Top Ten Tuesday: Books That I Struggled to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an event hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.   The theme of the week is books that were difficult to read.  I put books that I finished and did not finish on my list.

10)

 

Sigh…this was like visiting an old friend that you used to really click with and now it’s like you’re polar opposites.  I did manage to finish this one hoping that somehow we could reconnect, but I just don’t know if I’ll be continuing.  Melissa’s going to have to up on the man candy on this series for me to continue.

9)

The fact that this is about six foot sexy leprechauns makes me wonder.  The fact that nothing happens except drooling over said leprechaun who is being bewitched by a supposed evil faerie, well, makes it even worse.  And this book took place in Ireland that should equal readable.

8)

I really, really,wanted to gobble this one down, but it took me about a week to read it.  I could never really get into it.  There was just a disconnect with the characters.  Even though there were some things that were really great, it just didn’t quite gel.

7)

I think the cover is trying to hide how shameful this book is.  I struggled through about half, but after the cafeteria vaginal exercises thing I just had to call it a day.  Not my thing, peeps.

6)

Buzz Kill really zapped my buzz for reading.  To be honest, I really get annoyed when I read a novel that’s in first person and the main character talks about four years younger than she really is.  Millie fits this to a T.  Plus, the decisions she makes are just so frustrating throughout the entire book.  I ended up DNFing it which is a shame…but you do what you can do?

5) 

I just couldn’t connect to this one and that’s ultimately why I stopped reading it.  It’s odd sometimes I instantly get engaged with a book, but I couldn’t get hooked into this one.  The main character and I didn’t click and there just wasn’t enough fire power to keep my interest.

4)

This is one of those books where I think pacing issues hindered it.  It has a great premises, but I could never really connect enough with it.  It’s been so long I can’t remember if I DNF’d it or if it took me about a month to read.  Either way it wasn’t that pleasant.

3)

So much potential and then it reads like…like nothing happens and some really lame use of slang.  I kept trying to read this one for a few days before I gave up.  But really, it takes place in WW2 and involves fairytales.  That should’ve been instant interesting.

2)

When I opened this book I was anxious to read it, but with each page turn I got less and less interested.  I think because I just couldn’t (excuse the bad pun) warm up to the character.  That and I was cringing at the things she did.  Note to future books, you don’t want me cringing it makes reading very difficult for me.

1)

Sigh…

It’s another one great premises and then.  It’s odd to explain.  It starts off as the standard Twilight ripoff, then it gets disturbing.  Having taken a course on human trafficking it sort of surprised me just how dark this book got.  A part of me wanted to keep reading, but based on how it focused more on the gag worthy romance than the human traffic issues I just couldn’t.

Virginity in YA: Why Losing Your V Card is a Big Deal in YA

Virginity has always played a role in society.  In the days before modern paternity tests and where heredity controlled estates, I guess I can sort of understand it’s importance…but modern day society it still holds a lot of creed.

In some parts of the world unthinkable things happen when a woman loses her virginity before marriage.

As much as those sorts of things are appalling, I’m not going to discuss them today.  What I am going to discuss is the effect that virginity has on YA.

I think before I start looking at how virginity is portrayed in the genre, I’m going to discuss how I came upon this idea for this post.  I was watching Hocus Pocus.

Yes, that God awful but so bad it’s good Disney movie that stars Bette Midler as an evil witch-ha, perfect casting Disney.  In the movie, there is a huge emphasis placed on the main character’s virginity.  It’s used as a catalyst, a constant joke, and a way to make fun of him.  Emphasis on the him.

It’s funny, since I’ve been reading YA virginity is hardly ever focused on when it comes to male character, it’s almost exclusively a female thing.  Which is a shame.  However, some of these books did discuss virginity when it comes to the male POV a little bit.  Not a lot, mind you, since most of it is viewed through their girlfriend’s POV, but at least we get flashes of it.  And it just alarms me how different its treated.

For the rest of this article, I’m going to be focused on three separate works: The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, and The omnibus Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare.

The Princess Diaries:

This is probably one of the most helpful conversations about sex in YA.  To be honest, I feel like my Meg Cabot books were a better version of sex ed than my actual sex ed course.

I think what I like about Meg Cabot’s portrayal of virginity is she basically states what a farce it is.

While Mia obsesses over virginity and the virginity of her boyfriend in the early novels, she grows up.  She has to go through some pain first, but she does mature.

I really liked the fact that in Cabot’s world not everyone is a virgin and sex isn’t treated like a sin or an after school special.

Okay, so there is one character that sort of gets snapped at, but the person who snapped at him learned her lesson.

The one thing that did bother me about this series portrayal of sex is that it would often make the bulk of the book (see books six and eight).  It made me roll my eyes and want to read something else to be honest.  But I get why she did this.

This series isn’t the only one that Cabot used as a pedestal to talk about safe sex and sexuality in YA.  She also wrote a book (sequel to All American Girl) called Ready or Not which focused on this aspect as well.  In addition to this, several of her other YA books involve sexual relationships too.  Personally, I prefer the books where there’s no “hidden” message.  But I have to give kudos to Cabot for trying and educating.   Also, I’m giving her kudos for taking different approaches to the whole virginity issue.

Interesting to note, is that more recently Cabot has had a trend to have more sexually experienced or non-sex obsessed protagonists that are more willing to get in bed.  I think this is a good thing.  That it shows progress.  To be honest, we shouldn’t be obsessing about sex like Mia does.  However, a portion of teenage girls do.

Twilight:

I chose Twilight, because like Diaries it talks discusses virginity extensively.  However, Meyer takes a different approach than Cabot.  While Cabot gives a more informative view about sex without sounding like a PSA, Meyer’s views have more of a traditional approach.  It’s probably not her intention, and I don’t even know if you’d call the content traditional, but when I read Twilight and read about Bella and Edward’s sexual relationship (or lack of sexual relationship), there are several themes that have almost a traditional vibe  to it.

I think the first thing I need to discuss is the one hundred plus year old version-complete with frozen sperm that just stayed there you know because he never had sex or did anything remotely sexual since before he met Bella. His one true love here.

It’s  a pretty innocent and borderline romantic view at first.  Likewise, is Edward not wanting to be with Bella till marriage.  However, once the relationship is consummated, Twilight probably has some of the darkest sexual undertones to it-which isn’t that surprising since it gave birth to a book where pulling out a tampon is considered sexy.

