Mini Review: And Now a Word From Bella Swan (Starcrossed 6-10)

Hi everyone, I’m Bella Swan and I’ll be writing this mini-review of Starcrossed  for chapters six through ten.  I actually asked MJ if I could write this post after discovering some disturbing information about Helen Hamilton on the internet.
  
I’m sure you never heard of me.  After all, I’m just your average girl in love with a vampire and mother to werewolf loving cannibalistic baby.  You know, a girl just like you.  And I have so many problems.   Oh, so many problems.  Like there are two hot boys fighting over me. Though one of them is now settling down with my daughter (don’t ask).  In fact, it’s because of the heart ache of Jake dating Nessie-they don’t call them the terrible twos for nothing.  Long story short, Edward told me I needed to meet people  which is why I met Helen .  She like totally steals my thunder.  I mean, seriously she’s trying to steal my life.  Don’t believe me let’s look at some of the evidence:



Summary:



Here is the summary of my story:

“About three things I was absolute positive.   

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” (Meyer)

Here’s the summary of Helen’s tale:

“When shy, awkward Helen Hamilton meets Lucas Delos for the first time she thinks two things: the first, that he is the most ridiculously beautiful boy she has seen in her life; the second that she wants to kill him with her bare hands. 

An ancient curse means Lucas and Helen are destined to loathe one another.  But sometimes love is stronger than hate, and not even the gods themselves can prevent what will happen next…” (Angelini)

Okay, so like the wording isn’t exact but she does do the same counting thing that I do.  Plus, Lucas wants to kill her.  That’s always an attractive trait in a boy.  I remember when Edward told me that I would make the most delicious snack.  Those were the days.  Now he’s obsessing over some new girl in our English class who smells like salami.  I swear.

Aside the loving boys who want to kill you, I guess our summaries really don’t have that much in common.  But what about our actual stories.



My Story vs Hers:



So, I guess our stories are different enough.  I mean, I never had to deal with being a goddess.  Just falling in love with a vampire.  Oh, and a werewolf. That’s a lot more conflict.  I was a human.  I was weak.  Therefore, more relatable.  And so what if all the guys fall in love with me…I’m just…I’m just Bella.

However, if you take a closer look at our stories they really aren’t that different.  Sure,  Helen’s dealing with the whole goddess thing.  But she still fell in love with the mysterious new boy at school.  A mysterious new boy who’s hot and tries to kill her.

Hmm, where did I see that before?

Oh, and wait did I mention everyone in his family is hot and one looks like my best friend, Alice.

Does Helen have a demon baby too?

Not yet.  But that’s besides the point.  Her new found family puts her in harms way.  She hasn’t yet gone on a road trip cross country to escape a psycho, but it’s only a matter of time.

Plus, did I mention she likes to cook for her dad?  It’s like her only hobby.  Just like mine was as a human.  Now, that I’m a member of the undead my favorite hobby is showing everyone just how powerful I am and strutting around like a supermodel.  I was never able to strut around like a supermodel when I was alive because I was clumsy.  Helen is alive and isn’t clumsy and looks like Heidi Klum, some things in life are just so unfair.  Though I still bet I could beat her in an arm wrestling match.


Seriously, do I know You? 

I thought I knew everyone in Helen’s world.   I  really did wonder if Edward cheated on me.  Then I read that Lucas’s eyes were blue and was relieved.  But then again he could’ve worn colored contacts.  Oh, and dyed his hair.  But it wasn’t just Lucas that seemed so familiar.  Everyone seemed familiar.  I mean, even Helen’s dad seemed like my dad.  Let’s just look at a few of Helen’s friends and family and compare them to mine.  Heck, while were at it we should even compare me to Helen (like she could achieve my level of  sheer awesomeness).

Cullen Family:

Okay, I might not remember all of the names in the Delos family other than the fact that all of them seem to be named off of someone in Greek mythology, but I don’t remember everyone in my own family either.  It really gets confusing when the Cullens extended family comes over.  And I have to admit in the beginning it was sort of hard to distinguish Emmett from Jasper even though they look totally different.  The point is that the Delos family is totally like my family.  I mean, just look at some of these similarities I found:



The first example I chose to use is the town’s reaction to the Delos.  First I’ll remind you what I was told about the Cullen family when I was in the cafeteria that fateful first day of school:

Now let’s look at what was said in Starcrossed about the mysterious Delos family:

“The only thing Helen could confidently gather from all the clatter was that the Delos family was rather unconventional.  THere were two fathers who were brothers, their younger sister, one mother (one of the fathers was a widower), and five kids, all living together on the property.  The entire family was supposed to be unbelievably smart and beautiful and wealthy.” (Angelini 13).

Okay, I get that this quote comes earlier in the book, but it still is relevant to proving my point.  I mean, unbelievably smart, beautiful, and wealthy that describes the Cullens.  I guess there are lots of smart and pretty people out there, but the family living situation is just as bizarre as ours.  But hey, at least not everyone is making out with each other.  Or maybe that’s not such a good thing.  I don’t know.

Also, both the Delos and the Cullens have strange names.  That was the first thing I noticed about them when I met them, besides the fact that they’re unbelievably gorgeous.

“Strange, unpopular names, I thought.  The kinds of names grandparents had.” (Meyer 20).

Admittedly, the Delos clan uses different sorts of names than the Cullens have.  But they’re still weird and special.  Everyone has  to be named after some Greek mythological figure.  Is that really necessary?  Though I do have to say I chuckled back some laughs when I learned the significance of Helen’s name:

“For us, naming your daughter Helen is like a Christian naming their child, Judas.” (Angelini 204).

Though Rosalie says I’m one to talk since I named my daughter Renesmee.  But really, I ask what is wrong with Renesmee?

It’s not that they have odd names and that everyone is obsessing them that reminds me of their family.  even their family structure is similar:

“Helen had always tacitly assumed that Lucas was the leader of the kids and that his father, Castor, was the  leader of the whole family.” (123)

That’s the exact same assumption I made about the Cullen family.   Edward can pretty much read everyone’s mind so it’s not that big of a stretch to believe he calls the orders.  Especially since he got everyone to go on that ridiculous road trip when James was after us.  Really, why not get on the family’s private jet and fly off to Isle Esme or something.  It’s not like James could’ve tracked us from forty thousand feet in the air unless he could fly or something.  Oh, and isn’t it odd that Castor’s name starts with a C similar to Carlisle.

I could go on about how one of Lucas’s sisters looks like Alice and how his mother likes to cook all the time like Esme, but I think it’s time to  move on.

Charlie:

Maybe all dads are like Charlie, disinterested in their children’s life and always satisfied with dinner on the table.  But Carlisle’s not like that and neither is Edward.  But Edward really could care less about Nessie.   He does loves our little monster but he’d rather be banging me than taking care of our daughter.  And it’s not like Nessie could even cook for him if we ate normal food.  So, I think it’s safe to say that Charlie is rather similar to Jerry Hamilton.  The only good thing about this guy I guess is that he doesn’t try to pimp Helen out to her local werewolf, but it’s only a matter of time.  However, this one particular quote reminded me a lot of how Charlie:

“Is this the part where I’m suppose to be the concerned parent and demand that you tell me exactly what’s going on between you and Mr. Superfantastic over there?” (253).

After being a parent and dealing with a daughter who has a wolf obsession I’ll say this.  Yes, Mr. Hamilton you really should be concerned especially if you don’t want Helen to end up like me-an undead teenage mother.  Though I guess, Helen really wouldn’t be dead.  She’d just be strapped with a kid.

Edward:

Edward was one of the kind at least I thought that until I checked out Fictionbook*.  And found out that there are a ton of guys out there that are sort of like him.  And Lucas is one of them.  He romances Helen in the exact same way.  Save for the fact that they didn’t meet in Biology class.  Instead, they started a fight in the hallway.  And I have to give credit for them that’s sort of romantic.  However, other than the fight there’s really nothing that separates Lucas from Edward.  Let’s look at some of Edward and Lucas’s most romantic moments:

” ‘I’ll tell him you abuse me,’ Helen said with a shrug.  She jumped off the examining table.

