Friday, March 28, 2014

Book review: Diamonds Are a Teen's Best Friend (Living Blond #1) by Allison Rushby

Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe's No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she's relocating in movie-star style - crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn't for the fact that she's bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride. (Dad's specialisation: human mating rituals - need Nessa say more?) Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that's five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles - star of stage, screen and – DVD. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa's favourite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

As Holly Isles, world-famous actress, confides in Nessa over mocktails.

As Nessa coaches Holly in the amazing 'Nessa's Lessons in Love' - the ultimate man-catching rules to finding true and lasting lurv.

Nessa fall for Holly's too-cute nephew, Marc.

And – cover your eyes!
As it all goes terribly, horribly, embarrassingly wrong.

There's no doubting it. This is going to be one pitchy crossing.

Received as a free ARC from NetGalley.

Diamonds Are a Teen’s Best Friend is one of those books that seems like it should be for younger people (maybe classified as a middle-grade book instead of young adult) but it’s really not.  I mean it could be, but it’s not dumbed-down like a lot of middle-grade books tend to be when dealing with some of the issues this one does.

There are a lot of clever things about this book.  Of course there’s the whole thing with Nessa’s obsession with Marilyn Monroe, and the acknowledgement that it might be that she just wants a ‘friend’ who can stay with her while she and her father travel around the world so much.  And Nessa’s point of view was, for the most part, pretty entertaining.  She’s overly-na├»ve, though, and it becomes irritating when she misses obvious things that the reader got a long time ago.

There are also things here and there that the author seems to just skip over.  For instance, when the book says Nessa and Marc had become friends, I’m just sitting here thinking “When?” It’s not even that anything was skipped over; because the cruise is several days, rather than the book taking place over the span of a few months for instance, the time skips aren’t that long.  And it’s not even that Nessa just assumes they’re friends; Marc is really disappointed in her when he finds out about the whole Nessa’s Lessons in Love thing and says he thought she was better than that.  It’s a weakness in the book that tugs it away from being as good as it might have been.

Despite that the book is pretty good, something I’d recommend to others without hesitation.  So happy reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book review: Disconnected by Lisa Cronkhite

Seventeen-year-old Milly has a huge problem on her hands.  She is being bullied by Amelia Norris. Day in and day out, Amelia torments Milly and even threatens to hurt her, but she can’t tell anyone—not a soul.  Milly’s reasoning—she does not want anyone to know where her tormentor lives.  They only share one thing in common.  Both co-exist as one in the same body. Milly is so disconnected from her past that she feels compelled to find out what truly happened to her when her parents were still alive.  After a mysterious fire, she and Grandpa George move into Aunt Rachel's Victorian home where Milly then begins to unravel puzzling clues to her family history. Through dreams and scattered memories, Milly journals her breaking story, trying to cope by putting the shattered pieces back together, all the while resisting with her inner demon.  Amelia is determined to cut Milly out of the real world—literally. Milly starts to wonder who her real family is after stumbling across Aunt Rachel’s notebook—having the intuitive sense that something terribly awful is missing.  All she had thought to be true now seems like one big lie.

Disconnected follows the trend that started showing up in YA a while ago of rather introspective books that are more about the main character and how his or her mind works with the mental illness they have than really have a plot.  In this way it’s kind of iffy, because the writing is unclear in a way that has nothing to do with Millie’s confusion over who she is and how Amelia is actually a part of her, not a separate person.  The writing is murky and doesn’t feel complete in the way that a rough draft would, not because it’s told from the point of view of someone whose mind isn’t “right.”

This book differs from others of its kind because it does attempt to have a plot outside of Millie’s mental illness, but it’s a little… bizarre.  It feels more like a soap opera than a YA book, but I suppose that that’s where the genre is sometimes heading, with its flare for dramatics and such.  I will give the author credit and say she manages to do some foreshadowing that isn’t ‘drop it right in your face’ obvious, though, so she at least tried to connect the plot throughout the book instead of having it dropped on us at the end.

I really have nothing else to say, though.  The book wasn’t necessarily BAD but most of it was unremarkable and didn’t stand out that much to me.  So an eh book.