Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tisk tisk, voters.

How the YA March Madness tournament looks in the bottom right-hand corner:
Wait. What?
Now, don't get me wrong. I love Anna and the French Kiss. If it were up against anything except The Fault in Our Stars, I'd say it should probably win. But TFiOS should not have lost that battle, because frankly it should not lose any battle. Which is why it REALLY doesn't make sense that Anna, after beating TFiOS, went on to lose to Hush, Hush. WHAT?
Here's how this corner of the tournament should look.

Ya dig?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012


So, I've now heard the song Rules by Jayme Dee at least 10 times, and it just hit me. I always vaguely knew what it was about, but I wasn't really listening until just now, and OH MY GOD. Yet another perfect Song from District 12.

Let's do another line-by-line analysis, shall we?
You say you know love, but you are just reflecting words you hear
No iron in your veins to give you any sense of pain or fear
Hokay, so it's obvious from the first two lines that this song is from Peeta's perspective. Which is good, because we've got a bunch from Katniss's perspective, one from Gale's (or so I interpret it to be), and even one from the Capitol's perspective.
It's just another lie, it's just another calculation
And when the power's out, we're just another old sensation
This so accurately depicts how Peeta feels at the end of the first book, when he says, "It was all for the Games, how you acted." He goes from thinking Katniss is in love with him to thinking she doesn't actually care about him at all and was only calculating how to win the Games.
This blood keeps me alive, but what is it that runs through you?
Electricity and wires, dictating everything you do
This kind of shows how harshly Peeta judges Katniss at the end of the book, but he's still asking questions about her because he still loves her. THE NEXT LINES ARE MY FAVORITES:
You tell me that you hear me and all your memories are real,
But how do I know you don't just feel what you've been told to feel?
GAH. *breathes* These lines are so perfect. "Memories"-- "I don't want to forget"-- He wants her to remember them as real too, but he's afraid she only thinks of them as steps toward a destination. Also, the whole memory thing applies beautifully to Mockingjay, but I can't say how. And then the word "real," obviously, applies to Real or Not Real, which is SO PERFECT I CAN'T HANDLE IT. And then "how do I know you don't just feel what you've been told to feel" is kind of obvious, but I'll explain anyway. Peeta has just figured out that Haymitch has been telling Katniss to be in love with Peeta for the audience, so he doesn't know if her feelings are, you know, Real or Not Real (not a Mockingjay spoiler, don't worry).
Then there's the chorus:
We run around the rules
We run around the rules
We run around the rules
Round and round, two by two, we run around the rules
Running around the rules is exactly what Peeta and Katniss do, from the moment they held hands in their flaming chariot, to the moment they put the nightlock berries to their lips and get the Gamemakers to allow two victors.
There's water in your eyes, and I know I'm the reason that it's there
But still I don't feel bad, because I know that you have more to spare
On some level, Peeta knows it wasn't "all for the Games," but he's too upset to care. And he knows that Katniss isn't (figuratively) going to cry out all of her tears over this. She has "more to spare" for other things, like Rue and all the fallout from the Games.
And just behind your eyes are switches that can turn back on
To clear away today 'til all your memories are gone
He's convinced that she's going to "try to forget," which means leaving behind all memories of Peeta from the Games. She's not going to remember that part of it was real. Again, he's being harsh because he's hurt, so he sees her as a kind of emotional lightswitch-- flip the switch, and she loses all emotional attachment to him.
And then it repeats the chorus twice, emphasizing how heartbroken Peeta is. He's like, yeah, we run around the rules, but what do I have to show for it?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

30-Day TID Challenge

So, instead of making my Tumblr un-pretty and annoying all of my followers with this, I'm going to do the 30-day challenge in one blog post, which I will edit and change the date of every day.

