Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer

15789823Title: Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal

Author: Chris Colfer

Published: November 20th 2012, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Edition: ebook, 256 pages

Genre: Realistic fiction, humor

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal

Summary:

‘Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal’ follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.

I’ll admit that I was only interested in this book in the first place because it was written by Chris Colfer. I’ve never been a fan of him, particularly, but I’ve been watching Glee since it’s very first season. (The show is really not that great anymore, but I still watch it out of habit.) I was really impressed, though, bu the fact that Chris Colfer wrote a book, and it also wasn’t an autobiography which is what celebrities usually write. It is a separate fictional story, which also received some praise from both critics and readers. And I’m really subject to this factor, so, of course, I couldn’t miss this book.

The first thing that really surprised me was that I never expected Chris Colfer to write like this. The story is told from the point of view of main character Carson Phillips, and he is very sarcastic. My perception of Chirs Colfer has generally been based on his character in Glee Kurt Hummel, who is very calm and soft, kind of harmless. But real Chris Colfer is definitely a wholly different person, and this book shows that he has a very witty mind. His Carson has a very developed and strong opinion on everything that surrounds him or he has to deal with.

First its his divorced parents. Carson’s father is now getting married to a very young woman, who is also expecting his baby, and he uses Carson to impress her with an image of a caring father and husband. And Carson’s mother is still affected by the divorce and spends her days lying on the couch and taking lots of antidepressants. Carson is really put down by all this, His relationship with his parents is very harsh most times, because he understands that none of them care about his future.

Then its Carson’s attitude to the school and education in general. It was very entertaining to read about his relationships with students and teachers. Carson wasn’t the one to stay in somebody’s shadow, he would always voice his opinion on every matter, no matter how much it could annoy everybody. Chris Colfer made it a very funny read, and I laughed many times through it.

But there was also a thing in this book that bothered me. Despite it not being a happy-ending kind of story, this was not what disappointed me. I was pit off by how mean to everyone Carson was most of the time. He not only thought all this sarcastic and mocking things about people around him, but he also always voiced them. And that’s probably the reason why he was always alone. It was also the reason why it was hard for me to connect to him.

Carson’s aversion to his hometown Clover and his comparisons of it to a prison was in my mind a bit too much. I mean, yes, he didn’t really have a happy life there, but he was a teenager and he was too angry. A friend who is not his grandmother, who couldn’t even recognize him, would have been more that welcome.

I liked the plot, though, the whole idea of Carson blackmailing the most popular students at school to write for his literary magazine. That was really funny. And I liked that the magazine with all the entries was included into the book. It gave a clearer view on every character of the story.

I have a very conflicting impression of the ending. On one hand I thought that it was an appropriate final for such a story. But on the other hand, I can’t help finding it too depressing. I wish there was more to Carson’s story, I would loved to see him as a grown man, and find out whether he and his views on life changed.

On the whole, the book is a nice and entertaining read, and I really enjoyed it. I also watched the movie version of it and can say, that it’s not the same without Carson’s inner monologue. The movie was a bit boring without it.

Favorite character: Malerie Baggs

Favorite quote: “You don’t get to pick where you’re from, but you always have control of where you’re going.” (Carson Phillips)

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Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

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Title: Bridget Jones’s Diary

Series: Bridget Jones, Book 1

Author: Helen Fielding

Fiist published: October 25th 1996, Picador

Edition: ebook, 288 pages

Genre: Romance, humor

Age group: Adult

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones, #1)

The first time I heard about ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ was in 2001 when the movie version of the book was running in theaters. It was the talk of everyone, mostly of Renée Zellweger getting weight specifically for the part of Bridget. I watched the movie at that time, alongside my mom, and thought it was funny, but probably not that appealing to me, a teenager then and not interested in problems of women in their thirties.

With the book having been published in 1996, it’s only now that I felt a pull to dig into it. I’ve been told by lots of people how nice the book was, and I really was intrigued about the  whole buzz. Especially after reading mostly romance or fantasy books, a comedy was more than welcomed.

There’s probably no need for me to write a detailed summary of the story as, first, it’s probably familiar to everybody, and second, it’s not that elaborate. Bridget Jones is a single woman slightly over thirty who makes a list of New Year’s Resolutions and sets to complete them all in the upcoming year.