Dear lord, I really wonder how people read that crap?  It was bad enough on fan fiction but the fact that there’s going to be a movie and…digressing.

Getting back to Twilight…

The darker tones of the aftermath of the act, could be viewed as foreshadowed if we approached the before relationship between Bella and Edward in a different light.

Possession.

Pure and simple that’s how I view Bella and Edward’s sexual relationship.  A mark of possession.  Just like how Jacob imprints on Nessie.

Oh yeah, I went there.  But it is essentially the same sort of thing.  And yeah, Meyer, the whole imprint thing to me is creepy in part because of that.

But think about it?

Edward was not going to do it with Bella till they were married.  From the content of the book, it’s not like he had religious values from waiting. He already condemns himself.

Argument: But he wants Bella to be saved that’s what  he says in the books.

Does he?

He agreed to marry her.  To change her.  I don’t think that’s soul saving.

He was scared about the sex though. I have my own theories about why (cough, he believes he’s  impotent, cough), but that’s not what Meyer was trying to go for.

I find it odd though, that it’s not the marriage that Edward balks more towards, it’s the sex.

Marrying Bella means he’s saying vows to god-it is a sacrament-so since he views himself as a demon….

No.

He ultimately relents though and the sexual relationship between Edward and Bella changes their lives for ever.  You could almost say once he possessed her that’s when he changed her.  Not after the birth from hell (seriously, I think that scene is keeping me child free for several years in the near future).

Though Twilight mostly fades to black during the worst written sex scenes ever, we still see shades of control in the sexual relationship between Bella and Edward.

The broken bed.

The bruises.

The fact that she’s completely alone on the island with only Edward.  Therefore, dependent on him.

She’s nothing more than a toy for him.

Even though you might hate Bedward with a passion, they are not the only couple in this story that has a horrible relationship.  As I previously stated, the wolves are just as bad with their stupid (and in my humble opinion) perverted imprinting.

Though nothing (that I know of) sexually happens between Jacob and Nessie in the novel, there is that same sense of possession  that you see in the Bedward connection.

Jacob follows Nessie around like a lost puppy or a bad Uncle Jesse stand in throughout most of the rest of the novel.  He even takes away parenting decisions that should be made by Bella and Edward.

Again, we have dependency being built.  Again, Nessie is viewed to be more of a possession than a person.

Shadowhunter Series:

While there are a lot of YA series that talk about sex that are out there, I decided to take one of the series that I think handles the subject matter in a grossly inappropriate manner.

I recommend drinking when you think about how twisted the relationships are in this series.

This time it’s not about obsessing over a V card.  It’s about not even taking a remotely realistic path in discussing relationships.

This could actually apply to a lot of series.

However, I think The Shadowhunter Series has some of the most despicable portrayals of sexual relationships in YA literature today.

Virginity often isn’t even really an issue here, because even if the character is a virgin they’re already a pro in bed and want to bone their sibling.

I think the fact that there is no thought involved in the sexual issues going on in this book is what really flummoxes me.

You’d think some of the characters would go on about why they want to bone their sibling, but they don’t.

It’s the same with even more serious issues like rape.

A character  in the novel was almost raped, but was there any fall out from it?

No.  Not really.

Honestly, the reaction is similar to any other sex-capade in the book.

On one hand, I’m glad that sex doesn’t really revolve around the characters’ lives, on the other hand….such a laissez-faire attitude seems a little unrealistic.

I’m sure some would argue that this attitude makes Clare’s characters powerful, but I disagree.  They are abused and don’t do anything about it.  One character gets back together with her abuser at one point in The Mortal Instruments series.

It also adds an unrealistic feeling to these books.  In the Victorian set sub series, The Infernal Devices, the characters are very affectionate with each other to the contrary of the standards and traditions of the time period.

You might find it odd that I don’t like the portrayal of virginity and for that matter sex in Cassandra Clare’s work, since it doesn’t go the traditional precious gift route, but I think Clare’s work is just as bad but in a different way.

It doesn’t educate.  And as I said before it leaves sort of a bad message for cases of abuse that it isn’t that big of a deal.

Concluding Thoughts:

Unless society norms change, sex in YA is probably always going to be a bit of a taboo.

While at best it’s used to educate, often the messages that come from sexual relationships in YA is mixed at best.  Especially when virginity is used as a plot device.

When I started writing this article, I wanted to focus more on gender roles in virginity.  Is virginity treated in YA differently for males than for females?  However, there aren’t that many male centered books where this is viewed as an issue.  In Harry Potter, there isn’t even any talk about losing ones V card.  However, even though there aren’t a lot of male centered YA novels out there that deal with virginity some of the female oriented YA novels have male characters who’s V card comes an issue.  Funny thing though, for these characters it’s often not as big as an issue as it is for their female counterpart.  Even the one hundred something year old virgin (Edward Cullen) didn’t seem to have any problem with it being his first time.  Even more common, in YA is that male characters lost their V card a long time ago like it was something shameful.

But with female characters, it’s viewed as a quote on quote precious gift. In fact, there have been some series (notably, Alyson Noel’s The Immortal series) that use virginity as a plot device.

There have also been books with themes of being a born again virgin.

Which all I have to say is ridiculous.

But on the other side of the coin…you get books like Cassandra Clare’s.  Where sex is treated so blase, that abusive situations aren’t even addressed.

As an adult, reading these books just make me roll my eyes, but to a teen who has little to no sexual education….well….. all I know is that I’m glad there are some books like Meg Cabot’s out there.  Which while not perfect does give a fairly realistic view about sex and protecting one’s self.

The sad thing is that I really see YA evolving in the future.  And even if it does….there are so many issues involved in the V card topic that I don’t know if all of them can be resolved.  In addition to a horrible portrayal on the subject matter, the industry  seems to have only focused on one group of people losing their virginity (straight females) the rest of the population.

Forget it.

It’s Like Gilmore Girls but with Creepy Dolls: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Source: GoodReads

In the mood for some fluff, you might want to give this one a try.

It almost just almost gives pandas a run for its money.

Surprisingly, this is my first Kasie West book.  A lot of my friends in the blogsphere recommend her stuff, so I decided to give one of her books  a chance.

The result: I really, really, liked The Distance Between Us, almost loved it. The reason why I didn’t full out love it, the pacing at the end was a bit off.  However, it didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of the book.