 ‘And I’ll tell him you like it,’ he teased back, his voice rich and slow.'” (195).

Nothing like abusive banter.  I remember some of my own abusive banter with Edward:

” ‘And so the lion feel in love with the lamb,” he murmured.  I looked away, hiding  my eyes as I thrilled to the world.

‘What a stupid lamb,’ I sighed.

‘What a sick, masochistic lion.'” (Meyer 274).

I will admit that my abusive banter with Edward is a little bit more subtle than the abusive banter that goes on between Helen and Lucas but it still has the same appeal.  Lions eat lambs up into little bitty pieces.  Masochistic means that one derives pleasure from pain.  So it’s easy to say based off of it’s context that Edward and I were really talking about abuse.  Though I should mention that our relationship is NOT abusive.  God, I don’t know why so many people say that.  And it’s true I might’ve freaked out when he left me but….

Okay, let’s get back on topic.  Besides, abusive banter my Edward and Lucas also share similarities in the fact that they are so protective over Helen and me.  Case in point, that cross country trip after James smelled me.  As for Lucas, well he sends his relatives to watch after Helen after some random people tried to mug her.

Oh, did I mention she was almost mugged.  That almost happened to me, but Edward rescued me and Helen was rescued by Lucas.  That’s a pretty weird coincidence, right?

Me:

 I decided to be generous and put up a picture of Helen for once.  And okay, it’s of Helen of Troy but close enough.
 

And I’ll be damned, but Helen is just like me.  At first I thought it was just a lot of similarities.  After all, I am the average teenage girl, you know.  But no she’s a complete rip off:

First of all there our are names.  Both of them just show how beautiful we truly our.  But you’d never like know that unless you knew the meaning behind out names.  Bella Swan  means Beautiful Swan and Helen of Troy was like the most gorgeous woman in the world.

But it goes more beyond beauty, I mean both Helen and I have the utmost devotion for our guys.  I was willing to die for Edward and Helen…. well, she states this:

“The last cobwebs clearing form her eyes, she decided that if Lucas was gay then she was going to have to get a sex change operation.  He would be so worth it.”  (Angelini 195).

Okay, so maybe Helen’s devotion is a little bit more than my devotion for Edward.  A sex change operation.  Really?  Isn’t that like life altering what if you break up or whatever.  I may be willing to be undead the rest of eternity for Edward but I wouldn’t be willing to become Ben Swan it just doesn’t have the same ring as Bella.  Plus, I sort of thought in order to have a sex change you had to go through a lot of complex steps like getting a psychological evaluation, going  through hormone therapy, and then sometimes there are actual surgical procedures involved too.  Seems like a lot of money involved while when you become a vampire all you need is for someone to bite you.




Little Life Lessons

A lot of the little life lessons that Helen has learned thus far in Starcrossed are similar to lessons I learned as well:

5. Boys don’t like it when you have a personality or strength.  They expect you to be weak.  And don’t give me that crap about feminism.  Want to know what feminism is, see this clip below.

4.  You can always pacify your father with a good home cooked meal and a lame excuse.  It should be noted though while Charlie will eat anything just as long as it has a beer Mr. Hamilton is a little bit into the gourmet food thing.  So maybe in Helen’s case it would be wise to watch the Food Network.

3. Sleeping together doesn’t mean sleeping together.  It’s perfectly okay and natural for you and your significant other to be sharing the same bed with each only mere days (or hours) after he tried to take your life.

2. Ambition isn’t everything, clearly.  Love is.  So drop everything for love.  Because like you can always go to college later if you don’t get pregnant and die and then have to spend eternity in high school (wait, that only applies to me).

1. And the most important lesson of all, he only tried to kill you because he loved you.  Yes, I know it seems so strange but seriously…it happened to me, it happened to Helen, it happened to Nora Grey in the Hush Hush Saga and a ton of other people on Fictionbook.



Seriously Copy Cat Much

Honestly, I shouldn’t be surprise.  There are plenty other accounts on Fictionbook that have tried to copy me and my greatness.  I mean, here’s a few I found just browsing the site.

 

This girl Megan is totally like the Irish transplant version of me.  Though I’d look so much cuter than her in green.    This review does a pretty good job explaining all the similarities between Megan and me.  I  will add this though, I don’t even I think I’d be this boring in Ireland.  Ireland is a really cool country.  I always wanted to go there, yet Megan seems to have a pretty blase attitude towards everything.  Then again I can tots understand since being a new girl in Forks sucked.

And people say the relationship that Edward and I share is messed up.  These humans in this book have way more problems than we do and they’re not even dealing with an over hormonal half breed.  I really do feel for Abby though.  Like her, I obviously like bad boys.  But if Edward was as psychotic as Travis-a.k.a. punching everything every second-I’d seriously consider stealing Jake from Nessie.  But I can see the similarities between my relationship with Edward and Abby’s relationship with Travis.  I mean, love at first sight, can’t live without you, and all that jazz.  It’s an epic story in the making.  My epic love story.

If there is anyone that is a poser it’s Anastasia Steele.  Seriously, it’s like some one from Forks High wrote this fantasy about being with Edward totally forgetting the fact that Edward only has eyes for me.  Jessica, did you change your name to Anastasia (the inward goddess thing sort of sounds like something you ranted about in school)? If so,  I don’t blame you, honey.   Edward is a lot better than Mike Newton, but you really didn’t need to create yourself a fake boyfriend over it.  And yes, I know Christian is fake.  I mean, seriously, Edward and I are vampires and we’re not even that sadistic enough to have a room of pain and do that thing with the tampon.  Really?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!



Concluding Thoughts



So, obviously Helen wants to be like me.  She’s not the first or the last poser.  I just wanted to set the record straight though, my life isn’t perfect.  I mean, it’s probably better than yours since I have the perfect guy, look like a super model, and drive a Ferrari.  And oh yeah, attending high school again sort of sucks.  I really should’ve listened to Edward on the whole college thing because Biology isn’t that great the second time around.  Especially since I don’t have Edward as a lab partner and I’m sort of dealing with my daughter and her boyfriend.  I mean, seriously, two years-old is way too young to date.  She could’ve waited until she was like six or something.  Getting back to the point, I guess there will always be posers some will be more obvious than others.  And it’s annoying.  I mean, there are lots of different kinds of people out there.  I’m sure some people would be interested in hearing about one of those brainy girls who has goals and isn’t interested in the first hot guy she sees.  But really?  Really, I sort of get why you’d like to be like me.  I want to be like me.  But will say this there is really only one Bella Swan and that is me.  So eat your heart out, Helen “Heaven” Hamilton because you’ll never be the original.

 
Work Cited
 
Angelini, Josephine. Starcrossed. New York: HarperTeen, 2011. 
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and, 2005. Print.

 

 
Notes:
*I do not own Bella Swan.  I was merely using her to show my irritation for Twilight wannabes.  She belongs to Stephenie Meyer as well as Twilight.  
* Fictionbook was a made up site for the purpose of this post.  It’s suppose to be like Facebook but for fictional characters.
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Do Judge a Book by Its Cover: Deceptive Selling

Book covers are often really deceptive.  The sad thing is I often judge books by it’s cover more than I realize some great books that have lousy covers I almost skip over, while I’m more often abused by great cover art.  Let’s take a look at some more covers:
What the Cover Says to Me: Honestly, this looks more like a perfume ad than a book cover.  But I will admit it’s pretty love the purple.  Though I wonder how they got Evie’s hair that way.  And for that matter why did they chose purple?  Wouldn’t pink have been a better color?
What the Book is Really About: It’s the final book in the Paranormalcy trilogy all questions will be answered.  Though I really doubt Evie will wear purple.
Verdict: It’s okay.  It fits in with the other covers.  But as far as the series is concerned the cover probably won’t actually tie in with the book.
What the Cover Says to Me: Did Schuyler get a haircut?  And why is she wearing that flower in her hair?  Honestly, it really doesn’t look that much like a Blue Bloods novel to me even though it’s in its typical style.  Rather, it looks like it’s some romantic comedy about how this girl, Eva, meets this slightly creepy boy, Dan, at the carnival or something.  Why do I say carnival?   Blame the London Eye.
 
