What. Am. I. Going. To. Do!!!!!
It’s the crappiest part of the tv year! All my favorite shows are just minutes away from their season finales or they are taking ridiculously long hiatuses so they can make it to May Sweeps with new episodes left. Dumb!
To make me feel better about all this tv sadness, I am going to share some of my favorite YA-inspired tv shows.
This one’s currently on a break, but it’ll be back in April. Thank goodness! This one is all about the DRAMA. If you’ve been living under a rock, here is the scoop:
Lost of rich kids living in New York City and getting into all kinds of trouble. (I was going to say their were some not so rich people, but even the Humphreys are now shacking up with the Van Der Woodsens.)
This is one that I initially loved. Over its four seasons, I’ve gone back and forth on this one. There is definitely a lot of drama and lots of intrigue. But, I can only take Lily and Rufus getting into the same fight so many times. However, this show is more about the young’ins and they are crazy. They have been through every ridiculous situation out there (drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, long-lost siblings, almost-incestuous relationships, mean girls, class issues, corporate espionage, secret societies, death, car accidents, missing persons, backstabbing, banishment, amnesia, and on and on and on). However, I’m a little tired of the constant relationship back and forths and am often annoyed by the couplings. Can Serena please be with someone…anyone… for more than 2 episodes?
Still, I love this show. It divulges quite a bit from the books (as any tv show based on a book does), but it is really addictive. You can’t help but be jealous of the gorgeous clothes and the gorgeous people. I will continue to watch it as long as it’s on, but I can’t guarantee I won’t be shaking my head thinking, “This. Is. Ridiculous.”
Pretty Little Liars
This one is currently running, but we only have 3 episodes left this season. Pardon me while I shed a tear.
Four high school girls reconnect after the death of the 5th member of their group, Allison. When they start receiving messages from a mysterious A who knows things only Allison knew, they get caught up in a dangerous game of cat and mouse and start to realize Allison might not have been the person they thought she was.
This show makes me so tense. I am dying to know who A is and who killed Alli. I haven’t read the books, but I have read spoilers online. Still, there is no guarantee that the show will follow the storyline of the books.
The primary antagonist of this show is the mysterious A character. He/She only speaks to the girls through various non-verbal messages (text, email, post-its, etc.) A’s threatening messages usually involve some sort of blackmail about the many secrets the girls hide (a mom who stole money from work, a student-teacher relationship, being a lesbian, parents who cheat, past relationships with sister’s boyfriends, etc.)
Hints online suggest that we might find out who Alli’s killer is by the end of season. Are Alli’s killer and A the same person? That’s one we’re going to have to wait a little longer for. Also, showrunner I. Marlene King insists they are going to keep A’s identity secret as long as possible.
This one is definitely a puzzle, but I’m enjoying trying to figure it out. Even if it doesn’t sound like you’re thing, check it out. At least for the opening credits. Some of the best I’ve seen in a long time!
And Now….the Granddaddy of them All….
Probably the best YA-based tv show on right now. Also, currently on a break. I hate you CW. Look for it again in April.
The town of Mystic Falls, VA seems to be a magnet for all things supernatural (Vampires, Witches, Werewolves). Lots of pretty teens deal with keeping the supernaturals a secret, while also trying to protect all the people they love.
Popular human Elena Gilbert seems to be the center of everything. She is torn between her love for two vampire brothers. Stefan, the good one, is her boyfriend. Damon, the bad one, loves her but is fighting his urge to be a better person. I am definitely a Delena shipper. These two are just two hot to not be together. (Plus, Stefan seems to have much more chemistry with new vampire Caroline.) Add in the fact that both brothers used to be in love with the vampire Katherine, who is the greatxabunch grandmother of Elena and who could be her twin, and you have some serious drama.
As you watch the show, you discover that Mystic Falls has a long history of supernatural connections and the present is no exception. Everything that has happened over the course of history seems to have built to the present, where Elena struggles to figure out how it is all connected to her. As she tries to figure out the mysteries of the past, the present seems to be ever on the tipping point of all out supernatural destruction of one sort or another.
This one is very sexy and very bloody. I hope it stays around along time. Unlike every new character on the show. Who seem to have a 2-episode max before they die.
All in all, I love me some YA-inspired tv shows. All the drama of a good YA book with tons of yummy actors. I’m gonna be on a boat for the next week, so I’ll be taking a little break from my tv. My DVR will be waiting patiently for my return.
Things have been so crazy here! Thank goodness it is the end of the semester! I am so excited to take a nice break and then come back for my FINAL SEMESTER OF GRAD SCHOOL, after which I will be a REAL LIVE LIBRARIAN. So exciting!
