Sunday, February 05, 2017

#famous, Winter Wonders

25116429Gagnon, Jilly. #famous
February 14th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Rachel likes to send Flits to her best friend Monique, and when she spots the cute Kyle working at burger barn, she snaps his picture and sends it with a comment about "having fries with THAT". Her friends resends it, and soon it has gone viral. Told in alternating chapters, we find out that Kyle's restaurant runs out of food, the girlfriend who dumped him, Emma, wants to get back together, and his life becomes a bit complicated. Rachel finds out that there are a lot of people who can be very mean on the internet about her appearances, etc. After Kyle is approached to do a reality show, he asks Rachel to home coming as part of the producers plans. He already found her to be amusing, and she did have a little crush on him, so their relationship progresses in fits and starts as they deal with Kyle's fifteen minutes of fame. They go bowling, watch the talk show they appear on, and genuinely seem to like each other's company. Of course, things go wrong at home coming (would it be a school dance without drama), but the two have a connection, and continue to work through things. 
Strengths:It took me a while to get into the book, and at first I thought the plot was going to be Rachel hurting herself because of the comments of the internet trolls, so perhaps I was just pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be a solid high school romance book. The relationship between Rachel and Kyle was based on mutual respect as well as attraction, and it was very nice. The problems that Kyle had with Emma were realistic as well, and I appreciated that while Emma wasn't thrilled about Rachel, she wasn't super mean, either. I enjoyed reading this. 
Weaknesses: There is a party with drinking, and the whole concept is generally pretty far fetched. 
What I really think: This was great fun. Since Rachel doesn't drink much at the party, there's no bad language, and there is only one tiny little bit of sex (a brief fantasy that Kyle has about kissing Rachel), I will purchase this for my 8th grade girls who want more high school drama.

28450978Hannigan, Kate. Winter Wonders (Cupcake Cousins #3)
September 6th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion 
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

After their adventures in Cupcake Cousins and Summer Showers, cousins Willow and Delia are back with their family in Michigan, this time preparing for the wedding of Cat and Mr. Rickles. It's Christmas vacation, and they are glad to be back together, but the two are struggling to decide what they should do for Cat as a wedding present. Willow is still smarting from some baking attempts that went awry and caused students at her school to make fun of her, so she is longing to stay permanently in Whispering Pines with her extended family. The triplets (June, July and August) require a lot of care, and the girls help out with them. Cat has asked them to help her with the baking for her wedding day, but they can't seem to keep enough items in the kitchen, since they seem to disappear over night. There is also a homeless shelter event the day before the wedding, and everyone is stressed and trying to figure out how to make that work. Eventually, the girls get their baking done, get ready to be flower girls, and manage to involve the whole community in their various preparations. 

This is a fine ending for an upbeat series about an extended family and friends in a small community. While the relatives usually serve as background for the antics of Delia and Willow, it's great to see involved, funny grandparents, harried aunts, and parents who are more than a little distracted by everything that's going on, but who really want to support their children. Even the little brother, Sweet William, and the baby cousins add a feeling of togetherness and family that many readers crave. (Think about how appealing The Brady Bunch was to those of us who weren't from large families!)

I especially appreciated the fact that Willow's father says they will NOT be moving away from their home near Chicago, and that Willow is going to have to face her disappointments and deal with her friends. That is much more realistic than the family relocating, which I thought might happen!

Willow and Delia are allowed a lot of responsibility, which is great. While I don't know many ten year olds who cook as much as they do, they are always portrayed as fairly responsible, although they do make age appropriate mistakes. Things don't always go well, but the girls are wonderful at assessing the situation, asking for help, and trying their best to make things go right. This message about perseverance in the face of obstacles is one that many girls can use. 

Of course, the recipes are a fun addition, even if readers don't make cocoa or miracle waffles. Readers who enjoy Simon's Cupcake Diaries, Papademetriou's Confectionately Yours books and have moved beyond Hiranandani's Phoebe G. Green series will gladly gobble down this new recipe for winter fun. 

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