Sunday, May 21, 2017
Pride and Prejudice is one of those stories that I know backwards and forwards by now. I've read the book, seen the movies, even read/seen some of the updates with zombies/Hugh Grants.
The Season is loosely based on P&P, set in present day Texas. Our Lizzie Bennett is now Megan. She aspires to be a professional soccer player. Soccer is the center of her life, but she doesn't have much time left to earn a spot on a professional team. Of course, Megan is surprised, in a bad way, to find out that her mother signed her up for the Bluebonnet Debutante Season. This is something that her girly twin sister Julia would be good at, not Megan. Because their family is a legacy, they both made it into the season's debs.
At the very first Bluebonnet meeting, Megan makes a terrible impression by arriving 20 minutes late. Their debutante coach basically tells her to throw in the towel. There is no way she will make it as a Bluebonnet. As much as Megan didn't want to participate, she asks to stay because her father asked her to do it for her mother. She is allowed to stay, but she only has a month to improve.
The Bluebonnets are a very wealthy group. The girls must each throw a party with a theme and sell tables to said party. The tables cost thousands of dollars, and the money goes to an organization that each girl will choose. Between designer outfits, party preparations, and tickets to each party, the debs have to spend a large amount of money. It's a burden on Megan and Julia's parents, who have been struggling at their ranch, even after factoring in the money that their grandma left for their debut.
At the first party, thrown by their cousin Abby, Megan makes yet another bad impression. She was punched at a soccer game right before the party, and must attend with a black eye. In jest, she tells her escort that she was mugged. This ends up being all everyone talks about, even though Megan eventually sets the record straight. The coach eventually talks with her about how improper that was, taking attention on Abby's big night, and she makes a lot of sense.
In a sudden death move, Megan decides to sign up for a class on manners taught by the coach. She soon discovers that the course is for elementary school students. In spite of this, she sees it through and gains a bit of respect. Julia ends up falling for the brother of the witchiest deb, the Charles Bingley, or Zach, as he is called here. The sister is dating, practically engaged to the Mr. Darcy, Andrew Gage. Megan strikes up a romance with the charming Hank Waterhouse, our dangerous George Wickham facsimile. Hank not only romances Megan, he also convinces her father to sell their ranch to his obviously Big Evil Corporation.
Julia ends up having trouble with an ex-boyfriend, trouble that ends with a police chase. She resigns from the Bluebonnets, so it's up to Megan to uphold the family legacy. Unfortunately, Zach breaks it off with Julia, on advice from Andrew! After all the terrible things that Hank has said as well, Megan has quite a bone to pick with him.
Of course, it will not surprise anyone who has read the original that it's mostly a big misunderstanding. He's got pride, and she's got prejudices, and vice versa. They eventually come to a mutual understanding. It's all happily ever after.
I received my copy of The Season through the Goodreads First Reads program. It's available for purchase now.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
"Without realizing it, I break into a run. My life is filled with TKs, because my life does not belong to me.
My life belongs to Lucy Keating..."
Annabelle is a normal, if somewhat type-A, teenage girl. She lives in a beautiful home with her parents, older brother, and their somewhat evil dog Napoleon. Her brother's best friend Elliot is always around and tormenting her. Annabelle meticulously schedules every part of her life, color-coding each event in her planner. Naturally, she is startled when her parents announce that they will be selling the family home...and living separately. The truly world-shattering news is yet to come.
An author named Lucy Keating visits Annabelle's fiction writing class. Ms. Keating announces the plot of her newest book: a girl with everything under control who learns just how messy life can be when her parents sell her childhood home and separate. The character even has a weird little dog! Obviously, Annabelle sees parallels with her own life. She asks Lucy if her new book is based on her, and the answer is...yes. She created Annabelle and is writing her story.
Thankfully, Ms. Keating plans to shake up her newest book. While past stories tended to end tragically, she is now dedicated to happy endings. Annabelle ends up meeting a new boy at school, Will. He is absolutely perfect for her, another type-A rule follower. Another Lucy Keating staple is the love triangle, which seems crazy-cakes because things are so great with Will.
