New Year’s Resolution: When Reading YA

So, last year my New Year’s Resolution was to blog more and I achieved that (thankfully).  So, this year in addition to my own private resolutions which I will not be sharing, I decided to make some reading resolutions as well.

And to get you in the festive mood….

10) I will try to read and review a hundred books next year.  Even though I don’t know that possible considering the fact I have to get through another semester of law school, MPRE, and the bar exam.  And, oh yeah, find a job.  So this one might be sort of difficult to achieve, but we’ll see.

9) I will try to read all my Netgalley ARCs.

8) I will utilize the library more.

7) I will give series that I hate a second chance because who knows maybe the sequel is actually better. Then again maybe I should be more stringent about this one.  After all, wasting money on a second book that you don’t like is sort of stupid.  So maybe, this one will apply only to books I find at the library (see resolution number eight).

6) I will try to read what’s actually in my bookshelf more and actually read what I check out at the library.

5) I will try to read at least two-thirds of a book before giving up on it.  Though once again, why should I waste my time on a book that I can not stand.  It puts me in a bad mood and I’m not a nice person when I’m in a bad mood.  Rethink number five.

4)  I will try to be more positive about YA tropes or at least try to be less snarky about them (is that even possible?).  And honestly, is reading fun without the snark?

3) I will try to limit myself to one lemon read a month.  What is a lemon read-you ask?  It’s like a use car that might look perfect on the outside but in reality is shit. Like the Halo series by Alexandra Adornetto.   That series is shitty beyond belief, despite the fact that most of the covers are gorgeous and state that Adornetto is some literary prodigy (prodigy, my ass).

2) I will try to read outside my comfort zone.  I always claim that I can’t find anything “different” in the world of YA.  Maybe it’s me.  I tend shy away from dystopias and other big trends in YA, so maybe I should try to embrace them instead of shunning them. Yes, a good chunk of them might be cliche and horrible but I should still give them a chance, right?

1) I will try to be frugal and not buy a book because a) the cover is stunning, b) the plot looks interesting, or c) there’s been lots of hype for the book.  I will read more reviews and make smarter decisions in what ends up permanently on my bookshelf.

She Went All the Way: Meg Cabot

I really want a pair of shoes like this.

General Summary: Lou is a young screenwriter who’s just been dumped by her egomaniac boyfriend, Barry, for the latest Angelina Jolie wannabe.  Somehow she finds herself getting on a plane with Hollywood’s latest guy worth salivating over and their plane ends up crashing.   Will Lou be able to survive the wilderness with a guy she can’t stand?

Review:

I first read this book when I was like fourteen.  And it was one of the first romance books I’ve ever read, so you could imagine how pink my cheeks went.  However, eleven years later when I was reading this book my cheeks aren’t turning pink.  Instead, I was laughing so loud that my family was looking at me like a crazy person.

I have to say this is the books strength, its use of tongue and cheek.  If you’re a writer, actor, or just a book or movie buff this is the book for you.  And here’s the think, one would think that ten years later some of the references would be outdated but surprisingly I found this book to be better the second time around.  Maybe it’s because I could relate more to Lou or the fact that I have TCM and all those movie channels and  like Lou I have maybe skipped a class or two back in college because I wanted to watch that Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn movie when he has all those different names  and poor Audrey’s dead husband was a criminal(Charade).

I think maybe the biggest reason why I liked this book better this time around is that I didn’t take it so seriously.  Cabot usually writes real light and fluffy books, but most of them have a semblance of reality hammered into them.  This one doesn’t lack reality per say, but it’s much more satirical than some of her other books and I like that.

I also like the romance in this one too.  Okay, I did sort of thing it happened a little too fast-Lou and Jack going from enemies to lovers-but it’s a romance novel so it works well enough.  Plus, the banter that was going on between them was enough for me to forgive the fact that the romance happened over night.

However, despite the fact that I liked this book, I can see why some people wouldn’t like it.  It can be a little much at times and while I sort of liked the tongue and cheek tone that this book has, not everyone is going to like it.

Best Feature: Quirkiness:  I just love how quirky this book is.  I think that’s the thing about it that I didn’t “get” the first time I read it.  I guess I have seen a lot more movies since I read this book or have been exposed to a lot more Cabot because I picked up on them this time and loved it.

Worst Feature: Research: While I could tell that Cabot did some research, there were a few things that grated on my nerves like the handling of the plane crash.  Maybe it’s because I just got done with an Aviation Law Seminar, but the technical part of my brain kept shaking its head.

Appropriateness: This is an adult book.  There is cussing.  There is violence.  And there is hot sex.  So yeah, definietly not for young tweens or young teens.

Blockbuster Worthy: Well, you could argue it’s already been turned to a movie-well, sort of.  I was heavily reminded of the old Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner movie Romancing the Stone while reading this one.  Maybe it’s because Lou is a writer stuck with a hot guy named Jack who is intent on destroying her property (to survive), but that might be just a coincidence.

Jack: George Clooney.  This one was pretty easy since Jack is an actor who has salt and pepper hair and used to be on a medical drama on TV.  Though Clooney might be a little too old for the part now, he would’ve been perfect when the book was initially released.

Lou: Emma Stone.  Yeah, I know there’s a big age difference between her and Clooney.  Though I do picture Jack being a little older than Lou, and as previously said before I don’t think Clooney is the right guy now for Jack.  Anyway, why Emma Stone would work because she plays cynical oh so well.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this one a nine out of ten.  It had some problems, but if you read it for what it is (fluff) I really, really, enjoyed especially the second time around.  I don’t know why exactly, maybe it’s because I’m older and could better understand some of the references that were made in the book.  Or identify with Lou better now that I’m a cynical wannabe writer/law student.  But this book really mad my week, thanks Meg.

