Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shade - a review

Shade (Book #1)
Jeri Smith-Ready
320 pages

It's phasmophobia! Wait. Phasmophobia is the fear of ghosts. It's spectrophilia! Spectrophilia is the real life explanation for someone who is sexually aroused by ghosts.* The word is not found in Shade, but the topic is.

Shade is about a world where anyone born after a certain point in time (known as the shift) can see ghosts. There are various rules that govern these ghosts: ghosts can't see other ghosts, ghosts don't like the color red, ghosts hate obsidian so bathrooms are made of it. Make sense so far?

Aura (whose name can't be pronounced without awkwardly moving your jaw--try it) is upset over the death of her boyfriend Logan, who comes back as a ghost. Enter the mysterious Scottish guy Zachary. Love triangle alert! Aura can't decide between the two.

Here's where the face palming begins. Aura can't decide between an intangible ghost and a Scottish dude who may--or may not be--someone vastly important in the entire plot of the druid/ghost/shift/paranormal/governmental theme of the book. Heck, Aura's mother is missing, she doesn't know who her dad is, AND SHE'S THE FIRST PERSON BORN AFTER THE SHIFT HAPPENS. So yeah, she figures she's not important either. Even after several revelations she's walking around saying "I'm not really that important."

Shut up, Aura. You're an idiot.

Aura's spectrophilia is so strong that she's willing to do things with Logan as a ghost that she was never willing to do in real life. The face palming gets even better because ghosts can't lie! More face palming: tell your ghost boyfriend everything! EVEN MORE FACE PALMING: get into full coitus spectrophilia!** Seems like a great idea to me because no one is going to ask "HEY! ARE YOU TWO BANGING?"

Alright. I'm out.
There are several good things about Shade. There's a cleverness here that I haven't seen since Dead Like Me. That kooky show where grim reapers have day jobs and can talk to the dead. There's the idea that an entire government agency was started in response to a threat that's not really that threatening (because you know, that never happens). There's this whole mysterious world of druids and magic that has yet to be explored.

I certainly hope it gets explored. I can't handle love triangles most of the time, throw a ghost into the mix and it seems to make it worse for me. I'll read book two. If my druids and magic don't show up by then I'll pull a Seinfeld, throw my hands up, and shout "Alright. I'm out."

*I'm serious. This is really a thing.
**Coitus spectrophilia is a term I have created. I would rather use "ghost banging" but it didn't seem appropriate.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In My Mailbox (17)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I'm doing an IMM this week because, well, I can. I get to tell everyone about the awesome new crap I bought and that's always fun for me. It solves my buyer's remorse. Plus I get to talk about Mark "Mother F*ckin" Twain.

I've been craving short stories like crazy recently. A local non-chain bookstore had the following titles on sale this week: Crimes in Southern Indiana, Lying in Bed, and Mending: New and Selected Stories. I think it's because I sat down and went over a few favorites from Salinger's Nine Stories that prompted my need to drive across town and purchase them.

Up next I have Jonathan Frazen's How to Be Alone: Essays. Yes, Franzen is a jerk, but he's a good writer. I look forward to sitting down and reading these next weekend.

Up next is MARK "MOTHER F*CKIN'" TWAIN. I remember wanting to buy a copy of Punch, Brothers, Punch: The Comic Mark Twain Reader when it first came out, but I didn't have the money. Low and behold I'm strolling through Half-Priced Books and there is is for $2.99.

For those of you who are not aware: Mark Twain is one of my favorite writers. He's a master satirist and I put him on the same level as Jonathan Swift. The collection includes short stories, letters he wrote, and various other articles. 

I think my obsession with Twain started when I saw an episode of The Next Generation as a kid. In it Picard & Co travel back in time and meet him. I recently rewatched those two episodes on Netflix and the actor who played Twain did such a fantastic job that anyone else who has portrayed him on screen hasn't come close to this performance. 

Also, there's this scene that has always stuck with me:

Say what you want, but Mark "Mother F*ckin'" Twain continues to be relevant today. I even heard there's some new movies coming out based on his books... like that hasn't been done before.

Lastly, I got This Lullaby, which is the only Sarah Dessen novel I do not have. I thought I got it last time, but apparently I didn't. So I made a special trip back to Half-Priced just to get this one.

Friday, May 25, 2012

why the f*ck friday (4)

Welcome to a new weekly meme post. I'll be asking myself a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck do you visit my blog?"

I want to talk about my blog in general terms. I will probably get specific and give a list of things I don't like* about this blog and what I do like**. I get that the newspaper review of a book is almost dead, and that there are tons of great cooking blogs out there, but I am at loss as to why someone would come to this blog.

I didn't really start Hitting On Girls in Bookstores to become popular. I wasn't expecting to have more than ten friends on Google Friend Connect. I wasn't expecting to have a Twitter page or a dedicated email address or an actual domain for this blog. I really started it for myself. I just wanted to keep a public journal of everything I was reading (there was also a plan in there for me to talk about my adventures in fitness and piano playing).

