Archive for the 'Meg Cabot' Category

Challenge Post #1

Greetings fellow nerdgirls!

Well, it only took me about one and a half months to get started on the Meg Cabot challenge, but start I did! Part of the reason it took me so long was that I had to wait for the books to come in from Largo, Florida! Yay Interlibrary Loans!

For my first post, I’m reviewing both Where Roses Grow Wild (’98) and Portrait of My Heart (’99). As far as I can figure out, these are the very first two books that Meg had published.

From megcabot.com

So first a recap. Where Roses Grow Wild is about Pegeen and Edward. Funny story. I was talking to the undergraduate student who works in my lab part time, and she read the back cover for the book and was all, “Pegeen is a horrible name. Why would she give her such an ugly name?” And I had to struggle not to laugh at her. Not because I thought Pegeen was a good name. I agree, Pegeen just sounds silly to me. But because ultimately, the name Pegeen turned the student off of the book completely. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a name and then dismissed a book because of it.

ANYWAYS. Back to Pegeen and Edward. So Edward is basically this lazy rich guy who has to be a duke, which apparently was (is still?) a big deal back in the day, unless he can find his long lost nephew of his dead brother. He finds him, but the 10 year old boy, Jeremy (also called Jerry, which confused the crap out of me for a few chapters because I thought that it was a mistake before I realized it was just a nickname. But I’ve never ever known a guy named Jeremy who is also called Jerry) won’t go with him to become a duke unless he can stay with his aunt, Pegeen.

So Pegeen and Jeremy/Jerry go with Edward so that Jeremy can learn to be a proper duke. But before Pegeen will go, Edward totally has to give a bunch of money to the town’s prostitute (Jeremy and Pegeen’s town that is), so that she can take a year off after having given birth to her nth number child (I forget how many children, something in the teens I think). Also Pegeen almost cuts Edward’s finger off or something. They have a little fight, Pegeen cries a little, they make out.

Basically the whole book is about Pegeen and Edward fighting and then making out and having sex, etc.

I have to admit, I really had to push myself through this book. I like romance in my books, but I don’t think I enjoy straight up romance novels. Which is kind of what this book was. The good thing though, is that Meg wrote it, and so it has feminist issues peppered throughout it. That was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book where Pegeen was being all badass and trying to push Edward to see things from a woman’s view. The downfall for me was when Pegeen was like, “Oh, but he’s so hot! Tear my robe off!” I wanted to give Pegeen a little shake. Also, there is no falling in love for the characters. It’s instant love from the moment they meet, which I just don’t buy. A little more work, please! Also, Pegeen and Edward’s conversation about how they felt about each other got a little too repetitive for me.

Also from megcabot.com

Portrait of My Heart is kind of like a sequel to Roses. It starts off when Jeremy is twenty two and then fast forwards five years. Jeremy returns home after having killed another guy (in a duel (why was there a duel? Because Jeremy totally slept with this girl and then her brother demanded that Jeremy marry her and Jeremy was like, um, no, I paid you to sleep with her already)) and getting kicked out of school for it. He’s turned into kind of a dick. Kind of like a mini-Edward before Edward met Pegeen. I was disappointed by this, because judging from Where Roses Grow Wild, Jeremy should have turned out better. So anyways, 22 year old Jeremy returns home and is jumped on (literally from a tree) by the neighbor girl, Maggie Herbert. Maggie was five years old in Roses. Now she’s seventeen. Much is made about how much Maggie has grown. Her melon sized breasts are mentioned many, many times. Jeremy and Maggie go make out in a barn, Edward interrupts them, sends Maggie home, and tells Jeremy that he hasn’t done anything to earn Maggie.

Later that night, Jeremy proposes to Maggie, Maggie freaks out, Jeremy leaves and enrolls in the army and goes off to India to do manly heroic things. Maggie is sent to Paris to study painting, much to the chagrin of her entire family except for her awesome mom.

