Friday, June 5, 2015

Crown of Midnight

I read Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and then I considered making an appointment to see my therapist.

But this time it wouldn't be to talk about anxiety. I mean, I need to figure out why the majority of my thoughts are about things like Wyrdmarks and talking objects and Fae and magic and where I'm going to get the Celaena from the cover of Throne of Glass tattooed on my body (probably my face).

My kids found me the other day wandering through the basement mumbling things like, "Celaena...Catacombs...Damaris...don't trust Archer...Yellowlegs is creepy."

And every night this week I've been shaken out of my sleep by my own voice screaming, "Nehemia!"

Let me sum up this book as best as I can in one sentence...

Crown of Midnight is the motherfucking shit.

And I don't even like to swear.

I can't say that this is my favorite series of all-time because I need to see how it ends up, but lets just say that if it keeps increasing exponentially in awesomeness, it might just knock Harry Potter off of his Firebolt.

I'm being totally serious.

(Although thinking of the Throne of Glass series and the Harry Potter series at the same time just makes my imagination go cray. Like, what if Celaena went to Hogwarts?! OMG! Can someone please write a short story with a Slytherin Celaena taking on like...ten death eaters?! Ah! I can sit here for hours thinking about it.)

Okay, enough messing around. Why is Crown of Midnight SO good?

1. CELAENA Gods she's an amazing character. She's a perfect character because she's not a perfect character. Her flaws are out there for us to see. This balance between her dominance and her vulnerability is absolute character perfection. Her past, her true story, is unfolding at a perfect pace. She's transparent with her emotions. She's so damn intelligent. She's so damn lethal. Yet she's so "normal girl" in so many ways...boy issues (what's a girl to do with both Chaol and Dorian?!) best friends (Nehemia...DAMN YOU CHAPTER 29!!!!!), she has a shopping addiction (I know, I know...not all girls have shopping addictions or even like to shop), and she eats junk food like every self-respecting person of her age should! Add to all the awesomeness this history of suffering, and her overcoming all of it, and now we're having the strings of our human spirit pulled tighter than a mofo (whatever that means). Gah...she's just the best. SO much more than a badass killer.

2. CHAOL and DORIAN When you can write a male character that both male and female readers like, you've won. But when you write TWO male characters that both male and female readers like, then put them into a complicated, and very naturally occurring and ever-changing friend/best-friend/love thing that never feels like a cheesy love-triangle, then you get to skip the rest of Earth because you just won heaven. THEN (damn you Sarah J. Maas!) when you drive the readers mad by swinging them back and forth between the two guys, but the readers don't get mad because they love you for it...well that's just not fair. Both guys are awesome. Both guys are unique. Both guys offer so much to the story, to the reader, and to Celaena! Wow.

3. PERFECT PACING AND FLAWLESS RELEASE OF INFORMATION I know that sounds stupid but I don't know how else to say it. For two books now, I haven't once felt like things were moving too fast or too slow, and the steady stream of story development has not only kept my attention (which isn't easy!) but has somehow outperformed my expectations! It doesn't just get better, and it doesn't get better with a normal progression. Like, normally, a good story starts out with a 1 and ends with a 10, with 10 being the best. It goes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. This story goes 1 3 7 18 99 1087 5589 a bazillion. I know, I know...I'm talking to a bunch of book nerds which means the numbers are scaring you. Maybe @MissDahlElama can explain what I'm trying to say. She's an editor of mathematics (aka Total Nerd).

 5. FANTASY FANTASY FANTASY The world is building, the magic is coming back, the Wyrdmarks are being drawn, the portals are opening, the creatures are appearing, the fantasy elements of the overall story take a HUGE leap forward in Crown of Midnight.

6. THE KING OF ADARLAN I LOVE this character. He's done so little in two books, but he's THE issue. It's all about him. What's he up to? What can he do? What does he know? He has the Voldemort effect. He's in the story, but the story doesn't revolve around him...yet. BUT, you can feel it building. You know that no matter what is happening, he's the reason, the problem, the bad guy. And yet, I like him. He's so calm and confident. He's ruthless, but he's refined. I know that I'm behind on this series, and maybe I'm totally wrong, but right now it appears that this is headed for a Harry/Voldemort-like showdown between Celaena and the King. If not, fine. I know whatever happens will be better that what I'm expecting.

