Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: "The Disenchantments"

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book. So so much. First of all, it's a contemporary romance told from the point of view of the guy. How often does that happen? No really, I'd like to you have a favorite male main character book? Tell me about it below! Second of all, it's got an epic roadtrip and that is just about my most favorite thing ever! And finally, it's a music-driven story and those are a close second after roadtrips. Mostly because it gives me a chance to make a playlist and you know I love a good playlist. :) So be sure to check out my 8Tracks mix at the bottom and let me know how I did with the "mood".

Okay, on to the actual story. Colby and Bev are BFF's and about to graduate high school. But instead of heading off to college, they are going on an epic trip across Europe for a year. And to start the trip off, they are going on a month long tour with Bev's punk rock girl band (+2 other girls from school). This band, The Disenchantments, is not great but what they lack in talent, they make up for in determination and spirit. Colby goes along as manager, roadie, and van driver. Surprisingly, their parents are all okay with this. Especially Colby's. His dad and uncle had a band when they were younger so they think he is just following in their footsteps. His mom is off on her own spiritual journey in France and has lovely dreams that she tells Colby all about.

"I was walking along the Seine, like I do every day, and I looked up and all of my favorite French words were drifting across the sky on kites."

Colby and the girls are barely a single day into their roadtrip when Bev drops a bomb (spoiler, highlight to read): she's decided not to go backpacking around Europe and is instead going off to college in the fall. (/spoiler) Colby is shocked and bewildered and doesn't know what to do...with the tour, with Bev, with anything. And the story goes on from there, unwinding the how and why of Bev's secret and what it means for the two friends.

Honestly, I kind of hated Bev for most of the book. I think you were supposed to though. She was selfish and emo and just generally, an 18 year old. Colby has built her up in his mind as the perfect (almost manic pixie dream) girl and when that dream comes crashing down, it's a disaster. Because, of course he's in love with her. How could he not be? The other two girls in the band, sisters Meg & Alexa, are great secondary characters. Part punk, part hippy, they each have their own problems and idiosyncrasies and blended together nicely with Bev & Colby. And there is a virtual bevy of wonderful background characters. My (and most peoples') favorite is Jasper, the young tattoo artist who just wants to dance get out of his tiny town and explore the world. I would LOVE a companion novel about Jasper.

As the tour goes on, we get more and more of Bev & Colby's back story and a sense of who they really are. There is plenty of angst and self-pity, but it's all balanced out with beautiful sections about art and music and growing up and self-discovery.

We felt so small with the city lights stretching forever below us, and we yelled at the top of our lungs because we were just these small humans but we felt more longing than could ever fit inside us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: "Stacey's Ex-Best Friend: The Baby-Sitters Club #51"

Stacey's Ex-Best Friend: The Baby-Sitters Club #51 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

This one was kind of boring. Laine visits Stacey and is a total snob about everything. That's pretty much it, but since that doesn't make much of a review, let's dive a little deeper. Here we go.

It's snowing in Stoneybrook and Stacey is reminiscing about how much her life has changed in the last year, when Laine (her NYC BFF) calls. She calls Stacey "Anastasia" because it sounds more sophisticated and is all excited about her winter break coming up. Laine doesn't have any plans yet, except maybe go to a bunch of parties with her 15 year old boyfriend, King. I'm sure his real name is Walter or Herbert or something like that. He has long black hair with purple tips that he wears in a ponytail. Totally distant. (Oh wait, Laine didn't know what "distant" meant. Guess the BSC slang hasn't gotten to the big city yet.) Stacey suggests that Laine come to Stoneybrook and stay with her instead. Because that's what a teenager wants to do on their vacation: spend time at another school.

When Stacey tells the other BSCers about Laine coming, they're all excited and Mary Anne conveniently mentions that she'll be there for the Valentine's Dance. Which is being held on Friday the thirteenth, oh noze!! That's like total bad luck! (This would have been a prime time for another Cokie Mason mystery, but alas, the ghost writers didn't think of that.) All the girls have dates and then Kristy has a Great Idea, suggesting they throw a party for the kids they sit for. They decide to have all the kids make cards to trade, but using riddles instead of their real names. Throughout the book, we find out that nearly all the kids have crushes on each other. The sitters think that's adorable and encourage it. Because these second graders need encouragement to express their love. Yeah.