So I am at a loss when it comes to blogging. I've had to have help from people before (Asheley and Ginger being the two most helpful of you great lot of people) and I've had to get book recommendations from everyone because I was almost completely new to YA when I started out (it's been a fun journey so far).

Recently my friend (yes my friend) Lisa from Lisa is Busy Nerding decided to quit blogging. She threw up her arms and decided to take a break after reading a blogging manifesto.

I realized that I had a blogging manifesto. One that I have never announced to anyone except one or two people. In my experience I've always been a quality over quantity type of guy. I fret over my posted reviews and anything else that I write for a week before posting it. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and write an entire post in 30 minutes and wonder "WHERE THE HELL DID THAT COME FROM? WHY CAN'T I DO THAT ALL THE TIME?"

Adam's Officially Unofficial Blogging Manifesto:

  • Quality over quantity (even if I can't write for crackers).
  • No giveaways (I want people to read what I wrote, not come here for free shit).
  • No guest posts (this is my blog, back the f*ck up).
  • No ARCs (I want to talk about books that have already been published).
  • This is a hobby, not a job. I can quit when I want.

Outside of badly written reviews (in my mind at least) and a few meme posts, I often wonder why anyone would come here. Why do you guys go to any blog? I go for opinions and recommendations, that's about it. I go because I want to interact with other readers. But for the life of me I cannot think that this is why people would come here or why my hit count (that I do not care about) is always going up.

This morning I woke up and was all prepared to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey and all that jazz. Instead I found myself writing one of those rare thirty minute posts that just fall out of me. Instead I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for making this blog popular. Thank you for reading what I took time to write even if I don't think it's worth it. THANK YOU FOR THE RECOMMENDATIONS. Thank you for the conversation that has been provided so far. And guys, I really do want world peace.***

I think you're all awesome.

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others. 

*Among them my ever changing writing style as I switch between a first person and third person perspective, past tense and future tense, and present tense.
**Pictures of cats.
***I've watched Miss Congeniality too many times.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Northern Light - a review

A Northern Light
Jennifer Donnelly
400 pages

Someone told me that they normally give this book to YA-naysayers to shut them up. A Northern Light isn't a "Ha! Gotcha!" book. It's a middle finger book. It's two middle fingers and an "Up yours!" straight in a YA-naysayers face kind of book.*

A Northern Light isn't pretty. It's gritty. Set in 1906 around a real life scandalous murder, the story follows Mattie Gokey, a young girl living on a farm with a penchant for books and writing. Mattie is faced with a variety of choices (as anyone her age is): go to college or stay in her podunk town, become a writer or marry Royal Loomis, and so on, and so on.

There are hard choices here, there are abusive characters. If you think Sarah Dessen's books take you down a rabbit hole of neglect and abuse and alcoholism, read ANL. If you hate YA, go read ANL.

Jennifer Donnelly does a great job of writing dialect (you can tell she did her homework). Her descriptions of farm life and the grit and grime of it outdo anything seen on Dirty Jobs. She does justice to the, well, how does someone compliment dirty words that were used in 1906? Just know that they're there, and that they're not abused or misused. That she exercises tact with the world she's trying to bring back to life, one that should feel humbled at the accomplishment she's achieved here.

I was all set to give this book five stars. I gave it three. Why the change? The ending. ANL tries very hard to break the misconceptions someone would have about YA, but in the end... it's a YA novel. For all Jennifer Donnelly's writing about how most characters get happy endings, and real life doesn't have them, she pulls off the typical YA ending in a total YA way. Which is disappointing. If you're going to write this kind of book, you need to be prepared to make your characters suffer.

It's very wolf in sheep's clothing this book. Which is a good thing, because it shows that YA can be difficult and scary and violent and racist and sexist and isn't always typical. Donnelly followed a path, one that didn't take her through the YA fairy tale land, but she ended up there anyways.

If someone is going to write a book that is YA and is not YA, the formula has to be abandoned completely. You can't veer on and off the path at your leisure. You can't--hold on, I'm invoking The Rolling Stones--always get what you want.

*My typical thinking on most Young Adult period novels are that it's going to be Little House on the Prairie meets, well, Little House on the Prairie with Murder. At no point did I feel like I was reading a YA novel.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (17)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at Greads!

I have no idea why I am currently obsessed with this song. It's called Fall At Your Feet by Bear & Boy. It's not the typical song I would go for, so I don't get it.

Also, The Dead Weather have been making their way around my iPod:

While working yesterday my headphones became dislodged from my iPod (this has happened before). Thankfully when this happens my iPod keeps playing the music out loud instead of turning off. So a few people in my office got to hear what I was listening to. Clearly, it was an embarrassing song (how could it not be). So here is the ONE Britney Spears song on my iPod, Toxic:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In My Mailbox (16)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

It's been a while since I've done an IMM. So I figured I would share with you guys what I didn't get in my mailbox, because I actually went to Half-Priced Books and got these.

Pictured above: The Book Thief, Someone Like You, Dreamland, The House of the Scorpion, Thirteen Reasons Why.

