Oh Boy: The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot comes the sweetly humorous story of a man who has to face his past in order to find his future.

Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back…

One post. That’s all it took to destroy the care free, glamorous life of pro golfer Reed Stewart. One tiny post on the Internet.

Then again, it’s not like Reed’s been winning many tournaments lately, and his uncle isn’t the only one who says it’s because of the unfinished business he left behind back home in Bloomville, Indiana—namely Reed’s father, the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart, and the only girl Reed ever loved, Becky Flowers.

But Reed hasn’t spoken to either his father or Becky in over a decade.

Until that post on the Internet. Suddenly, Reed’s family has become a national laughingstock, his publicist won’t stop calling, his siblings are begging for help, and Reed realizes he has no other choice: He’s got to go home to face his past . . . the Judge and the girl he left behind.

Becky’s worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed—which hasn’t been easy, considering he’s their hometown’s golden boy, and all anyone ever talks about. It was fine while they were thousands of miles apart, but now he’s back in Bloomville. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him—until his family hires her to help save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another…or the memories of that one fateful night.

Can the quirky residents of Bloomville bring these two young people back together, or will Reed and Becky continue to allow their pasts to deny them the future they deserve?

This warm, thought-provoking book, told entirely in texts, emails, and journal entries, is as much about the enduring bond of families as it is about second chances at love, and will delight as much as it entertains.

Source: GoodReads

I have an addiction to Meg Cabot books. I’ll be the first to admit it. I think it’s in part because it was her books that really got me back into reading after going through a Harry Potter draught period—the wait between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix was a little ridiculous. So, thanks Meg. Thank you for giving me the joy of having my first book boyfriend in Jesse de Silva, and for opening me up to the world of feminism.  Even though there are some of her books and series I like better than others, I always end up picking up her new stuff save for maybe her kiddie series that aren’t related to any of her YA and adult series.   That’s quite a commitment if you think about it, considering that I have been reading her stuff for over a decade and have read several others books in between. Anyway, one of the favorite series I read by her was her Boy books and I recently did a recap of them in order to prepare for The Boy is Back.

This is an old photo that I took with Meg way back when Princess Diaries 10 was a new book.

This is an old photo that I took with Meg way back when Princess Diaries 10 was a new book.

Note, you really don’t have to do the reread if you don’t want too. There are a couple of Easter eggs for people who loved those books, but it’s not like crucial. Like those books, this one isn’t in traditional pose and is written in phone conversations, Amazon reviews, Facebook posts, and e-mails. Which means it’s totally hilarious—well, sort of.

The book actually deals with a sort of painful subject: aging, hoarding, and elder abuse. It’s actually something I can really relate to at the moment since I just lost my grandma this weekend and we’re in the process of going through her stuff—she had a penchant for collecting or should I say hoarding valueless figurines and other clutter that she thought were collectibles so it really hit home for me. I did like how Meg made this subject matter seem a little less depressing than it actually was, and how during family emergency there are often glimpses and moments of humor there.

Like in most of the boy books, the romance really plays a secondary role to a degree. I would say that in the series Becky and Reed aren’t my favorite couple but they are interesting and cute enough. Although, I did think they got together fairly easy despite all the crap that went down between them. However, I think that’s just me having binged too many Judith McNaught books earlier this year and being full of four hundred pages of angst before getting the fucking happy ending. Oh, angst.

Another issue I have with this book, and note they were minimum, is I was easily able to see the Cabot tropes throughout this book. Tropes that were similar to other Boy books. Like the evil lawyer sibling who uses the fact that she’s the executrix (yes, executrix editors—it’s the feminine form of executor and some lawyers/judges get pissy if you use the wrong form, at least that’s what Barbri told me when I submitted my Wills practice essay when I was studying for the bar) of her parents will throughout the book. The parents aren’t even dead yet and it’s not like the executrix would have that much power since a will has really no value until the parents are dead. And having a joint will…

Yeah, I know. I’m going off on a tangent like I do whenever I watch Law and Order. And I get it, not all writers are lawyers—thank God— but the fact that this is used as a threat by an attorney throughout the book made me laugh. At least Reed eventually called her out on it. And honestly, it’s not this that annoyed me it’s the fact that we had to go the evil lawyer sibling route again when Cabot had already done that in a previous book in the series (Boy Meets Girl). But least in that book we had Mitch to balance out the Fucker.