Anyways, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been reading.
Well, in the last month, I’ve technically read four books, but I wanted to wait till I was done to review them. That’s because I’ve been reading the Vampire Diaries books by L.J. Smith. I have the nifty two-in-one versions that combine the first two books and the last two books into two compiled volumes. So, basically, once I finished the first book, I had to go right into the second because they are in the same volume and all. Then, when I was done with that, I figured I might as well read them all before I write about them. Truthfully, I haven’t quite finished the last one, but I’m getting there. Enough about my madness, let me talk about the books.
Here’s the deal. Again, this is one of those cases where I watched the tv show first. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that I am in L.O.V.E. with the tv show. SO exciting and dramatic and sexy! I went into the books with the typical understanding that a book and a movie are never the same. This has never been more true in my eyes. I liked the Vampire Diaries books, but they are definitely not the tv show. If you go in expecting them to be the same or vice verse, expect the tv show to follow the books, you are going to be really disappointed. Besides the names of the characters and some of the minor plot points, these are two TOTALLY different entities.
So, to look at the books themselves, I thought they were enjoyable. Standard vampire danger and allure. Romance. Requisite love triangle (not nearly as hot as the tv stelena/delena struggle). Epic battle of good and evil. These are a good read for a lazy day, but not something I am just crazy about. I actually found it kind of hard to connect with the characters. Overall, however, a good time.
What’s up next, you ask? Well, it’s Christmas break, so I will definitely be doing some reading. A few years ago, I took the break as an opportunity to read the entire Gossip Girl series. I can get a little single-minded, occasionally. This year, I have some ideas in mind. I don’t have room to take a ton of books to my parents with me, so everything waiting on my bookshelves will continue to wait. I think, with the help of the public library, I am going to tackle reading the 5 Fitzgerald novels. I am OBSESSED with the Jazz Age right now. Although, really, who isn’t? Have you seen Boardwalk Empire? Plus, then I will totally be in the right frame of mind for reading Vixen and/or Bright Young Things, which I will (fingers crossed) hopefully receive as Christmas gifts.
That’s about it for now. Stay classy!
The biggest issue in sequels and series, more often than not, is that later titles are never as good as the first. Of course, there have been titles and series where this is obviously not true, as well. I was pretty delighted to find that Beautiful Darkness, the sequel to Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures, is IMHO better than its predecessor. I’d been really excited to read both books in this series since I got an ARC of the second at ALA. If you read my review on Beautiful Creatures, you’ll know that I thought the authors did a beautiful job creating the mythology of the magic in that novel. This second novel is abundant in magic, which makes this girl REALLY HAPPY. Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I have always been a little obsessed with magic of all sorts. I love love LOVE princesses and fairy tales. I spent quite a bit of my childhood determined that I was a FABULOUS magician. Boxes of memorabilia in my parents’ attic can attest to an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter. The recent surge in urban fantasy and paranormal romance has been like heaven to me. There is this little glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, magic is real.
If any of the previous has left you thinking “Man, this girl is nuts!”, Beautiful Darkness might not be the book for you. Creatures presented us with a very typical Southern small town, with the magical aspects very slowly appearing throughout the novel and presented as a very small and hidden underworld of the town. In Darkness, that underworld takes center-stage and the reader realizes this is much, much bigger than just a few magical people living in a normal town. So basically, although this continues the story from the first book, I kind of felt like this was a totally different kind of book. Although, this kind of makes sense. Ethan is getting farther and farther into the magic, so the book has to become more and more focused on the magic. But still, this makes it a different kind of book. The first book is so much about teenage relationships and learning to trust another person, with the magical aspects being important but merely a detail in this larger romantic story. On the other hand, this book is about the relationship between Ethan and Lena, but much more so about Ethan understanding the magical world and avoiding an epic magical war. I think this difference is important because I felt as though I was making progress and getting deeper into the story, whereas if we just had more magic girl in normal world drama, this book might have felt stale.
At this point, you’re probably like “Come on, Sarah, give us the dirty details.” Well okay then!
- Amma is awesome!!!! If you’ve read Creatures, you know this. In this book, she gets even more A.W.E.S.O.M.E., with capital letters.
- Lena is a crazy person. You’re probably gonna hate her this time around.
- Ridley actually has depth. I knew it!
- Link is smarter than you think. I just wanna give him a big hug.
- Magic exists where you least expect. This is a reoccurring theme.
- It wouldn’t be magic if there wasn’t an ancient war going on. Duh!
- And…best of all…Link’s mom watches Cat Week. It’s like Shark Week with cats. Strangely funny that Ellen just did Cat Week on her show last week.
