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

-- 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.

Woo hoo!


  1. Oh my gosh, thank you! This really helps so much. I really have wanted to read her and now I can start somewhere! Yay! You're the bestest ever.

    SPEAK sounds really sad, but really good. Maybe when I get overly happy I can read it. I better not dare in my more fragile state.

  2. I (heart) nerdy boys, too!

    I also (heart) being able to think coherently enough to leave intelligent comments, but alas, today is not the day for that.

  3. Oh my god, I just read Speak on Friday for the first time! I thought I was the only one who'd waited so freaking long.

    I totally agree with your take on it too. I thought it was truly the best portrayal of depression I'd ever read.

    As for Princess Diaries, it is one of my favorite series of all time, and the final book is so amazing I may have wept BUNCHES.

  4. I think I loved the Princess Diaries series because of all the pop culture. A lot works its way into my book too!

    I haven't read Speak yet, but I know I will as soon as my life is less crazy. When will that be?

  5. Ok, I read Speak a little over a year ago and LOVED it. High school kids really need to read that.

    We have such similar tastes. I enjoy almost everything Meg Cabot writes. She's fun and fast paced and the guys are always great and the MCs are quirky and strong. I like to read her books when I need something light. I particularly enjoyed The Mediator series. Jesse! Swoon! (You're so right about the middle books lagging, but they are still alright.) Airhead was a real surprise to me. Such a GREAT twist. So unexpected. I had forgotten that it was time for the sequel. I may have to pick that up. It's time to clear the palette from all the sad books I've been reading lately.

  6. Thank you for the Meg Cabot tips!

  7. We need I (heart) nerby boys t-shirts. I would buy one in a second. A half second, even.

  8. I don't normally read YA, but I used to write it. The Mediator Series sounds very interesting. Thanks.

    Since you're a writer, I thought I'd mention there's a writers' support group you might be interested in. It's called Writers_on_Writing. If you want to know more, check out my blog. I posted some info about it yesterday. Maybe you know other writers who might want to join? The group's a SUPPORT group, not a critique group for writers 18 years or older.

    Lynnette Labelle

  9. ugh - more to add to my list. *sigh* is a readers' work never done?

  10. Thanks for the primer! I've bought a lot of Meg Cabot for my niece and have long wanted to read some -- now I have a better idea where to start :-)

  11. What a great post! I am off to get a Meg Cabot book! And I LOVE that YOUR genius agent thinks I write kinda like her :-)

    and yet I've never read one?! But I definitely heart nerds! so you sold me with that one line!



  12. Have you read her adult mystery series: Size 12 is not fat. Size is isn't fat either. And Big Boned.? They're phenomenal. I believe she's writing another one as well. And you can't forget about the amazing stand-alones How to Be Popular, Pants on Fire, and Teen Idol. Or the lovely short series All- American Girl. Or Avalon High which not only is totally dishy, but it has mega hot guys in it. Plus manga! =]

    Great guide btw.

  13. Natalie -- Thanks for wanting recommendations :) I hope you find something you like!

    Amy -- SO glad to hear I wasn't the only one who hadn't read Speak. And I get totally choked up at the end of Forever Princess too. Isn't it THE BEST??

    Lotus -- YESSS! JESSE!! Swooooon is right!

    Carrie -- Please tell me the moment you find that t-shirt. I want one too. (Maybe we should make?)

    Lynnette -- Thanks for letting me know! I'll check it out.

    Katie -- I can't WAIT to read your book. Yummy nerdy love.

    Rachel -- Thank you! And YES!! I love *all* of those! I'm excited about the new Heather Wells book too. After all, Heather still has to get with THE BOY, right? I've read everything Meg's written with the exception of two of her Patricia Cabot romances, which aren't at my library (someday I'll order them used on Amazon, I just haven't gotten to it yet). Nice to find another fan here in my comments :)

  14. This is great! Wow, Meg has written a lot of books! When I can't decide what to read first, I go by the number of pages. Least = first. Same with movies. Less minutes = first ones watched. I use this a lot when I have a backlog from the library.

  15. hi! i got ur link from Meg Cabot's blog which i read regularly. and by the way, i'm a guy, AND i LOVE meg's books. weird? whatever coz she's BRILLIANT!! and hear hear to your post about her books. my fave would be the boy series and heather wells mystery. but i love ALL her books though. they're SO funny. just so u know, i'm from indonesia where access to cabot's books is not easy. so i'm glad that i found your blog. and i'll link your blog to mine. hope that's okay with you.