Oh. My. Gods.: Tera Lynn Childs

Here’s another installment of our quasi Greek week.  As previously stated, Tera Lynn Childs is one of my favorite authors.  I think it’s in part because she writes such sweet relatable characters.  Lily the mermaid, for instance, is just downright adorable, and Phoebe (the heroine of Oh. My. Gods.) is just as enjoyable to read about.  Though instead of having getting adjusted to the normal world, Phoebe has to get adjusted to the paranormal or should I say the mythological world.

General Summary: Phoebe is enjoying her life in sunny Cali.  She’s a senior, is about to get that dream scholarship to her dream school, etc. when he mom drops a bombshell.  She’s getting married and Phoebe’s moving to Greece like it or not for her senior year. There’s a catch though you see the high school Phoebe is attending isn’t just in another country but the kids who attend it are the descendants of the Greek gods.  Yep, gods.

Review: I liked this book.   It was super cute.  It was definitely Greek mythology lite after such books that dealt with Greek myths such as Abandon  and The Goddess Test.  But I really liked Oh. My. Gods I think what appeals about the book is that Phoebe was so relatable.  I also liked trying to figure out each characters god/goddess.  There was one scene in particular that stood out when Nicole was explaining to Phoebe who was related to who in the book.  It was a bit like this, but with mythology.

Best Feature: Lightness.  This book is like a 3 Musketeers bar.  Pure fluff.  After being forced to read some rather heavy subject material,  it was nice to read such a light book.  Also it takes place in Greece, so if your stuck in a study room all day it’s nice to occasionally open this book between breaks and find yourself in an island in the Aegean.

Worst Feature: A little too perfect.  While I liked how everything wrapped up in this book.  It might have been a little too perfect.  Yes, I liked the twist Tera threw in there at the end, but it just made a big part of the book obsolete (I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t read the book yet).

Blockbuster Worthy: I think it was optioned a few years ago, though that has long expired.  But yeah, this book could make a great movie.  But it probably would be best as  a TV movie.  One of those cute, fluffy, if a wee bit embarrassing ones you’d permanently  DVR when it was on Disney Channel or whatever.  And watch whenever you have a particular bad day of school/work with a half of gallon of Chunky Monkey by your side.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Phoebe: Amanda Bynes, via What A Girl Wants era would be perfect for the role of Phoebe.  She sort of looks like a runner and I can totally see her playing Phoebe.

Griffin: Though he is no longer a teen, Tom Welling just looks like Griffin to me.  Curly dark hair, blue eyes.  Equals perfect for the role.

Nicole:  I really couldn’t find a perfect Nicole.  I think had Alyssa Milano been younger (like say first season Charmed, young), she would be a pretty good Nicole.  But I can’t find any actress that screams her as of now.

Troy:  Drew Garrett.  At first I was thinking Chad Michael Murray, but I think Drew sort of looks  more like Troy than Chad did in the past.

Overall rating: Eight out of ten laurels

Abandon: Meg Cabot

Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Greek mythology week at YAL Book Briefs.  Truth is, originally it was supposed to be.  However, since finals have gotten the best of me and postings will be sporadic at best between now and May 9th (though I still intend to post for Series Saturday after this) it’s more like two books that are Greek/Persephone related this week.

General Summary: The past few years have not been good for Pierce.  Besides almost dying, she has literally became a social pariah of sorts and her parents have decided to divorce (in large part because of the incident that occurred to Pierce, a.k.a. she almost died because of her inattentive dad).  Obviously, Pierce isn’t happy when she has to spend her last year in high school in her mom’s old home town especially because he’s always there.

Review: I liked this book.  I really liked this book.  A lot of reviews I have read had issues with the flashbacks in the book, believing that it held back present action.  And this was true to a degree, but I really liked the flashbacks.  They reminded me of the digging deeper exercise that I was forced to endure in college in my creative writing class.  The flashbacks really gave the reader a good understanding of Pierce.  Although, admittedly I do think Cabot probably could have spent a little more time in the present.  There were a lot of things that weren’t fully fleshed out, but I guess that’s why the book is meant to be the first part of a trilogy.

Best Feature: John.  Meg always writes amazing heros and John is no exception.  He’s a little darker and more brooding then your typical Cabot hero.  He sort of reminds me of a non-sleazy version of Paul Slater (from Cabot’s The Mediator)  which is a good thing since I enjoyed the character of Paul save for his sleazy bits.  Though I will say that John is superior to Paul, just saying.  And  I liked the sense of mystery we got from him.  And you can just tell things are going to get pretty hot and heavy between him and Pierce in the next few books.