Then Annabelle starts to feel romantically about, of all people, Elliot. Lucy lets her know that her destiny is with Will, but she can't stop her feelings. Annabelle and Will decide to take charge of their own stories. They decide to demand that Lucy stop writing about them. The author agrees, but their lives don't return to normal. Because they aren't being written about, Annabelle, Will, and their families and friends start to fade away.
Literally was a fun and unique story. I'm a fan of meta stories, so I was there for this. Annabelle could be a bit too perfect, but I liked her. She watched The Great British Bake Off, so we're cool. It sort of blows my mind that Lucy Keating wrote a book that involves Lucy Keating writing a book about Annabelle. What even is reality, y'all?
I received my copy of Literally from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperTeen. It's available for purchase now.
What was the point of all this shit happening if when you died it just got erased, like it hadn't meant anything at all?
It seemed like a normal football game...until the mascot jumped off a bridge into the river. Everyone is shocked that popular and sweet cheerleader Brittany would kill herself, most of all her twin sister Angie. The worst part is that they can't even hold a funeral because the body hasn't been recovered from the rushing water.
The entire situation seems suspicious to Benny. He's the president of Winship Academy's Mystery Club. The only other member is Virginia, because she is the only one who wanted to join. She used to run a gossip website about her classmates that made her very unpopular. Now, Virginia hopes that joining the Mystery Club will change her reputation, though it really just makes her as invisible as Benny.
They were both there when Brittany jumped off the bridge. Someone else was standing nearby, someone who scared her into jumping. The plot thickens when Benny and Virginia discover that Brittany is still alive. So, who jumped off the bridge?
I'm a sucker for a mystery, as in the mystery intrigues me so much that I have to find out who dunnit. The mystery was pretty good, and I almost liked the book. There were just weird little things that kept putting me off, like a really gross scene where a dude pleasures himself in a car while holding a gun. I just don't know what that added to the plot? There was also a Nice Guy who basically stalked all the cheerleaders. Blech. I can't really recommend this book, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.
I received my copy of We Know It Was You from Edelweiss, courtesy of Simon Pulse. It's available for purchase now.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
"There's just something terrifying about admitting you like someone. In a way, it's actually easier when there's no chance of anything happening. But there's this threshold where things suddenly become possible. And then your cards are on the table. And there you are, wanting, right out in the open..."
The Upside of Unrequited is set in the same universe as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but it's not technically a sequel. The main characters, Molly and her twin sister Cassie, are cousins of Abby from the previous book. Abby makes a couple appearances here, along with Simon and Nick. It's nice to see the characters again, but also nice not to have to remember a lot of details about the previous book to enjoy this one.
Our main character is Molly. She's seventeen and has had lots of crushes, but no boyfriend. Molly meets a girl named Mia and introduces her to her twin sister Cassie. Cassie and Mia start a relationship, which is different for Cassie. Molly's twin has had casual flings, but never anything serious. Unfortunately, the sisters start to drift apart a bit. Cassie urges Molly to get together with Mia's friend Will. Will also seems to like Molly. Yet Molly can't stop thinking about Reid, the geeky guy she works with.
Molly was so easy to relate to, both for teenage and current Caitlin. Seriously, there were so many lines for me to write down afterwards. I'm also a big fan of how LGBTQ friendly the book was. Molly is straight, Cassie is gay, and they were raised by two moms. Mia is pansexual (I think?). None of this is treated as a big deal, which I loved.
Honestly, The Upside of Unrequited is completely delightful. It made me laugh and cry, and make little squealing noises. You should totally read this, and read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda if you haven't. Hopefully, Becky Albertalli will write even more awesome books for me to love and recommend in the near future (Please and thank you!).
I received my copy of The Upside of Unrequited from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer & Bray/Harperteen. It's available for purchase now.
Monday, April 24, 2017
"But I'm tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again..."
All it takes is one little mistake. Simon forgot to log out of his gmail at the school library. This wasn't just some ordinary email account, it was the secret account that Simon uses to talk with Blue. Simon and Blue both go to the same school, they don't know each others' real identities, and they are both secretly gay.
