SHAMEFUL BOOKFEST ENTRY #1: Speak (plus a bonus Meg Cabot primer)
Thought I'd get a jump on my May reading list (aka MY SECRET LIST OF SHAME), and read one over the weekend. But how to choose between so many enticing titles? Pick a name from a hat? Chronological by publication date? Alphabetical by last name? By title?
Of course not. I chose via the highly technical School Assignment Method. Meaning, I read the easiest-looking one first.
HA! I am so mature.
Those of you who have already read Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak are already snortling at me for using the word "easy." Sure, it's a fast read. But easy? Um, no. Very very opposite of easy.
I hesitate to say too much about the plot for the sake of anyone who hasn't read it yet, though The Thing about Speak becomes pretty clear early on (and The Thing about Speak is revealed in nearly every Amazon review -- so avoid the reviews if you want to be surprised). But here's what I can say:
(A) It's the one of the most accurate, painful accounts of being an outsider in high school that I've ever read.
(B) It's about depression and being alone and that all-too-familiar feeling of being trapped in and by your own silence.
(C) It's GOOD. You should read it.
I'm thankful that so many teachers are assigning this novel in classrooms. I wish it had been written when I was in school. It's not exactly a secret that I was miserable in high school. And though high school still would have sucked -- 'tis the nature of the beast -- maybe this book would have helped a little.
And a little can sometimes be a lot.
But enough cryptic talk, on to the happy! Which is what I needed upon finishing Speak, which is why I followed it up by re-reading several Princess Diaries books.
I love Meg Cabot.
After my last post, a few of you mentioned you were interested in reading her, but were overwhelmed by the selection in your library. Which is understandable, as she's written approximately twenty bajillion novels (eighteen bajillion in young adult alone).
Thankfully, you left your comments in the blog of someone who practically has a degree in Meg Cabot! Someone who not only has read all twenty bajillion novels, but has read most of them more than once. It's like this:
Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream : my husband :: Meg Cabot : me
She writes my ultimate comfort novels -- hilarious, fast-paced, and romantic. She totally writes about cute boys, you guys. And I'm not talking about beefcakey jocks. No. She writes about the REAL cute boys. The smart, sarcastic ones who watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and build robotic arms and play guitars and enjoy cooking and sci-fi novels and video games and watching the seals at the zoo.
(Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE Meg? THANK YOU for making your heroes nerds!)
I heart nerds.
Anyway, you wanted to know what to read. Here are my suggestions:
The Princess Diaries series
-- Yes, it's a long series. So start with the first three (The Princess Diaries, Princess in the Spotlight, and Princess in Love), as they complete the first story arc.
-- If you like these and are interested in reading more, here are my thoughts on the rest of the series: The books that follow the first three are fun, but they're more like checking in with a good friend, seeing how she's doing. They're fun, but not high stakes plot. But. BUT! The final three are AMAZING. And the last book, Forever Princess, is the best in the entire series. So if you decide to keep reading, keep reading until the end.
-- Yes, these are books about a teenage princess. But Mia is not a PRINCESS-princess. She's a slightly neurotic, combat boots-wearing vegetarian with yield-sign shaped hair who loves Star Wars and has a crush on her best friend's older brother. His name is Michael Moscovitz. And he is ridiculously hot.
-- Meg makes a lot of pop culture references. Which I love, because I'm a pop culture junkie. But some of these references will feel out of date. That's okay. The books are still fun, don't let it distract you!
-- This series is much better and very different than the movies. And this comes from someone who adored the first movie. (The second movie, not so much. Because there was NO MICHAEL MOSCOVITZ. Which = pointless.)
The Mediator series
-- A good choice for people who prefer their love stories with a paranormal bent. In other words, the hot boy is a ghost. And an insanely swoon-worthy one at that. Two big thumbs up for The Boy.
-- This series is six novels long, and you should start with Shadowland. It's kind of like The Princess Diaries in that the middle novels aren't quite as strong, but the ending (which is called Twilight, but it was published a year before the famous one, so it's totally allowed) is AWWWESOME and definitely worth waiting for.
A Few Other Suggestions
Jinx -- Stand-alone about a teen witch in NYC.
Nicola and the Viscount & Victoria and the Rogue -- Regency-era romances for teens.
Queen of Babble series -- A cute, three-part adult series featuring a twenty-something blabbermouth who restores vintage dresses.
1-800 series -- Another YA paranormal series, about a girl struck by lightning who can find missing children. The first two are okay, but the last three are FANTASTIC. And The Boy in this series is also way hot. Just so you know.
And speaking of Meg Cabot, Being Nikki, the sequel to last year's fab Airhead, comes out tomorrow.