Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

Yesterday, I finished reading Elizabeth Eulberg’s Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality.  I suspected I would enjoy this book because I’d read two of Eulberg’s other books (Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow), and I adored them. Thankfully, I was right (as I so often am).  In addition to a fabulous title, readers are also given a wonderful story. I think many girls–both young and old–will be able to relate to the character of Lexi, a fun, smart girl with a great personality, who is often overshadowed by what passes for beauty in the world around her.

Lexi’s always been known as a girl with a great personality.  But when she spends her weekends following her mom and seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, on the pageant circuit, hearing about how beautiful her little sister is, Lexi gets a little tired of looks mattering so much.  She hates the artificiality of the entire pageant world, how pageants have turned her sister into a little monster, and the fact that her mom focuses all of her attention–and money–on pageants and pays little attention to her eldest daughter unless she’s considering how Lexi can help Mackenzie’s pageant prospects.

Lexi’s friends convince her that she’s great the way she is, but they admit that she could highlight some of the features that she tends to downplay.  So Lexi decides to venture into the world of makeup, hair care products, and form-fitting clothes…and the result is a little shocking to her.  For the first time, she’s the one getting noticed for her looks.  She’s being asked out and noticed by the popular crowd.  While Lexi is officially offended that people only started noticing her when she “glammed up,” a part of her is thrilled with the added attention.  Is this what keeps those pageant girls going week after week?

Pretty soon, though, the pressure gets to be too much for Lexi. Yes, she does like some of the makeup and hair stuff, but she doesn’t really feel like she’s being true to herself anymore.  Even when she snags the attention of not one but two popular guys, she questions why they really want to be with her.

Also, tensions are rising between Lexi and her mom.  No matter what Lexi does or says–or even what little Mackenzie does or says–her mom is all about the pageants, and the family is running the risk of losing everything to keep Mackenzie in these pageants. When Lexi’s mom does the unthinkable, Lexi must examine what really makes her beautiful and what she may have to do to finally open her mother’s eyes to the truth.

So how does this girl with the great personality finally get her revenge on those who think “beauty” is everything? Find out for yourself when you read this fantastic book by Elizabeth Eulberg!

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I cannot say enough good things about this book.  I loved–and identified with–Lexi’s character, her friends were awesome, and, even though I’ve never had much experience with the pageant world and its ups and downs, I felt bad for the toll it was taking on Lexi.  I appreciated how Lexi came to term with her own image and realized that the only person she needed to please was herself.

I will say, though, that I absolutely despised Lexi’s mom.  I’ve never watched an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras or Dance Moms or anything like that, but she’s what I imagine when I even think about the parents on those “reality TV” programs.  Completely out of touch with what really matters to–and what’s best for–their children. I finished this book nearly 18 hours ago, and I’m still mad at Lexi’s mom for her atrocious behavior.

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is, I think, an excellent book for readers in middle grades on up.  It examines what we–girls, especially–really think about beauty and body image.  By the end of the book, the main character learns that being herself is the best thing she can do, and that’s a lesson that all young women–and those of us who are a bit older–could stand to learn.

For more information on this book and others by author Elizabeth Eulberg, visit http://www.elizabetheulberg.com/.

Beastly

As you may be aware, the movie adaptation of Alex Flinn’s Beastly will be released on March 4th.  Since I want to see this movie, I simply had to read the book.  Honestly, it’s a bit surprising–even to me–that I had not read Beastly before now.  Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite Disney movie.  I may have mentioned this before, but I really like it when the Beast gives Belle her very own, totally awesome library.  Best.  Gift.  Ever.  Anyhoo, I finally got around to reading Beastly this week, and I really enjoyed it.  It transplants this famous fairy tale into modern Manhattan and tells the story from the beast’s point of view.  It’s nice to get a glimpse of what he is thinking about his drastic transformation…

Kyle Kingsbury has it all.  He’s gorgeous, popular, and everyone wants to be around him.  Well, almost everyone.  See, Kyle is kind of a jerk, and he makes it clear to everyone that they’re only important to him if they’re beautiful (a little something he picked up from dear old dad).  He makes fun of those he thinks are inferior, and he thinks nearly everyone is inferior to him, especially the weird girl with the green hair who doesn’t seem all that impressed with him.

In actuality, the weird, green-haired girl is a witch, and she thinks it’s time that Kyle learned his lesson.  That lesson comes in the form of a most unwelcome and unexpected transformation.  The witch, better known as Kendra, takes away Kyle’s beauty and transforms him into a hideous beast…but there is a way to reverse the spell.  He has two years to find someone to fall in love with him.  The trick is that he has to truly love her to.  If this mystery girl will kiss him–and show that his appearance doesn’t matter to her–the spell will be broken.  Simple, right?

Kyle is convinced that no one could possibly love the monster he’s become.  His own father can’t even bear to look at him.  How can he expect anyone to fall for him in his current condition.  Since his condition seems hopeless, Kyle isolates himself from everyone except Will, his blind tutor, and Magda, his housekeeper.  In his isolation, Kyle transforms into a boy whose only solace is in tending to his roses, reading, and watching the world go by from his fifth floor window.

One night, though, everything changes.  It starts with a junkie breaking into Kyle’s precious greenhouse.  In exchange for Kyle’s silence, the junkie agrees to bring his daughter, Linda, to live in Kyle’s house.  Kyle knows that this is his one and only chance at finding love.  But can this girl ever love someone so hideous, especially since she considers herself to be imprisoned by him?  And can Kyle grow to love someone other than himself?  Is there any real hope of breaking the spell, or is Kyle doomed to be a beast forever?  Relive the fairy tale when you read Alex Flinn’s Beastly.

Even though I knew what was going to happen in this book, I really enjoyed the journey the author took me on.  I really enjoyed reading about how Kyle changed and the similarities between Kyle and Linda’s father issues.  They really created a sense of connection between the two main characters that moved their love story along.  I also thought the ending was great–how Kyle stopped caring that he was a beast and only thought of what was best for Linda.  Beastly is truly heartwarming and totally lived up to its source material.

I hope you’ll read Beastly before you see the movie version.  It’s been my experience (most recently with I Am Number Four) that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie.  If you’d like more information about Beastly or author Alex Flinn, visit http://www.alexflinn.com/.  Happy reading!

North of Beautiful

What is true beauty?  That is something that Terra Rose Cooper would like to know.  Born with a port-wine stain on her cheek, Terra has always considered herself to be ugly.  The comments from her verbally abusive father don’t help matters.  She’s undergone many surgeries to “fix her face,” but none have worked.  She just wants a way out of the stifling path she seems to be on.

In the blink of an eye, Terra (almost literally) runs into someone who will change the course of her life.  Jacob is a Goth kid with his own issues, but he helps Terra to see that she is responsible for traveling her own path in the world, and, if she’ll only look, true beauty is all around her.  Through this eye-opening relationship, Terra begins to see the value in being unique and learning to really express herself, and her relationships with those around her begin to evolve in some surprising ways.

Initially, North of Beautiful was hard for me to get into.  As soon as Terra met Jacob, however, the story really picked up.  I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between these two characters.  I also liked seeing how the relationship between Terra and her mother changed throughout this book.  I think North of Beautiful is a great book for those who are tired of magazines and other media trying to tell us what beauty should be.  This book may help some readers to see that true beauty can be in everything and everyone around us.  We just have to take the time to really look.