The Ghost of YA Yet to Come: Apocalypse Via Mary Sue

Well, the Ancient Mayans got it wrong and I’m probably going to get it wrong to with my predictions of What is to Come in YA.  But still, I’m going to try to do my best psychic interpretation.  And no, no one is going to marry any one named Damon Bradley.

 
Hopeful Predictions
 
1. More diversity in YA:  I feel like in order for the genre to expand it needs to include different heros and heroines.  Not every book needs to take place from a fifteen-year old, white, straight, American, Protestant’s POV.  In order to have excitement in the genre, characters need to be diverse.
2. The return of the Beta Male: Let’s face it, Alphas have been dominating the love interest role for a very long time.  But nice guys don’t always finish last.  Look at Darcy in Pride and Prejudice he wasn’t overtly aggressive and controlling when it came to Elizabeth.  Aloof.  Yes.  But not controlling or over domineering and he’s one of the most beloved heros in literature.  Of course, you could say the same about Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester and both are Alpha males.  But it’s time for the Beta guy to have his moment in the sun.  Maybe all these alpha male writers will write up and write a story where the MC breaks up with her loser boyfriend and gets with a guy who actually listens to her feelings.
 
3. Realistic fiction that doesn’t read like a Lifetime movie: God, finding good realistic books in YA that don’t make you cry is ridiculous.  Sure, Meg Cabot and Stephanie Perkins both have some great pink books to read.  But finding these pink books is difficult in general.  Most realistic YA fiction has a) a dead parent, b) a pregnant teen, c) a teen who knows a drug addict, d) an incurable disease, or e) all of the above.   And yeah, these are problems people have to deal with in real life.  But sometimes it’s just nice to get away from  your problems for awhile.
4. Romance: But YA is full of romance?  No, not really.  With insta love the genre has lost a lot of what makes romance special.  The building of a relationship.  I’ve talked about this before, but my favorite part of romance in books is this part.
5. Less Dystopia: Now that the Mayan doomsday has passed hopefully the dystopia trend can start dying down.  At least, I hope it will.  Look, I get the appeal of dystopia books but I’ve read a lot of bad ones.  Almost as many bad dystopias as bad angel books.
End of times, I think not.  End of the dystopian trend I hope so.
Dismal  Predictions
 
1. More insta love: To be honest, I actually see more insta love on the horizon because it’s such a cheap parlor trick when it comes to creating fiction.  Really, it is.  I can even see the insta love becoming even more simplistic potentially incorporating the soul mates concept-oh, wait it already has.  Heaven help us.
2. Hasty world building: Everyone and their mother thinks that in order to sale something in YA it has to be paranormal or dystopia lit.  And you know what, not everyone should write a paranormal or dystopia especially if they don’t know how to world build.  And sadly, there are lots of authors whose world building just doesn’t make sense. All I have to say is I blame Stephenie Meyer on this who has claimed in several interviews that she never did one drop of research for The Twilight
3. Love triangles: Publishers seem to love a good love triangle and it’s understandable, love triangles if done right can add conflict and dimension to a character.  However, most of the time…..it’s not good and it seems to be getting worse.  For example, I recently read a book (which I’m not going to outright name) where I couldn’t even distinguish which love interest was which.  That’s just how contrived it’s gotten.
4.Herorines that just don’t make sense: Like with world building, often YA MC’s don’t make sense in order to further the plot along.  Once again, a cheap parlor trick that seems to be increasing.  Seriously, have some explanation for their impulsiveness/stupidity.
5. Mary Sues: Unfortunately, I see this trend continuing.  Why?  Well, because I think authors usually end up basing their MC on themselves.  But their MC is a better version of them and that more often than not ends up with Sueness. It also doesn’t help when your book is not realistic fiction and the character has superpowers.  Kids, always remember this rule: Batman is better than Superman because he struggles.  Superman (save for kryptonite) is perfect, Batman is not.  Therefore, we relate to Batman more than Superman and that’s why there are more comics, movies, merchandise of the dark knight than the man of steel.

The Ghost of YA Present: Way too Much Instant Love and Not Enough Strong Independent Women

It’s time for the second installment in my rip off of The Christmas Carol.  Today, I’m going to discuss the current state of YA.  Particularly ten trends that are occurring in the genre.  Some are overly infuriating and some are only mildly annoying.  And yeah, I sort of put some commentary about why I like or dislike these current trends but whatever.  It’s my birthday, or will be if the world doesn’t end like the Mayans say it will, so I can do whatever I want.

Since I can’t share my actual cake with you guys have some virtual cake.  It might help read about some of these God awful trends that are currently going on in YA.
10) Dystopias: Blame the ancient Mayans on this one and all those disaster movies.  If you love dystopias: fine.  I can see their appeal and I guess some of them are good.   But for the most part, YA dystopias suck.  Usually it involves a torn up world that’s just partially messed up and of course there’s the insta love that changes the world.  And I have to say this, a lot of them are pretty idiotic (a.k.a. that pseudo dystopia about how we’d totally go bat shit crazy without our computers-okay, maybe they sort of have a point).
9) I’m Not That Attractive (Okay, so I really am): Those I’m not pretty but I really am heroines are very popular these days and very annoying.  Look, if they’re pretty and don’t realize it.  Fine.  But don’t have this plot point slammed in our face.  I get that the author is probably trying to say that every girl is pretty in their own way (which is true), but it doesn’t come off like that.  Rather, it comes off as everyone is a supermodel in disguise and fortunately that is not true.
 