What the Book is Really About: It’s the seventh and final Blue Bloods book guys (well, final for this saga).  We’ll see if Sky and Jack get together and if she can save all the Blue Bloods and all that jazz.  It’s going to be epic (hopefully) or at the very least we’ll get a fashion show or two.
Verdict: It’s okay.  My favorite cover in the series is probably Van Alen Legacy or Masquerade, but it’s definitely better than Lost in Time or Misguided Angel.
What the Cover Says to Me: It’s a JK Rowling book, so obviously it’s the eighth Harry Potter book and Scholastic has gotten so sneaky they’re hiding the cover by even making a deal with another publisher to act like their going to publish Rowling’s new book so no one gets suspicious .  Finally, that horrid epilogue is going to be righted.  Meaning, there is not going to be an Albus Severus Potter because who would give their child that God awful name. Might we hope for a Harry and Hermione hook up or at the very least for the Chudley Cannons to actually win a match?
What the Book is Really About:  From the brief description it looks like Rowling is writing serious literature (i.e. the book seems to be one dead man’s affect on a town).  I don’t know how I feel about this exactly since serious literature usually really bores me unless it’s humorous literature.  But it is by JK Rowling.
Verdict: The cover is meh.  If it was an eighth Potter book it could make up for it.  I really don’t know how I feel about this one.  Even Rowling herself said some of her fans aren’t going to like this book.  But hey, it’s by JK Rowling and who knows maybe it really is an eighth Harry Potter book and we’re getting the wool pulled over our eyes (alas, it doesn’t seem that way).
What the Cover Says to Me: Read me.  This looks like it’s going to be an epic novel that involves star crossed lovers and the Mediterranean sea.
What the Book is Really About: This book really wants to kill you.  I really think that’s what its motives are.  And yes I know books are inanimate objects, but I’m being serious here.  Never did I think I’d meet a character that was worse than Bethany Church.  That was until I met Helen “Heaven” Hamilton.
 
Verdict: Deceptively evil.
What the Cover Says to Me: Cynthia has always thought of herself as being different.  Maybe it’s because she has an odd birth mark.  However, on her fifteenth birthday Cynthia finds out a horrifying secret about herself.  A secret that will cause herself to disappear within a year unless she can find the cure.  But is finding the cure worth it or should she just let herself succumb to becoming mist?
What the Book is Really About: Yet another Twilight rip off.  This one involving Ireland and Captain Planet.  I fucking kid you not.  Seriously, there is a scene in the book that goes like this.
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Verdict: It’s a beautiful cover.  And sadly the cover is the best thing about a book that had lots and lots of potential.

How To Halloween: Bella Swan

It’s almost Halloween-well, in a month.  But since you can order a pumpkin spice latte  from Starbucks, it’s almost Halloween.  And it’s time to start thinking about what to get dressed up as.  Today, I’m going to present you with a costume that is the most fearsome creature you can dress as.

Want to take some guesses?

Well, if you guessed (or read the title of the post) that this monster is the Mary Sue that is Bella Swan, you’re correct.


Below is a set I did for Bella looks.  Note I did two versions a Book Bella vs Movie Bella and I’ll talk about them and what else you need to do in order to make yourself look like Edward Bait below.

The Look

Bella Swan

Bella Swan by yalbookbriefs featuring long sleeve plaid shirts

Movie Bella:  To be honest movie Bella sort of dresses like a lumberjack.  Don’t believe me.  Maybe this clip can change your mind:

Okay, maybe she doesn’t exactly dress like a lumber jack but close enough.  Most of the clothes that movie Bella picks out for herself tends to border on 90’s wannabe minus the acid wash jeans.  In the left side of the  set I tried to find a flattering pair of jeans and a plaid shirt with a pair of boots that aren’t going to make you trample across the woods looking for trees to cut down.  This was harder to do than it looks.  I also suggest wearing a tank top or some cami that feminizes the outfit.  I didn’t use one in the actual set, since the plaid shirt I found on Polyvore seemed to have enough shape to it.  But if you’re not  lucky enough to find a decent looking plaid shirt, do the cami look.  It will definitely keep you from randomly going into a song and dance number about how you like to cut down trees.

I often wonder why the costume designer decided to do this look since the book version of Bella I figured dressed a little more feminine.  I think the look itself was probably heavily influenced by Stewart as well as the fact that I believe that the costume designers thought that by maybe making her look more tough she wouldn’t appear to be the wimp she truly is.

Book Bella:

If you want to be more authentic to Book Bella (a.k.a the right side of the set).  I think you can get away with a costume options.  As previously stated, I see book Bella dressing a bit more softer than the movie version.  I think she’d probably go for loose fitting skirts and jeans and maybe casual but pretty tops.  For some reason, I picture her wearing a lot of lace.  I also picked out a dress that I thought Alice might force her in.  It’s actually rather similar to one of the dresses Stewart wore in the movie.  However, in this case I do think it’s something Bella would wear.  Additionally, I chose a pair of ridiculously expensive sandals to top off the look.  If you want to look really authentic I suggest wrapping up one of the legs in gauze and using a pair of clutches since little Miss Clumsy is always breaking some bone or another.  

Accessories:


Hair: Surprisingly there are lots of shops that sell Bella wigs.  If you aren’t feeling wiggy and are a brunette you can probably pull your hair and a ponytail and reasonably pass for Bella.

Makeup: If you’re going as pre vampire Bella this is pretty easy.  She’s so pretty she barely needs any makeup…rolls eyes.  So of course that means goop it on as much as you can without looking trashy of course (really make an emphasis on those eyes, there’s always talk about Bella’s stupid cow eyes).

Men:  Of course, any Bella look can’t be complete without her favorite vampire or werewolf.  But what if you don’t have a vamp or werewolf at beck in call?  Well, that’s a relatively easy problem to fix

Do it Yourself Edward: If you have a boyfriend, good natured guy friend, or a relative you have blackmail material on and your desperate,  it’s simple to make them look like Edward.  First tell them to refrain from bathing for a week* then apply body glitter.  Lots and lots of body glitter.



Do It Yourself Jacob: This one is fairly easy as well.  If you have a boyfriend/friend/relative who is proud of their chest and willing to wear short shorts, they can be Jacob.  If not you do have options if    you know someone who has an Alaskan malamute.

No malamute?  A Siberian Husky or Wolf Hybrid will do too. 


The Result: With these tips you should be able to be a passable Bella Swan or really any other Mary Sue in YA lit.  If you have a favorite YA character who you’d like to dress up as for Halloween feel free to let me know in the comments.  And maybe I can comply a look for you.

*Note: There is no guarantee that you’ll be able to stomach your Edward after they don’t take a bath for a week.

Mini Reviews: Starcrossed (1-5) a.k.a. Wretched Character Development

These covers are pretty gorgeous in real life.  I have the UK one though, bought the book when I was in Ireland last summer.  But even that one’s pretty gorgeous too.

Usually when I review a book I review the whole book after finishing it.  While I think I can do fairly decent job of summarizing my thoughts about the book often I feel like there are things I have to forgo talking about.  And quite frankly, I sort of get annoyed with this even though it’s a necessary evil.  So I’ve decided to try something new.  Recently, I started reading a little book called Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini.  I know that many of you have heard about or read this book already.  I realized after reading about two pages of it, I’m going to have a things to discuss about it.  So I decided instead of just writing one big review about it I’d break my review up into sections.   I’m going to now discuss what I thought about the first five chapters of this book.  Note, if you want an even more detailed look at how I view books while I read them check out my Goodreads page (usually for books like this, I give pretty detailed status updates).

Here’s the trailer so you can get a general gist about what the book is about.  

Okay, so what did I learn from the first five chapters of Starcrossed besides the fact that Helen likes lasagna, sleeping outside, and having a weird aversion to blue eyed transfer students from Spain.  Not much, other than the fact that Angelini has a very odd take on characters.

