Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fun books, bad examples!

19278261Flinn, Alex. Mirrored.
September 15th 2015 by Harper Teen
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

In the 1980s, Celine struggles with her looks and her distant mother. She longs for the love of Greg, but he is interested only in Jennifer. Even when she discovers that she has magical powers and is tutored in using them by the enigmatic Kendra, Greg is not interested, and she remains a social pariah despite her beauty. Fast forward to the present day, and Greg and Jennifer's daughter, Violet, has struggles of her own. After her mother is killed in a freak zoo accident, her father marries Celine. At first, things are fine, and Celine is nice to her. When Violet becomes a teen and starts to become more beautiful, Celine views her as a threat. Kendra befriends Violet, who also has magical powers, and lets her in on Celine's troubled past. Befriended by Jonah, a person of short stature, and his family, Violet tries to hide out at their home and avoid Celine. What will happen when the two witches collide?

Strengths: Flinn is the master of the modernized fairy tale, and this is a version of Snow White that will appeal to teen readers who like tales of mean girls, witches and magic. The time spent in the 1980s is fun, and the teen movies of John Hughes are discussed; oddly, these are still popular with young people today. Fans of Beastly and Bewitching will find the continued story of Kendra appealing. 

Since Celine's story brings in so many vivid facets of the 1980s, I had to wonder if the names of the characters were a homage to the popular but doomed All My Children couple, Greg and Jenny!

Weaknesses: The emphasis on physical beauty and the obsession with one boy were both disturbing on so many levels. In Beastly, this was used to a somewhat positive effect-- beauty is not everything. In this book, I got a different message, and that seemed odd. 

What I really think: I don't think I would have bought a copy of this, but since I have a copy and it doesn't have anything inappropriate to middle school, I'll put it in the collection. A bit disappointed, though, since I normally love Flinn's work. 

23848186Hubbard, Mandy. Everything but the Truth
November 17th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
ARC from

Holly is glad that her mother finally has some financial stability after years of struggling after her father's death. The two have recently moved into an apartment in a posh senior facility, and her mother is on probation. Holly loves helping out the residents, and is sure that her mother will do well. They can stay in one place, and Holly can finally make some college plans. Soon, though, there is a demanding new resident to whom Holly's mother has rented the poshest apartment... and he doesn't seem happy with her. Luckily, Holly meets his very hot grandson, and the two click. The only problem is that Malik thinks that Holly is named Lucy, and that she is at the care center because her grandmother is there. Not wanting the very wealthy Malik to think any less of her, Holly perpetuates the lie with the  help of her friend Alex. She ingratiates herself to the grandfather, falls in love with Malik, and is still afraid to let him know the truth about her background. 

Strengths: There are a couple of nice diverse aspects to this. I particularly liked the description of Malik (page 26 of ARC "He looks... Costa Rican. Maybe part Native American or part African American... or some combination uniquely his, because I've never seen a guy so completely drool worthy."). After that, there is no mention of race, although his grandfather is identified as African-American. Holly is afraid of losing her best friend Alex to Rena, but it turns out that the two are dating, and Holly is relieved not to lose Alex as her best friend. Older people are positively portrayed. Malik is already reformed, having had a rather bad-boy past, but Holly doesn't have to reform him. 

Weaknesses: There is an obsession with money and looks, as well as love, that is rather alarming, especially given the fact that Holly is willing to pursue these things at the expense of honesty. True-to-life, perhaps, but not a great message.

What I really think: This series is so popular with my really avid readers of romances that Iw ill have to buy it, but it was still a little unnerving. Disappointed. 

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