I expected to read about Bridget’s struggles with dieting and living healthier, spoiled by some occasional missteps only to come to success in the end. But Bridget seemed to not even try, in fact she led a pretty usual course of life, eating whatever she felt like, smoking and drinking to the point of oblivion.

The story is written in a form of a diary supposedly meant for Bridget to keep track on her little achievements, and while it was funny to watch her constantly give in to her cravings, she didn’t actually do anything to even slightly make a difference. In fact, this absence of any progress or development on Bridget’s part made her quite a boring character. I was more excited reading about other secondary characters, who unlike Bridget were very unique, fun and totally different persons. I loved them all – Bridget’s crazy and energetic mom with her new found desire to live young and fully, her friends who also struggle with unhappy relationships and tend to give Bridget very opposite and misleading advices on love. I even liked Danielle, now matter what a jerk he was, just because he was a whole independent and unique person, who actually did something in his life, unlike Bridget.

I liked Bridget only as a narrator, when she would describe these awkward parties and family-and-friends gatherings she attended or her mom’s involvement with a criminal. But Bridget as a separate character was too disorganized and immature, and she didn’t change a bit in the end. Maybe there’s a hope in the sequel?

Mark Darcy’s infatuation with Bridget also came out of nowhere and with it being squeezed in the very last pages of the book seemed very unbelievable. Especially with Bridget not very fond of Mark till these very last pages. But he took the matter in his own hands, so once again Bridget went with the flow.

So, being a diary of such a weak character, although funny enough, the story came out as very uneventful to me, the plot line wasn’t that strong. The main focus was just on Bridget and her countless misfortunes. I laughed at some scenes, but generally I like the movie better as it looks more dynamic.

Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

 

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Title: Practice Makes Perfect

Author: Julie James

First published: March 3rd 2009,Berkley Sensation

Edition: ebook, 304 pages

Genre: Romance, humor

Age group: Adult

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

Practice Makes Perfect

Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson have been lawyers at a Chicago firm for 8 years, but kept their distance through all this time. Both are total opposites, and not only in the types of cases they generally deal with. Payton is feminist and only-success-oriented, having to survive in the world generally populated by men. And J.D. has come from a very wealthy family with his father being a respected judge. To Payton J.D. is just a cocky and over-privileged jerk who has had everything in his life on a silver platter, while she, coming from a not so rich and single-parent family, has to fight to get what she wants.

For years Payton and J.D. have maintained an illusion of being friendly co-workers in front of their colleagues, while secretly fighting about each other’s points of view. Both of them are set on becoming the firm’s partners, which in the beginning is an assured fact. Though, due to the new policy, their boss suddenly presents them with a news that this year only one of them will be chosen with the other one having to quit. If their banter from previous years wasn’t enough, now it’s a race to win for Payton and J.D.

The story continues with a line of very funny attempts of the both of them to make the other fail or embarrass each other, like Payton pouring coffee on J.D.’s suit jacket or him breaking her shoe. And when the matters appear to almost having got out of hands, they are asked to work together on a major case. The case, which starts as a show-off of their professional skills, soon turns out to be a revelation for both of them. Payton discovers that J.D. is not so egoistical as she once believed he was and acknowledges how great he is as a lawyer. And J.D., going through the same revelations, also remembers the moments he first met Payton and the overwhelming impressions she made on him as a beautiful and confident woman.

With the stakes high and feelings getting in the way, the battle is becoming tougher, but who will be the first of them to give in?

With the year coming to an end I decided to finish with my stack of Julie James’ novels, though I will be expecting the publication of the new installment of the F.B.I./U.S. Attorney series next year. Practice Makes Perfect is one of Julie James’ stand-alone novels, and while the previous one that I read, Just The Sexiest Man Alive, didn’t make that much of an impression on me, this book I loved a lot.

The communications between Payton and J.D. are amazingly written, first their fights and witty remarks and then their declarations to each other. First it’s a hate/competition relationship, when they try to outdo each other professionally, to impress their boss. Then they try to put their disagreements aside to work together on a case. And alongside this they come to realize how little they actually know about each other, despite having worked together for so many years. And what they do find out makes them think back to the time when they just met and really liked each other.

Payton and J.D.’s romantic scenes didn’t take that much place in the book, yet they were powerful and steamy. I liked that they didn’t fell into the relationship straight ahead, but actually worked through their issues, making the choice between a carrier and love. And that weekend on the beach was very romantic, definitely an ‘awww’ moment.