Unrelated side note, if Stewart and Amy got a divorce in the interim I think he and the evil lawyer sibling in this book would hit it off big time. I’m just saying.

Another similar trope was the cool siblings with lots of kids that having a Granger-Weasley bicker like relationship. Again, seen that before in two books of the series (Boy Meets Girl and The Boy Next Door). It’s not that repeating these tropes is necessary a bad thing, but I don’t know could we have the evil lawyer sister at least be smart enough not to use the executrix threat.

Because seriously.

That aside, I really loved this book. Again, it was very (scary and sadly) relatable given my current situation and I did enjoy the romance and characters for the most part. If you haven’t picked up the Boy series you should. Yes, there are some issues here and there, but for the most part it is a very well done and cute series.

Overall Rating: A B+ again the executrix threat and repeated tropes were really my only points of annoyance.

Oh Boy: The Boy Series by Meg Cabot

I probably reread a few-a lot-of Meg Cabot’s books each year.  Meg’s books are like good comfort food.  And yes, I find that even if I have had a God awful week, and this week has been full of stress they’ll make me smile.  It’s good to know that whenever there’s no chocolate or if I don’t want to exercise I can always pull out a Cabot book and get the requisite endorphins from it.

Although, like I said in my previous Cabot binge some of the rereads are better than the others.  Fortunately, The Boy series was one of those series that held up better-save for the fact that they’re titles are so similar that I start getting them confused.  Really, I have probably referred to Boy Meets Girl as The Boy Next Door more than I’d liked to admit.  Though surprisingly, I don’t have the same problem with Every Boy’s Got One.  And to make things more confusing another boy book-The Boy is Back is going to be released later this year so I am going to be more confused than ever.

Whatever.

It’s another Meg Cabot book to read and by that time I’ll be depressed or need cheering up and like I said before her books are better for you than chocolate or wine.

Gossip columnist and single New York City girl Mel lives in the most exciting place in the world, yet she’s bored with her lovelife. But things get interesting fast when the old lady next door is nearly murdered.
Mel starts paying closer attention to her neighbors—what exactly is going on with the cute boy next door?
Has Mel found the love of her life—or a killer?

Source: GoodReads

In a lot of ways this is the best one in the series.  The reason why, the relationship is the most developed and I love the Trents.  Though, the Hertzogs are just as amusing but a lot more dysfunctional-and that’s saying something since Daddy Trent is in jail.

I think the style that this book is written in-emails, notes, phone messages, etc. really works well for it. I don’t know if it-or its sequels-would work well in any other style.  I often wonder if I would’ve like her vampire series better if it had been written in this style, because there is really something perfectly done that most authors never can get right but Meg Cabot does.

Yes, there are the typical Cabot tropes that are used throughout the book.  And yes, there are a lot of shaking your head this is totally unrealistic moments but I don’t care.   There is just so much charm in this book that it makes you smile throughout reading it.

The supporting characters aren’t that bad either and they do seem to have their own lives-well, some of them.  Some like Dolly Vargas are definitely one note characters, but their one note-ness isn’t bad at all.   I didn’t even mind the ditzy model character, Vivica, and her weirdo obsession with driftwood sculptures.

If you like cute light reads that will perk up your mood, you should pick this one up.  It’s not the most serious book by any means, but I wouldn’t want it to be serious.

Overall Rating: An A-.  I really liked it.  Yeah, there were some things that could’ve been developed and changed a bit but not much.  I highly recommend it.

Meet Kate Mackenzie. She:

– works for the T.O.D. (short for Tyrannical Office Despot, also known as Amy Jenkins, Director of the Human Resources Division at the New York Journal)
– is sleeping on the couch because her boyfriend of ten years refuses to commit
– can’t find an affordable studio apartment anywhere in New York City
– thinks things can’t get any worse.

They can. Because:

– the T.O.D. is making her fire the most popular employee in the paper’s senior staff dining room
– that employee is now suing Kate for wrongful termination, and
– now Kate has to give a deposition in front of Mitch Hertzog, the scion of one of Manhattan’s wealthiest law families,who embraces everything Kate most despises … but also happens to have a nice smile and a killer bod.