To be specific, I’m talking about Helen.  To be quite honest I wasn’t sure if Helen was suppose to: A) A Mary Sue, B) A character with severe mental illness, or C) Just plain Stupid.    I’ve decided to test each of these theories in this mini review.

A) Mary Sue


The actual test can be found here.  But since I don’t have the space or time to analyze each one hundred and something questions I’ll just do the basics here:

1)Is you’re character pretty even though she doesn’t believe herself to be?

Oh, boy yes.  Helen is frequently described as being supermodel hot, but doesn’t believe in her own beauty.  Don’t believe me.  Well, here are some random quotes from Starcrossed:

“Some of the Labor Day tourists were staring at her, not unusual, so Helen tried to turn her face away as subtly as she could.  When Helen looked in a mirror, all she saw were the basics-two eyes, a nose and a mouth-but strangers form off island tended to stare which was really annoying.” (Angleni, 2).

Okay, so this particular quote doesn’t explicitly state she’s pretty.  Just stare worthy.  For all we know she could be deformed.  However a few pages later….

“Salespeople were always telling her how lucky she was, but not even they could find her trousers that fitted.  Helen had resigned herself to the fact that in order to buy affordable jeans that were long enough she had to go a few sizes big, but if she didn’t want them to fall off her hips, she had to put up with a mild breeze flapping around her ankles.  Helen was pretty sure that the ‘wicked jealous’ salesgirls didn’t’ walk around with chilly ankles.  Or with their butt cracks showing.” (5)

Okay, so she has difficulty buying clothes.  But who doesn’t?  My sister and I, who both have different body types, each have problems buying jeans.  In fact, everyone I know has problems buying jeans and most of them aren’t Amazons.  Helen, let me give you a hint, just buy quality jeans and you won’t have this problem.  Yeah, it might be a little expensive but in the long run you’ll appreciate having garments that fit.  Or if you don’t want to spend that much on jeans just wear dresses and skirts.  That’s what I usually do.

And just to solidify Helen’s model body type one more time Angelini has to go and do this:

“Kate was a bit shorter and plumper than Helen, but that didn’t make her either short or fat.  Helen always thought of the word zaftig when she saw Kate, which she had a notion mean ‘sexy curvy’.  She never used it, though, in case Kate took it the wrong way.” (11) 

In other words, Helen thinks Kate is fat.  Though she’s trying to cover it up by using the whole sexy curvy lingo that the media has tried to use to be P.C.  when they’re really just making me roll my eyes.   Um, no I can see what you’re really saying media/Angelini.  And yeah, you didn’t use the word curvaceous or voluptuous (Thank God).  But still, this whole paragraph is a little insulting.  Don’t you think?

I could go on taking quotes from the first five chapters.  But I need to discuss other things.  But I’ll just leave you with this bit of information for food for thought.  You know whose name was also also Helen.  Helen of Troy.  Most beautiful woman on Earth that men fought a war over.  I don’t think it’s that difficult to put two together where Angelini got Helen’s name from.

Helen’s namesake.

2) Does she have powers that no one else has?

Oh yeah.  We’re constantly informed about how Helen doesn’t apply herself to her fullest potential and how she views herself as a freak because she’s soooo different.  Here are some quotes:

“Secretly, Helen had always felt she was different, but when she thought she had done a pretty good job of hiding it her whole life.  Apparently, without realizing it, she’d been sending out hints of that buried freak inside her.  She had to try to keep her head down, but she wondered how she was going to do that when she kept getting taller and taller each damn day.” (25).

So, she’s a freak.  We’re literally told this.  What does freak mean, usually I think it means someone who’s different.  And I would be right since the narration goes on to explain that Helen is different than everyone else in her stupid little town.  You know, Helen there is always an oddball in every town.  Don’t believe me.  Listen to this:

“Coach Tar gave her a shocked look when she recorded the run time.” (33)

Broke a school record and wasn’t even trying…yawn.  Definite check in the Mary Sue category.

“Helen didn’t want to leave her, but she couldn’t very well pick Kate up and reveal her freakish strength in front of so many people, so she finally went inside alone.” (71).

So, you’d rather let your friend die than come up with some lie why you have freakish strength.  What a selfish bitch.  Sorry, had to say it.  I bet you’d never see Superman or Clark Kent leave Lois Lane to die just because he’s afraid his powers are going to be revealed.  Just go get yourself a pair of glasses, Helen they’ll fool everyone.

See, not that difficult.

3) Is your character  so sanctimonious that you want to slap the shit out of her?

“Helen rolled her eyes when she heard the parts of the gossip that elevated the Delos family to mythic proportions.  In fact, she could barely stand it.” (13).

Small towns talk.  It’s just an annoying part of life.  And really, who can blame a small community for being interested in their new neighbors.  Being annoyed with the fact that they’re talking about random strangers who you have no connection to whatsoever makes you look a little judging.  And okay, I know that people aren’t suppose to gossip but still…everyone does it.

“A part of her felt bad for him.  She would have pitied him more if he wasn’t so combative towards her.” (22).

Oh, yes, pity your enemy.  Please, Helen doesn’t pity Zach she hates him.  Just saying she pities him is an excuse for her to put him down.

” In the parking lot she saw a gigantic luxury SUV and shook her head disapprovingly at it.” (82)

Seriously, I get why people get annoyed with SUVs but I just don’t randomly shake my head and belittle people for driving one. Then again, I do live in Texas and if anyone says something about your truck or SUV you’ll be sure there will be hell to pay.

4) Is there insta love, forbidden love, or is there a love triangle involved with your character?

The love plot hasn’t moved a lot yet.  But from what I can see we’re going in the direction of forbidden love.  Here are some quotes.  Feel free to make up your own mind:

“Meeting his eyes was an awakening.  For the first time in Helen’s life she knew what pure, heart poisoning was.” (46)

 Okay, so it’s not instant love.  But they always say hate is close to love, right?  Plus, it doesn’t help that a paragraph before Angelini was vividly describing said hate at first sight boy.  We all know where this is going….

” ‘What the hell is it with you and this Lucas kid?’ Jerry said after a moment  completely flabbergasted. Then a thought occurred to him, ‘Are you two dating?'”

Yep, that seals it parent pimping out the kid.   We have an insta love relationship in the making.  Plus, I think Jerry Hamilton gets the  coveted Golden Charlie Swan award for bad parenting.


B) Mental Issues:

I always find this image to be really haunting.  I mainly used it here because it was used quite frequently in all the psychology textbooks I read.  That and I think it is a really good visual for distorted reality.

As much as Helen annoys me, there was a part of me that wondered that if based on her behavior if she was suffering from severe mental illness.  Although, I am not a psychologist or a psychology major I still am aware of the DSM IV and that it is used to diagnose mental illness.  I decided to look and see if Helen’s behavior be diagnosed as having mental disorder.  Specifically schizophrenia.  Note, the criteria I am using to judge her behavior can be found here.

In order to be diagnosed with the disorder Helen would have to meet at least two out of four of the criteria.  To repeat, I’m not a psychiatrist so my thoughts regarding symptoms do not really pertain any validity:

1) Delusions

Is Helen delusional?  Well, if trying to beat the shit out of a stranger is any indication then yes she is.

2) Hallucinations

This one is pretty self explanatory.  A hallucination is something that’s obvious not there.  Hallucinations can be auditory or visual.  Meaning, a hallucination can be either something you hear or see.  Does Helen have hallucinations.  You betcha:

Audio:

“She was tired enough to sleep but every time she started to drift off she would hear whispering.

At first she thought that it was real that someone was playing a trick on her…” (37)

Obviously, no one is here.  You could sort of understand this.  I mean, sometimes people think they hear something and they don’t.  But this behavior just escalates as seen in the next quote.

“And then what?  A little voice in her head asked.  Choke the life out of him!  Answered another.” (47)

Yeah, that doesn’t sound healthy to me.

Visual:

“She was not aware of the fact that she was running  towards him, but she could hear the voices of the three sobering sisters rise into a keening wail, she could see them standing behind the tall, dark boy she knew was Lucas, and the smaller, brown-haired boy next to him.  The sister s were tearing at their hair until it came out of their scalps in bloody hanks.” (46)

Of course, later these so called delusions are haphazardly explained being the result of some paranormal experience.  However, Helen buys this with very little proof.  If I was her, at the very least I’d want to see a shrink to make sure everything was okay and Lucas wasn’t like making fun of her or whatever.

