Saturday, December 21, 2013

  Today, I present to you... One of the only books in the world whose 'movie cover' looks better than its original cover. 

   Again, here, I'm late to the party with this one–it's grown to be extremely popular in the world of readers, so it was only a matter of time before I was forced to grit my teeth and pick up a coming-of-age.

   I feel like I've never been able to fully appreciate contemporary fiction, mostly because they're usually romance heavy, angsty, and an extremely inaccurate representation of high school life. The last one in particular bothers me, because a lot of the time, I read books and am forced to wonder whether the author suffered severe amnesia immediately after graduating high school. I mean, yeah, obviously there are differences in different countries and districts and what-not, but sometimes they just get ridiculous.

   PERKS was alright for me in that front, I suppose. I mean, honestly, schoolwork wasn't focused on all to much. Uh, the focus was more along the lines of drinking... And sex... And drugs...

   I might come off as a tight ass saying this, but whenever I read about teenagers going crazy on the alcohol and cigs in books, I grow concerned for their fictional immune systems. Okay, yes, it adds a gritty dash of 'realism,' but it's everywhere??? Can't we have good, stable kids who don't fall ploy to peer pressure and/or feel the insatiable urge to completely destroy their livers??? {I swear that I'm not from the Prohibition era or anything. I'm just grossed out by alcoholics and users. Also, contrary to popular belief, not every teenager in the world is universally dysfunctional and incapable of making smart decisions.}

   Holy shit, I've complained way too much already. Uh, anyway, PERKS is written in the form of a series of letters from our adorable main character and budding writer, Charlie. They're all dated and addressed, 'Dear friend,' and according to Charlie, the names of the characters have all been replaced. It's also a really short book, but hefty for its weight. By hefty, I mean to say that it's jam-packed with emotional distress and emotions in general. 

  And here's the real question: Despite my fervent dislike of alcohol abuse in the book, did I enjoy reading it?

  Yes, actually, I did. I found it charming at first, then horribly disturbing, then sweet and fulfilling. Because despite the fact that Patrick and Sam are by far the worst people to have ever laid hands on poor, sweet, unsuspecting Charlie, they are also his best friends, and they love him, albeit dysfunctionally. 

  And the characters were all adorable and sweet and relatable {even though I thought Charlie had some sort of learning disability for a while there} and I really did enjoy reading about them. The tone of the book was easy to delve into and straightforward, honest. Can tone be honest? I think it can.

   I plan on seeing the film when I find the time, because a) Emma Watson, and b) I've heard a lot of good things about it. So hey, why the heck not?

   There are a few triggers that I feel obligated to warn you about if you intend on picking up this book. Substance abuse, for one thing. Emotional turmoil for another. And finally, the awkward, not-at-all erotic sex scenes. 

   Honestly, even though I'm complaining a lot about this book, it's not bad in the least. {In fact, it's quite the opposite.} It's cute, funny, emotional, and compulsively readable. So, if you've watched the movie and haven't read the book, I'd recommend it to you. I'd also recommend it to people who are in for something quick and easy, but not too light, and also for folks who don't read often and need something with easier language to grip on to. Basically, this book seems to me like it could appeal to fans of all genres, so go. Read. Shoo.  



The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

   This is the story of a teenage girl who is raped, murdered, and sent to heaven, where she keeps a steadfast eye on her family and friends from up above while they scramble around to (unsuccessfully) solve the mystery of her death and then (unsuccessfully) to find her killer. Obviously, there are quite a few trigger warnings attached.

   THE LOVELY BONES has been described as a modern classic, and I wholeheartedly agree with that title. By my definition, a classic is a book that can be enjoyed and empathized with during any time period, by any person, and I feel like the morals and feelings and reasoning put forward by Sebold are more or less universal. This book explores how humans feel about both death and life with incredible depth.

   The only real issue I had here was the fact that the plot seemed to take a turn for the scattered somewhere in the middle of the book. It went from murder mystery to 'everyone is sad. Let's fuck our lives up.' in about two point five seconds, and yeah, it contributed to the poignant message of this book, but that transition felt like giving up to me, and my interest kind of faltered for a bit.

   However, even with that, the book kept me reading, mostly because of my attachment to the characters. All of the characters. {Except for George Harvey, due to obvious reasons.}

   Speaking of Harvey, I was left feeling kind of unsatisfied with the ending. I know this makes me sound like a terrible person, but I wanted him to suffer. Even with the backstory that Harvey was given, I fucking hated him, and all I wanted was to have him die terribly, or have Susie kill him, or something. {Never put me in charge of the lives of terrible people.}

   The characters were, in general, endlessly, frustratingly realistic and relatable. Susie was one of those narrators who you can just connect to. With first person narration, it's can sometimes be difficult to completely immerse yourself in the book if you have trouble understanding and relating to the person whose voice is telling the story, but I didn't have that problem with this book, so yay! {I mean, there were still some actions that she took that were weird and didn't make sense to me, but as a whole, you know.}

   I feel like this book is really famous and that I've arrived late to the party. Actually, the weird thing about this is that I found my {fairly beat up} copy of it just lying around on the shelf one day. I'd never seen it before, so I figured my mother had ordered it, but it turned out that she'd never seen it, either. It's been a month, and I still haven't solved that mystery, so I'm going to assume that a friendly dead girl left it on my shelf for me to cry over. {I meant that as a joke, but now that I've written that I'm a little freaked out and I think I'll sleep with the lights on tonight.}

   So, all-in-all, THE LOVELY BONES is a touching, heartfelt read that might not be recommendable for people who are sensitive to subjects like death, rape, family issues, and a bunch of other things. Personally, I'm someone who is really sensitive to the ideas death and dying, thanks to plenty of recent loss, but I truly to feel like braving through this book sort of softened the blow for me. Not enough to be drastically life changing, but enough to help. 

OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 

How to Write the Most Obnoxious Romance Possible

Friday, December 20, 2013

  Since I've been doing nothing but posting reviews here lately out of pure lack of ideas, I've subsequently decided to make a few 'How-to's' in an attempt to educate all of you adorable budding young authors out there. So, this is a quick lesson on how to create the most irritating, frustrating, snore-worthy love story possible!

Step One: Create a main character. Actually, you know what, don't even. Just take a transparent version of yourself and stamp her right onto the page. You'll be writing exclusively in first person anyway, right?

Step Two: Put your main character in some boring suburban town in the middle of nowhere full of nothing but white people. Make her the outcast for no particular reason, too, because everyone loves an underdog who never, EVER wears makeup or does anything remotely interesting and does nothing but complain.

Step Three: Enter the hot main guy {!!} Make sure he's absolutely physically flawless in every way, so readers won't notice that he has no real personality and is actually kind of creepy. Basically, stick classic sociopath behavior into an attractive husk that might be an angel/demon/vampire/werewolf/god/Cthulu. Go, you!

Step Four: Well, obviously HOT MAIN GUY and BORING MAIN CHARACTER are going to end up together, but you've essentially written ten pages, so you're going to need to draw this out for a painfully long time to really bring in the big bucks. Why not try...

       1) Creepy rapist situation! HMG stalks BMC, who vehemently attempts to throw off his unwanted affections due to foggy reasoning. HMG makes continuous references to danger, sex, and dangerous sex, and this wins the BMC over. Eventually.

       2) You-saved-my-life, let's-procreate situation! BMC, who is actually physically incapable of doing anything on her own, has her life saved by HMG. BMC decides this means she should love HMG, despite knowing nothing about him. Terrible forced romance ensues.

       3) TEEN ANGST situation! BMC finds herself 'inexplicably drawn' to HMG, and eventually uncovers his twisted past. Decides to pity-love him because of her own, equally disturbing history, and they decide to make sad, angsty love in a dark bedroom by the train tracks while crying and awkwardly touching each other's scars.

Step Five: If you honestly believe that this is plot enough for you and your beloved HMG, move on! Go ahead and publish. You deserved it. If you're one of those who feels like you might be lacking a little something, it's time to come up with some sort of weird conflict/plot whose only duty is to get pushed aside by the steamy {and possibly uncomfortable romance between the HMG and BMC. Just come up with something off the top of your head. Honestly, you can do it in five seconds. Here, I'll time you.






Got it? Okay! Now, just sort of awkwardly wedge that plot in there. Now, stand in front of the mirror and try to keep a straight face while practicing your reasoning for why your book is 'deep.' {Don't panic, it's not supposed to be deep in any way at all. You and I both know that you just wrote that shit to jerk off to, but does America really need to?} 

Congratulations. Your novel is complete! Now just find an agent dumb enough to represent you and publish that sucker with some big company that's fallen to shambles in the last decade. Then rake in the moolah and drink a gallon of alcohol for each week your byooootiful literary masterpiece stays on the NY Times Bestseller list. You've deserved it, you asshole.

{Please note that this was only meant to be extremely offensive to people who actually write this way. Fuck you guys.}


Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

   I actually bought this book as an early Christmas gift for my beloved twin, but then she finished it in two hours and forced me to read it.

   HYPERBOLE AND A HALF {god that's long; I'll just call it H&aH} is a paper adaptation of Allie Brosh's popular blog by the same name. To my understanding, half of it is brand-new content, and the other half consists of pre-existing stories picked off the blog. The book is unique in its presentation: it chronicles a collection of short stories in amateurish comic strips accompanied by short blocks of text. {I'm pretty sure it spawned a few memes, too, if that's relevant.}

   Anyway, explanations aside, this book is fucking hilarious. Brosh uses the perfect mixture of intelligence and crude humour to create both honest, laugh-out-loud comedy and a surprising level of introspection. From the tale of a manic dinosaur/serial killer goose to Brosh's own explanation and inspection of clinical depression, H&aH made a delightful read for me, and nearly everyone who was near me when my twin opened the gift. Seriously, we passed this thing around like a hot potato pretty much all day. I think I howled CAAAAKE at least ten times, because I'm essentially a five year old. 

   My experience with Brosh's blog itself was actually limited; I vaguely remember having someone show me the original cake story a year or so ago. But since this book does have stories that were never featured on the blog, I'd strongly recommend that fans of it pick this up, as well. {Also people who've never had exposure to Brosh's work before, because again, it's funny.} 

   I wish I could say more about this book; I really do. But honestly, all I can think of to mention is that I'm pleased to say that this is the first five star rating I've had on this blog yet, so happy holidays! 

OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie


   Hey, at least I only paid two dollars for my copy of this snooze-fest.

   Honestly, the cover is glorious. The entire trilogy's covers are super artistic and lovely and symbolic and I think they're incredible. Unfortunately, I don't think the contents of the book come even remotely close to living up to the standard that these pretty, unique covers set for them, and that's sad.

   MATCHED is the first of three books in a trilogy by Ally Condie. Again, this is another fairly popular book that's been out for a while, and I must say that I was disappointed. The premise sounds interesting enough, if heavily reminiscent of Lois Lowry's THE GIVER: the main character, Cassia, lives in a dystopian/utopian Society that controls every aspect of its citizen's lives, including marriage, family, work, and even death.

   The worst part about this book is that it didn't have to be as bad as it was. The characters, although boring as hell and oftentimes frustrating, were all honestly decent people, so ethically speaking, you couldn't hate them. I hated them anyway, but I felt kind of bad about it. I mean, none of them are terrible people, they're just boring and have nothing to contribute. Plus, Cassia's fucking useless and a pain in the ass.

   I guess this could be seen as 'kind of the point,' because the Society that all of the characters live in more or less wipe them of their personalities, but come on. The main character's annoying little brother was more interesting than Cassia and her two love interests combined.

   Speaking of love interests, I guess the one thing this book didn't fuck up completely was the romance, because at least it wasn't completely dysfunctional, and both boys genuinely did seem to love her. I was especially proud of Xander, who, instead of going into the stereotypical jealous rage and becoming evil and killing everyone, helped Cassia find the one she truly loved.

   That's love, bitch.

   But, still, I've got to give this book two stars, because it lacks such a massive key component that I kind of feel weird calling it a book at all.

   It pretty much has no plot whatsoever. No rising action, no climax, no denouement, or any of that whole swishy hill thing from, like primary school. The whole thing is a super transparent, heavily symbolic commentary on our own modern society, which is fine in its own right, but come on, you don't have to give up plot for the sake of symbolism. It's not even remotely necessary. What the fuck.

   I was so disappointed, too! This really interesting set-up is presented to us, and you keep reading, thinking that something's going to happen, but no. Nothing happens. Half the book is literally Cassia describing motherfucking letters and hiking in the fake woods and Mr. Angsty Poetry Man {Ky}. I honestly expected her to join an awesome rebellion of renegade poets and writers and artists at the end and take back her man and make the entire book worthwhile, but nope.

   I already knew I wasn't fond of stories that are almost exclusively focused on romance. Some people are, and that's fine, but I just can't handle it. So, although I can sort of see why this book garnered attention, fuck that, I'm not reading the rest.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

   I feel like it's been a while since I posted here. Has it been? I guess I haven't been able to come up with things to write about that weren't simply book reviews, so I'll have to get down on that.
  But this is a book review, anyway, so I'm just going to get straight into it.

  This is a pretty hefty book, first of all: more than five hundred pages with the hard cover copy. Now, with thick, lengthy books such as this one, I'll either want to read until my eyes fall out or get so sick of reading it that I'll want to claw my eyes out. Strangely enough, this is one of those books that I took in chunks: I read a massive amount very quickly, then kind of faltered on the last twenty pages. 

   EON was, first of all, an extremely good kick-off to an in-depth fantasy series–the concept was mind-blowingly creative, and the Asian culture touch really added some colour to the whole world. It was a pretty heavy, gritty world, too–loads of sexism and prejudice and all of those lovely things that lots of high fantasy writers seem to be afraid of including. I thought the inclusion of these problems added character, conflict, and interest too the world, though, and they certainly made things more interesting for Eon, our main character, so I have no objections.
   Anyway, EON is set in a richly complex, vaguely Asiatic world where a high council of Dragoneyes serve the country with the grand powers of their dragons. I literally have no coherent way of explaining the whole Dragoneye cycle, so I'll stick to the basics: 12 Dragoneyes, 12 Zodiac Dragons, 12 people. Except one of the dragons has been missing for quite a while. {The Dragon of the Year of the Dragon, a.k.a. the Mirror Dragon} And this is where our hero, Eon, arrives.

   In a deeply sexist world, Eon is actually Eona, a girl posing as a boy in hopes that she will become one of the Dragon's chosen. She is chosen, but not by the Rat Dragon, as she expects, but rather, by the missing Mirror Dragon, and as a result, she is thrust into the intensely political and dangerous life that comes with the title. 

   I could actually go on forever about the basic plot nuances and fascinating pieces of world-building in this book, but this is a review, not a book report.

   So basically, I found the world-building and concept fascinating, and they were certainly enough on their own to keep me hooked. However, for a very specific reason, I couldn't attach myself emotionally to the book. In other words, I didn't really feel much of anything.      

