Predictable Fluff: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

 

My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.

Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she’s a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that’s not necessarily a good thing…

Source: GoodReads

If we’re going to be honest about it, this series has gotten a bit pedantic (which seems to be the word of the week, FYI).  The good thing is if  you’re reading it with its publication schedule you’re not going to notice as much the repetition.  The bad thing is if you’re an American who has gotten tired of waiting for these things to be released in the states and decided to just buy them at the Book Depository you’re not exactly going to binge on them as I was planning…

Yeah.

The good thing though, is if the real world is being particularly hellish as it has since Biff stole Doc and Marty’s machine and somehow stole the presidency from HRC Donald Trump has become president (that sounds so wrong) this series can at least buy you some hours of peace at least another Executive Order has been dropped.

Sorry for all the current events references, it has really been hard to read or really  lately.  And really do anything else especially when all this shit has been thrown in your face on a 24/7 basis.  If you follow my Twitter feed you know I’ve been very vocal in my disdain.

Anyway, back to the book.  Its the predictable fluff that is needed right now in this world and I am grateful for that.  Honestly, I will probably be reading a lot of fluff in the coming months.  It’s needed and wanted and this book does the trick.  It’s easy to look past the faults, but they are there and it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has read this series what they are.

Harriet is a stagnent character.  She doesn’t grow, and at this point I don’t expect her too.  Most of the books center around ridiculous misunderstandings that anyone with adequate emotional skills would be able to pick up on but this is Harriet we’re talking about.  So…yeah, don’t expect her to pick up on social cues.

And to be honest, her friends are sort of shitty in this one.   I get that they want to help her, but come on.  They should know that she wasn’t going to exactly take their behavior the way she wanted them too.  And really, at this point…ugh.

The more I think about it, the more I want to pull my hair out.  But again, I don’t hate this book.  It’s sort of like the Princess Diaries series.  Sure, there was a slump in the middle of that series where all I wanted to do was deck Mia, but it didn’t make me hate or stop reading the series and I sort of hope that in the next two full installments there’s some growth with Harriet-again, don’t expect there to be but I still can’t help there is some.

As far as the romance department goes, this installment of Geek Girl is ridiculously light on that as well as the modeling stuff.  I did enjoy the modeling antics though.  I think they’re often some of my favorite parts of the book surprisingly.  Even though they are more or less the same-Harriet going to some exotic location and making a fool of herself.

So yeah, there was nothing surprising or really unprecedented about this particular installment of Geek Girl if it was a more serious series, I’d probably would give it a lower rating.  But as it stands, it did its job in getting to me forget about the crap that’s been going on in this world right now.

Overall Rating: A B- it’s flawed but enjoyable.

Sheldon Cooper’s More Emotionally Challenged Sister: Model Misfit by Holly Smalle

Harriet Manners is a model.

She used to be a geek, but now she has transformed into a creature of grace and sophistication. She is completely at one with the world of fashion.

Except she’s not.

In fact, Harriet feels even less popular and more awkward now than she did when she was just a geek. So when Yuka Ito invites her to go to Japan and be the face of her new label, Harriet seizes the chance to get away.

Harriet might have to bring along her crazy grandma Bunty, and she might run into Nick, the gorgeous costar who unceremoniously dumped her two months ago. But no one is going to ruin her fabulous Tokyo summer.

Unless she accidentally ruins it herself…

Source: GoodReads

I loved Geek Girl earlier this year, but its sequel….

giphy

Um, I think it showed me the flaws that were in Geek Girl that I ignored.

To be fair, Model Misfit wasn’t a total flop.  But I did make the cringe face more than a couple of times throughout my read.

Before I get “nasty”, I’d like to say at its core this is not a bad book.  It is very enjoyable.  It is a feel good book.  The sort of book that’s perfect to read in short bursts while you wait for the cable guy to set up the wireless at your new apartment (okay, just giving an example of my reading experience).  It’s nice fluff.