I know, I know. These details aren’t very dirty. I just really don’t want to spoil this one for you. It’s too good. I will admit that quite a few of the plot twists were obvious before they happened. However, I also had quite a few moments where I was like, “WOAH! You got me!” I do think that part of the fun of a book is trying to figure things out and I think that this book provided a good balance of foreshadowing and complete surprise.
If I have anything to negative to say about this book, it’s only that after the intense ending of the first book, the beginning of this book is kind of calm. Therefore, at first, it took me a little bit to get into it. I think this was because I was ready to get right into more intrigue, whereas the beginning of this book is heavy on basic exposition to get people the back story if they haven’t read Creatures or if they have forgotten some of the detail. However, once this book gets into its central plot arc, it really moves.
I urge you to check this series out, especially if you are into any of the paranormal romance/urban fantasy stuff that’s really big lately. This second novel in the series, Beautiful Darkness, hits stores Tuesday, October 12. (That’s next week, so you should be pretty excited!)
So, I went on a little bender….a v-bender that is. To be more specific, I dropped out of the realm of the living to read all the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. I will admit that they got to me. I am definitely hooked. I will also admit that I am one of those foul people who watched True Blood long before she ever picked up one of the books that it’s based on. Better late than never though, right? Anyways, I won’t get into them too much here because they aren’t a YA series, which is mostly what I write this blog about. Don’t get me wrong….everyone who knows me can tell you that I will not stand for any kind of censoring of any sort. Truthfully, I very well could have read these books in high school, but I grew up in a pretty liberal household. I just want it to be clear, for those young adults who prefer literature of a higher moral code, that these books were not written for a YA audience. As such, objectionable language and sexual content abound. But, for those of you who don’t mind such things or who relish this kind of literature, I say DIG IN!
So, if I’m not gonna write about the SoVampMysteries, what am I gonna write about? Something that is NOT, I repeat NOT about vampires.
I just want to make sure we’re clear about this, the following book is NOT about vampires.
Why am being so adamant about this, you may ask? Let me explain.
Earlier this year, I heard a lot of talk about Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Everytime I heard someone talk about this book, it was in the context of a discussion about vampire books. Add that to someone telling me that this is like Twilight, but the girl is the vampire–and I built up this whole notion of what I thought this book was. Finally, this weekend I sat down and read it. Guess what? It’s not about vampires, at all! What were all those people smoking?
What is it about, then? Well, I don’t want to tell you because it’ll ruin the fun of discovering it for yourself. I will concede that is about something supernatural…but not vampires. LOL
Ethan Wate grew up in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, just like his father before him and all the Wates before him. They live in the same house, surrounded by the same people, living the same life. Nothing ever changed, until now. After Ethan’s mom dies in an accident, Ethan’s dad locks himself away in his office writing and Ethan succumbs to terrible nightmares. Every night he dreams the same thing. A girl is falling, leaving him, and he can’t save her. When his dream girl shows up in Gatlin, Ethan thinks that maybe his life is gonna turn around. But when unexplainable things start to happen and Ethan’s housekeeper Amma, the one person he feels like he can always trust, tells Ethan to stay away from the new Lena, Ethan knows that change might not always be good. Still, Ethan knows that he has to look deeper, that everything must be happening for a reason. Can Ethan and Lena learn to trust each other so that they can figure why they are so powerfully connected? Will change mean a new future or no future?
Watching Ethan and Lena learn to trust each other and fall for each other is breathtakingly beautiful. The connection between them, with its supernatural appearance, also seems to resemble the nature of true love–powerful beyond all things, even when it might mean danger or heartbreak. At times, it was slightly frustrating watching Lena continue to distrust Ethan and push him away. But, while this is painful, it lends a nice touch of a real relationship.
While many powerful and heartbreaking things ensue, this book also provides its share of lightness and humor. I think it’s mostly due to the badass female quotient. Amma, the Wates’ housekeeper, is tough as nails. It is amusing to watch her as she lays into Ethan with the tenacity only true caring and love can create. You know in an instant that no one crosses Amma because she does what she does for your own good. Ethan’s three eldery aunts, the Sisters, are just as endearing. At times slightly off-kilter and at other times just plain stupid, the reader knows the Sisters’ way and word are law–even it means there are only 11 true states (the Confederate ones) and itching is spelled ichin’. There’s just something you have to love about women who think that being buried with your recipes so as not to share them is a sin of the highest order.