I know, I know. I've never read The Book Thief. Try not to freak out. And those aren't the only Sarah Dessen novels I got, either. I got one on my Kindle as well.

THE BOOK PICTURED ABOVE PISSED ME OFF. Let me explain. I went into my local library about a week or so ago. I grabbed this copy of Matched because I hadn't read the sequel yet. Let me repeat that: I grabbed this copy of Matched because I hadn't read the sequel yet. When I got home and sat down to read it I realized my mistake. Matched is the first book, Crossed is the second.

I was completely worked up and ready to read the sequel, only to realize I had picked up the one I had already read. I face palmed for a good five minutes. This isn't even the first time I've done it (at one point in my life I had three copies of the same book).

Anyways. Have a happy Sunday.

Friday, May 18, 2012

why the f*ck friday (3)

Welcome to a new weekly meme post. I'll be asking myself a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck is the world so loud?"

You know what I'm talking about. You're sitting in the break room, quietly reading, and in comes one of your coworkers talking loudly on their cell phone. You can hear their entire conversation. Then a car goes by and the large glass windows shake from the bass of it. BOOM BOOM BOOM.

You're sitting at home in your apartment and your neighbor decides to blast music. You're sitting in the library and on that day the person who has never entered a library before comes in and decides to use a computer. "ARE THE COMPUTERS FREE FOR EVERYONE TO USE? HOW DO I GET THIS TO WORK? CAN SOMEONE HELP ME?" All the while you're trying to read and they're making exasperated noises and sighing loudly.

Then there's the babies. Babies aren't so bad because they don't know better. But does a baby really belong in a Starbucks at 10AM while you're trying to get caffeinated and finish a book?

As a reader I don't need a ton of quiet. I just need a minimal level. I've learned through the years how to block out a TV or silence a room full of people. It seems recently, though, that people are getting louder. It's either me aging or learning what I don't like.

I primarily blame cell phones. The amazing devices have ruined movies for me, have ruined entire conversations because of text text text "I'm sorry, what were you saying?"

The cell phone is also partly to blame for my quiet world getting louder and louder. It's partly to blame for an increase in rudeness and awkward social situations. (There's always that awkward pause when you ask an awkward question and now the person can check their phone, pretend that the awkward part didn't happen, and carry along as normal.)*

In Gunpowder the author Jack Kelly marveled at how quiet the world was before the invention of the substance his book is named for. That on a battlefield there was the snarl of horses and the cold clash of metal weapons, there was a complete lack of explosions and artillery fire. The world didn't exactly echo or reverb with the sound of warfare. I want to remember the world before cell phones, before amps were as large as cars, and before they started playing sh*t music in Starbucks.

I would like my semi-quiet world back. We don't have to throw out our cell phones or lock ourselves up in a quiet room with three inch concrete walls. We just have to exercise a little tact and ask ourselves "Am I being too loud?"

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

Note: Link to my favorite iPod app. It's called Simply Noise. It turns your iPod into a white noise machine that blocks out just about everything.

*The cell phone is the ultimate cop-out machine.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

why the f*ck follow-up (2)

View the last why the f*ck here.

Last week I asked "why the f*ck should I have to care?" in relation to what most people were reading or not reading (there was also an incident with a coworker in there somewhere).

Thank you everyone for making last week another successful WTFF. I appreciated all of the comments everyone left. These were a few of my favorite snippets from last week.

Zabet from Reading Between Classes was first to comment (again):
Perhaps you could find a reaction that fits somewhere between Caring and Being a Dick.
Cat from Books4Hearts shared an interesting story with everyone:
I have found that there are a shocking amount of adults (maybe this is just my family) exempting my Aunt who is a librarian, who simply do not understand what YA is. A few holidays ago, I attempted to explain what I review on my book blog (also explained 'what the hell a book blog is') immediately asked if I read "Twilight" and then proceeded to ask if I was a little old for 'children's books' because obviously if it's called 'Young Adult' and it's not "Twilight" then it's a children's book. (Which, I suppose, if you want to be really technical, it is BUT not with such a negative connotation.) But that's a different issue entirely. :P So yeah everything I read is dismissible to a lot of people but I MUST PICK UP an Alex Cross book, apparently.
Jacque from Book Nerds Across America gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to talk to her at work:
I glass over all the time with co-workers about a lot of things...not just books.
 Amelia made shared one of her frustrations that I've experienced as well:
I also can't stand people who just assume because I read a certain genre I read all books in that genre. You do one reading challenge about men in uniform and now every romance about a man in uniform is brought to your attention.
Mel from A Shot in the Arm is a bookseller and boy is she angry:
I work in a bookstore.. I love YA and a few other genres. I do not enjoy Non's really hard for me to find something that interests me. But those all tend to be the MOST OBNOXIOUS customers. When I'm ringing you up, unless I comment on the book you are buying bc I've read it and want you to know there is another in the series or by the same author..I don't want to talk about your reading choices. Please don't go ON AND ON AND ON when I don't give a f*ck about what you are buying....really I'm not going to buy it or read it just walk away with your book and leave me alone so I can ring up another customer or go back to doing whatever I was doing before you started your rant.
Bianca from Pages of Forbidden Love plays devil's advocate:
I don't have many friends or family that like to read so I am usually the one talking to them about something they don't care about lol. But when it comes to other things I don't mind listening since they take the time to let me jabber on.
That's it for this week. Thank you all again for commenting and posting and Tweeting at me. I try to respond to every comment. If I forget... forgive me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Truth About Forever - a review

The Truth About Forever
Sarah Dessen
384 pages

Note: I'm going to Sarah Dessen this review. I'm going to start out all nice and friendly and then rip your heart out.

Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen. Macy, Macy, Macy. Wes, Wes, Wes. Sarah Dessen. Dessen. Dessen. Sarah. Dessen. This is not a bad example of alliteration. These are names I muttered while reading The Truth About Forever.

"Sarah Dessen. Oh how I love you."
"Macy, Macy, Macy. What are you doing?"
"Wes. Wes. Wes. Get your head out of your ass, man."

This is another one of those Are They Gonna Hook Up Novels that I've been into recently. It started with Stephanie Perkins and all of her goodies, and it's turning into an obsession all its own. I blame my 9th grade English teacher and her interpretation of Romeo & Juliet for this.

Does Macy like Wes? Does Wes like Macy? It's kind of hard to tell, it's really freakin' hard to tell. Because--as I'm learning with Sarah--she doesn't always put these things right up front. Instead I'm sympathizing with Macy over the loss of her father. Or feeling anger for her after her boyfriend sends her a break-up email (an email, really?). Or I'm curious about Wes, because there's a deeper side of him that's not being shown, and you can tell something is going on with him.

What makes a good Are They Gonna Hook Up Novel is a complete lack of doubt that the two people involved--in this case Macy and Wes--will never be together. This formula, while old, can be pulled off. In the case of Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins) there was serious doubt, making it a great book. In the case of Lola and the Boy Next Door (Stephanie Perkins, again), there was never a doubt the two would hookup, making it a not so great book.*

So what we really need is anticipation and doubt mixed with a little WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU TWO? because without that anger, I'm just not going to be happy with the outcome.

So I had anticipation. I had doubt (I still have doubt). I have that WHAT THE F**CK IS WRONG WITH YOU TWO? and I have--and will continue to have--a growing fondness of all things Sarah related. So what went wrong?

There is something I didn't like about this incredible little book with great characters and a nice story and a lot of awww moments, and a lot of damnnnn moments, and a few WTF moments. I was 95% done with The Truth About Forever when it hit me: I am reading a book about the loss of a parent and enjoying it.

So there isn't anything wrong with this book. Not a damn thing. It was my response to it that I blame. It's not  as light-hearted and airy as a Perkins novel. That comparison does not work. It's more dark and sinister and heavy then I originally thought. But this is what Sarah Dessen does well. She takes her characters, gives them issues, and heals them as much as possible (no one can be completely healed). Then she sets the characters free.

This book is not a Are They Gonna Hook Up Novel. This book is another Dutch Tulip Man. A bundle of possibilities and doubt with a heavy subject and knack for pissing me off at the right moments. Five out of out, Sarah. A fucking five out of five.

Full Disclosure: I purchased this at Half-Priced Books.
*I thought it was okay.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (16)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at Greads! 

This week I'm obsessed with this band called The Morning Benders. It's probably just the instrumental bits in this song that's doing it to me:

Also, by my standards, this is a terrific song (don't take my word for it--I've been caught singing along to Party in the USA):

Also, The Airborne Toxic Event has been making its way around my iPod (my iPod is soon to be replaced with something more efficient):

Monday, May 14, 2012

Graffiti Moon -- a review

Graffiti Moon
Cath Crowley
272 pages

What is it about books that take place in one day that make them so tasty? I think my obsession with the One Day Genre started with Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and evolved into something else completely. I even try (unsuccessfully most times) to read them in one day. The One Day Genre book has been rare and elusive with me; only popping up once every few months to please me.

It goes without at saying at this point that Graffiti Moon is a book set in one day. Or, err, night. The book features another favorite of mine: alternating view points. We have Leo, a poet and graffiti artist, whose story is told through his poetry. There's Ed who is a master graffiti artist and high school dropout. Then there's Lucy who is also an artist (a glass blower) and has a psychic friend.

After their last night of senior year the three--and some friends--spend their time wandering around the city. The real story is between Lucy and Ed. Lucy is on the hunt for Shadow (a graffiti artist who happens to be Ed), and the two spend their time talk about art and their futures.

While the conversations between Ed and Lucy were my favorite part I often had to break from the story to Google the artists they were talking about. I needed visual examples of the art because I'm a visual kind of guy. While a minor complaint I can't really blame Cath Crowley for it: my natural curiosity often gets the best of me in these situations.*

There was one thing that stopped me from giving this book my full support. It hinges on the fact that this is a book about nothing. It's often a problem with the One Day Genre. I've made comparisons to Seinfeld and The Big Lebowski before. I think it's truer for this book than previous ones, and I'm not totally against it. We're just getting a glimpse of a few people for one day, and when lives are examined up close it's often hard to distinguished the overarching plot lines from the little ones.