   For once, I've been able to pinpoint the problem, and here, it's because most of the characters are so realistically selfish and human that it's difficult for me, as a reader, to like them and want them to live. From a standoffish point of view, I can see that Goodman knows what she's doing when it comes to people and characterization, but I feel as if she's gone to the point where about 90% of the cast have no redeeming qualities, or have qualities so awful that you can't look past them to see the good. Sometimes, this even leaks into the characters who are supposed to be perceived as decent people, so I wound up just hating everyone all around. {Except for maybe Lady Dela. And Prince Kygo. Surprisingly, I wasn't a big fan of Ryko; I found him kind of dull and surly. Oh, and even though Ido technically redeemed himself at the end, I was so abhorrently against his existence that I was unable to find it in my heart to forgive him.}

  This wouldn't be that much of an issue if Eon hadn't killed my opinion of her during the whole drug addict portion. Again, in a distant portion of my mind, I'm full of respect for Goodman's writing, but up front I'm thinking, God, what a prat. 

  My feelings towards Eon became a massive point of conflict for me while reading this, though, because on one hand, she's just an awesome strong female character, and on the other hand, she's also a bit of a dumbass at times. She just seems like the type of person who doesn't have much of an idea of what's going on, and it was kind of frustrating to read.

   However, from a non-personal point of view, her character development and character itself are amazing. Kudos to Goodman for creating what I legitimately believe to be the strongest female character in at least a decade, for a multitude of reasons.

   Man, there's so much I have to say about this book, but really, it was an excellent read, highly recommendable for fans of high fantasy or lit-appreciators all around, and I'm looking forward to picking up the sequel sometime soon! 


   OVERALL RATING:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

   Oh ugh what the heck.

   This is the first book that I've read in a while that I literally could not find anything to enjoy. It was slow, it was boring, and the parts that should've been interesting weren't, because they didn't make sense. The romance was convoluted and strained at best. Rumbold was a creepy, pathetic moron, and Sunday was about as interesting as a brick of wood. Together, they made an obnoxious, boring couple that didn't even have the benefit of chemistry or romantic tension on their side.

   Most of this review will probably be a complaint, which, in part, is actually a tribute to how little I enjoyed reading Enchanted. Every aspect of it was, simply put, ridiculous. At least it was for me, at any rate.

  I've hit most of my main points already, and I don't feel like I could really state myself more clearly. Because seriously, I'm all for fairy tale retellings that are kind of cheesy, but this one was a) way over the level of cheesiness that should be legally allowed, and b) was actually just a lot of confusing, popular stories jumbled together in this tangled mess of a love story.

  I'm aware that I probably go overboard in hating male leads in romantic fiction, but Prince Rumbold here didn't even have enough personality to be an unlikeable asshole. He was just plain unlikeable, boring, unrelatable, etc. etc. For that matter, so was Sunday. Dullest love story ever. 

  I actually did like the minor characters–Saturday and Thursday {bless the horrible names in this book and how completely unimaginative and confusing they are} seemed like cool people. And as there is currently a sequel to this book that features Saturday, I feel like I might actually read it. Then again, I don't want to end up hating Saturday, so it's kind of an iffy situation.

   Honestly, for once, that's pretty much it. I have nothing else to say about this book. It was shallow, boring, pointless, and time-wasting, and I actually feel mean saying this right now, because I honestly don't mean this in a spiteful way, I'm just shocked that I stumbled across such a poorly constructed novel after loads of wonderfully unique, fixating ones. I guess my streak of good luck has faded. Rest in peace. 



Monday, December 2, 2013

Beastly by Alex Flinn

   I'm just gonna go straight ahead and admit that I've had a really weird fascination with the Beauty and the Beast tale ever since I watched the Disney film for the first time in my younger years. It was and still is one of my all-time favourite love stories. {I never said that I couldn't appreciate them.} So, basically, reading this book was basically the literary equivalent of a punch in the gut.

   I've always prided myself on my ability to differentiate really bad, creepy, unhealthy relationships from beautiful, wholesome, poignant ones.

   It's the Beauty and the Beast tale, except set in New York, and about fifty times darker. The worst part is that it doesn't even make up its own dark stuff, it just magnifies the creepy elements already in the classic story and makes them realistic. The dad who sells her out. The reason why the curse was placed in the first place. Etc. etc. etc. 

   And I really liked it.

   I hate insta-love above all things. But in this book, even with the many time skips, you can actually watch and feel Adrian and Linda falling in love. It's kind of painful. And it should be beautiful, except for the parts that killed it.

   Being disappointed in this book makes me sad, mostly because a lot of the raw emotion it evoked was pure and brilliant, and obviously, the characters and character development were exemplary. But there were just so many uncomfortable parts. So many.

   First of all, the dialogue and writing itself always seemed slightly... Off. I couldn't quite place it at first, but then the realization hit me: Everything's a simple sentence, and nothing hurts. 

   So yeah, the writing is choppy and the dialogue sounds stilted and awkward. That hindered the reading experience somewhat, even if it lowered my rating by a star, which is fine. 

   But then we get to Adrian, who, even though he developed spectacularly, was so awkward and creepy in places that I literally had to put the book down after short bursts and wander off to read something else. I don't know about you guys, but I'm one of those people who gets loads of secondhand embarrassment. I have a tendency to bite my lip and giggle-snort when someone on film, in books, or in reality does something stupid or humiliating. 