What worked for this book:

I really loved almost all of the characters in this book.

The main character, Caymen, was particularly endearing to me.  Probably because I’m used to people staring at me after I make a joke.  Yes, Caymen shares my sense of humor and West managed to make her snarky without having any true squeam inducing moments.  She’s also just not a one note character.  West makes her complex by giving her insecurities as well.

The love interest is also tolerable.  If you know me, you know that I usually have a lot of issues with YA love interests, but Xander is not a jerk which is a big plus since he’s rich.  Oh yeah, Cayman thinks he might be a jerk, but I love how West twists the cliche to make him not a jerk.

The love triangle, if you could even call it that, is also tolerable.  The other guy isn’t underdeveloped or demonized, and Cayman doesn’t lead him on (much).  Or at least they never really get to the point where it got to where she was really leading them on.

Some of the more minor characters, like the best friend character, the mother, and the grandparents, could’ve been in the book more, but their appearances weren’t insufferable.

Even Cayman’s mom, who I got annoyed with big time, was tolerable for the most part because there were reasons for her actions.

The plot itself was very cute.  Not that complex-it’s a contemporary.  But made for some easy reading.  I really loved how it took place in a doll store of all places.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen such a place be used in a YA book.  It gave me a nostalgia feel about being back into my childhood where my grandma would buy me a porcelain doll every Christmas and I’d sort of be a brat about it then because I wanted an American girl doll.  But now, I love those porcelain dolls more.

What issues did I have with this book?

Well, the pacing was off with really the last third of the book.  All that build up we had lead to a too easy resolution.  I wanted more time with these characters.  Everything just seemed to snap together too fast.

To be fair, I think the ending could’ve worked if it would’ve been expanded on.  There was nothing that had me cringing, but I wanted more.  I wanted to see more interactions with the grandparents.  I wanted more build up for Xander and Cayman to get back together.  I wanted more resolution with the financial difficulties.

Despite these grievances, I am going to recommend this one.  It’s not often that I find a cute contemporary that I think most everyone will enjoy, but The Distance Between Us is just that.  If you’re a West virgin like I was, this might not be a bad place to start.

Overall Rating: B.  Very, very solid and enjoyable.

Editorial: Well, Call Me a Black Sheep

This is going to be more of a personal rant than anything else.

But I’m done.

Completely done with people telling me the following:

1) Your opinion is wrong.

2) Your review is too long and detailed orianted.

3) You’re just being mean to get attention.

4) But you didn’t read the book.

My face whenever I read these comments is just dumbfounded.

Remember the first amendment?

Freedom of expression.

Trust me, there are some very short overly eager reviews that I don’t like, but I don’t comment on them.  I don’t tell them that their fangirling annoys me especially when they skew with ratings (i.e. five star a book before it’s even released).

However, I’m “evil” for writing my opinion.

Well, it didn’t have to be so verbose and/or graphic, MJ.  Or you didn’t have to be so mean about it?

Really?

Do I yell at you for your five million gifs of excitement?

 

The rampant trolling though and accusations get annoying after awhile.  Sure, it’s like swatting gnats away, but some of the things that are said just hurt.

I know I’m not the only one that feels this one.  Megan from Bibliodaze wrote about her experiences with this phenomenon.  The thing is, I don’t consider myself a hater by any means.

Yes, I write a lot of books that I rate low, but I’m honest about it.  I can’t help that I have horrible luck with books and that I’m ultra picky.  I blog as a way to express my opinion. If I wanted to make everyone on the internet happy then, well, I wouldn’t be blogging.

It’s odd that book blogging has become so volatile.  The thing is, I’ve written negative reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp before for restaurants  and hotels I’ve been to and never have gotten the reaction I’ve got for not liking a book.  In the industry I work in, criticism is  a crucial and vital part of the work I do.  Even stranger, as a creative writing major I was encouraged to criticize and to be creative with my criticism.

But with blogging…I’ve been told

A) I’m a bitch.

B) I’m an attention whore.

and/or

C) I’m ignorant. 

Interesting enough, two of these insults have misogynic roots.  That gets me on another rant, but we won’t go there today.

Oh, I’m probably over analyzing about that  (because, you know, I tend to that).

I guess I have the right to defend myself, though I doubt I’ll change anyone’s minds.

A) I’m a bitch:

If you think I’m mean in my reviews.  I’m not.  I’m really not.  I’m a lot more evil in real life-I am a lawyer and a confirmed Slytherin after all.  I think one of the problems that some people find with my reviews is that I tend to do deep analysis, but it’s just the way my mind works. Plus, I’m a sarcastic person by my very roots.  Changing my style to fit a norm is not going to happen.  Plus, it’s my voice when I write.  Even in my five star reviews I’m somewhat sarcastic to a degree.

I’ll admit it though, if there’s something begging to be mocked I’ll laugh at  it (cough, Cassandra Clare’s fifty million shadow hunter books, cough).

And I really do try try to find something positive to say.  I really do.  When I first started this blog, I had my reviews in a form where I made sure to list the books best feature. While the form that I originally used has disappeared for creativity purposes (because come on, writing reviews in  the same format gets boring after awhile) I still try to list something positive in the most dullest of dull books.  But to be honest, sometimes I think it’s meaner to say, well, the cover was pretty but the book sucked.

Plus, my momma always told me there was no bigger bitch than a fake.  So, since I’m honest I guess that would mean I’m not a bitch.

Funny.

And here I thought I was positively evil.

B) I’m an Attention Whore:

Um, have you seen the followers for this blog?  Not that many in comparison to the rest of the blogosphere.  And I really don’t care how many followers I have.  I’m not in it for that.  Or the ARCs.  The main reason I blog is its therapeutic for me.  My cardiologist told me I needed some form of relaxation and this is it.

If this blog entertains you and you like to comment on it or the other places I post reviews and are a nice person more power to you.  I love making bookish friends-especially since my IRL friends think Fifty Shades of Grey is highbrow literature-but if you’re going to be an ass.  Well…I probably won’t like you very much.

Also, for an attention whore don’t you find it funny how I don’t post numerous pictures of myself or  use my real name?

Yeah, no attention of getting famous. In fact, to be honest, it kind of weirds me out when an author will retweet a positive review I’ve wrote.

