Famous in Love: A Review

“I can’t touch him. The only thing I want to do is run to him and have him put his arms around me, to take me someplace that isn’t here. Someplace it’s just the two of us and none of this matters. But I can’t do that because no one knows. Not Wyatt and not Sandy, not even Cassandra. They think we’re just friends–that I belong to someone else. They don’t know that I’ve made a huge mistake. They don’t know that, like August, I chose wrong.”

Famous in Love by Rebecca SerleSeventeen-year-old Paige Townsen never expected her audition to for the coveted part of August to come to anything. She never thought she’d be the only unknown picked to star in the next big blockbuster when the bestselling book Locked was adapted for the big screen.

Except that’s exactly what happens and suddenly instead of starring in community theater productions and high school shorts, Paige is at the center of a major production. Her co-star, Rainer Devon, is right at Paige’s side helping her make sense of her sudden fame and the rigors that come from movie production.

When troubled actor Jordan Wilder is cast as the final piece in the love triangle at the center of the film, Paige’s life begins to uncomfortably imitate art as she is torn between these two very different young men. With everything changing, Paige will have to figure out who she is before she can begin to choose who she wants in Famous in Love (2014) by Rebecca Serle.

Find it on Bookshop.

Famous in Love is the first book in a trilogy. The “book-within-the-book” Locked is also slated for a tie-in publication.

Serle draws inspiration from real life celebrity drama to create this story of fame and romance. Readers will be with Paige from the start when she first hears about the audition right through to the post-production of the first film. While Paige vacillates between Rainer and Jordan throughout the book, both relationships feel authentic and offer very different things for Paige.

Although Paige’s friends and family often feel like one-note characters, they are happily present showing that Paige had a life before getting famous and will have support for whatever pitfalls Hollywood may have in store. Being the first in a trilogy, readers can expect a lot more love-triangle based drama as Paige is forced to choose both on-screen and off.

Famous in Love is an all-access pass to what happens off camera and behind the curtains of a movie production. Sure to appeal to hopeless romantics, celebrity junkies and movie fans alike.

Possible Pairings: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler, Now & Forever by Susane Colasanti, Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan, A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, The Romantics by Leah Konen, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

*A copy of this book was required for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2014*

In which I talk about seeing Divergent (with photos!)

Last Friday a very cool thing happened. A coworker at Shiny Job transferred her RSVP over to me for a screening of Divergent on opening night hosted by Veronica Roth’s agent/agency the New Leaf Agency. (Another coworker transferred her RSVP to workfriend so I didn’t even have to go alone.)

My invite felt a bit like a golden ticket.


Finding the building with the screening was much harder than it should have been because I got turned around and lost and the building entrance was on a corner.

Along the way I discovered that 6 1/2 Avenue is a thing.


But once I got there the screening room was pretty swank.

There were snacks and swag bags and other goodies (like a signed book plate–yay) that made the whole night feel festive. I also got to see some of the posters for the movie.

poster3 post2 poster1

After enjoying some faction specific cake pops (Erudite and Abnegation–I didn’t get a chance to photograph the others, alas).

eruditepop abnegationpop

It was time for the movie!


Now I enjoyed Divergent when I read it. But my excitement about the series diminished over time and I was less and less inclined to read the other books after seeing how the trilogy ended when I came upon some spoilers. I also wasn’t prepared to re-read Divergent just so I could catch up on the backstory to book two (which starts really close to the end of book one).

But guess what?

The movie was really good.

I remembered why I loved the characters. I remembered how cinematic the story felt and how kickass Tris is.

The costumes were amazing. The actors were excellent. (I’ve been a fan of Theo James since his one-season series “Golden Boy” and he was great here too. It was a little strange that he looked so much older than Shailene Woodley but, you know what, they were great together and I’ll let it slide. And everyone else in the movie was really great too. It was a talented, diverse cast and really well done.) The factions and the world building were so well-realized. And I’m really excited about this series again.

