide the extra weight she gained in Europe in Spanx.

Okay, off side note, but upon rereading these books and the Heather Wells series I can’t help but get annoyed how many body image issues these characters have. I get that we all complain about our weight—and for Heather’s sake her series does sort of address her weight in the title so she sort of gets a break—but the lifestyle these characters live are just plain unhealthy. Lizzie constantly complains about the size of her butt and then eats like five thousand calories in the next paragraph. I seriously, wondered if there was some sort of over compulsive eating disorder there but luckily Cabot never went there—though it was alluded to enough.

Size of Lizzie’s fictional butt aside, it just annoyed me that this character was just focused on the superficial things when her life is fucked up.

She’s in New York, a fresh college graduate. An undergrad at that and not really a graduate since she still has that pesky thesis—we never find out through the series if she got the diploma, I’m assuming she didn’t since the dean or whoever read it probably cringed too much about Ancient Egyptians using crocodile dung as birth control—to complete and needs to find a job.

And yeah, honey, could’ve told you Vera Wang wasn’t going to hire you. But even though she gets rejections things are ridiculously easy for her when she’s hired for Chaz’s dad’s law firm for twenty fucking bucks an hour.

Okay, as a legal professional I can tell you some lawyers don’t even make twenty freaking bucks an hour when they first start. Oh yeah, some entry level salaries suck ass—I’ve seen like ten dollars an hour in some job ads, and grads will do it because the market is so saturated.   Law students and new grads will even do receptionist work just to get  into the firm, so a idiot like Lizzie who is more focused on the size of her butt than doing her job would likely not get hired based on her skill set let alone for twenty fucking bucks an hour with benefits for fucking part time work. Especially since she can’t keep her trap shut and it’s a freaking family law firm.

Sorry, but having gone through this process it’s a little hard not to roll your eyes at someone like Lizzie working in big law.

The revelations in this book—Sherri being bisexual and Chaz being in love with Lizzie are just randomly thrown there and I’m just like really, really, how did we get there? Especially the Chaz thing, as far as the Sherri thing goes there were at least some allusions to the fact a jack ass character in the previous book thought she might be gay. Though, him being sort of right is just sort of….I don’t know weird. I mean, the guy was a jack ass. I thought it was cool that Sheri was bi, but sort of didn’t like the fact that the jack ass called it. As for Chaz and Lizzie FORCED.

Sorry, but though the pairing improves quite a bit in the last book it just comes out of nowhere. Now, I know that parts of the trilogy are based on real life events—I think I read an interview or two that Cabot mentioned Lizzie getting together with Chaz was sort of how she got together with her husband—with notable fictionalization occurring. It’s just that, I don’t know, if she wanted to do a story like that it might’ve been just as well if Lizzy had ended up with Andrew in the first book OR you know before suddenly exchanging saliva with Chaz, there had been some exploration there.

The pairing, like the book just didn’t work for me.

Overall Rating: Uh, a C- for being a downer it was an entertaining downer.

 

Big mouth. Big heart.

Big wedding. Big problems.

It’s the wedding of the century!

Things are looking up at last for Lizzie Nichols. She has a career she loves in the field of her choice (wedding gown restoration), and the love of her life, Jean-Luc, has finally proposed. Life’s become a dizzying whirl of wedding gown fittings—not necessarily her own—as Lizzie prepares for her dream wedding at her fiancé’s château in the south of France.

But the dream soon becomes a nightmare as the best man—whom Lizzie might once have accidentally slept with . . . no, really, just slept—announces his total lack of support for the couple, a sentiment the maid of honor happens to second; Lizzie’s Midwestern family can’t understand why she doesn’t want to have her wedding in the family backyard; her future, oh-so-proper French in-laws seem to be slowly trying to lure the groom away from medical school and back into investment banking; and Lizzie finds herself wondering if her Prince Charming really is as charming as she once believed.

Is Lizzie really ready to embrace her new role as wife and mistress of Château Mirac? Or is she destined to fall into another man’s arms . . . and into the trap of becoming a Bad Girl instead?

Source: GoodReads

Often called the worst in the series, I don’t exactly hate it. Don’t get me wrong, it was illy paced and rushed and the ship was a bit sudden. But as sudden as the ship came, it wasn’t detestable. In fact, I liked Lizzie and Chaz though both of them are just as fucked up as Luke

I get that Cabot kept trying to do—lessen the blame game, especially with having Luke being revealed to be what he was at the end of the book. But come on, it doesn’t lessen what Lizzie and Chaz did. And sure, I don’t really give a flip one way or the other about the cheating, but I think it was just a cheap shot to villainize Luke so that Lizzie wouldn’t feel that bad about being a “Bad Girl”

Seriously, Bad Girl. That’s what Lizzie calls herself throughout this book because she wants to get into Chaz’s pants while judging others.

It should be noted, that this time upon reread I wanted to throttle her.

Full disclosure, when I first read this book eight years ago, it was during a very painful period in my life. I thought that some of my reaction to the plot might’ve because I was experiencing a similar situation. But nope, years of distance I still feel as disgusted as before.

Also the blatant Paris Hilton character wannabe even annoyed me now upon reread especially since she seemed like a pretty irresponsible Chihuahua owner and since I own like the two best Chis ever—because seriously Pinky and Brainy rule and then some—I get pretty pissed when people treat the dogs like their toys. They’re not.

Brainy is NOT a toy.

Brainy is NOT a toy.

In fact, Pinky and Brainy hate it whenever I have to pack them in their snoozer to get groomed or whatever. Forget about me trying to put them in a purse at any time, Pinky might kill me.

Dont doubt this innocent stare he could hurt him.

Dont doubt this innocent stare he could hurt him.

Yeah, so making the Chihuahua act like a toy in a book—um, not so much.

God, I didn’t think I would rant about Chihuahuas in this review.  There are like ten thousand other things to rant about like the blatantly obviously slammed down moral lesson that I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly it’s supposed to-maybe being true to yourself?-but it makes it presence known especially with how smug and successful Lizzie is at the end of this book.

Look, I like happy endings more than the next person BUT….

Yeah.  It was a little too unbelievable.

I think one of my biggest issues with this one is that I felt like the main character never had to deal with her fuck ups.  Sure, she’d mope for ten pages or so but somehow they’d be miraculously resolved.

Overall Rating a C+ but an entertaining C+

 

 

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