Teen Tuesday: Stealing Parker Review

blogsgiving

Unfortunately for me, Stealing Parker struck out quite a few times.

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally focuses on Parker Shelton, a former all-star softball player who now spends her time kissing as many boys as possible. Parker reluctantly agrees to be the baseball team’s manager, but her mood changes when the young new coach notices her. Soon, finds herself stepping out of the shadow of her mother’s scandal and into the spotlight of her own.

I think one of the major reasons I had trouble with this book was the focus on the student-teacher relationship. Even though I read the summary of this book before picking it up, I for some reason didn’t realize this part of the book’s plot. Even though Kenneally by no means encourages this type of relationship, it was tough for me to read. Beyond that, there were several aspects of this book that I did enjoy and several parts that I felt needed improvement.

I think Parker was a complex main characters who really grew throughout the novel. I understood her motivations for all her actions, even though her reasoning was flawed, and felt like she realistically reacted to situations for someone her age. I liked that through her small letters we got to see how she felt in past situations because it really helped me understand who she was as a person now. I also enjoyed seeing her relationships with her various family members change throughout the course of the book.

While I really liked Parker’s character, I think a few of the other characters fell flat. I wish that we could have seen more depths to Parker’s rival. She came across as very one-dimensional and I wanted more of an explanation of why she treated Parker the way that she did. I also wanted to see more dimensions to the coach, Brian. At first, he seemed more complex, but as the relationship progressed he became more flat and like a character in an after school special.

Another aspect of this book that I had mixed feelings towards was the romance aspect. I appreciated how Parker’s relationship with Will (better known as Corndog), progressed slowly throughout the book. However, sometimes his character seemed inconsistent to me and even though I tried, it was really hard to get past his nickname. This was pretty standard YA relationship to me, so it needed something to give it a little extra spark.

A couple books before I read Stealing Parker, I read an ARC of Game On by Michelle Smith that also is a YA contemporary centered around baseball (you can read my review here). I really liked how the environment influenced the characters and how baseball was a major player throughout the novel. In addition, the characters were well-developed and well suited to each other. When I read Stealing Parker, I couldn’t help but compare these two similar books. For me, the characters, the relationship, and the plot didn’t measure up to Game On, which I rate four out of five stars.

I enjoyed reading Stealing Parker, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite YA contemporary. However, I still do want to read more of Miranda Kenneally’s books that feature a different plot. Since this book was good, but not my favorite, I rate it three out of five stars.

Teen Tuesday: The Summer of Cotton Candy Review

cotton candy

I wish my thoughts on The Summer of Cotton Candy were as sweet as cotton candy itself.

In The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguie, Candy Thompson’s father forces her to take a summer job at The Zone, a local amusement park, to become more responsible. Even though standing out in the sun selling cotton candy to unruly customers isn’t fun, checking out her cute coworkers is definitely a perk. However, long hours threaten Candy’s ability to attend church and hang out with her best friend, Tamara. Will Candy’s summer be sweet like cotton candy or just turn out sour?

I felt myself constantly putting this book down and not wanting to pick it back up. I think the major factor that prevented me from enjoying this book would be the main character Candy and her best friend Tamara. Candy frequently threw temper tantrums at her employers, but expected everyone else to treat her with the utmost respect. She acted superior to her crush, who never finished high school, and never listened to veteran employees. Then, she wondered why people were annoyed with her and why she sometimes even got suspended from working at the park. At seventeen, I expected Candy to act a little more mature. Her behavior often made it difficult to sympathize with her.

Candy’s best friend, Tamara also made it difficult to get through this book. Tamara was a spoiled brat who resented Candy working. She thought she could get Candy to follow her around all summer just by throwing money at her. Even when Candy and Tamara made up, neither did anything redeemable and their friendship came across as unhealthy in many ways.

I also had a problem with the romance plot within this book. Candy and her love interest literally have zero chemistry. You can tell from what they value that their relationship could never last past a first date. I thought Candy was much better suited for another character in the book. Their relationship actually grew and I thought Candy would ditch the first guy. Much to my disappointment, the better guy was just thrown at Tamara towards the end of the book.

The only part of this book that I really enjoyed was the amusement park atmosphere. Even though I’m pretty sure many of the rides couldn’t actually function in real life, the park was described really well and had a nice theme. Apparently this book is in a series and all the books take place in the park, so it would be interesting to see how the park changes throughout the seasons. Unfortunately, my feelings towards many of the characters may prevent me from picking up the next book in the series.

In this book, I expected Candy to grow and to have fun while reading it. Much to my dismay, none of these things ever happened. I rate The Summer of Cotton Candy as two out of five stars.