Class clown Martin reads the emails and uses them to blackmail Simon. He wants Simon to help him get together with Simon's friend, new girl Abby. Simon isn't ready to come out, and he definitely doesn't want to expose Blue, so he makes a few lackluster attempts to help Martin. Abby isn't very receptive to Martin and she eventually starts to date mutual friend Nick. Their other friend, Leah, has secretly liked Nick for a long time, so it's very complicated.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was such a good story. Simon is funny and awesome, and I liked reading his point of view. It feels like the teenagers are authentic, but not as scary as real teens. Becky Albertalli's book was so fantastic that I absolutely had to read her follow-up, The Upside of Unrequited, as soon as possible. Actually, that's my next review.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
The Makedown is completely vile. It's a book that I threw across the room while reading, demoted to a "bathroom book," and still couldn't bring myself to finish it. What I wonder is if it's actually meant to be a straightforward story or if it's some sort of parable or parody or something...?
It's the story of a girl named Anna. She starts the book fat and ugly. Like all fat girls (Insert sarcastic eyeroll), she binges constantly. After her parents divorce, she moves away to New York where she gets a job with a caterer. Her boss, who she secretly refers to as "MFG," or My Fairy Godmother, takes a special interest in her, forces her to walk long distances to lose weight. She also gets the restaurants in her neighborhood to stop selling her food. Eventually, Anna becomes skinny and gets a makeover.
Everything is far from perfect, however. She keeps a "Dear Fatty" journal where she writes horrible letters to herself. MFG should have gotten Anna some counseling. Eventually, she meets an extremely attractive man who is interested in her...but he's maybe a little too attractive? That's when she starts the makeunder, and basically ruins the poor guy's life.
Ben seemed perfectly nice and is into her, but she is riddled with insecurity. She lies to him constantly. He's a vegetarian and she claims to be one as well. (She's not.) She lies to cover up her dysfunctional family, the divorced parents and weirdo brother who still lives at home. Anna ruins him, getting him addicted to junk food (Though a major point is how she switches his granola bars with Heath bars, which...granola bars aren't great for ya anyways), taking away his motivation, and basically making him so unattractive that even she doesn't want him. Then she tries to change him back but can't and it's all. The. Worst.
Usually I don't read bad books. I like to like things, but here...like I said, this book was gross. The characters were awful, especially Anna. As a fat girl myself, I was offended. Still, I have no doubt that this book would also disgust you no matter your size or shape. So, my advice is that you don't read it, a lot, right now and forever.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
“Do you believe in love at first sight?"
He made himself look at her face, at her wide-open eyes and earnest forehead. At her unbearably sweet mouth.
"I don't know," he said. "Do you believe in love before that?”
Attachments was Rainbow Rowell's first book and the last book of hers that I haven't read. Thankfully, I received a copy through Cannonball Read Secret Santa three (?) years ago. Recently I decided to dust it off and give it a go after I killed yet another ereader*.
The story is set in a newspaper office. Lincoln is our main character. He spent a long time in college getting a degree in computers. Now he has graduated and works nights in the IT department. His main task is to read emails that get caught in the filters. Lincoln doesn't like his job, except when he gets to read the emails between Jennifer and Beth. They unashamedly banter with each other through their work emails, and Lincoln keeps reading when they get caught in the filter. For some reason, he doesn't send them a warning like he should. After a while, he starts to feel like he knows them. Soon he finds himself falling in love with Beth.
Of course, it's a complicated situation because he hasn't actually met Beth. He doesn't even know what she looks like. Also, she has a cool rock guitar-playing boyfriend. Finally, there's the tiny matter of how he invaded her and her best friend's privacy. That one is tricky. It gets even cuter/more awkward when Beth starts mentioning Lincoln in her emails, referring to him as "my cute guy."
Overall, Attachments was a good read. I liked all the characters, and the structure of the book was interesting. Beth and Jennifer mostly appear in email form between chapters from Lincoln's perspective. Overall I think Rowell's YA titles are better, but she is an amazing writer and I love all her books. Thank you to my Secret Santa and sorry it took me so long to appreciate your gift.