The last thing anybody — least of all Kate Mackenzie — expects to find in a legal arbitration is love. But that’s the kind of thing that can happen when…

Boy meets girl.

Source: GoodReads

Back in the days before I found out I could not eat wheat without bad things happening to me-don’t ask-in addition to reading this book I used it as a cookbook.  Since the days I have been forced to make bake goods with glutten free flour and xantheum gum (I so did not spell that right) this book has collected dust a bit but I just pulled it out for its story and remembered why I liked it so much in the first place.

Plot wise, this is in a lot of ways my favorite.  I like Kate and Mitch too, but the actual development of when they got together was a little too rapid for my liking.

Seriously, they only went out on like two dates and slept together like once when he asks her to move in.  And yes, this is a Meg Cabot book and you know they’re going to live HEA.  But you would think after being homeless because of a break up Kate would be a little more hesitant to move in with a guy so soon again.

You know what, I really don’t care because at the end of the day I still love this book.  Like I said in the previous while the Trent family is lovably eccentric with a couple of relatives in jail, the Hertzogs are just so dysfunctional and not all of them-save for Mitch, Stacey, and Sean are likable.  In fact, I pretty much wanted to stuff Stewart and his mother’s head in a toilet throughout most of the novel, especially in that bit where they wanted to send Sean to a conversion camp.

So, so, wrong.

But I like the fact that the fact that good people can have horrible families were addressed and there were realistic consequences for everyone-meaning the TOD marries Stewie and they live miserably ever after.

Oh yes, the TOD how could I forget about her.  She is probably one of the most despised characters that Cabot has created to date.  I don’t think Lana even when she was in full brat mode was this bad.  The character would fit right at home in that basket full of deplorables.  I think that’s all that needs to be said about her.  But wow.

I think having her be such a horrible person was in a lot of ways what made the book and its whole story so good.  You wanted this character to get her just desserts and she did in a fairly realistic way.

Overal Rating: B+.  Like I said, enjoyed it and I did like Kate and Mitch’s chemistry but man did they get together fast.  So, so, fast.  Also, if you can eat wheat try those recipes.

Cartoonist Jane Harris is delighted by the prospect of her first-ever trip to Europe. But it’s hate at first sight for Jane and Cal Langdon, and neither is too happy at the prospect of sharing a villa with one another for a week–not even in the beautiful and picturesque Marches countryside. But when Holly and Mark’s wedding plans hit a major snag that only Jane and Cal can repair, the two find themselves having to put aside their mutual dislike for one another in order to get their best friends on the road to wedded bliss–and end up on a road themselves … one neither of them ever expected.

Source: GoodReads

This book has gotten better with reread. I  remember liking, but not loving it the first time I read it but surprisingly I liked it a whole, whole, lot this time around.  Cal and Jane have some fantastic banter. The love hate vibes were pretty much spot on and reached the level where I can insert a Pride and Prejudice gif without cringing.

Yeah, they did get together sort of suddenly towards the end but in a lot of ways I’m sort of glad it was sudden because the hate/love banter was so good.

The setting is also divine.  I really like it when Cabot does Europe.  The first Queen of Babble in my opinion is the best in part because of the setting.  She describes Italy just as well as  rural France, though I do wonder about the wi-fi signal at the villa.  Because really, they have that good wi-fi in the mountains in the middle of nowhere in Italy.  Because I remember my wi-fi being bad in my urban Ireland apartment.

Whatever.

I did like how while we moved away from The New York Journal, there were still references to the paper and the previous books.  It was just enough of a departure where it wasn’t a complete departure and there were Easter eggs for fans of the previous book.

So yes, I liked it.  As much as the other books….yes but in a different way.

Overall Rating: B+

 

 

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+

 

 

This is Not a Kissing Book: Royal Wedding Disaster by Meg Cabot

You are invited to a Genovian Royal Wedding in this second book pulled FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS, a Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.

Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison still finds it hard to believe that she’s a real live PRINCESS OF GENOVIA. Not only does she get to live in an actual palace with her newly discovered family and two fabulous poodles (who all love her and think that she’s anything but ordinary!) but she also gets her very own PONY!

Of course, things aren’t going exactly like she imagined. Her half-sister Mia is very busy learning how to take over the country while trying to plan a wedding and her father is actually getting remarried himself-to Mia’s mother!-and spends most of his time “renovating” the summer palace, although Grandmere says he is just hiding from the wedding preparations. Olivia hardly gets to see either of them.

