Stuck in a Bad Romance: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Warning: This was almost a five star review so there will be lots of fangirling and on the review on the main blog has lots and lots of Beauty and the Beast gifs.

I’ll admit it, I’m a little bit of a Beauty and the Beast ho.  I can’t help myself though.  Belle was the only Disney princess that could read and their relationship wasn’t based on instant love.  So anytime there’s some random YA retelling of this classic fairytale I’m totally okay with it.

Only this Belle doesn’t read, unless it involves learning how to kill the beast (just unintentionally quoted “The Mob Song” there).  However, she doesnt’ try to kill him in an annoying girl power way.  She realizes just how unprepared she is for the situation is, and that’s what I think I like best about this one.

That the main character has realistic expectations for herself.  She’s also sort of a bitch which I love. Why do I love the fact that Nyx is willing to say cruel things to people, because she fully acknowledges she’s messed up and she actually has reason for being damaged goods unlike about 98% of the protagonists out there. Plus, her nastiness isn’t as horrible as other characters nastiness that is described as being spunk.  Nyx outright accepts the fact that she’s well…not a nice person.

What I found to be particularly interesting about this book was that Nyx’s twin sister is the type of character you usually see as a main character in a YA book.  Or the Beauty and the Beast fairytale in general.  Being a B&B whore, I’ve read several versions of the fairytale and watched the behind the scenes  features on my DVD copy of the Disney version and the Beauty character is almost always sweetie sweet.  Disney’s Belle, really is one of the bitcher versions of Beauty and that’s saying something.

I really think the character of Nyx, is what made this book for me.

Of course, I also liked the banter between Nyx and one of her love interests too.

Yes, this book has a love triangle.  And honestly the whole triangle thing wasn’t really that offensive to me.  Though one of the legs of the triangle just was almost sort of irrelevant.

I did like the fact she characterized Shade like this surprisingly enough.  I think it’s because I sort of suspected what was going on before the grand reveal though.  Honestly, the characterization that bothered me in a way more was the Ignifex character.

Oh, I liked Ignifex a lot.  But he felt like a well formed character, almost too well formed for someone who was only supposed to be essentially half a person or demon or whatever he was.

That was probably one of the biggest cruxes that this book had, was how everything wrapped up.  I enjoyed reading it, but after stepping away from the book I saw its true self.

And there were flaws in this book.  Like the fact it moved at a snail’s pace till the last fourth where is just sort of exploded.   However, once again I gave it a past because the Beauty and the Beast fairytale pacing is waaaaaay off too.  I think keeping that perspective allowed me to enjoy the book while I think others who don’t keep this in mind might find it to be a turn off.

That’s the thing about Cruel Beauty, it really isn’t going to be everybody’s book.   Those who like it or going to love it those who don’t….well….

It will be an okay experience, but not great.

In addition to be heavy with the romance, Cruel Beauty takes place in an alternative history where the Greco-Roman religion still rules.  It’s sort of info dumped on you at times and while it works at the same time you wonder why its even there.  It works in a very strange way.

Strange would probably be the best way to described this book.  While it’s enjoyable, there are flaws and you can see them.  But unlike usually where flaws have me wanting to punch something, I still enjoyed this one a lot.  I really don’t know what it is about this book but it has so far been my best read of this year.

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten (B+/A-).

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Judge a Couple err…..Book by Its Cover

It’s February next month which means that dreadful holiday where people who have a significant other go to Kay’s and get them a whatever to show how much they care or buy them a big box of chocolate.  Since I wanted to do something thematic for the month, I decided to look at some covers that feature couples.

Who is this Couple: No one in this world was right for Sabrina, until she met Rich.  However, this is a catch Rich isn’t from this world.  No, he’s not an alien.  He’s not from another time either.  But from another dimension.  And an inter-dimension relationship well….there’s more problems in that because you can’t very well Skype or leave letters in bottles for you to find ten years later.

What they Really Represent: A girl goes on a class trip to London and of course tries to fall in love, not realizing that there’s a hot American who’s already smitten with her.

Will They Last: I really don’t like this cover.  I think it’s the background.  It’s just way too busy for my tastes.

Who is this Couple: She thought he was just a guy.  A regular guy.  That’s all Princess Emile of You’ve-Never-Hear-Of-It wanted.  A couple of dates with a nice normal, no royal, never going to be even an earl guy.  And it was going so well until they’re car broke down on the way to Lake Tahoe.  And then things got worse.  It turns out that cute guy she met in Vegas, Just Carl, is  really  Prince Carlos as in the guy her grandma wants to set her up with.  This will not do.  It also doesn’t help that they’re completely lost in the middle of nowhere and actually do have to rely on each other if they don’t want to get back to civilization.

What they Really Represent: Two spoiled brats (one a rich American girl, the other a prince) complain about their life while on vacation.

Will They Last: I think it’s a little too generic.  Though it could be way worst.  It’s just one of those covers you know you’re not going to remember in a year or so.

Who is this Couple: Meet Reba and Stewart.  The spawn of celebrity chefs.  The Taste Network wants to exploit their parents as much as they can, so they decided that since celebrity spawn is so in right now that the kids of their network show should have a reality competition.  This is exactly what Stew wants.  He can finally prove to that arsehole father of his that he can make beef bouillon just as good as the famous Godfrey Richards.  Reba though, not so happy.  Because she can’t cook worth a flip.  And she knows if she doesn’t make the finals her mother is going to blow a gasket.  Which is why she asks for hottie Stew’s help for cooking lessons and for help to stay in the kitchen.  Of course, since they’re in the kitchen things heat up.

What they Really Represent: A reality contests with a nobody heroine and a celebrity spawn asshole hero.  I bet you can guess what happens.