Day 1: Favorite book of the series
I honestly didn't care about this series that much until this book came out. And I hope my favorite changes when Clockwork Princess comes out.
Day 2: Will or Jem?
I love them both. (...Will.)
Day 3: Favorite scene in Clockwork Prince
The infirmary. Tessa thinks she's dreaming about Will being totally lovable but SHE'S NOT. He really IS totally lovable.
Day 4: Favorite Will quote
This one is SO hard. I can't choose, so I'm just going to write a couple standouts:
"I promise to charm the dickens out of him. I shall charm him with such force that when I am done, he will be left lying limply on the ground, trying to remember his own name."
"I have important business to get to. I plan to sulk all afternoon, followed, perhaps, by an evening of Byronic brooding and a nighttime of dissipation."
And, of course, my favorite part of his explanation for loving Tessa: "You make me laugh. From the moment you hit me on the head with that bottle."
Day 5: Favorite antagonist
Gabriel Lightwood. To me it seems like the other ones don't really have much character. Also I love the banter between him and Will.
Day 6: Favorite poem excerpt
But now, you are twain, you are cloven apart,
Flesh of his flesh, but heart of my heart;
And deep in one is the bitter root,
And sweet for one is the lifelong flower
Day 7: Favorite song of Bridget's
'Twas on an evening fair I went to take the air,
I heard a maid making her moan;
Said, 'Saw ye my father? Or saw ye my mother?
Or saw ye my brother John?
Or saw ye the lad that I love best,
And his name it is sweet William?'
*evil chuckle* I love you, Bridget.
Day 8: Shadowhunter crush
Is this even a question?
I repeat: "Or saw ye the lad that I love best,
And his name it is sweet William?"
Day 9: Downworlder crush
There isn't really much choice in this one. So, um, Magnus.
Day 10: Any characters you relate with?
Tessa and Will because of how much they read. And especially Will, because he does that whole pretending-he's-a-fictional-character thing (only... he is a fictional character. Imagine how happy he'd be if he knew that!)
Day 11: Most hated character
The Dark Sisters. They're creepy little minions who are actually worse than the real villain, in my opinion.
Day 12: Favorite Tessa/Will moment
Aside from the infirmary, this one:
"That demon woman you were lounging with on the divan," said Will. "Would you call her a friend, or more of a business associate?"
Benedict's dark eyes hardened. "Insolent puppy--"
"Oh, I'd say she was a friend," said Tessa. "One doesn't usually let one's business associates lick one's face. Although I could be wrong. What do I know about these things? I'm only a silly woman."
Will's mouth quirked up at the corner.
Day 13: Favorite Tessa/Jem moment
Probably on Blackfriars Bridge back when they were just friends. And then the automatons attacked and Jem went all look-my-cane-is-a-sword. Jem doesn't get to do stuff like that very often.
Day 14: Reaction to the ending of Clockwork Prince
I was excited. Cecily intrigues me.
Day 15: Favorite pairing
Non-OTP: Will and Jem, OTP: Will and Tessa.
Now that I think of it, I also love the Will/Gabriel pairing just because of how hilarious these situations are. I would love it if they had to team up for something.
Day 16: How do you feel about Tessa's indecisiveness about the boys?
I mean, I get it... but it's a little melodramatic, if you ask me. It's obvious which one she has stronger feelings for, and I kind of wish she would just put herself first this one time.
Day 17: Cast Jem, Will and Tessa
(I'm doing these based on looks alone, because I have no actual knowledge of their acting abilities. And if I did, I'm sure I wouldn't think anyone was good enough to portray Will to my satisfaction.)
Jem: the guy on the CP cover or Eiji Wentz
Will: Nicholas Hoult
Tessa: I haven't really thought about it. All of the girls I've seen fancasted as Tessa are too old to play her (except for Georgie Henley, who just doesn't scream Tessa to me), so I'd probably pick an unknown.
Day 18: Would you like to see the books made into movies?
No, not really. I feel like nobody could do it right, and it would ruin the characters for people who haven't read the books, and it would become A Thing, and I don't want it to be A Thing. I don't want it compared to Twilight, or even TMI for that matter (these books really are so much better than TMI). They're books. Leave it.
Day 19: Which kind of Downworlder would you want to be?
Well according to, I am a warlock. Which is cool because I can do magic and stuff, and also I'm immortal. But it would be cool to be a faerie and get people to do what I want.
Day 20: Favorite Shadowhunter
Wiiiiiilllliam Herondale. If I haven't made that clear.
Day 21: Favorite Downworlder
Not many options on this one, so Magnus Bane. I like how he sees the good in Will and knows Tessa does too, and I like how he doesn't really care what anyone thinks of him (you might say he cares what Camille thinks of him, but he openly kisses Will in front of her, so it's not like he's ashamed of himself. At all.)
Day 22: Favorite character overall
Oh, gee, I wonder. It's a total mystery.
Day 23: If you could change one thing about the books, what would it be?
Believe it or not, I would not change the love triangle. If I could change one thing, the books would make me care more about the automatons/Magister stuff, because while that stuff is kind of interesting, I find I'm always anticipating the character/secondary plot things rather than the primary plot things.
Day 24: Favorite place
I honestly don't think I have one.
Day 25: Any predictions?
Oh, I have predictions. Conflicting predictions, contingency predictions, completely outlandish and unreasonable predictions, predictions that could actually happen. None of which I'm interested in saying, other than that Jem will probably die :( and that Tessa is part Shadowhunter.
Day 26: Who do you think suits Tessa more, Will or Jem?
Jem suits the practical, traditional side of her, but Will suits the side of her that makes her Tessa.
Day 27: Is there another character you'd prefer to see her with?
Now why would I want to complicate things more?
Day 28: Thoughts on Jessamine
Can't stand her.
Day 29: Cast the rest of the characters
Uhhhh, no.
Day 30: Would you become a Shadowhunter, if given the chance?
Only if I could have a cool last name with two words in it, a la Heron-dale, Car-stairs, Bran-well, Light-wood,...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hunger Games soundtrack