C) I’m Ignorant

This will turn into a rant about how I didn’t understand the book and/or I’m being mean and horrible and I should consider the authors feelings/career.

A bad review isn’t going to kill a book, guys.

You know what’s going to kill it?  Bad sales.

And with the amount of followers I have, I doubt I’m going to put a dent there.  Oh, I might get a couple of people turned off.  But you know what they say, curiosity kills the cat.

Plus, don’t you think it’s good that someone is actually talking about your favorite author?  Differing opinions make for an interesting conversation.  It brings something new to the table.  And it makes for an entire major.

The thing to me is by trying to dictate this dogma of niceness vanilla-ness you’re eliminating a very valid part of the conversation.  Trying to act like a product is good because the author is a really nice person or you don’t want to ruin their career is sort of silly.

It’s their job.

Honest feedback is critical for them to improve.

Let’s just put it this way: your doctor diagnoses you wrong and you almost lose your foot.  Would you not report him/sue him for malpractice because he’s a nice person?

No.

I get it, a bad book isn’t the same thing as a foot almost falling off.  But it still work product that the author produces.  It’s not a paper baby.  And quite frankly, a mature author knows that not everyone is going to like their book.

I personally don’t view myself as a hater (like many people have called me).  I view myself as a critical review.  Yes, I point out lots of errors, even what many people think are minute errors, because they annoy me.  And I’m expressing my opinion.

Something that seemed perfectly acceptable way back in the 1800s when Charlotte Bronte was ranting about Jane Austen but now…

I think the point I’m trying to make is that not everyone is going to like the way someone reviews, but they should at least have tolerance and not accuse the person writing the review of things and calling them names. It makes you look silly.   People have their own motivations for reading and reviewing and you really can’t judge them.

If you don’t like what they say, don’t comment and write your own review.  It’s that simple.

You’re not going to change how I review.  If you think my reviews are too long, you’ll probably always think they’re too wrong.  Think I’m a Negative Nancy-well, if you really read my reviews you’d know I have given my fair share of three, four, and five star reviews-but I’m still going to have one and two star reviews.  Think I’m overly sarcastic and mean-well, that’s not going to change either.

The thing is, you should learn to tolerate. And just agree to disagree.

For now on, anytime I deal with a troll I’ll be linking this post.  I’m done giving a detailed explanation for why I review the way I do, and I really don’t want to talk about it anymore. The sad fact of the matter, is I shouldn’t have to talk about it.

Toe Pick: The Edge Series by Jennifer Comeaux

I’m sort of into figure skating-big time.  So, if any book YA, NA, or just plain adult has figure skating involved.  So I couldn’t help but devour this series-even though it has a lot and I mean a lot of flaws.

To be fair to the series though, after the first book I sort of knew what I was dealing with so I sort of just dealt with the flaws.  And while I wouldn’t say that it was a perfect read it was an entertaining binge read.

Where We Meet the World’s Dullest Figure Skater: 

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream-to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.

Source: GoodReads

Yeah, Emily is a bit of a dull one.  Though to be fair, she did have a couple of moments.

To be honest, I just wanted to shake her a lot of the time and say grow up.  Especially on the parent front.  But I did enjoy her relationship with Sergei.  They did have chemistry.  And I like that their relationship wasn’t all instantly hot and heavy.  In a weird way, I like the fact that they waited.  Comeaux didn’t make it seem overly preachy and religious.  It was just a simple choice and after Sergei agreed that was that.

Though, I kept waiting them to eventually relent and bone each other.

Because obviously I watch too much daytime television and have not attended mass enough.

The figure skating scenes were done quite well too.  In fact, I’d say this was the strong suit of this series.  All the sequences, the competitions, the coaching, it seemed fairly realistic.  A bit vanilla maybe.  But realistic enough.

What I did have problems with though were the characters.

Emily is a bit of a Mary Sue.  Her mother….God her mother was insufferable.  The sad thing is this installment is the mother character at her best.  She just goes downhill.  I didn’t help that Emily completely let her boss her around when she’s a grown woman.  Have a little backbone, darling.  Mommy shouldn’t have a say in who her twenty-year-old dates.  And for that matter, barge in on her apartment with not even checking with her.

It’s called boundaries.

The side characters also seem remarkably under developed.  I wish that Comeaux would’ve taken more time with Em and Chris’s relationship they are figure skating partners after all.  But you really don’t see Chris, unless there’s a skating competition.

Sergei was relatively interesting.  He had a backstory and I did like that he didn’t pressure Em and in fact pushed her away.  Honestly, he was probably the best character in the book.

In the end, I didn’t love this one or hate it.  I pretty much gave it a middle of the road rating (C+).  While it didn’t thrill me it didn’t have me raging.  If you want a cute skating romance you might give it a try.

The sequels though….

Where I Want Emily to Pick Me Up a Bottle of Vodka from Duty Free so I Can Tolerate her Mother:

Emily’s skating career and personal life have never been more golden. She and her partner Chris have won every competition they’ve entered this season, and she’s found the man of her dreams in her coach Sergei. But when one of the biggest competitions of the year takes Emily and Sergei to Russia, Sergei’s past explodes into the present and makes Emily doubt everything in their future.

Source: GoodReads

Meh.

Besides, expanding on the Sergei backstory this one was really a letdown thanks to Emily and that painted old biddy of a mother of hers.

Oh, and Elena who was borderline slut slammed-thank God, she did not do an actual play on Sergei (I was so betting on it).

You know, this could’ve been an interesting plot to explore, but it was really boring for the most part. Honestly, I can describe the book like this: Emily and Sergei have some cornball cheese scenes, figure skating (which is actually written pretty decently), past secret threatens cornball romance, Emily freaks out, figure skating mishaps, montage time (but without the music), leaves to climactic figure skating scene and romance.

Not at all realistic.

But again, you don’t really read these things for realism.

I think I could’ve handled a lot of this if it hadn’t been for the mother character and for Elena.

At least with Elena, I could sort of understand her emotions.  Though I had a difficult time buying the whole immigration issues for both her and Liza.  But then again, most people aren’t going to have a vein popping after reading this sense they didn’t take immigration law.

They just might have it popping for Elena acting like she stepped out of the cast of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Once again, the worst character goes to the mother.