3) Disorganized Speech: Does Helen have disorganized speech for the most part no.  But she does babble.  As seen in her panic attacks.  And when she is having a nightmare, she does rant about random things.  However, I’m not sure if the stuff you rant about in nightmares would qualify under this.

4)Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior:  Yes, I think fighting random people would put a check here.  Might be wrong though.

5) Negative Symptoms (affective flattening, alogia, or avolition)

For those of you who aren’t psychology majors and don’t want to waste your time with Google here’s what the following mean:

Affective Flattening: Affective flattening essentially means no emotional reaction.  Essentially you appear apathetic.  I really don’t know if Helen showed symptoms of this.  I mean, she reacts to things in a pretty odd way.  But she does show emotions.  Inappropriate emotions, but emotions.

Alogia: Is characterized by lack of speech or inappropriate speech.  For example, when asked a question a patient will answer very sparsely and often the subject matter will be inappropriate.  I think arguably make the case that Helen is experiencing this symptom.  For example, when her friend talking her about the Delos’s.  Helen has a random outburst where she states  the following:

” ‘No!  And I think it’s pathetic that this entire town is standing around gawking at them like a bunch of hicks!’ Helen shouted.”

What’s so random about this outburst is that it came out of nowhere.  There is no reason for Helen to be upset with her friend yet she just pops off.  Is this alogia.  Probably not.  But I think you might be able to make an argument that it is.

Avolition: Is a general lack or motivation to  pursue meaningful goals.  Oh yes, there’s a definite check here.  As I mentioned earlier, Helen refuses to apply herself in school, lamely using her after school job as an excuse.  When her track teacher tries to get her to apply herself by running with the boys team what does Helen do.  Well, let’s see:

“The thought of displaying her speed for the world to see had a physical effect on Helen.  She was so afraid that she was going to get some kind of cramp or bellyache that she started to have a mini panic attack.  She began to babble.  “I’ll do it, I’ll win races, just please don’t single me out like that,’ she pleaded, the words tumbling out in a rush as she held her breath to hold back the pain.’ ” (31).

Okay, at the very least I think this quote shows that Helen is experiencing extreme self esteem/anxiety issues if anything else.  However, it also makes me wonder if this outburst wouldn’t just qualify as avoltion but as alogia.   Once again, I’m not a psychologist so I really don’t know.

C) Just Plain Stupid:



There’s not an actual test to give out here since Helen isn’t a real person and I really can’t administer an IQ test to her.  But let’s talk about some of her dumber moments:

“She flapped her elbows like chicken wings, trying to catch a whiff of herself as she rode, and was relieved to smell the fruity power scent of some kind of protection.” (18)

Okay, maybe this isn’t stupid as much as bad social etiquette.  But seriously, must we read about Helen smelling her B.O.  You’d think this would’ve been marked out in one of the various edits that goes on before publication.  I guess they left it in here to humanize Helen.  But it doesn’t humanize her to me.  Instead, it just sort of grosses me out.

Perhaps this solves the mystery of this book cover.  Maybe Harper Collins just got the covers messed up and the Starcrossed cover was suppose to go on the The Selection cover since Helen not America smells her armpit.

” ‘If you take AP classes and do well on your SATs you will stand a better chance of getting enough money  to school through a scholarship than by working for minimum wage at your father’s shop.’

‘My dad needs me.  We aren’t rich like everyone else on this island, but we are there for each other,’ she said defensively (23-24).

Essentially what is going on here is a teacher is trying to get Helen to apply herself so that she won’t have to take out an obscene amount of student loans in the coming years.  However, instead of listening to him Helen blows him off in a way that really makes no sense.  I mean, yes I get you need to work Helen but seriously if you have to work your in obvious need of a scholarship so it might be nice to apply herself.

Though given the fact that this is YA, Helen will probably end up with a scholarship to a top tier university even if she has a D- average.

“Kate was breathing evenly but she was still unconscious.  Helen risked picking her up and hoped she was doing the right thing by moving her.  She gently laid Kate down in the back of the car, and then ran round to the driver’s seat as she dialed her dad’s cellphone number.” (71)

WTF!  Seriously, WTF.  Anyone, who is supposedly as smart as Helen should know that you never, never, never move someone who could have a possible head injury (a.k.a. anyone who’s unconscious).  Furthermore, in this case moving her contaminated a crime scene.

Does her high school not offer Health and Safety?

Conclusions:

Honestly, I’m not sure about Helen.  At this point of the story while she heavily grates on my nerves, I’m not sure if I should feel sorry for her or not.  While there are a lot of things about her that scream Mary Sue.  I can’t help but think that this character might be suffering from mental illness.  Even if she doesn’t, I really wish that there would be a proactive character in the novel who would at least make her see a psychologist.  Also, I really wonder about how smart Helen is.  Some of her decisions make no sense to me and either she’s one of those smart people who lacks common sense or she’s a dumb ass (I’m leaning towards dumb ass).

I’d like to hear your thoughts about this though.  Is Helen a Mary Sue, mentally ill, plain stupid, or something else?

Work Cited:

Angelini, Josephine.  Starcrossed.  New York: HarperTeen, 2011.


Supernaturally: Kiersten White

For some reason Supernaturally sat on my TBR shelf for way too long.  It’s time to get reviewing so I can by Endlessly and finish the trilogy.

General Summary: Evie is back and is living the life of a normal girl.  However, being normal can be pretty boring.  So when the IPCA offers Evie her old job back a girl can’t help but say yes.  But will accepting her old job back put her relationship with Lend at risk?

Review:
I really liked Paranormalcy.  It was the first fey or feyish type book that I actually liked and sort of got and I think it was because it wasn’t solely a fey book.
Is it just me or are faeries just a bit creepy?

There is so much going for this series.  It has great characters.  In the first book I loved how naive Evie was.  In this book she’s still a bit naive, but she’s a bit more jaded.  I liked the fact that she realized that high school wasn’t as great and she sort of longed for her life with the IPCA.

Reality and regrets those are some rather heavy themes.  But the book wasn’t all heavy.  It did have it’s light moments.   Okay, it had a lot of light moments.  But somehow the fluff in this book was sustainable.

Sustainable fluff.  It does exist.

In addition to character development, I thought the plot also developed nicely in this installment.  White answered lots of questions yet at the same time I had even more questions by the time this book was over and I didn’t feel like these questions were added in here just to drag out the series.  Everything just clicked.

Despite the fact that I really liked this book, I felt like things ended ridiculously fast. The climax only took a page or two to resolved and honestly it’s resolution was kind of lame.  But other than that,  I can’t really  complain

Best Feature: Plot development.  There were a lot of big reveals in this book that I think are going to make Endlessly a great finale.  Not only were the twists excellent, but I like the fact that there actual relevant plot progression with this installment.  A lot of the time in YA sequels seem a bit obligatory.  Especially the second book in said series, this one did not.  I felt like There was a purpose to Supernatrually and that it was actually had a role in the series.
Definitely in my TPR pile.
Worst Feature: Whiplash.  This book’s ending comes out of nowhere.  Seriously, it takes Evie about a page to figure out how to get out of a certain realm and get home and the book is subsequently resolve like four pages after that.
Appropriateness: Clean as a whistle.  Okay, so there is some violence involving paranormal creatures.  And the word “bleep” is used to replace any sort of expletive.  But I think in comparison to a lot of stuff out there, this book is pretty charming.
Blockbuster Worthy: I stated when I reviewed Paranormalcy  it would be a cute movie.  Click here to see casting picks.
Overall Rating: Seven out of ten stars.  I really enjoyed this one, but not as much as the first one.  I will definitely be picking up Endlessly soon and I’m a big fan of White’s work.

Sweet Shadows: Tera Lynn Childs

The cover is rather generic and this is only a minor pet peeve.  But this cover is shiny which would be okay but the first cover was done with a matte design.  So you don’t get a cohesive look-boo. 

