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Prom Nights from Hell – 5 short stories by Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer a

Jun. 16th, 2012 | 04:48 pm

This is the book I was most dreading out of my entire collection, the one I most regretted buying before I had even read it.

Essentially a collection of short paranormal stories revolving around prom night, the idea seems hilariously adorable, but when you think about it, not really.

The first story was Meg Cabot, now Cabot is of course, as I’m sure most girls my age would agree, one of the heroes of pre-teen fiction from our generation. Princess Diaries, All-American Girl, yep, they’re classics. But I currently despise paranormal YA fiction and so I am just plain disappointed in her for this. It was essentially a story about a vampire slayer (LF) and high school jock (LM) falling in love on prom night, and killing the vampire that had started dating her best friend and had apparently turned LF’s mum. Or something. To be fair, there was nothing inherently wrong with this story, Meg Cabot is a good writer. The characters weren’t at all offensive, except for one moment involving being a music snob, but whatever, and the outcome was decently satisfying, but I just couldn’t quite get involved in the story or the characters or even remember exactly what happened.

The second story was by Lauren Myracle. Myracle has an interesting writing style, at least from what I could see in this short story. It’s not one I’d ever seen before, and I can’t quite describe what made it so different, all I can say is that I was intrigued by it for the first few pages, but unfortunately lost my patience with it and ended up on giving up on the story all together. In fairness to Myracle, this may be my fault, but all I can say is that from my perspective reading her story, I was bored out of my mind and I just couldn’t do it.

It was at this point that I ended up telling myself that the only reason I bought the book was to read Meg Cabot’s story and Stephenie Meyer’s, in which case I had no real obligation to read stories number 3 and 4, and I skipped to the last one in the book.

Now I’m going to be totally honest with you guys here, back when I thought YA fiction was good, I read the Twilight series 3 whole times. You can judge me, I don’t mind, I judge me too. But seeing as that was about 3 years ago and I have since had my mind opened to what is bad writing I was able to look at Meyer’s novel from 2 perspectives: a person who enjoys her as an author, and a person who is critical. As someone who enjoys her writing, she is compelling, in the sense that you just keep turning the page, I don’t personally have any desire to stop reading, my eyes don’t look away from the page and I don’t ever think “I don’t want to know what happens next, so I’m just going to stop now”.

I’m not actually sure what this means, that is, I don’t know what talent this embodies. Is she good at keeping a reader wondering where the story is going? Not really, they’re quite predictable, are the characters enjoyable? Not particularly, they’re pretty bland and stereotypical for YA fiction. Is it simply that the writing is so simple that you can just float through it? I don’t think that’s it either, because quite frankly ALL YA fiction is written in a simple manner.

So the story is this. Apparently demons are employed by Satan to disrupt people’s lives and cause chaos, so the LF demon goes to prom to help soul mates get split up and send them off on a path of misery that they weren’t originally supposed to be sent on. LM is a descendant of angels and feels compelled to create harmonious relationships by matching people together and setting them on a path of happiness or something, but he doesn’t KNOW he’s an angel, he just does it out of instinct. The story itself was decently thriller-esque, in that the ending had a sneaky and interesting twist, but over all was probably pretty standard YA, but by the end of the story all I could think was “I didn’t hate it, does that make me a bad person?”.

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Eon - Allison Goodman

Jun. 16th, 2012 | 04:01 pm

Oh my gosh! I seriously thought I was going to be able to write a 4 paragraph rant about how shite this book was, and then the scumbag thing turned around and was a total epic!

All the things I loved about this book, where do I start… the look at gender identity, especially in a society where women are treated as second class citizens. The complex way that religion interacts with politics and the power plays between them. What happens to relationships between people of different ranks when their social ranks change? It was just all so epic.

So my recommendation would be, if you like young adult fiction that’s decently complex, and dragons, then you will love this book.

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Millions – Frank Cottrell Boyce

Jun. 5th, 2012 | 09:02 pm

I bought this book in an op-shop many years ago, it was only a dollar and I figured it was short and most likely adorable and I could read it over the weekend holiday I was on at the time. But that didn’t happen and so it ended up being yet another stack of 200 pages filling up my bookcase and gathering dust. Until last Friday, when I figured I should get it out of the way once and for all.