Will They Last: Overkill.  Though I’m glad they didn’t show their faces.

Who is this Couple: Bob and Nora like to have staring contests.  They also like to go to Trader Joe’s and get cheap wine and cheese.  And order from the “secret” menu at Starbucks.  In other words, their your typical hipsters.  However, despite being hipsters they’re actually quite mainstream when they announce that after a whirlwind college romance-they met the first day of class when Nora yelled at the barista at Starbucks for not knowing how to make a Mint Chocolate Chip flavored frappachino from the secret menu-they’re engaged.  Trying to shake things up, Bob and Nora make a list of ten things they normally would never do.  Will this keep them hipsters forever, or god with the become yuppies?

What they Really Represent: A girl somehow manages to convince  her parents to let her live with her b.f.f. with no supervision.  And yeah, they’re minors.  And yeah, she gets an STD.

Will They Last: Um, no.  Anyone who stands that close together needs to learn the concept of personal space.  But what might be their saving grace (for now) is that they’re on trend.

Who Is This Couple:  Grace Givings daddy owns a car dealer-ship which automatically=bad boy hunky mechanic.  This story, of course, revolves around Grace and bad boy, Reed, getting together and doing it in the merchandise.

What They Really Represent: Two characters are sort of thrust together after some sketchy activities happen when they’re street racing.

Will it Last: It’s on trend.  And even though it’s embarrassing to take out in public the popularity of these covers will last for awhile.

Mom’s Bookshelf: Creepy Gifts Only the Most Disturbed Daughter Can Love

So,  long story short a couple of weeks ago one of my GR friends was reading a rather disturbing bodice ripper.  Said particular bodice ripper was one that owned or was actually given to me by my mom.  Today, I decided to look at some of the gifts my mom has given me throughout the years.  And at the end of this little entry I’m letting you guys vote on the one you want me to read so that I can be scarred for life:

About the Book: It starts out with a pretty graphic rape  by an Italian prince who’s her brother in-law, and then flashes forward where the victim becomes a model years later and she’s getting death threats or something.  A hunky detective just happens to help her out and he’s able to make her come alive again in typical NA fashion (note this is not NA, it was published in 1992 when most NA writers were playing with Barbie’s or only a twinkle in their parent’s eyes).

Mom Gifted it to Me Because: It’s Catherine Coulter and Catherine Coulter is a queen (as you’ll soon find out based on some of these other finds).  To be fair though, I think she liked it because of the mystery angle.

Verdict: If you skim over the really graphic stuff, can control the eye rolling on the model’s obsession with the size of her thighs it’s okay for a book in the early 90’s.

About the Book: This hot movie star gets convicted of killing his wife.  But of course because this is a romance novel he’s totally innocent and being the bad ass that he is he breaks out of jail and kidnaps a virgin.   And of  course they make sweet love and that’s enough for her to love him, even though she thinks he’s a murderer.  But her prude relatives finally smack some  sense in her to turn him and in and then she finds out he’s innocent….(gasp).

Mom gifted it to me because: I actually begged her to read this one.  To be honest, I sort of stole it from her hidden stack before she gifted it to me.

Verdict: I really do like this book in a guilty pleasure sort of way and I love it’s companion prequel Paradise even more.  Note, if you don’t like ridiculously unrealistic romances you’re not going to like this one.

About the Book: Imagine if Lois Lane got into a plane crash and woke up and everyone thought she was married to Bruce Wayne, who in this universe was running for senate and  Lois found out someone was trying to kill the Batman.  This is that book except there’s no Batman and Lois Lane is not in love with Superman. In fact, she’s not Lois Lane even though the MC desperately wants to be.

Mom gifted it to me because: The plot she said was soooo good.

Verdict: A bit of a let down the Bruce Wayne wannabe was a bit too much of a jerk for my tastes, and Lois Lane was just so boring.  I really did want Superman to appear and give this book a bloody love triangle.  That’s something no one should ever wish for.

What’s the Book About: Here is where Catherine Coulter fucks up books in such a way you can’t help reading because they’re so freaking messed up.  This one starts off with the MC getting abused then she basically gets sold into marriage with a guy who wants nothing to do with her while falling in love with an asshole. There’s a lot more going on there, but since I don’t want to disturb anyone’s reading experience of this wonderful fuckery I’m not going to spill.

Mom gifted it to me because: Queen Catherine wrote it.

Verdict: It’s one of those books I read on occasion just for the sheer fuckery of it.  You can’t even rip into it that’s how horrible it is.  But the fact that Coulter just piles on shitastic event after another makes you keep reading on.

About the Book: An overly perky coed develops DID in the days it was known as MPD and psychology was in its awful 90’s state.

Mom Gifted it to Me: At the ripe old age of eleven, I think.  I was an advance reader.  To be honest though, even though they’re murder mysteries Mary Higgins Clark books are pretty vanilla.  This one is a little bit more graphic than most, but it’s nothing if you look at some of the other fuckery in my mom’s hidden shelf.

Verdict: I love it.  Sure, Higgins Clark has bland characters.  And you always know what to expect.  But this is one of those books I can go back and read because it’s just so vanilla-ly horrible.

The Unofficial House of Night Drinking Game: Revealed by PC and Kristin Cast

I have no self control.  I know House of Night year was 2013, but this one was mocking me at the library and I just had to read it.  I really don’t know why my library’s YA librarian has to pick out such rancid choices in reading for the youth in my community.  I really want to sit down and discuss some of these feature read choices she makes.  But I won’t.  I don’t want to get banned from there and quite frankly her choices are usually pretty good if you want to get tanked.

I swear my librarian is a demon. Hey, it could happen.