So Laine comes to stay with Stacey and she has to make her room totally fresh, which means getting rid of the kitten poster, Claudia's rag doll Lennie, her pig collection, and all the lame cassette tapes. And of course her outfit has to be perfect: a purple shirtwaist top over flowered leggings, cowboy boots (cowgirl boots? cowwoman boots?), a purple hair ornament made from shoelaces, and long dangly silver earrings. As soon as Stacey and her mom arrive at the train station and see Laine, she immediately feels dorky. [Laine] was hard to miss, considering she was wearing a jean coat with a fur collar (I sincerely hoped the fur was fake), black capri pants edged with lace, very chic black ankle boots, and on her head, a brilliant red over-sized beret.

Laine is not impressed with little, boring Stoneybrook or Stacey's lame sleepover. And she doesn't really want to go to the Valentine dance with some geeky 8th grader, especially after she meets them at school. Which she didn't want to go to in the first place. But Stacey gives her this heart-warming speech that changes her mind.

"...we used to be part of each other's lives. When I was living in New York and we went to the same school, we were practically sharing one life. Now our lives are so different. We talk a lot, but we hardly see each other. I feel as if I'm losing half of ME, and I'm trying to figure out how to get myself back. I miss you, Laine, I really do." aaawww....

So at school, Laine is horrified to find that they can't leave campus or go to the bathroom in groups and that the boys at SMS are huge geeks. Even though Stacey got the cream of the crop: Logan, Pete Black, Rick Chow, and Austin Bentley. Pete is completely enamored with Laine and tells her "[she has] hair like gossamer." Hah! Pete asks Laine to the dance and she agrees, after talking to King first. Oh, she calls King "Heart" and he calls her "Babe". Gross.

Over in baby-sitting news, the Hobart boys are disappointed when they find out that American kids don't wear suits and carnations to Valentine's parties. Poor kids. At the next BSC meeting, half the girls are mad at their dates and Kristy says boys are trouble. (Well yeah, you would think that.) Laine asks them if they're still going to be baby-sitting in the summer and Stacey is like, yeah duh. Laine suggests she get a "real job" like her, cashiering at a boutique. (What business owner in their right mind would hire a 13 year old?? I'm pretty sure that wasn't even legal back then.) Stacey gets peeved and is starting to wonder why she even invited Laine.

[Stacey talking about buying stuff on home shopping shows.]
Laine: "...[girl at school] always comes to school with J-U-N-Q-U-E."
Stacey: "Maybe she L-I-Q-U-E-S what she buys."
Oh snap! ;) Laine also tells Stacey she should go on a diet. Harsh.

It's finally the night of the dance, which means the book is almost over yay! Laine was dressed in black from head to toe. Black leotard, long black jacket, black leggings over black stockings [WHAT??], black shoes. Her jewelry was silver, though. [I'm sorry, I had to do a better version of this outfit, because I just did NOT understand it!!] Laine is horrified, yet again, when she finds out they are meeting the boys at the dance. And when Pete gives her a corsage. And when she says the pink heart decorations. And when she sees Pete's sneakers with his suit. (He'd be totally in style now.) And so on and so on.

Stacey finally has enough and yanks Laine off the dance floor and they have a big argument. Laine wants to go home (to New York) and Stacey agrees. She is over it. The whole friendship. A week later, she writes Laine a long letter basically about all the things she (Laine) did wrong and why their friendship is over. You know, typical junior high stuff. She even returns her half of her friendship necklace, so you know it's really over. I wonder if we'll see Laine again. I can't remember, but I'm guessing yes.

And that's it, except for the kids' Valentine party, which is a huge success of course. And Stacey dresses like a red elf: red leggings, red ankle boots, a bulky red sweater, and red barrettes. What's the deal with the city girls and their leggings and ankle boots???

Side note: I realized that I use the word "totally" waaaay too much! I had it 8 times in this review before I took some out! Oops.