Fast foward five years, Maggie is 22, Jeremy is now 27. They can totally have adult sex now without it being weird. Jeremy comes home to London despite the fact that he is malarial. Pegeen wrote to him to let him know that Maggie has gotten engaged. Maggie is in London, trying to start her career as a portrait painter. Jeremy and Maggie are staying under the same roof which is horrifically inappropriate and oh my! what will society think.

Turns out Maggie got herself engaged because her mother died and at the funeral, Maggie found out that Jeremy had been awarded the Star of Jaipur by the maharajah, which meant that Jeremy got himself a pretty pretty princess to marry and that meant Maggie, who had loved Jeremy since that scandalous day in the barn, had been forgotten. Turns out, the Star of Jaipur, is actually just a stone, and Jeremy isn’t really marrying a princess. And he’s going to win Maggie back!

But wait! There really is an Indian princess! Princess Usha is totally nicknamed the Star of Jaipur, and her uncle, the maharajah, totally did try to get Jeremy to marry her. But Jeremy was like, “Nope, I’ve got this girl back home.” But The Times, which is the best newspaper in the universe, is never ever wrong, so everyone was all like, ooooh, Colonel Rawlings is marrying a heathen princess. Awesome. Princess Usha has followed Jeremy to London, most likely with the hopes of marrying him anyways.

So what ensues pretty much throughout the book is Maggie and Jeremy having relations, even though Maggie is super engaged to this french guy, and Jeremy is kind of a dirtball because he’s all, “But I’ve earned Maggie.” Also, there’s a scene where I felt like Maggie should have been all, “Um, you just raped me,” because she wakes up to Jeremy having sex with her, but instead she’s all like, “Yes, this is awesome.” And I just can’t.

The good part of Portrait, was totally the feminist part too! I felt like it was more direct in the issues though, because it was more specifically about how Maggie should totally be a painter if she wants to be. Also, Maggie’s friend, Berangere, was super awesome. I felt like Lana would totally have been Berangere if Lana had been 1) French and 2) lived in the 19th century.

So all in all, I enjoyed the books enough, but I don’t think I’ll ever reread the books. I mean, I would read them again if they were the only books I had on hand and I had nothing else to do, but I’m not going to actively check them out or buy them. You get my drift.

I know Amber read Where Roses Grow Wild. What about the rest of you? Thoughts?

Lindsay

P.S. Next up, An Improper Proposal! Which I will also have to get through the interlibrary loan. So it may take a while. And good thing, because I kind of need a palette cleanser. Also I have a ton of books checked out that I really need to finish. I’ve got The Cinderella Society on the iPad and Unspoken in book form. I’m not really loving TCS, but so far I’m like 5 chapters into Unspoken and Sarah Rees Brennan, please let’s be besties because you’re amazing!

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Meg Cabot Challenge

Oh my goodness. It’s been practically five months since our last post! How did that happen! That time really did fly by.

Anyhow, I’ve got to type fast because the whining has started and I know I’m going to have to do some walking and rocking soon.

I have decided to put a challenge to myself! The Meg Cabot Challenge!

*From Meg’s website. Highly appropriate I think.

Starting now, I am going to read every single book Meg Cabot has ever written, in chronological order, until I am done! Okay…so that’s not exactly a challenge since we all know how awesome Meg is. Mainly the challenge will be reading in order. Sadly there are some of her books that I do not own and will be getting from the library. So it will be hard to wait and not just move on to one of her books that I already have. And don’t think I’ll be cheating by not rereading! I’m totally going to be rereading!

Part of the challenge is also blogging the books! I hereby promise to document my challenge on this very here blog! Wooooo! Not every book will get its own post. I will most likely be putting books from the same series together and I will probably put some standalones together too.

Read along with me! First off will be Where Roses Grow Wild. Let’s do this!

<3s! Lindsay

*Update: OMG, this is harder than I thought. My library does not have this book! Maybe I will try interlibrary loan! I will keep you all posted!

