Second Look: Kathy Perks’s THE LIFEBOAT CLIQUE

I’d see Kathy Perks’s The Lifeboat Clique advertised and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but I never really gave it a second thought.

Until, I read someone compare it to Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens.  And then I was like I MUST READ THIS BOOK THAT IS LIKE BEAUTY QUEENS!!1

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So, of course I dashed off to Amazon and ordered it.

After finishing Daughters Onto Devils, I picked it up.  And let me tell you, I nearly read it in a day — if I’d have the time to read all day.  Once I got going, it was hard to put down.  I was basically walking around reading as I was doing things.  (No lie, I made pancakes while reading.)  I was like Belle.

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So, without further ado, here is the review…hey, that rhymed!

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The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Perks
Katherine Tegen Books, 2016

What It’s About:

The basic premise is, an earthquake-caused tsunami overtakes Malibu, California, and ends up killing a bunch of high school kids at a party.  A small group of five of those kids survive on a floating roof.  Three of them are Popular Girls, one (our narrator) an outcast, and a boy who drifts between groups.

Here’s the more direct run-down.  Denver, a social outcast and self-proclaimed loner, attends a party in Malibu, thrown by her ex-best friend, Abigail, after being invited by hot-Popular Boy, Croix.

All day, California has been feeling tremors of tiny earthquakes, which of course sets up for the Big Disaster later in the novel.  (And by later, I mean by Chapter 4 or so.)

I’m going to skip over the play-by-play, because while the plot is interesting, it’s not really the “heart” of the story, or what makes it so good.  So, skip to behind the cut if you’d like to read more about the plot, and maybe be a little spoiled…

Continue reading

Revisiting BEAUTY QUEENS… A “third look” after a thorough re-reading.

After much thought and consideration, Ashley has recently begun a book group at the library for adults who enjoy reading YA. Naturally, she didn’t even need to ask me if I wanted to sign up.

And what is the first selection for this new book group devoted to adults who dig YA?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

A prime choice if ever I heard one!

It had been well over a year (maybe longer) since I had read BQ and all I could remember was that it was about girls on an island, Sarah Palin-esque and Kim Jong Il-type characters, and that I loved it. Beyond that, I was clueless.

So I reread it. And loved it even more than I did the first time. I wrote the Second Look of Beauty Queens after my first read through and after re-reading it, I feel the need to do a “third look” with a little bit more analysis.

I would like to say I was young, naive, and immature my first read-through, so I didn’t get the complexity and underlying messages. But… really? I was 25 when I read it, not 9. I had to wonder… maybe I can just relate to it a little more now than I did before.

For those of you who have read it and forgotten it (like I did), or who have never read it in the first place, BQ is the sordid story of the Miss Teen Dream contestants who survive their plane’s emergency landing on a deserted island.

First, let’s meet our Teen Dreamers:

  • Adina, Miss New Hampshire – Thinks the Teen Dream Contest is full of crap, and is sick of girls catering to society’s expectations for women.
  • Mary Lou, Miss Nebraska – The typical “nice girl” who wears a purity ring to help her reign in a very secret, very wild, (and very shameful) side of her.
  • Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, Miss Texas – (you can’t not say her full name… and when you say it in your head, you say it with a southern accent) A Teen Dreamer through and through, TRKH lives by the Teen Dream Handbook and maintains the high standards and spirit of a Miss Teen Dreamer.
  • Shanti, Miss Michigan – Shanti’s handler says everyone loves a nice assimilation story, so Shanti prides herself on the story of how her family came to America from India. Oh, and she can make popadam as her mother and grandmother taught her.
  • Nicole, Miss Colorado – Rivaling Shanti for the minority vote and a whiz with first aid, Nicole is living the life her mother always dreamed for her. It just might not be the life she dreams for herself.
  • Tiara, Miss Mississippi – The obligatory “dumb one” who is much smarter than she gets credit for. Also has mad interior decorating skillz and is sick of having to do her “sparkle hips.”
  • Brittani, Miss Alabama – A tanned, blonde carbon copy of Tiara, who is very self conscious of her third nipple.
  • Petra, Miss Rhode Island – Petra is harboring a very BIG secret, and is stuck on an island with a group of girls who will have to understand who she is now, and who she used to be.
  • Jennifer, Miss Michigan – Also known as The Flint Avenger, Jennifer has known she was a lesbian since she was 10 years old. She ended up in the Miss Teen Dream competition after her guidance counselor recommended it as a part of a program for at risk girls. She loves comic books, is very mechanically talented, and her personal motto is “What Would Wonder Woman Do.”
  • Sosie, Miss Illinois – Hard of hearing and proud organizer of Helen Keller-bration, a traveling dance troupe of non-hearing kids. Also can krump and do the robot like nobody’s business. She may or may not be a lesbian.
  • Miss Montana, Miss Ohio, Miss Arkansas, and Miss New Mexico are part of a collective foursome. We don’t know much in detail about these girls, and the only distinguishing features among them seem to be that Miss New Mexico has a tray from the plane stuck in her forehead, and Miss Ohio is easier than a drunk Jersey Shore cast member.