Fortunately, Grandmere has her own plans for Mia’s wedding, and needs Olivia’s help to pull them off. Just when Olivia starts to think that things are going to work out after all, the palace is invaded by a host of new cousins and other royals who all seem to be angry at Olivia (although Grandmere says they are just jealous).

As the day of the wedding gets closer and closer, Olivia becomes more and more worried. For such a carefully planned event, it seems like a LOT of things are going wrong… Can Olivia keep this royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster?

Source:GoodReads

I won’t usually read middle grade.  I think a lot of it is because I like my characters to be a little bit more mature, and middle grade characters are still kids and to be honest that’s usually not a period in my life I want to reflect upon.

To be fair, I really don’t want to reflect on my teenage years either, but YA book has kissing and other stuff that middle grade does not.

I’ll make an exception though, if the book purports to have a drawing of Michael Moscovitz in it like Royal Wedding Disaster has.

And to be fair, I did enjoy this book even sans Michael drawing.  It’s something I would feel very comfortable with buying for a younger reader.  It was pretty kid friendly-although, I could tell Meg wanted to include a romance in here since there were allusions to crushes and all that good stuff.

And honestly, that was probably one of the  weakert part of the book.

Olivia is only eleven.  The crush just came off a little too much  to be realistic.  Not that I think it wasn’t cute, but I just really couldn’t believe an eleven year having that much of a romance.

The stuff I enjoyed was the more middle grade centric stuff.  I liked watching Olivia adjust to her new life in Genovia.  I loved her relationship with Grandmere and adjusting to a new school.

The mean girl subplot.  Again, meh.   I think if anything was weaker than the junior high romance, it was this part.  Mean girl plots were a staple in the 2000’s when YA was just getting it’s foothill in the industry and Cabot was one of the big proponents of using it.  While she has stopped using it to some extent in some of her newer YA work-side note, it’s been awhile since a new YA Cabot book has come out, I love the updated adult versions of her past YA novels, but more YA Cabot please-it’s rearing it’s ugly head here.

However, again, the book was so cute that it was very easy to overlook.  The book’s plot is pretty simplistic and goes more into detail about Mia and Michael’s wedding while dealing with Olivia’s first days at school in Genovia.

I’m going to be honest, the whole “princess” school concept made me roll my eyes and gave me flashbacks to that turd of a movie-Princess Diaries 2– if I was twelve (okay, that’s pushing it) or really to be honest eight or nine I probably would’ve loved it.  As a cantankerous adult burned by bad movies, I ignored my misgivings best I can, and read the school part for the dynamics for the characters.

While I am mostly continuing with this series for updates on Mia and Michael (because, come on, that’s why a lot of people who are over a certain age are reading these books) I’ll admit that they’re cute and are the perfect books for a younger audience.

Is it perfect, no.  But the original series wasn’t either.  This series is perfect for a younger audience.

Overall Rating: A B+

 

She’s Still Got IT: Remembrance by Meg Cabot

In REMEMBRANCE, the seventh installment of the Mediator series, all Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she stumbles across an ancient murder, old ghosts—and ex-boyfriends—aren’t all that come back to haunt her.

REMEMBRANCE will be the first ever adult installment of the Mediator, published by William Morrow, the adult division of HarperCollins, the company that brought you the YA books in the series.

Source: GoodReads

The Mediator series is sort of my gold standard series for YA.  It has a strong feminist main character who’s bad ass while dressed (tastefully) in Kate Spade and it has one of the best heroes in YA to date.  Plus, a love triangle that doesn’t want me to gouge my eyes out.  How can one not love the Mediator series?

Yeah, thought so.

To say the least, I was excited but a bit weary when I heard that Meg Cabot was publishing a seventh book.  The sixth book, after all, ended on such a wonderful note.  I was really scary what would happen after that.  I mean, how can you top Suze doing a Marty McFly and saving Jesse’s life.

Well, you really can’t.  But never the less, Remembrance was a delightful nostalgic read.

It does have a few quirks, but those quirks were very easy to overlook when reading the book as a whole.