8) Forbidden Romance: Romeo and Juliet might have been the first couple to do it, followed by half a dozen daytime television stars and then Bella and Edward.  Look, I get that forbidden romance adds conflict and you could write an essay about how forbidden romance is synonymous with being a teenager (after all, teens like to do things that are forbidden, it adds a sense  excitement to a relationship).  So while it might not seem like a bad idea to have a forbidden romance, often in YA it seems unnecessary and just a plot point that was added by the editor in order to sell books.

7) Bad Boys: Got to love those bad boys.  You probably guess I don’t.  Okay, so occasionally there is a bad boy that I like.  But I like characters with consequences.  If you’re going to have an asshole for a hero, have them at least admit their an asshole.  Running off and marrying them in Vegas and then getting their name  permanently on your body isn’t much of a consequence.
6) Soul Mates:  God,  I hate this trend.  Blame Jacob Black and imprinting.  But destined to be soul mates is even worse than insta love in my opinion.  The one time I like the whole concept of soul mates is in Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods and that’s only because the characters are balking against it.
5) Special Snowflakes: Let’s face it there is no normal character in YA.  For the most part they’re going to have something special about them.  And I guess, yeah, that’s why they have their own story.  But there have been lots of times I’ve read a book lately and the characters seem more than just a little special.
4)  Slut Slamming: I think this started off as Popular Girl Slamming but I think it has evolved to include any character that’s remotely sexually active besides the main character.  It doesn’t work and it makes the heroine look like a jackass to be honest.  I don’t see what’s wrong with characters that are sexually active.  Let’s be frank,  there is a good chunk of teens who are sexually active.  Chances are one of them is reading these books.  They shouldn’t be demonized because of an insecure heroine.
3) The Innocent Heroine: Forget having an character who has a little experience and backstory.  Only pure naive heroines will work in today’s YA.  It also helps that if the author says their really smart when truthfully they are a dumb ass.
2) Paranormal Activity: There are a ton of paranormal books in the YA genre.  Most of them are romances-but I like romance, if it’s done correctly, so I really don’t care about that.  I’m actually glad that the paranormal genre has expanded in YA.  There are some really great books out there that aren’t realistic fiction,  though I do admit occasionally I do like a break from the supernatural.
1) Insta Love:  Forget having a relationship that evolves into something special.  One of the biggest (and most annoying) aspects you see in today’s YA fiction is insta love.  The sad thing is sometimes we all fall in love with an insta love romance.  It’s not intentional and most of the time we don’t fall in love with an insta love romance.  But on very few occasions it has worked and publishers have run with it.

Shadowhunters and Downworlders a Mortal Instruments Reader: Cassandra Clare

Note: I received an ARC via Netgalley.  This has not affected my opinion of the book.

General Summary: Love The Mortal Instruments or are morbidly curious how anyone could write a critical essay about them or how much they love incest?   Then read this book.

Review:

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have read this had I not heard about the infamous incest essay.

Yes, there’s an essay on incest and how great it is.

And yep, that’s what the essay is really about (I’ll give you a minute to go to the bathroom and empty out your stomach’s contents).

That being said, the book is essentially a collection of essays about Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series edited by Cassie Clare herself.

And that’s where a lot of my problems with the collection lies.  I think it might have seemed like a good idea at the time to have Clare edit the book, but it had to be one of the dumbest choices the publishing company made.  I’ll talk about this more in the worst feature part of the review.  But let’s just say, I think Clare overlooked many of the very obvious problems that most editors would’ve easily caught.

Yeah, it was that poorly edited.

And yeah it’s an ARC.  But ARCs at most are suppose to only have typos so it’s really no excuse.

Besides the various editing and formatting problems, the essays themselves were a bit of a stretch.  The worst one by far was  Kendare Blake’s essay which was called “Brotherly Love”.  This is the incest essay.  Blake already was dealign with a difficult subject matter and I felt like she failed in trying to prove her point.  Look, don’t try to say that incest is okay.  No matter how you try to spin it, it’s not going to come off as sounding right.  Maybe if the essay was worded better it would’ve came off better.  But instead, I just wanted to shake Blake and Clare who chimed in about how romantic the whole incest thing was.

Romantic.

Romantic.

Romantic.

Really, incest is romantic?

You have to be kidding me.

Deep breaths……

Okay, I’m calm enough to continue now.

What makes you think incest is romantic Clare and Blake is it:

A) The biological defects that children that are produced from incestuous unions will have.

B)The fact that there’s no one closer (biologically speaking) than a sibling.

C) The emotional power struggle that occurs in these relationship–i.e. they’re emotionally and often physically and sexually abusive.

D) All of the above.

I bet Cassandra Clare answers D.  Actually, I really think the incest plot was a cheap trick if anything else.  A cheap disgusting trick on Clare’s part.  And I hear it’s not the first time she’s used incest as a plot device in a story-i.e. she had a Ron and Ginny fan fic  ironically named The Mortal Instruments (yep, Ron and Ginny did the nasty.  You can run to the bathroom again, I’ll wait before I continue).