Abandon: The Negative

As Lindsay mentioned in her previous post about Meg Cabot’s Abandon, I was not a fan.  I figured instead of adding a lengthy comment on her post, I’d write my own.  So this post is about my reasons for disliking a book by Meg Cabot.

**SPOILER WARNING**

If you have not yet read Abandon, continue at your own risk.  I may (will probably) include some spoilers, so if you haven’t read it and are ok with that, then carry on.  However, I encourage you to run to your local library or a bookstore, read it for yourself and form your own opinions, and then read Lindsay’s post, then mine, and let us know what you think.

I’m not going to rewrite a summary when Lindsay already did that, so let’s just jump into it.

Ok, first of all, I had a HUGE problem with the way it was written.  The plot jumps around and is not told chronologically.  Some things are mentioned that happened earlier and it really confused me.  For example, when Pierce returns Mr. Smith’s phone call, it’s just tossed in there and it only took me a second read through to understand that it had happened EARLIER but she was mentioning it later.  I don’t know why it couldn’t have just been mentioned before whatever was happening when it was thrown in.  Another time this happened and confused me had something to do with Pierce and her mother talking to a guidance counselor and her necklace.  It still kind of confuses me, so sorry if that doesn’t make sense.

Another thing that really annoyed me was all of the cliffhangers.  Especially the ones that seem to start with “If I had known…”  Like If I had known this would be the last time I’d see John, I would have asked him some questions.  That is totally not a quote- I don’t have the copy of the book anymore.  Sorry.  Hopefully you know what I mean.  It seemed to be repeated all the time, and it got old.

The last big problem I have with it is the affair with the teacher.  Yes, I know sometimes, unfortunately, this happens in real life but I feel like this is a weird trend in YA books.  It annoys me that teachers get portrayed this way in books when that negative view always seems to beat out positive teacher role models in books.  And I am suddenly blanking on any positive teachers.  Oh wait!  Mr. G in Princess Diaries.  Ok, good.  Anyway, between this, TTYL, and Pretty Little Liars, there’s a lot of bad teachers out there.  So it bothered me to see another.  By the way, I swear I read a blog post within the last few months about this trend in YA lit but I have no idea which blog that was.  Anybody remember it?  Help!

Also, I do agree with Lindsay and her reasons not to like the story- John and Pierce’s “love” is weird to me too.  She repeatedly does the “Why would he like ME?” thing, which can be annoying.  I read a blog post about female characters that do that too much too.  Again, can’t remember where.  I need to save these or something.  If you read that and remember where, please let me know so I can reread it and link to it!

I don’t understand what’s going on with Uncle Chris or Alex either.  I assume that will be fleshed out later, but it was kind of frustrating to never find out.  Oh, I also disliked the rich kids using Pierce just for her house so they could hide the coffin.  I’m sad her mom fell for that.

Even though I didn’t like it, I might read the next one when it comes out.  Maybe.

– Jill

Abandon: Let’s Talk About It

*Warning**If you’re reading this in google reader, the jump doesn’t show up for some reason. It does on the wordpress site, so if you don’t want to be spoiled for Abandon, I suggest you click on over to the site 🙂 https://nerdgirltalking.wordpress.com/
Howdy y’all!

Being stuck in the middle of the cicada apocalypse has done wonders for my reading habits. By coating the outside world, the cicadas have pretty much ensured that I no longer go outside, which means that I have ample time for reading! Last night I read Abandon by Meg Cabot. I know, I know. It’s been out for like forever, but I finally just got around to reading it. It is really not like me to let a Meg Cabot book go unread for so long, but it happened.