So now that you know a little more about the main characters, it’s apparent they all have different ideals. There is a lot of shizzle going on here, people. But  there are two that jump out at me more so than the others… Adina and Mary Lou’s stories were the one’s that struck a cord with me. I’ll try to avoid spoilers if I can, but if you haven’t read BQ yet, you might want to hold off on reading from this point on.

Adina is a true feminist who believes the Teen Dream Pageant objectifies young women. She abhors the idea of catering to female stereotypes, and the idea of living one’s life with the sole purpose of bagging and tagging a man makes her want to puke. She is fiercely independent, and is staunchly against society’s portrayal and treatment of women. (Let me just state that I’m not a feminist. I’m all about women’s rights and all, but I’m not the kind who won’t shave her legs because “society dictates we have to.”) But it makes me think… does Adina have a point? Men can walk around in baggy jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. But if a girl walks around in anything other than skin tight jeans and make-up so thick it had to be applied with a garden trowel, she’s considered a lazy/scrubby/frumpy. Does society spend so much time telling girls how to dress, what to look like, how skinny to be, etc., that we’ve forgotten how to be ourselves?

Which brings me to Mary Lou. She wears her hat a little differently. She has a secret side, a “curse” that runs through generations of the women in her family. (*FYI: Spoilers are definitely ahead.*) They’re known as Wild Girls and are filled with a lust for, well, lust. While on the island, Mary Lou is able to shed the preconceived notion she has of herself and transitions from Purity Queen to Wild Child. One of my favorite quotes from the book is when Mary Lou observes, “Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are.” Mary Lou’s story is very empowering in the sense that it lets girls know that it’s ok to be who you want to be. You shouldn’t have to hide who you are or something about yourself just because society would frown on it. But on the other hand, especially in Mary Lou’s circumstances, is that the same as giving girls (and boys… I’m not one to exclude anybody) an excuse to act slutty and justify it by saying, “well, that’s just who she/he is.”

With a lively cast of characters with a variety of clashing personalities, there’s no way this book isn’t going to be entertaining, especially when you factor in Libba Bray’s incredible gift for writing. But in addition to being satirical and laugh-out-loud funny, it also makes readers think about our society and its standards as a whole. Granted, I’ve read several reviews of people who hated this book. I get and respect that. This genre certainly isn’t for everyone. And other reviewers are certainly entitled to their opinion, just like I’m entitled to my opinion that BQ is a bit absurd, a bit inspiring, and a whole lotta brilliant. If you read it as a satire and understand it as such, than you’re guaranteed to get a lot more out of it.

Beauty Queens is not about dumb girls who like glitter and mascara, nor is it just a survival story. I’m not sure if it can be called a coming-of-age story either. More accurately, it’s a novel about becoming.

Just ask Miss Nebraska.

So, ready for today’s Pop Quiz question? Does Beauty Queens send a positive, empowering message to girls about individuality and not giving in to society’s standards?  Or is it just a silly, entertaining novel that overly exaggerates the state of today’s culture?  What do you think? (And no, “YOLO” is not an acceptable answer.)

A simply DIVINE time!

Have I recently mentioned my love of THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray? If not, you can read about my fondness for it in my review, or read about Ashley’s enjoyment of it here in her review.

Earlier today, I received an email from my boss telling me all about a contest in which libraries can win a prize pack to host a DIVINERS party during Teen Read Week (which is October 14-20). Needless to say, I entered and then passed it on to Ashley so she can enter, too. (Speaking of Ashley, if anyone else has noticed her absence, she unfortunately was suffering from death-like symptoms last week. But she’s better now.)

However, even though it’s just for libraries to enter (sorry everyone!), they also sent lots of cool tidbits along with the invite. Including a book trailer for THE DIVINERS, radio episodes, and a DIVINERS playlist. If you’d like to have a “divine” party at your library, ask your librarian to check out THE DIVINERS Teen Read Week Sweepstakes on THE DIVINERS Facebook page!