Once there were three sisters whose name all started with the same letter who lived in the city by the bay.  Their lives were perfectly ordinary until they found out their destiny and then they weren’t.

If you’re thinking they’re names are Prue, Piper, and Phoebe you’re wrong.

It’s Greer, Gretchen, and Grace from Tera Lynn Childs’ Sweet trilogy.

If I could afford I’d probably live in San Francisco. 

 

 

General Summary: Grace, Greer, and Gretchen find themselves in a pickle after they find themselves escaping from Gretchen’s loft (it exploded). Secrets about their legacy are revealed and soon the long lost triplets find themselves racing to save one of their own.

Review:

I really liked this book.  Out of Childs’ books this trilogy is probably my favorite series  of hers.  It’s a bit more mature, takes place in a city I really want to visit, and there’s plenty of action to make me smile.  And yeah it’s kind of a Charmed rip off, but not really.  Apart from the book being about sisters with a destiny whose name all starts with the same letter and they all live in the city by the bay, the book differs a lot from the TV show.  And that’s because of the use of Greek mythology.

The triplets are decedents of Medusa.  Lucky for them, they did not inherit her snake hair.

If you’ve read any of Tera’s other books you’re probably aware that she often likes to use Greek mythology in her stories.  And she uses it quite fabulously.  One of the things I liked best about this trilogy is that it incorporates lesser known myths into the plot.  That being said though, there were some things about the world building that bothered me.  Notably, the monkey like creature that Gretchen meets in the abyss.  I think it’s probably from watching too many bad movies but I cannot handle small creatures that don’t use proper grammar it just rubs me the wrong way and is sort of creepy.  But that’s a personal thing.

What’s more of a criticism rather than a personal annoyance is the way some of the characters were handled in this installment.  First thing first, I love the fact that Tera decided to build upon the character Greer.  In the first book, I found Greer to be a borderline snob whose only positive attribute was the fact that she liked designer shoes (got to love a girl with good taste in shoes).  But in this installment, Greer was a lot more fleshed out.  I really felt for her.  True her backstory was a bit cliche, but I still felt it worked even if it was a stretch to believe that she had a black belt in martial arts.  What character I had a problem with was Grace.

I like anyone who has this many shoes.

Full disclosure in the first book I really, really, loved Grace.  I felt like I could identify with her.  She  was the geeky girl you couldn’t help but like.  In this installment, I didn’t like her as much.  She seemed a little young to me and a little goody goody-ish.  Case in point, Grace always seemed to be lecturing Greer or Gretchen about how they should get along and all that shit….Plus, her home life was sooo much better than the other two sisters. This isn’t a bad thing necessary.  I understand that not everyone is going to have a perfect home life.  But at the same time, I don’t think Grace needs to state that her parents are better than Greer’s.  She doesn’t know everything that’s going down at Greer’s and she shouldn’t make assumptions.  Also, her interactions with her family just don’t seem real.  For example, her parents freak out when she’s just a little late while they’re flippant about her brother being gone for days.  The same goes to her parents reaction at the end it just seems so nonchalant.

Another big pet peeve I had with the book was the adoption process of the triplets themselves.  I don’t know how the California family law works–Cali law is just weird in general and the family law course offered at my school just focuses on state law-but I have a difficult time believing that Cali law would allow abusive drug addicts to adopt a child.  Foster maybe and that would be stretching it.  But adopt?  No way in hell.  First of all do you know how expensive adoption is?  And for that matter, there are a ton of background checks involved in the process as well.

 

Best Feature: Greer.  I really didn’t like Greer in the first book but she really, really grew on me in this installment.  I might even say that she’s my favorite character in the series (though I still really like Gretchen).  I was amazed at how much Tera was able to flesh out her character.  And how she’s gone from being my least favorite character to my favorite character in a span of one book.   Grant it, Grace’s character sort of suffered because of this but still big improvement on Greer.

Worst Feature: Choppiness.  One of the big issues I have with this book is the way it’s structured.  The book is told in first  person through alternative chapters.  And while it worked, I felt like there were a lot of moments of character development that were chopped off because of the switching POVs.  Maybe the point of views revolved per book rather than per chapter, it would’ve worked.  Shrugs…

Appropriateness: This is a pretty clean book.  There’s a kissing scene and some monster hunting.  But with in comparison with some of the YA out there it’s squeaky clean.

Blockbuster Worthy: I already casted the main roles.  Obviously, this would be a great movie or TV series.  Actually,  I’m thinking TV series via CW or ABC Family.  If you want to see who I cast for the roles click here.

Overall Rating: Seven out of ten fangs.  This was a great book.  And I really thought that there were parts of it that were absolutely brilliant.  There were just a few things that made the experience a little lack luster though.  However, I still highly recommend this one.  I think Tera Lynn Childs is an author to watch and what really amazes me about her writing is that she does seem to get better with each book she produces.

Odd Couples in YA

If you follow this blog it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to you that I like comics.  Recently, in the comic world-specifically DC world-There’s been a bit of an unrest because DC decided to shake things up by pairing Superman with Wonder Woman of all people.

Yeah, I know.  Lois Lane is going to have to get herself a new boyfriend (at least for awhile).  And you know what, I’m sort of okay with it.  I love Lois and Clark together, but I am sort of wondering if Supes and Wondy might be a better fit.  I mean, as much as I love Lois she’s a bit of a dumb ass and she sort of treats Clark like Bella Swan treats Jacob Black.  And Wonder Woman could get some much needed exposure because of Supes.  It could work especially with a Justice League movie on the horizon.  But I’m not here to talk about  why or why not Wonder Woman and Superman are or are not a power couple.  Rather, I want to examine some of the stranger couples or potentially odd couplings in YA.  And why and why not these pairings should be rooted for.

 
Read this book and you’ll get the Frank and Nancy ship.
1. Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew from Carolyn Keene and Franklin Dixon’s Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series:

Why: Because they’re a brainy super couple.  And all those early 1990’s super mysteries made you want them together.  Especially that one book where they pretended to be married.  Honestly, this couple probably correlates the most to the whole Superman/Wonder Woman pairing.  It’s a couple you want but long established cannon relationships sort of get in the way.  It has great potential.  I mean, these are two individuals who are the equivalent of each other.  And aren’t going to get mad if they ditch each other in favor of a mystery.

Why Not: Because of cannon.  Though I don’t get the appeal of Ned and Callie many people have grown up loving these pairings.  It’s really going to be hard breaking up a seventy plus year old relationship.  But then again the Drew/Hardy Boy universe could always reboot itself a la DC.

2. Jake and Bethany Church in Alexandra Adornetto’s Halo trilogy: Why: Because obnoxious goody goodies always should be corrupted by bad boys…..That and it might mean an actual story line in an otherwise bland trilogy.

For all those wondering what color of hair Xavier has.

Why Not: Because it’s cliche and honestly the relationship would be abusive.  Still though, I think I’d prefer this relationship to Bethie and Xavier mainly because Jake isn’t as bland as..well, walnuts.

3. Harry  Potter and Hermione Granger from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter: Why: Because it seems natural.  Out of all the females in the HP series, Hermione is the most developed and has had the most interaction with Harry.  Plus, they have a pretty healthy relationship for the most part when Ron doesn’t interfere.  Honestly, I don’t know how popular this pairing is but I know I did ship it during the progression of the series.  I thought it would’ve been the right choice, the smart choice for Rowling to make.  While I do get why she ended up choosing Ginny for Harry, I still think it’s a cop out just to have a one big happy Weasley family ending.  A lot of people argue that there’s no chemistry here  while claiming that Hermione and Ron have oodles.  Gag me now, thou can not stand Ron Weasley.  At least when it comes to romancing Hermione.  As a best friend…he’s all right, I guess.  A bit of a stupid jock but that’s besides the point.  I think if any of the golden trio were going to be paired together it should’ve been Harry and Hermione.

