Saturday, September 27, 2014

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love

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

Angel is the darling of her parents' eyes.  She is perfect, skinny, popular, and basically everything a parent could ask for.

However, this book isn't about Angel.  

It's about Emery.

She's the second daughter.  She was named after an emery board after her mother got a manicure while pregnant.  (Angel was named so because she was a blessing from the angels above.)  Emery has always been a few sizes too large with a real addiction to fast food and snacks, which is a problem for the more health-conscious family.  As the child of a minor basketball player and a former professional cheerleader, Emery just doesn't fit into her assigned role.

When an opportunity comes for her to help make her family famous, kick-start her sister's career, become popular, and lose a few pounds, Emery's resistant, but signs the paperwork anyway in order to help save her family home from being taken back by the bank.

What follows is a reality show nightmare with hidden cameras, production teams, people who fake friendship to get some air time, and a weekly weigh-in during which Emery is forced to wear a bikini on live TV.

But we all know that reality TV isn't all that real and Emery discovers that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than even she knew.

Final thoughts: This started off as a pretty decent read, though a little unrealistic when it came to her weight.  She's just under 200lbs but, for some unknown reason, she's so fat that her bikini completely disappears under her fat?  Ummm... no.  That's not happening at that weight.  The idea of losing 50 pounds in 50 days is unhealthy no matter what, but there's a portion in time when Emery cuts her calories down to around 800 a day, while also taking laxative tea and exercising way too much.  That's extremely unhealthy and there are no real consequences for Emery for those decisions, which sends the wrong message to girls who are reading this.  While Emery's YouTube rants are well done and make a great deal of sense, the ending is just a complete mess.  It didn't so much end as just drift off with no real resolution of the issues.  Additionally, there was no falling madly in love since she was already in love when the book started.  Overall, this just wasn't that great.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

After waking in a dark, metal box, Thomas rises from the ground into The Glade, where dozens of boys have spent the last two years just trying to survive.

All Thomas knows is his name.  

All any of the boys really know is their names.

Surrounding the Glade is The Maze.  Every day, select boys go out in the morning to run and map the maze and then return before the doors close at night.

And it's very important that the doors close at night because the Grievers come out then.  Get stung by a Griever, and you may not survive.

Just as Thomas thinks he might be able to fit in, someone new comes to change everything that all the Gladers have ever known.

Now Thomas may be the one person who can solve the maze and they are running out of time for him to figure it all out.

Final thoughts:  I think I'm now out of love with dystopias, and it's not because of this particular book, but more because of the formula, especially when it comes to cliffhanger type endings and conspiracies.  I also think this is definitely a book for boys so I think middle school and early high school boys would really appreciate this book a lot more than I do.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crossing the Ice

Crossing the Ice
by Jennifer Comeaux

After failing in the one competition that would assure three US pairs teams could go to the Olympics, instead of just two, Courtney and Mark must return to the practice rink to prepare to take one of those slots when Nationals start in a few months.

Unfortunately for them, their bitterest rivals and the top contenders for one of the spots has just arrived at their rink and have signed with their same coaches to train for the same events.

It's easy to hate Stephanie, as she seems to hate everyone who crosses her path.  However, her brother and partner, Josh, may actually be a pretty decent guy.

As sparks fly from more than just blade metal, can Courtney keep her cool long enough to keep her eye on the Olympic prize?

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy and not great, at that.  It's supposed to be romantic, but it just doesn't give that vibe well.  I think that what's really messing me up is an early quote from Stephanie about Josh just using Courtney to throw her off her game and then he'd dump her when he had her all off-balance.  There wasn't anything else done with that idea and I just kept expecting it to pop up somehow and create some sort of tension.  But... nothing.  Why include the quote and then never follow through with some sort of resolution to that idea? Also, Josh is just too perfect for words.  He's a nationally ranked pairs skater who somehow graduated from UCLA on time, while still skating daily, and now he's been accepted to their law school.  He also can play any song by ear after just hearing it once or twice. He can draw a bit and he's this amazing skate choreographer.  All this while Courtney skates and serves drinks and food at a local bar in order to pay for lessons and costumes.  Not the worst ever, but not amazing, either.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Broken Realms

Broken Realms
by D.W. Moneypenny

Things are pretty simple for Mara.  She's an only child of a mother who is very much into meditation and the power of the earth, but Mara's ok with that.  She's a gadget-guru who can basically fix anything that comes her way, so she works at the local repair shop to make a little money.  

Now she's on a flight that contains a teen boy running with a glowing orb being followed by Mara's doppelganger.

And then the back of the plane explodes.

Suddenly there are over 100 dead bodies, and yet no one is claiming them because they all think their loved ones miraculously survived, even if they did come back a little strange.

It turns out Mara accidentally opened portals between worlds and now doppelgangers of all of the passengers are wandering around causing problems.

So now Mara, a doppelganger named Ping, and Mara's brother from another reality must try and track down the other "passengers" and send them back to where they belong, while also keeping her alternate reality mother from getting through and destroying everything Mara loves.

Final thoughts:  Talking, talking... so much talking!  It's overwhelming how much talking there is.  I get that there is an entire system to explain, but it felt like I was trapped with a dull professor in a metaphysics course who just droned on and on.  I finished it because I wanted to see the plot through, but I really didn't enjoy myself doing it.

Rating: 2/5


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