First and foremost, Suze’s voice is still as authentic as ever.  She’s still sassy, not afraid to kick ass, but realistically matured.  I really enjoy that the essence of her character was kept.  One of my problems with Missing You  (the adult-ish sequel to Meg’s 1800-Where-R-U seires was I thought Jess lost a bit of her punch).  Suze, not so much.  There were some choices she made that had me raising my eyebrows a bit-for spoiler purposes I won’t go into them, BUT as a legal professional who worked in family law I was just like really Suze-but it fit with the character enough.

Jesse is swoon worthy as ever, but the character is a little more complex in this installment which is a good thing and very understandable since he’s alive now and dealing with the aftermath of being a NCDP (see, Suze I’m using your term-it’s admitedly catchy).  I liked these added layers.  Also, other characters are further developed such as Suze’s stepbrothers.  I didn’t see some of the twists involving their lives coming (i.e. David), but it was refreshing.

If you’re a huge Paul Slater fan, I don’t know how you’re going to feel about how Paul turned out as an adult.  Personally, I have a love hate relationship with this character.  When I read or wrote fan fic it was usually Paul/Suze, but that hardly means I wanted him to end up with her in cannon or find the character to be redeemable in cannon.  He’s admittedly slimy, but there’s something about him that makes for an interesting character to explore.  And like it or not, Juze shipper or not, you have to admit that Paul and Suze share some great banter.

The banter is still there, though admittedly Paul is dumbed down a bit in this installment.  Where in the previous installments he is decisive in his actions, here he isn’t on his feet as much in the previous novels.  He’s still an antagonist, but not an as worthy one as in past installments.  To be honest, if anything he comes off as borderline pathetic.  And I was more than a little disgusted with him by the end of this book.  Does this mean, I’ll stop reading Pauze fan fics (hardly), but it makes my cannon ship stronger.

It’s sort of sad though, that Paul has destroyed his brain cells.  I like him better when he’s smart evil than quasi dumb evil.  Though, he and Suze still did share some great banter.

The ghost mystery was okay.  Luisa is not my favorite or my least favorite ghost in the series.   I’d say the ghost mystery is comparable to either book two or three.  Better than books one or five, but hardly the zenith of the ghost mystery in book four or the time traveling adventure in book six.  Though, Suze did kick ass.

The wedding scenes and other fluff scenes were also well done.  But really, Jesse.  Really.  I feel sorry for Suze having to…okay, not going to say it for spoilers.  But come on!

Overall, if you’re a fan of The Mediator you should pick this book up.  It’s a nice nostalgia trip down memory lane which is pretty true to the characters.  Unless, you’re a huge Paul fangirl I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Overall Rating: A solid A.

Remembrance will be released on February 2, 2016.

Where Suze Gets a Sparkly Diamond on Her Finger: The Proposal by Meg Cabot

The last place Suze Simon expects to find herself during Valentine’s Day is a cemetery. But that’s what happens when you’re a mediator – cursed with the “gift” of communicating with the dead.

That’s how Suze has ended up at the graves of a pair of NCDPs – Non-Compliant Deceased Persons – whose drama didn’t end with death. It’s Suze’s job to make sure they move on—for good.

But the NCDPs aren’t the only ones with problems. The reason Suze is spending her Valentine’s Day with the undead instead of her boyfriend, Jesse, is because he’s having so much trouble adjusting to life after death . . . not surprising, considering the fact that he used to be an NCDP himself, and now his girlfriend busts his former kind for a living, while he tries to cure his kind of what used to ail him.

Can Suze use her mediating skills to propose a mutual resolution, and bring all these young lovers together – including Jesse and herself – especially on the night Saint Valentine declared sacred to romance?

Or will she end up alone—and possibly undead—herself?

Source: GoodReads

 

Honestly, I have to say after reading Remembrance, The Proposal was a bit of a disappointed.  It wasn’t bad.  It was a good novella, but it suffered from the pitfalls that many novellas suffer from.

I.E. it focused on having too much of a novel plot, and became overwhelmed by the size it was given (roughly 100 or so pages-though for some reason it felt a lot shorter).

Honestly, the whole ghost mystery plot wasn’t my favorite in this one.  It seemed like a rehash of book three really.   Except, the ghost wasn’t as homicidal as the Angels and Jesse was alive.  Oh, and Suze wasn’t as stupid as she was in that book.  But…

The relationship between Suze and Jesse, works as it always does but they really took a back seat to the ghost mystery and that’s a shame because the ghost mystery really wasn’t my favorite-again, revamp of book three.