I’d actually seen the movie a couple of years ago, so I was prepared for the fact that it would be adorable and funny, but it was so much more than that. Written in first person from the perspective of an 8yr-old you could be tricked into thinking it’s a children’s book, and although I’m not saying that an 8 year old couldn’t read it, I am saying that some of the very obscure references to what had been going on in the main character’s life were targeted to slightly older readers, and it was the abstract way in which they were portrayed that made them so sad, and so beautiful. I honestly couldn’t recommend this book enough, or at least the film, which is a very faithful interpretation of the novel.

There’s not much else I could say about this book without giving away the best parts, so I’m just going to leave it at that. I also figured I’d take this opportunity to recommend “You don’t know me” by David Klass, which is very similarly written, although from the perspective of a 14 year old and with a completely different plot that in no way involves large amounts of cash falling out of the sky.

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City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare

Jun. 5th, 2012 | 08:52 pm

Cassandra Clare is one of my all time favourite young adult authors. This book actually wasn’t on my list of Have-to-Go-s at all; it was released while I was on my little tirade against my bookshelf and I decided I deserved a treat after all the hard work I have been doing.

Fangirl review: OHMYGOD! It was SO EPIC! And TRAGIC! And Magnus was hilarIOUS. And there were so many epic REFERENCES! I swear I saw a little Sherlock one in there, and of course Big Bang. I friggin love this girl, she knows what she’s doing.

Back to earth review: Cassandra Clare, refreshingly, manages to focus on more than one character throughout her novels. This means that whenever a character doesn’t know what’s going on we move away from them and actually FIND OUT from another character, instead of listening to a drawn out, incessant monologue about how no-body-ever-tells-me-anything! Or Look-at-epic-LM’s-abs! Ok that second one was a lie, but I’m not complaining.

Secondly, every single one of her characters is likeable despite being imperfect - meaning the characters are so beautifully fleshed out that you feel as though you connect with them on an emotional level, as opposed to seeing them as characters in a book, and when they make a mistake you get annoyed with THEM, not the author, and forgive them, because you understand their reasons and you know they understand that they’ve made a mistake. Like real people!

Thirdly, the whole story knows not to take itself too seriously and as a result you can relax and enjoy the fun, without thinking about how shameful it is that you spent money on the damn thing. Unlike some YA novels I may have experienced.

PS: OMG ALEC AND MAGNUS WHAT THE CRAP! NO!!!!!! GODDAMMIT!!

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Guitar Highway Rose - Brigid Lowry

May. 30th, 2012 | 09:41 pm

The first page includes the following sentence:

"My name is Rosie Moon. I have a middle name as well, but I won't tell you what it is because I hate it. I am fifteen and desperate. My mother won't let me get a nose ring" the paragraph continues on in this vain and then ends with a sarcastic "Whoop de doo..."

My reaction: "Ummm.... no".

And that's how this book get thrown into the Op-Shop pile.

The End.

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Noughts and Crosses Series - Malorie Blackman

May. 14th, 2012 | 12:00 am

I remember that this series of novels was extremely popular when I was in high school, but for some reason or other I just never got around to reading them until now. The purchase of this series was a classic case of my “Well I’ll probably love them so I’ll just buy the whole lot at once” behavior, therefore as part of my new project to read all of the books on my shelf I had to read all 4.

The first book is definitely the best – although also the most traumatizing. Basically a classic Romeo and Juliet style story but with commentary on racial hatred set in an alternate reality where being Black means you have a higher social economic status than if you are white. It approaches issues about racism starting with the issues people faced into the 50s right up until now, and I honestly believe the writing is incredible.

The second 2 books are still pretty good, and very compelling. These 2 focus less on romance (thank god) and more on family values, and are basically a commentary on, the best term I can come up with is ‘sneaky racism’ when people try not to be racist but don’t realize that they still are. I am of course guilty of many of the accusations made in these books, and I love that I was able to learn from them and see what the world looks like when you’re not treated fairly. So all in all books 1-3, although completely traumatizing and stressful, were compelling, educational and beautifully written.

Book 4. I just couldn’t finish it. I read the first 3 in 3 days. Boom boom boom. I thought “Wow! I’m getting through these so fast I’ll be finished in a week!” But book 4… agony. Where the first 3 novels were an interesting commentary on racism book  4 was a not so interesting commentary on TEENAGED ANGST. It might have got better as I got into it, but I instead chose to read a summary on Wikipedia, and now I just don’t care enough to go back and finish it. So my review is ‘blah blah blah who cares’ and let’s just leave it at that.