And I like fluff.  Don’t get me wrong, good fluff is hard to come by and should be enjoyed.  It’s just that sometimes fluff like this is clearly written for profit.

Because I am really wondering was a sequel necessary?

There wasn’t anything relevant to the plot in this one.  It just felt like a tact on installment.

I think a lot of it had to do with the lack of character development.  The side characters are one dimensional as ever.  Harriet’s dad acts ridiculously childish.  Her agent’s dialogue while sometimes hilarious sometimes grates.  And Harriet herself.  Is soooo grating.

I get that the book is suppose to be over the top, but I’d like to see some development with the character.  Having her remain in status like this is a problem I see with lots of pink books.  Case in point, the middle part of the Princess Diaries novels and the ever continuing Becky Bloomwood series (you’d think her husband would get a clue and cut up the credit cards at this point and banish her to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no Wi Fi and the nearest Wal-Mart is like two hours away).  These characters just stayed the same to produce more books.  Okay, in Mia’s case she finally grew up, but Becky is still binge shopping.  I’m afraid that five books from now Harriet will still be spewing out useless facts in outfits that only a three-year-old high on LSD would pick.

Yeah…

As for the romance in this installment, I didn’t care for it.  I actually didn’t mind Nick in the first book, but I hated the set up in this one.  Which involved a lot of girl hate.  Yes, I get girls can be mean, but it’s such a groan worthy cliche that I have no words about it.

And yes, I get it was one big  misunderstanding on one of the parties part.  But still, I have my bitchy face (oh, wait, that’s my normal face-have recently learned I have a case of resting bitch face since several people have “kindly” t0ld me to smile more-um, NOT going to happen) on about this relationship.

I really don’t even get the attraction between the two of them at this point.  Harriet is…well, she’s like Sheldon Cooper’s more emotionally immature little sister and Nick is just a dick (okay, I couldn’t help myself it rhymed).

Model Misfit wasn’t a complete disaster for me, but it was a harsh wakeup call.  I just could not see past some things.  While there were occasions that the quirks I found in the first book were charming, a lot of the time they felt gimmicky.  I will be continuing on but with high caution, I hope this series goes more in the vein of the Princess Diaries books than the Shopaholic books.  At least Mia eventually grew up.  Alas, after this installment, I have a feeling that Geek Girl: Ties the Knot (if it were to ever be published) would include an over neurotic twenty-seven year-old Harriet who still wore outfits out of Claudia Kishi’s closet and talked about random facts that obviously make her a geek-probably about weddings that no one will want to know about.  She’ll also do something fairly stupid like piss off the Wedding DJ or getting into a food fight at her wedding.  I don’t know.  Just something that is ridiculously cringe worthy.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a cautious B.  I did enjoy this book, but yeah it had its flaws and I have a feeling after I read the third installment I might be shaking my head in retrospect.

The Unofficial Princess Diaries Binge Read: Where Mia Gets a Tad Bit OCD

Last month, I remembered why I loved this series.  This month, I remembered some of the problems I had with it.  It didn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy readings books 4, 4 1/2, 4 2/3, and 5.  But it did remind me of the issues I had with it.

Never before has the world seen such a princess.

Nor have her own subjects, for that matter. Mia’s royal introduction to Genovia has mixed results: while her fashion sense is widely applauded, her position on the installation of public parking meters is met with resistance.

But the politics of bureaucracy are nothing next to Mia’s real troubles. Between canceled dates with her long—sought—after royal consort, a second semester of the dreaded Algebra, more princess lessons from Grandmère as a result of the Genovian parking—meter thing, and the inability to stop gnawing on her fingernails, isn’t there anything Mia is good at besides inheriting an unwanted royal title?

Source: GoodReads

Groans.

Do I have to?

If I was reviewing books when Princess in Waiting came out, I’d probably give up on The Princess Diaries series.  This is my least favorite book in the series and I really think it was a waste of space-if you would’ve added some of Valentine Princess to it I think it would’ve been a stronger book.

