Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I just want to say, my mom has done so much for me and I don't even want to think about where I'd be without her today. She's the one who tells me stuff that must be said, even if I don't want to hear it. I love you, Mommy.

And here's another book reveiw...enjoy! =)
Book review for the All about Us Series
I picked up the first book in this series due to the fact that I was burned out of ideas of books to read, and the cover of this one was cute looking. I had never heard of the series, but knew it was Christian, so gave it a try. I’m glad I did.
These books follow the lives of five very different high school girls: Lissa, Gillian, Carly, Shani, and Mac. Each book is dedicated to one girl and some troubles she’s going through at the time. The first one, called It’s all about us, is about Lissa. She just started her first semester at Spencer High, and elite school for, well, elites. She immediately makes an enemy- semi-royalty Vanessa. But she also makes a friend in her roommate, Gillian, a Chinese smarty-pants who is on fire about God. Lissa only has eyes for hottie Callum McCloud. But Callum is after only one thing, and Lissa must decide between Callum and what she believes. In her confusion, jealous Vanessa tricks Lissa into embarrassing herself, big time. I loved the plot, the conflict that wars within Lissa about Callum, and the never-ending cruelty of Vanessa. When Vanessa’s tape was sent all over the school, I felt Lissa embarrassment and mortification. She had just begun at Spencer High- was she going to have to finish out her high school years with a horrible reputation? This book really whetted my taste for the rest of the series.
The Fruit of My Lipstick, the second book is about New-Yorker Gillian. Unlike some people, she’s gotten the hang of this being smart thing. She’s a math and science whiz, can play virtually any instrument in existence, and colleges like Yale, Stanford and Harvard are begging her to “pick me!” But she meets her match in Lucas Hayes. She falls hard for him, and struggles to keep up with her rigorous studies and have a relationship with him at the same time. He can sometimes be pretty moody, but she excuses it as pressure. Then she’s accused of selling cheat-sheets to test, and after a while, even her friends start to doubt her. How much can she handle? I enjoyed Gillian’s Christ-like attitude throughout the book, and I loved how strong her relationship with the Lord is. Lucas really got on my nerves from the start, and nearly flew into a rage when he got abusive with Gillian. I loved how her friends stepped in and rescued her- it reestablished the theme of the series: true friendship!
The third book, Be Strong and Curvaceous, is about sweet, charming Carly Aragon. She has the best fashion sense around, and loves to design fabulous gowns for the many premieres and dances her friends attend. She struggles with her parent’s divorce, but she can get through anything with Lissa and Gillian supporting her. She comes back from spring break to find the loud-mouthed, opinioned Lady Lindsay MacPhail as her new roommate. Mac swoops in and seems to take everything for her own. Not only does she relieve Carly of any privacy she had, she also starts dating jock Brett Loyola, Carly’s long-time crush! But soon after coming to Spencer High, Mac begins receiving creepy emails from an unknown stalker, and Carly must overcome her dislike for Mac so she can help her figure out this mystery. I have to say, this is my absolute favorite of all the books in this series. It was the most action packed, with life-and-death situations and a budding romance between Carly and Brett at the end (SPOILER!).  I love Mac’s attitude, and her tom-boyishness really sets off Carly’s girlyness. Also, although all the titles in this series are super creative, this one is the cutest.
The fourth installment in this series, titled, Who Made You a Princess?  is about Shani. She has just recently met Danyel, a super cute, super cool Christian surfer. But when she returns to school with her friends, they everyone in a frenzy over Prince Rashid al Amir of Yasir. He’s filthy rich and has moved to California to attend Spencer Academy in preparation for an MBA at Stanford. But that’s not his only reason for moving so far from home- he’s here to woo Shani, his future wife. Shani comes to find out that for several generations, both her family and the Prince’s family have intermarried, for the sake of custom, obligation, and to benefit both the families’ businesses. I love the Prince; he is so na├»ve and tries to do what is best for his family, even if he must set aside his wishes in the process. I laughed at how typical it was for Vanessa to be enthralled with him! I was so proud of Shani in the end when she gave up her family, her money, and her high social standing all because she and Prince Rashid weren’t in love.
The fifth book, Tidings of Great Boys, is about Mac, who goes back to her castle home in Scotland with her friends for the Christmas season. While there she strives to organize a Hogmanay Day dance, mend her parents’ broken marriage, and save Shani from Prince Rashid’s enraged parents, who threaten to endanger Shani’s safety. On top of all that, Mac is surprised to find out that the old castle is falling apart and her father is quickly running out of money. This book was not my favorite of the series, and it seemed to drag on and on. I don’t think the plot was very entertaining or engaging, and it kind of bored me. I would have liked to see some more romance between Mac and her guy friend (I forget his name). It really didn’t seem to add much to the series; it only really prolonged the last book. One thing that did perk me up was how Shelley showed Mac’s choice in friends. Her buddies in Scotland were of a much rougher, rebellious, trouble-making crowd than her sweet, girly, Christian friends in California. I liked how the reader can see the effects of Gillian, Shani, Carly, and Lissa’s influence rubbing off on Mac. 
The sixth and last chapters in this series, The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth, all the girls are back at Spencer High and gearing up for graduation. But if they aren’t busy enough as it is trying to decide on majors and colleges, life throws in some difficulties of its own. Lissa’s best friend Kaz hints that he might be crushing on Gillian, and when Lissa finds herself troubled at this turn of events, she must sort through her feelings for Kaz. Also, mean girl Vanessa has gone and gotten herself pregnant, and soon she’s the humiliation of the whole school. I liked this one. That’s about it. It summed up the whole series, it was good at the end, when Kaz and Lissa finally get together, but I felt unsettled when I finished reading it. It wasn’t fantastic, it wasn’t awesome, it was just good. One thing I did like, because it was unexpected, was Vanessa’s pregnancy. When I began reading, I had no idea how Shelley would straighten Vanessa out. I knew something humiliating and downgrading had to happen to her, but I didn’t expect THAT. I loved the romantic scene with Kaz and Lissa on the beach at the very end. That was a lovely ending to the series. 
All in all, I really enjoyed reading this series. I love the close-knit friendship of Lissa, Gillian, Carly, Shani, and Mac. I desire the kind of trust, loyalty, and forgiveness that they had in my friends. Shelley did a wonderful job with these books, throwing in a good amount of humor, fashion, and God. I hated to see them end, and if you haven’t read them, I suggest you do. Happy reading!

Quick Content Review:
Profanity- None
Violence- None (In Be Strong and Curvaceous, Mac’s maniac step-brother threatens to blow up the school. In The Fruit of My Lipstick, Lucas gets abusive with Gillian, and pushes her into a soda machine.)
Sexual- Minor (In the first book, Callum pressures Lissa to have sex with him. She resists, but they do make out in Vanessa’s room. Nothing is described. In Be Strong and Curvaceous, Brett and Carly kiss (SPOILER!). In The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth, Vanessa finds out she is pregnant but don’t know who the father is.  Kaz and Lissa kiss.)
Reply from the author:

Hi Shelby,

Wow, this is one of the most comprehensive and incisive reviews of the books I've ever seen. My Kate Middleton-style feathery hat is off to you! :) I also like that you were honest but not hurtful--a quality that many reviewers out there would do well to emulate. 

Do you plan to post the review online? I hope so!

Take care and thanks again for your careful thought and enthusiasm for the books!
Shelley


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