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Evernight Series - Claudia Gray

May. 1st, 2012 | 07:26 pm

Out of all of the trashy young adult novels this is by far the least painful to read, which is probably the best compliment I can give it; it is, after all, a young adult vampire romance series.

The Evernight series is a collection of 4 novels about LF Bianca Olivier and LM Lucas Ross. In an unexpected twist the characters are Vamp!LF and VampHunter!LM, set in a school designed for vampires to reassimilate to human life, which has surprisingly and inexplicably started allowing human students to attend. Another clever twist is the mythology surrounding vampires and ghosts in this series. The simplified version being that supposedly millennia ago, a man died who didn’t want to and through magic managed to separate death into it’s 2 forms Body and Spirit, the body became the first vampire and the spirit the first ghost (or in this series “wraith”). The vampires and the wraiths have been mortal enemies ever since, not for any particular reason, it just sort of happened that way, BUT Bianca’s parents wanted to have a child and so created one by mixing wraith magic with the creation of their child and so gave birth to LF vampire/wraith cross who appeared for all intents and purposes a human except for her occasional need to drink blood.

All of these plot devices allowed for a relatively interesting read, at least in comparison to most YA Vampire Romance novels, but not by much. I remember when I read the first novel in the series I thought it was a one off, I got to the end and thought ‘wow, that was interesting and very satisfying I have no need to discover any more of their adventures because the situation is essentially resolv *turns page <THE NEXT NOVEL IN THE EVERNIGHT SERIES IS RELEASED MAY!!!> sigh*’

Yes, tragically it had been hit by the YA curse. It is of course now fashionable for all young adult stories to be released as a series of 400 page books, how do the publishers achieve this? They take a half decent idea and request that the author stretch it out, past endurability, to cover at least 500 pages, then they inflate the font, double the line gap size and then sell it to us gullable youngsters for 5 times the price it’s worth. Really, I should have seen it coming…

At the end of the day, this story is completely ridiculous, ghosts and vampires and humans and vampire hunters all running around hating eachother and attacking eachother and holding on to ancient prejudices, it gets a little tedious, but the latest and last novel at least goes some way towards saying “You know, we’re all different, but couldn’t we all get along?” which is a nice sentiment to end on, so I would say if you’re into trash then this series is worth a read, but if you’re not into trash then… well this is still trash and you’re not going to like it.

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Crescendo (Hush, Hush Series)– Becca Fitzpatrick

Apr. 29th, 2012 | 01:40 am

Disclaimer: It's currently 1:30 in the morning and I found that while writing this I wasn't 100% sure what was going on between the words in my head and the words appearing on the screen, so I may wake tomorrow and find that this is all just an incoherent mess, but on the off chance it's a half decent blog, I hope you enjoy. 

Apparently ‘Fallen Angels’ are the new ‘Vampires’, but not really because as far as I know there’s only 3 fallen angel books, and besides, around the time that Fallen Angels came into fashion the Hunger Games was released and everyone went ‘Dystopia’.

This should be some indication, therefore, at what point in my life I purchased this book - actually to clarify I bought ‘Hush, Hush’, which is the first book - some time before I read Hunger Games(and found out what good YA fiction is like). I then snapped up Crescendo from the book store the second it was released because I had some vague (and in hindsight, misguided) recollection that I’d enjoyed Hush Hush.

I’ll review Hush, Hush first, so you have some idea what Crescendo is about, but seeing as I read it a while ago I can’t promise much in the way of accuracy.

I purchased Hush, Hush around the same time as ‘Fallen’ (by Lauren Kate) because fallen angels were all in fashion and I was still at the height of my YA craze, I read ‘Fallen’ first, and hated it (see previous review) and directly followed it up with ‘Hush, Hush’. The plots of the 2 stories are essentially identical, LM treats LF like crap, and LF swans around feeling sorry for herself and falling somehow inexplicably tragically in love with LM. According to a series of complex rituals that I didn’t care enough about to try to understand LM was actually genuinely planning to kill (*ahem* “Sacrifice”) LF in order to become human (or something) but changes his mind last minute because he’s fallen inexplicably tragically in love with her, and at some point she sacrifices herself for him instead and it all gets very confusing but he comes out as a ‘Guardian Angel’ instead of a ‘Fallen Angel’ and gets assigned to her. Hooray! Now they can spend every minute together being in love! Or something.