Some things were cut from the book but it was all of the things that kept me on the fence about the book in the first place. Workfriend hadn’t read the book but she also enjoyed and followed the movie, so it’s a win in every sense.

I urge all of you to get to the theater to see Divergent as soon as you can and to get on board for reading the book if you haven’t already.

(I have Insurgent and Allegiant on hold so hopefully they’ll come in soon!)


You Look Different in Real Life: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer CastleJustine is used to people recognizing her, acting like they know here even if they’re strangers. That’s what happens when your childhood is filmed as part of an award-winning documentary.

It started when Justine was six. She was filmed with four other students in her kindergarten class. Then again when she turned eleven.

Justine is sixteen now and it’s time for Lance and Leslie to come back for another film. But Justine doesn’t want anything to do with it.

She can see why Lance and Leslie picked the other kids: quirky Nate, smart Keira, outgoing Felix and Rory who did whatever she wanted. Justine never saw that same spark, that piece of interesting, in herself.

Reviewers always call Justine the star, the edgy one. They expect great things from her. But now, at sixteen, Justine feels anything but as she is forced to look not just at her unamazing life but also at the friendships that have shattered since Five at 6 and Five at 11 were filmed.

Now that a new film is coming Justine isn’t sure if she should be excited or terrified. This film might be her chance to finally prove that she is as amazing as everyone thinks and maybe even fix some friendships along the way. But it also might not fix anything. It might just confirm Justine’s suspicions that she is anything but film-worthy in You Look Different in Real Life (2013) by Jennifer Castle.

Sometimes when you read a book you go in with expectations of the story you will get. And sometimes that expected story is nothing like the story the author has written. Unfortunately that was the case with You Look Different in Real Life. I went in wanting details of the previous documentaries and the current filming. Instead I got cursory flashbacks and vague references to the crew. In the second half of the novel the documentary plot became very secondary to another character’s storyline so that the whole premise began to feel more gimmicky and less vital to the story.

You Look Different in Real Life also ends just when things should be getting interesting. Justine has a breakthrough about some aspect of the filming. But we never get to know what it actually is. By the end of the book it felt like Castle was only giving readers half the story as the documentary was forgotten (having already served its purpose as an inciting incident.)

Justine should have been a sympathetic, authentic narrator. She should have had original experiences and a unique take on things thanks to being the subject of a series of documentaries. Instead Justine came across as very one-dimensional and unbearably whiny. While she does have a clear development from beginning to end, her lack of self-esteem and confidence in the beginning was overwhelming to the point that her own self criticisms began to make me feel bad about my own life. That’s completely unacceptable.

Justine’s short-comings are lessened, slightly, thanks to the supporting cast. That is until a lot of them fell into predictable character types with equally unsurprising side stories. There are a lot of near-misses and false starts at the characters try to reconnect and, ultimately, it all just felt very forced.

If you want an okay book about a girl coming into her own and discovering her own talents and strengths, You Look Different in Real Life is a decent choice. It doesn’t have the best heroine or language (Justine moved with surprising frequency between acting/sounding much younger than sixteen and acting/sounding much older) but all of the elements are there for a quick, fairly fun read. If you want a book that focuses more on the effects of being on film or performing you’ll be better served picking up something like Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Possible Pairings: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti, Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going, You Don’t Know Me by David Klass, Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2013*

A Trick of the Light: A Review

A Trick of the Light by Lois MetzgerMike Welles thought his life was pretty great. He did well in school, he played on the school baseball team. He and his best friend Tamio have a great time talking about stop motion animation and watching old movies.

Everything was fine.

That was before things started going wrong at home. Mike’s parents started to act strangely. Especially his mom. And his dad is just gone for huge chunks of time.

Mike thinks he can still handle all of the changes–even talking to a beautiful new girl at school–but it just keeps getting worse. He’s out of shape. He’s losing control. It’s all just so wrong.

Mike keeps hearing a voice that wants to help him. The voice says that Mike can be stronger. Better. But no one else can hear the voice. And the voice never tells Mike what that kind of strength can cost him in A Trick of the Light (2013) by Lois Metzger.