Worst Feature: Balance.  While I appreciate the flashbacks, even loved them,  there really could be a bit more present action in the book.  I think had there been certain aspects of the story that would have been fleshed out a bit more, I could have sunken my teeth a bit deeper into Pierce’s world and have gotten a little better handle at how things go on in her world.  For example, I don’t get why she was deemed to have rage issues.  Yes, there were incidents in the past.  But they can’t directly connect them to her and the circumstances surrounding that particular incident that she got expelled over.  Well, personally  I’d be okay with her having rage issues over that particular incident.  Anyway, Pierce is not punching people left and right like Jessica Mastriani or getting into all the sorts of trouble like Suze Simon got into, yet she’s treated like some sort of  insane criminal at  her new school.  I think some more present action with Pierce  would have helped show why she had rage issues and why people act like she’s a ticking time bomb.

Blockbuster Worthy: Maybe.  It is definitely an interesting set up for sure, but I’d like to see how the trilogy develops before I make up my final mind.  But so far it looks good, mainly because of the character John.

Pierce: I think Brittany Underwood would handle the role well.  She looks sort of like the girl on the cover of the book.  Plus, she can definitely act like a sweet but troubled girl.

John:  Taylor Kitsch.  Yeah, age wise it’s sort of pushing it.  But he sort of has the John look about him, especially when he has longish looking hair.

Mr. Mueller:  It was a small role, but I just kept seeing Matthew Morrison in this role throughout reading this book.  Perhaps, he is being typecast as the cute teacher.  Though I don’t think his character on Glee would act like Mueller does in the book. At least I hope not.

Pierce’s mom: Florencia Lozano.  I think she just looks the part to play Pierce’s mom. Whose role, I think, due to the myth could be expanded in the future books.  Then again, I might be wrong because obviously  I’m not  the great Meg Cabot.

Overall Rating: Eight Six out of ten laurels.  I think once all the books are published the rating could definitely be pushed to a nine or quite possibly a ten.  But as of now, there were a few bothersome things about the book.  But it was enjoyable, so enjoyable that I read it all last night despite the fact that at this point in my life I am extremely sleep deprived.

The Goddess Test: Aimee Carter

The myth of Persephone and Hades is probably one of the more famous Greek myths.  For those who don’t know the backstory basically Hades (God of Death) kidnaps Persephone and takes her the underworld intending on making her his wife.  Meanwhile, her mother Demeter (Goddess of Agriculture) throws a huge fit about it-the world goes barren with her grief- and this eventually  gets Zeus (king of the gods) to go over to Hades’ place and ask the god to return Persephone to her mom.  Only there’s a catch because Persephone ate some pomegranate seeds she has to spend a portion of her time in the underworld with Hades each year.  The myth to say the least is rather controversial, for many reasons, and there have been several adaptions over the years.  Including Aimee Carter’s  The Goddess Test.

General Summary: As one of her mother’s final wishes, Kate Winters moves from NYC to her mom’s hometown.  To say the least, Kate is not impressed.  Especially after she makes a bargain with a strange mysterious boy that requires her to live in his house, isolated from the rest of the world, for six months.  This strange boy happens to be Hades (God of the underworld, though he’s going by the name Henry now). And if Kate can succeed she’ll be a goddess herself.

Review: There were parts of this book that I really loved.  I thought the general idea was pretty brilliant, it also doesn’t help that I’m a bit biased since I love Greek mythology.  However, the book just seemed to drag as the plot developed.  I think a part of this was a lack of action with a title like The Goddess Test, I expected there to be a little more emphasis on the test aspect of the book.

Best Feature: Murder Mystery Plot.  Though there’s not an actual murder in this book, save for the prologue, Kate is trying to figure out whose trying to kill her throughout the book which gives the book a dark and creepy feel which I like.

Worst Feature: Lack of action.  As previously stated, large parts of this book dragged on with little to no action.

Blockbuster Worthy: Maybe.  The general concept is good, but the lack of action is going to kill the movie unless they do one big montage sequence throughout it.  Actually, they’d probably have to do a couple. Here’s who I’d cast:

Kate: Emma Roberts would be great I think.  She has that girl next door look, but at the same time can play strong characters.

Henry: Honestly, Henry is probably the hardest character to cast.  I can’t think of anyone off of the top of my head that would do him justice.  Some might argue that this guy might be perfect for the role given that he is currently king of the undead.  But no.  Henry deserves more than Mr. Sparkely can offer.

