Tag Archives: reality show

Margaret Stohl’s Royce Rolls – for those who love (and love to hate) reality tv

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Margaret Stohl’s Royce Rolls – for those who love (and love to hate) reality tv

I really enjoyed Margaret Stohl’s Royce Rolls despite (or because of) my innate cynicism about modern reality TV.  I’ve always delighted in pointing out every staged scene in my husband’s favorite shows, and this book confirmed all I believe about what goes on behind the scenes.  This is the perfect book for someone who wants a funny, fluff mystery read.  I gave it four stars, but fans of the author are a little more torn.


Goodreads Summary

Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiancé inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.

Really real. Like, not reality show real.

Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.

My Thoughts

A Kardashian-esque family is the center of this story, and they manage to be absolutely fake and absolutely real at the same time.  The main character’s irritation with the whole fame-for-the-sake-of-fame scheme plays well to readers like me.  She is dark and witty, and quickly became the trusted voice of reason in her mother and sister’s insane last grab for fifteen more minutes of fame.  There are plenty of twists and unexpected turns, and the opening lines set up a nice mystery that is engaging to unravel.  There is also plenty of glam for those who want it, but beneath the clothes and makeup, there is some depth.  I will say the ending is a little overproduced, but it is acceptable because the story does take place in a TV world where anything goes.  I absolutely enjoyed reading this book, and I think my high school students will as well, so I’m adding it to my classroom library wishlist.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Life In A Fishbowl

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Life In A Fishbowl

Len Vlahos’ Life In A Fishbowl is an unexpected find. The reality show horror angle drew me in, but the message kept me reading.  If you are up for a contemporary YA with some real, smart, thought-provoking social commentary, you should give this book a go.


Goodreads Summary

Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN.

Gone is her mom’s attention and cooking and parent-teacher conferences. Gone is her sister’s trust ever since she’s been dazzled by the cameras and new-found infamy. Gone is her privacy. Gone is the whole family’s dignity as ATN twists their words and makes a public mockery of their lives on Life and Death. But most of all, Jackie fears that one day very soon her father will just be . . . gone. Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.

My Thoughts

Ultimately, this is such a satisfying book about the little guys (and gals, in this case) versus The MAN.  I am so glad I stuck with it. While I initially found the huge list of narrative perspectives annoying, and I wasn’t sure if I was okay with the humor or the Debbie Downer of a main character, I eventually found myself engrossed in the epic battle this story follows.  I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so I’ll just say that you have to trust the author on this one.  He deftly weaves all these perspectives into a master story that will leave you satisfied.  There will be tears, but there will also be fist pumps.  The social issues are pretty heavy – cancer, privacy and media, euthanasia – but they are countered by strong themes about love, friendship, and good people doing the right thing.  It won’t be the book for everyone, but it is certainly one I think many of my high school readers will enjoy.  Some mature language, but it is appropriate for grades 9+.  Adults readers of YA will appreciate it as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein is a twisty and calculating suspense read for the New Adult set

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The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein is a twisty and calculating suspense read for the New Adult set

Step one of enjoying this book is understanding that it is nothing like the author’s first book, Ghostboy, Chameleon and the Duke of Graffitti.  That was an awesome, heartwarming and emotional read, and I highly recommend it. The Masterpiecers, though,  is more of a Gillian Flynn meets Orange Is The New Black tale.  It is a much darker work and it feels cold and calculating from page one.  I should have expected that, except I’m pretty sure I just saw the author’s name and dove in.  I’m almost entirely certain that I didn’t even read the premise or that I read it and ignored it.  The fault is my own, so it is entirely possible that you will read this book and scoff at my three star assessment.

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Goodreads Summary

Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.
Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.

My Thoughts

I wanted to love this book, and I think there will be a lot of people who will, but I’m not going to be one of them.   The atmosphere is oppressive, and there is a real sense of impending doom throughout the story.  The twin sisters who narrate the book are hard to pin down.  Their dual narrative creates most of the suspense because it is clear that one or both of them has to be unreliable, but they are both characters you want to believe.  Even as the truth slowly comes to light, it is difficult to decide who is lying, deluded, or naïve.  I did enjoy the mystery this dynamic created, but it colored my perceptions of the other elements in the book.  I was so cautious with the main characters that I found it hard to dredge up much sympathy for them.  I found myself feeling cynical about the relationships developed and even in the coincidences of the plot line.  I still found the story compelling and entertaining, but it didn’t garner the emotional connections I made in the author’s first book.  Language, situations, and character ages make this more of a New Adult than a YA.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

For Real is for real fun

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For Real is for real fun

For Real by Allison Cherry is being released tomorrow, and it is a funny, engaging contemporary YA read. There is a reality show component, but don’t let that turn you off. I might have read this book instead of grading a pile of essays at work one day. I tried to resist its siren call, but I just gave in and gorged on it. (Don’t worry, I got them graded eventually). The author also responded to my review on Goodreads, which I always think is very cool.

For RealFor Real by Alison Cherry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this ARC from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Two sisters decide to get revenge on a cheating ex boyfriend by getting cast on the same reality tv show as him. Things don’t go exactly as planned when they learn the show has a romantic element that will separate Team Revenge and put them in some situations they hadn’t bargained for. It was funny, it was fast paced, and I was rooting for the narrator. Claire is so hopeful and naive, and she is a part of who we all are when we first let ourselves believe in love. Her loyalty to her sister is nicely contrasted with her justified baby sister resentments. While there are some messages about looking beyond initial impressions, this is ultimately a lighthearted contemporary YA read. Even if you hate reality TV, this is still worth sampling. The language, sensuality, and situations are appropriate for high school students, and I am adding it to my high school classroom library wish list.

This book is available in the MHS library.

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