I don’t drink though when I do House of Night drinking games.  I like my liver too much and I found that the latest books are even worse than the previous ones, so getting polluted isn’t the smartest thing to do.  That being said if you wanted to get drunk on this book it wouldn’t be that difficult.

Sigh…

You know with a series this long, it gets difficult to know how to review each book.  So, I decided that for this particular review I”d try to theorize why this particular book is so bad.  I think that’s a valid review.  And I thought if you really wanted to have a drinking game to this installment you could take a drink every time the text is geared towards one of the following theories:

1)The Casts are treating the series as a drinking game themselves:

Another draft of HON complete!

I seriously had to wonder if the Casts were drunk when they wrote this.  A lot of the nonsense I read almost read like it was an inside joke of sorts.

Of course, being me being the conspiracy theorist I am (seriously, I think H2 needs to give me a show about deciphering the Casts, it would be much more interesting than that lame America Unearthed) I started believing that there was some sort of drinking game going on here.

It seemed almost as if they’d give themselves points for every time they randomly mentioned brown pop.  Every time Neferet walked around randomly naked or anytime Zoey gets told how special she is.  Having the random Captain Planet ritual also helps.

Being formulaic  doesn’t automatically equal terrible, but in the case of the House of Night it does.  I really don’t care that Zoey is obsessed with soda but never calls it by its real name, that Neferet is an exhibitionist, or that Zoey is the ultimate Mary Sue.  I guess I should be happy there wasn’t a regulation vocabulary lesson in this book…

You actually barely even noticed Damien’s existence in this one.

Really, most of the original cast is gone.  Save for Zoey and Stevie Rae and one of the twins.  But everyone else. Poof.  Prince Eric doesn’t even get a mer mention in this one (guess he finally found Ariel-took him long enough).  Even though a lot of these classic HON tropes were still in there, this book really did feel off. I just don’t know how to explain it. Anyway, I’m going to list some classic HON tropes below that support said theory:

  • Naked Neferet
  • Brown Pop
  • Zoey’s romantic life being viewed as overly complicated but oh so romantic
  • Melodramatic deaths
  • Funeral pyres
  • Grandma Redbird’s fucking lavender farm
  • Nuns hanging out with demons and not acting like nuns
  • Someone being arrested or accused of a crime

2) The Casts are seeing how much they can get away with while fulfilling their contract:

As I said previously, this HON book lacked heart.  And to be honest this isn’t the first book in the series that has been like this.  It’s been a steady decline since the fourth of fifth book, but there was something about this one that really seemed to me like the Casts gave up.

I blame a lot of it on abrupt pacing.  As I’ll mention in theory five there were a lot of moments that felt fake because of the nature they were written.  Instead of digging deeper into scenes, I just felt they were barely scraped by.  It really didn’t work and made the book feel sloppy.

A part of me wants to pacify the Casts and say that just planned too much for one series, but the thing about this series is that eighty-five percent of the books are nothing.  It really seems like they want to write another book so they can get another advance.  I’m not entirely blaming them, it’s good business sense, but why not move on to a new series.  This horse has been beaten way too many times.

Honestly, if you drank to this series expect to wake up in a hospital room.  As I said before I do not recommend alcohol if you want to play this game.

3) The Casts believe they’re edgy and/or are pushing a message:

This is an interesting thought.

But what’s the fucking message.  I ask this because this series really has a dual personality sometimes its trying to be grossly immature borderline elementary  and sometimes it’s just being nasty to the extreme.  I decided to pull out two sections that I’ll use to illustrate this:

Appealing to the Kiddos:

I went to he drink bar and filled up my glass of brown pop-fully leaded- with caffein -calling back to him, ‘Not six-nine..  That’s when I made up the psaghetti madness song.’ I cleared my throat and launched into  ‘Pa-sghe-ti, pa-sghe-ti’ and even did the psaghetti dance the way to the booth. (63)

 

For the X Rated Crowd:

‘Shiiiit!  I knew you two were abnormally close.  You did fuck her!  And she didn’t even tell me.  That’s a damn shame.  The three of us, we could’ve had a good time.’ (180).

Do you see why I’m perplexed?  I really don’t get it.  I have tried from book to book, but they just keep getting stranger and stranger.  Especially with Neferet.  I honestly skip over her section now because she is a pathetic villain who the Casts try to demonize her by sexualizing her which really just has me rolling my eyes.  But then again what do expect by someone who writes this

‘So you’re used to scaring human girls into giving you some cash?’ What total jerks!

The second guy shrugged. ‘If a girl don’t want to be scared she shouldn’t be out here alone.’ (291)

4) The Casts actually have a target audience that these books works for:

Clearly the targeted age group for HON.

I really don’t know who the target audience is.

Do I know who reads these books?

Yeah, I sort of do.  More often than not readers started the series when they were young and naive and kept reading them as a guilty pleasure series. Many of them though, eventually gave up on the series or some continued it for the pure snark value like I do.  I really dont’ know anyone who read them because they find the books to be genuinely good, though I’m sure there are some people out there that find them to be quality books.

And that’s fine.  That’s their prerogative.  You can’t judge them for that, much like they can’t judge me for hating them.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  But based on the series here’s what I think this sort of person would be:

  • A sheltered individual: Most likely the person who would read this series and like it would have no real life experiences that they could call the Cast on their bull shit.
  • A romantic: Probably a fan of the Twilight Saga to be honest.  Let’s face it, the series was written around the same time Twilight  was published and the vampires were probably inserted to appeal to that audience.  I think that’s the only reason for the love drama in this series.  To be honest, as the Twilight craze has wane so has the romance in these books.  True, Zoey shags a couple of guys in basically every book but it’s more or less just a part of her routine.
  • A person who doesn’t read a lot: I hope this doesn’t sound elitist.  I really hope it doesn’t, but I think these books are geared towards kids who don’t like to read.  They almost remind me of those books they’d try to pitch to kids that reading’s cool.  In other words, it’s not pitched towards readers more towards the non-reader audience which causes lots of  problems just by that statement alone.  I mean, a book is going to be read.  Shouldn’t it be preached towards people who enjoy reading.  Yet, the House of Night series regularly makes remarks about how reading is for nerds and then uses every trope that drives readers insane.  I’m just saying…I think this is a hint at its targeted group.