Cath Crowley--while a newcomer to my ever growing collection of One Day Genre books--won me over with a quirky story containing compelling characters that I'll probably never meet again. It was good while it lasted. Which is how these one day books should go.

Full Disclosure: I checked this out from my local library.

*After reading Wanderlove I spent an entire afternoon reading about South America.

Friday, May 11, 2012

why the f*ck friday (2)

Welcome to a new weekly meme post. I'll be asking myself a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck should I have to care?"

I had an incident with a coworker this week over a book. She was excited to be reading something and I asked her flatly "Is it an adult book?" She responded back that it was and I said "I don't care." She then struggled to explain the plot me. To save us both time and frustration I told her "I'm never going to read it. Don't explain it to me. We're not going to discuss it and I'm just going to glaze over while you talk about it. Just. Stop. Thank you."

While that was rude on my part I have often wondered why I have to care what a coworker or acquaintance is reading? It's a deeper question than that, though. Because I glaze over and tune out when people are telling me about things they've read all the time. It's not that I don't care, it's that my reading habits are very different.

Okay. Really? I don't care. The excuse is that my reading habits tend to differ from most adults. For instance: most adults don't read YA, most adults read an average of one book a year, most adults don't like reading and tend to force themselves through a book, most adults watch television more than me (at least this is what it's like where I live).

So the question isn't why the f*ck should I care anymore. It's why the f*ck should anyone care what I'm reading? I'm not anyone special, but I do tend to mention this blog, I do tend to mention reading a lot, and I could talk the right person's head off for an hour. I could sit around and Twitter at you guys all day and discuss Insurgent for weeks because you guys are the right people.

The Right People (a list):

  • Coworkers who read.
  • Bloggers and internet people who read.
  • Family members that read.
  • Friends who read.

The Wrong People (a list):

  • Strangers.
  • Coworkers who don't read.
  • Family members who don't read.
  • Friends who don't read.

Maybe I'm just asking for it: I mention books because they're central to my life. This week I talked about koalas for a good five minutes because I read it in some book. Next week I could be discussing how toasters are made.

Their face when you explain you haven't
heard of that particular book.
I think I'm running out of energy. Any reader has experienced this frustration. The moment where you're reading in public and you get asked asinine questions like "Are you reading that?" "What's it about?" "Is it any good?" "Have you read (insert book you've never heard of)?"

For readers there's this whole big universe of books, for non-readers who read that one book a month but claim the reader title: there's a universe of ten authors, and if you haven't heard of them it's a f*cking travesty.

So here's my question: why the f*ck should I care? I don't, so I don't feel obligated to go through the chit chat associated with a book I'm not interested in. I think it's a time saver for me to just say "No." Or is it rude?

The odd part of this entire incident is that I've fulfilled a fantasy of mine: that fantasy involved telling someone I didn't care what they're reading, and that if they wanted to, they could always start a blog. Rude or not I feel satisfied that she's enjoying her book, I'm enjoying mine, and that we don't have to talk about it.

And those are my thoughts for this week's why the f*ck friday. Feel free to dispute me or berate me below. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

why the f*ck friday follow-up (1)

Last week's question was: "Why the f*ck is Twilight the comparison point for all vampires?" I appreciated all the comments that everyone left. They were all great comments and some of you made great points. Also, I laughed at quite a few. These are the snippets that caught my attention last week, hopefully everyone will enjoy them as much as I did.

Badass Bookie was the first to comment:
All vampires are compared to Edward Cullen because for better ( or worse) Stephanie Meyer started the Vampire Era in 2009. Before Edward and his crew hit bookstores all over the world - we had this vampire and that vampire. BUT - vampire fiction was NOT "popular"

Zabet thinks Edward Cullen's popularity is to blame:
Because he became such a pop phenomenon with Twilight fans and "Twilight Moms" *shudder*, we can't seem to have any discussion on vampires without SOMEONE bringing him up, either a fan espousing his attractiveness or a hater sputtering about sparkles.

BookwormAsheley is just creeped out by the Twilight moms (hey, everyone else is too):
What bothers me about Edward is the weirdo Twilight Moms. They are sooo creepy.

Lola is of the opinion that we should be thanking Mr. Cullen for making paranormal fiction more popular:
....Edward made vampires and paranormal fiction in general, crazy popular. So I think the other members of the undead should be thanking him for what he's done for them.

Lola also made this excellent point:
I don't think that Edward's appeal has anything to do with him being a vampire - except in the attributes that it gives him - dangerous, mysterious etc. So I agree that he's not a good comparison when discussing vampires. Plus, Stephenie Meyer completely made up her own mythology, which makes her world even more difficult to look at next to the more traditional vamp stories. If someone asked me to recommend a vampire book to them, I wouldn't pick Twilight. However, if someone wanted a romance, I'd recommend it. 