7. A SENSE OF SOMETHING HUGE This might go hand-in-hand with #3, but I really want to emphasize this point. There is always this underlying feeling that something big is happening in the Throne of Glass World. And just when you think big things have happened, you're introduced to something even bigger. And this happens over and over and over. It's like Raising The Stakes on steroids. Things definitely get worse and more complicated for Celaena, but it's not just stuff happening to her. It's what's happening in all of Erilea. It keeps you locked in and unable to come back to reality where there are things like laundry and bills and other stupid shit.

Closing thoughts...

I went to buy Heir of Fire and the bookstore didn't have it. I pushed the entire bookshelf over, mooned the employees, then went to Chipotle and ate two burritos.

If this book series is not made into a movie series, I will start international riots. Although, I don't know how I would react if I found out this was being made into a full scale, big budget movie. My heartbeats are speeding up just thinking about it.

Crown of Midnight is so damn good. When Celaena went through that portal...when Chaol connected all the dots at the end of the book...just...I just...I almost can't take it.

If you don't like this book series, then don't talk to me because I hate you.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Throne Of Glass Kicked My Ass

I read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and then I blacked out.

There was simply too much awesomeness. I started feeling woozy around the 47th chapter, and by the time I read the last word of the story I was overwhelmed. The last thing I remember was feelings of ultra-happiness, then a brilliant blue light...and then everything went black. I awoke on the floor with Throne of Glass held closely to my heart, and sucking my thumb.

If I ever meet Sarah I'm going to demand that she hold me like a baby and tell me all the secrets about this new world that I've discovered. I want to live in Erilea. I want to see how tough Chaol really is. I want to see how smooth Dorian really is with the ladies (not that I want to learn anything from him...I's for a friend). I want to see the glass palace and use Windex on every last inch of it because clean, sparkling glass makes me feel clean and sparkling, too. I want to run through the secret passages of the palace in my underwear because they're SECRET PASSAGES and that's the only place you can do that (legally).

And I want to see Celaena. I want her to hold me like a baby, too. I want to hear stories and stories and stories about her life. I want to tell her about my plans to get her face tattooed on my arm, and how when the bullies try to take my Chipotle money I'll just point to the tattoo and they'll run away in terror.

How can she be so awesome?! There are so many things that I love about this character. She's kick-ass unstoppable, she's hilarious, she's courageous, she reads a lot (bonus points), yet she remains relatable and real with her painful past and her relationship drama (the poor thing...caught between the Captain of the Guard and the Crown Prince!). As I read the next books in the series I truly hope that she gets better and better. I've loved characters before, and then the next book in the series came out and I was like, "I'm breaking up with you."

I'm going to make my 12-year-old daughter read this book. I'll be like, "Be confident and courageous and true, just like Celaena. But don't kill people. Okay? No killing."

The fantasy elements in this story are original and brilliant and there's a refreshing balance between reality and fantasy. Also, I love Love LOve LOVe LOVE how so many fantasy elements of the story/world were introduced and hinted at, but not fully developed yet. This is SO HARD to do! I was fully satisfied, but still wanting more! I didn't get to the end of the story and find myself confused or angry that I didn't know more about the magic or Elana or the Wyrdmarks or who Celaena really is, instead, I was planning out when I would rush to the bookstore to buy Crown of Midnight.

Sarah, thank you.

I became hooked on YA a few years back when I read The Hunger Games, but as time went on and as contemporary stories became all the rage, I started losing interest in reading. Throne of Glass is bringing me back and I'm so happy about that.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mockingjay Part 1


I saw Mockingjay Part 1 and I was like, "Mockingheeeeeeeeeey!"

It was amazing.

My mind is spinning (can a mind spin?) and I can't decide what to comment on first. I think I'll just wing it (what does that even mean?!).