Oh. My. Gosh.

Here are my top 10 favorites:
1. Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift & the Civil Wars (obviously. Nothing trumps this song.)
2. Eyes Open by Taylor Swift
3. Kingdom Come by the Civil Wars
4. Rules by Jayme Dee
5. Run Daddy Run by Miranda Lambert feat. Pistol Annies (people should really give this one a chance-- I didn't like it the first time, either, but the second time I did a complete 180. "Mama's been cryin' in the kitchen, sister's been afraid of the dark, I've been gatherin' the pieces of all these shattered hearts." SO GOOD)
6. Tomorrow Will be Kinder by the Secret Sisters
7. Come Away to the Water by Maroon 5 feat. Rozzi Crane
8. Just a Game by Birdy (the last line. AHH)
9. One Engine by the Decemberists
10. Dark Days by Punch Brothers


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Twilight Problem

There is a severe problem in the world of fiction, or rather fiction reviewing, that needs to be fixed.
This problem, I like to call "the Twilight Problem."
"I know he's a vampire, and I know he's standing behind me looking at me like he wants to eat me, but I'm gonna stay right here in these creepy woods with him because I think I love him even though I just met him."
The Twilight Problem is a classic problem of comparisons-- no matter what, books are always compared to other books. But this one is unique, because it clumps a wide variety of books into a single category that is harshly and unfairly judged based on the mistakes of ONE book. More specifically, any book that involves any kind of romance is deemed "Twilight-esque," for some reason.
I am not only talking about The Hunger Games here, although that comparison is the one that bothers me the most because it is so completely unvalidated. I'm talking about every young adult book that involves some level of romance, or a love triangle. Cassie Clare's books. Divergent. Beautiful Creatures (okay, yeah, that one I get). Delirium. Starcrossed. Mara Dyer. Etc.


Twilight did not invent romance. It did not invent the love triangle. Anyone who dismisses a book because it has a "Twilight-esque" romance should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, "Is this the kind of person I want to be?" Someone who will leave a harsh review of a book based on how similar it is to another book? Someone who maybe will not even read a book because of those comparisons? Someone who avoids romance and the beautiful lie that true love conquers all, because of one book that took it a bit too far?

