Archive for April, 2015


Becky needs an intervention. CBR7 Review 24.

UnknownShopaholic to the Stars is the latest (the seventh?) book about Becky Bloomwood Brandon, a London girl obsessed with shopping. Over the past six books, she’s found herself in pretty much every single ridiculous plot situation imaginable, all while spending large amounts of cash in order to buy fashionable clothes. She’s kooky, but she has a delightful and grounded bunch of friends and family to keep her in check. You know what you’re going to get when you pick up one of these books, kind of like the UK equivalent to a Stephanie Plum story.

And just like my vow to break up with Stephanie Plum, I think Becky and I are through. This book’s outrageousness was simply too much for me to take.

Becky and her UNREALISTICALLY patient husband, Luke, move off to Los Angeles for a few months so that he can cater to his new movie star client (he’s a something or other in PR, and clearly makes huge amounts of money). Along with their preschool aged daughter, they pick up and head to Hollywood, where Becky decides she’s going to be a top-notch stylist to the stars.

Of course, things don’t go as planned.

Becky gets herself into one crazy plot after another, and frankly, I’m tired of it. Yes, in this one, it seems as if she actually learned that her crazy actions can actually affect others around her, but too little, too late, for me.

Becky spends loads and loads of money. She fibs her way into embarrassing situations. She befriends movie stars, only to find out how absolutely horrid they are. She spends time in a cult-like Hollywood self-help center, and becomes slightly brainwashed. But she’s so cute and charming, how can anyone stay mad at her?

Luke, wake up. She’s draining your bank accounts and making you look like an idiot. Time to move on.

Also, I despised the cover of this book. There was nothing redeeming about it.

Sophie Kinsella is a fun writer, and I’ve usually enjoyed her books. I’ll keep reading her novels, just not the Shopaholic ones. I think I need a break from the “non-stop fun”. I’m assuming there will be another in the series, as this one ends in the middle of a major plot point. I guess I’ll just look it up on wikipedia or goodreads, as I just can’t read another of these.


My Lauren Oliver experiment is officially over. CBR7 review 23.

Unknown-4I read this book almost a month ago, and am sadly realizing that I can barely remember anything about it. It had ghosts. It had a horrible, dysfunctional family. And it had a big, old house that brought them all together.

Did I like it? I honestly can’t remember how I felt about it at all.

Here’s what I do remember.

Longtime readers might recall that I have a weird obsession with Lauren Oliver. She wrote a gorgeous, brilliant debut (Before I Fall). It made me feel ALL of the feels. And then she followed it with a typical YA trilogy — it started strong, and got worse as each book progressed. By the end of the third book, I was pretty sure Before I Fall was a fluke, and I wanted to stab myself in the eye.

And then I read Panic. It wasn’t great, but it was much closer to the writing that had affected me way back when. Real dialogue and real teen problems. No dystopian rigmarole, no unrealistic love triangle, just people trying to deal with life. Much better.

So then I saw that Rooms was coming out, and that it was her first novel for adults. Why it was specifically tagged an adult book is a mystery, as a few of the main characters are teenagers, and the book has a definite YA feel to it. But I digress…

Rooms is about a house in rural New York, and the various people who have lived there over the years. The most recent occupant has just died, and his estranged family — ex wife, daughter, suicidal teenage son, and granddaughter– show up to take care of his estate and the arrangements for his funeral.

They have no idea that there are two ghosts — both of women who died in the house at different times and are stuck roaming the halls– are watching their every move.

Trenton, the suicidal teenager, recently had a near-death experience and realizes that he can sense and hear the ghosts, even though nobody else can.

Why are the ghosts stuck in the house? Why is this family so crazily screwed up? What’s up with the police search for the missing girl that’s happening at the same time?

I hated this family. They were all just the worst. But the ghosts? I didn’t mind them so much. Their back stories were far more interesting than those of the living characters. I enjoyed their chapters wayyyyyyy more.

So where does this book fall on the Lauren Oliver spectrum? Clearly, not even close to Before I Fall. And honestly, not even as good as Panic or Delirium. But far, far better than Pandemonium and Requiem.

She has a newer YA book out, Vanishing Girls. I don’t think I’m going to read this one. I’m announcing that my Lauren Oliver experiment is officially over.


The saga of Saga. CBR7 Review 22.

imagesI know I’m preaching to the choir when I tell my fellow Cannonballers how great Saga is, how awesome the first four volumes were, and how tortuous its going to be to wait for volume 5. I’m going to keep this short, because I’m guessing a lot of you have already read these, and those that haven’t at least have it on their radar.

Picking up some time after then end of Volume 3, we find our main characters assimilating to a somewhat normal life. Marko and Alana are raising a now toddler Hazel, and facing problems that all families face. Marko is a stay at home dad, feeling somewhat emasculated that his wife is out earning the money, while he spends his days at the park, hiding his true identity as a wanted man, When another mom gets close to him, he finds himself drawn to her, and becomes increasingly distant from Alana. Meanwhile, Alana is struggling with her work and it’s toll on her personal life, and turns to drugs to ease the pain. Just another day in suburban space.