Now that your stomach is completely empty, I guess I’ll talk about the rest of the essays.  The biggest complaint I had aside from Clare’s poor editing skills with these essays was that they were very loosely connected to The Mortal Instruments series.  In other words, they reeked of bull shit.  Someone wanted to write an essay about New York and inserted Clare’s book series in there so they could make a little money.  This occurs over and over again.  There’s an essay about John Hughes movies.  An essay about Judaism.  An essay about growing up.  All of these things are apparently connected to the book series….And yeah, I guess you could say they did a good enough job showing these connection, but I’ve seen better explanations on Ancient Aliens.



I will say this though, you could often tell who was the best writer by their quality of essay.  Robin Wasserman’s essay “When Laws are Made to be Broken” was well crafted despite the fact that it was a huge stretch.



I think if I learned anything from this book is that The Mortal Instruments shouldn’t be analyzed unless it’s comparing Clare’s original work to her fan fic. 

Best Feature: Essays.  I’ll admit it, I do like the idea of a collection of essays.  I was an English major, after all, and spent the better part of four years writing this sort of crap.  However, I felt like most of the essays would’ve gotten subpar marks due to their poor use of supporting evidence (quotes are good, but you need more than a half dozen blocked quotes to give your essay merit).

Worst Feature: It’s edited by Cassandra Clare.  At first this might seem really cool.  The author herself has picked these essays out and edited the.  But in reality it makes the book very skewed and bias.  Here’s the thing, I took a literary studies class back in college which focused on the history of literary criticism.  When one analyzes a book, the author’s opinion of the book is given little thought.  Sure, it’s relevant to cite it.  But when you get to the nitty gritty of it, it’s how society views the book itself.  And yeah, there are two different schools on criticism-The New Critics and New Historicism-but none of them really involved the author’s view of the book.  More like looking at just the text alone or society’s views of the book from various different perspectives.  Besides that, Clare did a pretty terrible job editing.  Other than the editor’s notes she put in before every essay where she basically stated how wonderful she and The Mortal Instruments series was, she really didn’t do that much work.  The formatting is God awful in this book.  I get that there are multiple essays by different people but there should really one citation method.  Either use footnotes or don’t use them.  And if you’re going to use MLA or Chicago style, stick to one and use it properly.  It’s not rocket science.  Especially since there’s a little website known as Easy Bib.

Appropriateness: Hmm, do you think reading an essay about how incest is appropriate?  I thought so.  Really, there while these essays were pretty much essays.  That particular little essay had me wanting to bathe myself in bleach.

Blockbuster Worthy: This book is just essays, so I don’t think you could make a movie out of  it.  But knowing Cassandra Clare…..she’d make a unique documentary about being behind the scenes of the essays of The Mortal Instruments.  Seriously, lady, you can only milk your cash cow for so much before people get wise.

Overall Rating: Four out of ten shadowhunters.  Honestly, I can’t recommend to anyone to buy this book.  If your a fan of the series that’s great.  But this is nothing more than a few thinly padded and edited essays which really stretch themselves in order to be relevant to The Mortal Instruments.

A Christmas Carol Rip Off: The Ghost of YA’s Past

It’s Christmas time which means that TV is showing various versions of A Christmas Carol.  Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas , you’re  probably  familiar with the Charles Dickens classic mainly because various forms of media have done their own rip off of it.  So, today I’m doing my own quasi rip off of this holiday classic.  Except this version of A Christmas Carol is going to have no ghosts, no Scrooges, and it’s really not going to be that Christmas oriented to be honest.  Rather, I’m going to be looking at some of YA’s past and discuss how these books affected their time period (if they even did) and how we look at these books in today’s world.  I’ll also be doing a feature later this week on YA’s Present and hopefully YA’s future.   So without further ado, let’s look at some of YA’s past.



Romeo and Juliet is a Shakespeare play not a YA book.  But it has had great influence on the forbidden romance cliches in YA.  And there are tons of remakes of the story in YA today as well.  Honestly, I’ve never really got the appeal of this play.  I get that it’s Shakespeare and that there’s some really cool things he does with language, but the romance in this play….  Please.  I don’t see Romeo and Juliet as the star crossed lovers that the media portrays them to be.  Rather, I see them as two idiotic teenagers who fell blissfully in insta love before killing themselves (hey, that’s your typical YA love story).

Beverly Cleary was probably one of my favorite authors when I was under ten.  And I was amazed and delighted to find out that she had written books for teens as well.  This book is pretty sweet.  Cookie Cutter.  And I like it, even though the characters feel like they’re walking out of a Doris Day movie it works.  Sure, if it was written today it wouldn’t exactly have the charm it does now (usually I can’t stand YA’s chaste romances because they’re sooooo unrealistic), but Cleary makes a chaste romance work.

Cute movie just like this book.  Though both are not the most realistic depictions of romance in the world.
 

Incest is an unfortunate occasional feature in today’s YA world ( The Mortal Instruments, anyone?) and if you want to look back to its origin look no further than to Flowers in the Attic.  I will give this to Andrews though, you sort of understand why the siblings here would have a crush on each other because they were locked in an attic for several years without contact with the outside.  Alright….I still don’t get it.  But it makes more sense from a psychological perspective than Clary and Jace wanting to bone each other or Sebastian wanting to bone Clary.

And you can still catch this little gem occasionally on Showtime (like at three in the morning, but still).