God, Emily, tell her off.  Bitch slap her.  Cut her out of your life so she won’t waste page count.  You know what, I’ll fix this for you, I’ll write an erotic fan fic scene between you and Sergei  and send it to her.  I’m sure she’ll have a coronary if I say you did it Turkish style or something that sounds borderline provocative since I doubt the prude knows what Turkish style is (probably thinks Downton Abbey is corrupting the youth). And then she can asks you questions about what Turkish style or whatever I say you and Sergei did.

Yeah…she’s that annoying and asks questions that are that inappropriate.

I feel like the entire plot though was just a waste.  As I said before, completely unrealistic and for Emily to be so willing to be a doormat it just has me wanting to shake her.

Grow up girl.

The skating scenes are probably the only thing that kept this book from getting a big fat F.  D.

Why Does This Even Exist? 

Two friends. Two dreams. One night that changes everything…

Ice dancer Aubrey London scoffs at romance. She’s focused on winning a medal at the upcoming Olympics and uses that as her excuse to avoid serious relationships. But when she and longtime friend Chris Grayden are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances, Aubrey finds herself questioning everything she’s ever known about love, complicating her life both on and off the ice.

Pairs skater Emily Petrov embraces romance. She and her husband Sergei still act like honeymooners two years after their wedding. As Emily’s coach, Sergei provides constant support while she prepares to challenge for gold at the Olympics. But Sergei’s support might not be enough to help Emily overcome the one challenge she never saw coming.

With the Games only weeks away, Emily and Aubrey are on the verge of realizing their dreams. But one snowy, stormy night sets in motion a series of events that will test them in ways they never imagined, giving them more to fight for than Olympic medals.

Source: GoodReads

Fuck.

This one was fuck-tapcular. Once again, the best part was the figure skating.  However, unlike the rest of the books where the figure skating seemed fairly realistic there was a plot point that just had me shaking my head.

Like the rest of the book.

First, let’s talk about the structure of this one.  The first two were purely first person.  Throwing a third person POV in addition to the first at this point of the series seems a little odd and made the story feel disjointed.

I honestly wanted to connect to Aubrey, but I really couldn’t.  Her dark past, well, I get how it could affect her, but it’s none of her damn business.  To hate your mother for the choices she made in her own marriage.

Ugh.

So judgmental these characters, I swear.

Oh, and let’s not forget the queen of judgmental herself…Em’s fucking bitch of a mother.  Yeah, I’m cursing when it comes to this character now.

Yes, I wanted to do something like this to her.

Seriously, you don’t lecture your twenty-four year old married daughter about the appropriate use of birth control and go through her stuff.  This character needs boundaries and fast.

She’s not merely a helicopter mom, she goes way beyond that.

Then there’s the whole plot.  Comeaux just had to go with the whole baby plot.

No, I can’t believe that a women rapidly approaching her second trimester would be able to skate in the Olympics with twins.  If you Google pregnancy you’ll find that the symptoms are double with twins.  So, the mere fact she’s not throwing up on the ice  is rather amazing.

I also have to say I just love how its automatic that they’re keeping the babies.  The babies were conceived at a bad time.  At least there could be some talk about termination, and yes I know they’re married but let’s get real here there are terminations in marriages. It just seemed realistic that this should’ve been discussed.

But of course we’re not even going to go there and we’re just going to skate in the Olympics while three months pregnant with twins.

For reals.

I couldn’t even enjoy the gold medal scene because I just kept thinking how stupid this is.  And to be honest, Em never talked about having kids and is totally okay with the idea.

Why is it so hard to believe a woman might not want babies?  Why do babies automatically equal happy endings?

Sigh…

And I didn’t even enjoy the third person romance like I was hoping.

So yeah, compared to the others this one fail on its face.

While the series technically ends there, Comeaux started a spinoff series which I’m going to review in this binge review as well (because I was ill advised to hit the buy button on my Kindle)

Courtney Stronger Than Emily Till She Gets Her Inner Titty Baby On

Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.

The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?

Source: GoodReads

The good news: the main character is more developed in this spinoff for the first 3/4s of the book.  I have to say it’s refreshing to read a character who’s not exactly perfect (unlike Emily).

The sad thing: Josh holds nothing to Sergei and has the personality of a dead noodle.

So it’s essentially the inverse of the Sergei and Emily narrative.

I do think that Comeaux has developed as a writer.  The prose was much easier to read in this one.  And as always her figure skating scenes were well written. And I was a little stunned by them.

Character development is still a major weakness of hers though.  As well as melodrama…

That ending.

Man, did it make me hate Courtney who I actually had liked up until that point.

Why did you do that Comeaux?  It made Courtney seem just so childish and then there’s some moments of stupidity I just wanted to hit my head on the desk.

I also wonder how old Courtney is.  Her best friend is a fifteen-year-old and that seems a bit awkward for a twenty something.

The chemistry between Josh and Courtney was luke warm at best.  I didn’t really feel connected to either of them when they were together, and though Courtney’s actual partner might have better chemistry-alas, that was not meant to be.

I think with this one you might want to check it out if you had any old interest in the original (parent) series or are a huge fan of figure skating.

Overall Rating: C+

Overall Thoughts:

These books are quick reads.  Like with Vampire Academy they’re not great literature.  They’re not even on the same caliber as Vampire Academy, but they were still interesting enough for me to pickup.

Grade: C

Fucked Up YA Adaptions: Beautiful Creatures

Unlike most of the films I view, I haven’t actually read Beautiful Creatures.

I’m actually surprised it’s sort of got past my radar. Especially after I watched the movie, because something that God awful my curiosity streak would be like MJ totally check it out at the library.

Yeah…don’t plan on doing it anytime any soon.

Unless the book is a dramatic improvement from the movie.  Because God…dear lord.

This film makes City of Bones look like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Vampire Academy look like it should be Oscar nominated worthy.  And it even makes me long for the days of the cringe worthiness of The Princess Diaries 2 and Avalon High just because it would keep me awake.

Oh, yes.  Beautiful Creatures made me want to go asleep the same way Twilight did.  But  The Twilight Saga is an overall better film franchise (not that this one will ever get a sequel).

So, what went wrong besides the use of Twilight boring cinematography and a script that look like it was written by Maleficent?

Lots of things.

I think what really bothered me, before we continue this discussion any further.  Is the fake Southern accents.