We also get to spend time with the creepy Robot family, Gwen and Sophie, Lying Cat, various freelancers, and the tabloid reporters.

Prince Robot is trying to get home, back to what’s left of his family. His wife (and the bulk of his staff) has been brutally murdered, and the child he didn’t even know existed has been kidnapped. In the end, he strangely finds himself allied with Marko — both find themselves alone, trying desperately to find their families. I can’t wait to find out what these two are going to get up to in volume 5.

What else can I say? The story is brilliantly effective, and the art is both crazy and beautiful.


And yes, I’m still obsessing about the robot family and their heads. So many questions.


Alas, even an exploding whale couldn’t save this one. CBR7 Review 21.

imagesHere is a brief list of things that I enjoy more than I enjoyed this book:

Getting my teeth cleaned.
A colonoscopy.
Going to the grocery store.
Making three interesting & healthy bag lunches every day for my kids.
Helping with math homework.
Doing laundry.
Driving on the beltway.
Shoveling snow.
Vacuuming my car.
Cleaning up confetti.
Eating radishes.

Here’s a list of what I did like about this book:

Exploding whales.

I did not like this book.

I got it from some sort of Kindle deal of the day, and I had remembered reading a review of it in Entertainment Weekly, and said, hey, this sounds good. It was a bestseller! It won a few literary awards!

Curse you, Entertainment Weekly. Curse you and your subjective book review grades.

This is a story about a bunch of insufferable WASPs gathering on a Nantucket-esque island for the wedding of one family’s WASPy daughter to another family’s WASPy son. Everyone is horrible and priveledged and I wanted to punch them all in the face. Repeatedly.

So much talk about why it’s so important to join the right sort of club, and what it means to be accepted into the right social setting, and blah blah blah. I really just can’t be bothered to tell you any more about it. I just can’t spend another second thinking about it.

In short: this is bad. Don’t read it. Go get a colonoscopy instead.


I’m a sucker for a fabulous musical. CBR7 Review 20.

UnknownYou guys, I was totally unprepared for this book.

Like every other human, I had read The Fault in Our Stars and thought it was pretty good. Then I tried reading more John Green, and got Paper Towns. AND I HATED IT SO, SO MUCH. And that was the end of my John Green experiment.

As for David Levithan, my only experience was his short story in My True Love Gave to Me. And I loathed that one.

I didn’t have high hopes for this one, to say the least. But I kept seeing Cannonballers that I trust and respect review and discuss the “sequel”, Hold Me Closer, The Tiny Cooper Story. It just seemed like such a fun, enjoyable read. And I wanted to be a part of it.

I didn’t expect to love it. I didn’t expect to cry. I didn’t expect to read it in one sitting. I didn’t expect to NEED to get my hands on Hold Me Closer immediately (note: still looking. My usually great library doesn’t have this one, yet).

But I did love it. It’s being added to the pile of books set aside for Bunnybean to read in a few years — the books that I think portray teens honestly, even if that honesty is sometimes too brutal to deal with. It’s going to get put on the shelf alongside Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Diana Peterfreund, and AS King.

I think, by now, most of you out there now the deal with this book. There are two different boys named Will Grayson living in the Chicago area — one (Will Grayson) written by Green, and the other (will grayson) written by Levithan in alternating chapters.

Will lives with his parents in a nice suburb, goes to a nice school, and while certainly not the most popular guy in school, has a nice group of friends. In particular, he has his best friend, the fabulous Tiny Cooper.

will lives with his mom in an apartment and takes medicine for depression. he has trouble making friends and the person he is closest to is his online boyfriend, isaac. when will realizes that someone close to him has betrayed him, he is comforted by the fabulous tiny cooper.

Tiny Cooper, who could have been a horrible, annoying stereotype, is instead a strong, confident character, who makes everything better. I know my high school years would have been a lot better if I had the pleasure of knowing an enormous, gay, musical-singing football player.

<Gripe>My only gripe with this book (spoiler?) is my absolute hatred of Maura. I can’t accept what she did and that she is more or less forgiven by the end. That was just way too mean and selfish. </Gripe>

Also, I have to admit my embarrassment that at one point I tried to look up the word “sobutand”. Please don’t tell anyone.


Andrew Smith is my spirit animal. CBR7 Review 19.

Unknown-2My god. This book.

This book is 400 pages of ridiculous, teenage boy bravado and sex. It’s hilarious and real and heartwarming.
And then the next ten pages are tense and unnerving.
And the last ten pages? They made me weep. I’m actually starting to tear up again just thinking about them.

Last year, I read the outlandish Grasshopper Jungle. And I knew that Andrew Smith was a writer who understood HOW to write a teenage boy. It wasn’t just that he remembered being a teenage boy, it was more than that. He seemed to know exactly what to say and how to say it in order to make the characters — in the single most ridiculous book I’ve ever read — be among the most realistic I’ve ever seen on a written page.