The good thing about this particular installment, was I sort of knew what I was getting into when I reread it, so I didn’t absolutely hate it (at least as much).

I didn’t like it either.

I think the biggest problem with Princess in Waiting  is that it takes so long to get started.  It’s like the audience is waiting for the actual book to begin and gets stuck on Meg Cabot Airlines reading some stupid day planner.

That’s what it really felt like to me.

I could care less what happens in Genovia.

It’s a fictional country that really bad movies take place in, that’s all I need to know.

When the actual book starts-meaning, when Mia returns home to New York-there’s really not a plot.  Just obsession over Mia’s first date with Michael and then possibly having to cancel said date.

It’s really a big let down after Princess in Love.

I don’t think it’s as bad as I thought it was, because there were a few parts of it that were tolerable.

Like Lilly.

She was actually rationale in this book.  Which surprised me, because in most books I really can’t stand her.

I also liked the fact that Tina had a bit of a story in this book too.  It’s nice seeing supporting characters get a starring role for once.

So, props on that.

Still though, I really didn’t care for this one.

Overall Grade: D. I think this was a very, very, weak installment.  Probably my least favorite in the series.  However, it wasn’t a total wash.

 

Valentine’s Day means flowers, chocolates, and all-out romance.

That is, it usually means those things. But when you’re Princess Mia, nothing happens the way it’s supposed to. For one thing, Grandmère seems determined to prove that boy (or Michael, as he is commonly known) isn’t the right one for the crown princess of Genovia. And Mia isn’t having much luck proving otherwise, since Michael has a history of being decidedly against any kind of exploitative commercialization (Valentine’s Day, as it is commonly known).

Boris can declare his love openly to Lilly, and even Kenny comes through with a paltry Whitman’s Sampler. So why can’t Michael give in to Cupid and tell Mia he loves her—preferably with something wrapped in red or pink and accompanied by roses—in time to prove he’s Mia’s true prince?

Source: GoodReads

This novella really captures what I liked about the early years of this series the best, the zany humor and immaturity that you see only in Mia’s freshman year.  Sure, you begin to see that annoying neurosis that followed the series on from book four to Mia’s intervention in book nine, but it’s muted in this novella.

I love how Valentine’s Day is treated in this book and how the romance is handled in a fairly realistic way.  That was the biggest plus about this book.

What I didn’t like was that Lilly acted is a fairly unrealistic way towards Boris, which I think was done solely for foreshadowing purposes (this was published after  book five, so I think Cabot was trying to hammer the point that Loris was dead in the water).

This is overall, a really cute book.  While there are some hints and innuendos over what happens in future books, it’s not required reading.

Overal Rating: B+ enjoyable fluff.

 

 

 

What on earth is that princess up to now?

Most princesses would prefer to spend their spring breaks in Gstaad, or some other equally unpronounceable European hot spot.

Not this one, though. Hammer in hand, Princess Mia embarks on an epic adventure for one so admittedly unhandy: along with her cohorts from school, she’s off to build houses for the less fortunate. It doesn’t take Mia long to realize that helping others—while an unimpeachably noble pastime—is very hard work. Will her giving spirit prevail? Will the house collapse due to royally clumsy construction? And most importantly, will Michael stop working long enough to kiss her?

Source: GoodReads

This installment isn’t much, and really doesn’t pertain to the over all series (I’m wondering if it’s even been reprinted recently).

The nice thing about it, besides the fact that it’s profits went to a wonderful cause, is that it’s a novella you’re not required to read.

I hate it when novellas are super important to the book-case in point, Sweet Sixteen Princess.  True, authors  will recap for us what went on but you’ll still inevitably buy the novella.

The plot of Project Princess is pretty simple, Mia is building houses for a Habitat Humanity type group during Spring Break with her friends and chaos insures.

Probably the most significant thing to happen in this one is that Boris barfs a lot.