5) The Casts have been replaced by an eight year old ghost writer of alien origin:

This theory is probably the most logical one I’ve come up with yet.  It would explain how the prose has deteriorated to the quality it is now where  a psaghetti song is a running gag.

I kid you not.

Need another example.  A murder which should’ve effected one of the main characters, is dramatically trivialized to the point you almost think you’re reading a bad fan fic. Human emotions in this story do not ring true.  Of course, you could make the argument that they’re not humans.  But that’s only true for about 3/4 of the text.

It honestly shouldn’t surprise me.  Big emotional events have always been trivialized in this series.  Remember when Zoey got caught with Professor Skeeze by Prince Eric?  The reaction was cartoonish then.  You could say the same thing about the various times Neferet has walked around naked, or the multiple times that old biddy Redbird almost died, or for that matter the “Defying Gravity”  swan song.  The Casts just can’t do emotion.

Overall Rating: No stars (F).  Really, this book is shiteous.  The thing is, I’m perfectly fine with that.  I don’t read HON to expect quality I expect snark.  But the snark value, sadly, is disappearing.

Top Five Books that Should and Shouldn’t be made to Films

I’ve been looking at some rather messed up movies lately, which made me think about what books should and shouldn’t make it on to the big screen:

Books that Should Make it to Film

1) 

Honestly, making a Lunar Chronicles film or films would be risky.  There’s so much going on in the world that Meyer created and it would have to be done by a director who actually read the source material and tried to adapt it accordingly.  I could see it being a huge disaster if certain people in Hollywood got their grubby paws on it.  However, if done successfully, a Lunar Chronicles film would be so much fun to watch.  Not only is the storyline intriguing, but visually this could be a very pretty film. And it would be something entirely new for YA movies since the story is more or less focused on an ensemble cast than a single character.

2) 

Anna and the French Kiss would be easy enough to adapt.  And for that matter it would be cheap to produce too since it’s a contemporary.  All it needs is a semi-decent screen writer and two actors who have tons of chemistry together.  The only huge expense would be the fact the book takes place in Paris.

3)

An angel book that doesn’t suck.  Yay!  Actually, I was a little reluctant about putting this one on the list of films that should get an adaptation since arguably you could make a case that this is a bit of a Twilight wannabe.  But I think that’s why it should get a chance on the big screen.  Hand makes what appears to be a gag worthy story enjoyable. Even though it has a love triangle.  Plus, the series has some heavy themes in it that I think would also add depth to any film adaption.

4)

This series is what makes me a life long Cabot aficionado.  And I have always wanted a movie made out of it, though it has been in development hell for years.  I think if it could get off the ground though and was somewhat true to the books, it could be a bigger hit than Princess Diaries.  Suze is the type of heroine I look to when reading books.  She’s smart, sassy, and snarky.  If only more YA MC’s could be this way.  Plus, she’s a snazzy dresser.  If Hollywood would take a chance on her, I’m sure she would kick ass.

5)

Rosemary Clement-Moore is one of my favorite authors and I often think she doesn’t get enough credit when due.  Her books are so different than a lot of things out there.  She really does have a way of writing for my inner nerd.  And I would just love to see her books adapted into film.  Honestly, if you took some of those wild theories on the History Chanel and fictionalized them that would be a Clement-Moore novel.  I chose Texas Gothic  as the novel I wish they’d adapt to film because she really took Texas history and made it come alive.  And having to sit through Texas history, I have to tell you that’s a hard task to do (and I was the top in my class in that particular subject).

Books that Should Never Hit the Big Screen

1)

This one was quite a painful read for me because I wanted to love it.  Maybe if it was adapted and the source material was completely stripped to the bones, it might be okay.  But no, just no.  Honestly, I can imagine how this one would fair: BAD.  All the comic geeks out there in the world would pitch a fit when they saw ballerina Batman wannabe.  And considering how any other superhero movie out there with a female protagonist sucks, this one really wouldn’t be that much different.  Though I wonder how Marvel and DC would like knowing how Kahaney essentially merged Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne into a pathetic character that makes even George Clooney’s Batman look bad ass.

2)

Even though it’s technically a better storyline than The Mortal Instruments, no just no.  The problem with this one is that it is sort of a continuation on the first series even though it’s a prequel.  The world is set in the Shadowhunter universe and the problem with that is…..well, City of Bones.  And considering that there’s a recurring character in this universe who appears in this series and who was horribly miscast and dubbed over….well, that kind of screws this series from making a big screen appearance.

3)

It’s been optioned, but I pray to the film gods it never gets made into a movie.  I mean, it really would be a boring film with weird random outbursts on occasion by Travis.  Not that interesting in my opinion.  However, I suppose they could do the cafeteria singing sequence.  That seemed to work in another movie franchise.

4)

Remember how I said that Unearthly  would be the perfect book turned to film to rectify Twilight, well….Halo would be the book to turn into a movie if you wanted Twilight to look like a wonderful cinematic experience.  Everything about his book is 1D.  On the other hand, maybe making Halo into a film would be surprisingly easy.  You could practically gut the book and do whatever the hell you wanted and no one would care.  In fact, they’d probably thank you.