Judy Blume probably was one of the most influential writers in the genre.  And even though a lot of these books are twenty plus years old their still relevant.  Blume was probably one of the first YA authors to talk about mature issues without having a character becoming dying/becoming pregnant.  All of her heroines sounded like real teens.  They weren’t preachy at all and not all of them were filled with romance.  Which is a nice change of pace, considering that almost all the YA books today feature romance (which I like, but let’s face it, is a little unrealistic).  These books though, I really think they identified with the younger me which is nice because a lot of early and for that matter present YA books always sound like either a thirty or ten year-old stuck in a teen’s body.

To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Babysitters Club series, but it represents what the 1980’s and early 1990’s were best at in YA serialized ghost written stories.  From Nancy Drew to Sweet Valley High there were a ton of these never ending series sort of books.  The Babysitters Club even got it’s own movie, so did Nancy Drew too but not the 1980’s-1990’s version of Nancy that followed in this format.  What is the format exactly?  Well, the character is described in vivid detail (so is their best friends/significant other), we’re given a rehash of what has happened until now, some irrelevant problem happens, and it’s resolved with a shopping spree/kissing at the beach scene.  Generic: yes.  But they made a ton of $ and I think if anything these books showed publishers what potential there was in selling fluff to teenage girls.

Another thing you had to love about the 1980’s/1990’s was the book covers of the period.  I remember choosing this particular book from my sister’s bookshelf because of the cover.  The strange thing is I don’t remember much about said book only that involved a girl who was given a genie and it had light blue hair (basically, what you see from the cover).  Either way, I really should do a retro version of Judge a Book by It’s Cover it could be really fun.

Probably the best book ever.  This was actually my introduction to post 2000 YA.    You could really say it’s the introduction to modern YA. Or at least the modern popularity of YA.  Sure, there were other YA books before it and after it, but there was something about diaries that was so fresh.   Perhaps, it’s the fact that when you read these books you really don’t learn something and they’re so outlandish that they’re fantastic.  Or maybe it’s just all those lists devoted to hot guys and bad Lifetime movies.

I almost put this one on the present rather than the past list, but since the series is complete and has been complete for over four years and the movie version finished up last month, it’s going on the past list.  Let’s face it, love it or hate it The Twilight Saga has impacted YA big time.  And yeah, most of the impact hasn’t been exactly positive, but some of the most popular books in the genre today have Twilight elements.  And yeah, I know if you’re all probably wondering why I put this one here instead of Harry Potter or Hunger Games.  Well, I always view Harry Potter more as a children’s novel than YA since that’s what the series first started as and The Hunger Games quite frankly isn’t YA Past yet (the series is complete, but there are still two more movies in the works)

The Runaway Princess: Hester Browne

General Summary: Amy Wilde can’t believe she’s found the man of her dreams.  Imagine to her surprise when he finds out he’s a prince.  Leo is the perfect guy and Amy knows she wants to spend the rest of her life with him.  But she’s not exactly princess material.  Will this keep her and Leo apart?

Review:

I started this book right before my last final and had a hard time putting it down (thank God the final was open note and I basically started the book when study time was over).

This book was simply a breath of fresh air.  Yeah, it was predictable and it was ridiculously fluffy, but I really enjoyed it.

Maybe it’s because I love any book with princesses in it-you can blame Meg Cabot for that one folks.  Also, I was sort of obsessed with the royal wedding a few years back as well.  To be honest, when I was a kid I always imagined myself marrying a prince(I was six years-old, okay).  And reading these books sort of bring me back to that first memory when I told my mom I wanted to be the queen of England when I grew up.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

Though in Amy Wilde’s case it sort of did.  She fell in love with a prince.  A real bonafide prince.  And she wasn’t even prince hunting (and yes, there are some honest bonafide prince hunters out there).

Honestly, I feel like the best thing about this book was Amy and Leo’s relationship.  They are so cute together and they really work as a couple.  I feel like the best part of the book happened during their courtship.

However, once they ended up getting engaged Leo’s role diminished and he was merely mind candy.  I didn’t like this.  It was like he lacked a backbone.  His sister, who is a horrible witch, essentially got what she wanted in the end.  And yeah, I guess it was better for Amy, but I really think that she and Leo could’ve worked things out even if….. okay, I’m going into spoiler territory.  But let’s just say the ending was sort of a bummer.

I think it’s partially because the whole resolution of the plot seemed extremely rushed.  Not only with the Amy and Leo relationship but with the side plot concerning Amy’s sister.

That aside, I really enjoyed the book.  The characters were great and I really did get caught up in the story.  It’s not the deepest book I’ve ever read, but it has a lot going for it.

Best Feature: Grown Up Princess Diaries.  I love books about princesses. The first YA book I ever read was Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries and this book is like that book but grown up.  I love Browne’s whole take on royalty.

Worst Feature: The last thirty pages.  Honestly, I didn’t like the way this book wrapped up.  It just seemed so quickly and I felt like some characters got a happier ending than they deserved (cough, Sophia and Kelly, cough).

Appropriateness: This is an adult book, but it’s pretty mild.  There’s some language and some partying, but that’s about it.  Really, it’s a lot calmer than a lot of YA books out there.

Blockbuster Worthy: Yes, this would be a cute movie.  And there’s already sort of a movie that’s like this book.

Amy: I’m not sure if I can picture a celebrity who just is Amy to me.  Okay, maybe Kate Middleton but that’s only because she’s also married to a prince.   She and Amy look  nothing alike.

Leo: Eddie Redmayne because I can.

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten crowns.  I really loved this book, but there were a few faults.  If Leo would’ve had a more prominent role as the book progressed and the last thirty or so pages would’ve been a little different, it could’ve easily gotten a ten.