I really did enjoy seeing my last glimpse of happy Loris.  I know a lot of people don’t like this couple, based on what happens in book five, but they are fun to read about while they last.  Michael and Mia are cute too, but a bit overly mushy.  Loris is just sort of humorous together.  And I really miss seeing that with Toris-even they they are much more suited together (i.e. Tina would never let Boris attempt suicide with a globe).

For huge Princess Diaries fans, I recommend this one, if you’re sort of a fair weather fan, it would be okay to skip.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Princess Mia is dreaming about the prom – and contending with a hotel workers’ strike – in the fifth, supremely hilarious episode of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries. This time, Mia’s in the pink about the upcoming Albert Einstein H.S. prom, and she’s crossing her fingers that Michael will ask her to go. (They’re in love, so why wouldn’t he ask her, right?) But during Seven Minutes in Heaven at her b-day party, Mia learns that Michael is not the prom-going type. Good grief, what’s a princess to do?

To make matters worse, Grandmere has gotten a busboy fired due to a mishap with her pooch, Rommel, at a swanky restaurant, so when all of the city’s busboys go on strike, it causes a chain of events that result in Grandmere crashing at Mia’s mom’s place, her pal Lilly Moscovitz picking up a picket sign, and the prom being brought to a screeching halt.

Thankfully, staunch yet boy-wise Grandmere has a plan to change Michael’s mind and put everything back on track, making Mia the happiest “prom princess” on this side of the Atlantic – and readers more starry-eyed than Molly Ringwald in her prettiest pink frock.

Following up the brief Volume IV and a Half and introducing a new addition to Mia’s family, this knee-slapping fifth volume makes the series glitter brighter than ever, placing yet another jewel in Cabot’s crown.

Source: GoodReads

What I Remembered:

 Really hating Lilly in this installment and not really feeling Toris.

What I Got:

Really hating Lilly.  Finding Toris a lot more tolerable and believable.  And finding Mia almost as intolerable as Lilly in this installment.

In fact, if I wanted to, I could have a drinking game every time Lilly or Mia annoyed me.  I get that they’re fourteen/fifteen year old girls, but both of them need a good swift kick in the pants to reality.

To be fair though, I did enjoy Princess in Pink a lot more than I remembered.

I had some nice things going for it.

For one, it had an actual plot (unlike Princess in Waiting) and their was some slight character development in this book.

I think the best thing about this one was Michael.  Sometimes I really wonder how he tolerates Mia so much though, because her neurosis is full blown in this one.

He really must be the master of zen.

The supporting characters though really carried this novel, save for Grandmere.  I think this is the point where she starts developing into almost a caricature of sorts.  But you could argue that about all the characters to a certain degree.  Especially Lilly and Mia.

I keep complaining about them…I guess I should discuss them.

Lilly is just a horrible person.  It’s a conclusion I came to a long time ago with these books, though she does have an entertaining moment or two when she’s not stuffing her tongue down some random guy’s throat. In this book, we don’t see those entertaining quirks since she’s mostly sticking her throat down some guy’s throat.

Add to it, that Mia is sort of  slut slamming her friend at the end with this little gem:

Tina just called.  She is kvelling over getting to go to the prom.  It is, she says, like a dream come true.  I told her I couldn’t agree more.  She asked me how I thought we’d come to be so lucky.

I told her: Because we are both kind and pure of heart (237).

Look, I get Lilly was really stupid in this installment.  But as her best friend Mia shouldn’t quasi dis her to Tina with that stupid pure of heart trash.  Then again, this is the girl that obsesses about her virginity to the point where she calls it her precious gift.

And plus, it’s just prom.

I think this is me being no longer fifteen.  Maybe I could’ve agreed with Mia back then-maybe not.