I like in Texas.  While it’s not a full forced Southern drawl here, I can still tell what a real deep South accent sound like and most of the cast does not have it.  Unless they want to be an extra from the Sweet Evil trailer.

 

Also, other Southern stereotypes really had the eyes a rolling.

Just because someone lives South of the Mason Dixon line does not mean they are backwards.

However, try telling this movie otherwise.

The actors were pretty bland.  While there were some famous faces peaking through as supporting roles, the leads though were just, well, boring.  I couldn’t connect with these characters.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I guess the best way to describe Beautiful Creatures is Twilight with the gender roles flipped.  And oh, witches and magic are involved instead of vampires (hence, the Maleficent reference).

Or at least that’s what I got out of the movie.

Of course, there were subplots that I didn’t really pay attention to.  Because this was one of those movies, you just couldn’t pay attention to.

Which is sad, because from what I got I think the subplot could’ve been the most interesting part.  Besides, all the historical inaccurate Civil War flashbacks that looked like they came right out of of Eclipse (well, hello Major Whitlock).

Honestly, from what I saw the movie really felt phone in.  It was like all you need to sale a YA movie is starcrossed love.  Some lame magic.  And two teenagers that are relatively attractive.  Get some big names to make some cameos and instant success.

It didn’t work though.

Honestly, when Beautiful Creatures first came off I had to run a GoodReads search to remind myself just what book this was.  Maybe if I read the series, I would’ve felt some more engagement to it.  But just as a movie, it didn’t work.

This is actually a shorter review than I usually give, but I really don’t have a whole lot to say about this movie.  Save for the horrendous accents, there’s nothing remotely interesting about it.  Or really anything to talk about. Just Boring.

Overall Rating: Snore. D. Look, it didn’t offend me or anything but it didn’t interest me as well.  Paying attention to this one was more difficult than it should be.

Binge Reading: The Rest of the Vampire Academy Series

I had read Vampire Academy and Frost Bite a long time ago (last year).  Because of library delays and holds, I sort of put this series on the back burner until I saw a few of my blogging cohorts binge reading it and was like.  Why not?

So I binge read it.  And ordered the Bloodlines series because after this binge I need more Adrian.

Not so much Rose though.

Who can just stuff it (okay, I do like you Rose but you really need to grow up some).

For this binge review I’m going to talk about the last four books briefly then do an overall series review.  It’s probably going to come up to be a very long review though-it’s four books-but I’m going to try to be as brief as possible.

 

Shadow Kiss: The Book Where Mead Has Guts

It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She’s having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all… might be seeing ghosts.

As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose’s forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line – and choose between the two people she loves most.

Source: GoodReads

This is the way to write a book.

It’s probably one of the strongest books in the series (I should probably review the first two books just to make sure, but it was awesome).  Oh, there were some issues.  Like I got annoyed with the pacing of a certain romance.

Seriously, you go from repressing your feelings to going horizontal?

Grant it, the ending of the book sort of made sense why they went that far.

That aside though.

Perfection.

While Vampire Academy is not exactly the greatest literature known to man kind, these books can keep you entertained.  Which was what Shadow Kiss did. I was on the edge of my seat.  And not bored once. Even the boring scenes were entertaining.

I think what I liked best about this particular installment was the character development.  Not so much for Rose, but for the minor characters in the series.

One thing I love about Vampire Academy is its large supporting cast.  With the exception of a certain love interest, most of these characters are well formed and I love how their relationships play off of each other.

For example, I love the growing Rose/Christian friendship and the Rose/Adrian relationship.  Of course, the Rose and Lissa friendship is still great to read about too.

The action towards the end of the novel is pretty pulse racing.  And that ending.  I know a lot of people are probably NOT going to like what happen. But I like how gutsy it was (if only the resolution was that gutsy).

So, other than horrible romantic pacing.  The third book in the series is a winner for me.

Overall Rating: A-/B+

Blood Promise: The Book Where I completely Hate Dose

Rose Hathaway’s life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose’s neck, a mark that says she’s killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters … Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life’s vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir’s and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

Source: GoodReads

This was probably my least favorite out the series.

Just going to say it now.

I lost a lot of respect for Rose in this one and I really feel like about two hundred pages could’ve easily been chopped off without much thought.

Let me just start by saying up till this book I didn’t hate Dose (Rose and Dimitri).  Yes, I thought their relationship bordered on Sexual Harassment Panda territory and that Dimitri could do with some character development, but they weren’t horrible together.

They had chemistry.

Sort of squeamish chemistry.

But chemistry.

But this was the book where I really can honestly say I can’t stand them together.

The relationship was borderline icky before because there was power issues, but now  it’s downright abusive.

And yes, I know Dimitri can’t help it that he’s a Striogi but…but..Rose have some self respect.

You have a guy like Adrian there for the taking, yet you want a guy that basically has turned you into a blood whore.

Little Life Lesson:  locking someone  up in what’s the equivalent to the Plaza’s version of a padded cell then taking your blood each night to slowly coerce you into becoming a blood thirsty monster does not establish a good relationship.  Especially when you never really touch upon this issue in the later book.  And.  You.  Have.  A. Guy. Like. Adrian.

Yeah, my frustration with Dose is obvious.  But even if it wasn’t for the painful destruction of the Dose relationship in this book, it still would be my least favorite.

As I said before, pacing is horrendous.  While I do like the introduction to both Sydney and Abe, I really could’ve cared less about Dimitri’s family and their mourning-really, a guardian didn’t break the news to them- and the Lissa subplot was a snooze fest at best.

Blood Promise, unfortunately, is just one of those books that has middle book syndrome all over it.

Rating: C.

Spirit Bound: The Book Where I Let Fan Fic Take Over

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won’t rest until Rose joins him… forever.

Source: GoodReads

Better than Blood Promise.

But once again, about a hundred or so pages could’ve been easily cut. Especially at the end.

Honestly, I would’ve been fine had this been the series ender.  I thought the Dose relationship could’ve ended quite nicely here.

Yeah, there I am going off about Dose again.

But seriously…

All Dimitri is, is a prize.  And this book sort of solidifies that.

While Adrian is a real character…

Well, his romance with Rose lasts more than half a page

Sour ships….I swear.

I will give Dimitri this, when he’s crazy.  I like him and Rose better.  I think mainly because they work well as antagonists.  The fact that they are so in sync with each other makes them great adversaries.  I think that same reason is why I don’t see them so much together.