There’s also a badass supernatural quotient in this book. I told you before, I’m not gonna give too many details here. Let’s suffice it to say that Garcia and Stohl have built a pretty enchanting world here. You are gonna love unraveling it. Wrap up all that supernatural goodness and put it in a nice package with a southern drawl and you are gonna be instantly charmed.
I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Beautiful Darkness. I’ve got an advance reading copy from ALA sitting right next to me. I think I’m gonna take a night off and enjoy a chick flick though. I could do with a little light to balance out the dark.
As always, happy reading! And if you’ve read Beautiful Creatures already, I wanna hear from you. Did I miss something? Did you think it was about vampires? Cause, I’m still mulling that one over. 🙂
No, I’m not talking about a fabulous old Nick cartoon, I’m talking about a fabulous new book series.
You may know Lisi Harrison from her Clique and A-List Series. Well, in September, Lisi is introducing her new series Monster High and I am loving it! The first volume is aptly titled Monster High and introduces readers to the unique place that is Merston High and the interesting students that attend there.
Melody Carver has just moved to Salem, Oregon from L.A. Unlike her sister Candace, who has nicknamed their new home bOregon, Melody is excited to move somewhere where looks aren’t top priority. Although work by her plastic surgeon father has left her visibly flawless, Melody still feels different on the inside. She appreciates the beauty in individuality. With one look at her new neighborhood, where every house is as different as the people who live inside them, and Melody knows she’s gonna like it on Radcliffe Way.
Frankie Stein is new, too. Really new. 15 days new. Not just to Radcliffe Way and Merston High, but to the planet. Frankie, as evidenced by her name, was built by her father–just like every family member in the long line of Frankenstein monsters before them. Frankie is just like any other teen girl, except that she is made of metal parts and has to charge herself every night. However, with the help of Fierce & Flawless Makeup to cover her green skin and her obsessive love of pop culture and shopping, Frankie might just be able to pass for normie.
Follow Melody & Frankie as they begin a new year at Merston High, where monsters and normies mix. New girls trying to fit in at a new school, sounds pretty simple right? Oh, did I forget to mention that if the normies find out monsters exist, there will be major trouble? Oh yeah, and Frankie has a tendency to want to fight for the cause of equality and freedom for monsters? And, oops, Melody (a normie) just might be dating Dr. Jekyll, or is it Mr. Hyde?
Monster High is a perfect blend of teen girl drama with the hot supernatural trend. I found myself delightfully surprised by this novel and am eager to follow along as this series unfolds. I will warn this first novel introduces a lot of characters. You might want to read slowly or reread some parts, so you can get them all straight before the series goes further (and possibly delves deeper into the lives of the background characters. However, you may also choose to just focus on the trials and tribulations of the two main characters: Normie Melody Carver and Monster Frankie Stein. The novel alternates between the viewpoint of these two characters introducing the normie view of Merston High and the monster view of Merston High. Melody and Frankie are both admirable protagonists for their real imperfections. They present a relatable character for young girls who don’t associate with the pretty and popular type. They take their imperfections and are proud of them, which can hopefully empower young readers.
On a side note, the Monster High book series seems to be just one part of a bigger picture–a Monster High franchise by Mattel in partnership with Hachette Book Group. Mattel has already released a series of dolls and web content based on the Monster High characters. I stumbled upon this after seeing a tv commercial for an animated web adventure called Monster High bearing the same pink bow skeleton logo as my Monster High advance copy book. So, I went and checked it out at http://www.MonsterHigh.com. This website offers children and teens the opportunity to enroll in Monster High, play games, and watch animated webisodes featuring the Monster High characters. I will note, however, that the web content and the dolls only feature the monster characters in their more natural monster state. No normie characters like Melody and her friends here. Also, in the web series, the monsters attend Monster High, as opposed to Merston High, where there are no normies–just monsters–and a really creepy setting. However, on its own, the web content and the dolls are quite cute and fun and will definitely broaden the audience for Harrison’s coming book series.
All in all, I’m pumped for the release of Monster High and future titles in the series. The are just a good, fun read for a rainy day snuggled in bed or a sunny day by the pool.
P.S. Did you catch that Merston High is an anagram of Monster High. Nice touch Lisi!
P.P.S. Isn’t the cover art adorable? Totally voltage!!!!
P.P.P.S. I haven’t read much of Lisi Harrison’s work before, so I just recently stumbled upon her website: http://www.lisiharrison.com. You should go there and check out her blah-g (blog)–it’s fun and funny!
So, I haven’t been around and there is a sad reason why. I’ve been reading a lot, but it’s all been pretty mediocre. And I don’t want to share mediocre with my loyal readers. But, all that’s about to change. Friday was my birthday and I decided to celebrate in my own way. I read two FABULOUS books! Bonus: They both have ties to the brilliant Brontë sisters (and covers that irk me.)