I have never read two stories in which the romances were exactly the same. Meaning that a very small percentage of them were comparable to Twilight-- by which I mean insta!love, obsessive love, destructive love. Usually love stories are sweet and believable and romantic, which is how they should be. I'm not going to avoid a love story just because it might be like Twilight. Because chances are, it won't. After all, it's not the romance that makes Twilight bring on The Cringe Factor; it's the relationship. The fact that Edward and Bella own each other. The fact that Edward is dangerous and for some reason Bella isn't as concerned with her own safety as she should be. That he literally has to change who she is in order for them to be together. That's the problem.
Not the fact that there's a love triangle.
Not that fact that it's a romance.
It's the characters themselves, which have never, not once, been replicated in another book. You don't see the love interest stalking the girl from afar, or watching her while she sleeps before they even know each other, or having to constantly weigh his desire to be with her against his desire to kill her. THAT is all Twilight.

Here is where I contrast the books to prove that comparing them is useless:
You want to tell me that Peeta and Katniss and Gale are like Edward and Bella and Jacob? Tell me, when does Katniss ever say she needs them? Because Bella's a blithering fool when Edward leaves-- she walks hunched over, with her hand to her stomach at all times because she has a PHYSICAL AFFLICTION when he's gone. She thinks she needs him. Katniss knows that she won't die if Peeta and/or Gale were to leave or die. The one she chooses, she doesn't need him because she has an unhealthy attachment to him; she needs him because he helps her. He makes the world better for her. 
You want to tell me Jace and Clary and Simon are like Edward and Bella and Jacob? Jace is rude; Edward is annoyingly polite. Clary is full of fire and art; Bella is full of dissatisfaction and dependence. Simon is a vampire; Jacob is a werewolf (sorry, cheap shot, but I had to. Simon is also smart and geeky; Jacob is... Taylor Lautner).
You think Will, Tessa and Jem are like Edward, Bella and Jacob? Will is self-destructive because it helps everyone else. He will not let people love him, no matter how bad he must make himself seem. Edward gives a halfhearted warning about how loving him is a bad idea, and then he lets her do it anyway. Tessa is selfless like Bella, admirably, but she also thinks more logically about her decisions. Jem is the safe choice, like Jacob, but if he knew about Tessa's feelings for Will, he would never try to tear her away from him. Heck, he probably wouldn't even make her decide. And here's the kicker: Will and Jem are best friends. They have a relationship, whereas Edward and Jacob do nothing but fight with each other.
You think Tris and Four are like Bella and Edward? PLEASE. Tris wields a gun and beats people up. Four loves that she wields a gun and beats people up. Bella would probably end up shooting herself with the gun, if Edward were to ever let her near one. Which he wouldn't.
Think Lena and Alex and Julian (blegh) are like Bella and Edward and Jacob? Snort. Lena doesn't decide to join Alex's world because it's the only way to stay with him; she does it because she realizes that her world is dead wrong. Julian's certainly no Jacob (this one, actually, is a compliment to Twilight. Sorry, I really don't like Julian).
Think Helen and Lucas are like Bella and Edward? I admit, the love story in this one is reminiscent of Twilight in the most superficial ways-- they're thrown together, he brings her to school every day, his family is big and strange-- but these two are literally destined by the gods to be together. This story is one of the most original things I've ever read.
Finally, you think Mara and Noah are Bella and Edward? Excuse me while I *sips water* SPIT OUT MY WATER AT YOU. Mara Dyer is the antithesis of Bella Swan. She's seriously screwed up, and dangerous, and awesome. Bella wishes she were Mara Dyer. Noah Shaw, like Edward, has a mysterious bad boy reputation. But, unlike Edward, he earned it. It's not gossip; it's fact. He doesn't write poetry in script or talk about death as a romantic ideal, and he certainly isn't the 100-year-old virgin. Hah.