Next comes Crescendo. I remember reading somewhere that Hush, Hush wasn’t intended to have a sequel, so this is a brand new story on it’s own. Unfortunately this means a whole heap of plot devices need to be pulled out of no where and then shoehorned into the story via crappy exposition. The plot device was as follows, Guardian Angels are not allowed to fall in love with their people, so when she DECLARES HER LOVE to him and he says nothing, she throws a hissy fit and starts this teenage revenge drama that goes on for 450 pages. In and around this agonizing teenage angst is a plot surrounding the murder of LF ‘s father, now this part of the story is actually mildly interesting; I do love a good murder mystery after all, and the suspects are all various types of fallen angel, angel vessels and guardian angels, so the main character has no idea who to trust. Annoyingly any reader with half a brain knows exactly who to trust and who the murderer is and what all the other character’s motives and intentions are around 200 pages in, the main character is still fumbling around, making immature and terrifying mistakes for the next 200, while we have to sit back and wait for her to figure it out. *Sigh*.

However, this is not actually my main issue with this book, all in all it could have been a tolerable read, if it weren’t for the fact that LF, in this book her name is Nora Grey, is a genuinely terrible person. So completely self-centred she can’t be bothered taking the time to figure out what is going on around her, instead she’d rather just angst about how it’s all so bad for her, AND the book is in first person from her perspective, so it feels like you’re trapped inside her head listening to this incessant monotonous agonizing about why people are being so mean to her. “My boyfriend isn’t texting me!” he’s an angel, he’s busy being on the front lines for God, “My friend can’t drive me home!” you instructed her to drive into a ditch, against her better judgment, until a rock pierced her tyres.

SPOILER ALERT (not that you guys care but whatever) – at the end her boyfriend get’s OMG captured by the guy she just found out is her biological father and the father of the bitch girl from school that she hates (who I love) DUN DUN DUN, but I was so relieved I’d finished the book that I just couldn’t summon the will to care.

Needless to say, when the sequel is released I’d like to think I will actually have the self control to not buy it.

The End.

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Midnight rant about the Anti-Fanfiction craze

Apr. 23rd, 2012 | 02:51 am

I came across this article, http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/68332629.html, today, thanks to my brain being loud and uncooperative when I was planning on sleeping and deciding to go trawling through the internet instead.

As a result my brain was then restarted in rant mode again. Now usually in these situations I would log into Yahoo! Messenger and hope my good rant buddy GG was online, she was, but she had to dash and said “Please leave a rant in my offline messages, I can’t wait to read it when I get back”. Unfortunately I’d pretty much made most of the comments I wanted to make, but then I figured seeing I was back on this blogging wagon, why don’t I write a blog to express my feelings about the attached article?

(In all honesty, I just want to practice my writing of my ranting)

1. I do understand at some points where the authors are coming from, a common theme to their arguments is that their characters and their world exist in their mind and they feel weird when other people come along and mess with it. It was going to be part of my rant that, to quote a commenter on this very article, “If you want to remain the undisputed king of your sandbox, then don't publish it for mass consumption.” -imnotasquirrel

But I can’t help thinking, in hindsight, that maybe if I had built a world in my imagination, and it was where I escaped to when I was feeling bad, and then someone came along and then reinterpreted it with bad spelling, and with terrible plots then I’d feel a little queasy.

At the same time, however, the truth is that if you write a story that can honestly move people and really make them think, then your readers are going to daydream about the world you’ve built and the characters that are wandering around having interesting adventures and they’re going to ask themselves “Is character A really in love with character B? What if they were trapped in a cave together over night? What if one of them died unexpectedly?” and they’re going to sit down at their computers and write out their little wonderings and share them with the world, sometimes as comments and sometimes as full blown scenarios. That’s what the internet is for. Sharing. So to that one argument my response is this: I’m sorry that you feel that way, but you’re really going to have to learn to get over it.

2. The second argument that comes up a lot in this article is that the characters are ‘copyrighted’ and therefore no one is allowed to touch them. From what I know according to copyright laws, this means that 50years after the author dies you can pretty much do whatever you like.

At this point I’m almost speechless, but not speechless enough to stop ranting. What the crap?

Either they’re saying:

a) You’re not allowed to even talk about my characters with other fans, because they’re MINE.

