Love on Cue

Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka focuses around Maggie Tannery, a theater-obsessed girl whose acting prowess doesn’t extend to self-confidence in singing, or in relation to cute guys. When her drama teacher ends up retiring early, the high school drama production ends up changing from Romeo and Juliet to Cabaret. After looking forward to playing Juliet, Maggie’s stage fright when it comes to singing almost prevents her auditioning for Cabaret at all, but of course she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play across her personal dream Romeo, Derek. In order to conquer her fears, Maggie turns to Nico, her high school’s musical genius, for help. As show time gets closer and things heat up, Maggie is forced to question who the leading man in her life should be.

Love on Cue is the latest Simon Pulse romantic comedy. Now, when I pick up one of these, I know to expect something light and fun, and not to judge the book on its depth or the quality of writing. Still, especially compared to Hapka’s other two romantic comedies, this book was a disappointment. Early on, I couldn’t help but be bothered that the book cover named Maggie’s crush as Daniel, yet by the end of the first chapter this guy had a completely different name: Derek. More importantly, even from the perspective of someone who has been involved in theater, Hapka is too repetitive when it comes to her portrayal of high school theater and acting exercises, so the reader feels like many of the chapters are based off the same content with slight variety. Also, despite the high school setting, Love on Cue’s narration sounds more on par with novels geared towards students in middle school, not high school. Still, Nico’s character is charming, and, thought abrupt, the ending is cute. 5 out of 10.


Feed Your Ears I: Lost It

So, I'm a huge music person. I think reading and music go together deliciously, and I've developed this habit of associating particular songs with books I'm reading. Sometimes they actually make sense to the content, other times the song was just released when I picked up the book, and other times the song just comes up on shuffle and I can't help but play it over and over. So, with all this in mind (well, all this and High Fidelity if I'm being completely honest), I've started to make lists of the top five songs I associate with different books I've read.

To start this off... Lost It by Kristen Tracy

1. Naked Peekaboo - The Academy Is... Feat. Gym Class Heroes

2. I'm Lost Without You - Blink 182

3. Lovefools - the Cardigans

4. Close Your Eyes (Instrumental) - Christopher Beck

5. Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year - Fall Out Boy


The King's Rose

A new and different approach to the Tudors and Henry VIII, Alisa Libby’s The King’s Rose tells the story of Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Cousin to Anne Boleyn, Catherine’s story reveals her concerns with the marriage even before the king’s proposal. Free from any glaring historical anomalies (though of course Libby took some liberties with the plot), The King’s Rose builds upon real letters and testimonies to develop a love plot between Catherine and her cousin Thomas.

The King’s Rose is structured around the contradictions of court life. Even though outsiders to the situation may see her as greedy, this portrayal of Catherine focuses on her young age and responsibility, especially as her marriage is presented as a duty. In this way, Libby’s novel tells the story of a teenage girl who perhaps isn’t ready to become Queen, but who is thrown into the position regardless in order to protect her family interests and then must struggle to balance King Henry’s interests with her own.

Considering my interest in history, I truly enjoyed reading The King’s Rose. To my knowledge, the setting is accurate and well developed, though liberty was clearly taken with the romantic plot. I was pleased to note Libby’s emphasis on the importance of family in early English society, between Henry’s nightmares over his heir and Catherine’s rise to Queen as it was critical to social status of the Howard lineage. Though I knew how the novel would end, I appreciated how Libby led into it. Like Catherine herself, the reader feels helpless to the control of the council and upon finishing will likely contemplate Catherine’s decisions as I couldn’t help but do. In addition to young adults, this novel is certainly accessible to an older crowd with an interest in the Tudor era and the many wives of Henry VIII. 7 out of 10.



Visibility by Sarah Neufeld tells the story of a girl struggling to understand herself and the people around her. One thing separates her from sharing this situation with her peers: on her eighteenth birthday, Natalie discovers that that she has a superpower of sorts – she can turn invisible. With her bodyguard sitting in for her absent father and her mother, Jadyn, acting invisible in more ways than one, it’s no surprise that Natalie is unsure of how to deal with her new ability. After spending years in the infamous Jadyn Irving’s shadow, Natalie strives to keep her talent hidden, but this proves to be more of a challenge than she expects. Caught up in a world of blackmail, deception, and absent family, Natalie must learn how to use this ability to discover truth, without endangering her own life and the lives of those around her.

As an illustrated novel, Sarah Neufeld’s Visibility falls in between graphic novels and common novels. Less intimidating than a graphic novel, it has the potential to introduce otherwise cautious readers to the genre. As someone who is always trying to convince her friends to try out a graphic novel, I am thankful to find a book I know they won’t regret reading. Furthermore, Meister’s illustrations are extraordinary, adding to the vividness of the plot without distracting from the text.

Neufeld skillfully merges the power of invisibility into her work of fiction so that Visibility remains accessible to readers of all genres, not just fantasy. Told from Natalie’s perspective, the reader feels her panic at being caught by her bodyguard after sneaking out and even experiences invisibility with her. While Visibility won’t take long to read thanks to the fast-paced plot and frequent illustrations, it will leave the reader with a first-rate impression of illustrated novels that will linger for days to come. 8 out of 10.


The Secret Life of Prince Charming

"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to

I've been told to start one of these things for a while now, and I suppose it's about time I stop saying "Sure, I'll get around to it." I've been complaining about how disorganized all of my reviews are for ages, so I might as well get them collected in one place finally. Plus, after following other YA blogs for ages, it's about time I share my own thoughts. After a lot of thought, of course, I've decided to lose my blog virginity to Deb Caletti's latest novel.

Deb Caletti’s The Secret Life of Prince Charming tells the story of Quinn, daughter of a regular heart-breaking Casanova. With her mother, grandmother, and aunt all as women scorned, Quinn and her sister Sprout are brought up to distrust men and shield their hearts, a habit hard to overturn. While at her father’s house, Quinn learns about his dirty little secret involving his past relationships – a habit of stealing a valuable possession from each of his exes to put on display. Her disgust with her father combined with her own recent breakup drives Quinn to connect with her older stepsister (and polar opposite), Frances Lee. Together, along with Quinn’s sister Sprout and Frances Lee’s boyfriend’s brother Jake, they set out on the road to right their father’s wrongs. Within hours of takeoff, this road trip becomes one with a purpose beyond vengeance, or even justice, for all of those involved. Rather, along the way, the trip becomes one of self-understanding and discovery, especially for Quinn. Guided by the insight of diverse women, she is able to learn for herself the true meaning of sisterhood and love.

Deb Caletti truly outdoes herself in The Secret Life of Prince Charming. As a fan of all of Caletti’s books, I would say that this one is even more touching and powerful than her others. Quinn’s voice connects with the reader almost immediately, allowing her exploration to reach deep into the heart of the reader. While the premise of this book had the potential to get overly heavy and preachy, Caletti avoids this by managing to draw in the wisdom of multiple generations in such an optimistic and endearing manner. The combination of the three sisters and Jake creates the perfect mix of caution and recklessness for this story.

The only weakness of Caletti’s The Secret Life of Prince Charming is the presentation of the diary insets. When they are first encountered by the reader, their purpose is unclear, especially as many of the women are not identified by name until after the inset. However, once the reader is able to connect the names of these women to those that Quinn comes in contact to, the insets work to heighten the significance and universality of Quinn’s road trip and Caletti’s message.

As a novel that bridges the gap between generations, The Secret Life of Prince Charming is the perfect book for mothers to share with their daughters. All in all, this book is yet another success for National Book Award finalist (for Honey, Baby, Sweetheart) author Deb Caletti.
10 out of 10.