Oh Maid Sama!, I’ve been waiting for this day. I started up a manga-reading project with Debby (Snuggly Oranges), Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) and Steph (Cuddlebuggery), and I’m so glad that we did this, because I have got my manga back and you have NO idea how much I missed it. For a couple of years, I read a whole lot of manga (thousands of volumes is likely not an exaggeration) and I think I sort of burned myself out with that pace. Then I just got out of the habit of reading it. Now my mojo is back and I can finish some of the series that weren’t complete back then, start new ones and reread my favorites. This, my friends, is a beautiful thing. Anyway, Maid Sama! is one I started reading from my library back in the day, but never finished because I was waiting for the next volume to be purchased by the library…only apparently they never printed any volumes past that one so it’s a good thing that I stopped waiting. Maid Sama! is a seriously fun series with delightful shippiness, and I am not just saying that because Debby might kill me otherwise. Oranges can be vengeful fruits.
NGL, my favorite thing in manga is a good ship. Okay, that’s not THAT different from my preferences anywhere, but I think it may be even more important in shojo manga. I mean, if I am going to wait 10-18 volumes for a ship to pull away from the dock, it better be a damn gorgeous and sea worthy vessel, if you know what I mean. Maid Sama! has ships to spare. Literally, as, in addition to the main ship, which is quite shiny, there are awesome ships for the secondary characters.
Misaki, the heroine, is the student council president of her school, and known as the Demon President. Seika High School just recently allowed female students and Misaki is on a crusade to make the boys straighten up and fly right, so that the girls can feel more comfortable. Misaki dominates in strength and academics, but she has a secret: she works at a maid cafe (which is exactly what it sounds like unless you think that it’s a cover for prostitution, which I would imagine is sometimes the case but is not here).
In the first volume, several people discover her secret, namely the guy who has just taken the top academic score from her and the three bad boys. Sacre bleu! It’s okay though, because Misaki charms the pants off them (not literally, unfortunately) and her secret is safe. One of the most hilarious elements is the three bad boys (henceforth known as the idiot trio) who are tamed and become obsessed with the maid cafe; this is, in fact, one of the few chibi-izations of characters I approve of. The manga’s really over the top and ridiculous, but almost entirely in a good way. I even laughed out loud quite a few times, and I’m not especially demonstrative when I read generally.
Usui and Misaki comes really close to being annoying for me as a ship a lot of times, largely because Usui is perfect at everything and that gets old. Can’t Misaki best him in SOMETHING? That trope of “anything the heroine can do, the hero can do better” needs to die in a fire. However, I still ship them like mad because Usui is SUCH a weirdo. He totally looks the part of the sexy, alpha male lead, but generally he acts like a total goober. It’s adorable. He essentially has no interest in other people, except for Misaki, and his weirdness softens my heart…and hers. Misaki calls him a perverted space alien, and this is a nickname I am totally non-grossed out by. My favorite ship might be Kanou/Yukimura though. THANK YOU FOR SLIPPING THAT IN THERE, HIRO FUJIWARA. YOU ARE MY HIRO. (I’m sure that doesn’t get old.)
The early part of the series I loved all the way. Still, I do think it ran on too long. The plot goes in some unnecessary directions. I liked when it was just weirdness in high school, but everything about Usui’s past ended up making me roll my eyes. It just got VERY Boys Over Flowers (View Spoiler ») and Christina don’t play that.
If you’re a shojo manga fan, this is a must read. If you’re new to manga, I’m not sure if this is where I would recommend starting because it’s rather weird and probably has more cultural things to adjust to than some other options. But, yes, hilariousness and romance = happy Christina.(less)
People are terrible. Exhibit A: Three people independently suggested I read this book. Exhibit B: Patch. Exhibit C: Apparently Patch is considered sex...morePeople are terrible. Exhibit A: Three people independently suggested I read this book. Exhibit B: Patch. Exhibit C: Apparently Patch is considered sexy by some. THE HORROR.
Oh, Harvard. What have you come to? I mean, you’re supposedly one of the best educational institutions that the United States has to offer, but if the...moreOh, Harvard. What have you come to? I mean, you’re supposedly one of the best educational institutions that the United States has to offer, but if the Harvard Lampoon is the standard by which your brilliance can be measured, America has even more serious problems than I realized. The Hunger Pains is cheap capitalization off of a popular franchise, rather than a clever satire or parody of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
Of course, it is much harder to be impressed by parodies of things that I enjoy, but, even if I loathed The Hunger Games, I doubt this mess of juvenile humor would have entertained me. The Hunger Pains might amuse a drunken frat boy audience, but that’s probably about the extent of the ideal audience here. Actual fans of The Hunger Games will find little to amuse, though there were a couple of things that did make me laugh inwardly, and when I say a couple I really mean two. Peeta fans should be especially leery of this “effort.”
