Author: Lauren Morrill

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted August 13, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on December 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
0.5 Stars

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

*sigh* I’m sorry, but this was a bit of a train wreck for me. I loved Lauren’s other books so very much, so I’m really sad to feel this way. Aside from the cheesiness, which could have been cute under other circumstances, this book is riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe I should not have read it while I was on a cruise… So here are my problems:

1. No school band in the entire world would be able to go on a cruise for free for any reason, much less for less than $25,000. If this band can afford to go on a cruise, but they MUST win $25,000 or the band program is discontinued… isn’t that contradictory? Sure, they won a contest that got them on a ship. But no cruise line would ever hold a contest with this kind of prize, much less have the space to allow for a marching band (or multiple marching bands).

2. The Destiny, a luxury cruise liner, weighs only 50,000 tons but has six sun decks, three pools, a casino, an atrium, “many buffets”, multiple lounges, a spa, and a bowling alley. This is pretty much impossible. Pretty much all of today’s large cruise ships with these features weigh 2-3 times this amount. I was on the Carnival Dream when I read this. That ship weighs 130,000 tons, has three pools, an atrium, one buffet, two lounges, a spa, and a few bars. No bowling alley. I mean, an author can squish anything into anything, so perhaps this ship is really tiny, with really tiny amenities and can hold very few passengers. But it just did not feel realistic to me.

3. There was no lifeboat drill! This is required by international maritime law, and happens before or during the ship’s departure from the original port. But when the ship pulled away, nobody had done the lifeboat drill and there was not even mention of it. Sure, maybe the author just chose to not mention it… but everything else was mentioned!

4. There are so many problems with the ship. It is constantly not working properly. This does not happen. And if it does, it’s a huge deal. It’s very dangerous. It makes the news.

5. A kid threw a drink overboard. Glass and all. You can get in so much trouble! Depending on the deck, that drink most likely blew back into the ship and landed on someone’s balcony or an open deck.

6. Seasickness patches (Scopolamine patches) are not applied to the arm like the book says they are. They are placed behind the ear. And you can’t use more than one like Liza did during the storm. That’d be an overdose, and you’d get pretty sick. One lasts an entire week on a cruise.

7. You are NOT allowed to sleep on deck. Cruise ship workers circle the decks all night and wake people up and make them go to their cabins. It’s a liability.

8. Drum majors (Liza) do not have that much power. And seriously? Where was the band director? Did he throw some empty margarita glass overboard and get confined to quarters? Oh wait…

9. Liza made me want to strangle something. She’s awful! I’m not used to such an unlikeable main character, but she is high strung and annoying and judgmental and a major slut shamer.

10. I was bored. The people are boring. The story is boring. I would have died if I had been on this ship. I would have jumper overboard.

11. THE ANIMAL SIMILES made me want to die. Here are a few:
–  “…shiver like a drowned chihuahua.”
– “…parrot caught in a hairdryer.”
– “…cat caught in a washing machine.”
– “Like cats tap dancing on a chalkboard.”
– Someone was compared to a “coked-up gorilla”.
I could go on.

The premise sounded like so much fun… I love books that take place on cruises, but this one just did not work for me. It did not feel realistic and the romance was nothing to get excited about. Seriously, it was just so silly (in an annoying way) and meh. If you can get past the fact that this story is not at all realistic, maybe you’ll enjoy the silly little teen drama and cattiness. I just felt way too old for this book. I liked the idea, but that was it.

0.5 Stars

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted January 15, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewBeing Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on January 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

I really loved Lauren Morrill’s first book, Meant to Be (my review), and was very excited to learn of her next book about a figure skater and a hockey player who switch places for the summer! I knew I was in for a very fun read. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I feel like ice sports rarely show up in young adult books, which is sad. I’m not a hockey fan by any means, but I love figure skating. I even took lessons when I was little! I loved reading all about figure skating, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was even interested in hockey! Lauren did a great job bringing both sports to life for me.

2. I was very attracted to the Parent Trap-esque storyline. Sloane and Sloane bump into each other randomly and, each having their own baggage, decide it would be really nice to escape from their lives and try something new. The girls learn to be each other over a bunch of really expensive junk food one night, and then head off to each other’s summer camps. Sloane Emily, a figure skater, gets to try her hand at hockey while Sloane Devon learns how to fly through the air in a tiny, sparkly spandex leotard. I loved this unique idea, and smiled when The Parent Trap reference showed up in the story itself. I love that movie!

3. It was difficult at times to keep the Sloanes straight in my head, so I feel like I did not connect with either one of them as much as I could have. Sloane is already a pretty rare name, so to have two of them in the same book really messed with my mind! I eventually got used to it and was able to keep them somewhat straight by their middle names. To me, Emily is a more girly name… so Sloane Emily is the figure skater. BUT she’s playing hockey right now. Whoa. Devon seems more tomboyish to me, so Sloane Devon is the hockey player… but OH, she’s figure skating right now. See? It’s a bit confusing. You can’t read this when you’re sleepy or sick like I was when I read it!