This past weekend I was talking to fellow Nerdgirl Amber (in her new house!! YAY!) and she told me that our other fellow Nerdgirls, Jill and Jen, DIDN’T like Abandon! I realize that I have been very neglectful of Twitter lately and so I am v. v. sad to have missed out on this – I promise I will not let my Twitter checking lapse again! But anyways, after reading the book, I might just maybe be able to see why they didn’t like the book. I will go on the record as saying that I DID like the book. I mean, I didn’t LOVE LOVE LOVE it like The Princess Diaries or Teen Idol or anything, but I will probably reread it again and will totally be buying the rest of the series as it comes out (but then again, one of my personal goals is to own every single book written by Meg Cabot, sooooooo…).

I feel like this picture sums up why I want Meg as one of my BFFs.

So let’s see…I should probably give you a summary of what the book is about, right? You should know by now that Abandon is a retelling of the myth of Persephone. Or rather, not exactly a retelling, more like.. I don’t know? More like Abandon was inspired by the myth. Or at least that’s how I feel. I do remember reading the Persephone myth way back in the day, and even though I couldn’t tell you exact details, I could tell you a general overview that I feel would be pretty correct. As I read Abandon, I couldn’t help but feel that if it was a retelling, it wasn’t being super true to the original myth. For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’m not going to tell you why because that would be pretty spoilery. Let’s just say that I thought it was more like, oh yeah, I can see what part of the myth you used there.

But back to the summary – Persephone. Underworld. It’s not spoiling anything to tell you that when Pierce Oliviera was 15, she died. But she was brought back to life through CPR and those shocky thingies the EMTs use to restart a person’s heart. You know what I’m talking about. I’m having a total brain fart right now. Seriously, what are those thingies called? Jumpers? Whatever. So Pierce got another chance at life. Now she’s 17 and after an unfortunate event at her prestigious all-girl’s school in Connecticut, Pierce moves with her mother to Isle Huesos to start over again. However Isla Huesos is where Pierce met John for the first time. The second time she met him was in the Underworld after she died. I think we all can guess who John is in the “re-telling”.

Ok, that’s enough for the summary. I tend to get really spoilery if I let myself go on and on and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. So from here on out, I’m doing that linky thingy again that I did for Jen and I’s joint post about Anna and the French Kiss :). So if you’ve read Abandon already or your name is Amber and you like to ignore these warnings, go ahead and click on the jump!

Pissed Off

Oh, wow am I pissed. I’m so pissed off I don’t even want to use cutesy exclamation marks to illustrate how pissed off I am. Why am I pissed off? Have you read the article that the Wall Street Journal did about Jennifer Egan? No? Here you go. Don’t want to click on the link? Here’s the part that pissed me off. The bold is the WSJ’s question, and the part in italics is Egan’s response.

  • Over the past year, there’s been a debate about female and male writers and how they come off in the press. Franzen made clear that “Freedom” was going to be important, while others say that Allegra Goodman was too quiet about “The Cookbook Collector.” Do you think female writers have to start proclaiming, “OK, my book is going to be the book of the century”?
  • Anyone can say anything, that’s easy. My focus is less on the need for women to trumpet their own achievements than to shoot high and achieve a lot. What I want to see is young, ambitious writers. And there are tons of them. Look at “The Tiger’s Wife.” There was that scandal with the Harvard student who was found to have plagiarized. But she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models? I’m not saying you should say you’ve never done anything good, but I don’t go around saying I’ve written the book of the century. My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower.

Did you not see what part I am pissed about? Here it is again: There was that scandal with the Harvard student who was found to have plagiarized. But she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models?

Jennifer Egan is not upset that Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarized. She’s upset that Viswanathan chose to plagiarize authors who wrote “chick lit” and YA. Apologies to Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Megan McCafferty and Salman Rushdie (ugh, Rushdie, he’s the worst of the bunch, am I right?) – you guys just don’t write the kind of literature worth reading, I guess. I hope you just read that last sentence and heard my voice dripping with sarcasm. Because that’s how I typed it.