So, there you have it. I'm sure there are more examples of the Twilight Problem, but these are the 7 I chose to address.
Me, I'm not going to be influenced by it. I'm going to read love stories. I'm going to revel in the healthy relationships in books. I'm not going to be the cynic who confuses Twilight romance with romance in general. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

So, I kind of feel like this is going to be a half-hearted review. But don't assume it's because I didn't like the book... it's just that the book wasn't really anything special.
Let's go over something: My first experience reading a Sarah Ockler book was in June, when I was house-sitting for my aunt while reading Twenty Boy Summer (I would say I read it while house-sitting, but that seems backward). That book made me cry, made me laugh, and occasionally made me uncomfortable. But I liked it. So then recently, I read Fixing Delilah. I loved that book. I didn't realize until now just how much I loved it, but after comparing it to Bittersweet I can definitely tell you that that one was better. It seemed to have more heart and more endearing characters (what can I say? I'm a sucker for the Boy Next Door who falls in love with the Girl Next Door, a la Lola and the Boy Next Door).
Basically, Bittersweet is about Hudson Avery (sometimes I can get over an awkward main-character name. Sometimes I can't. Unfortunately, Hudson's nickname was "Hud," so this falls into the latter category), former pro-track ice skater who now works at her mom's diner making cupcakes that win the town over. Then business starts going bad, so her mom makes her waitress at the diner. Then she has to help the high school hockey team get better at skating so she can have private ice time without anyone knowing. Then her best friend gets jealous that she's not hanging out with her anymore. Meanwhile, she's torn between Josh Blackthorn-- smart, cute, humble, funny hockey co-captain-- and Will Harper-- cute, confident, [insert third adjective here-- oh wait, there isn't one] hockey co-captain who forgot that he was her first and only kiss up until now.
Okay, so, my problem was this: Hudson is a feisty character. I don't really know how to explain this in light of her actions, but she is. You just know it. And yet, she lets all of these people push her around. She lets her mom make her waitress, because she realizes it's for the good of the restaurant and, thus, for her family. That's fine, but she doesn't have to let her mom's waitress-demanding schedule run her life. As we can see, she's got other things going on, and I find it hard to believe that she couldn't come up with an acceptable lie to get out of waitressing occasionally-- as she lies to her mom about pretty much everything else. Also, she doesn't have to hang out with her best friend constantly. They're together at work, and I don't see why that wasn't enough, seeing Dani knows how much Hudson has going on. She started getting really annoying, when I actually liked her at the beginning of the book. She becomes just another person tugging at Hudson and making her feel like she doesn't know who she is.
And the one person Hudson wants to hang out with because he doesn't have any expectations of her, she keeps him at a distance because she thinks he has a girlfriend. And then she goes and dates Will for the same reason, when obviously she never liked Will as much as she likes Josh. Unnecessary Love Triangles for 300, please. Hudson, now you're just adding to your own stress, when you've got enough people doing that for you.
Now, the ending. Of course, we find out that Josh doesn't have a girlfriend; the girl Hudson thought was his girlfriend was actually, GET THIS, his sister. Mistaking family members for girlfriends! Never done before, ever! However, I did like the other part of the ending. How [spoiler alert] Hudson realizes that she doesn't actually want to live the figure-skating competition life. The whole time she was training for the scholarship competition, I was concerned about that. I actually thought to myself that she didn't really seem to be paying attention to the fact that she'd have to face competition in the form of girls who had been participating in these things their whole lives-- the glam, the unrealistic expectations, all of that. So, um, that was good. And then everything fell into place in true rom-com fashion.
So, here's THE LIST:
Things I liked
-Josh Blackthorn
-Josh and Hudson's easy banter
-BUG (Hudson's genius little brother)!!
-The role of Kara, Hudson's ex-best friend-from-figure-skating, in everything that happened
-How much the hockey team grew to love Hudson (and how she calls them her hockey boys)
Things that were too cliche:
-The love triangle
-The "Oh, Abby is your sister? I thought she was your girlfriend" thing.
-Dani being just another person who turns on Hudson
-Hudson blaming herself for her parents' divorce. Come on.
-Hudson's melodrama about cupcakes-vs.-skating-vs.-waitressing-vs.-boys-vs.-Dani-vs.-Mom

Overall: 3.5/5 stars.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Guys, remember when I did my review of Crossed and I pointed out that the third book was probably going to have Cassia in a red bubble? What I said exactly was, "can anyone else tell that the cover of the third book is going to be Cassia in-- or out of-- a red bubble? Whether that bubble is broken, or invisible, or empty, it will be red. I'd put money on it."
Red bubble. Broken. I told you so.
That is all.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is pandemonium synonymous with disappointment?