This is the book that Andrew Smith wrote a year before Grasshopper Jungle. And the plot is simple: Ryan Dean Smith is a junior at a fancy prep school in Oregon, but he’s only 14. He plays rugby with his friends and is in love with a beautiful Junior named Annie. He likes to draw, go for runs, and joke around. That’s pretty much it.

But, as they say, the devil is in the details. And in the case, the details blew me away.

Andrew Smith was born in 1959 (this just might be the first YA author I’ve read who is actually older than I am). He’s far from his days as a teenage boy, but I’d be hard pressed to name an author working today — at any age — who is writing more honest dialogue for real kids. The only writer I can think of who comes close in this regard is the wonderful AS King, and I was damn glad to see the encouraging blurb she had on the back cover. I wasn’t surprised to see that he also teaches high school.

Andrew Smith has just earned himself a place on my automatic read list, joining Stephen King, Rainbow Rowell, Ian Rankin, Christopher Brookmyre, and James Ellroy (NB — I would put Jane Austen on the list, but I find it doubtful that she’ll be writing anything new in the near future). And I just saw on Twitter that a sequel to Winger is in the works. I can’t wait.


I love these books. But, hey, what exactly was silver? CBR7 Review 18.

UnknownI know there’s been quite a difference of opinion on this series, but I’m going to side with Malin here. This is my favorite current series of books. I’m a little bit in love with them.

A Vision in Silver is book three of Anne Bishop’s “Others” books, and they focus on Meg Corbyn, a young blood prophet who seeks shelters with the world’s “others”, the terra indigene, who were the first inhabitants of the earth. Way, way before humans.

I enjoy reading about Meg’s interactions with the Others in her life, and with the humans she is getting to know, as well. I’m interested in Meg and Simon Wolfgard’s blossoming relationship, which after three books, is still not settled. It’s way more than a “will they/won’t they” love story. I’m enjoying reading about the members of the local police department, and seeing which ones will stand up for what’s right, no matter what the consequences.

And I love seeing how the Others deal with getting to know the humans in their “pack”, and trying to understand their strange customs. At one point, Vlad, who is, for all intents and purposes, a frightening predator, gets flummoxed when confronted by a group of human women:

“…He picked up a pen and moved a couple of papers on the desk. He’d seen a human in a movie do that as a way to end a meeting. Apparently, the females hadn’t seen that movie. “Don’t any of you have work to do?”
They beamed at him before they filed out the door.
Vlad watched them go….
He sat back and sighed. “And humans think vampires are scary.”

There are a lot of day-to-day details in these books. We get to read about what each character is doing every day. IN GREAT DETAIL. I find this level of detail appropriate to the story — Meg is new to life away from the CS compound, and needs her days to be filled with familiar tasks and items. I find the details comforting, and a good way for us to get into Meg’s head.

But I get why some other ‘Ballers have had an issue with this and found it a bit annoying. But I can’t wait to read more about what’s going on in the Lakeside Courtyard. I was delighted to read that there will be at least two more of these books, and I look forward to finding out what’s going to happen to the humans and the Others.

Also, I just wanted to share the following with you. When I did my google image search for the book cover, I somehow was rewarded with this picture instead. So, I’m keeping it.



Vinnie Van Lowe, where art thou? CBR7 Review 17.

Unknown-2I am a marshmallow and I’m not afraid to admit it. I own all three seasons of Veronica Mars on DVD. I gave money to the Kickstarter and have my t-shirt and movie script. I watched the Dick Casablancas web series. And I love this new book series by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. I love having some of my all-time favorite characters back in book format, bringing me quips and feels galore.

Veronica and the gang are back, just a few months after the events of The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. This time around, Veronica is hired once again by the Neptune Grand. There was a brutal attack on a young woman, last seen at the hotel, and the hotel wants to clear its name for insurance purposes.

And of course, it turns out that Veronica knows there victim. And that there is way more to this case than meets the eye.

Along with Mac, Wallace, and Leo, Veronica works to clear the name of the victim and put the vicious attacker behind bars. I loved seeing the gang get back together, and reading about how their relationships both have and haven’t changed over the past 10 years.

We also get many glimpses into the current activities of Keith, Weevil, and Cliff (yay, Cliff!), who are currently involved in a law suit agains Sheriff Lamb and the entire police department. There’s no better pop culture father/daughter relationship out there than what we get with Keith and Veronica.

And lastly, we get to see whats going on between Veronica and Logan in a bit more detail. Logan is home on extended leave, but anxious to get back to action with the Navy. Veronica struggles to understand just why Logan needs the Navy in his life, even when he knows there’s a good chance that every time he leaves might be the last time. This subplot was the only one that didn’t work 100% for me. I didn’t really love the way that Veronica handled (or didn’t handle) their disagreements, choosing to ignore them instead of deal with them, even though I realize that her actions were actually quite realistic. I get  why Logan NEEDS the Navy, I just wish he could get Veronica to understand.

I want Rob and Jennifer to keep writing these books forever. I could be 85 years old, and would still go out and buy the new Veronica Mars book. I just hope the next one has Vinnie Van Lowe in it. I need to know what he’s doing, who he’s married to, and if his mom still works for him.


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