I am actually double pissed off because I wanted to read “A Visit from the Goon Squad”. I heard it was a bit science fictiony which is right up my alley. But now I won’t be reading that book. Or any other book by Egan. You could say that I’m being petty and close minded, and you could wonder why this even really matters to me. The biggest reason that this really pisses me off is that she insinuates that someone like Meg Cabot (and the others) should not be looked to as a role model. Really? Jennifer Egan, have you even MET Meg? Have you ever read one of her books? I’m willing to bet that she has done neither. Because how could you meet Meg and then call her work banal or derivative? I don’t care if you think those things, Meg is so nice that saying those things are almost like kicking a puppy. Congrats, Jennifer Egan, you just kicked a puppy. Now I’m not saying that Meg Cabot is a defenseless little puppy. She knows how to defend herself. Just check out her blog entry, The Princess Thing. Meg defends her belief that princesses are awesome (true) while not slamming anybody who believes differently. That’s class. Meg should do a workshop where she teaches girls and women how to embrace their inner princess and Jennifer Egan should attend. Actually, Meg, can you do this for real? I will totally come even though I’ve already embraced my inner princess.

But seriously, the thing is, I can’t help but feel personally insulted by Jennifer Egan because Meg is one of my literary role models. You can say what you want about her books but the truth is is that a reader only gets what he or she puts in to their reading. Are there terrible authors? Probably. Can I think of any right now? No. Some people would probably say that Stephenie Meyer or Dan Brown were terrible writers, but the reality is that these authors are incredibly popular and they definitely have their market nailed down. And so does Meg. Actually, Meg writes across the board too! She has books for adults, teens, AND children. Plus there’s some science fiction and paranormal thrown in too. She writes EVERYTHING (that I can think of at the moment…Meg probably hasn’t covered EVERYTHING there is to write about..yet).

I think Jennifer Egan assumed (or probably didn’t even think about at all) that everyone who would enjoy her book would only enjoy that type of fiction. But I think that a lot of people, myself included, read all different types of books. And when an author slams another genre it says nothing good about them. And when you slam a group of authors who are incredibly popular with the YA crowd, such as Cabot and McCafferty, you are going to suffer a lot of backlash. Because if there’s anything we know it’s that the younger crowd rules the internet, and therefore the world.

So Jennifer? Next time you give an interview, try not to stick your foot in your mouth. You’re better than that, I hope.

Oh, and also?

DON’T EVER MESS WITH MICHAEL AGAIN. EVER.

Huggles, Lindsay

My Top Ten Young Adult Novels – Jill

I’ve been working on my list for a few days, and I think I finally have it ready.  My list, like Jen’s, includes my favorite books, not necessarily what I think every teen should read or whatever – although I’m a big fan of every one of these, so in a way I do think everyone should read them.  🙂

Here we go…

10. Graceling/Fire by Kristin Cashore
Sometimes I get these two books confused because they’re sort of related but not really.  Fire is a companion book, not a sequel. Both books had compelling plots, strong female main characters, great male love interests, and different but realistic worlds.

9. Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer
This is a book that REALLY sticks with you after you’ve finished reading.  And while you’re reading, it’s hard to put down because you want to know what’s going to happen.  I love that the plot starts out just like any other day that could happen now, but as soon as the moon is hit and pushed out of orbit, everything falls apart.  Probably the best sci-fi books are the ones that *could* actually really happen.  Plus, I’m pretty sure I have never heard a bad thing from anyone who has read this.

8. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian – Rick Riordan
For me, this series was perfect for attempting to fill the massive void left when Harry Potter ended.  I love books where I learn something while reading without realizing it!  I kept getting on Wikipedia to look up gods and other things from Greek Mythology.  The whole Percy Jackson series rocks, but this one might have been my favorite because it tied up everything and brought some satisfaction.

7. Forever Princess – Meg Cabot
It’s been too long since I’ve read this.  It was awesome and wrapped up the whole series exactly the way we all wanted.  I don’t think I could say it all any better than Jen did.  But I know what you’re thinking: Why isn’t this one higher?  Well, I guess that’s a testament to how much I love the top 6.