And that's it. You can still feel free to leave comments on last week's subject or leave a few here on the follow-up. I hope these little snippets help everyone ponder the great wonder that is the Twilight phenomenon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Insurgent - a non-review with spoilerific commentary

Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Veronica Roth

544 pages

This isn't really a review--it's more of a commentary--and this is for everyone who has read the book. If you haven't read Insurgent, I would recommend not reading this post. I already have a spoilerless review of Insurgent up. Go read that instead of this or just skip to the end of this post (I kind of rant). You've been warned.

I'm not going to explain back story since I assume you've already read the book.

There be spoilers after this point.

I started Insurgent in the hopes of it being better than Divergent (since I wasn't a fan of it), unfortunately it left me with a bitter feeling. I enjoyed most of the action scenes and I thought the book was well-paced. However, there are a few things that bothered me.

I was mostly confused about how the government in Insurgent works. In the first book we have the faction system, and we have Erudite/Dauntless teaming up to wipe out Abnegation and take control. This--I thought--would lead to civil war. Instead the surviving Abnegation, the Dauntless who refuse to fight, and some Erudite run away to Amity where they are asked to leave so Amity doesn't have to fight. Candor also refuses to fight.

I didn't get this. Everyone refuses to fight. I thought the entire Abnegation ordeal was completely unforgivable and that everyone would team up and bitch smack Erudite/Dauntless. I guess me and Tris were wrong.

Along the way Peter joins Tris and Four. Four does nothing about Peter. Tris gets in a fight with him at one point. Why hasn't anyone shot and killed Peter? Didn't he stab a guy in the eye? Didn't he beat up Tris? Didn't he betray Dauntless? Why is he being allowed to wander around untouched? Veronica Roth's answer is BS: "because Peter owes them so he wants to repay the debt." I also don't take Veronica Roth's answer for why some people are the bad guys: "because they're just cruel."

We're then taken to a factionless safe house. The factionless have grown in size. This is part of the book where I smacked the side of my head. Dauntless had about four or five open spots in the first book, and about fifteen recruits. I was wondering if anyone else had noticed that there would be a lot of factionless in the city if this were true for all factions. Apparently so. Oh and there are more divergent among the factionless. Sure. Just how big is the population in this book? Sometimes it's referenced as being really small, at other times it's huge.

Also, there's a war on and the trains are still running? Who's running the trains? Why? Why aren't the trains being watched? Dauntless headquarters are abandoned so everyone goes back there. Why did they leave guns and armor and supplies at Dauntless? That doesn't make sense from a tactical standpoint since Dauntless is their military. There's not even one soldier guarding it: just a bunch of cameras that are easily taken down with paintball guns.

All of Abnegation gets wiped out in the first book. Later we're told that some of the Abnegation have returned home. HOW!? I thought they were all on the run or dead. How many survived? Sometimes it seems like a few, then it seems like a lot.

There comes a point when Tris realizes that being Divergent means having super-empathy of some kind. Why can't she think like Jeanine? Why does she have a hard time figuring out the motives of others? This doesn't make sense since super-empathy would mean understanding others perfectly.

I'm suppose to accept that being Divergent is rare but in this book half the population and half the main characters are Divergent? Then what's really rare--just to shake up the rules--is testing well for three factions (I feel like this was done just to keep Tris special). That doesn't make sense. In the first book no one knew what Divergent was, then all of a sudden we find out that people talk about them--openly tell stories to their children--about the Divergent. Later it's like everyone just found out. Which is it?

I did not understand the secondary characters. I kept getting Lynn and Christina confused. Who the heck were they? Who is Will and what did he do again (note: I had to look this up in the last book). Some back story would've been appreciated since it's been a year since I read the last book.

Peter saves Tris? All because he owes her on a debt? That isn't logical. It's so 80s action flick that it made my eyes burn.

There are a lot of plot holes here and a lot of cliches. A lot. I could go further into detail but then it'd be too long of a "review". Understand that I wanted to like this book, I really wanted to. I was all set to actually read the third book, plot holes be damned. Then I got to the ending. That ending... That ending destroyed the entire series for me. That ending--the revelation--was so bizarre, so campy, so overdone, that I had already thought that might be the case but dismissed it because who would write that?

While the ending explains how a ridiculous government and society formed--this also destroys the entire first book. This means that Tris is an experiment, the factions are an experiment, and that everything up to this point has been calculated (for the most part).

Here's my end blurb: The Divergent trilogy is now The Matrix of YA books. The fans will defend the book, but everyone will notice the plot holes, and everyone will defend it because of the special effects.

End spoilers.

To say that I had a few problems with Insurgent is to compare an ice cube to a glacier. To say that there aren't any plot holes in this book is an understatement. It caused a lot of frustration for me and I am seriously concerned that no one else has noticed these things, that no other review I've read has pointed these things out. That all I've gotten out of a majority of book bloggers is "Tris and Four! Guns! Four!"

If there is a negative review of this book please post it in the comments. Or tweet it at me. I want to read it. Because really, I can't be the only one, and because really, five stars everyone? Five stars?

