Book Review: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker

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Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty.” To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big “F” word—”fat.” Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her “momager” signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family’s financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?

Fact: this book is ridiculously easy to relate to.  I think that the main reason Baker’s novel is so relatable is because the main character’s voice is ridiculously sarcastic, witty, and delightfully straight forward.

On another hand, as a former sufferer of an eating disorder, this book really ended up opening a few doors that I thought were closed.  The feeling of shame about your weight, the way that mean girls could make you feel, the way society pressures you to look one way or another: these are all things that teenage girls struggle with no matter their starting weight.  This is obvious through the character of Angel as well as Emery as the story progresses.

I really appreciate Baker’s ability to make the readers feel a part of the story based on the way that Emery is almost breaking the fourth wall and talking specifically to the reader.  I also like that the story basically criticized the entire genre of reality TV, because if I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of it since a lot of it IS staged.  Just look at the way Emery and her boyfriend’s relationship was exploited in this novel, or her relationship with her mother and father.

Either way I think that this novel could be good for fans of reality TV and those who don’t like it at all, because it really pleases both aspects.  One by including it and the other by making it abundantly clear that it can really damage the way a person (character) thinks about themselves.

I was pleasantly surprised with this novel, although I don’t totally understand why the title is so long, but to each his own.

3.5 Bards!

3.5bards

 

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Book Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. 

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 

Well, I can honestly say that after the first two travelling pants novels, they just couldn’t keep my attention.  Although I don’t attribute that to Brashares’ writing, I imagine it is because I was at a pivitol reading age that I just grew out of it before I finished the series.  So when I found out that Brashares had a new novel coming out for young adults, I was a little surprised and taken aback since I couldn’t possibly imagine the author of the travelling pants, that I read back when I was a freshman in high school, could possibly give me a story that would keep me hooked.

I was wrong.  The Here and Now, while a fairly simple and short novel, was addictive and easy to read.  There are a few issues that I take with it, mostly with the idea that readers will likely not be happy with the ending.  But I’ll just leave it at that.  Brashares’ story starts off in the point of view of Ethan, but then switches to Prenna’s (the time traveler) for the remainder of the story.  So that

 

confused me, because I just thought that eventually we would get Ethan’s side of the story again at some point, but nope!  Nothing.  So really what was the point of the prologue in his POV when it would have made for a good reveal later in the novel, new knowledge for the reader as well as Prenna?

I am a huge Doctor Who nerd, so the entire narrative being centered around the idea of one specific event effecting an entire possible universe is absolutely fascinating.  Unlike Doctor Who, Brashares’ timeline is a little bit muddled, and the entire idea of Traveler One or Patient Zero are not mentioned until almost three-quarters of the way through the novel, and they turn out to be the turning point in the whole story.  Plus, Brashares subscribes to the strict cause and effect idea of history and the future, which considering all of the different possible time streams, doesn’t necessarily make sense.  I really wish that this had been a novel that looked at a few different possible futures based off of the main event that Prenna and Ethan prevented.  I think it could have been fairly groundbreaking in that sense.

Overall, I think that Brashares novel was a great idea and some parts were extremely well executed, but I can imagine a few ways that it could have been better.

Since I was still hanging on until the end, I’m going to give The Here and Now 3 solid Bards.

threebards

Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

Anyone who may have followed my blog for long enough will remember that I have a (slight) obsession and love for Alice in Wonderland and any modern adaptations that have a decent plot and use good elements from the original story.  So, any modern “fairy tale” (I use that loosely since Alice and Oz were both written in what could be considered modern times and are regarded as not necessarily part of the fairy tale tradition) will receive a good amount of attention from me and I’ll definitely want to read it.

Whew. That was a long preface. Anyway, I can honestly say that the movie version of the Wizard of Oz terrified me as a child, and I still cannot watch it without wanting to hide my face from the flying monkeys (no matter what Wicked by Gregory MacGuire said to make them less terrifying).  However, Danielle Paige did give Oz a new spin.

Amy, as a character, was very flat at the beginning of the novel.  I appreciated the way that Paige allowed Amy to come into her own throughout the novel, and it really gave me the opportunity to appreciate her through her growth.  In addition, she really went from being a flimsy, average teen to the savior that Oz needs.

Speaking of Oz needing saving, Dorothy was a nightmare.  Again, Paige did her best to make her scary, and there was a fair amount of death in this novel, but Dorothy ended up coming off like a spoiled and self-centered brat.  Although I am still questioning why Paige decided to go along with the movie and give Dorothy red shoes, instead of the silver ones that were used in the original novel.  Possibly because red is the color of blood?  Either way, based on the description of Dorothy and her clothes, I imagined her as wearing one of those really slutty Halloween costumes that are super short and low cut with her high heels.

There was two boys that really kept the main character’s attention, Pete and Nox.  But I really liked that there wasn’t a main focus on any time of romantic interlude, because the whole story was about Amy learning to stand up to the big bad Dorothy.

I wish I could ask Paige whether or not she consciously used Dorothy and the mining of magic to juxtapose the original political undertones concerning the Gold and Silver standard.  Perhaps I’ll try to ask!

I really enjoyed it and will wait impatiently for the next installment.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on: 
 
Release Date: April 8, 2014
 
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts. 
 
Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him–and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth. 
 
With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on: 
 
 
Release Date: April 1, 2014
By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz. 
 
Common enemy, common cause. 
 
When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. 
 
And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love. 
 
But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world. 
 
What power can bruise the sky? 
 
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 
 
At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?
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