Or they’re saying

b) If you write about my characters people will read YOUR fiction instead of mine, and then I won’t be able to make money off of it.

Let’s take another look at comment a, which I’ve mostly discussed in point one, but I feel needs to be expanded on a little here. At what point IS it acceptable to them for other people to be pondering the intentions and actions of the characters they have created, and to wonder about the past and future of the worlds they have built? Do they mind people on forum’s writing a paragraph or two of analysis of a theory? Do they a comment on a page of an in character quote a fan has created on the author’s behalf? According to this argument the above items probably are forbidden, but this is completely ridiculous, because the most fun about reading is sharing it with other people who liked it as much as you did and discussing WHY!

And comment b, I don’t think I need to expand on how insane this point sounds to me, because it circles back to what is making me the most angry about the whole anti-fanfiction craze:

The people who adore your work, who really care about it, and are genuinely inspired by it are the people who are writing these works. You know what? They’re not even taking it that seriously, they know they aren’t the original authors and they know it’s not going to replace your work as a superior version of the people and events you have created. Mostly all this work is, is a love letter to you and your story, and to have you turn around like a smart arse little school kid, snatch it out of their hands and say “No! It’s MINE!” is SO INSULTING I could reach through my computer screen and slap you in the goddamn face. That’s what this rant is all about.

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Strange Angels - Lili St Crow

Apr. 22nd, 2012 | 08:07 pm

Mini Side-Note: On the ‘cheating’ update I also got rid of the ‘Circle of Nine’ book that I promised myself I’d read. I purchased this novel the first time I visited Australia while I was living in England, which would make me about 13 years old. The novel is a fantasy written for adults, and at the time I was still struggling with fiction at a YA level, so it was hard work. I managed to get about halfway through before giving up. The problem is I had selectively ignored everything I didn’t understand (which was most of it) and only remembered the creepy sex/soul sucking scene 10 pages before I decided it was too much for me. 2 years ago I went into one of those “Books only $5!” stores, where all the books are only $5 because they’re bloody awful. This book was one of them, so on the night that I gave up on Lauren Kate and threw it into the “I don’t care what I promised myself” pile I took one look at “Circle of Nine” and thought, well…. It’s only worth $5, and threw it in too.

Now on to the review of Strange Angels by Lili St Crow

I bought this series, again, during my YA binge approximately 3 years ago. It’s not one of the worst ones I bought, but clearly it’s not one of the best, because it’s in my Read-It-Then-Throw-It-Away pile.

Being a series I only ever planned on reading once, it is difficult to remember exactly what happened in this series, but I’ll give it a shot. The over all feel to the novel is a bit of a Supernatural/Twilight fusion. Dru Anderson is basically the Winchester Brothers, except a girl who complains about how perfect her hair is at least once a page, she and her father move from town to town killing vamps until one day she’s home alone and her father knocks on the back door and OMG he’s turned into a zombie, it’s all very upsetting. She meets a boy who turns into a werewolf. Sorry ‘loup-garou’ because werewulfen are something completely different (omgwhocares), his name’s Graves and he lives in the Mall because he’s run away from his adoptive family and he’s totally a goth and like has epic black hair and black converse and EVERYTHING (sigh). Then this sexy vampire guy shows up, his name is Christophe (I’m not going to lie, I totally fell in love with him) and he’s centuries old and knows what’s going on all the time and never tells the main character and it’s all in first person so of course we never get to find out we just get to hear her constant angsting about being beautiful and half vampire and physically able to look after herself and having super powers and EVERY BOY EVER being totally in love with her. I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

Blah blah blah, 5 books later they kill the bad guy and we finally get to find out if she picks ‘Goth Boy’ (that’s actually what she calls him, I’m not kidding) or sexy vampire boy. I’m going to spoil it at this point because you guys aren’t going to read it:

She picks neither! And ripping off yet another pop culture icon she decided she needs to wait until she’s ready before she can pick one. To clarify, I’m referencing the moment where in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 that she explains to Angel that she’s cookie dough and until she’s cookies she can’t decide who her romantic partner is going to be. Except when Buffy did it it was CUTE and she also was talking about COOKIES.

So to cut a long review short. This novel COULD have been worse, but I’d be a happy camper if it was a whole lot better. Dru wasn’t the most anti-feminist character I’ve come across in YA fiction, but by being an annoying whiny ‘non-conformist’ she was still in no way likeable or interesting.

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