Isn’t that the most pos-i-tute-ly amazing book trailer?

And if anyone is interested in listening to the playlist Libba Bray listened to while she wrote THE DIVINERS, lo and behold… here it is!

  • BLUE SKIES, Al Jolson/ “The Jazz Singer”
  • AIN’T SHE SWEET, Richard M. Jones & The Blues Singers
  • CHARLESTON, Paul Whiteman
  • CREOLE LOVE CALL, Duke Ellington
  • DEEP RIVER, Paul Robeson
  • DOWN HEARTED BLUES, Bessie Smith
  • EARLY MORNING BLUES, Blind Blake
  • DEMON HOST, Timber Timbre
  • FIVE FOOT TWO, EYES OF BLUE, The Savoy Orpheans
  • MANHATTAN, Dick Todd/ “Garrick Gaeties”
  • RHAPSODY IN BLUE, George Gershwin
  • SOME OF THESE DAYS, Sophie Tucker
  • THE SONG IS ENDED, Louis Armstrong & The Mills Brothers
  • WANG WANG BLUES, Fletcher Henderson
  • MAMIE, Jan Garber and his Orchestra
  • FRANKIE BLUES, Mamie Smith
  • DO IT MR. SO-AND-SO, Mamie Smith
  • THAT’S NO WAY TO GET ALONG, Robert Wilkins Saxe
  • BUTTON UP YOUR OVERCOAT, Helen Kane
  • WILDWOOD FLOWER, The Carter Family
  • TUBULAR BELLS, Mike Oldfield
  • ORGAN DONOR, DJ Shadow
  • SWAMP MAGIC, Timber Timbre
  • DREAM WITHIN A DREAM, The Alan Parsons Project
  • THE RAVEN, The Alan Parsons Project
  • ME AND MY GIN, Bessie Smith
  • I MUST HAVE THAT MAN, Annette Hanshaw & Her Sizzlin’ Syncopators
  • LET’S MISBEHAVE, Irving Aaronson & His Commanders, Irving Aaronson & Phil
  • THE VARSITY DRAG, George Olsen
  • HELLHOUND ON MY TRAIL, Robert Johnson
  • GIMME SHELTER, The Rolling Stones
  • LEAVE HOME, The Chemical Brothers
  • IN EVERY DREAM HOME A HEARTACHE, Roxy Music
  • THE BARBER AND HIS WIFE, Len Cariou/ “Sweeney Todd”
  • EPIPHANY, Angela Lansbury & Len Cariou/ “Sweeney Todd”
  • I DON’T CARE MUCH, Alan Cumming/ “Cabaret”
  • IF IT BE YOUR WILL, Antony
  • GOOD MORNING BEAUTIFUL, The The
  • POSSUM KINGDOM, The Toadies
  • I GET LOW, Timber Timbre
  • CEMETARY PARTY, Air
  • CITIES IN DUST, Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • YOUR PROTECTOR, Fleet Foxes
  • YES SIR, THAT’S MY BABY, Ace Brigode & His Fourteen Virginians
  • BABY PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME, Buddy Guy
  • GEORGIA LEE, Tom Waits

Enjoy everyone! Remember, THE DIVINERS comes out on September 18! 

Second Look: THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray

After waiting in line for nearly 2 hours at BEA 2012, I figured I had to give this book a shot.  Back in 2006 when REBEL ANGELS came out, I’d tried to read A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY (the name alone made me want to read it).  And I just couldn’t get into it.  I haven’t picked up a Libba Bray book since.  But boy, am I glad I did!

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Publication: September 2012
Age: YA (13+)
Genre: Paranormal(ish)

Synopsis
A great evil is coming upon the world.  It’s up to a select few (known as the Diviners) to help stop that evil.

The book has a slew of characters, but focuses on the story of Dr. William Fitzgerald, his neice Evie O’Neill, his ward Jericho Jones, and pick-pocket Sam Lloyd.  They must stop the ghost of John Hobbes from bringing about the apocolypse – in the name of Christ.  Can they do it in time?  (Sure they can!)

Thoughts
I liked it.  I love the spiritualism movement of the late 19th/early 20th centuries, so I’m always drawn to that type of storyline.  Bray weaves the idea of spiritualism into the novel flawlessly.  And she writes it so that “beginners” of the idea will understand.  It’s explained as the characters are finding out more about their abilities and what they are able to do. 