That aside though, I did like parts of Spirit Bound the side characters once again stole the show.  I grew to like Lissa a bit more with this installment and Eddie also grew on me.

I also liked the development on spirit magic.  The world building aspects here were quite well done.

Additionally, I liked the whole quest that took up the first 2/3 of the novel.  However, once that part of the book is over.  It takes a nose dive to make a plot device for what really is an unnecessary six book.  Which is a shame.

Overall Rating: B

 

Last Sacrifice: The Book Where I Wonder Why it Ever Exists

They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won’t give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri’s face join Lissa’s. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose – for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back…and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Join Rose, Dimitri, Adrian, and Lissa in Last Sacrifice, the epic, unforgettable finale to Richelle Mead’s international #1 bestsellingVampire Academy series.

Source:  GoodReads

And this is where I get nasty.

Why?

I have so many problems with this particular installment (though it’s still better than Blood Promise) but so much of it is unnecessary.  And Rose has regressed and is now constantly pissing me off.

Thank God for the side characters.

Particularly Adrian and Sydney.

So, yeah.  Sort of glad Sydney is getting her own spinoff (with Adrian).

Unlike Rose, she’s a little bit more pragmatic and not ridiculously impulsive.  So that’s a good thing.

I give Adrian points for being Adrian and telling off Rose, the way I wanted to tell off Rose for about three hundred pages.

Seriously, girl, you were being ridiculous.  And it’s not just because my ship sank.

But God….

I swear I wanted to pound you a lot in this unnecessary volume.

And your response was so cliche, so self absorbed, well, I’m glad we’re done so I won’t have to take you off of my favorite YA MCs list because you were really  not going to be there anymore.

Anger with Rose aside, the book really felt unnecessary.  The whole plot just sort of seemed thrown together to have a sixth book and honestly I don’t want to read a sixth book unless there’s a purpose-that is other than to get a slightly icky couple together.

Overall Rating: C+

Overall Thoughts:

The first half of Vampire Academy is outright fantastic.  It reminds me of a vampire version of The Mediator.  It’s that good.  However, the second half of the series (while having its moments) does drag. And I feel like Rose has regressed as a character.

And it’s not me having sour ships.

I just feel like the series was more evolved than its ending.  And that to ge tthe ending that was intended, Mead had to regress the characters a bit.

Does that mean I regret reading this series?

Hell no.

It’s entertaining.  Rose can occasionally have a quip that isn’t eye roll worthy and the action sequences can be mildly entertaining.  Even exhilarating at time.  But I feel like it was dragged out too long.  Some editing was definitely needed.

And yeah, not that happy with the endgame, but I’ll live.

Series Rating: A solid B.  While the first half kicked my ass, I wanted to kick the ass of the second half.

What Would the Characters from the Pushing the Limits Series Wear?

What Would _____ Wear is probably one of my favorite features. Mainly because it gives me a chance to get shallow with books.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this feature, this is where I design sets (via Polyvore) based on what I think a character (or series of characters) would have in their wardrobe.

Today, I decided to focus my efforts on Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series.  I chose this series in part because the covers are-like them or not-vivid.  You really get a visual of what the characters look like and likewise you can sort of make wardrobe assumptions as well.  It also helps (obviously) if you read the books.

The series itself are more or less standalone romances that take place in the same universe each character has their own unique identity.

Untitled #64
Echo is the most artistic out of the group.  She also has experienced severe trauma which puts an impact on some of her wardrobe choices.  Gloves are a must wear accessory for her in the book.  In the set I tried to create a look I call quasi conservative artist.  Meaning, for the most part I chose a rather muted pallet that has a flowy style about it.  The good thing about this look is that a lot of the pieces I found were long sleeve which is perfect for Echo.  There is one scene in the book where she departs from her usual look to go to a dance, hence the pretty beaded green dress.  I chose this particular dress because of its silhouette.  Unlike the other dresses I saw, I liked the sleek look this dress had.
Untitled #65
Beth and I are probably on opposite ins of the style spectrum, but I had a fun time looking at stuff for her.  She’s described as looking like a skater girl/ biker.  She also likes ripped up jeans.  I don’t see her really wearing anything particularly girly, but if she does wear a dress (like to Homecoming with Ryan) it’s going to be in black.  While I tried to keep her wardrobe rather simple and to the point, I did throw in a couple of fun pieces.  The red leather jacket’s one of them.  I like the pop of color.  And while it probably was out of Beth’s initial budget, I can see her maybe purchasing something like this at the end of the book.
Untitled #66
While I think Rachel would like nothing more than wearing a simple t-shirt in jeans, I just don’t see her wearing a lot of them much to her disdain.  Ultra girly clothes would fill her wardrobe, probably a result of her mother.  I could see her trying to dress down some of the looks her mother bought her.  Notably, I could see her doing this with her separates (hence, the plethora of skirts in the set).  I do think that even though she wouldn’t choose to dress the way she does, Rachel would have immaculate taste.
Untitled #63
Haley probably has the simplest style out of the lot.  I think you’d typically find her in jeans, a tank top, and a hoodie.  Though if the occasion did arise, I do see her throwing on a dress and a pair of flats.  The dresses would have to be simple though.  I don’t see Haley really dealing with ruffles or long maxi-dressses.  Also, I see her carrying a backpack more than a purse.  I think a part of this might be based on her living situation, but at the same time I don’t really see her as the complicated type when it comes to clothes.  However, simple works for her.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Fall Picks

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Broke and Bookish for the list obsessed.  If you’re interested in joining or finding out more about it click here.

The topic this week is top fall picks.  Honestly, I was a little meh about this because I’ve been doing lots of posts over books I want to read this fall.  However, I did try to mix it up a bit so that it won’t sound too much like a broken record.

10)

Because it’s a Snow White retelling and it looks like it could be a bit of a Lunar Chronicles ripoff.  But since Winter has now been postponed till late winter 2015, I’m going to have to settle with this one.

9)

This book is pitched as Grimm meets Wicked meets The Handmaid’s Tale meets Disney, and I’m just sort of curious how all those things can meet with each other and be an actual coherent book.

8)

Please don’t be like Firelight.  Please don’t be like Firelight.  My overall relationship with Kagawa books have been sort of mixed. I could never really get into the Blood Eden series and while I did like her Iron Fey series I never really found enough time to finish it.  But dragons….