Why Not:  Well, there would’ve had to be a lot more development with their relationship-romantically.  Or maybe not.  The Harry Potter series was never about romance.  I think all Rowling would’ve had to do if she would’ve went in this direction is just do some subtle romantic hints and then reveal that they married each other in the epilogue or whatever.  As it stands still, I’m still going to stand my ground that  Harry and Hermione make a lot more sense than Hermione and Ron or Ginny and Harry.

4.  Cammie Morgan and Josh from Ally Carter Gallagher Girls: Why: Because he was her first love and they were sweet together.  A bit unexperienced and sort of bland, sure.  But it could be better the second time around.

 

Why Not: Because Cammie is much more suited for Zach Goode than Josh.  Zach keeps her on her toes, Josh he’s a bit of a dumb jock.  Still, it might be an interesting revisit.

5. Paul Slater and Suze Simon from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator: Why: Because they have this volatile firey chemistry that would never work in real life, but would be fascinating to read about.  Plus, they are both mediators or shifters or whatever you call them.  You could so see them in a drama series fighting the usual ghost of the week.

 

Why Not: Jesse de Silva.  Enough said. Oh, and Paul might have homicidal tendencies.

Shiver: Maggie Stiefavater

General Summary: Grace has always been obsessed with wolves.  In fact, I’d say her obsession borders on unhealthy and into full blown….never mind.  The point is, Grace has fallen instantly in love with one wolf and one day said wolf turns into a boy (because that would so happen in real life).  And now Grace finds herself trying to save her wolf’s life.

Cool trailer.  Not really into the stop motion stuff, but it works here.

Review: There’s a lot of things that bother me about Shiver.  But I will give credit when I think it’s deserved.  I think that the construction of the book is quite nice.  Stiefaver does know how to craft a sentence or two, and some of the imagery that was used was quite beautiful when you got passed the cheese. That being said, I did not enjoy this book. I think my biggest hate for this book starts and ends with the main character, Grace.  Grace is a slightly better or worse version than Bella.  Better because she has hobbies other than cooking for her dad.  Worse because those hobbies involve wolves.

The first of many wolf pics in this post if Grace had her say.

And no, that does not mean that Grace is just a nature lover who enjoys looking at wolves and going on hikes and working for conservation groups, or for that matter even owning one of those wolf hybrid dogs.  Nope Grace, really loves wolves. Yeah, she’d like to make out with one. And okay, to her credit she never actually states this but it’s implied throughout the book.  And I guess Stiefavater did this in part because she wanted to show this big connection through Grace and Sam that can transcend through any physical form.  But guess what, Maggie, it doesn’t work.  At least for me.

I guess one of the big reasons why is what is Grace and Sam’s relationship based off of……instant love. Have I mentioned how much I hate instant love?  Seriously publishers, I don’t get why it’s a cool thing.  Yes, there’s that annoying Bella Swan but that is so 2006.  Can’t you start a new trend in relationship like I don’t know…realistic relationships where there’s some build up.  You know where our characters engage in conversation and get to know each other before they want to bone each other.  It could be a very successful trend….

Will it ever go away?

Anyway, back to Shiver, the lack of build up in the relationship not only crippled the character, Grace, but the entire book as well.  To sum up Shiver it would be Twilight minus the vampires.  Grace and Sam even end up doing the whole Bella/Edward chaste sleeping next to each other thing.

 

Seriously, how is this realistic?  They are teenagers if they are sharing a bed with each other.  At least one of them is going to want to mess around.  And if they’re sharing a bed together aren’t Grace’s parents going to notice? Of course they don’t, because in standard YA paranormal fair Grace’s parents are beyond negligent.  And okay, in Linger-the sequel to Shiver, yes there’s a sequel when there really shouldn’t be one-her parents finally get on her ass a little bit.  But still…

When sequels shouldn’t exist.

And then I need to mention, Sam.  He’s not the typical offensive male lead, i.e. he’s not a bad boy.  But God, is he a little wimp.  Half of the narrative was from his POV and honestly his emo-ness made me bored after a little while.  While I’m glad he can express his emotions at the same time I just wanted to slap him.

Remember how unjustifiably  annoying Harry was in most of the fifth book (I’m not talking about the parts he should’ve been emotional I’m talking about the beginning of the book)?  Well, that’s Sam times infinity. 

I think when it comes down to it though, my issues with this book weren’t so much bad writing (though despite the beautiful prose the plotting and character development sort of sucked)  than the fact that the book is a walking cliche.  It has everything that a publisher wants from a paranormal YA: a Bella in disguise, instant love, with a dash of forbidden love (Oh, wait it’s lacking a love triangle) and everything in turn that makes me want to gauge out my eyes.

This book makes me want to do the Face Palm.

Best Feature: Poetic Prose. I will give this to Maggie: girl knows how to write.  The writing itself is quite beautiful.  Yes, occasionally it bordered on purple.  But I really have to say I like how lyrical the writing was for the most part.  It reminded me of my days when I was an undergrad actually reading stuff that was well written.  Rather than cases put together by cranky judges.

Unfortunate Generalization: People who wear wigs for a living don’t know how to write.

 

Worst Feature: Bestiality? Okay, so let’s just say Grace really, really, likes wolves.  There’s no explicit bestiality or anything over the top offensive in this book, but if you read it like I did, you could tell that well Grace liked wolves more than people.  And that’s fine.  I find my pets to be more tolerable than most people.  But there’s a difference between liking your pets and liking them the way Grace does.  It’s like she actually has a crush on the wolf….not Sam.  And that’s just disturbing.

Appropriateness:  Besides the subtext of bestiality, the two main characters share a room together in the book (a la Twilight) and there is some violence.  It’s not that gritty though, but definitely not a book I’d recommend for preteens.

Blockbuster Worthy: At some point, I do think there was serious interest to make this book into a movie. It could’ve easily been a cash cow because of it involves werwolves and insta love.  Here’s who’d I cast.  For Grace I’m doing  Miley Cyrus.  Yeah, I really couldn’t figure out who to cast as Grace either so I just picked a celebrity who is always picking up these YA film rights but never making any films. As for Sam, I’m not feeling that creative today so I’m just going to typecast in Taylor Lautner

Another wolf pic for Grace to salivate over.

Overall Rating: Four out of ten werewolves.  A lot of people like this book and that’s great.  And admittedly it did have its moments.  The writing, for example, was very fluid, but I just couldn’t be into the characters and plot.  And okay, the fact that this book has two sequels sort of rubs me the wrong way.  There was no need for a sequel.  But whatever.