5)

This actually has a lot of potential for a film, but and this is a huge but there are way too many loose strings involved in this book to adapt it.  I still can’t pinpoint what sub genre it belongs to and there were so many plot holes I just…..

The Underworld’s Version of Independence Day: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

 

Note: This review will be spoiler heavy since I have to let out my feelings for the way this book ended.  It’s not a total rant though, so don’t get your pitchforks out on me yet.

The Everneath trilogy probably has been one of the most exciting trilogies in YA’s recent past.  Especially that second book, Everbound.  Man that book was bad ass.  Its the antithesis of sophomore slump, but it seems like the sophomore slump finally caught up to it and the finale.  And that’s a shame.

Don’t get me wrong, Evertrue had a lot going for it.  Ashton’s writing is as engaging as always and if I didn’t think about what was going on I enjoyed the book a whole lot.  In fact, the first fourth of the book was great.  The characters were on par and then…and then Ashton decided to do a classic soap opera storyline line of amnesia.

And well, the book turned from being something to being the underworld  version of Independence Day.

Don’t believe me.  Well, I’ll explain my thesis that Evertrue is essentially a paranormal version of Independence Day:

Nikki (Jeff Goldblum): 

Yes, Nikki equals Jeff Goldblum’s character.  You know the average guy  (well, what’s really average about someone who’s going to M.I.T.) but manages to save the world despite his pitiful cable man status, that’s Nikki.  Except she’s female and doesn’t even have a piece of paper from a prestigious university to designate she’s special.  Rather she’s…I still don’t know.

I do like her though, as strange as that sounds.  I think she’s portrayed in a pretty realistic light, and I like the fact that she’s a little dimmer than most of these YA rocket scientists.  And she has grown up some…but still her whole idea of blowing up the Everneath with little thought it’s dumb.  The fact that she doesn’t regret it even though it’s causing all the everliving to cease in existence is just downright cruel.

Oh, I suppose they’re evil for being everlivings…but…ugh, I really don’t like the whole black and white view on good versus evil.  This was what had me enjoying the last few books.  Maybe the fact that she had this mindset throughout the whole book was why I found it to be lackluster.  Plus, really, Nikki defeating everyone with such ease.

This is Nikki we’re talking about, right?

Well, I guess if we look Nikki at in the context of Independence Day, Jeff Goldblum, her logic makes sense.  After all, Goldblum was able to defeat an advance civilization with a computer virus.  Sure…..  But then again in a book where the lead gets sent to rehab, despite the fact that drugs are never in her system at the end of the series, I guess logic ceases to exist in this universe as well.

Jack (President Bill Pullman):

Let’s face it, Bill Pullman was mainly in Independence Day because they needed more man candy to counter Jeff Goldblum’s awkwardness (I mean, Will Smith can only do so much despite his charm) and everyone always knows in a crisis it’s good to have a hot president.  Of course, even though President Pullman calls the shots the movie it’s really Jeff Goldblum pulling the strings.  Much like Nikki was the one wearing the pants in this relationship.

Presidential speeches are so much better when the president is hot.

And like Bill Pullman Jack is sooooo boring.  He really has become a mancessory in a lot of ways.  Don’t get me wrong, I like him.  But I liked him better in earlier books.  Here he seems more or less along for the ride.  I think Jack was the strongest in the first book.  Luckily though, even though he’s a bit of a bore in this particular installment he doesn’t get Ya-ified with tropes.  He’s still a nice guy and I’m happy for him and Nikki.

Cole (Randy Quaid):

Oh, Cole.  Poor, poor Cole.  It seems like any character who’s named Cole gets the sour end of the lollypop like the demon did in Charmed.  But since I’m comparing this overall to Independence Day  not Charmed.  I think it’s safe to say that Cole is the Randy Quaid of this book.

This is a character who I loved to pieces not because I saw him so much as a love interest but because he was such an intriguing character.  I liked that he was a sadistic bastard.  But then he just had to go and get soap opera amnesia and all that hard scheming he did, well, was futile.  Instead, he really became a Randy Quaid of this book and after sobbing for him for maybe half a paragraph Nikki got over it.

To be fair though, it wasn’t even his ending so much that bothered me.  It was the way his character was assassinated.  The amnesia thing really, really didn’t work for me.  It turned a sadistic bastard into a stupid tool that Nikki and her boy toy could manipulate.

It was just an easy fix.

I wanted a nice fair game, damn it.  I didn’t get my showdown between these two like I wanted.  I just was…really underwhelmed.

The Rest of the Everlivings ( The Aliens):

While the actual world that the everlivings lived in was built was well developed.  The everlivings and their society for the most part was overlooked.  Oh, we knew about a few of them.  But we really didn’t see an overview of everliving society in general.  They were as 1D as those aliens in the movie.  Which I guess made it okay for Nikki to nuke them.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this book.  I can see a lot of people liking it.  If I didn’t think about it, I would’ve loved it.  But the longer I thought about it the more I got annoyed with it.  Maybe I’m being too hard on it though.  I think after the second installment, I might’ve expected too much.   I’m going to give this a solid three stars or seven out of ten stars (B).

Obviously, Scott Never Played the Oregon Trail: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Notice: I received an ARC of this, via Netgalley.  My opinion has not been effective by this.

Please Note in the writing of this review there was no harm to animals.  Instead, two terriers cuddled by the review writer’s feet and two Beagles are munching on chew bones.  These pets would never be forced to go in a jungle or walk in the desert.  In fact, one terrier is barely allowed outside by herself in case she has a seizure.  They should all read this book so that they are grateful that they are treated so well even though they do not have a pet duck of their own (long story).