My favorite character in the movie was Crookshanks! Wait, what? That wasn't Crookshanks? OH. So I don't really like the cat. I didn't say I don't like all cats! Lower your wands, cat people. I just don't like the cat in this series. It doesn't event talk.

Okay, that scene where the dudes are walking in the forest and the guy whistles then they all start running, ya know that one? Stupid. If there are thirty guys walking together and there are only ten guys walking behind them, then I'd say just turn around and attack. But, no! Instead, lets run ahead where we become easy targets, then lets climb trees like we're freaking Twilight vampires, and then blow up the bad guys. But not before they mow down 80% of us with machine guns! And what if they would have shot the guy that had the detonator?!


When President Snow totally played Katniss. This was River when he realized that Snow knew that the rebels were making a rescue attempt.

When Peeta went apeshit on Katniss. This was River during that scene. He was so shocked that the popcorn fell out of his mouth. It shocked me, too. I wet my pants.

When Katniss sang. That whole scene was superb.

When Katniss shot down the jet thing with her bow and arrow.

The vulnerability of Gale. His character developing into so much more.

The complexity of Finnick.

How amazing Donald Sutherland is as President Snow (am I right?!)

When Katniss didn't shoot the buck.

When Katniss failed miserably at filming the Mockingjay video. Too funny.

When Katniss shot the real, live version Mockingjay video.

When Katniss was supposed to talk about how the Capitol blew up her district, but Gale beat her to it.

Katniss. No particular scene. She's by far one of YA's best characters. And not because she's a kick-ass girl. Because every time she cries, I feel like I'm gonna cry. And when she hurts, I hurt. And when she's pissed, I'm ready to follow her to the fight!

One of the reasons we like Katniss so much is because we get to see a powerful character in helpless situations.

She can't stop the suffering. She wants to so badly, but she can't. And even better, her actions are often the cause of the suffering.

She's stuck below ground with no other options while bombs drop above her.

She knows that Gale and Peeta are in danger and there's NOTHING she can do about it.

The whole series is just so damn good. People were even sitting near me in the theater, which I hate more than getting to Chipotle five minutes after it closed, and it didn't even bother me! I was too IN to the movie.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I Like Zombies (And Radioactive Chickens)

I lied.

I don't like zombies.

In fact, I hate them. I wish they would all just stagger into a busy street and get run over by a bulldozer. I think the whole idea of humans being kinda dead, or half dead, or dead-but-not-really, is kinda sucky.

You can replace zombies with just about anything and your story won't change.

Like, instead of zombies, you might be chased by chickens that were fed grain that was grown too close to a nuclear energy plant. The chickens started falling over one day, then they laid there for two weeks, dead as deep fried drumsticks. Then, during the full moon they started waking up. They stumbled around the farmyard on their scrawny chicken feet. They're new desire: destroy humanity and take over the world. They're means: nuclear missiles (eggs) shooting out of their butts (I have no idea where chicken eggs shoot out of...)!

Now take any zombie story and replace the zombies with radioactive chickens. Not much will change. You'll have the world in chaos, people running from chickens, and death everywhere. You'll have survival, fear, confusion, and explosive omelets.

If it's not radioactive chickens, then it's vampires. If it's not vampires, then it's a corrupt government. Or aliens, Or bullies. Or Voldemort.

This is really a post about my praise for the writers of The Walking Dead. They've created one of the most engaging, character-driven stories I've every experienced, and they did it under the cloak of zombies.

The Walking Dead is NOT a story about zombies. It's a story about Rick, and Carl, and everyone else. Yes, there are bunches of themes to think about, and moral conversations to have, but in the end, you're glued to the series because the characters are so deep that you feel like you know them. You care about them.

It wouldn't matter if they were running from radioactive chickens, or mobsters, or a plague. It's the characters of the story that drive it forward.

This isn't just a post about The Walking Dead (I know, I keep lying). This is a post about writing good characters. If you're a writer of any kind, I BEG you to watch The Walking Dead. If fake blood grosses you out, then prepare to be ultra-grossed out. But once you get to know the characters, you won't even notice it anymore.