Did that mean I hated this novella, hell no.

It gave me another must need Mediator fix and I probably would’ve enjoyed it better if I hadn’t already read Remembrance.  But it was definitely flawed.

And I’m not talking about in that four year degree community college with dorms type way.  Okay, really, maybe it’s just the part of the states I lived in but community colleges are usually two year or trade school programs and I only know one community college offering campus housing.   Most of them don’t.  Hence, the word community.

But hey, I’m not going to be picky because I’m just going to remain calm and Mediator it on.

Because that’s what Suze would do if she wasn’t throwing a punch at a ghostie baddie.

Surprisingly in this book, Suze is a lot more weaker than she was in Remembrance.  Again, this shouldn’t bother me as much as it did, but I just had a hard time seeing Suze in the predicament she got herself in.

But whatever.

God, I am really bitching in this review, aren’t I?

Blame bar prep.

I will say though this was a nice and very time etiquette break.  As much as I’m complaining there were a few nice scenes between Jesse and Suze and I really enjoyed the story behind the ring it’s just….

I feel this novella’s story was greater than it’s page count and it suffered for it.

Overall Rating: A generous B+.  I really should give it a lower rating, but come on, it is The Mediator.

The Only Twilight Worth Acknowledging: Twilight by Meg Cabot

This time it’s life or death.

Suze has gotten used to ghosts. She’s a mediator, after all, and communicating with the dead is all in a day’s work. So she certainly never expected to fall in love with one: Jesse, a nineteenth-century hottie. But when she discovers that she has the power to determine who becomes a ghost in the first place, Suze begins to freak. It means she can alter the course of history… and prevent Jesse’s murder, keeping him from ever becoming a ghost – and from ever meeting Suze.

Will Jesse choose to live without her, or die to love her?

Source: GoodReads

What I Remember: 

I tore into this book on a Mediator binge read back when this book was released.  I think it might’ve been the first time I’ve binge read a series.  I rapidly tore through the pages wanting to read what was next.  And the result it made me laugh, cry, and just have so many feels.

Upon Reread:

I am still getting the feels from this book roughly eleven years after the last one was published-God, I don’t like thinking that this book is that old.

It still holds up pretty well though.  In some ways, it’s holds up better than a lot of Cabot’s older titles.  I think it’s because rather than relying on a lot of pop culture references and jokes that other Cabot titles rely on, it really focuses on the story.

And the story is really aw-ing, although there are some plot holes that I noticed on reread.  But I try not to think of them.  Because we all know time travel is a very strange thing thanks to the Doctor, and it’s better to NOT try to make it logical.

Twilight ties up the series very nicely.  So nicely in fact, that when I heard there was going to be a new book, I was a little nervous.

Because Twilight ends just perfectly.

That last chapter, every single time I read it I just tear up.  It makes some one a little weary seeing how things are going to progress with these characters.

Especially since there was a point in time where Meg said that no one would want her to write a sequel, since bad things would happen to the characters.

Who knows though?

All I know is that Twilight is pretty much the perfect book.  While I wouldn’t say it’s as action packed as Darkest Hour, there is a lot of action in it AND more importantly it’s a very emotional book.  Things are nicely tied up in this installment and can’t help but make you cry with tears of happiness.

Overall Rating: An A+

The Title’s On Fire Too Bad the Book Isn’t: Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

 

Katie Ellison is not a liar.

But she can’t exactly tell the truth, either–not when she’s juggling two boyfriends, secretly hating the high school football team everyone else worships, and trying to have the best summer ever. At least Katie has it all under control (sort of). Her biggest secret, what really happened the nightTommy Sullivan is a freak was spray-painted on the junior high gymnasium wall, is safe.

That is, until Tommy comes back to town. Katie is sure he’s going to ruin all her plans, and she’ll do anything to hang on to her perfect existence. Even if it means telling more lies. Even if, now that Tommy’s around, she’s actually–truthfully–having the time of her life.

Source: GoodReads

Long before my book blogging days I was a Meg Cabot junky.  I had to get every book of hers on release date, and this was before Prime existed so I actually had to drive to the bookstore and pick up said book.

