Thursday, October 23, 2014

Series Review: Flappers by Jillian Larkin [No Spoilers]

Vixen / Flappers #1 / December 14, 2010 / 432 Pages / Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 
Flappers #2 / August 9, 2011 / 351 Pages / Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
Diva / Flappers #3 / July 10, 2012 / 320 Pages / Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

I decided to read this series on a whim after browsing my library's digital shelves and noticing that there is an audiobook format available. Interestingly enough, I only made it part of the way through the first book in via audiobook and decided to finish the series in print alone. 

Things I liked about The Flappers Series

1. The time period. Flappers are fun, right? I remember when this series began, actually, and I remember seeing reviews about it - everyone was all "Flappers!" - YES, the historical fiction portion of this series is a load of fun. There are speakeasies and there is the infamous gangster activity that is associated with them. There are flappers and the glamorous lifestyles of these people is carried throughout the series very well. These books are easily visualized which is something that I always love in a story.

2.  Alternating POV. All three books in this series are told in multiple points-of-view, which is kind of neat because we are able to see the same events and people in three very different perspectives. After the first book, more POV's are added -- This did not bother me because after finishing Vixen, I knew these particular characters enough and had connected with them enough that I want to hear their perspectives too. 

Things that I didn't love about The Flappers Series

1. The language. Even with the vivid imagery of the time period and the knowledge of the language of the day, I think the little phrases throughout the series were just too much. This is the one thing that caused me to switch from audiobook to print, and that is sort of a big deal for me. These are memorable phrases, things like "posilutely" and "cat's pajamas" and "bee's knees" - and I feel like it almost took away from the story. I realize that people talked this way back then, but once I realized these words were in abundance, I felt like they were just everywhere. Then once I began reading in print, my enjoyment of the series unfortunately decreased. 

2. The behavior. I know that speakeasies and all things associated with this time period were about being rebellious and daring, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around exactly how much and how often all of these teenagers indulged in drinking, partying, sneaking around, and illegal stuff. I am not a prudish person, but the excess was as much a distraction at times as the language was. 


Gloria, Lorraine, and Clara are three friends that tell this story - one is rich and wants the more-exciting flapper lifestyle so bad that she has been willing to lie to make people believe she already has it; one is rich but wants a life that is different from the flapper-like and rebellious lifestyle that has already given her a poor reputation; one is caught in the middle and wants to make a name for herself outside of her friend's popularity. These young girls have engagements, taboo love affairs, double lives, tons of drinking and partying, exciting jobs, and glitz and glamour. There is love, heartache, betrayal, jealousy, and murder. I think there is a little bit of everything in this series, to be honest. I believe that the first book does a pretty good job of developing the major characters and one or two of the secondaries. 

Vixen started out exciting and I was invested! I loved the differing personalities of these girls and how they were so sneaky with each other and everyone else, and I loved the visual image of this book in my head. I loved how the book ended, which made me check out the second book in the series right away from the library - in print, like I mentioned, because I really wasn't attracted to the excessive use of the "Aaannnnd how!" talk. In spite of switching up formats, and even though I had a few problems with it, I still hung with Ingenue. It took me a long time to get thru the second book. I think it may have been a little more in the way of action and excess and behavior. Such drama! By the time I got Diva, I was trudging through and considering putting the series to rest due to lack of excitement. 

Why, you ask? 

In Vixen, I was invested in each perspective and story line so even with my annoyances, it was an easy decision for me to continue with the series. It became apparent as I read Ingenue that I just was not as invested in all three of the leading ladies and some of the new plot threads - there was really only one main story that I was following, and this is how it remained through the rest of the series. It was Gloria's overall story (even though she was not my favorite character) that kept me the most invested and by the time I got to Diva, her plot line/romance was the only one I really cared about. 

Also, I'm not sure that the character development that occurred in the first book continued throughout the series to any degree, which is a little unfortunate. I know that development cannot continue at the same rate that it does when we initially meet each character, but I love it when a character is able to continue to find ways to improve on him/herself (that's how life is, hopefully). For many readers, this non-progression is totally okay, but I think I was really rooting for these young people to buckle down a bit. Or perhaps I had too many expectations of this series when I went into it. 