At a slim 208 pages (hardcover) it is really hard to talk about this book without spoiling some of the twists Metzger has skillfully created. Suffice it to say, Mike is in trouble.

What I can tell you is that despite touching on some familiar territory, Metzger comes at the issues in A Trick of the Light in a very clever and original way. Mike is not the typical protagonist in this type of story.

The narrator of this book is not typical either. (It’s not a spoiler to say it is not Mike but I’ll leave it at that.) Metzger’s choice of narrator is extremely interesting and makes for a very creepy read. At the same time it also adds a lot of distance between Mike and the reader as Mike’s story is told at a remove. The technique works but it does make the book a little confusing at first.

That said, once you get into the rhythm of the story this book really takes off. Metzger expertly draws readers into Mike’s struggles without ever coming across as heavy-handed or preachy.

A Trick of the Light is a subtle, engrossing read that would be ideal for reluctant and avid readers alike.

Possible Pairings: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Skinny by Donna Crooner, Paperweight by Meg Haston, Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King, The Beautiful Between by Courtney B. Sheinmel, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Exclusive Bonus Content with a SPOILER: This book is a fascinating read about eating disorders but I can’t stop wondering if it could be a trigger or a workbook for kids who are at risk for eating disorders. Lots of stuff to unpack with this one. I think it’s a totally great book but I feel like it’s one that really begs to be discussed.

You can also read my exclusive interview with Lois Metzger!

I Spoke to Jack Davenport Last Week OR How I Randomly Helped a Really Famous Guy at Work Last Week

Exactly one week ago, on July 12, 2012, I was in the same building as Jack Davenport. Better, I was close enough to touch him. Better still, I had a conversation with him (sort of *cough*). For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Jack Davenport is an actor. He played Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and more recently has been playing the director, Derek Wills, on the television series Smash.

Jack Davenport as James Norrington

I currently work in a bookstore. Jack Davenport came into that book store. And he bought books. While I was at the cash register. When I heard him talking, I thought that voice sounded familiar. Then, upon closer examination, I realized he sounded familiar because he was Jack Davenport. I swiped his credit card and rang up the purchase and gave him a reusable tote bag (which he thought was very nice). I also probably stared and turned bright red. BUT I think you can all agree that means we are connected now and, though he may not remember me at all we will always be linked thanks to those books and that tote bag.

This is probably what Jack Davenport looks like whenever he thinks about his wonderful books and reusable tote bag. (Not really. Or is it?!)

It was all very exciting despite my not really saying much or actually telling him I knew who he was. But I still grin every time I think about it or tell anyone about it. I’m grinning right now, dear readers. It was amazing. It was particularly entertaining when I explained the incident to my mom: Miss Print: “I just saw Jack Davenport at work!!” Mom: “Who?” MP: “He plays director Derek on Smash.” Mom: “. .  . He’s the creepy one who sleeps with all the women?” MP: “Um . . . yeah.” So there you have it.

Hunger Games: Characters I Wanted to See More Of

With the movie fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Hunger Games (and, yes, the fact that I won’t be seeing the movie adaptation during the opening week).

The Hunger Games is a story of survival filled with action and the promise of excitement and intrigue. Already a wildly popular book, readers will tell you that what truly sets this series apart are the unique characters.

While Katniss is a huge part of what makes The Hunger Games so strong and so very compelling, the book is also filled with secondary characters that bring the story and the world of Panem to life. Without them, Katniss would have been very lonely (though perhaps slightly safer). But this series is still ultimately Katniss’ story more than anything else, which is why it only makes sense that some characters got less attention than readers would have liked.

Here are some of the characters I would have loved to see more of:

Gale: Much as it pains me to mention Gale and not Peeta, it was really unavoidable here. Peeta might be with Katniss during the Games, but Gale plays a much larger role in Katniss’s daily life in District 12. Despite his importance to Katniss, we learn very little about Gale as the focus of the story shifts from District 12 to the Capitol. We would have liked to see a bit of Gale’s reactions to Katniss’s Game strategies, not to mention learning a bit more about his own family.