What you WILL notice is that you feel emotions for the pretend, completely made up, fictional, not-real characters.

Why? Because there are zombies chasing them?


The Walking Dead sets the standard for Character Development.

Watch it, or else...

*side note*

What if zombies ate radioactive chickens?! What would happen?!

Thinking about it makes me so excited! .

Monday, June 23, 2014

Behind: The Scenes

After reading the title of this book and knowing who wrote it, I was sure I was about to read about scenes of people's behinds.

And guess what? I was right.

I read Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler and thought, "Shit. This is as good, if not better, than any YA romance novel I've ever read."

(This is a good time to let you know that I'm not being compensated in any way for this review. I did receive an ARC, but with no requirements or guidelines for my review. I will not, however, refuse to accept a Chipotle e-card from anyone for any reason EVER.)

Let's start with a line from the "About the Author" page in the back of the book:

Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day...

Okay, I bet you're thinking the exact same thing that I thought when I first read that: Damn, Dahlia sounds like a MAJOR nerd! Then add to that the fact that no one knows what the hell an "Editor of Mathematics" even is, and your expectations for this book fall somewhere between nerdish and geekish.

But, holy crap...this book is FREAKING AWESOME!! Now I'm not saying that Dahlia is not a total nerd-geek, I honestly don't know (but let's be honest...editor of mathematics??), but even if she is, who cares?!

Let me start with the characters.

Ally, the MC is one of my favorite characters in contemp YA. This is why: she's put in a very difficult situation, a situation no one would really know what to do in, and then, after a series of almost-meltdowns, she has a full-blown meltdown. It's basically what we all would have done in that situation, and this makes her one of the most believable characters I've read. She was funny, likable, and very real. Throughout the book I was imagining what it would have been like to be in her situation when I was in high school, and it was both fun and scary to think about. Ally is a great character!

Liam, the boy. Oh lord. After this book is on the shelves a few weeks all I'm going to be reading on Twitter is, "OMG I have a new book boyfriend!" Ladies, calm yourselves. Overall, I like Liam. I like him because he is an absolute gentleman to Ally and treats her with respect. His character gets pretty damn close to the "too perfect to be real" line, but the fact that he never comes across as an arrogant prick really seems to even things out. I'm glad that he has some darker history, some stuff from his past. It makes him much deeper than just a six-pack stud.

The rest of the characters are great, too. And I don't mean good, I mean great. From the family members to the friends to the Hollywood gossip bloggers, every character had an important part in making the story move forward.

The pace of the story, the way it unfolds, is perfection. Seriously. I kept turning pages like I was a robot. I forgot I was reading the story because I was so caught up in the story. THAT is all I really need.

The romance in the book is wonderful. I was misled just enough to never really be sure what was going to happen. The relationship that developed was sincere, and I was rooting for it to succeed. It's a great love story, a truly great love story.

Mark my words...if Dahlia keeps this up, she'll be one of the top YA Romance novelists on the block. All that "Editor of Mathematics" nonsense will be history.

I give Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler 6 out of 6 abs per pack.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm So Embarrassed

I'm ashamed. I don't know what's wrong with me. I mean...I'm an adult. I should know better.

I saw Divergent. I was the ONLY adult there. I felt so stupid. I felt so wrong for liking it. It was exciting and original and intense. I'm so immature. I bet I'm the only adult that's even heard of that movie.

I felt the same way with The Hunger Games, and Twilight, and Ender's Game, and all those Harry Potter movies. I'm basically the only adult in the world that likes that stuff. Maybe there's a few other misfits like me hiding in the shadows of the movie theater and creeping around the YA book shelves.

I'm just glad that Hollywood and the publishing world realizes that adults would NEVER be interested in this kind of childish nonsense!

And I hope no one EVER finds out that I like video games. How embarrassing would THAT be?!

And don't get me started on comic books. I feel so ridiculous every time I'm the only adult at the comic book store.