   So yeah, loads of lip-biting and giggle-snorting. Oh, and don't forget the eye-rolling, yeah?

   I just... I mean, it wasn't even his ridiculous methods of courting Linda that freaked me out. {Although it was mostly that.} Sometimes he'd just get randomly angry and throw things around, and then apologize, which was supposed to show character development but just made me feel like he was really lame. Also, the whole section with him changing my name sounded so childish that I wanted to smack his furry face and tell him to sit down.

It's actually been a while since I've been so utterly embarrassed for someone's existence, so, in a way, Adrian King should get a round of applause from me and my delicately blushing features. 

  Except no, you get a 3/5 stars instead.

   All-in-all, it's a beautiful stand alone romance, if you can get over the cringe-worthy courtship rituals and the somewhat choppy writing. But seriously, it's not a long read, so if you ever feel the need for a story with a happy ending. Because yes, there's a happy ending.


{Sigh, seems like I only rate 3/5s lately... Oh, well.}


Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

   Okay, I'll admit it: I never really had high hopes for this book. I picked it up mostly because I heard that people read it. Just from the cover, I assumed it was going to be an angelic version of Twilight

   It definitely was an angelic version of Twilight, but that didn't stop me from staying up until four in the morning reading it.

   To be frank, I think that most of the appeal in this book for me came from the thriller/mystery part: who was out to get Nora Grey? Why exactly were they out to get her? WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING. {For the record, I love when a book unravels a mystery slowly, putting in pieces for the reader to decipher and try to fit together.}

   I feel like the world and concepts in this book were really interesting, by the way. Nephilim, psychotic, homicidal angels and human sacrifices? Count me in. 

   So yes, the plot points and universe the world created drew me in like a fly to flypaper, hence my reading binge. On the other hand, however, even though I couldn't pull myself away, I also cringed. A lot. Mostly because of the characters. And also the romance.

   For starters, I'd like to say that Nora Grey is one of the better paranormal romance heroines I've read in a while. That actually might just be because I'm constantly comparing her to Twilight's notorious Bella Swan in my head, but honestly, she seemed like an actual, normal girl. The sort other girls could be chill with. I liked how the author didn't go batshit crazy insisting that the main heroine never wore makeup to conceal her natural beauty. I like a girl who embraces her feminine side and still has a bit of spunk, and Nora fit that. Unfortunately, I also felt really weirdly uncomfortable reading about a tenth grader getting into this super physical relationship with a guy who was, essentially, an adult. {That's illegal, right?} Also, I feel like the author doesn't quite understand how high school and high schoolers work? Nora's voice and actions kept shifting between too childish and too mature, and I'm pretty sure kids study human reproduction before the tenth grade.

   But Nora, in all respects, wasn't the one who made me severely uncomfortable. No, that honour goes to Patch, the main male hero/love interest of this book. Also a fallen angel. Also homicidal. {Seriously, he's a murderer, holy shit. Like, I didn't expect him to really be out to kill her. Although it explained a lot and was actually kind of an interesting twist.}

   I'll be straight with you guys and tell you that I have a really hard time liking the douche-bag, antihero types. {Unless they're pirates.} Unfortunately, I know actual people who have personalities that could go in a hundred of these books, except in real life, it's not charming and it's not sexy. Maybe I'm getting a bit off-topic, but yeah, no, I don't trust antiheroes in romance books. They're just bad people with sex appeal. 

   I actually kind of liked the Patch we saw in the very beginning, when he swore Chauncey in, because, let's face it, that was pretty intense. It was the over-sexualized, over-romantic, laughing, smiling {constantly smiling, does the kid ever not smile? holy shit} rapey Patch that scared me. I mean, of all things, was it completely necessary for him to exude the constant aura of a rapist? I'm pretty sure he's actually referred to as a rapist a couple times in the book. Holy shit, that's messed up. 

   Moving on from Patch, Vee was by far my favourite. She was a moron, so I could relate. Besides, she had some of the best lines in the entire book–I'm not going to quote any, but really. She made up most of the comedic relief, too, so that increased her charm about tenfold.

   I actually really did like how the author took a serious, creepy, mysterious sort of story and threw in a light tone and a couple of jokes. Super-heavy stuff tends to bog me down, and anyway, with Hush, Hush, you got the sense that the book wasn't taking itself too seriously, which it shouldn't have.

   In the end, I'm really conflicted on how to judge this book, but I'm going to go ahead and give it a 3/5, because, although it had its marked flaws, it was an enjoyable read for me for the most part.

   I might pick up the rest of the series, which I believe consists of four complete books, but I'd like to hear from you guys first. Does the series improve, deteriorate, or just stay about the same?

   Seriously, though, I want to know if Patch ever gets an attitude change.

  EDIT 1/12/13: After reflecting a little and reading a couple of reviews off of goodreads, I've made up my mind and have decided to drop my rating by one star. Two words, you guys: RAPE CULTURE.

OVERALL RATING: ★ ★ ☆ ☆   


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

For some reason, it never struck me as embarrassing or odd to haul this book around in public with its flashy cover until one day, a virtual stranger came up to me and asked, 'Why are you reading that?' They'd never actually heard of the book, of course, which brings me back around to my book covers argument, which is a whole 'nother deal.