The plot with John Hobbes was really interesting.  It all comes to a head at the climax of the book, of course.  However, the ending (SPOILER ALERT) leaves the reader guessing if he’s really, really gone or not.  Maybe it’s just me – but I was a little confused about the Man in the Stovepipe Hat.  However, this does set up for a second book. 

The characters are great.  I loved every single one of them.  However, I think Bray could have left out the lesser important characters to cut down on pages.  Most of the characters – I have a feeling – will end up showing up in subsequent books, but she could have focused on just illustrating the main characters and their “gifts” without getting into backstory about minor characters.  (Truthfully, I’m thinking for those readers that will look at a 577 page book and freak out.)

Overall, it’s a great read.  I think that most young adults might be put off by the largeness of the book, unless they’re avid readers.  For that reason, more adults might pick it up.  It certainly has adult appeal.  I’ll recommend it to both, even those adults who don’t usually read YA.

Rating… 8/10

In case you missed it, Katie’s review can be read here.

Keep an eye out – After the Last Page might be doing its first giveaway of a signed ARC of the Diviners in the next few weeks!

Second Look: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Libba, old girl, you are the cat’s meow.

I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on a copy of Libba Bray’s upcoming release when Ash and I went to BEA earlier this month. I started reading it on the bus home, and have been hooked ever since.

The Story: It’s 1926, and Evie O’Neill has been sent to New York City to live with her Uncle Will as punishment for some poor behavior in her sleepy Ohio hometown. Banished to the bright lights, speakeasies, and revue shows in the greatest city in the world. Punishment? Pshaw! For Evie, this “punishment” is the most wonderful thing to ever happen. At least until the dead bodies start appearing. The police enlist the help of Uncle Will, curator of the “Museum of Creepy Crawlies” (officially known as The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult), to assist in the investigation. Evie finds she can also help using a special -and very secret- gift: she can “read” objects just by holding them and conjure up images of the owner’s life. Evie, Uncle Will, Jericho (her uncle’s assistant), and Sam (a con artist working at the museum) just might be able to figure this thing out… as long as the murderer, known as Naughty John, doesn’t set his sights on them first.

The Low Down: Well. Where to begin. If you’ve ever read any of Libba Bray’s books before, you know she’s a very versatile writer (see: A Great and Terrible Beauty, Going Bovine, and Beauty Queens), not to mention an incredibly strong writer with a gift for amazing storytelling. The Diviners is what you would get if someone injected Stephen King into Chicago, shook it up, and let it percolate. Bray’s imagining of life in the 1920’s makes me feel like I took a time machine back to the Jazz Age, and the supernatural elements are outstanding and insanely creepy. The story is well structured and has a satisfying conclusion, despite leaving some of the storyline and character relationships open ended to ensure there will be a sequel.

Speaking of characters, Evie is a very strong female lead. She’s a flapper through and through, and lives for the high life and the night life. She can be a little haughty, and her bossiness sometimes rubbed me the wrong way, but that made her character that much more realistic. She’s not without her faults, but is determined to live the life she wants. Also starring in The Diviners are Evie’s old friend and pen pal, Mabel, and Theta, an up and coming starlet who’s hiding a major secret of her own along with her “brother” Henry (who is a current nominee for my Fictional Boyfriend List). Theta also makes the acquaintance of Memphis, who has a special gift of his own along with his little brother, Isaiah.

The Bottom Line: The Diviners is filled with a large cast of well rounded characters in a rich setting, not to mention a heaping dose of bootleg liquor and  supernatural horror. It may be a bit lengthy, but it’s also completely addicting. Capping out at a little over 600 pages, the fast-moving suspense and characters’ witty, sharp tongues will keep you eagerly soaking up page after page. But be warned… the sound of someone whistling will never be the same.

OFFICIAL RATING: 8.5/10

The Diviners will be released on September 18, 2012. It is reported to be the first in a trilogy, AND Paramount Pictures has already acquired film rights. 

AND LOOK! EVEN MORE GOODIES! 

If you think you’ll like The Diviners, you’ll probably also like:
Bliss by Lauren Myracle (A girl in the 1960’s befriends a classmate who may or may not be involved in cult-like violence similar to the Charles Manson murders that are all over the news. It’ll definitely leave you feeling creeped out.)  

If you love the Roaring Twenties, you may like:
Vixen (The Flappers series) by Jillian Larkin

If you’re a historical fiction fan, try:
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle trilogy) also by Libba Bray (1800’s)
The Luxe (Luxe series) by Anna Godbersen (turn of the 20th century)
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher (1940’s)
What I Saw and How I Lied
by Judy Blundell (1950’s)

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (1950’s)