First, I want to share Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF. This debut novel was written by the author when she was a 17-year old senior in high school. I have crazy respect for her for that. Anyway, 17-year old protagonist Bianca Piper is the DUFF or so she is is called by school playboy, Wesley. Wesley tells her the DUFF is the Designated Ugly Fat Friend and every group has one. Even though B hates everything about Wesley and is way too smart to fall for his game, pressures in her life cause her to seek distraction in the form of an enemies with benefits relationship with him. As she tries so hard to run away from her problems, Bianca may find one more thing she can’t handle…somewhere or someone that makes her comfortable and happy.
Bianca is an awesomely entertaining protagonist…totally brash and off-color and so real for it. I love that she’s not afraid to tell Wesley exactly what she thinks of him. She’s also not afraid to admit that girls can use guys just as easily as guys use girls. She has this crass wit that will leave you doubled over in laughter. The relationship between Bianca and Wesley is painfully beautiful in its intense teenage emotion. The author’s voice is highly believable and relatable to any person who has experienced the poisonous nature of teenage emotion and the feeling that life is burying you. Readers will find themselves rooting for Bianca to find peace with her self and to find serenity in the chaos of her life.
While I often read what some refer to as Pop Tart books, this novel is pretty intelligent. Fans of classic literature will find well-placed allusions and allegory to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter. I will warn, however, that this book does not stray from bluntness. I am quite against censoring what people are exposed to, but for those who care–the language and sexual content in this novel would probably earn it an R-rating.
Look for The DUFF to hit stores in early September. On a side note, I have to share my thoughts about the book’s cover. The final cover showcases a freckle-faced dirty blonde with too-blue eyeshadow and a big bubblegum bubble. After reading this book, I have to say this just doesn’t fit Bianca to me. Bianca is harsh and edgy and this cover just screams early Britney Spears. Bianca is not a tween-queen wannabe. I wish they would have stuck with the cover on my ARC. I thought this cover was gorgeous. The cover model with dark hair, blunt bangs, and no makeup seems much more appropriate. Her pursed red lips and piercing blue eyes have this perfect combination of loneliness with a tough exterior. But hey, cover design isn’t up to me.
On to a book with a much bigger and obvious Brontë connection–Jane by April Lindner. This novel is presented as a modern retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Given that it would be a very subjective topic, I will not address whether classics should be retold or whether this a good retelling. I am just going to share my thoughts about the book on its own. I LOVED IT! I could not put this one down, which was so welcome after reading a string of mediocre titles.
Jane Moore is down on her luck. A tragic accident claimed her parents’ lives and forced her to drop out of a prestigious college. She goes to a nanny agency in search of work, so that she may save up the money to go back to school. Being intelligent and unphased by popular culture, she becomes the perfect candidate for a position at wealthy rockstar, Nico Rathburn’s, estate. Once at Thornfield Park, she quickly develops a close bond with Nico’s daughter, Maddy, and in turn Nico, himself. In a world that seems perfect from the outside, Jane is forced to confront the many secrets hidden inside. Jane must decide what it means to be successful in life and what she’s willing to give for love.
Jane is an admirable protagonist. She is independent and level-headed, always doing what she thinks is right and doing what she has to do for herself. I love how she calls Nico on his crap (he does too.) Readers will enjoy watching Jane soften and open up to those around her. There are many lessons about life and love to be learned along with Jane as she finds her way in the world. Nico is equally as likable. A girl can’t help but be intrigued by a sexy, tortured rock star. Plus, he’s adorably loving of his daughter. Female readers will find themselves swooning over Nico and wishing they were Jane.
I thought that the writing of this book was refreshingly intelligent and well-worded. I enjoyed being challenged by the vocabulary, but that might be my nerdy side coming out. It was also deeply beautiful and moving. I found myself crying on many occasions and overwhelmed with emotion throughout. Fans of romance will enjoy this modern classic. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Jane is coming to a store near you in October. On a cover note here, as well, my ARC cover was plain–a pink title on a solid pastel blue background. Amazon shows a cover with a girl in a sweater and flowy skirt walking on a foggy plain at dusk. I hope they change this cover. If not, please don’t be fooled by this photo! It is more reminiscent of the original Jane Eyre, than the rock and roll retelling in Lindner’s Jane. Jane Moore is a rock star’s nanny in New England. She does not go running forlornly across the plain. EVER.
All in all, it was a good birthday! I especially enjoyed curling up in bed with these two great reads. I highly suggest you check them out when they are released. Happy reading!