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+

 

The Unofficial Princess Diaries Binge Read: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Olivia Grace Clarisse Harrison has always known she was different. Brought up by her aunt’s family in New Jersey, book-and-music-loving Olivia feels out of place in their life of high fashion and fancy cars. But she never could have imagined how out of place she really was until Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia, pops into her school and announces that Olivia is her long-lost sister. Olivia is a princess. A dream come true, right? But princesses have problems too.

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS a new middle grade series, readers will see Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of a spunky new heroine, 12 year old Olivia Grace, who happens to be the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

The original Princess Diaries series sold over 5 million copies in the US (15 million worldwide), spent 82 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, and inspired two beloved films.

Source: GoodReads

Truth be told, I was sort of worried about this book.  I think because I’ve seen a lot of disastrous YA spinoffs when they go into other genres may it be adult or middle grade.  Thankfully, this book didn’t fall down that path.

Overall, this is a cute little book.  I feel like it might be on the younger side of middle grade though.  Honestly, Olivia sounded more like ten than twelve, but that might just be me.  Regardless of that, it surprisingly worked really well for me.

For long time fans like me, it was a nice way to get reacquainted with these characters before Royal Wedding and for younger readers it’s a nice entrance into the main series.  Though when I was Olivia’s age I think that’s when I began reading Diaries.  So…

Okay.

Let’s avoid how old I am.

The point is, this one has all the charm of the original book series, but without all the othings that made it for older readers.  And Grandmere is halfway normal in this book because Olivia hasn’t seen that shes’ a super villain in disguise yet.

I really liked the contrast between Olivia and Mia.  They are the same, but not.  And Olivia was an interesting enough character.  I really do look forward to seeing how she develops later on in this series.

As far as plot goes, this one is pretty bare bones.  I don’t even think the book is over two hundred pages if even that.  Sure, there’s the whole Olivia custody part-which I had to give the whole stink eye to as a lawyer-but that was overall pretty anticlimactic.

And seriously, what was up with Olivia’s Dursley like relatives.  She might as well been sleeping in a cupboard.  Two Ferraris, seriously?

To be honest, the abuse that she suffered shouldn’t have been as glossed over as it was.  Because while it wasn’t Lifetime movie bad, it was bad enough to issue Olivia a few sessions in Dr. Knutz’s office.  I really hope Meg explores this issue in future additions, but I really don’t think it probably will be.

The one thing I’m really worried about is how the whole royal thing will be treated in future books.  There were hints in this one-teh whole lady in waiting thing and Phillipe dressed in full prince regalia while he was just at home-that makes me think that it might be heading in a cheesy Princess Diaries 2 fashion.  I get that this is geared for younger audience, but I pray to the book gods that it doesn’t go there. The Nostalgia Critic reviewed that movie, I think that tells you right there that that’s not a good idea to try to imitate.

Another thing that I wanted more in this book was Michael.  I wanted an illustration of him damn it, since this was Meg doing the art work and it’s probably the closest representation I’m going to get to him-it’s sort of nice seeing how author’s view their characters and most of the drawings were pretty spot on to how I thought the characters looked, though Mia was a lot more glamorous than I thought she’d be.  But then I remember book ten and am like yeah…

Overall, this is a sweet addition to The Princess Diaries book.  I recommend it to any die hard Princess Diaries fan or if you have a princess obsessed tween give it to them.

Overall Rating: An A-.

 

Is it Okay if I call this a Training Book? : Mates, Dates, and Inflatable Bras by Cathy Hopkins

Everything is changing around Lucy Loverling, and a turning point is exactly what she does NOT need. Suddenly she has to make all sorts of decisions including what she wants to be. And it seems that everyone else knows who and what she wants to be except her. Izzie has become friends with the glamorous Nesta, and Lucy isn’t certain she likes a threesome. Nesta and Izzie look sixteen, but Lucy, at fourteen, can still pass for a twelve-year-old.

But then one day Lucy sees the most wonderful boy crossing the street, and things do start to change — in all areas of her life…

Source: GoodReads

I remember gobbling these up when I was younger, so I decided it was time for a revisit.

The result.

Well, it’s not terrible.  Oh, sure I still cringed quite a bit while rereading it.  But there are worst books out there.  I just think I’ve really outgrown this series and instead of being labeled YA it should be middle grade.

Well, maybe ten years ago it was YA.

Let’s face it, the genre has matured a bit in ten years.  Used to you’d never see characters have sexual relationships with each and now..well, it’s more common place.

Dates, Mates, and Inflatable Bras isn’t really the best book.  And it hasn’t held up well over time either.  Though to be fair it was a little bit behind the times when it was first published too, Leo Dicaprio was so late 90’s book.

Whatever though.

The characters, while flat were enjoyable.  Out of all the main characters in the series, I remember enjoying Lucy’s POV the most so maybe that’s what made this one was stomach-able-Nesta I remember way beyond shallow in the series.  I think one of the reasons I liked Lucy so much was she was the most levelheaded of the bunch and out of the cliche characteristics that this bunch had, hers was the most tolerable.

Oh, sure she whines someone and is as boring as heck, but at least she’s likable.

Before I read this book I was reflecting on it, and I remembered I really liked the love interest.  But Tony is a bit of a bore to me now.  And honestly his relationship with Lucy is at best one sided insta love.

Honestly, they probably shouldn’t have gotten together in this installment.  I think a lot of my feelings for Tony were being mixed up with my feelings for Michael Moscovitz (another series that I’m planning on rereading in the next year or so).  Both of them are the brothers of the protagonist’s best friend.  But Tony is no Michael with his Leo DiCaprio face and womanizing ways.

And other than being pretty, I don’t get Lucy’s attraction towards him.

I think they only interacted for about ten pages.

Still, I’ve read worse though.  I think I more or less view this book as a training book (yeah, there was some sort of parallelism to the bra on the cover there and I know it was a really lame joke).  It’s not that great, but it gives you just  a taste of what’s out there so you’re interested in reading better books.

That’s why I’m not going to be too hard on it for its extreme underdevelopment or lack of a plot because I view this as a gateway book.  It’s not supposed to be taken seriously and to be honest I think it’s packaged in a way where people aren’t going to be expecting much.

It’s just in retrospect, it’s really a bit of a bummer.

Overall Rating: C+ while I wouldn’t read it now, I appreciate it for what it was in the past.  Younger readers who want something lighter and clean should give this one a whirl.  Just don’t expect much a decade later.