Prequel Review: Charmed and Dangerous

Charmed and DangerousCharmed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Pretty Committee
A Clique prequel
by Lisi Harrison
first published in 2009
I think it was my (rather impatient, I might add) waiting for the Clique summer books that made me grab this prequel again.
The thing with these books is that you catch yourself rooting for the main characters even when they are being incredibly spoiled and selfish. In the case of this prequel, it’s rather “spoiled rotten” part for Massie and Dylan.
It was quite amusing to see Massie scramble around in her Beta-position while still managing to maintain her air of the cool, sophisticated and fashionable (she’s all of nine years old, for frigging out loud). But this is before she moved to OCD or met her BFFs, so more of her insecurities shine through.
Now, Dylan is the first one to encounter Cam Fisher and Derrick Harrington, and she’s sick of her sisters fretting about their weight. What she doesn’t know is that she’s been duped, too… Dylan is her characteristic fun-loving self. Probably the most child-like.
Alicia is already very ambitious and beautiful, and I love the way her father adores her.
Kristen, the smart and soccer-star who will manage to hide her financial situation from everyone for the next three years, is surprisingly tender-hearted and insecure compared to the vicious tongue we first meet in The Clique.
Claire, on the other hand, is still in Orlando with her three best friends, Sari, Mari and Mandy, blissfully unaware of everything that is going to happen in couple years. And yet she manages to get in trouble and indirectly in touch with the other Clique members (her membership was foretold by Hermia anyway). And she acquires the gold charm that will cause Massie so much trouble in The Clique.

Best read when you are already quite familiar with the dynamics of these five characters and more, so at least after The Pretty Committee Strikes Back – that would be my recommendation for the minimum of knowledge. But the prequel was published after Book #11, Boys R Us.

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Violet by Design

Violet by DesignViolet by Design by Melissa Walker
#2 in Violet series
published in March 2008
by Berkley JAM

In this second installment of the Violet trilogy, Violet Greenfield returns to her modeling career after what was planned as a one-time stunt in São Paulo – she is wildly in demand, which takes her to Spain and other European countries. Or at least it would have taken her to other European countries had it not been for her MySpace blog and her entries about the crazy obsession over weight in the fashion world.

In the whole course of the book, Violet is a living embodiment of conflicting emotions, values, and wants. On the one hand she loves her family, her friends and her tranquil life. But she also revels in the glitz and excitement of the modeling world – seeing other countries, living in luxurious hotels, meeting designers and wearing gorgeous clothes and seeing the huge crowd watching her on runways. Violet knows this. She also knows what a hypocrite it makes her and the people from fashion industry when they say they support the “natural looks” of women and how starving for runways and photo shoots is sick, but once they have said goodbye to the press people, they immediately start talking about how Violet needs to lose five pounds in three days (five pounds are like, 2.5 kg). Violet, while angry and ashamed, agrees. Her friend Roger is totally frustrated at the way Violet seemingly isn’t able to make up her mind, and plays the role of “the voice of reason”, which can be harsh at times. In fact, Roger is one who doesn’t seem to have problems following his principles, it’s almost not human.
I was really glad that Violet had support of both Veronica and Sam in this book, because this time she wasn’t on her home turf with her aunt or other members of her family. Julie also plays small role here compared to Violet on the Runway.
Although it was kind of frustrating to go through the crap Violet had to face, I’m glad she made the decisions she did and finally started figuring out what kind of person she wants to be.
Oh, but could someone please explain to me how a high school graduate doesn’t spend a minute thinking about the fact that abandoning a campaign in the middle of it is breaking the friggin’ contract, which her employer totally can sue her of? And they would for sure win, which means, since the jurisdiction lies in the States, Violet would have to pay huge amount of money as damages. Like, thank you, Veronica, for stepping in. Still not quite sure how shifting the contract to Double V will solve all problems, but whatevs.

Book Review: Violet on the Runway

Violet on the RunwayTitle: Violet on the Runway
Series: Violet #1
Author: Melissa C. Walker
Publisher: Berkley JAM Books (Penguin Group USA)
Original Publication in: 2007

My owned copy is the trade paperback edition.

Date read: April 2011

Violet Greenfield, who thinks of herself as a quiet, shy  wallflower, has always been teased because of her height (six-one, or 1.85m). She longs to be popular like those BK girls (stands for Bee’s Knees, not Burger King), even though she’d never admit it to her best friends, Julie and Roger.
But when she catches the eye of a Tryst agent Angela Blythe, things change dramatically… because Angela is sure Violet can be “the next Kate Moss – but, you know, taller and without the cocaine problem” (that was Violet’s soon-to-be agent). In the following months, Violet will have to wade through the castings, photo shoots, runways, bitchy models and other difficulties to find herself and what she really wants.

As far as I know, the author Melissa Walker used to work in a fashion magazine and has now (well, five years ago) written a series which gives us backstage insights on the glamorous fashion life.

Let’s talk about Violet first. Violet Greenfield is insecure about her height and her body in general – she’s too bony and all angles, she thinks. Of course, those two complexes are what caught Angela’s attention. Angela is persistent on letting Violet fly out to New York (she lives in North Carolina) for the Fashion Week, and when her parents give in, Violet is whisked away to a world in which she feels beautiful, strong and desirable.
Long story short, designers and photographers are taken by Violet’s naturalness, Angela convinces the Greenfields to let Violet graduate a semester early and live in the Tryst’s model apartment in New York – and make a name as a model!

Now, I know, I know that Violet needs to make stupid mistakes in order to learn and grow up, but I was quite exasperated when she ditched her best friends for the BK. What pissed me off, however, was Julie’s response to that. I get she has a valid right to be angry, I don’t blame her for that. What I consider a true BF reaction is Roger’s, Violet’s other friend. He’s mad, gives her silent treatment, but in the end he cares, and he comes up to check on Violet. They fight, but he forgives. Julie’s just petty.

Back to Violet. I think she is a good and nice person at core – that’s her personality, and her nature. She hardens up in this vicious tangle of competition and criticism, but she never develops an eating disorder or turns to drugs. She is hurt by the harsh words people and fellow model Veronica throw at her – about her weight, her nightlife, her privacy – and yet she remains a softie (in a good way) inside.

Violet on the Runway is a book about self-discovery and mocks the fashion world, but in a light-hearted and believable way.