Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Young, Restless & Broke
Blossom Kan & Michelle You
St. Martin's Press April 2010
Synopsis: An aspiring young soap actress moves to L.A. to pursue the job—and man—of her dreams Sarah Cho always knew that she’d have to rough it as an aspiring soap actress in order to fulfill her dreams. Flipping burgers and bartending to pay the bills, she is going nowhere far in New York until she meets Daniel Wong, a dazzling Hollywood soap opera producer. Instantly smitten, Sarah jumps at the chance to move to L.A. to pursue her ambitions— and a relationship with Daniel. But will Tinseltown be all it’s cracked it to be?
Gotham Gal Review: I had read the authors' previous book CHINA DOLLS, so I was intrigued when I picked up this book at the library. Well, I'm sorry to say that I found it to be a very disappointing read. On the one had, the book works extremely well as a coming of age story. Sarah comes from a very traditional Chinese family who are also not very supportive of her desire to be an actress. While her sister Lin has a high-powered career as an investment banker and has just married her long term boyfriend, her sister Amy the middle sister has serious issues with Sarah. No matter what, she basically treats Sarah and her dreams like dirt under her shoe. Sarah feels like an outsider in her own family, at the same time she wishes that she could please them. She also has issues with the obligatory commitment phobic boyfriend, which has now become a cliche in chick-lit books. Oh, and she also has the gay best friend, yet another cliche. When the book focused on Sarah's relationship with her family, the book came alive.
Unfortunately where the book stumbles is in its depiction of her career. I was a professional actress for fifteen years, and I have a number of friends in the soap media, and I found it completely unrealistic that Sarah has absolutely no actor friends. Also, Sarah doesn't seem to have the first clue about pursuing her career until she gets to LA when she makes her first actor friend Giselle who helps her to navigate the LA acting scene. She tells her about audition workshops, sending out postcards, and doing student films. All this stuff is basic acting 101, I knew this stuff in high school. There are three rights of passage that every actor goes through in New York a) doing a student film, b) doing a Biggs-Rosati tour, and c) working at the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY. Some actors do all three. Also, I don't know anyone who refers to the trade paper BACKSTAGE as a magazine. For someone whose dream it is to be on a soap opera, Sarah never seems to have thought about taking a soap opera acting class in New York, where she would be seen by all the NY soap casting directors, of which unfortunately with the demise of ATWT and Guiding Light is now one. Apart from one brief mention by Daniel, there is almost no discussion about how hard it is to be an Asian actor in an industry that is predominantly white. Neither her new friend Giselle (who is African-American) or Sarah ever discuss the problems they face as miniorities. I did find Sarah's having to have more than one survival job to be completely realistic.
A few quibbles, One Life to Live films in Manhattan not Brooklyn. At the SOAP OPERA DIGEST party Sarah attends where she meets Daniel, at first they talk about it being an awards party, and then it's just a regular party. Soap Opera Digest hasn't given out awards in like 10 years, and I'm sure they wish they had the money to have a party at the Waldorf. Also, the authors describe Daniel as a cross between Rick Yune and Yuel Kwon who won Survivor which is just lazy writing. What if you don't know who either one of these are or what they look like? The name dropping was particularly boring after awhile, particularly a scene at the Asylum anniversary party where Arianne Zucker from Days of Our Lives seems to appear simply because the authors mention her in their acknowledgements at the front of the book. At the end of the book, Sarah has an agent, but I don't remember a scene where she signed with anyone, but that maybe because towards the end, I stopped paying attention.
Sarah also comes across as needy and immature, which I put off to her being the baby in the family and not getting the affirmation that she needed particularly from her mother.
Verdict: 3 out of 5 Apples. As a coming of age story the books succeeds, but the book is slightly cliched in its depiction of the acting world.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Harper Collins, June 2010
From the back cover: Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn't believe in them. Not that Meena isn't familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you're going to die. (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.) But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for. The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's future, she's never been able look into her own. And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare. Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future. . . . If she even has one.
Gotham Gal says: When I first heard about this book a few months ago, I couldn't wait to read it. Fortunately for me, I was able to get it pretty quickly at The New York Public Library. As much as I love Meg Cabot, I'm currently still unemployed and $25.00 books are not in my budget at the moment. This is the start of a new series Cabot. This isn't the first paranormal series for Cabot, she previously wrote the 1-800-Lightning Series (turned into the Lifetime TV series Missing) and The Mediator (Think The Ghost Whisperer for Teens but way cooler). While I enjoyed this book, I didn't love it, it's about 70 pages too long. The mythology that Cabot creates for her vampires is plausible and her world building is particularly good. She uses the story of Vlad Tepes aka Vlad the Impaler aka Vlad Drakul.
Meena Harper is the typical Cabot heroine, pretty but not too pretty, spunky but vulnerable, capable when she needs to be, and incredibly foolhardy at times. I loved that Meena wasn't afraid to stand up to Lucien or Alaric, she didn't just let either alpha male get his way. Lucien, is in the Angel mode, he's tall, dark, handsome and brooding with an undercurrent of sadness. What with the whole being the Prince of Darkness gig. But unlike Angel he doesn't turn bad when he's happy. It's when he gets angry that you really have to worry, that was a nice little surprise of Cabot's that I totally didn't see coming. I'm still on the fence about Alaric as a viable alternative love interest, he started off as a bit of a cocky jerk, although as he developed feelings for Meena he softened.
The book moves at a breakneck speed, as Meena meets her other potential love interest, Alaric Wulf who works for the Palantine Guard, a secretive unit of the Vatican, charged with slaying vampires and all manner of demons from the earth. I won't spoil the rest of the book but it's chock a block full of references to Stoker's Dracula, Vampire Myths and a shout-out to that other popular Vampire series Twilight. In this version, Abraham von Helsing becomes Abraham Holtzmann, and Lucy becomes Leisha. I hope we eventually get to learn more about Great aunt Wilhelmina.
The biggest problem with this book is the sub-plot of the daytime soap Insatiable and the vampire story-line they are introducing. Newsflash, vampires on daytime are nothing new. See Dark Shadows in the 70's and Port Charles in the early part of the 21st. I seriously doubt that any show nowadays when most of them are on life support, would turn to the supernatural, especially since the demise of Passions. And Insatiable and Lust as soap titles? Come on, seriously? Cabot clearly knows something about soap writing, the difference between breakdown writers and dialogue writers. Shoshana, the new headwriter, is a cardboard villainess, she's skinny and she gets the job through nepotism, her aunt and uncle created the show. Plus the soap story line is dropped pretty quickly since Meena has other things on her mind such as saving the world or at least New York from vampire attacks. I wish that she had used this more along the lines of the film Shadow of Darkness where the actor playing Nosferatu really is a vampire. Think how tough the fan appearances would be, since alot of them occur in the daytime. And what about make-up, if vampires can't be seen in mirrors? Can they even be filmed? So much comic potential could have been made out of this which I thought was wasted.
Jack Bauer, Meena's pomeranian-chow mix, fulfills the adorable pet quotient and it certainly made me want to go out and adopt a dog. Oh, and I was very disappointed that there is no Marc Jacobs dragon bag. I wonder if Meg and Marc can team up to create one as a tie-in?
According to Cabot, the sequel to Insatiable is out next year. I'm still intrigued enough to see what happens to Meena, Alaric, Lucien and Jon to pick it up when it comes out.
Gotham Gal Rating: 3 out of 4 apples.