But this is a book review, so I'm going to try to keep it that way.

Apparently, the stars are lined against me when it comes to making actual book talk videos about things, and since my video editing program is refusing to cooperate with me, I thought I might as well jot down a few opinions on this book.

Libba Bray's pretty big in the book community right now. I can see part of the reason why, just by reading BEAUTY QUEENS. She's funny, she's loud, and she gets pretty up-in-your face with her opinions. It's hard to tell what this book was really trying to say: it's obviously meant to be satire, and it certainly doesn't take itself seriously, so it doesn't expect the reader to take it seriously. But it doesn't take a genius to see the social statement that Bray is trying to make in BEAUTY QUEENS.

Girls can act girly and still be badass. {Also a side note of 'gay and transsexual people are nothing to be afraid of!'}

This is a message I approve of wholeheartedly, but I feel like the book was so ridiculous in places that I couldn't enjoy it fully. I laughed at some points, and I definitely can see the charm in it: the little 'commercial breaks' and other creative extras were cute and fun. {I'm never against seeing a couple of spins on the old pen and paper print.} However, sometimes it was all... A bit too much. Also, the plot made no sense whatsoever and was extremely poorly constructed. This is clearly a character-driven book, but the storyline itself just took such a strange turn that I... God.
The basic idea has a lot of potential for humorous shenanigans on its own, but in addition to beauty queens stranded on a desert island, we also get a government conspiracy, Sarah Palin and Kim Jong Il in a heated, backstabbing political love affair, and a boat full of British rockstar pirates who literally appear out of nowhere and contribute basically nothing to the plot. {As you read on, you'll see that I got really pissed off about the British rockstar pirates. Seriously. The only one out of all of them who was just a little bit okay as a character was Sinjin, and yet still, so terrible. Do living people even say 'cor blimey' anymore? Maybe I'm too sensitive, but even in parody, I feel like racial and cultural stereotypes aren't something that people should be okay with.}

Obnoxious British stereotypes aside, the other stereotypes {of feminists, lesbians, etc.} were pretty bad, as well. Still keeping in mind that the book's a parody, I found them pretty obnoxious, and although I did end up liking most of the characters in the end, it was the sole non-stereotyped character that was my favourite throughout the book, so I honestly think they would've been better off without them. 

Speaking of my favourite character, Petra West and the whole transgender front was done spectacularly, in my opinion. Although with the whole princess and the frog thing, I just assumed she was really ugly and had some drastic plastic surgery done that she wanted to keep a secret. Anyway, yes, Petra was my favourite, hands down. She was by far the least ridiculous and easiest to handle. Also, since I don't think there are actual stereotypes for Rhode Islanders, there didn't seem to be any state-ish stereotypes for her character. {I was actually pretty surprised that there was no Miss New York, because that could've been a gold mine of stereotypes.}

The book does this weird thing of switching between arcs following the main characters' development and completely disregarding the rest. We get more development from the Kim Jong Il-clone than we do from Miss New Mexico. {Although I did love Miss NM in the end when she knocked a guy out with the tray in her head. I was concerned, though; what if the tray got pushed in more with the collision? Am I being ridiculous? Yes.}

I feel like I could write an entire essay splitting this book up into the good and the bad, but I might as well just make a list.

Good: Character development, lesson of acceptance, comedy, degradation of the shallow nature of American culture, occasional golden joke, great, consistent tone, creative formats and extras.

Bad: Offensive racial and cultural stereotypes, scattered plot, lots of poor jokes, some of the extras were unnecessary/distracting, uncertain themes, loads of seriously weird shit.

All in all, this is a book I would recommend for someone who's neither too critical nor easily offended and who's looking for a quick, humorous read. Basically, you need a really specific mindset to really appreciate this book, I think.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013


So, today I got this gem in the mail.
Since I ordered four books from betterworldbooks earlier this month, I was obviously expecting my ordered books, and not this one. You can see my reaction in the unboxing video that I'm posting later tonight. {Don't worry, I don't embarrass myself or anything, it's just kind of funny to see my expression instantly change to confusion.}

After doing a subsequent amount of investigation, I realized that this book was actually won by me in a giveaway! {Sorry, BWB.} It's set to be released TOMORROW, so I wanted to make this blog post to brag before other people owned it.
I have a paperback edition that's absolutely lovely and new, and the words inside has that glossy ink that comes with newly printed books. Also, it smells wonderful. 

To be honest, this is the first new book I've owned for a while, so I'm super excited! Thanks so much to the person who sent it to me; I'm definitely going to have to crack this one open over break. <3
{Maybe I should start doing my hauls at the end of each month instead of after each big acquisition of books? Idk.}

Also, as a sidenote, I've been having some weird iMovie problems: When going to play and edit clips, the preview screen will show black, or the frozen part of another clip while the audio is still going. Despite all of the clips being in one video, there's a separate clip at the end of the video that plays just fine, and it's stills from this one that invades the other clips. Does that make sense? I don't know how to explain it; it's really weird and annoying due to the fact that I can't see what I'm editing.
If anyone has a solution for this, that would be lovely.