Pants on Fire was one of these books.

In retrospect, it was nowhere near the hype I had for it.  But at the time I was excited about it.  It included a heroine who actually has a complicated love life AND wasn’t perfect.

Sort of hard to find in YA at the time, but since Pants on Fire has been published heroines in YA have grown more complicated and make Katie…well, insufferable.

Like I said, I wanted to like Katie.  She’s not perfect.  But I couldn’t.  I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that she seems a bit unrealistic and a bit of a Mary Sue.

I know, I’m saying something seemingly blasphemous-a Mary Sue main character in a Meg Cabot book, but Katie sort of fits the test with everyone being in love with her, her being unnaturally good at taking photos, Valedictorian, having all the boys love her, being one of the most popular girls in school, and being a shoe in as a finalist in a beauty contest.

Yeah,  gag me.

To be fair, the whole beauty competition was an interesting twist when I first read the book.  But upon, reflection I felt like there were these major “moral lessond of the weeks” that were hammered into my head.

I’m not a fan of moral lessons.

They annoy me.

BUT during the time period the book was written in, they were more common in YA than today.  Especially in Cabot’s contemporaries.

The major moral lessons in these books was what annoyed me the most about all of Cabot’s contemporaries in the period.  The messages are often eye roll worthy and corny, even though I know that’s probably not Cabot’s intentions.

It’s not that the books are especially bad, they are very readable, but there’s just a preachy undertone to them that makes you want to pull out your hair.  Especially when that little life lesson the book’s trying to reach you, is the focal point of the book.

Which if you’re wondering is: Lying is bad.

Lies and omitting the truth are featured heavily in Pants on Fire (even in the title to some regard) of course because of this, consequences! happen.

To be honest, the consequences are sort of lame and don’t take up a lot of page count and our deeply flawed main character still gets a Cabot signature happily ever after.

Katie doesn’t deserve a happily ever after.  Especially a Cabot one.

She is fucked up and needs to deal with her shit, rather than getting in a new relationship.  And yes, I did like the guy she ended up with, BUT girl wasn’t ready for a realtionship yet.

There are things about this book that should make it stand out.   But it doesn’t.  The beauty pagent falls flat.  Even flatter than Dumplin, whose beauty pagent scenes hardly impressed me.  Katie’s big dilemma sort of sadly deflated.  It was like anything with any oomph, died quickly with this book.

Look, I know it seems like I’m harping on this book a lot, and perhaps I am.  It has a lot of things to offer and at the end of the day it sadly just flops around.  That being said, it’s probably the best out of the three Cabot contemporary YA standalones  (Teen Idol, How to Popular, and Pants on Fire).  I liked a lot of the ideas that were in this book, but it just really didn’t work for me.

Overall Rating: A C+

The Book That Tricked Many Into Thinking It Was the First in the Series: Haunted by Meg Cabot

Is it possible to be haunted by someone who isn’t even dead?

Suze is used to trouble, but this time she’s in deep: Ghostly Jesse has her heart, but Paul Slater, a real flesh-and-blood guy, is warm for her form. And mediator Paul knows how to send Jesse to the Great Beyond. For good.

Paul claims he won’t do anything to Jesse as long as Suze will go out with him. Fearing she’ll lose Jesse forever, Suze agrees. But even if Suze can get Jesse to admit his true feelings for her, what kind of future can she have with a guy who’s already dead?

Source: GoodReads

First, Mediator news.  Apparently, Meg is posting a little short story that called The Proposal in the Mediator universe in January.  Obviously, I have already preordered it-though I don’t know if I’ll get to it in January since I’ll be bar studying (we’ll see).

What I Remember:

I really thought this was the first book in the series when I first read it.  And I liked Paul.  I thought he’d be the end game, only because I didn’t know how Suze and Jesse would get together even though I shipped Juze to the end.  Paul wasn’t quite offensive in this book as he is in book four and six.  And you sort of do think he’d be a worthy rival once he grew up a little (spoiler alert: he never did).

Reread:

Okay, so Haunted is a bit of a downer after Darkest Hour.  Darkest Hour is like a book full of adrenaline, in Haunted the action is much more subdued.  It’s not a bad book (I give it a high rating), but rather than focusing on the action it’s more of the let’s focus on building the love triangle book.