Effie Trinket: Preferring the comforts and sparkle of the Capitol to the isolation and grime of District 12, Effie is the reluctant escort of District 12 Tributes on their journey to the arena each year. In all of her previous years, her obligations ended very soon after the Games began. No one knows what Effie did to garner such an unenviable post, or what she does between Games, but we certainly wish we did.

Cinna: In charge of Katniss’ team of stylists, Cinna and his counterpart Portia help make Katniss and Peeta the Tributes to watch before either of them set foot in the arena. Equal parts mentor, ally, and clothes designer, Cinna clearly has hidden depths beyond what the book reveals, not to mention he knows how to rock that gold eyeliner.

Caesar Flickerman: There isn’t much more to say about the Capitol’s favorite television host or his signature interviews with the Tributes each year. But, really, who doesn’t want to know more about a character being played by Stanley Tucci?

Rue: The smallest and youngest Tribute, no one expects Rue to last long in the arena. Despite her small size and youth, Rue proves to be a formidable ally for Katniss during the Games as well as a friend. While we know what happens to Rue in the arena, her life in District 11 before becoming a Tribute largely remains a mystery.

Thresh: As Rue’s counterpart from District 11, Thresh is her complete opposite—a large, formidable figure among the Tributes. Like Rue, Thresh’s past remains unknown. His own motives during his final encounter with Katniss in the arena are equally mysterious.

Foxface: Possibly the smartest Tribute in the 74th Hunger Games, Foxface is so enigmatic we do not even know her real name. Relying on stealth and cunning, Foxface survives in the arena by staying in the background. It would have been interesting to see how growing up in District 5 informed her strategy or if her mentor had something to do with that.

The Career Tributes: With names like Glimmer, Cato, Clove and Marvel it’s hard to forget the Tributes who have spent all of their lives training to take part in the Hunger Games. Coming from lives of wealth and privilege in Districts that are favored by the Capitol, their situation could not be more different from that of Katniss and Peeta. We would have loved to better understand why volunteering to participate in a fight to the death made sense to them.

 Madge: Daughter of District 12’s mayor, Madge’s life is removed from the poverty of Katniss’s daily life and the dangers of the Quell that selects Tributes each year. Still, Madge gives Katniss a Mockingjay brooch as a token to bring into the arena. We never learn why Madge gave her the pin or what happens to her later in the story (I honestly always thought she was severely under-developed/under-utilized in the later books). She also won’t be appearing in the movies at all. Some characters just don’t get a break.

Bonus Characters from Catching Fire and/or Mockingjay:

Catching Fire is my favorite book in the trilogy by a wide margin. I could happily have read many more books about the events in Catching Fire as well as the mechanics of the Games and the Districts–the world Collins created is that fascinating. That said, it makes complete sense that some characters left me wanting more later in the series.

Finnick: Simultaneously annoying and awesome, Finnick might be my favorite secondary character from the series. While we get a lot of details about Finnick’s life as the story progresses, I still would have liked more just because he’s such a fun character. (I may or may not be mildly crazed as I wait to see who will be playing Finnick in the second Hunger Games film.)

Johanna Mason: Brash and more than willing to put Katniss in her place, Johanna is another character who comes to life on the page even without her backstory being fully developed. During the casting for the first movie, I heard that Kristen Bell was lobbying heavily to play Mason. Since then, I’ve come to fully support this idea and honestly might be inconsolable should the part go to someone else.

Nuts and Volts: It’s hard to think of these two separately. While certainly not the savviest, these two are easily the most intelligent tributes Collins introduced to readers. It would have been interesting to see what brought this wacky pair together as friends.

Now you know the characters that I wish got more attention in The Hunger Games. Let me know what characters you would have liked to see more of in the comments.

A shorter version of this entry was originally posted at 20SomethingReads.