::dusts off blog::
Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this little book blog! My schedule got pretty crazy there for a while. But once again I’ve been getting the itch to review the books I’m reading. First up, a little bit of escapism: Size 12 and Ready to Rock, the fourth book in Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells mystery series.
I really enjoyed the first three Heather Wells books — they’re very light reading but pure fun. Our heroine Heather is a resident advisor for a dormitory at New York College (a very thinly disguised fictional version of NYU). She lives just above the New York poverty line and gets by because her landlord, private investigator Cooper Cartwright, lets her do his billing in exchange for rent.
Oh, and Heather used to be a teen pop sensation. Think Robin Sparkles, or Britney Spears if she’d been a bit better-adjusted. But Heather’s pop career took a nosedive when she started writing her own songs and gaining weight — hence the size-focused titles of the books* — and her mother fled the country with her manager and her life’s savings. Now she’s more or less anonymous, although her past does come up from time to time. Heather, however, is generally more focused on solving the latest mystery affecting the students in her residence hall.
Sound appealing? If you haven’t read previous Heather Wells books, I suggest that you stop reading this review now (major spoilers from previous books coming!) and go pick up Size 12 is Not Fat. If you’re already familiar with Heather and want to know if the fourth installment is worth a read, carry on.
In Size 12 and Ready to Rock, Heather’s teen-pop past collides with her residence-hall present. Her ex-boyfriend Jordan Cartwright and his new wife Tania Trace now have their own reality show, “Jordan Loves Tania,” and gorgeous diva Tania is insisting on holding her Tania Trace Rock Camp in Heather’s dormitory. But Heather and her new fiancé Cooper quickly realize that Tania has a good reason for picking “Death Dorm”: someone is threatening her, and she thinks Heather might be able to help.
This book sped by incredibly quickly — I read it in less than a day. But I think that length is one of the things I liked about the book. Cabot doesn’t try to drag out the mystery by having Heather make dumb mistakes or refuse to recognize obvious clues (although there was one passage where I thought Heather should have anticipated who she’d find on the other side of the door). The pacing is crisp and the mystery is engaging.
I also loved the relationship between Cooper and Heather. They were fun in previous books as they slowly moved from friendship to romance, but as a team they are dynamite. They care about each other, they respect each other, they tease each other — basically they’re adorable. They need their strong partnership to stand up to the supporting cast, which includes spoiled Tania Trace Rock Camp teens, a pushy reality show producer, and Cooper’s unpleasant family.
Size 12 and Ready to Rock deals with some slightly darker themes than previous Heather Wells books. Abusive relationships and infertility both come into play over the course of the story, but are handled respectfully and in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative. The more serious themes are leavened by Cabot’s sense of humor — the parts of the book that deal with Jordan and Tania’s “reality” show are delightfully absurd.
LIke previous Heather Wells books, this isn’t a deep read, but it’s a fun one. It’s perfect for killing time on an airplane, relaxing on a beach, or cheering you up on a rainy Saturday.
Rating: Library Loan
* It’s worth mentioning that Heather is happy with her size and has no desire to go back to her teen-pop slimness.