Luckily, Meg Cabot doesn’t fall into a lot of the same pitfalls that a lot of offers do in love triangle center books.  I think it’s mainly because Suze has made up her mind, and more or less this love triangle is about do you settle for something you can have or hold out for something that is feasibly impossible.

It’s actually an interesting approach to a love triangle, especially since Suze’s mind is pretty much made up.

But it is still a love triangle, and love triangles pretty much suck.

The ghost episodic feel of the book is kind of a downer.  You just have a grossly immature ghost who isn’t really that big of an issue.

This is also the first book where Suze calls her stepbrothers by their names.  Honestly, I wish she would’ve kept on calling Dopey Dopey.  I can get why she calls Sleepy and Doc by their names, but Dopey deserved to be called Dopey.

Just saying,

More mediator or should I say shifter mythos is explored which is nice because we needed that.  However, while Jesse was definitely in the last book, I felt like he was missing a bit from this one.

While there are a lot of things about Haunted that are filler, it’s that filler that’s needed.  I really wish the series was allowed to go like it was originally planned to, because I feel like it would’ve made it stronger in some points.  And I think it might’ve somewhat jilted Haunted, but whatever.

Overall Rating: A B+  I could’ve dealt with more, but it’ll do.

In Which Suze Has Me Googling Slip Dresses: Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

What – or who – is buried in Susannah’s backyard?

When the nineteenth-century ghost of Maria de Silva wakes her up in the middle of the night, Suze knows this is no ordinary visitation – and not just from the knife at her throat, either. In life, Maria was the fiancée of Jesse – the same Jesse who was murdered a hundred and fifty years before. The same Jesse Suze is in love with.

Maria threatens Suze: The backyard construction must cease. Suze has a pretty good idea what – or rather, who – Maria doesn’t want found. But in solving Jesse’s murder, will Suze end up losing him forever?

Source: GoodReads

 

Can you believe it’s the fourth month of this Mediator reread series?  Neither can I.  In Mediator news, there has been an excerpt and cover leaked, people.  Seems like Paul is up to his old tricks again, not that surprised (and yes, I already preordered this book).

What I Remember:

I remember really being surprised by this one and kind of shocked about how evil Paul was in this one.  Because remember, I read Haunted first.  If you just read Haunted, Paul just seems like a sightly sleazy boy who makes some dubious choices.  But in Darkest Evil you know that he would have no problem fighting Voldemort and probably winning (he’d probably exorcise all seven pieces of Voldy’s soul and laugh about it).

Reread

If Suze Simon isn’t a BAMF character before, she is now.

Honestly, in a lot of ways, Darkest Hour is my favorite book in the series.  The last one might hit some emotional strings for me, but this book does too and has Suze fight probably the most scariest baddies in the series.

We also get more backstory on Jesse which is a good thing, because really up until this point the character Jesse needed some (okay, a lot fleshing out).

I think this book is what seals the deal for the Juze ship.  My OTP.  Okay, to be honest I do like Paul/Suze in fanfiction better.  Only because I think in fannon it allows more story, but in cannon I ❤ Suze and Jesse forever.  You can really feel how much these two characters have grown to love each other in this book-though Suze is too stupid to realize Jesse has feelings for her.

I also like how the two of them interact around Maria and Diego.  I thought having Suze having to deal with Jesse’s past was a pretty smart idea on Cabot’s part.  The dude has baggage due to the way he died, and I’m glad she didn’t ignore that.

Maria and Diego make more formable foils than Heather or the RLS Angels, that’ s for sure.   It doesn’t take Suze almost 200 pages to be in peril only till like chapter 2 or 3.  And she’s actually scared.  And Jesse doesn’t really come to her rescue in this book.  She does a bit of saving herself.  Really as far as action goes, I’d say this is probably the most action filled Mediator book.

As I said in the first part of this review, this is the first book that Paul comes into play.  After reading the series as a whole, it is the same Paul but you do see a different side of him here.  I think I read somewhere that Meg always was a little shocked with Paul’s popularity because he is a sleaze.  To be honest, he is sleazy in this book but the Paul character evolves as the series comes to play.  I really wonder if I would be so team Cannon Juze had the series been allowed to extend to the seven or eight book she initially wanted to do.

Overall Darkest Hour was probably one of the best if not the best books in the Mediator series.

Rating: A+