Library Trip: 1

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quick backstory time: I just got out of a long reading slump {as in several years long} and during that time, I visited the library frequently, always got more books than I could chew without dying of gastritis, and never read any of them. So, as my delight with the literary was rekindled, I made myself a solemn promise: No more hoarding, no more late fees, no more library abuse. Seeing as I have a ton of books that I actually own that still need to be read, I've limited myself to five library books a month. 

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I went to the library today! I'll be making a Library Grabs video later today to showcase them properly, but I'll just list the titles quickly:

1. BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray
2. EON; DRAGONEYE REBORN by Alison Goodman
3. ENCHANTED by Alethea Kontis
4. BEASTLY by Alex Flinn
5. HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick

All of these books are due for return on December 18, 2013. Don't forget!

Anyway, as you can tell, these are all YA titles. This is a personal first for me; I usually scattered my hauls with adult and childrens' books. Again, out of fear of encountering people I know at the library. {I don't know why, but I have an intense fear of seeing people I know in public places. For example, I saw a kid from my school on the library computers today and I literally did everything I could to avoid him. It sounds rude, but I couldn't help it. People terrify me.} Anyway, since I'm forcing myself to try to read YA without my snooty English professor attitude, I snatched up some tidbits that I'd heard a little bit about and left within ten minutes.
All in all, a pretty good library run for me. If you'd like the see the full video of me awkwardly trying to explain the books, I'll link it below:

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's the time-old saying, right? Never judge a book by its cover. We've used this term so often that it's actually become a creed to dictate not only our literary picks but our first impressions of other human beings. Basically, don't make assumptions based on appearances, because you never know what you'll find inside.
Screw that. I'm going to make all of my first impressions based on looks, because, shallow as that sounds, aesthetics are super important to me. I'll be more inclined to be near attractive people, and I'll certainly be more inclined to pick up books with beautiful, artistic, creative covers.
It's pretty simple: I'm a book cover whore. Pretty covers are my greatest weakness. It doesn't matter if I don't know shit about the book inside, or have heard nothing but bad things. If it catches my eye, I'll make a grab for it. Hell, I have an entire shelf on my goodreads dedicated to books with beautiful covers. {I've never even heard of most of them.} Beautiful book covers make me happy. Therefore, I love them.
But for me and people who are like me in this respect, this sort of book-cover bias doesn't necessarily make us evil ugly stepsisters, in my opinion. Some people just like pretty things. Nothing wrong with that.
Than again, it could get in the way of a lot of things, like passing over a potential favourite just because of its poorly designed and unappealing cover. And that kind of sucks.
{On the other hand, however, if I hear a lot of good things about a book, ugly cover or no, I'll eventually want to read it, so I suppose it's not as terrible of an affliction as it could be.}


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

This book, like many others in my life, was recommended to me by my mother. It's a historical fiction novel that doesn't feel like a historical fiction novel in the least. The story follows the lives of two sisters, and the narrator is the elder of the duo, Pearl Chin.

SHANGHAI GIRLS begins in the beautifully captured setting of pre-WWII Shanghai, referred to fondly as the 'Paris of Asia.' The two main characters are introduced as vain, petty creatures who consider themselves to be a representation of the 'modern' Chinese woman. However, their languid, lazy, indulgent lives are disrupted when they discover that they're being pulled into arranged marriages with a couple of Chinese-American sons. And then World War II really hits Shanghai, the Japanese invade, and everything goes to hell from there.

See weaves a marvelously detailed life story with her words, but although I truly enjoyed the book, I found something a bit... Lacking. Pearl, the narrator, recites everything, even her own emotions, in a detached, documentary-style voice. Although I understand why this might contribute to making a point, it made for some flat parts in the book that seemed to ramble on and on in a monotone, and were therefore hard to push through.

The girls go through a lot of shit, and you can really see their characters evolve and develop through the novel, which is excellent, if it weren't for the fact that their lives are constantly being ruined/in a state of ruin. When I read the first few pages, I was certain that I was going to hate May, but she grew on me quite a bit. All of the characters, actually, had true-to-life personalities and were distinctly relatable, although their melodrama seemed slightly exaggerated at times. {I mean, Sam?? Sam?? You were my favourite character, why the fuck did that happen oh god.}

On the other side of the characterization scale, however, Joy's a stupid little bitch. DREAMS OF JOY is the sequel to this book, but I literally hated Joy so much that I don't think I'll be able to force myself to pick up a book named after her.

Stupid characters aside, the thing that blew me away the most about this was probably the fact that I learned so much from it. See opened my eyes–no, actually, she wrenched them open with pliers–to a dark part of America's rich ethnic history that I had always sort of known was there, but had never really wanted to think about. The blatant racism showed against all of the Chinese people in this book, throughout many occasions and spanning over several decades, was disgusting. But I feel like the little things were worse. Of course, the persecution was terrible, but small things like a Chinese person being unable to secure a job in Chinatown, of all places, really hit you.

This book is emotionally striking, sets a vivid setting, and is truly a solid lesson on life and its ups and downs. Mostly its downs, though.