Despite my grievances with two of the characters, I did find this installment to be a huge improvement over Princess in Waiting.  It’s fun and light, and actually has a plot.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

 

Objective Binge For Next Month:

  • Princess in Training (book 6): I remember it mainly being a bridge book, more than anything else.  It might surprise me or it might be a recap of book four (shudders).
  • The Princess Present (book 6 1/2):It’s a cute novella that heavily borrows from “The Gift of the Magi”.
  • Party Princess (book 7): Sexy dancing. And Grandmere does broadway. Oh, and JP.
  • Sweet Sixteen Princess (book 7 1/2): The last novella-chronologically speaking, in the series.  This one is actually pretty important to the series.

 

This Book is Too Cute: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

 

 

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
Source: GoodReads

 

Hollywood YA books and me are like this.

Yes, I know they can be cliche.  But I really do love a decent movie star YA story.  Of course, it has to have semi-decent characters and  it can’t be that big of a cliche because then I’ll just grow bored (see Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up).  

Behind the Scenes was a book that I actually looked forward to.  Instead of having the traditional girl being an actress or wannabe actress, we have a main character who actually has no intention of being involved in La La land and who had some actual real life problems other than teenage drama going on in her life.

I was kind of grimacing when I found out that Ally’s father was dealing cancer, mainly because that can be such a cliche plot line.  I mean, look at all those Lurlene McDaniel books or Lifetime movies.

The thing is, the whole cancer plot was for the most part perfectly tolerable  It’s resolution to me seemed a little too unrealistic, but given the alternative I’m happy with the ending.  And for a book with the big C in it it wasn’t that overwhelming.

I also liked the romance in the book.  Liam and Ally  weren’t overly mushy and the chemistry was good.  Good not great, mind you.  But it was an enjoyable enough fling that I was able to read the book without grimacing.  Also, unlike a lot of YA celebrities, Liam didn’t feel wooden.  There were dimensions added to his character that were an added bonus.

Overall, I liked most of the characters in this book.  There weren’t any of them that I particularly hated which is odd because usually in all YA books there’s one character I hate. In fact, I have to say for the most part I liked all them.  And there were some I actually wanted to give a fictional hug to and that doesn’t happen often.

 

We’re told that Ally is mature for her age and that’s actually reflected in the writing-well, she does have her stupid moments.  But for the most part, she’s actually mature.  Not only does she have the requisite A+ average that so many YA bimbos have, but her decision making for the most part is actually rational.

I think the parts that annoyed me were the parts that actually made the conflict of the novel.

I understood Ally’s frustration and her predicament, but at times I wanted to shake her and go all look at her choices on her.

But the book had to have conflict, right?  And it did setup for conflict in the book. And we did have to have some conflict, otherwise it would’ve been very fluffy.

The other qualm I have is Ally’s parents reactions to some of the scenes.  I get that they were dealing with a life crisis, but having your daughter come home at three in the afternoon the next day should get some reaction other than did you have fun.

If you like light frothy books, this is probably one for you.  If you get annoyed with fluff.  Skip it.  Is it the most memorable book I’ve ever read-no.

Grade: A solid B.

How to Successfully Sell Nothing: The One by Kiera Cass

I just finished reading The One.  To be honest I wasn’t expecting much, but it did exceed my expectations in just how bad it was.

The funny thing is, that this series is such a success.  Which makes me wonder why.  Besides the very, very, pretty covers and effective marketing campaign that Harper Teen has done, this series is a total bomb.  So, I thought as I’d use my review of The One  to explore why this series is so popular. Note, there will be some spoilers in this review though I’ll try to be vague.

1) The Cover: I mentioned it already.  But I think with The One they finally got these covers down.  The model isn’t smelling her armpit and her hair actually isn’t illy styled or clashes with her gown.  It is truly a gorgeous cover and if you take the Gloria Epstein route of buying books that’s why you bought this one.  It probably also helps that Harper wants to exploit these pretty dresses by putting them in a series of book trailers as well.

2) Promotion, ‘smotion: Dear lord, imagine if this series was actually half way decent how popular it would be.  I have to say, despite her bad behavior Cass’s agent really knows how to make those publishing companies work.  I have heard nothing but The One on the various book sites I visit and I’m like clicking the ad blocker because I don’t want to see the advertisements.