Adults just shouldn't do what they like, ya know? They should do what complete strangers think they should do. Let's drop all this "be true to yourself" garbage. Let's live to please strangers. Because judging other people is okay. It's how we know right from wrong.

And the most important lesson in life is this: Do what adults are supposed to do. Find the really smart, mature adults, and ask them for the rules of adulthood. They will tell you what you can and can't do. If you follow their rules and are unhappy, too bad. It's better to be unhappy than to be embarrassed for liking things that teenagers like.

I mean let's face it, the leaders of our world don't read stupid YA books, or watch stupid comic book movies. And look how perfectly they run the world. Look how happy and fulfilled they are.

It's time to grow up! You wanna read? Then read the freaking dictionary! You wanna watch a movie? Why? So your brain can turn to mush? You need to be watching C-SPAN!

You don't need to relate to and try to understand younger generations! They're stupid teenagers! They aren't capable of anything, and nothing that is written or made for them has any substance in it! Rape, suicide, eating disorders, divorcing parents, bullying, racism, sexism...huh. This stuff only applies to teenagers.

I'm not gonna be embarrassed anymore! I'm taking my Harry Potter poster down and replacing it with a copy of a Van Gogh. And no more Iggy Azalea on the radio! When I drive, we listen to Beethoven.

And I'm done watching sports! I'm always the only adult watching. What kind of educated adult would spend their time watching a 20-year-old kid try to make a ball go in a hoop? Games are for kids, not adults.

And the next time I go to Disney World, I'm not gonna enjoy it. That place is for kids. I'm embarrassed at how much fun I've had there as an adult.

And you know what's really starting to piss me off? When those damn teenagers show up in one of MY R-rated dramas. How dare they think they can come in and pretend to understand the complexity of a movie made for adults?! Teenagers are only capable of believing in vampires and having farting contests.

I'm also ashamed that I have the Angry Birds app on my phone. Just another disgusting sign that I'm one of the only adults in the world that would do such an immature thing.

I'm just saying, that no matter who we really are, we should all strive to be like the mature, sophisticated, older people that are just oozing with happiness.

Now excuse me, I have to finish coloring my Care Bears coloring book.

"Read what you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children."
-Ruth Graham

"Think what you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you think is stupid."
-Aaron Bergh

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Boredom in Our Stars

Ok. Well. Um. Let's see, here.

I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I was like

(That's an unfinished sentence...get it, get it?)

This story gave me those same feelings that I had back in high school when I was forced to read some old book that bored me out of my mind and had my late-1990's teenage brain daydreaming about Gwen Stefani instead of trying to appreciate the classics.


I'm also frustrated because I'll never really know what my true reaction would have been to this book because someone FREAKING SPOILED IT FOR ME. So, I really think that screwed me up. I was trying to read the book like I didn't know how things turned out. But I did know, so...

I'm breaking this up into two parts: things I didn't love, and things that made me laugh (but weren't supposed to be funny). Hitting it from two angles should work out great since I'm a lot like Gollum.

First, it's super hard to read a book when expectations are as high as Wiz Khalifa. And with the movie coming out, John Green everywhere I turn, and #TFIOS trending on Twitter every day, it's tough to just try to "read a book." It's more like an application to be a Nerdfighter. I kinda felt like I was going to tryouts. All this stuff skews my reading of the story, it's my fault for waiting so long. The fault is not in my stars, it's in my procrastination.

I do want to say this right up front, though. This is an absolutely beautiful line:

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep. Slowly, and then all at once." 

Seriously, I would get this tattooed on my throat.

Things I Didn't Love

The characters. Look, I don't care what anyone says, Hazel and Augustus are not believable characters in any way whatsoever. No. This is what Hazel and Augustus are: the teenage girl version of today's John Green, and the teenage boy version of today's John Green. Hazel and Augustus are the same person to me.

I have seven years of experience as a teenager. I lived and worked with teenagers for quite a few years. Hazel and Augustus are not teenagers, they're second year grad students in a prestigious MFA program.

