Remembrance (Mediator #7) by Meg Cabot

Once upon a time (actually, not as long ago as one might think), Meg Cabot wrote a series of six books about about a teenage girl named Suze Simon, who could see and talk to ghosts. In addition, her job was to help the ghosts with whatever unfinished business kept them from moving on (hence, “mediate”). She was also romantically interested in the ghost who lived in her bedroom, which was unfortunate, as he was, well, dead.

Now, as in last year’s Royal Wedding (reviewed here), Meg Cabot grants her fans’ wishes by following up with adventures of an adult Suze, her family, friends…and an old enemy.

****SPOILER WARNING:**** This review will include spoilers for the first six books of the “Mediator” series.

Remembrance Front Cover (William Morrow)

Remembrance Front Cover (William Morrow)

THE PLOT: Suze is interning in the office of her old high school and still mediating with Father Dominic. She’s engaged to former ghost Jesse, who is a doctor hoping to open his own clinic. Things are going well for the couple until two events happen on the same day. First, Suze is contacted by her old mediating partner/nemesis Paul Slater, who is now a big-time developer. It seems he’s purchased Suze’s family’s old house…the one Jesse haunted. And according to an old Egyptian curse, if he tears it down as he plans, Jesse will become a demon. But Paul will cancel the demolition if Suze agrees to spend one night with him.

After Suze finishes telling Paul off (which does not get rid of him and his proposition permanently), she tends to an injured teenage student who is unknowingly accompanied by the ghost of her childhood friend. When the ghost, Lucia, fears that Suze is going to hurt her host, she causes earthquake-like destruction in the office. So Suze is on the case, trying to figure out who Lucia is, how she died, and why she’s specifically connected to her friend Becca.

While she deals with the case, Suze worries about Jesse losing humanity; discovers two secrets about her triplet step-nieces; and plots how to keep Jesse from finding out about Paul’s ultimatum (and probably killing him).

MY TWO CENTS: True confessions: I liked the “Mediator” series even more than I liked the “Princess Diaries” books. So it makes sense that I was more excited for this one than Royal Wedding.

It seemed a little slow out of the gate. The phone call with Paul contained a lot of exposition, so it seemed to go on a bit too long despite the banter. I felt like once the mystery was in full-swing, I was thoroughly hooked. And the revelations about the triplets were a neat added element.

I might have enjoyed the relationship between Suze and Jesse more if I had reread the first six books before I read Remembrance. Since I didn’t, I felt almost like Jesse was a secondary character instead of a lead. His job was to be noble and pure and good, which he did well, but that’s not as fun as a noble and pure ghost. Okay, yes, there was the possibility that he might turn into a demon once his former dwelling was torn down, but that just didn’t seem like as much conflict as Paul being threatening because, of course, Paul LOVES Suze and threatening is how you express love. Or a vengeful ghost trying to drown her.

If you are an adult reader who never read the YA books, I think you can still enjoy Remembrance as a standalone. I don’t think you’ll get as much out of it, though, so I really do recommend reading the original series before going on to this.

 BOTTOM LINE: A fun catch-up with favorite characters. I found the ghost mystery more enthralling than the romance between Suze and live Jesse. I’m probably in the minority, but I still find Paul a fun villain. Can we get a new YA series about the triplets? Come on, Mia’s little sister has her own series now.

TEACUP RATING: Three-and-a-half out of five teacups

ON SALE DATE: Remembrance is on sale now in paperback, hardcover, eformats, and audio.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries XI) by Meg Cabot

Are you a fan of the Princess Diaries? I think I saw the first movie before collecting the books, but I don’t quite remember now. While I was happy with the way the 10th book left Mia and her friends (MUCH happier than I was with the second movie!), I had always hoped the Meg Cabot would go back to these characters. And now, we get to hang out with grown-up Mia in Royal Wedding.

Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding Front Cover (William Morrow/ HarperCollins)

THE PLOT: While now 26-year-old Princess Mia of Genovia feels self-actualized most of the time, a recent scandal with her father has her in panic mode. Her doctor suggests journaling to help her handle the stress (heh heh). It doesn’t help that tabloid reporters stalk her, wondering in the media why boyfriend Michael hasn’t proposed yet. Mia has no qualms about Michael, but she wishes the tabloids, and her grandmother, would stay out of it. When Michael does pop the question, Grandmère thinks she’s going to take over the wedding and make it an appropriate royal affair.

In the meantime, Mia makes another discovery…she has a young half-sister. In typical Mia fashion, she’s much more concerned with bonding with the girl and bringing her into the family than considering any scandal the press will cause. It’s also her priority to protect the girl, Olivia, from the culture shock Mia herself experienced upon finding out her royal status.

MY TWO CENTS: The author does a great job of showing that while Mia has matured, she’s still very recognizable as the neurotic teenager we know and love. We get to visit with the whole gang; in addition to dating Michael, Mia is still best friends with his sister, Lily, and her other close high school friend, Tina, who has maybe broken up with rock star Boris, or maybe not. Mia also employs a few former schoolmates in the community center she founded and even has a social media “friendship” with her ex-rival, Lana. The incorporation of all the former high school comrades feels natural and not at all forced.

We DO get to witness the proposal, but one disappointment; there’s not much description of the actual wedding. At that point, the action becomes so frantic that the reader is left with a recap of the wedding instead of an actual viewing. I would have much preferred to be “present” in real-time than finding out bits and pieces later. I felt that was a bit of a letdown; after all, the book is called Royal Wedding. But it’s a minor point in comparison to all the fun that’s going on.

Incidentally, biracial Olivia is getting her own spinoff series, starting with From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, releasing May 19 from Macmillan. A princess for a new generation!

BOTTOM LINE: A fitting continuation of the “Princess Diaries” series. If you grew up with the books, you won’t want to miss this satisfying installment.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available June 2, 2015, in paperback and eformats.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Awaken (Abandon Series #3) by Meg Cabot

Awaken

Awaken Front Cover (Point/Scholastic)

Oh, Meg Cabot. I love you and I really, really wanted to love this series. When you first announced it, I was totally excited. I was a little disappointed in the first book, Abandon. I almost didn’t make it through the second, Underworld. And now that I’ve finished the series with Awaken…well, I just think of why I didn’t love it, where (in my opinion) it went wrong, and how I wish there was a do-over button.

THE PLOT: Readers who read the first two books in the trilogy will be looking for this book to tie up all loose ends. Fates versus Furies for the Underworld…and John Hayden, Cabot’s version of Hades. There’s also a wrap-up to the love story of John and Pierce, a modern-day Persephone.

MY TWO CENTS: Since the first book, I have felt that this series is simply too drawn out. It just really needed to be edited down to two books. In addition to filler and wordiness, it suffers from too little John Hayden and too many minor characters, like Pierce’s cousin Alex and her friend Kayla, and John’s “coworkers.” This book is especially slow in the first half. The first few pages are exciting; then there’s a lull; then it picks up for the second half to the finale.

NOTE TO TWEEN PARENTS: Please note that Pierce and John do have a sexual relationship. There is very little detail given, but it’s clear that Pierce is undressed and that the two have spent the night together. Maybe parents today won’t be as wigged out by this as my mother would be. She didn’t want me reading Judy Blume even after I’d hit puberty (sigh).

TEACUP RATING: I’m only giving this book 2 1/2 out of 5 teacups, with many apologies to Meg Cabot. And 1/2 of those teacups goes to Pierce’s whip.

Note: Reivew is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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