THE CUTE. That is what this book is. So freaking adorable. I’ve read one Robin Benway book before this, but I tried the audio, and I feel like the ado...moreTHE CUTE. That is what this book is. So freaking adorable. I’ve read one Robin Benway book before this, but I tried the audio, and I feel like the adorbs did not translate quite as well to the audiobook format. Anyway, I totally understand why people want Benway books with their cuteness. Also, I totally will use the words cute and adorable until they cease having any meaning throughout the course of this review, so deal with it. Honestly, it’s Robin Benway’s fault, because all I can say is CUTE CUTE CUTE.
Katie McGarry helped me discover a love of contemporary fiction with her first book Pushing the Limits. Though it wasn’t her b...moreActual Rating: 3.5 stars
Katie McGarry helped me discover a love of contemporary fiction with her first book Pushing the Limits. Though it wasn’t her book alone, it was a crucial part of a string of good ones that made me find respect and love for a genre I previously shunned. There’s a lot of what made McGarry’s other novels such hits for me in Crash into You, but also some elements that had me rolling my eyes. Crash into You comes in as my least favorite McGarry book thus far, but has not impacted my desire to read every book McGarry writes.
My feelings towards Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy are well known by my friends and compatriots. I’ve been pretty vocal about how over-hyped the se...moreMy feelings towards Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy are well known by my friends and compatriots. I’ve been pretty vocal about how over-hyped the series is, largely due to the fact that the hype convinced me to cough up the money for a hardcover of the first book and I didn’t like it at all. This does not make Christina happy. I had, actually, no intention of finishing off the series at all, until the reactions of the fandom upon the book’s release. The spoiler that so infuriated the series’ most ardent fans made me curious. Add to this curiosity an unsolicited review copy of the audiobook and clearly the universe meant for me to finish the trilogy. So I did.
And, honestly, much to the surprise of myself and most of the people I know, I actually think Allegiant is, largely, much improved from the other books. Don’t get me wrong; the book still suffers from a lot of intrinsic problems, but a number of the most frustrating elements have been nullified. While this series still isn’t really my thing, I am coming out of the series with much less anger than I felt after the other two, so I’m going to mark that down as a win. Whether you enjoy Allegiant or not will depend on a number of factors, which come down to what attracted you to the book in the first place and whether you care about world building.
Before I launch into what will be, for this book, a fairly negative review, I want...moreFor more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.
Before I launch into what will be, for this book, a fairly negative review, I want to get some things straight. First, I don’t think Anna and the French Kiss is a bad book; in fact, I think it’s good, but in some ways not good for the particular person I am. Second, this review’s going to be somewhat ranty, but I really did like and sometimes even love much of Anna and the French Kiss. If my ranting will upset you because you love everything about this book, I’m envious that you had all the feels and send you on your way with my blessing.
Perkins most definitely has the makings of a contemporary author who will write books that I personally will love. Even though this hasn’t been an entirely positive experience for me, I will undoubtedly be reading the rest of her books. She has great snappy dialogue and tons of pop culture references, both things that are total Christina bait. Plus, I totally adore the setting at SOAP (School of America Paris) with it’s dorm rooms that are small and awful to Anna but absurdly amazing as dorm rooms go. It’s great too because most boarding school books end up being so depressing and full of intense melodrama, but Anna and the French Kiss is free of that.
The familial relationships and friendships in Anna and the French Kiss were largely great too. Anna’s father, James Ashley, an obvious reference to Nicholas Sparks, amused me no end. He forced her to go to Paris, so he can feel cultured. Initially, she’s very anti-Paris and doing the poor me having to go to France thing, but it’s really that her agency was taken away and not that Paris is awful. Plus, Anna’s very afraid of being rude or doing something wrong, which is something I can relate to in her fear of venturing out in France not knowing the language.
I like the way that Anna’s new friends draw her out of her shell. She could, had she not found good friends, have ended up like Cath, shut up in her dorm room for much or all of her year at SOAP. Instead, she discovers resources within herself she never knew she had and ends up having an amazing experience.[Aside: St. Clair takes her out for panini and she's amazed at this rare and unusual sandwich, but this book came out in 2010 and Panera is everywhere. There are all kinds of sandwich places in Atlanta that serve paninis. It's possible, but seriously?] I think the whole crew of friends is interesting, though I would have liked to get to know Josh, Rashmi and Mer a bit better. I think Rashmi ends up getting the best development and their relationship helps Anna reevaluate a lot of how she perceives others.