Ava: Resse Witherspoon, via Election, would have made for the perfect Ava.  Alas, Resse has grown up and is no longer age appropriate for the role.  However, Lea Michele makes for an excellent second choice-and yeah, I know she’s not blonde.  But it’s attitude people.

Diana: Felicity Huffman.  I just see her playing this role for some reason.  Maybe because he character on Desperate Housewives is strong willed and she has dealt with characters suffering from serious diseases as well.

James: I have such a vivid picture of James.  No actor really does do him justice.  Though perhaps Austin Williams could play him.  Though he’d definitely would have to bleach his hair.

Overall rating: Six out of ten laurels.

The Gathering: Kelley Armstrong

I am a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series.  So when I heard she was writing a spin off to those books I was like why not and decided to pick myself up a copy of The Gathering.  For all fans of the Darkest Powers series, be forewarned the books are related, but you’re not going to see Chloe  or any of her friends making any cameo appearances in The Gathering.

General Summary: Maya has a pretty sweet life.  She has loving adopted parents, great friends, and a town that she loves.  However, as content as Maya’s life is there are some things bothering her.  Like, the death of her best friend Serena.  Life gets even more complicated when the new guy in town is strangely attracted to her.

Review: I thought The Gathering was a pretty strong start to what will undoubtedly be a great trilogy.  Maya was a pretty strong voice that was very different from Chloe, yet she was still very likable.   I found her interest in nature to be particularly interesting.  And original.  It’s not like you get many YAL main characters these days who are interested in animals unless they’re werewolves.  Speaking of werewolves, there were none here like in the Darkest Powers series, but  Armstrong does add a little bit of the paranormal to Maya’s woodsy friends.

Best Feature: Native Culture. Not only does Armstrong rely on Native legends to supplement the paranormal world in the book, but she also explores Native identity/culture in the modern world with Maya’s past.

Worst Feature: Small Town Stupidity.  Sad to say there was a bit of it here.  Seriously, you’d think that more of the citizens of Vancouver Island would be a bit more suspicious of their employer.  My guess is that a few of them might know more than they’re letting on.

Blockbuster Worthy: Duh.  Of course it is.  There’s enough action in this book for a  summer blockbuster.  Here are my picks.

Maya: An unknown.  Out of al the Native/Native looking actress I know of/saw pictures of on IMBD, I can’t find one that really fits how I see Maya.  Julia Jones is probably the closet one I saw, but since I already casted one Twilight Saga person for this book and since she seems a little too old to play Maya, I think an unknown would be better.

Rafe: Taylor Lautner. He played a wolf and I think he can man it up to play Rafe.  It also helps that he can pass for either being Native or Latino.

Daniel: Brandon Buddy.  I can totally see him playing Daniel.  He can play protective best friend pretty well.

Overall: Eight out of Ten paw prints.

Paranormalcy: Kiersten White

Occasionally there will  be a book that just jumps out and surprises you with how unexpectedly good it is.  Paranormalcy is that sort of book.

General Summary: Evie works for the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency) think INTERPOL meets Ghost Busters.  To sum it up bluntly, Evie helps protect the world from the creepy weird.  Quite the job for a sixteen-year-old.  But Evie’s not your average teenage girl.

Review: This book really surprised me in a good way.  I was a bit unsure when I bought it because I have this phobia when it comes to any fae/fairy related book.  But luckily for me faes weren’t the primary focus of the book.  Rather, it was about Evie and her discovering who and exactly what she is. Though that doesn’t mean that the paranormal universe in White’s book wasn’t fleshed out.  No.  White did a beautiful job when it came to creating Evie’s world.   I also  loved the love interest in the book.  Lend was absolutely dreamy even though we don’t know exactly how he looks like.

Best Feature: Paranormal diversity.  White weaves together various paranormal creatures effortlessly.  While the different mythologies of the creatures are kept separate, Kiersten distinguishes each specie as its own.  Also, its nice to see the species relate to each other in a realistic way.  I particularly liked  Evie’s relationship with her mermaid friend, Lish.

Worst Feature: Quirkiness.  Though for the most part I loved this aspect of the book, Evie got to be a little too much at times with her naivety.  Though, given her background I can forgive her for this.