6. The Arrival – Shaun Tan
So here’s where I start to get into the fuzzy “Is this a YA book?” area.  Yes, it’s a graphic novel, but it’s still usually considered a young adult book, so I’m including it.  Because it’s my list.  🙂  This book rocks SO MUCH.  Amber and I were assigned it in one of our classes in grad school (though I think it was Children’s Lit but whatever).  I read it one day, and the next I had gone out and bought myself a copy.  The illustrations are GORGEOUS, and I love the sepia colors.  The story is also incredible, and since it’s entirely wordless, it allows readers to interpret the details themselves.

5. The Hunger Games/Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
I promise I did not look at Jen’s list before I made my own.  It just so happens that we love the same books because they’re awesome.  What can I say about this book that we haven’t already said on this blog?  I’ve reread The Hunger Games, which is kind of a big deal since I don’t make much time for rereading, and I read it just as quickly the second time as I did the first.

4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare
Ah, now we’re getting into the books I loved growing up.  There are a lot of books I loved that have not made the list because I haven’t reread them lately to know whether they still stand up (ex. The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi…LOOOOVED this book like 10 years ago but haven’t read it since).  BUT I did reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond last weekend, and it was just as good as I remembered.  A great strong female character + an extremely lovable male character (oh, Nat…) + historical fiction = winner for Jill!

3. Princess Mia – Meg Cabot
Ah ha, look, more Meg!  Now you’re probably wondering why is  book 9 higher than book 10?
Princess Mia was such a great book for me.  I just loved it.  I don’t think I’ve read it since, but I REALLY want to right now.  I loved the relate-able Mia was.  Really, who hasn’t felt like that before?  I know some people don’t like it because she’s depressed and things are terrible and Michael’s hardly in it, but Mia really pulls herself together in this book and has to truly figure out who she is since the guy she’s in love with is gone and her best friend is being AWFUL.  Whenever I’m upset about something, I should just reread this book.  It’s like therapy.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
Again, I made my list independently of Jen. Promise!  Obviously I love the whole series, and I’m not even 100% sure this is my favorite, but it’s so….fitting for the finale.  It has suspense, actual deaths, reminders that even though it’s just a book, things are not all light and fluffy.  There were so many ways she could have ended it, and honestly after awhile I wasn’t sure how it was going to, but the way it ended is perfect.  Plus, every time I read it, I’m pretty sure I cry through all of the final chapters.

1. The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
Not entirely sure this is considered YA, but darn it, it’s my all-time favorite book and it’s one of those borderline books, so I’m including it!  I have read this book more times than any other, mostly because I used to reread it annually.  If you’ve never read it, it’s a fun mystery…sort of like The 39 Clues only way better and less multi-volumed.  I’m not doing this book justice at all.  Please just know that it’s AWESOME and you should read it NOW!  🙂

[Oh, and fun tidbit about me and this book.  I interviewed for a job once at the place where the manuscript (the REAL MANUSCRIPT with Ellen Raskin’s HANDWRITTEN NOTES) is kept and studied.  When I realized this, I was convinced this was a sign, and I was going to get the job (which felt like my dream job), but alas I did not.  But I still love the book.  Maybe that tells you how much I like it.  …And, you know, things have worked out in the job area, so it’s ok now anyway.]

– Jill

MEG CABOT TWITTER PARTY!

AHHHHH YOU CAN TALK TO MEG CABOT ANNNND WIN AN IPAD!!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!

hmmm important decision to make: will I try to watch Project Runway Finale (GO SETH AARON!) and twitter at the same time?! or shall I let project runway sit unwatched for a half hour so I can focus all my attention on saying witty girly things that will win me Meg Cabot’s praise and a prize?! i do love prizes…

Meg Cabot Twitter Party!

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