Wolf Pact: Melissa de la Cruz

I don’t know what’s more unnatural the ultra pale skin or the Ronald McDonald red hair.

General Summary: After her flippant mother sends the weaken Bliss on an arduous task, Bliss has to make friends with wolves who have the social skills of Gnorm the Gnome.

Review:

Hmmm, what do I say about this one.  To be honest, I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile.  It was originally suppose to be released in 2010, and I honestly I thought it was going to go the way of some of de la Cruz’s unfinished series.  So, I was thrilled to hear it was going to be released this fall.  I wasn’t thrilled though to here that it was going to be released just as an ebook since I don’t have an e-reader and quite frankly hate reading from my computer.  I did however manage to find a paper copy and finally got to read it.

The book itself was alright.  It had its moments.  The action sequences were cool.  And I did enjoy Bliss, she grew on me a lot.  Though you didn’t get to see her until fifty pages (about a fifth of the book) had passed.  However, I don’t think it deserved it’s own spinoff.  Rather, I think these scenes would’ve been better included in the original series.  I also didn’t like how this book was treated more or less as a promotional piece, but more about that later.

Probably my biggest fault with this book was the wolves themselves.  Particularly Lawson.  I can’t stand this guy.  I get he’s going through a lot.  But Jesus, did he annoy me.  And I wasn’t even that much of a Dylan fan (Bliss’s dead boyfriend).  But Dylan, as brief as screen time as he got, was far superior to Lawson  Maybe it’s because Lawson tries to kill Bliss, berates her, and treats her like scum because of her heritage.  Oh, and the girl he’s originally in love with.  Their romance is laughable.  Essentially they almost have coitus in the bathroom, he later declares his insta love for her, they get together and then she dies.  And like less than a month after she’s dead he comes this close to having grief sex with Bliss.

Nothing’s more romantic than sex in the toilet.

Yes, grief sex.  It didn’t work on All My Children and it’s certainly not working here.

I also hate the fact that the term mate is used in this book.  I think I’m at the point now anytime I see mate in a YA Book there goes one point (or half a star in a GoodReads review).  People do not have mates.  Animals have mates.  And yes, I get he’s a wolf but he’s living in a human body.  He should have a partner.  Using the term mate just……

Ugh.

Best Feature: Bliss can kick ass.  I have to be honest, I’m not a Bliss fan.  Probably my favorite female character in the Blue Bloods series is Mimi followed by Schuyler.  Mimi is hard tongue bitch who has style and Schuyler has all this interesting backstory going on and she can fight.  Bliss though….she’s interesting enough, but I never thought we got to see her full potential.  In this installment she really shines.  She solves problems despite her weakened state (she’s now human).  However, despite the fact that I loved Bliss, I did not like her relationship with Lawson.  Maybe because I don’t like Lawson in general, but Bliss deserves better.  She deserves Dylan.  Or a guy who’s like Dylan not this…..

Worst Feature: Cash Cow.  Okay, I have to say a part of me likes the fact that all of de la Cruz’s books are connected.  But at the same time, something about this particular spin off left a bad taste in my mouth.  Maybe it’s because in one of the earlier pages when a minor unseen character from her Witches series makes a cameo appearance there’s a footnote telling me I can read more about this warlock’s family’s adventures in Witches of East End.  Then there’s also the fact, I had to do a lot of work to get a hard copy of this book and that they’re breaking up this 270 page book into four parts for ebook and charging about $2 a pop (without taxes) to read fifty or so pages.  That’s just….I’m sorry.  And yeah, I get that it had to be published as an ebook because of apparent scheduling conflicts, but just release the whole thing at once so people don’t have to pay twice as much as what they could pay for a paperback. And yeah, you can get a paperback. It’s the UK version though, so shipping might be weird.

Appropriateness:  Hmm, there’s some heavy making out here.  And violence.  Definitely PG-13.  Not for younger tweens or teens, that’s for sure.

Blockbuster Worthy: Sure, why not.  I’d love for the Blue Bloods series to one day be turned into a TV series or movies and I could see this being good season three material.  Here’s who’d I cast:

Bliss: Emma Stone.  And yeah, I think Bliss now actually deserves her to play her.  She’s grown on me that much.

Lawson: Bradford Anderson.  Honestly, this is who I pictured Lawson looking like.  And as much as I love Bradford as Spinelli on GH I don’t find him exactly physically attractive.  And I don’t really think Lawson is much either.  And before you say this guy can’t play scary.  He can.  Trust me.

Overall Rating: Five out of ten wolves.  This book was alright.  Not up to the standards I usually expect with a de la Cruz book, but it was okay.  I think my biggest crux with it was that it was unnecessary.  All this story could’ve been inserted in Misguided Angel and Lost in Time and help give the books the flow that the first four had.  As much as I don’t like Bliss (at least in comparison to Schuyler and Mimi), she was missed from the last two Blue Bloods books and I don’t think that a spinoff was needed.

Doomed: Tracy Deebs

Disclaimer:   I received a free ARC of this book from Netgalley.  This has not affect my view of the book. Doomed will be available for purchase January 8, 2013.

You can survive without electricity, the internet, cell phones, or generally any modern convenience  for a few days.  Yes, it’s tough.  But it is plausible.  After all, the caveman did it.  And for that matter so did anyone else who lived before Al Gore invented the internet.  So it is feasible that we’d survive, right?  Well, not according to Tracy Deebs which might have been the reason I couldn’t stomach finishing this one.

