By Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez Have youheardabout…? Those are four words that are music to your ears. You hear them, and you lean in close because you know you’re about to hear something too juicy to ignore, something too cool to avoid, something you absolutely must know. Gossip is fun and you love hearing it – until you’re on the receiving end. And in the new book “Rumor Central” by Reshonda Tate Billingsley, one tattletale finds her tail in a bunch of trouble. Nobody in South Florida under the age of 21 missed an episode of Miami Divas. Starring Maya Morgan, the show also featured her friends and classmates as they partied, shopped, and dished on must-haves for everyone who was anyone. They had the best of everything; they were style-makers. Every week, the ratings were off the chain – so it was a surprise to Maya that the show got cancelled. But the producers had another little surprise for her: they wanted Maya to star in a new TV program that would be filled with gossip. They wanted Maya – but not her friends. This, of course, made Bali, Shay, and Sheridan jealous. Weren’t they all for one, and one for all? Maya didn’t think so. Why couldn’t they understand that this was the opportunity her fabulous self deserved? It was what she’d been waiting for, for ages. Yes, her friends were jealous – green with envy, in fact, because Maya was meeting and hanging with all kinds of stars and making all kinds of money. They were jealous enough to try and ruin what Maya was doing. One of them even stole Maya’s boyfriend, so imagine how happy they were when the new show, Rumor Central, flopped. To boost ratings and save the show, Maya had to come up with some real gossip. It had to be sensational – something that would make Miami stand up and notice. Fortunately, Maya’s former-friends had been pretty loose with their lips and she knew a lot of secrets. So, while a totally nerdy classmate did her schoolwork for her, Maya Morgan went on-camera and spilled Miami ’s hottest gossip. But someone wanted her to keep her mouth shut. Someone wanted to nix the news. And for Maya Morgan, payback would be a… Okay, I hated Maya Morgan. She’s nasty, self-centered, spoiled, obnoxious, and not very nice. I’ve never wanted a come-uppance for a character more than I wanted it for her. Yep, Maya’s a total brat who only kind-of-almost learns a lesson in this book (the first in a new series) – and that “almost” wasn’t near enough to endear her to me one bit. Author Reshonda Tate Billingsley has made Maya just too selfishly incorrigible, and it’s hard to feel anything for the girl but a lingering distaste. I can handle a dastardly character – most good fiction has at least one – but the villain in this book is insufferably awful. Try this book if you must. Give it a whirl if you have to – but to me, “Rumor Central” is nothing to whisper about. “Rumor Central” by Reshonda Tate Billingsley, c.2013, Dafina Teen, $9.95, 263 pages.
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