On a final note, there are some extremely sensitive situations mentioned in this book, so while I would recommend it to anyone interested in culture, life, or really, reading in general, I would strongly caution against it for those who are triggered by rape, violence, suicide, and a few others that I will list after looking through the book again. If you're not particularly bothered by these kinds of situations, then by all means, go for it!


Oh No

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I just ordered four books impulsively online because they were on sale. 
It was a good deal, but really, I just went to the discount bookstore last week and emptied my wallet. What the heck is wrong with me.
You guys, this is a problem. A book-buying problem. I mean, I seriously need a restraint order or something. Or an actual job, you know?
What do I have against libraries? Well, I know what I have against library books, but why? Why do I have this deep, insatiable desire to own as many books as possible? I'm like a bottomless pit of book-lust. It's horrifying.
{This is basically my version of teen angst.}


Uglies by Scott Westerfield

   Okay, so this is a really old book.

   I've actually read this one once before, way back in grade school. {That's how freakin' old it is.} It's part of a series, which I'm fairly certain I got at least halfway through, seeing as I own the first two books in paperback. Anyway, I decided to give it another go this month to try to ease myself back into the YA genre, mostly because I recalled it to be a decent read.
   UGLIES is a YA dystopian novel, but it was published before YA dystopian novels became cool in the teen-sphere. The basic premise is set in a world where looking normal makes you 'Ugly.' As an Ugly, you live with other Uglies in Uglyville. {Or something like that. You know, something with 'ville' or 'town' as a suffix.} However, once you hit sixteen, you're carted off for a long and complicated cosmetic surgery ordeal, and when that's done, your entire face changes. You're gorgeous. And it's off across the river and into New Prettyville you go.
   The book is centered around an Ugly named Tally Youngblood. I'm going to lay it out straight for you: she's a fucking moron. But she's not as big of a moron as many of YA literature's heroines, seeing as she has some common sense and is actually somewhat clever and funny. It's just that whole sequence where she tries to decide whether or not the Smoke sucks that kind of ruined her for me. Plus, why the fuck would you throw the necklace in the fire? Obviously there's some kind of fail safe in case you get hurt or killed so the Specials can swoop in and pick up your mangled corpse from whatever pit it fell into. Stupid impulsive teens.
   Anyway, although Tally was all kinds of frustrating, she wasn't a bad character. Overall, I found her to be pretty relatable and very human. There's a noticeable difference between realistically flawed and too stupid to live, after all. However, she didn't really stick out to me: she wasn't very interesting or unique. In fact, most of the cast seemed pretty... Bland. It was mostly world-building that kept me going, which sucks, because, personally, getting immersed in the characters is what really hooks me into a book.
   The plot itself was decent. Not too action-packed, though, and the twists weren't that surprising. Then again, I've read this before, so maybe somewhere, in the back of my subconscious, I was able to see everything coming. Like déja vu.
   I think the romantic elements were handled well, but since I wasn't all that attached to the characters, I couldn't really immerse myself in the romance and love triangle and all of that. Mostly I just sat there, thinking, 'okay, well that happened,' which I don't think is ideal for any romance. However, it wasn't insta-love, and it wasn't forced; you could actually kind of see the characters falling in love, and it was pretty much adorable.
   I don't have a lot more to say about this book, but I might read the sequel, PRETTIES, as part of my Winter Break reading cluster. It should be fun! 



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hey, guys!
So, I was just wondering if anyone else was participating in NaNoWriMo this year. If you are, please comment! I'd love to hear about your ideas for your writing, or even tips and tricks about getting motivated to keep up.
I might actually make a post about my project for this year, but to be honest, I'm not all that enthusiastic about it. {I'm mostly just pleased that I've been able to keep up with NaNo so far this year–that's definitely got to be a first for me!}
Anyway, I've also started a bunch of other side projects besides my NaNo piece, but of course they're progressing pretty slowly in comparison. I could also make a post explaining some of my other projects for this year and the next, as well, if anyone were to be interested in that.
Peace out, and good night! Happy writing!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

By the way, guys, I totally have a Goodreads account. And I'm totally obsessed with it. So, while I try to decide between books to finish, check it out! Stalk me! Add me as a friend, and I'll be sure to spend at least an hour hunting your shelves for new reads.

Insert Appropriate Introduction Here

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hey there!
This will be my first post ever on this blog, which is mostly going to be for personal use and reference, since no one uses blogger anyway.
But for those of you who are wandering around in this desolate wasteland of cook blogs and pregnancy blogs, welcome! As you can probably tell already, this is a book blog. And if you're clever, you'll probably have deduced by now that I am a book-lover.
At this point, I think that's all you really need to know about me as an individual. I mean, I do have a vlog. It's currently video-less, but that should change eventually. Maybe. (If you're more interested in watching people talk about books than reading about people reading books, then I'd suggest some gentle peer pressure in my direction.)
Anyway, I'll be using this blog for the primary purpose of discussing and reviewing books. That means that anyone who's interested will have to step up and participate: don't be shy! I hate that feeling that you get when you're talking to yourself. It's all lonesome and cat-lady like.
On a similar note, book suggestions are always welcome. In fact, they're strongly encouraged. So are goodread friend requests, which I always accept. whispers Always.
I guess that's all I can ramble about for now, so see you next time!