*Technically I didn't kill my first ereader. It has a crack in the bottom corner that 1. I can't explain but 2. makes reading on it a pain in the arse. The second died after I dropped it from my locker at the bookstore. The third, and latest, met an untimely end after I dropped it in the parking lot at work. Somehow this drop caused the little chargey thing to break off, and the thing was already having enough trouble charging as is. I'm considering a new one, but the expense is a bit much and I'm nervous because they don't seem to hold up very well and I seem to be a klutz.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
"Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game- and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know..."
Romance isn't my first choice of book genres, but I saw how much my fellow Cannonballers liked this book and decided it was worth a try. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the book. There were a lot more adult sexy times than I usually encounter in my mostly YA reading, but I sort of enjoyed reading those as well.
The Hating Game is set in a publishing house that is the product of a merger between two companies. As a result, there are two CEOs who both have separate executive assistants. Lucy and Joshua share an office and a mutual loathing for each other. They face off in psychological warfare every day. Lucy calls them games, such as the HR Game, the Staring Game. We only see everything from her point of view, but Lucy truly believes that Joshua hates her.
Their feud comes to a climax when they are both in consideration for a promotion. It's very likely that one of them will get it, and whoever doesn't get the job will answer to the one who does. Lucy plans to quit rather than work under Joshua, and they make an agreement that whoever doesn't get the job will quit.
In the meantime, Lucy starts to date a coworker named Danny. Joshua is hostile about the relationship, even implying that she is making up dates. We all know that it's because Joshua has the hots for Lucy. She is clueless until he kisses her in the elevator at work. Lucy's feelings are all mixed up. Lucy and Joshua obviously have chemistry between them, but there is so much history with their games and their work relationship.
After the kiss, Lucy finds herself drawn to Joshua. She thinks it's just physical. They kiss and get really steamy, but he refuses to take it all the way. Joshua likes the anticipation. Soon, the former enemies start to relate to each other. Joshua takes care of her when she is sick. Lucy agrees to attend his brother's wedding. It's all actually really nice and made me sort of schmoopy and wistful.
Overall, I enjoyed The Hating Game a lot. Cannonballers know their books. My biggest, and pretty much only, issue was how Lucy tended to blow things out of proportion. I wish that she would talk things out instead of jumping to the worst conclusions (The Wedding Conflict springs to mind, not to be too spoilery). I might call out the "they hate each other but secretly love each other deep down" trope, but honestly I love that one anyways. It's a classic for a reason. I ended up liking this book so much that I'm actually excited to read Thorne's new book when it comes out in July.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Unbelieveable Gwenpool Volume 1: Believe It by Christopher Hastings, Danilo Beyruth, and Gurihiru
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this comic. Gwenpool seemed like an alternate version of Deadpool, obviously gender-swapped and possibly originally Gwen Stacey, like Spider-Gwen? The cutesy cover really drew me in, so I decided to give it a chance.
It's actually the story of a girl named Gwen Poole (So, not Gwen Stacey...except maybe? I don't think she is, but I really don't know...according to Wikipedia, she is Gwen Stacey. Actually, it's based on a drawing of Gwen Stacey dressed as a version of Deadpool, and fans liked it so much that they created this series). She is from an alternate universe that is basically the real world. Gwen has an encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and the powers of being meta and sort of a scary weapons- and bomb-wielding psychopath.
Gwenpool spends the first part of the book flipping between fighting crime and committing crime as a mercenary. Later, she ends up in MODOK's gang and ends up (kind of) a villain. Another member sees the obvious, that Gwen has no powers and can barely shoot a gun. After a brief encounter with Doctor Strange, she gets identification to open a bank account in her new universe. Unfortunately, MODOK discovers that she doesn't have powers, and that's when the real fun starts...and the book ends.
At first, Gwen seemed really off-putting. She's a little bit of a psychopath. I don't know when it happened, but eventually I started to like her. She's still psycho, but she has some heart and conscience, much like the other Pool who shares her name. I snickered at the meta stuff about Gwen's costume.
Bonus: The Unbelievable Gwenpool 2016 Holiday Special: Merry Mix-Up
In conclusion, I thought that Gwenpool was a fun new character. She's not on my regular rotation, but I'd like to read the second volume in the series once it comes out.