People don't talk like Hazel and Augustus, especially teenagers. If we had some backstory or something on how both of these characters were notable geniuses with photographic memories that were perfect for memorizing long, boring sections of confusing poems and books, that would've helped. But, I understood them to be average teenagers with the exception of their fights with cancer?

Like the other John Green books I've read, there were paragraphs, and sometimes entire pages, that I scanned over because they were so boring. I'm not sure how he gets away with it. I guess when you're super successful, you can do whatever you want? Like when J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer had success with their first books, they were then allowed to write crazy-ass long books that could have easily been trimmed way down without affecting the story one bit. I feel like these "shoulda-been-cut" parts of TFIOS popped up way too often. If it doesn't move the story forward, it damn well better have a very important purpose.

This was a very boring read. I can honestly say, that if it wasn't for all the hype, and the fact that I do (believe it or not) like John Green, I would not have finished this book. The only thing that drives the story is wondering who is going to die in the end. That's it. Trying to find out how Augustus and Hazel's favorite book ends is not interesting or exciting. I didn't care how that book ended. Everything they quoted from it was lame. I wasn't reading TFIOS thinking, "Oh, oh my...Hazel just HAS to find out how that story ends! Because if she doesn't, then...then...something terrible will happen!" Nope, if she doesn't find out how it ends, nothing happens. I know this because she doesn't find out how it ends from the original author, which is what a large part of the book was dedicated to, and NOTHING HAPPENS. I admit, for a few moments when Van Houten shows up in the end, I got excited that perhaps it was all going to come together. That there was something that I never saw coming. Nope.

Things That Made Me Laugh (But Weren't Supposed To Be Funny)

Augustus likes to keep a smoke between his lips, but never smokes. hahahaha That was my main source of comic relief throughout the book. That's the dumbest thing I've ever pictured. Hey I have a good idea, how about Hazel walks around holding a loaded gun to her head, ya know, for the sake of metaphors. And the strange (and almost dark) connection between the smoke in Augustus's mouth, and the fact that Hazel CAN'T FREAKING BREATH, is just flat out ridiculous.

Augustus's friend, you know, the kid that had his life turned upside down from getting dumped, but not from HAVING ZERO EYES. Attitude about going blind: whatever, let's play video games. Attitude about getting dumped: break everything and have nothing left to live for.

I did love how the old drunk stranger, Van Houten, hitches a ride with Hazel and her parents, and Hazel lays into him, and her parents act like this is completely normal.

And the kiss scene followed by strangers watching and clapping? Hahahaha What?!

The funniest part, though, the part that I can't believe I haven't heard mention of yet, is when Hazel and Augustus meet. Here's my fatherly advice to all teenage girls: if you go to a cancer support group with people that are suffering and dying, and a guy you've never met nor seen stares at you for an uncomfortably long time while others are sharing their stories, punch that motherfucker in the nose as hard as you can and run like Speedy Gonzalez out to your mom. Then call the police. If you don't feel comfortable punching him in the face, then simply say, "Stop looking at me." But for the love of god, DON'T GO TO HIS HOUSE.


"A boy was staring at me."

"...his eyes were still on me."

"He was still watching me."

And here's the best part! This is the key! It makes everything okay and safe.

"A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst a form of assault. But a hot boy...well.

No. Absolutely not. This is not the message that I want my daughter to learn. "Oh, hey Kam, ummm, look...if a ugly guy ever stares at you to the point that you feel assaulted, take action. But if a really hot guy stares at you relentlessly, definitely go to his house with him. Because all hot guys are trustworthy and would never do anything to harm you. But ugly guys? Huh, stay away from those dangerous ugly guys."

I give TFIOS 9 out of 17 throat tattoos.

I actually don't hate this book. I hate some things about it, but overall, I can say that it's more of my personal preference that I didn't care for it, and not that it's a terribly written book.

I AM, however, very excited to see the movie now! My daughter read TFIOS before me, and when her little friend asked her is she wanted to go see the movie, she told her no because she wants to see it with me. For that reason alone, reading The Fault in Our Stars was well worth it.

And even though I would rather reread Twilight a hundred times before I reread TFIOS, I casually recommend it.