Do Judge a Book by Its Cover: Paranormal Edition

It’s time again to analyze some more book covers.  Today, I decided to focus on purely YA paranormals mainly because I think some of the most ridiculous covers in YA are paranormal books.  Often the covers are over the top and irrelevant to the overall plot of the book (i.e. the use of “the dress”).  So let’s see what some these covers convey:
What the Cover Tells Me: Scarlet is a sweet Southern belle who’d rather be making cupcakes all day than planning for the latest debutante ball.  Seriously, she doesn’t get what the whole deal with the ball gowns is.  And for that matter, why can’t she make cupcakes for a living.  Yes, she understands that getting a college degree is important, but Ole Miss isn’t for everyone.  But try telling her daddy that.    Rafe is the suave, mysterious, new boy who comes to Scarlet and offers her a deal.  If she can help him create a special version of devil’s cake cupcakes for the Southern Belle Hoedown he’ll make her dreams come true.  But can Scarlet make a deal with the devil?
Now it all makes sense why trans-fat is evil.
What the Book is About: Anna has always been a good girl, until she meets Kaidan shows up and shows her that maybe it isn’t Anna’s destiny to be a goody goody.  Instead, she’s suppose to be a junky…well a junky who’s not a junky (it’s complicated).
Verdict: Fail.  There is no glamorous evening gown in the book.  I guess the models they got portray Anna and Kaidan well enough, but still.  Can we get a little bit more Bella and Edward?
What the Cover Tells Me: Olivia has always wanted to defy gravity.  Ever since she can remember she has had dreams about flying and she’d do anything to get that feeling.  As time goes by, Olivia starts wondering if flying is just a childhood dream of hers or is it something more. Especially when she starts to sprout feathers.  She starts wondering if it’s something more sinister especially since her feathers are sinister looking.
Sinister feathers mean only two things: black swans and fallen angels.  Olivia needs to watch out.
What the Book is About: In typical YA fashion, Skye meets two guys.  One all good and one all bad.  A love triangle obviously appears and some shit at the end about Skye’s destiny is revealed so that we have a sequel.
Verdict: Meh.  The cover is generic enough so it works but I really don’t get much from it.  Then again, I really didn’t get much from this book.
What the Cover Tells Me: To say that she is mad at her parents is an understatement.  After being shipped off to live with her absentminded Uncle Steve who thinks a bag of Skittles is sustainable for dinner, Angie wants nothing to do with her mom and dad.  But when a package with an ancient red necklace is sent to her.  Angie finds her life changing forever and now she is summoned to face her legacy or let her parents die.
Honestly, it’s not that difficult to see Skittles as part as well balance breakfast if Fruity Pebbles are considered to be.
What the Book is About: Chloe finds herself shipped off to a creepy group home after she suffers from an episode.  Is Chloe really crazy or is something more sinister at play?
Verdict: There’s no necklace in the book.  And I just think the cover otherwise is fairly generic.  However, it doesn’t hurt the book too much since otherwise it’s absolutely amazing.  If you haven’t read this trilogy you should, it’s one of my favorites.
What the Cover Tells Me: Rachel thought she got away from them.  She had adapted to the surface world quite nicely, thank you very much.  And yeah, her hair was a bit of a mess but you didn’t have to deal with wind and shit when you lived underground.  However, there is one mole person that won’t leave Rachel alone, her betrothed Colin.  However, Rachel is done with Colin.  She is your modern day surface teenage girl and she intends to live life to the fullest without her overly controlling mole lover.  However, can  Rachel get away from her mole bad boy especially since she’s….well, in a YA novel?
Disclaimer: Mole people do not look like actual moles.  Do you think the publishing industry would actually allow a book about mole/human romance to be published.  I mean…moles aren’t hot.
What the Book is About: This is the sequel to Abandon which is a Persephone retelling.  In it Pierce has to deal with the consequences of being thrown into the arms of her underworld lover, John, again while trying to make peace with her life on the surface world.
Verdict: Sort of close, I guess.  Though this really isn’t my favorite cover for aesthetic reasons (I really don’t dig the blue floral pattern and Pierce looks like she’s falling out of that dress of hers).  However, I do think the artwork fits the summary enough even though the underworld isn’t technically underground.
What the Cover Tells Me: Abigail is tormented.  It was suppose to be a night to remember at the prom.  Abby had done everything that a girl is suppose to do in order to get ready for prom night.  She bought the over expensive soon to be out styled dress.  She fixed her hair in a style that looked tortured herself.  She even managed to get a date who was respectable enough, but sort of drove her crazy.  But there’s only an amount of torment that a girl can handle especially when her date turns out to be  a merman who is intending on making Abigail his next meal.
Merman like Mole People wouldn’t look like they’re folklore depiction either.  
What the Book is About: Remember that mopey girl, Luce, who did nothing for an entire book except fall in love with a douche? Well, she’s back at some other boarding school moping around again.  Don’t expect anything to happen because the publishers want to make sure that they have enough moping time plot for another two books.
Verdict: It actually fits.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to read this book just based on the way the model is posed.  It looks depressing and that’s how I found the first book in the Fallen series to be: depressing.  I will concede to the fact I haven’t read Torment so it could be better than what I’m thinking, but somehow I doubt it.

For Keeps: Natasha Friend

Interesting enough there’s a Molly Ringwald movie  with the same name with a  plot line that is sort of the alternative version prequel  of this.

I love Gilmore Girls, I think it’s because of the quick dialogue and the unrealistically close relationship Rory has with her mom.  So when I heard that For Keeps was like a YA version of one of my favorite TV shows I had to check it out.  Was it as good as the defunct CW show…not exactly, but I did enjoy it.

General Summary: It’s always been Josie and her mom.  They’re best friends.  And most people when looking at them would think that they’re sisters rather than mother.  This is probably because Kate had Josie when she was really young.  As for Josie’s dad she doesn’t know him, he left when her mom got pregnant.  So not surprisingly when Josie’s grandparents move back to town things get a little dicey.

Review:

This is such a sweet book.  It’s not that memorable.  But I did enjoy reading it.  I thought Friend did a good job telling the overall story.

The plot itself is pretty simplistic, but there were a lot of emotions that came from it and for that matter subplots.  And honestly, the subplots took over for a lot of the story.  This was both good and bad.  While I enjoyed how the minor characters had a more prominent role in the story, I thought that some of Josie’s story was lost.  And I guess that’s okay, I mean subplots can be important…but Josie had a lot of story to tell.

That being said, I still enjoyed Josie as a character and for that matter most of the other characters in the book.  Friend did a good job making sure everyone was multi-dimensional.  And in YA find that this is something that’s often lacking.

Another thing I really loved about this book was that it was realistic fiction I could enjoy.  I’m going to share a little dirty secret with you, I usually hate realistic YA fiction.   I want more of it, but for the most part the realistic fiction that is out there in YA today is really Lifetime-ish.  And yes, I know that people are going to tell me—oh, you just haven’t read a good YA fiction book.  Why don’t you try Sarah Dessen?  I have tried Dessen and honestly I’m not a fan because I feel like there’s a Lifetime quality to it.  For example, usually the girl has a tragic past or something about her life makes her emotionally unstable and one summer or one boy changes it and she finds her life slightly better at the end of the book.  And okay, I know that’s not a bad thing I just sometimes want to read a realistic fiction book about a seemingly normal girl and that’s what For Keeps was.  Yes, Josie grew up without a father and she’s screwed up but the book isn’t about her being screwed up and fixing her life.  It’s more about her life.  Not everything at the end of the book is resolved, but it’s obvious at the same time that Josie’s life has moved forward and I like that it was like this.  I didn’t feel like I learned some big lesson or that there was some unnatural growth to Josie’s character that occurred throughout the story.   It just felt realistic.

Dessen fans did I just pick the wrong book?  Because really, I was not impressed.

Best Feature: Gilmore Girls: This book reminds me of Gilmore Girls, from the relationship that Josie has with her mom to the town itself.  I really liked the fact that like with Gilmore Girls, the supporting cast gets it’s fair share of development within the book.  In particular, I liked Josie’s best friend, Liv, and her grandfather.

Plus, did I mention that there’s a gelato parlor in Josie’s hometown that gives Luke’s Diner in Stars Hollow a run for it’s money (sort of).

Worst Feature: Subplot Overshadowing: Honestly, I played more attention to the subplots in the book than the actual plot.  I think it might have been because Josie’s best friend, Liv, was such a well formed character with issues of her own that I started carrying about her more than Josie.  And the same goes with Josie’s mom, Kate.  I really like it that Friend knew how to successfully create supporting character, but at the same time I think there was some attention that needed to paid to Josie.

Appropriateness: The book discusses some issues like teen pregnancy and abortion.  It’s probably not the best book for younger teens to read, but at the same time I think it’s probably a great book to give to an older teen if your a parent so that you can discuss these issues in a less awkward like setting.  If that makes any sense.  Plus, I think the book really does a good job at explaining the various views on teen pregnancy without seeming preachy.

Blockbuster Worthy: Of course.  And let’s just make it a TV show I can see it now it will be…it’s been done.  Sort of with Gilmore Girls which has it’s own story and everything, but similar set up.  However, I still would like to see a movie or TV show of For Keeps.

Josie: Emma Roberts, maybe.  I really couldn’t put a face on Josie and Emma is the closest I get when I think about it.

Kate: Sutton Foster.  Why did I choose her mainly because she is the equivalent to Lorelei  on Bunheads and she’s actually sort of how I imagine Kate.

Overall Rating: I like this book besides it’s faults and I can recommend it without feeling any remorse.  Yet, it’s not my favorite book by far.  So I think I’m going to give it a score of seven stars.  It’s a solid book, but not exactly the most memorable and it does have a few problems there and there.