Hail, Al Gore.  Creator of humanity with his mighty internet.
 

General Summary: So a computer worm is released thanks to Pandora and the world goes into chaos.  Because hey, if you can’t Pinterest and Facebook all day you’re going to die.  It gets even worse when the power goes out and people start price gouging (which by the way is illegal and prevented by several statutes).  And now Pandora and her new friends must find a way to save the internet and the world as well.

Review:

You have to be stupid or make yourself think dumb to not get annoyed with this book (note, being drunk helps too).

I will state this one of the side effects of being a law student is that you’re forced to think logical this can making reading really difficult like in the case of this book.  But I think anyone who actually thinks things through when reading this book will be shaking their head at the logical fallacies that are committed.

Okay, let’s start with the obvious: the world doesn’t end when the internet and lights go out.  That’s pretty simple, right?  And for that matter most people do not go bat shit crazy and run to their neighbors when their electronics suddenly don’t work.  The simple and logical thing to do is to try to reboot your system and if that doesn’t work contact your provider and or go to the Apple store to get your computer fixed.  Furthermore, rolling black outs are more common than you think.  I know my house experienced a couple last summer and I live in the same state as Pandora (which by the way the city she claims to live in is closer to Dallas than Austin if we’re talking about Westlake if it’s West Lake Hills that’s a different story, but the book said Westlake).  The whole thing was over exaggerated like a bad disaster movie except not as good since their weren’t any aliens.

Oh yeah, this book needed aliens or a reality check.

Here’s the thing I really do like disaster movies.  In fact, their one of my guilty pleasures.  But even really bad disaster movies like Independence Day don’t have a cast that is this idiotic  or lacked common sense.  Seriously, if the technology scene wasn’t bad enough there was this whole scene that disregarded the fourth amendment.  And it was like obvious disregard.  Just watching Law and Order should’ve told you it was illegal.

Besides the fact that this books expects humanity to be stupid, I also had trouble with the characters.  I’ll start with our lead, Pandora.  Sure, she has a few lines here and there that make her look potentially kick ass, but those are just words her actions she’s’ just the typical  sort of YA heroine you want to throttle. The girl complains endlessly about how her mother doesn’t love her.  Look, her mother is probably just trying to make ends meet (because I’m betting her psycho deadbeat dad isn’t paying child support and maintenance)  and so what if she’s a high powered corporate lawyer?  Seriously, it could be a lot worse.  And yeah, I get her mother works for the greedy oil companies…but it’s a way to make a living and to be honest with you guys I worked for an energy company last summer and these people aren’t as hard and callous as mainstream media makes them out to be.  A lot of environmental policies are passed because of these companies have taken action.  Grant it, they might not have the most altruistic motives but they’re not Satan like Pandora made them out to be.  And furthermore, there’s no way her mom is as bad as her dad is a total psychopath.   Plus, there are her friends.  These random guys that just just randomly show up at her school and are commit multiple felonies for her throughout the course of the novel.

Speaking of multiple felonies, they are committed left and right in this book and because the power’s down the police are incompetent.  Right.  You know, there is a whole genre of movies (Westerns) where the police department worked without electricity.  And yes that makes communication a little difficult but not impossible.  Alternative forms of communication are available like radio and telegraph, and any other emergency forms of communication that the government has set out. Once again, I want to reiterate people aren’t totally dependent on technology.  Or at least not as much as Deebs would make it seem.  Honestly, it would’ve made a lot more sense if this book took place in the distant future where some of this dependency could’ve came off more realistic with enough world building.

Best Feature: Easy Peasy Writing: The writing is very easy to get through.  Despite some cheesy lines I didn’t struggle to read this because the prose was ridiculous.  It was really quite nice.  And I liked the premises too.

Worst Feature: It’s Called Google: The stupidity in this book is astounding.  There are tons of simple factual mistakes that had me head desking rapidly.  I’m not going to list them all out because that would be a little arbitrary, but come on some of these things were common sense.  Take for example, the whole interrogation scene it went beyond ridiculous.  Anyone who has watched an episode of Law and Order knows that police interrogations and searches are ran on specific guidelines in the states so that they don’t break the 4th Amendment.  Well, the 4th amendment is broken here kids.  And our MC instead of keeping her mouth shut and insisting that she won’t talk to the cops without her parents or attorney makes an even bigger mess and then we just have to throw in some police brutality in there for fun.  Because don’t you know, all FBI agents/Police/Homeland Security officials are evil.  It’s poor generalization.  And then there’s the way this entire technology crisis was handled too.  It was beyond ridiculous.  Deebs gets a lot of things wrong like generators.  During Hurricane Ike, my family used a generator off and on for about a week.  And we still use the thing to light up our Christmas lights (yeah, we have that big of a display).  As long as you have gasoline, the machines can work indefinitely.  Stating that they’ll only work a couple of days is stupid.  Just like assuming everyone is going to have a computer that has internet access or play that stupid game.  Seriously, you would think people would’ve learned at thing or two after Y2K.

Yeah, this is ran by generator.

Appropriateness: There’s some cussing.  Police brutality.  Violence.  No sex.  Honestly, it’s very PG-13.

Blockbuster Worthy: I guess just call in Roland Emmerich and you’ll have your movie.  I’m not going to cast though.  I don’t think I could think of an actress to play Pandora.  And I often had trouble distinguishing the two boys, so I’m not even going to attempt casting them.