Unfortunately, Patty Beagle won’t be reading this book either.  Some things should be kept from your dog’s eyes.  Especially in a book that’s last act involved pet killing.

Well, pandora killing, but they are technically  pets (or Pokemon) I think.

So, animal lovers beware.  This one is a disaster in waiting for you.

That being said, if you’re into pets getting whacked, let’s look at Fire & Flood.

If I was to describe this book to you, I’d say that Scott was probably so too many adds for Run for the Cure got that stuck in her head and then watched The Hunger Games a thousand times and wondered how Katniss would’ve behind if she was obsessed with Maxfactor.

I kid you not.  That’s what this book is with some horrible scenes thrown in from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

To be fair to this book though, it had some things going for it.  Like ocassionally there would be a glimpse of the Scott that you see in the Dante Walker books, but then poof it would be gone replaced by….well, I don’t know just how to describe it.

I spent a good chunk of this book wondering if this book was a dystopia, a contemporary with a bit of magical realism, a fantasy, an alternative world or what.  Finally, I just gave up trying to classify it.  And it’s not because my issues were resolved.  Rather, because my annoyances went elsewhere.

Like with the main character.  Seriously, Tella, do you really have to be so vain?  It would be one thing too if her vanity was noted.  Instead, its portrayed as if she’s a good person.  She really isn’t.  She really doesn’t think that much about her brother during all of this.  Rather, it’s about the hot naked tattoo boy next to her in the desert and how she’s happy that he’s perving over her.

Yeah, she says that.  Oh, yes, I’m happy that a practically random stranger  is staring at my naked tits and bum.  Never mind it’s the desert and at night and it’s ridiculously cold.  And even though we have supplies, it’s better to engage in the you’ll be warmer naked cliche.

Or for that matter never mind the fact, that when you play  Oregon Trail 2 you’re more successful traveling the desert during the night than day but in this race…travel during the heat of the day.  Heat exhaustion, dehydration….psssh who ever heard of those things.

Just like who would ever think twice before taking a pill or running off for a race for a magic cure that they never heard of before or never even had the decency to Google, are darling MC that’s who.  She just jumps in her car and leaves.  And what does her family do when she leaves, well, write her a letter of course.  Even though they have no idea where she goes.

Because I try to inflict logic into books, I have rationalized this scene by thinking this is what might’ve happened:

Mother: My daughter’s missing.  She ran away because she bought some scam that said it would give her wonder drugs.

Cop: (Nods head) Ma’m, when was the last time you saw your daughter?

 Mother: Last night, then this magical box….

 Cody: Mom, what’s going on?

 Mother: Your sister’s missing she’s out for some quest for some wonder drug.  The police are going to do something.

 Cop: Actually, no.  I can’t really begin an investigation until you contact, Tella.

Mother: Cody, write Tella a letter.

Cody: But where will I address it to.  We don’t know where Tella went?

Cop: Oh, we borrow JK Rowling’s owls for assistance in that.  They know where everyone is.  Muggle or magical.

Mother: But this is a Victoria Scott book not a JK Rowling book.

Cop: We’re the book police.  We have our ways.

Yes, I have to use a JK Rowling crossover to explain this logic mess.  Either that or the NSA is somehow involved.  Though considering that Edward Snowden would’ve probably already squealed on that one had to go with option one.

I know I sound harsh, but I really had hopes for this one.  I really did enjoy Victoria Scott’s Dante Walker books.  However, everything I loved about those books weren’t in this series.  While Dante Walker doesn’t have that sophisticated of world building, you get the world that Scott sets the books in, the characters make sense, I don’t have to use the book police to explain their actions.  Plus, Dante’s enjoyable even though he can be a vain dick. Here though, sigh…I don’t think I’ll probably be reading the sequel even though the ending’s cliffhanger did interest me somewhat.

Overall Rating: Three out of ten (D).

 

Fucked Up YA Adaptions: City of Bones

Here’s a link to my actual review of this movie.  Because of my new miniseries “Fucked Up YA Movies” and a poll I put up, I decided to rewatch this movie.  I’m not going to write an actual review again because that would be monotonous, but I am going to take a critical look at the movie and point out some of the major faux pas that killed it and other YA adaptions:

1)  Poor Direction: Without a doubt, that’s what I really noticed about this film the second go around.  And I notice that this is an important factor in any YA adaption.  The director affects the mood of the movie.  You can see this very prominently in the Harry Potter films.  While the director that the film studio hired has done some decent films, I just don’t agree with his vision for City of Bones.  It was almost as if he wanted to do a throwback to the 80’s.  Which is fine, but City of Bones is not the film to do this with.  If you want to throwback anything, throwback Harry Potter.  That’s how Clare made her killing.

 

Hermione trying to get the two hours of her life back.

2) Author Control: The amount of control Cassandra Clare has is debatable, based on what you read from Clare’s blog before and after the film aired.  Regardless, of what version you believe, I think having too much or too little control in a book vs movie adaption makes a horrible movie.  While it is true authors know their world inside and out, they don’t know film making.  I think having a balance between director and author control is essential.  While I do think an author should have some insight in the casting, I don’t think they should say be there for the casting.  Perhaps someone who might look the part might not act the part, and while a casting director might recognize this an author who has ideas of her characters based on numerous fan art posted on her Tumblr probably won’t.

3) Use of Special Effects: I read somewhere that the director wanted to use old school effects and this actually made me excited.  I hate some of the newer CGI stuff, see the wolves in the Twilight movies.  But, and this is a big but, they didn’t utilize what made old school effects great.  Instead, the special effects that were given were down right cheesy.  Case in point: the big kissing scene.  Those effects just added cheese onto more cheese.  It’s a kissing scene.  A kiss is supposed to be magical on its own accord.  Having to use some cheap lighting, a rain machine, a fake bird, and some flowers that suddenly bloom when the two characters exchange saliva is just pushing it.

