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review 2014-01-24 05:34
The Cute Girl Network
The Cute Girl Network - M.K. Reed,Greg Means,Joe Flood

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


I have to say it’s nice to read a good graphic novel that isn’t too heavy. I’m admittedly not that well versed in graphic novels. What I’ve noticed from mere observation is that the market seems to be geared more towards boys than girls. Whenever I come across graphic novels that have great appeal for girls, I get kind of excited. I’m not really sure when the push started, but I think graphic novels are becoming more and more popular. That’s an exciting prospect; I’m very visual, so I love them.


The Cute Girl Network is out for blood this time! When some acquaintances find out Jane is thinking of dating Jack, they schedule her to meet with all his ex-girlfriends to persuade her not to date him.


There were immediately things I loved about The Cute Girl Network. Jane doesn’t fit into the stereotypical idea of a girl or woman. She works in a skate shop, she’s a great skateboarder, and she’s pretty laid back. Her rapport with the guys that work in the skate shop served as an exploration of sexism. The guys understood almost nothing about girls except what they had learned from the societal norms (girls like sparkly stuff, right?). Jane is a perfect example of an every day woman who isn’t always worried about how she looks. I could relate to that. When I’m not at work or at some particular social function, I’m regularly in jeans and t-shirts with no makeup on. It’s rare to see or read about that in any kind of media, though. It’s definitely not something you find encouraged. I appreciated that in this graphic novel.


The main plot point was really about a group of women trying to convince Jane that Jack will be an awful boyfriend. The network has good intentions, but the woman who sets up Jane’s meetings with the exes is a little too adamant about which choice is the right choice. It becomes a story about pressure and perspective. Jack’s previous girlfriends all have pretty legitimate reasons to dislike him, but they’re also not Jane. Their perspectives on Jack’s behavior vary from Jane’s because their expectations and interests are different. Jane and Jack share a lot of interests that simply put them on the same level. Still, Jane gets a lot of pressure from the girls in the network.


As far as the nuts and bolts of this graphic novel go, I give it two thumbs up. Both Jane and Jack were developed well. The supporting characters were more than surface characters. I enjoyed the art, and it really fit the story; good job to Joe Flood on that point. Let me address the audience a little, though. We have this weird tendency to place books into age genres based on the age of the characters. The characters in this book are out of high school and working, but I think this has major appeal to a young adult audience. I was actually under the assumption that it was being marketed to young adults, but now I’m not so sure. I will say that I think it’s best for older teens since there are clear references to sex.


This one comes highly recommended from me. Anyone else read this and love it?

Source: www.owltellyouaboutit.com/posts/the-cute-girl-network
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review 2014-01-20 00:00
Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century
Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century - Betsy Israel As a single twentysomething myself, I enjoyed reading about of the "spinsters" and "bachelor girls" of American history, and the changing (and yet oddly ahistorical, unchanging) place of the single woman in popular imagination. Israel shows her research and her writing is clever and readable without sounding too informal and discrediting her ideas.
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review 2012-07-27 12:52
Driving to BelAir: A Novella
Driving to Bel Air - William G. Jones Road trips are a tried and tested formula, one which is difficult to either get completely right or completely wrong. I have read and seen so many books and movies on the subject which I have liked enough to not get bored by them. But I had yet to come across something I truly loved. I have to say the “Driving to Belair” comes close to being perfect.

The book follows the formula very well. We start with a reason for the road trip which has meaning and does not seem frivolous. Each of the persons on the road trip has a personality and there are no filler characters. As, with any good road trip book, anything that can go wrong, does in fact go wrong. The characters develop and mature during the road trip as the hardships and the trials all bring them closer to each other than they were to begin with. And, it all ends on a hugely positive note. Frankly, I don’t see anything new there. But, I still loved the book! It is by far the best one I have read.

I loved the mix of characters the author has created. The trip consists of Dale, a person working in a New York advertising agency who comes from the modest background of a family raised on a farm. Then, there are his two brothers, both of whom have their own problems. One of them is a drug addict, who is totally immature and refuses to grow up. The other brother has held a grudge against Dale for a really long time for leaving the family behind and for “running away” from his responsibilities. He is now an alcoholic and is hostile towards Dale right from the start. Add to this trio, Dale’s ex-fiancé whom he also left behind and his current high-maintenance girlfriend who is the spoilt daughter of his boss. With such a cast, the storyline was bound to be explosive.

Each character is clearly well developed and complex. I kept changing my opinions about the all the characters, except for one, throughout the book. I kept moving from hating to loving characters and could not decide whether a character was the good guy or bad. For example, Dale’s past made me feel really sorry for him. He had a tough childhood with an abusive father, which made him bitter towards his family. But I couldn’t stand his actions now, after all these years. This is something I really enjoy, characters which are not painted with just one brush. Each character had a past and personality traits which added many dimensions to them and made them real. The talent of the author lies in making us feel the emotions he wants us to feel. This is not something easy to achieve, and for this I commend him.

The events which take place in the story are fairly standard to any road tip related media. They did add a lot of personality to the book though. They made me laugh, cringe, shout, feel sorry, and finally feel happy. The book also ends strongly. All the loose ends are perfectly tied and everyone goes home happy, well almost everyone. The author also gives us a glimpse in the life of the characters a few years after this road trip. We’re left contented as we know what finally happened to each of the characters.

I found it to be nice that such broken people can also find lasting happiness. This means there is hope for me too! LOL. That is the message I truly love.
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review 2011-11-13 21:13
Sweet Caroline (A Lowcountry Romance)
Sweet Caroline (A Lowcountry Romance) - Rachel Hauck If you're a fan of classic rock, you may think that, based on its title, "Sweet Caroline" is about Neil Diamond or Caroline Kennedy...but it isn't. Rather, it's a rather charming and light-hearted Christian romance novel that brings to mind classic "romcoms" such as "Leap Year" or "Princess Diaries". If you enjoy novels about finding The One, then this one is for you.
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review 2011-08-29 00:00
Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century - Betsy Israel An interesting read, but Bachelor Girl suffered from two major issues that kept popping up in the back of my brain while I read. First, it had a tendency to feel like propaganda, and this was in no way lessened by the author's "disclaimer" at the beginning that it's impossible to deal with the subject matter without sounding a bit feminist. Second, 99% of the book felt like a warning against being single for too long. There was a heavy emphasis on the negative viewpoints and very little presented to show the other side, the pros that kept drawing women into this lifestyle beyond the simple "know and keep my own mind" mantra. When the positives were addressed, they were a quick one or two sentences tossed off and left on their own, dismissed with little analysis. And at the end, when Israel struggles to end this on a positive note (don't worry, you'll still put it down feeling like this married woman just spent 264 pages telling you to enjoy being single when you're young, but it's really just better to get married once you're not), she gives us the example of Ally McBeal as a healthy single woman to aspire to.

Really? A neurotic anorexic who spent more time chasing men than doing her actual job? That's the best the author could come up with? Very disappointing.

A third point: this is horribly documented. Quotes are cut all to hell (I counted nearly a dozen ellipses in the space of a three line quote at one point), and supporting sources are limited in the text. The source lists at the back are little better.

This could have been so good, too. Israel writing style is light and flows easily, and if she had put in some more effort, this had the potential to be a great study. But it felt like laziness, a general skimming of the most shallow stereotypes in history that ignored whole swathes of the reality. Interesting, but very far from an in-depth study, and as a "history," it's greatly lacking.
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