But... to each their own. I ain't mad about it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (15) Divergent Playlist

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at Greads!

Since Veronica Roth's Insurgent came out last week I've decided to do a playlist for the books. I've picked a few songs and posted a few lyrics that made me think of the characters and the world they live in (just go with it). This is more of a playlist for Insurgent than Divergent, though. This post is spoiler free. Enjoy.

Insurgent main theme:

Everyone's got their own split factions
Every pawn will pay its price
I've been digging out in all directions
I'll see you through to the afterlife.

Four's theme:
I can hear my train comin'
It's a lonesome and distant cry
I can hear my train comin'
Now I'm runnin' for my life

What makes a man
Walk away from his mind?

Simulation theme:

Beatrice's theme:

I tremble, they're gonna eat me alive
If I stumble they're gonna eat me alive
Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer?
Beating like a hammer

Closing scenes:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Insurgent - a spoilerless review

Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Veronica Roth
544 pages

There comes a point in a book or a movie where you know the plot won't recover. That anything that's said or done after that point is complete moot. It could be a single line, scene, description, act, or character that just destroys the entire experience. This happened about thirty pages into Insurgent for me. It happened again at 150, 200, 240, 300, and probably 544.

I know I wasn't a fan of the original as it was mostly setup. That I didn't really enjoy Divergent until the last 20% of the book. I came into Insurgent not wanting to read it but I did anyway in the hopes of not being let down. I like to give every author--especially those of highly successful trilogies--a second chance.

The book picks up where we left off in Divergent: the faction formed government is at war with itself, and everything has hit the ceiling. Tris and Four are trying to escape the city with a few others and things are getting dangerous. There's deceit at every corner, spies, intrigue, romance, violence, cats and dogs living together.

I'm going to cover the good first. Veronica Roth can write great action scenes. Scenes that are tense and unforgivably dark. At certain points in Insurgent I thought characters that were not expendable could be expendable. She really had me going. She doesn't throw in a lot of back story this time. She really knows how to pace a novel and make it tense, I'll give her that.

This is a part where it gets tricky. I'm going to call this point in my post a bus stop. Because I'm going to stop the bus and half of you are going to get off and you'll never come back to this post, the rest of you can stay on. I'm warning you now, I am not kind after this point. I hold back no punches. Are you on the Bus? Leave now if you don't want to be on it. I'll tell you when to get back on.

The characters in this book are generic. Four is an amalgamation of every male YA character that I've ever read. He's Jace from City of Bones, he's Edward from Twilight. I get that some of the girls swoon over Four's character. I really do. He's so violent but sensitive towards Tris and he has tattoos and takes his shirt off. Oh my!

What some girls find to be so romantic about him I find borderline offensive. He's a stereotypical male character placed into a book for the lead character to swoon over. He's not an Augustus Waters, he's not a Cricket Bell; he's not Nate from Lock & Key. But I get it. This isn't a contemporary novel. It's a dystopian future Chicago.

But... but... here we go...

Nate from Lock & Key never had his abuse played up. I don't know why Veronica Roth gave Four a back story of child abuse. To explain his anger? To explain him lashing out at others? Yes. That's such a good image of abuse victims: all violent and cagey and at the point of mental breakdown at any moment. Four is an offensive character that only lashes out, one with cold logic and emotion, one that is generic, one that has no redeemable qualities as a male character because Roth didn't give him any. I know that some of you guys really enjoy him as a character, but from a guys' perspective: he's a douche bag. He's not a good person. He's not someone you need to call hot and swoon over. He's someone that needs a Xanex and a therapist.

We then have Beatrice. She has become extremely violent and reckless. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that Veronica Roth gave us rules in Divergent for the divergent that she does not follow in Insurgent. If she did it to turn readers on their heads: it didn't work on me. All it did was give Roth an easy way out for her characters. I can't stand behind that.

There are points in this novel where I wanted to scream at the injustice of what people were doing. There's no logic behind certain actions. There's no motive except to explain "Oh. This person is cruel and that's why they did it." No. That's a cop-out to me.

I could not be on this novel's side. With its wide range of generic characters (I could not tell the different between Christina, Beatrice, Lynn, Edward, etc), its offensive portrayal of abuse victims, its generic lead male character, and its main character that can't figure out the motives of others before the reader can.

You can get back on the bus now.

While I think that Veronica Roth can write a good action novel and has some interesting ideas; it's impossible for me to get over the characters that populate the novel. I can't get over the rules that she so clearly setup in the first that she violates in the second; I can't get over a lot of things.

I think it's safe for me to say that I won't be reading the next in the trilogy, but if Veronica Roth ever has a non-Divergent book I'll check it out. I think that's the best I can do at this point.

Full Disclosure: Read on my Kindle.

If you are leaving a comment please let others know that it may contain spoilers.

Friday, May 4, 2012

why the f*ck friday (1)

Welcome to a new weekly meme post. I'll be asking myself a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck is Twilight the comparison point for all vampires?"

