May 18, 2013

Book Reviews

I'm currently up in Minnesota for another college visit, and I read a ton of books on the drive up here.  So... I decided to review them.

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
Grade: C
Summary: Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you.  Case in point:
As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his royal subjects.
As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus.  Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant.  But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

The Good: I love Pride and Prejudice retellings.  P&P is one of my favorite novels, so if you can reinvent it well, then I’m a fan.  I loved how the names clued into who was who (Elise Benton=Elizabeth Bennet).  Mary, the middle sister, was left out.  I didn’t mind so much, since she was kind of annoying.  Georgia (a.k.a. Georgiana) was sweet.  She was one of my favorite characters in Jane Austen’s book and it was no different in this retelling.

The Bad: Where were Mr. Collins and Charlotte?  Where was Lady Catherine?  Seriously, those three characters add so much humor and interest.  It felt odd with them left out.  I also felt like time passed too quickly in the novel.

The Ugly: A couple bad words were dropped, ones that really surprised me. (I was not expecting the f-bomb.)  Also, I don’t think Webster Grant (a.k.a. George Wickham) was punished appropriately for his actions—after all, these are teenagers, not adults.  For that matter, neither was Chelsea (Caroline Bingley).

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this book.  If the language wasn’t an issue, I would’ve given it a B- and said give it a try.  But I like to keep this blog PG-rated, and therefore, I can’t recommend a book that drops the f-word and s-word so casually.

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell
Grade: B+
Summary: Camp Frontier promises families the “thrill” of living like 1890s pioneers.  Gen will be thrilled if she survives the summer stuck in a cabin with her family and no modern amenities.  But ever the savvy teen, Gen sneaks in a phone and starts texting about camp life.  Turns out, there are some good points—like the cute boy who lives in the next clearing.  But when her texts go viral as a blog and a TV crew arrives, Gen realizes she may have just ruined the best vacation she’s ever had.

The Good: I liked the ending.  I enjoyed how Gen’s parents acted like parents.  Gen reacted a bit stereotypically to the vacation idea, but she really grew as a character.  One part towards the end, when modern amenities were discussed, was very funny.

The Bad: A large cast of characters can either make or break a book, and unfortunately, I think it broke this one a bit.  It was a challenge to keep everyone straight.  Some reactions seemed a bit dramatic.

The Ugly: Not any, really, thank goodness.

Definitely give this book a try!  The basic idea is different and new, and I was quite looking forward to reading this book when I checked it out of the library.  Perhaps you’ll like it better than I did. :)

Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Grade: B+
Summary: Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister.  So when she gets an assignment to describe what she’d change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women.  After all, if she can’t change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth?  Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo?  What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!)  But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1860s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won’t be easy.  And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily—not the four March sisters—who undergoes the most surprising change of all.  Lauren Baratz-Longsted’s winning confection will appeal to fans of Little Women as well as anyone who enjoys a modern twist on an old favorite.

The Good: The book overall is a creative idea.  I like how Emily was stuck as a middle sister still when she arrived at the March house.  Her personality was the same.  She didn’t drastically change.  If a preteen or teen girl hasn’t yet read Little Women, this is a good way to get them interested in LW. (MDBC introduced me to Daddy-Long-Legs and I read P&P after I read Pies & Prejudice.)  Without spoiling the ending, Emily’s intent is to change Beth’s death and who Laurie ends up with.  One of these changes is impossible, and I really liked that part.  It made sense.

The Bad: But overall, I didn’t like the ending.  It was weird and confusing to me.  The whole bombshell about Amy was out of the blue, and I wasn’t a fan.

The Ugly: Nothing that I can remember.

I would most definitely recommend this book.  Despite what I didn’t like, I did enjoy the book.  There’s a good possibility I’d read it again.

Secrets of My Hollywood Life series by Jen Calonita
Grade: B

The Good: There are six books in this series, and I started off amused and enjoying the books.  The first one is great, and the second and third are awesome, as well.  The fourth and fifth were good.  Kaitlyn was a nice character.  I liked how her relationship with Sky developed through the series.  Austin was cool, too.

The Bad: Kaitlyn kept encountering the same issues, time after time, in my opinion.  Plus, the constant string of mean girls really got old.  The sixth book was awful, in my opinion.  At the risk of spoiling a major plot point, the author spent about four chapters on this weird dream sequence that annoyed me to no end.

The Ugly: A couple bad words (thankfully, nothing too foul) and a bit too much making out for my tastes.

This series is worth checking out, but don’t be surprised if the sixth book lets you down.  Honestly, book 5 was a much better high point to end the series on.  I kept pinching myself while reading those four chapters, hoping I was dreaming.


  1. I agree on The secret of my Hollywood life series. glad I didn't get the last one. I didn't get it because I didn't like the sound of it (I read the summary) and I don't plan on buying it either.

    thanks for your review and I can't believe how fast you read the whole series!! wish I had your reading speed. how do you do it?

    1. I have no clue, lol. I've always read pretty fast. :) And I talk fast. xD


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