Okay, now for the actual contents of the book:

3) Princess Sell: Obviously.  Disney has shown us this.  But instead of taking a smart, modern, approach to princesses like Disney is now doing or like Meg Cabot did in the Princess Diaries series, Cass has regressed her version of princesses back into the Snow White days of Disney.  Seriously, these girls do nothing in three books but sit and look pretty and stay in the woman’s room.  And I should mention that we’re not even in the Edwardian period with no Matthew Crawley.  And there’s no reason ever stated in the series why a woman’s role has regressed so much.  My guess, Cass just wanted to have an excuse to put girls in fancy gowns all freaking day long.

Me in the woman’s room.

4) This books has “good” values: Honestly, I sort of wanted to puke when I wrote this.  But I can see some people actually liking the archaic, sexist values this book preaches.  Once again, it seems like Cass has not grown tired of slut slamming.  In fact, she has her sweet America dress in a short revealing dress in one of the first chapters of the book and it’s treated as if this is some funny evil sin.  It really doesn’t work though.  I mean, it’s just skin.  I really don’t see what the big deal is.  Just like I don’t see why someone would at like having an ex boyfriend was such a huge crime but I’m not Kiera Cass…

5) Romance Not Plot Sells: Seriously, I don’t know what the point was of even setting this in a dystopia world.  It was obvious that Cass just wanted to write a princess romance.  And you know what, if she would’ve done that.  That would’ve been fine.  But labeling something as a dystopia, well, you have a lot of work to do.  These books involve complex world building that never really gets off the ground in Cass world.  It’s kind of sad really.  Especially with how all the problems are changed within one regime change.

Really?

Well, sort of it will take time…

Now, how many politicians have said that?

6) Happily Ever After: Again, this sort of goes back to the princess complex.  But I thought it deserved it’s own category because of how ridiculously happy this ending was.  Remember, Stephenie Meyer’s sickly sweet ending to Breaking Dawn that made no sense becuase you know realistically there should’ve been some sacrifice but all Twihards go to the designated Meyer defense (it’s fiction)? Well, the ending to this series is sort of like that but with a bit more blood shed (don’t worry no one important dies) and instead of the Jacob in the triangle making love to the MC and her one true love’s baby, he walks her down the aisle.

 

No, I’m not making this up.

7) Simplicity: Simplicity can be a good thing.  But when you make your dialogue the equivalent of what an eight year old would be doing with Barbies…well.

Actually, Harper released some videos of Cass recapping the series with Barbies and the dialogue there isn’t humorous more like an actual regurgitation of the book.

8)Contradictions Keep Interesting: I’m not even going to go into how dumb and obvious some of these mistakes are.  Except I only read the previous books once and I was able to notice multiple mistakes.  For example, in The Elite there was this huge deal about holidays (such as Halloween) not being celebrated anymore.  Yet, they were getting out the good old Christmas trees in this one.

9)Characters Who are Pretty: If you ask me anything about America, Aspen, or Maxon, the only thing I’m going to tell you is that they’re pretty.  The same goes with any of the side characters.  All of them are beautiful.  Though the evil ones are faux beautiful but even most of the evil characters warm up to our sweet perfect most bootyful of all characters at the end or die.  But I bet they died beautiful.

10) You Can’t Help Help But Watch the Train Wreck: This series is so awful that you couldnt’ help but want to finish it.  I mean, I was hoping above all hopes that it would some how improve.  But nope.  The sad thing is that unlike other awful series like Alexandra Adornetto’s Halo trilogy of PC and Kristin Cast’s House of Night series, this series doesn’t even have that much to snark about when it comes to its actual prose.  As I said before its just simple and almost wooden.

Final Thoughts:

Thank God it’s over.  Though Cass is throwing out another novella for all you die hard fans.  I really can’t say anything but good riddance Selection trilogy.

Overall Rating: F