Overall Rating: Three out of ten panic attacks.  This book was riddled with stupid characters and even dumber plot holes.  I do enjoy Deebs writing style though and I think if there would’ve been a little bit more fact checking this book would’ve been enjoyable.  Quite frankly, I was a little insulted that Deebs thinks the world would fall apart without technology in the span of hours.  She’s obviously never had to survive without power for a week or more like my friends and family had to do during  Ike and what people on the East Coast are doing now.  Humanity might be a lot of things, Ms. Deebs, but they are adaptable(even Independence Day understood that).  They have and could survive without the internet and electricity.

A Fractured Light: Jocelyn Davies

General Summary: So, Skye finally decides what side she’s on and who she wants to be with.  It wasn’t that difficult considering that the guy who she ended up not picking her stabbed her in the gut.  And instead  of being taken to the hospital, Skye somehow ends up in the unabomber’s cabin (okay, it’s not the unabomber’s cabin.  But it  would be a much more interesting book if it was, at least it would have a plot).  But even though she doesn’t get taken to a derange sociopath’s cabin in the woods, she’s still falling  in love with that sociopath who tried to gut her.

The sick thing is this cabin is actually in a museum now.  Yep, a museum in the Sickos section.


Review:

Where do I begin?

I guess I should start by saying I don’t remember much about Beautiful Dark only that it was yet another wannabe Twilight that featured angels.  In other words, it was one of those books that made me hate angels (that’s never a good thing).  I still though decided to give the second book a chance, via the library, but still a chance.  I thought there could be potential to this series despite how big of a cliche it was.  I was wrong.

The sequel is even worse than the first book, and the first book wasn’t that great.  You could literally skip this book and be perfectly okay to read the upcoming third book because nothing that significant happens here.  Okay, we learn a few things about Aunt Jo and the climax does set things up for the third book, but I’m sure there will be some sort of recap considering that none of these books dealt with the fallout appropriately.

Honestly, I was bored when I read this book.  I’m glad I read it though because I’m in the middle of finals and I really shouldn’t be distracted by reading fiction and I wasn’t distracted by this.  If it wasn’t for finals though, I’d be pissed.  I felt like I wasted my time with this book.  Nothing really happened in this book as I said before nothing.

There wasn’t even character development and this book needed some heavy character development.  All the characters, including our narrator and main character, are flat.  We don’t really get what motivates them, what individualizes them.  Really, the only way I was able to distinguish the love interest was that Asher was the dark headed one and Devin is the one that stabbed her and has blonde hair.  That’s not good, people.  That’s not good.

And I have to say, I was really annoyed with how certain situations were handled in this book.  Really, having feelings for a guy who stabbed you in the stomach?   How is that even….  You know what, if you think that’s a healthy relationship.  I’m going to give you this link to check out.  Please, look at it.  You might thank me later down the road.

Anyway,  it just makes me angry thinking about it.  I am fucking (excuse my language) sick of the glamorization of abusive relationships in YA fiction.  And yes, I know that Davies states he had no choice.  But he freaking did have a choice.  He put his hands onto that knife, there was no mind control.  No nothing.  I don’t care if he was ordered to do it, he had the choice.

Sigh.  Really were a lot of things about this book that made me angry when it came to this book, that I think were just done in terms of being a plot device or moving the non existent  plot along.  And if I have to hear Skye apologize for something she did not do or something she should not be apologizing for again……..

Yeah, not going to be pleasant.

Best Feature: Um, relatively clean prose.  For the most part this book was written decently enough.  The purpose prose wasn’t that bad until the end.  And there weren’t that many scenes or descriptions that made me  want to roll my eyes at least from the writing perspective.  Though the dialogue was about as stilted as the character development.  Honestly, I was shocked to find out that this wasn’t a packaged book.  It just seems that forced.

Worst Feature: Unnecessary  love triangle. Seriously, I do not know why there is a love triangle going on at this point in the novel.  I mean, Devin tried to kill Skye in the last installment.  Surely, that should put an end to Skye going all googly eyed over Mr. Blonde, Tan, and Bland.  But nope.  She’s still having visions of making out with him.  The really sad thing is that both of these love interests are so bland.  Asher, her boyfriend, is at best a weak supporting character.  Devin’s role is pretty minuscule too.  Really, most of the characters in this book apart from Skye needed some developing.  And Skye herself is just a bore.  A bore who I could not figure out for the life of me why everyone wants.  Even Bella had more hobbies than Skye does.  She’s just that sad.  Seriously, the only thing I know about her is that she likes to wear layers in the spring because it’s very practical for the weather.  That, my friends, is sad.

Appropriateness:  Hmm, not going to give this one my seal of approval for appropriateness.  Yes, there isn’t any explicit language or sex in this book. But God, do I hate the way this book portrays relationships (it’s okay apparently to moon after someone who tries to kill/apologize to people who are insulting and trash talking you) and Skye is such a doormat it’s not funny.

Blockbuster Worthy: I already casted the main roles here.  But no, this one wouldn’t be a good movie.  It would be a really boring and bad movie.  And since we already have the Twilight Saga there’s no need for more boring and bad YA fiction turned to movies.

Overall Rating: Three out of ten wings.  This one is bad, guys.  But not in the typical bad book it makes you want to rip it’s figurative throat out sort of way.  Rather, it’s just bland.  And there are some really awful themes with a really boring main character in it that just makes you forget about it.  This book wasn’t for me though I can see how it might be popular amongst readers who like Twilight types of books.