IN SUMMARY: I love the covers for these books. They caught my eye, and the idea of a YA historical fiction series is what reeled me in. Ultimately, however, I lost excitement about the stories as I made my way through the series. It is clear that the author has a love for this time period because it is captured well and so easily imaginable, but the rebellion and the back-stabbing and the full-on party-hard-1920's-style attitude of these characters made it hard for me to connect after a certain point. I found myself failing to care about the story when I saw that there was very little character change for the better. I think that big, big fans of this period of time may enjoy this series but than again they may not. I did enjoy one of the three perspectives more than the others, which is ultimately why I stuck with this series until the end. 


The Flappers Series will appeal to fans of:

YA Historical Fiction 
Romance:  Multiple romances in each book, across the series. Some are already established, some are not. 
Completed Series

The Flappers Series by Jillian Larkin
is currently available for purchase. 


Have you read this series or any of these books? 

Don't you love these covers? 

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The book was/wasn't better.

by Piper Kerman
Book / TV Show

A rarity for me: this is actually one television show that I've kept up with and am caught up on. Another rarity for me: I decided to go back and read/listen to this book after seeing its adaptation first. I'm not sure if that decision made a difference in my opinion of the book or not, to be honest. 

This book is very...interesting. It does indeed capture a year inside of a women's prison, as the subtitle indicates. I was expecting a gritty and raw detail of prison life - and there are some of those details, sure - but I also found stories of a privileged life before prison and the privileged life that would be waiting for Piper after prison. I have to be completely honest and say that it got a little redundant hearing Piper talk about how great her life was versus the other prisoners. (Example: She talked about how she was well-read, about how she had a job waiting for her when she was released, about how she had so many visitors on visiting days and some others didn't, etc.) Also, I was surprised at the length of time it actually took for Piper to actually go to prison. For example, if I understood correctly, there was a six-year period of time between the date Piper pled guilty in court and the date she returned to court to find out when she would actually go to prison. SIX YEARS. During those six years, my understanding is that Piper lived in New York, working as a creative director for web companies, visiting awesome places in NY, vacationing and such. Living it up because she would be spending time behind bars. Okay. Okay. Perhaps little details like this ruined the actual PRISON part of the book for me? I don't know. But it was interesting. 

What I wanted was the down and dirty of the prison experience. I eventually got (some of) it, but when I did, I found that some of the Piper's true life isn't how it is on the Netflix show. Am I disappointed by this? Well, if I tell you that I AM, you may want to know WHY but I don't want to spoil anything HERE. (SPOILERS AND ALL OF THAT.) Happy to discuss elsewhere, though! 

The book is interesting, but be warned: just like with much of the book-to-movie/TV, it is very different. Maybe you should skip it if you don't like that type of thing. Or read it first, which is even better actually. I'm glad that I read it but I'm also glad I borrowed from the library and likely won't reread. I'll stick with the show. 


Two other instances 
in which the screen adaptation is better than the book, 
in my opinion: 

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin 

Okay WOW, that book. After I finished this one, I felt shocked at how many people loved it! I did NOT love it. Unlikable characters do not normally bother me, but I found everyone in this book unlikable except for Ethan, who is actually not the main character of this installment in the Darcy and Rachel series. 

The movie adaption, though, was much easier to tolerate! I think I liked it so much because 1) they left out so much of the book that I didn't have as much of a chance to dislike everyone so strongly and 2) OH MY GOSH the cast is FANTASTIC. Seriously, how can you dislike Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson? And John Krasinski? GET SERIOUS. He's one of America's Sweethearts! (He plays Ethan, the one that I said was the only likable character in the book.) I found myself scouring the internet hoping, wishing, praying that there would be an adaptation to the sequel, Something Blue (which was also not a book that I loved but I would watch it). Never found one!  

I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
Book / Movie 

This book is one that I've read multiple times and in reality, it makes me feel differently every time I read it. The first time I read it, I liked it (liked, not loved) but the last time I tried to read it, I was disgusted and barely finished. I know I'll read it again, though, because I can identify so strongly with some parts (NOT ALL) of main character Kate Reddy. 

Anyway, with the movie, this is another case of great casting. I love Greg Kinnear and Sarah Jessica Parker in the roles of these super busy parents that are in a bit of a parenting/marriage drought. Also again, the movie gave me a visual of Kate Reddy's life, and I found myself sympathizing a little more - especially because not all of the book scenes are included. 


These stories feature characters that I could consider highly unlikable but I find it easier to identify with them on screen because the visual seems to evoke stronger reactions in me - in each instance! I want to pay attention to my reactions in the future when I watch book-to-movie/TV adaptations to see if I relate more to a visual interpretation vs. a character as he/she is presented in a book. 

When have you enjoyed a movie/TV show more than a book? 


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