I'm currently in the middle of watching Vampire Diaries for the first time and I'm enjoying the show so far. The reactions from my female friends and coworkers are generally positive; a guy point-of-view on the show is always welcome. However, a trend I've noticed is that most vampires are now compared to the Stephanie Meyer brand of vampire: the sparkle-y vegetarian virgin known Edward Cullen.

There are three names that always come into play when vampires are brought up: Lestat, Edward Cullen, and Damon Salvatore. (Lestat being Anne Rice's vampire in Interview With the Vampire.)  It's from these three names that I noticed a trend:

  • Edward Cullen is considered the weakest kind of vampire but the most romantic.
  • Lestat is considered a more traditional vampire.
  • Damon Salvatore is f*cking crazy. A good crazy, though.

The trend is also generational. I noticed the older women in my office tend to bring up Bram Stoker's Dracula or The Lost Boys. These are generally considered to be good vampire movies, but the more realistic of the two is Bram Stoker's version, not the one with Vampire Kiefer Sutherland.

My personal favorite vampire is Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The bad guy turned good guy turned bad guy given a soul kind of vampire. But even bringing up Spike brings us back to the comparison to Edward Cullen. 

So why the f*ck is Edward Cullen the comparison point for all vampires? Why is he the golden standard that all other vampires must now be held up to? I realized the answer while talking to a friend about Angel.

If you're a boy: chances are you're comparing vampires to Edward Cullen because you don't consider him a good vampire (or a vampire at all, as I'm finding out).
If you're a girl: you're comparing vampires to Edward Cullen based off of the romance factor (you might even consider him to be a terrible vampire).

So it's not that the comparison is a positive one, it's actually negative. Edward Cullen isn't being held up as the Perfect Vampire Standard by most of the population: he's being compared to all other vampires because he's considered the worst vampire.

The next time you're in a conversation about vampires take note of the fact that Edward Cullen is brought into the fold in a negative light, and that he's compared to both traditional vampires and the new age vampires. The comparison is not used on Lestat or Damon or Spike. The conversation will always focus around the Cullens and Twilight. Fascinating, right?

And those are my thoughts for this week's why the f*ck friday. Feel free to dispute me or berate me below. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

Note:  I'm not trying to bash Twilight. And I do not consider Edward Cullen the worst vampire (that honor goes to the character Sex Machine in From Dusk Till Dawn).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If Horoscopes Were More Bookish...

Aries - At some point this week you will find yourself wanting to write a book. You'll open up a word processor, type out some words, sigh, and then give up.

Taurus - Your laziness will cause you to use your cell phone as a bookmark. Again.

Gemini - You've had a book in your TBR pile that's been on your mind recently. It's time to read it.

Cancer - Sometime this week your finicky ways will cause you to start a book, get 30 pages in, and then start reading something else.

Leo - Sometimes you fantasize about fighting alongside Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games only to realize that you'd be dead in the first five minutes.

Virgo - You want to start a reading project soon. Maybe read a few classics. If you do this be aware that you'll use Wikipedia a few times for plot summaries--there is no shame in this, Virgo.

Libra - Dear Libra, do you really have to "rescue" a used copy of a book you already have? Leave it on the shelf for someone else.

Scorpio - People notice that you use perfect grammar and punctuation while texting. Be proud.

Sagittarius - Anger washes over you when you hear someone exclaim "I'm reading an audiobook right now!" You can't read an audiobook... Let it go.

Capricorn - You'll find yourself thinking of that book you loaned out years ago that you never got back. Maybe it's time to take a trip yourself?

Aquarius - Out of boredom you'll find yourself writing tacky blog posts.

Pisces - No one will ever love the interrobang as much as you do.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Rules of the Vampire Diaries

Do you like The Vampire Diaries? Is Ian Somerhalder your personal hero? Do you wonder about the status of Alaric's facial hair (never clean shaven, but never a beard)? If so you guys should check out my Tumblr. I've renamed it The Rules of the Vampire Diaries.

Every show has a bible that comes with it. A set of rules that govern the show and the universe that the characters live in. These are the rules I think The Vampire Diaries follow:

  • Rule #1 Don’t get attached to any characters.
  • Rule #2 Everyone is an acoholic. EVERYONE.
  • Rule #3 Always double stake.
  • Rule #4 Everyone gets to beat up Elena.
  • Rule #5 Damon gets to kill without consequence. Everyone else has to pay for it.
  • Rule #6 If you don’t have abs, you die.
  • Rule #7 Everyone is required to be pretty. No exceptions.
  • Rule #8 “The Scooby Doo” Rule" The sheriff is to never solve any mysteries. Only teenagers with no detective experience can solve mysteries.

As I get further and further into the series (thank you, Netflix) I will be posting more to the Tumblr. I'm also going to put a nifty link in the sidebar. Feel free to go crazy with this and send it to your friends.

Thanks to Tim D Moon for giving me the idea to post this here. I'm really inept at social networking.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (14)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at Greads!

I have no idea why I like this song:

I have no idea why this is my favorite workout song of the moment:

I have no shame in my liking of this song by One Direction:

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