Even K Stew’s right hook look more realistic.

4) Miscast: Let’s face it, this film was seriously miscast.  Especially when it comes to Jace.  I don’t have anything against Jaime Campbell Bower, but he is not leading man material for a teeny bopper flick.  That’s not a bad thing.  He does have an interesting face.  A very interesting face where he could be very successful at doing films that actually have value.  But to be a teenage item of lust, not so much.  Though that’s what they try to push him as in this movie.  Also, I just really couldn’t see him and Collins as a couple which is sad because they were dating in real life. To be fair to him though, he made the best out of the script he was given.  But dude, get some shampoo on that head of yours, pronto. Interestingly enough, miscasting seems to be called out every time a YA adaption is made.  However, I don’t think it happens that much.  Sure, Robert Pattinson might not look like Henry Cavill (Meyer’s ideal Edward),but he was able to embody the part and the studio helped enough by styling him as Edward and giving him something to work with.  Poor Jamie though, he never had a chance.

5) The Score: Oh.  Dear. Lord.   I don’t think people often realize the importance of the score.  It really can make or break a movie.  Especially when you take the score and use it at inappropriate times.  The music is supposed to compliment the movie not overwhelm it like in the case of City of Bones.  Often I feel like music is used to hide the flaws in these movie.  Once again, I’m going to refer back to The Princess Diaries 2 and its five thousand montages.

Time for another song.

6) Sour Script: To be fair they didn’t have much to work with.  But some of the dialogue was so unnecessary and just bogged down the movie I wanted to get a red pen out and start marking things off the script.  It’s actually a problem you see in lots of YA movies, but other movies are able to hide their atrocious

7) It shouldn’t have been adapted in the first place:  I really believe that the Shadowhunter series never should’ve been a movie in the first place.  Just like I believe that there are many YA series out there that should not mean that all of them should be adapted into a movie.  This is one of those series that I think has way too much going on where it couldn’t be a decent adaption,unless major alterations were done.  It probably also doesn’t help the series that it is essentially a watered down version of Harry Potter+Twilight.  Even people who were unaware of Clare’s fandom past, commented on how the series tried t ride the coattails of other popular YA series.  People go to the movies to watch something new, watching a poor cardboard copy of something that’s already been released and sadly that’s what The City of Bones is.

Disney Already Did It: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

 

By now, you’ve probably heard my rant about packaged books.  But occasionally, on very rare occasions, I do indulge in them.

This was one of those books.  It involved figure skating, you guys.  That in itself almost guaranteed that I would read it.

However, the whole sport of figure skating was just sort of shitted on in this book and if you like hockey…you might like this book better than I did.  Of course, I know nothing about hockey, so all the hockey talk in this book might be wrong.

Like this jump…too good to be true.

The basic gist of this book is parent trap but without the parents and without the twin angle.  Oh, and add winter sports to it.  But during summer time in Montreal.

If that didn’t make any sense I’ll link you to the summary.

Anyway, despite its packaged state, I was excited about this one and it had been getting fair to decent reviews. Once I read it though, I was not impressed.  Not that there was anything technically wrong about the writing-if I don’t count the horrible research done regarding figure skating.  The prose is pretty bearable.  And the characters gradually became well formed, but I really think it did suffer in part from the dual narrative.

I just didn’t think like I got to know the two Sloanes that well.  Maybe this was in part because they had way too many issues to be solved when their page count was cut in half.  I really didn’t feel like I got to know them and when they were doing pranks that were more juvenile than what you’d see in a Marauders era fanfic, well, I was not amused.

That seemed to be a big problem I had with this book: the maturity factor.

It really felt like the characters were five or six years younger than they were actually supposed to be.  The pranks, the use of the Mean Girl trope, and the characters overall reactions don’t appear how someone in their late teens would act.  I try to give some slack, but eventually my eyes couldn’t help but roll.

Honestly, this book read like a watered down immature version of a Stephanie Perkins book.  And while you might think this is a good thing because I love Stephanie Perkins’s writing, the immaturity factor made it painful to read.  The reason Stephanie Perkins writing works (for me) is that it doesn’t try to be something its not, this book tries too hard to be “cool” and talk “teen”.

Pro tip: if you’re writing a YA book never try to talk like a teen.

Also, if you claim a book involves a plot that heavily involves figure skating actually do some research about the sport and don’t make it a damn hockey book.

It’s not that I don’t like hockey.  I really know nothing about it, I’m from Texas after all.  But figure skating, that’s the only sport I’ll regularly watch on TV.  And I know that it should be impossible for a novice who is going to an elite skating camp to wind up second let alone in pairs.

In reality this is what would’ve happened if a novice would’ve came out in second

Even if you’re a figure skating novice if you watch The Cutting Edge you know that skating in pairs is a completely different thing than singles.  Having a hockey player who doesn’t even know how to do figure skating basics being almost instant good at pairs makes me seethe.

Also, I don’t think “Hedwig’s Theme” would exactly work as skating music-this is my personal opinion though.

Also, I find it weird how everyone believes that this figure skating novice is qualified to attend the camp.  Surely, they must notice she can’t make any of the jumps or know the lingo.  The same applies with the other Sloane who is at hockey camp.  Heck, with the way Morrill wrote the story you might think that Sloane Emily is a hockey prodigy despite the fact that she has never played hockey before in her life and based on those Rachel Gibson books I’ve read I don’t think playing hockey is that easy.

Oh, yes, Michelle Kwan could just easily trade her skates and start pounding people…sure.

But what do I know?

