Posted in Books

TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Harry Potter phenomena I don’t understand

If you hadn’t guessed, I love Harry Potter. It’s a story I return to often and enjoy even more with every read.

I’m not too crazy about the fanbase.

I wouldn’t say it’s an entirely negative reaction, but more of a puzzled one. The fanbase has decided on things that I don’t agree with and/or comprehend and I wanted to take today to go through some of those things. Continue reading “TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Harry Potter phenomena I don’t understand”

Posted in Books

The Women of Lunar Chronicles

I bought Cinder in 2011 when I ran out of books my freshman year of college. I no longer have my original copy due to my annoyance when what I thought was a standalone ended on a cliffhanger.

It took a good friend of mine to convince me to give the series another chance.

Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t love this series right away. The Lunar Chronicles was made for me: it’s a female-led space drama with straightforward romance, bad boys, and princesses, which is what I secretly want out of every book I read.

The intense plot of Lunar Chronicles would have had me sold but Marissa Meyer makes it with her excellent characters. I want to marry all (well, most) of the men and be all (well, most) of the women; for Meyer, I’d call that success.

Strangers who have seen me reading Lunar Chronicles ask me about it when they see my crazy reactions.

Like with Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, I’ve had to stop reading Lunar Chronicles in public. It’s rare that one series can make me cry/blush/squeal/scream with rage. Never have I been so invested in four different ships at once.

If you want to understand why I love these books, I need to introduce you to the characters. Let’s start with ladies first.

WARNING: Lunar Chronicles spoilers ahead

Cinder

There’s a lot to admire in Linh Cinder.

I love the cyborg as a binary-challenging device. I also love that Cinder actually does something and kidnaps the emperor/love of her life to save the planet.

At times, I find dorky, sarcastic, relatable girl a bit too cool. There are things about her I can’t connect to, like the fact that she can remodel cars (no big) or that she carries the fate of Earth on her shoulders (whatever). There’s also the whole “burn victim with cybernetic enhancements” thing. And, as Cinder acknowledges, she’s nothing without her supporting cast; I didn’t get into the series until they were introduced.

Cinder’s character benefits from the others’ presences. Her interactions with them are what make the series interesting. Still, I like Meyer’s exploration into Cinder’s psyche as she deals with her (lack of) humanity, her new responsibilities, and the mystery of her past. I’m down for more heroines who save their male counterparts through abduction and spaceship hotwiring. Meyer has created a funny, smart protagonist that is easy to cheer on.

Winter

The little I know about Princess Winter hints that her mind isn’t a very fun place to be.

Canon states that if a Lunar doesn’t use his or her gift for an extended period of time, they will go insane. Winter’s intense hallucinations are proof of this.

“But you are crazy.”

“I know.” She lifted a small box from the basket. “Do you know how I know?”

Scarlet didn’t answer.

“Because the palace walls have been bleeding for years, and no one else sees it.”

Eesh.

How great a euphemism, though, does her psychosis provide? “That girl is not using her Lunar gift, if you know what I mean…”

So far, Winter terrifies me, but I’m interested to see the world from her perspective.

Also, she must be pretty cool if someone as awesome as Jacin Clay loves her.

Cress

Cress is my least favorite of the four mains. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about her.

A lot of my dislike stems from Cress’ character type. I have a hard time not interpreting “naive and innocent” as “stupid.”

Finefinefine. Cress was trapped in a satellite by herself for 7 years. No doubt that would make for naiveté and poor social skills, but COME ON. I got tired of her wide-eyed newcomer act pretty quickly, especially since she’s a newcomer to MY PLANET. I don’t share her fascination with SAND. Cress tends to make choices that get her sold into slavery. Not surprisingly, she’s a bad judge of character. She manages to convince herself Carswell Thorne is a virtuous soul. Carswell Thorne. The Lunar Chronicles version of Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. Virtuous.

“You’re a hero!” “Sure thing, babe.”

Two other counts against Cress: she doesn’t like Iko and she doesn’t trust Wolf. As I love Wolf with every fiber of my being, this last part is offensive to me.

Lastly, Cress thinks she lives in a romance novel. She fantasizes constantly that she’s an opera singer, a beautiful actress, an adventurer… Reading Cress’ POV chapters was like watching “UHF,” only not as fun.

That is not something I thought I would ever say.

Thankfully, Wolf doesn’t like Cress much either, resulting in one of my favorite scenes:

Wolf was scowling at a mirror and trying to pat down his unkempt hair. He wore an impeccably fitted tuxedo with a classic white bow tie and pressed lapels.

He caught Cress’s eye in the reflection, and she couldn’t help but stand a little straighter, but though his gaze skimmed over her, he had no reaction whatsoever.

Deflated, Cress clasped her hands. “You look great, sweetheart.”

