Book Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

At first I hated this book. I could not connect with the main character, Liza, who I felt was way too uptight and controlling. I was tempted to put the book down (or in this case, my Kindle) but I didn’t and I’m actually pretty darn glad that I finished it. The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill stars Liza Sanders, a drum major who has just found out her band is losing funding. Armed with her clipboard and baton, she finds Destiny – a luxury cruise liner hosting a Spring break talent show complete with a $25,000 prize. Throw in an old friend (a.k.a. new flame), the school jock, and an ex-bestie/current arch nemesis and you’ve got a recipe for YA Contemporary gold.

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You see, when I was in my senior year of high school I finally took Musical Theater, the only art credit that would fit into my perfectly crafted schedule where I attempted to spend the least amount of time in school, little knowing that I would be selected as Stage Manager for our Winter performance. If you don’t know what a Stage Manager is, they’re basically that person that does everything – they have to make sure that everything and everyone has what they need, is where they need to be, and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I was one of the only senior’s in a sea of freshman, given the burden of stage managing as well as having to perform “Can You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables. Suffice it to say it was one of those terrible, horrible experiences that you sort of chuckle about years later, but also still feel weirdly bitter about. In the middle of running around moving people and props on stage I had a classmate open the stage door on my finger, ripping my fingernail up and backwards off of my nail bed exactly one act before I was supposed to perform. The pain in combination with angry stress left me crying angry tears. I still remember going on to perform and hearing my musical theater teacher whisper from the front row “sing LOUDER Krista”. I don’t think anyone could have given a more genuine French revolution-inspired (pardon me, June rebellion) performance.

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This tale of woe has a point (I promise), you see while I initially abhorred Liza’s over-controlling personality I began to understand her. I could identify with stress and pressure and feeling like you’re the only person who can see “the big picture”. I can identify with giving yourself over to stress in such a manner as you do and say things you instantly regret. For people who are natural born leaders, like I believe Liza is, there is a struggle with trying to get people on the same level of motivation when they are not as invested. Which is why I loved that the story ended the way it did.

Of course, there were some parts that I just couldn’t even – like when she got in trouble with her band teacher. I get how in terms of moving the story along that would be a quick way to get Liza out of leading the band, however, I just didn’t like how it was written, I didn’t like that that was what ended up happening. I also didn’t like her antagonistic relationship with Russ throughout most of the book – I liked Russ instantly, as a reader you know he’s the good guy so every time Liza is mean or just plain rude to Russ it makes you sort of kinda hate her. I went to a city school where I feel like cliques weren’t as big of a deal as they might be elsewhere, so I’m not sure if this sort of resentment has any root in reality but I wasn’t a fan of the sports team-hating on Liza’s part – it felt a little too cliché. Also, the ending is really rushed – like the author is tying up all these loose ends that have been floating around – Liza’s relationship with Demi gets a quick and unrealistic ending, which brings me to the conclusion of this lengthy review…

I realized while writing my review that the issues that I had with the story were all mainly issues with the tendency of the writing to be unrealistic. I mean, would you really do what Liza does? Would anyone? And then it hit me – this book is a literary chick flick for the younger set – does anyone bump into a billionaire in the street, end up interviewing with them, solve their corporate issues with your knowledge of shopping, and magically fall in love? Not often. In the same way no one would really raise enough money for a luxury cruise ship excursion with the entire band in the middle of being defunded, and casually compete to win $25k in between buffet bars, jacuzzi’s, and romantic entanglements? Probably not. But we love these stories just the same, which is why I can gladly give The Trouble with Destiny a tidy recommendation.

Pick up your copy of The Trouble with Destiny here!

Title: The Trouble with Destiny
Author: Lauren Morrill
Pages: 272
Genre: Young Adult, Teens, Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House, Delacorte Press

*I received a digital copy for review via the NetGalley, find more of my reviews and talk books with me on goodreads!

Feature Film Friday: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

I’m a really big fan of most, if not all, of Tennessee Williams’ plays- but I love Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for it’s starring cast and the fact that it gives me the excuse to yell “Mendacity!” all the time. In case you haven’t seen this movie, mendacity – being the tendency to lie, or an instance of falsehood – is the buzzword for this movie, and used most famously by Big Daddy in reference to his own family and friends. And while I might not be the brash, large, plantation owner- I find Big Daddy’s favorite phrase to rather useful in everyday life, see how I use it:

College Representative: “Sorry, you owe $3,000 in tuition”

Me: “Mendacity!”

Cashier at the grocery store: “Sorry, that coupon has expired- you can’t use it”

Me: “Mendacity!”

Doctor: “You’ve gained weight. Maybe you should think about going on a diet?”

Me: “MENDACITY!”

My mom: “You look just like Rachel Weisz”

Me: “Men- er- SURE!”

See how useful mendacity can be? Now, if you haven’t seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, you should- that way you can learn how to use mendacity in your everyday conversations too!

Memorable Cat on a Hot Tin Roof quote:

“What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?”

- Big Daddy

Feature Film Friday: The Ghost and Mrs.Muir (1947)

One of the most hauntingly (pun so intended) romantic films that I’ve seen, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir stars native New Yorker Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady), and young Natalie Wood (West Side Story). Mrs. Muir, a young widow, moves to a seaside cottage with her daughter Anna and housemaid Martha. She discovers upon arrival that the house is haunted by its previous tenant and owner, Captain Daniel Gregg. Undeterred by the roguish Captain Gregg, Mrs. Muir decides to stay and forms a “unique” relationship with the ghost. But problems arise when Mrs. Muir can no longer afford the rent, and later when she becomes attracted to suave Miles Fairley.

The movie was actually made into a series in the late 60′s- but wasn’t very popular at the time, it has since accrued a dedicated following of fans. Famed composer Bernard Hermann is said to have claimed that the score he created for this film was the best of his career- outshining the one’s he created for classics like Citizen Kane, Psycho, and Taxi Driver. Gene, is of course, gorgeous and cast perfectly alongside arrogant and “crusty” Rex. And me and my sister were thrilled to see George Sanders annoy the hell out of us with another one of his devious low-life characters (if you’ve seen Rebecca then you know what I’m talking about).

Just so you know this movie doesn’t have what my sister calls “a happy ending”. However, I think it’s an adorable romantic melancholic movie that deserves to be seen. Luckily, one of YouTube’s many users has been kind enough to upload the whole thing here. If you watch it please feel free to come back and let me know what you think!

Memorable The Ghost and Mrs. Muir quote:

Confound it, madam, my language is most controlled. And as for me morals, I lived a man ‘s life and I’m not ashamed of it; and, I can assure you no woman’s ever been the worse for knowing me – and I’d like to know how many mealy-mouthed bluenoses can say the same.

- Captain Gregg

Feature Film Friday: The Mummy (1999)

This is probably one of the best Friday night flicks ever. I love this movie so much that I’ve bought it numerous times (when they get all worn out from over-usage, aka somebody dropping it on the floor and getting it all scratched up). In fact, I love this movie so much that I feel it’s one of those rare movies that the trailer alone summarizes the movie sufficiently enough to bring in an audience, so here you go!

Adventure, romance,and  intrigue, The Mummy is pure unadulterated fun! You’ll be glad you saw it (if you haven’t already)!