The problem is, though, that, in a romance, you’re pretty much sunk if you don’t ship the ship. Thankfully, I don’t quite unship the ship. For a while, I was walking up to board. I had my ticket purchased and my bags packed, ready to depart. Unfortunately, I got about three steps onboard, realized I didn’t like where it was headed and ran back off. This metaphor may have gotten out of my control a bit.
What you need to understand about me is that I tend to have a very black and white sense of justice. I’m a bit like Darcy: “my good opinion once lost is lost forever.” Actually, like him, that’s not entirely true, but it is difficult to convince me to change my mind. My problems lie almost entirely with the character of St. Clair. I’ve tried to forgive him because he’s young and stupid, which is true, and because it’s believable, but I can’t. The last two chapters completely sealed me not wanting these characters to get together or at least not feeling happy that they are together.
Anna and the French Kiss takes place over the course of almost a complete school year. During almost that entire time, St. Clair has a girlfriend called Ellie, who’s off at uni nearby. He spends the whole year alternately ignoring all of his friends and hanging out with Ellie or ignoring Ellie and hanging out with his friends, which also includes flirting with Anna. The flirting initially is mild, just some casual but intentional leg brushes, which is okay I guess. What bothered me from the start was the way that St. Clair would flip flop from friends to girlfriend, blowing off one then the other, like he can’t be a good boyfriend and a good friend at one time; it’s or the other. When he’s actually there, he’s great and so is the banter, but he’s not dependable.
I’d be warned about the cheating thing and, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected in some ways. If the reactions to it had been different, I actually wouldn’t have been bothered so much by this particular scenario. Of course, it’s all gray areas with what counts as actually cheating and blah blah blah, but using the most common definition, St. Clair doesn’t behave too badly. View Spoiler » That I could live with if St. Clair was really incredibly apologetic, which he sort of was but also wasn’t. I’ll move into spoiler tags now for safety.
(view spoiler)[St. Clair makes so many excuses, which okay he doesn’t want to be alone because his mother is dying, but he also has tons of good friends and doesn’t really like his girlfriend. Why the fuck is he still with Ellie when he’s liked Anna since the very first day he met her? He’s been wishing on that fucking zero point in Paris for her to want him ALL YEAR. He tells her, once they’re together, that he’s never felt this way about anyone. And yet, the amount that he cares for Anna still isn’t enough to make St. Clair risk having to be single. We’re meant to forgive him for sticking with the girlfriend because she’s vaguely horrible in her couple of scenes, an easy target. Plus, he didn’t have sex with Ellie again after the admittedly incredibly adorable Christmas email exchange. Let’s ignore the fact that a couple that was having regular sex just stops for months and neither of them will FUCKING END IT.
St. Clair, despite having a girlfriend, is jealous any time a guy pays attention to Anna. He shames her for kissing someone else, when she has made no promises to anyone. Once everything comes out, he accuses her of being part of the problem because she lied and pretended he hadn’t confessed feelings for her back in November when St. Clair was drunk off his ass. Yup, clearly Anna’s fault that you kept dating a girl you didn’t like anymore. He basically says it’s all also her fault because she wasn’t willing to speak up about her feelings, which is so incredibly unfair and dickish that I cannot even with this guy. And, yeah, they’re young and stupid but there’s nothing in the book to say that this isn’t cool. Anna believes everything he says and takes a share of the blame. Yes, she sometimes pushed him away, but ONLY BECAUSE HE HAD A GIRLFRIEND. Pretty sure she would have eventually said or done something had he been single that whole time. It’s not her job to watch out for his relationship, but she did a better job of that than he did.
Then, once they resolve everything and get together, they’re so damn cheesy and insufferable, which I can’t handle with how un-sorry St. Clair is. He gets everything he wanted and that whole situation worked out fabulously for him. He decides to go to California for her (365), not for his mother or to obtain freedom from his father. They’re not even dating yet! I mean, I know they were best friends most of the year, but he obviously was planning this before he’d broken up with his girlfriend, because of when college applications have to be in. Then the last three lines: “For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It’s a person. And we’re finally home.”
I cannot. I can’t. The ability to can has been suspended. This about a guy who claims to have loved her basically all year but who kept dating another girl for pretty much all of that year. I wouldn’t build my home on that sort of a foundation, but best of luck to you Anna. (hide spoiler)]
So yeah, that didn’t really turn out like anybody hoped. There are lots of good things about it, but I also have many non-happy feelings about one of the most loved YA guys. I has a sad.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)