Final Countdown Friday: Robin Palmer Books

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Robin Palmer has written several fairy tale inspired books as well as the Lucy B. Parker series. Today, I’ll be counting down four of her fairy tale inspired books. I remember when I first saw these books in the stores, I was super excited. The covers were cute and I was super into fairy tale retellings. Once I finally read through these books, I definitely had mixed feelings on a few. Here is my countdown of Robin Palmer’s modern fairy tales from least favorite to favorite:

4.) Little Miss Red 

Little Miss Red

In Little Miss Red, Sophie is a “good girl” with a boyfriend everyone in her family loves, except her. Sophie wants to shed her good girl image and be more like her favorite romance novel character. When Sophie visits her grandmother, she finally meets a bad boy, but it doesn’t go as she planned. I’m sad to say that I could barely finish this book. I rarely rate books as one star, but I couldn’t give this book a higher rating. I didn’t like either of Sophie’s love interests, especially the bad boy.

3.) Cindy Ella

Cindy Ella

In Cindy Ella, Cindy writes an anti-prom article in her school paper and is ostracized by her classmates… except for a mysterious boy she’s instant messaging. Cindy Ella follows the formula of most modern Cinderella stories, which I why it’s only a three star read for me. It was cute and fun, but extremely predictable and not as original as some of Palmer’s other retellings.

2.) Wicked Jealous

Wicked Jealous

In Wicked Jealous, Simone is labeled as a “fat girl” until she starts losing weight at her Zumba class and gains the attention of her long-time crush Jason. When Simone’s father starts dating a wicked woman and whisks her off to Italy, Simone is forced to spend her summer living with her brother and his college roommates. Simone is one of my favorite Robin Palmer characters and I think Wicked Jealous is one of her most creative retellings! This was the perfect cute and quick read that I expected.

1.) Geek Charming

Geek Charming

Geek Charming is hands-down my favorite Robin Palmer book. In Geek Charming, Dylan Shoenfield is the most popular girl at Castle High. When an accident forces her to recruit the help of dorky Josh, she must star in documentary in return. The ending of this book is ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE, but the rest of it is perfect! This is Robin Palmer’s best written retelling and I love how Dylan grows into such a likable character. Even though I hated the ending, I can always watch the Disney movie which changed it to the perfect ending.

Overall, Robin Palmer’s books are quick, cute, and fun reads. Even though there are some I definitely like better than others, these books a perfect if you want not-so-serious modern retellings.

What book is your favorite retelling?

ARC Review: Game On

game on

Game On by Michelle Smith isn’t quite a home run, but it’s still a great hit.

In Lewis Creek, baseball reigns and the residents treat the starting pitcher like a king. When notorious party boy Eric Perry takes the mound, one bad decision may cost him his title. To settle his most recent scandal, the coach forces Eric to complete community service with the girl next door. Eric and Bri used to be best friends… until she started dating his enemy on the team. Can Eric save his spot on the team and his friendship with Bri?

When I read the synopsis for this book, I expected something a little different. In the synopsis, there is a heavy emphasis on Eric’s partying ways, the community service, and his relationship with Bri. Even though I liked a few of the different directions that this novel went, I can’t say that I wasn’t slightly disappointed because I expected a little more romance in this book. Just for reference, this book is the second book in a series, but I don’t believe it’s necessary to read the first book. Like with Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson books, previous characters appear but it isn’t necessary to know their full stories before reading this one.

The book is told in alternating POVs between Eric and Bri. Both are likable characters with unique voices who grow tremendously throughout the novel. There were only a few minor problems that I had with their characters. For example, sometimes the descriptions of Bri verged on “girl in a country song” territory. Eric frequently referred to her long legs, what she wore, and how hot she looked even after rolling out of bed early on a Saturday morning to volunteer.

I had mixed feeling about the other characters. The side characters, like Matt and Becca, on the other hand weren’t really developed and respectively played the villain and supportive best friend. I also had a few problems with Coach Taylor. On one hand, he seemed like a great guy who helped Bri after her dysfunctional relationship. On the other hand, he seemed extremely inconsistent with holding students accountable for their actions. I knew the author wanted me to root for him, but I didn’t always feel that way.

One of the best aspects of this book would have to be the setting. The author captured the small town atmosphere perfectly! The dialogue was extremely authentic and I could picture all of Lewis Creek’s hot spots in my own hometown.

I also appreciated how the author addressed mental and emotional abuse. In the beginning of the book, Bri’s dating one of the beloved baseball boys and class president. However, he frequently criticizes her appearance, calls in the middle of the night, and “apologizes” by blaming her for causing his reaction. Overall, I thought the author handled this topic very well. One moment that really stood out to me was when another girl told Bri to stop dragging the breakup out and be nice to Matt because it wasn’t like he physically abused her. I think this really hit the nail on the head on many misconceptions about abuse.

While I enjoyed many aspects of this book, there is one major part of the book that I wish was different. From the synopsis of this book, you expect that Eric and Bri’s romance starts early on and that their relationship is something they’re hiding from the town. That’s not how it plays out. I appreciated that Eric and Bri’s relationship grew gradually, but it felt like certain events were thrown in the book to keep them apart longer, which is definitely a pet peeve of mine. I also thought we didn’t see enough of Eric’s community service, even though it ended up having a major impact on his decisions later.

While, I enjoyed many aspects of this book, it didn’t have the same spark as some of my other favorite contemporaries. While this book wasn’t a grand slam for me, I still give it four out of five stars for the authentic characters and plot.

*I received this free eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.