Here I go again. This book. I just... okay.
To be honest with you, I didn't like this book. In my opinion, it suffers from Second Book Syndrome big-time. It's like everything that started happening in the first book was put on hold, and none of the characters returned for the second installment. Including, but not limited to the main character, Lena.
Sure, she's the narrator in this one, just like she was in Delirium. But she's not Lena. The narrator in this book is, justifiably, someone completely different. She thinks Alex is dead; she's left her old life behind, and she won't let herself think about it. No Hana, no Alex. We get new characters, none of whom are all that fleshed out. I didn't feel an ounce of connection to them.
One of those characters, of course, was Julian Fineman. The new "love interest." It really bothered me that Lena started to fall in "love" with him, and not because she should be holding out for Alex (she thinks he's dead. Okay, fine, move on if that's what you have to do), but because Julian is the first boy who's given her the time of day since she left for the Wilds. It kind of cheapens her relationship with Alex, because it makes you wonder if she'll fall in love with any boy her age who spends time with her**. Julian makes her feel safe, I guess, but at the same time she's constantly protecting him (and we all know my stance on that). He's a little bit weak. I didn't connect with him because he has no personality-- he's a blank slate. Just because we learn about his family/personal history doesn't mean we actually know anything about who he is, what he believes in, who he wants to be. He doesn't even know those things himself, which is what makes it so hard for me to believe that Lena-- now stone-cold, fierce, passionate Lena-- would fall for him.
The whole time she's with Julian, she has to push back thoughts of Alex. Every sentence with his name ripped out my heart and did a little dance on it. Without him, Lena isn't herself anymore; she's him. She becomes Alex, because she thinks there is nobody else in the world to be him. Which, in turn, makes Julian the old Lena, the one Alex fell in love with. The parallels are almost too much, straight from Lena telling Julian "I'm not who you think I am," to her watching him from the observation deck, the way Alex watched her when she went for her evaluation. I just can't help but feel like it's so obvious that Lena only "loves" Julian because she realizes that she's Alex and he's Lena. Because Alex and Lena belong together, not Lena and Julian.
And yet, she's completely in denial about it because she hardly even lets herself think of Alex. Which, ultimately, makes this book extremely disappointing. I'm not anti-love triangle. I'm fine when it's done the right way, but this one is so completely not done the right way. There is no way she is not going to choose Alex, now that he's back in her life and, you know, not dead. I would have been much happier if he had come back in the middle of the book, with some kind of information about her mother, or news that he's been searching for her, or anything. Please, give me a reason why his return had to wait until the very end of the book, other than for the suspense of it. I don't think a single reader ever actually believed he was dead (I certainly didn't).
Basically, this book was a filler. Yes, there was a shift in the main character, toward someone she didn't want to be, and then-- at the VERY END-- toward someone she does want to be. Yes, the resistence is getting stronger. But that's about the extent of the progress that occurs in Pandemonium. So much more could have happened, especially with Alex.
But alas, there is a glimpse of hope at the end. You see, at the end of Delirium, Alex tells Lena to promise she won't look back once she gets near the woods, and she promises-- but she looks back anyway. And at the end of Pandemonium, Julian tells her to promise that they'll stay together, and she promises-- but then Alex pops in and says, "Don't believe her." Because he knows what happens when she makes a promise. BAM. And that is why Alex should have come back sooner.
Also, a comment about the writing: Sometimes the sentences in this book were so beautiful I just wanted to live in them, but other times they seemed extremely forced. Every time Lena feels something, for example, she feels it in her "throat." Like, "nausea rises up in my throat," or "disappointment is a rock in my throat." What? That doesn't even make sense. You're trying too hard, Miss Oliver.
I feel like I need a list of adjectives to sum up this book:

Overall I give this book 3/5 stars, but two of those stars come from the very last page.

**- I'm pretty sure the sequel to a book isn't supposed to make you question everything that happened in the first book. That is what I hate most about Pandemonium.