I also just loved how all the research on figure skating seemed confined to cliches.   Of course, all figure skaters are itty bitty mean girls and their male counterparts are gay b.f.f.s.  Oh, and everyone wears sequins too.

Gag me.

Sigh, I guess the problems with this one are partially my own.  I was really hoping for more.  The last time I was this disappointed was when I went to see the movie, Ice Princess.  I remember being so excited because it was a screenplay written by Meg Cabot.  I mean, can you imagine a Meg Cabot script.  It would probably be something akin to Gilmore Girls, but on steroids.  But you know what happened…..Disney.

Instead of keeping the Cabot storyline where a hockey player turned figure player falls in love with a Zamboni driver, we got a crappy movie with Dawn from Buffy in it trying to pretend she’s smart (she doesn’t do that great of a job).

Remind me, to review that movie eventually.

This book sort of reminded me of that movie.  Lots of potential, but what could’ve made it great was ignored and what we got was well meh.  I didn’t hate this book.  I’ve read much, much, worse.  Especially in the past month, but I can’t  really recommend it either.

Overall Rating: Five out of Ten (C) rather average.

Patty Beagle Presents a Drinking Game: Tiger’s Curse by Collen Houck

 

Well, I was told I had to write another review.  But this one involves drinking.

Yay!

I love drinking.  Even though I’m technically not allowed to have beer.  That sort of sucks that I’m not allowed to because it taste delicious.  But when MJ said I could review Tiger’s Curse which is the series she chose for her 2014 Awful Book series challenge I was like go me because it involved drinking.

DSC02298

The things I do when I get drunk.

So what’s this book about: A girl falls in love with a tiger despite the fact that she probably seemed like a Big Mac (I love Big Mac’s) to him and fortunately for her he turns out to be a prince with perfect clothes.

I mean, that would be awkward a tiger human relationship, could you imagine being with someone who might eat you?  Well, I sort of can.  My friend the Parson Russell Terrier had a pet lizard and it ended up being, well, my lunch.

You see, you just don’t become friends or for that matter special friends with something that will eat you.  But that’s all Kelsey talked about was her tiger.

Case in point:

Those eyes.  They were mesmerizing.  They stared right into me, almost as if the tiger was examining my soul. (27)

MJ says if I drank every time the tiger human love was going on, I would have to see the man with the bushy eyebrows.

I don’t know what that means, but I don’t like bushy eyebrows man.

Besides, its ridiculous premises the book suffers from a lot of other problems.  I think it needed what they call a reality check.  Like how does someone with no training, no education get a job at the circus.  Let alone a job at the circus working with a tiger ( a huge liability).  But little Ms. Tiger Lover gets the job without even an interview.

Adopting a pet isn’t even that easy.

I know too much stuff about Kelsey like five thousand descriptions of her clothes, how she wears her hair, and how she’s fascinated with airplane bathrooms.  Really, they could’ve spent those seventy-five or so pages talking about me. I mean, I am so much interesting.  You could spend, for example, an entire day talking about my eyes.  They’re so long.  They’re so copper.  They’re so wonderful.  Why talk about someone’s french braid for five whole pages when they could’ve talked about ME.

This world so doesn’t make sense.

Really, I didn’t want to know much about Kelsey.  She talks like Dora the Explorer-meaning like a robot.  Every question she asked was for info dump purposes her crush on the princey, well, I think my parents had a more romantic relationship than those two.

And I think the emotional maturity is similar to these two too.

Though they did have romantic moments when he was a tiger.

Alas, animal/human love is icky.

For us animals.  I’m sure some of you humans find it to be a wonderful thing.

Shudders.

I also was really excited when I heard that this book took place in India.  Despite what my owner thinks, I would love to travel.  I know I seem like a total homebody, but this Beagle watches the traveling channel.  However, I barely felt I was in India when I read this book.  Heck, I felt like this India was more or less a compilation of the local Indian food restaurant that Houk eats at and some Bollywood films.  Oh, and Indiana Jones.

Honestly, Indiana Jones had a much more complimentary view of Indian culture than this book.  It was like Houk had totally forgotten that India is in the modern world too.  And based on some of the comments that Kelsey made I think she forgot too.

It’s actually obnoxious and ethnocentric.

Yay!  Another reason to get drunk.

It’s actually really sad.  Here is a country that has a rich history and mythology that has really been untapped, and Houk does nothing but shit on it.  Even a couple of Google searches can prove that Houk knows nothing when it comes to India and its mythology.

Also, really, does everyone have to speak with a horrible accent.  I get that Hagrid and a few other characters from Harry Potter do.  But that’s Harry Potter and like that author can do whatever she wants.

The only person allowed to speak with an accent

I think a lot of authors don’t realize that they aren’t JK Rowling.

So, to sum it up if you want the top five quickest ways to get drunk on this one you can drink every time:

1) Anytime Kelsey talks about the way she looks (this includes her hair, clothes, or really anything else).

2) Anytime Kelsey describes another character.  Take another shot every time they are described having some sort of jewel tone for eyes.  Or a particular horrible description that makes you cringe.

3)  Anytime India is described in offensive over the top Princess Diaries 2 type of way.

4) Anytime Kelsey seems to have more feelings for the tiger than the prince

5) Anytime Kelsey surprisingly saves the day despite being a moron.

This is just one of those books that has an immense amount of potential, but in the end it just falls flat on its face.  The only good thing to do with it is to get drunk.  My owner couldn’t even be bothered to review it in the end, because she just  that bad. The worst thing is that this was popular enough to get a movie deal.   While currently IMDB has nothing regarding casting, the release dated is slated for 2015.  So, it could happen.

Overall Rating: F, but yes we’ll be reading and reviewing the sequel.