4. Confusion aside, I really enjoyed reading about everything the Sloanes went through in their new lives. They were always exhausted, trying to learn their sport well enough to convince their peers that they were good at it already. Both girls went into things thinking they were going to be living an easier life than the one before. I like that they each got a dose of humble pie, and had to learn that they are not all that. I loved that they began to give each other (and their sport) more credit.

5. You have to suspend belief in order to enjoy this story. I seriously think that this could never happen. These Sloanes are not twins, and only kind of look alike. Why would people not recognize immediately that they were not who they said they were? Furthermore, both girls were considered to be very good at their prospective sports. Their reputations are well known. How can they switch lives and be convincing enough that nobody wonders what’s going on? Really, you have to just go with the flow and not question things.

6. I was hoping for a little romance in the beginning, but ended up enjoying the focus on the girls and their lives and how they get through their challenges. They both grew a lot through their experiences over the summer, and they do get a little romancy stuff going on, too.

7. The supporting characters added a lot to the story. I liked both love interests, Matt and Nando. My favorite character in the whole book, though, had to be Sloane Devon’s confidant and sassy figure skating guru, Alex (I think?). He was hilarious, and I loved his friendship with Sloane. I would love it if he got his own book.

Overall, Being Sloane Jacobs is a cute, shallow story.  I like Meant to Be much better, but am very glad I had the opportunity to read Lauren’s sophomore novel. I loved the skating bits, and I really enjoyed watching the Sloanes grow and work through their challenges.

4 Stars

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (Book Review)

Posted May 22, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 15 Comments

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (Book Review)Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on November 13, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

First of all, look at that cover! I love it, and it’s actually what prompted me to investigate the book. Then I read the synopsis, and I was sold all over again! A heroine who sounds quirky like me, London, breaking rules, and mysterious suitors? Yessssssss! I’m only sorry it took me so long to read it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Lauren Morrill paints an absolutely lovely picture of London for us. I’ve never been, but I could still picture the quaint streets and the exciting buzz of such an amazing city.

2. I always wanted to go on a class trip to a far off place and make amazing memories with my friends, fall in love, and look back on it fondly forever. This book was my class trip. Well, it’s as close as I can get to one now. I felt like I was there, wandering the museums, running in the rain, and soaking in an old fashioned bath tub after a long day of walking.

3. Book Licker. Oh my. This is Julia’s nickname (given to her by Jason), and I just adore her for her bookishness, her nerdiness, her obsessive compulsiveness, and her hilarious personality. She’s always reading, spouting off random factoids about everything, tripping over her words, following the rules to a tee, struggling to be perfect at everything, and failing at flirting. And she is deathly afraid of geese. I identified so much with her… and I’m not sure what that says about me! Haha.

4. And then we have Jason, her partner (buddy) on this class trip. He is her polar opposite, her arch nemesis, and the thorn in her side. But he’s funny and suave and cute, and he’s getting her to do all these new things and experience London in a way that she never predicted. And he can be so sweet and concerned sometimes. And boy, does he pick on her! I loved watching him burrow his way into the little soft spot she formed for him.

5. Meant to Be is charmingly hilarious. Jason gets drunk, and I could not contain my laughter during this scene. And remember when I said Julia is scared of geese? You have NO idea. And then there’s a street performer… and a pond incident, not to mention the witty dialogue.

6. It’s SO romantic. There’s mud kissing, sightseeing off the beaten path, deep conversations, and a slow burn. I love this kind of romance. It’s a 180 from insta-love. It’s so realistic and believable.

7. Even though these are high-schoolers, I never felt like they were! Julia and Jason are so mature, smart, and well-spoken. They make some very teen-like decisions, but their outlook on the world, and their insights on those decisions make them relatable. Honestly, these two are any age you want them to be. I loved that this is a YA book that adults and kids can enjoy and pull different things from. I just know I will be reading this with my future daughter someday.

8. I loved the smattering of Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Winston Churchill quotes. They just added a little something special!

9. The ending was really something special, and I could not have seen that coming. This is definitely not a predictable book.

I think I might have found my new favorite YA contemporary romance, and that’s really saying something! I love Julia and Jason, and am quite sad that my time with them is over. I’m also sad I had to leave London and fly back to the USA with them. Meant to Be is such a fun journey, and I loved every single word. Finally, I love that the cover matches the content! Both are absolutely beautiful. If you loved Anna and the French Kiss, Just One Day, and Instructions for a Broken Heart, you will love this! And if you’ve never read any of these, you’ll still love it. It’s full of heart, travel, young love, and humor.