Blockbuster Worthy: Yeah, I sort of got Men in Black meets Buffy vibes here.  So yeah, a movie or TV series I’d totally go for it and it has been option so there is a possibility that one day we will see it on the big screen.  Here’s who I’d currently cast for the main roles:

Evie: Diana Agron.  Though I haven’t seen her in a role that’s as perky as Evie is described to be, she does have the Evie look.  At the very least she could pull off Evie’s sister.

Lend: Anyone you want.  Today I’m having a Penn Badgley day.  If I change my mind tomorrow though there’s plenty of guys out there who could be potential Lends.  The only criteria is that he’s hot from the inside out.  I chose Penn, in part for my random Lend pick because he the sort of warm smile that I think of when I think of Lend.  Plus, I think he suits the look that Lend wears most of the time.

Lorethen: I’m thinking Zach Efron (from High School Musical era) for some reason.  I personally think it’s the hair.  Zach now wouldn’t fit the role so much but back then yes.  Another choice would be Robert Pattinson he already plays a creepy paranormal dude that a girl swoons over despite the fact she knows  he’s deadly and not good for her.

Overall Rating: Seven out of ten stakes.

Prom Dates From Hell: Rosemary Clement-Moore

I never went to prom and I never really wanted to either, despite the fact that I am a self proclaimed girly girl and have seen Pretty and Pink dozens of times before I graduated high school.  I didn’t even go to law school prom this year.  Yep, law school has a prom too.  So, I guess you can’t get away from prom even after you escaped high school.  Prom also seems to be a prominent feature in YAL books as well.  And why not?  Prom is supposed to be a time of passage and God knows formal wear always makes for a killer climax scene, as seen in Rosemary Clement-Moore’s book Prom Dates From Hell.

Summary: Maggie Quinn is a cynic and sort of psychic.  She just wants to get through her few weeks of high school and get out of Dodge.  Going to prom doesn’t even occur to her (smart girl).  However, things aren’t that easy since someone has decided to curse Maggie’s peers and perhaps her too with an ancient demon.

Review: Love, love, love this book.  I decided to pick it up a few weeks ago again and I was amazed again with how much I love the Maggie Quinn: Girl v. Evil series.  Clement-Moore is a genius when it comes to characterization.  Maggie and her friends come off as being very real despite all the wacky paranormal stuff that’s going on.  And speaking of wacky paranormal stuff, Clement-Moore knows her stuff.  The explanations seemed logical for all the weird stuff that was going on in Maggie’s world and I honestly think had Rosemary been screen writing that last Indiana Jones movie-you know, the one with the freaky crystal skulls- I would’ve been able to understand what was going on in that movie or at the very least had a few laughs.  And okay, it helped that Justin the resident paranormal guru was a hot guy who was interested in Maggie and that the other resident paranormal guru, Maggie’s grandmother, made for some nice comic relief.

Best Feature: Perfect Balance between character and plot.  You don’t see this often, but Prom Dates from Hell has that balance.  While it’s a highly action paced novel filled with creepy paranormal things that go bump in the night, Rosemary also develops her characters in a fantastic way.  For example, take D&D Lisa who appears to be just your average hell bent on world domination best friend but in actuality her character has much more depth to her.

Worst Feature: Open ending.  Though this is a trilogy there were some characters whose story was never really fully closed like Stanley Dozer’s for instance and Brandon.  Though we know what happened to them right after the prom, I was sort of interested in knowing what the lasting affects to their lives were.

Blockbuster Worthy: Oh yeah, this book reminded me of Buffy or Charmed.  One of those good old late 1990’s early 2000 shows where the heroine kicks butt and has perfect hair (though Maggie would probably argue with me that her hair isn’t perfect, but whatevs).  Here is my cast:

Maggie: Ellen Page, a.k.a. the go to girl on sarcastic teens.  I could totally see her doing the role of Maggie.

D&D Lisa: Emma Stone.  Remember how I said I really couldn’t see Emma playing Bliss Llewellyn from Blue Bloods because Bliss lacked spunk?   Well, D&D Lisa has that spunk.

Justin: For some reason I see Tom Welling in the role though he is definitely no longer a teen.  How long has Smallville been on exactly?  Anyway, Justin’s a grad student  so there might be a bit of leeway in age here.  And Tom still looks pretty young.

Brian: Corey Montieth he does play a jock with a heart of gold.

Grannie Quinn: Why Debbie Reynolds of course.  I have to say, I smiled when I read that comparison to her in the books because I love Debbie’s old movies like Singing in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  But if Debbie wasn’t available then Shirley MacLaine she would have the new age grannie thing going down for sure.

Overall: Ten out of ten prom dresses