7)

I’ve been eating up anything that has alternate realities in it lately.  And I really love the cover for this one.  Plus, with Claudia Gray books I can always count on one of those cheesy feel good romances that I love to read (though I don’t admit to love reading about them).

6)

Probably one you’ve seen on various list on mine a lot.  But I’m really looking forward to this mainly because Of Beast and Beauty was just fantastic.  Plus, there’s gender bending.

5)

I really liked the first one in this series, though admittedly its a series that I think is going to be hit or miss with a lot of people. I like the fact that Blake doesn’t have any qualms about using strong imagery.  And the plot is interesting enough.

4)

I find the first book interesting.  Yeah, the romance really didn’t appeal to me, but I liked the plot.  And I think things could get interesting.  I am a bit weary though.  I liked the first book of Carter’s Goddess Test trilogy too and then…well, read my reviews.  You’ll see (shudders).

3)

It looks like it could be a cute little contemporary.  And I love contemporaries.  So, I’ll probably be giving it a try.

2)

It’s about astrology.  Enough said.

1)

I have a feeling this could either be really good or not so good.  I’m hoping for really good.  I mean, can you imagine how hilarious this one could be.  Hopefully, the MC won’t be as monotone as K Stew.

Fucked Up YA Adaptions: What Makes a Successful Versus a Flop YA Adaption

I’ve watched several YA adaptions and I’m now sort of seeing a pattern in what makes a successful transition in media versus a flop.  So, today I thought that I’d discuss what sticks out to me with the more successful adaptions versus (well, the flops):

1) Choose the Right Medium:

This is where I think a lot of poorly received adaptations failed. Let’s face it, some books are better off as TV shows than movies and vice versa.

Two particular adaptions stuck out for me in this category, those being Vampire Academy and City of Bones.  Both of these books had multi book series and spinoffs built off of them.  Trying to condense that into ninety minute segments for multiple times might not be the way to go.  Sure, there are some large series (Harry Potter) that were successful movie wise.  But really besides Potter, most of the successful adaptions have been smaller series.  Trilogies.  Four book series.

So, what’s the deal?

Larger series are harder to fund for one reason.  Keeping the cast is more difficult.  And staying true to the original script is even more difficult.

A TV medium would allow more flexibility and while it wouldn’t be an exact derivative of the series, it would allow such an adaption to do more with the series.  While the special effects might be cheaper, more could be done.

And it has been done.  The CW has taken a lot of long going series and turned them into big market shows such as The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.  Lifetime has adapted Melissa de la Cruz’s adult witchy spinoff of the Blue Bloods universe into a show of its own as well.  While there have been certain changes made from the original series (Witches of East End), the TV show format seems to be a better fit for the universe because it allows this growth.  Movies can limit a series since their suppose to be more compact.

Likewise, some YA TV adaptations or attempts at TV adaptations might be better off as a movie.  Remember, The Selection?  Oh, you wouldn’t since it never got past the pilot stage (twice).  And the thing is, had they tried to adapt this as a movie instead of a TV show I actually think it might’ve succeeded.  Because the plot and the world seemed to be more contained to a movie than a TV show.

Really, how many seasons can America whine over Maxon versus Aspen?

Definitely not eight.  I don’t even think I could watch one season.

2) Looks Matter:

Sometimes these adaptations are just hideous to look at.  Everything just seems off.

Yes, but everyone’s imagination different and it’s not like you’re going to find an entire cast  of how you imagine the characters.

Yeah, but sometimes the shallowness goes beyond having Edward Cullen played by Henry Cavill’s hotter younger brother. Sometimes the movie or TV show just looks off.

In paranormal YAs this is often seen with poor CGI.  I can still remember the first time those wolves came out in New Moon all the fangirls in the theater glared at how much laughing I did.

And Vampire Academy, don’t een get me started at how wrong everything looked.

When your love interest immediately makes you think Professor Snape, you know there’s something wrong there.

But can looks really make up for an otherwise poorly cast movie?

Well, yeah.

Look at Twilight.

Robert Pattinson is not how Edward Cullen is described in the books (Meyer explicitly stated  that she imagined Henry Cavill at one point), but the styling made all the difference.  Well, it made him stomach-able enough where every fangirl had a crush on him that they could ignore the fact he didn’t look like Superman.

Same goes with The Princess Diaries.  While Mia didn’t look like Ann Hathaway, Hathaway was styled to look enough like Mia where I could give her a pass.

However, when styling goes wrong.  Forget it.

In addition to Dimitri’s awful Snape hair, other YA adaptations have been marred from poor visual cues.  In Beastly, Alex Pettyfer’s transformation to horrible looking beast never resonated  on me.  Because he didn’t look bad.  Just more like a bald guy with some facial scars with tats.  And honestly if I wanted to find a guy like that I’d just turn on TLC or go to my local Valero station.

3) Source Material

Yep, this one matters.  As many changes as you can make, you’re not going to be able to do a complete do over with the source material you buy.  Unless, of course, you don’t even attempt to do an actual adaptation and this has been done-see Lifetime’s adaptation of Meg Cabot’s 1800 Where R U.

However, if you try to follow the source material-at least where it’s recognizable-if the source material is bad the movie’s probably not going to be great.  Breaking Dawn  is a prime example of it.  The first half is almost unwatchable because of the horridness of the plot, and even though drastic changes were made to the second half it’s tolerable at best.

Even if the source material is arguably decent, if the book is followed too closely it can often hinder an adaptation.  City of Bones is a prime example of this.  While parts of the movie diverge greatly from the movie, there were scenes that were so faithful to the book it hindered them.

Yeah, I’m talking about that infamous falcon scene.

Knowing when to diverge from the book is important.  When done correctly it can make the film a success.  The first Princess Diaries film is a perfect example.  While that movie differed greatly from the source material, the changes that were made weren’t extreme enough to change the spirit of the story and made sense.

I mean, does anyone really think Mary Poppins could play a psycho grandma?

Though I do hate the fact they killed the dad character.  He was awesome. Just saying.

Concluding Thoughts:

Obviously, these are not the only factors that make or break a successful adaptation.  But I do think they are important to consider.

So, what do you think?  Is there anything that you notice that makes a movie or TV show version of a book better or worse from other adaptations?