The only problem I had with the story is the abundance of all the lawyer and court stuff, it was just too detailed, sometimes it was hard for me to get through it. But in general the story was great, Julie James never disappoints me.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

 

8227853

Title: Just the Sexiest Man Alive

Author: Julie James

First published: October 7th 2008, Berkley Sensation

Edition: ebook, 271 pages

Genre: Romance, humor

Age group: Adult

Rating:  ★ ★

Just the Sexiest Man Alive

Synopsis:

COOL. CALM. COLLECTED.
Nothing fazes Taylor Donovan—not in the courtroom and not in her personal life. So when she’s assigned to coach People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for his role in the next big legal drama, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrob’s charms. Even if he is the Jason Andrews.

CONFIDENT. FAMOUS. IRRESISTIBLE.
Jason Andrews is used to having women fall at his feet. When Taylor Donovan gives him the cold shoulder, he’s thrown for a loop. She’s unlike any other woman he’s ever met: uninterested in the limelight, seemingly immune to his advances, and shockingly capable of saying no to him. She’s the perfect challenge. And the more she rejects him, the more he begins to realize that she may just be his perfect match. . .

My thoughts:

When I think how much I love Julie James’ FBI/U.S. Attorney Series, this book comes as a total disappointment to me.

Th story instead of Chicago is now set in Los Angeles and it is no longer about special agents or crime investigation. The central characters are Taylor Donovan, a lawyer, and Jason Andrews, world’s most popular movie actor and People’s “Sexiest man alive”.

If with FBI/U.S. Attorney Series Julie James was completely in her element, this book seems way out of her normal path. She writes so well about FBI investigations which she skillfully incorporate passionate love stories into, that Just The Sexiest Man Alive is like a test of the pen for her on a story with totally different kind of setting. And though I generally like the idea of the book, the way it was conducted didn’t personally impress me.

First of all the characters were too self-sufficient. Jason is the most acclaimed Hollywood actor and is used to live a free life full of money, parties, girls and no restrictions. And Taylor is strongly committed to her job, so much so that she doesn’t mind spending her whole weekend checking the cases once more in hopes to find more clues.

And when these two meet there is nothing but physical attraction between them. I like how the story develops from this point, though. It’s a slow but entertaining personal changing of both Jason and Taylor. Jason goes from the conceited man who was used to rely on his celebrity status to finally realizing how fame has clouded his mind and the person he really is under this mask of his.

But no matter how good the progression was, the story nevertheless was full of cringe-worthy moments. Jason’s behavior is the first. Throughout the best part of the story he acts like a total jerk. The thing he does to make Taylor jealous and then expecting her to fall eagerly into his arms when he tells her he chose her over some actress is crazy. Does he know women at all? And also the fact that being a celebrity he expects everything to be easy for him and to have people do for him whatever he wants. That’s just not normal, but maybe that’s how every celebrity behaves, I wouldn’t know as I’m not acquainted with any of them. But even omitting the fact of his popularity, Jason seemed too immature for a nearly 40-year-old man. He is definitely not ready for a serious relationship, and so when he goes from skipping business meetings for a trip to Las Vegas to asking Taylor to marry him, the situation just seems absurd.

And speaking of Taylor, she is very similar to Jayson in the way of her not being ready for a relationship and not even wanting one. Her whole life is centered on her job and after she caught her ex-fiancé cheating on her, no men is allowed into her personal life.

Just like Taylor is too self-centered as an actor, Taylor is no different, being probably the best lawyer at her firm. The way she constantly shows off her status and achievements is tiresome. And when she is conflicted about whether she would be enough for Jason, it actually seems like Taylor is not sure if Jason is good enough for her.

Taylor’s inconstancy is another problem to add to the list. One moment she says she doesn’t want to go out with a celebrity being afraid of paparazzi and losing her privacy and next moment she’s dating second best actor Scott Casey. And she definitely likes being this mystery woman with the whole world wondering who she is.

But as I mentioned earlier, the story’s developing was quite natural and I could see that the characters would change eventually, but I didn’t expect it to happen so out of the blue. Yes it was one of those now-or-never moments, but it was so forced. And now in just one day Taylor and Jason become this madly in love couple kissing in public and proclaiming their love in front of the willing audience. The reader just has to accept this. But I didn’t get it, I’d better get back to Julie James’ FBI special agents.