He did, in fact, look like a romance hero, all muscles and edges and chiseled bone structure. He also looked miserable.

Suddenly nervous, Cress gave a little twirl, displaying her full regalia.

Wolf only gave her a crisp nod. “The hover is waiting.”

She let her hands drop to her sides, resigned to the fact that Wolf would dress for his role, but he would not play it. “Right. You have the invitations?”

He patted his breast pocket. “Let’s get this over with.”

Scarlet

HARDCORE.

I lovelovelove Cinder, but Scarlet is my favorite heroine as sole representative of Team Normal.

Scarlet is 1/4 Lunar, but she doesn’t have–or hasn’t yet exhibited any signs of–the Lunar gift. Unlike Cinder and Michelle Benoit, Scarlet can be manipulated by Lunars. I appreciate Scarlet because I know how useless I would be in these intense situations. Scarlet has more weaknesses than the other characters and still manages to be SO COOL.

Shooting thaumaturges? Like a boss.
Flying ships? Of course.
Withstanding mental torture and chopping off her own finger to defy Lunar royalty? You bet.
Rescuing her grandma? …well, she tried.

I’m sad there wasn’t more of Scarlet in Cress, something I hope will be remedied in Winter. Less Cress! More Scarlet!

Each of these ladies gets me pumped to save the galaxy, and each one has a hot male counterpart to help them do so. I can’t wait to talk about the men…

Posted in Books, Entertainment

BOOK REVIEW: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

The premise: It’s been 6 years since the last Princess Diaries was published. Forever Princess ended the series on a good note, wrapping up every plot thread and relationship while hinting at future possibilities.

Royal Wedding picks up 8 years after Forever Princess. Mia is living in the Genovian consulate, plagued by paparazzi. Her father is (once again) losing the race for Genovian prime minister, and her longtime boyfriend Michael is planning a supersecret proposal that is obvious to everyone but Mia. Complicating matters is the discovery of Olivia Grace O’Toole, Mia’s long-lost half-sister.

Similar to: Any other Meg Cabot book (not much of a stretch)

My reaction: The book features Meg Cabot’s trademark humor and lighthearted tone. Even at 400+ pages, it’s a quick read. I’ve always found Cabot’s writing to be predictable, so I wasn’t too shocked by the many “plot twists” sprinkled throughout. (The half-sister twist was ruined long before publication; Royal Wedding was announced at the same time as Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, a new series starring Olivia Grace.)

I was surprised by some of the choices Cabot made regarding characters. Lilly and Kenny have broken up, as have Tina and Boris. Mr. Gianini is dead, leading Mia to name her community center after him. This death makes room for a couple that did not work in the previous 10 books: Prince Philippe and Helen Thermopolis.  I understand that people change. However, this book felt like a rewrite of the original characters, at times coming across as more of a fix fic than a genuine part of the series. While it might be more “realistic” to have longtime couples break up, it’s hard to feel satisfied as a dedicated reader when Royal Wedding undoes in a matter of sentences relationships it took the whole series to develop. Royal Wedding functions as an overlong epilogue to an otherwise great series.

I didn’t hate this book. I always have fun reading Princess Diaries books and this one was no exception. I’m having trouble with what feels like a flipping of universal laws: the typical outlandish Princess Diaries elements have been replaced by stark realism (including infidelity, a dead stepfather, an abused half-sister), which contrasts oddly with a chipper optimism that feels out of place in the series’ only adult novel. I’ve always preferred Cabot’s YA stuff. Royal Wedding is more reminiscent of her historical romances and adult series; that is, it’s a little too peppy to feel authentic.

The book lacks an arc and is not something I would recommend to newcomers. However, for longtime fans, Royal Wedding is an entertaining return to much-loved characters. Princess Mia deserves a happy ending and I am more than happy to see her get one.

Posted in Entertainment, Television

BBC: The Musketeers

Yes. YES. I found the greatest TV show of all time.

It has everything:

  • Brooding dark-haired men
  • Facial hair
  • Swashbuckling uniforms
  • Screaming
  • People with British accents even though the show is set in France
  • Regret
  • Peter Capaldi
  • This guy
  • Do rags
  • Duels
  • Slow-motion walking
  • An excellent score

” The Musketeers” is all I’ve ever wanted in television.

I’m only one episode in, but I’m optimistic.

Posted in Entertainment, Television

Why I love and hate “The 100”: THE ROMANCE

WARNING: Major spoilers for Season 1 of “The 100” ahead

I know people who dislike romance, especially when it distracts from more important plot elements.

In my view, there’s no such thing as too much romance.

Okay, that’s not true. I get how frustrating it can be when a subpar romance takes over a great story.

Ahem
Ahem.

The show started EARLY, setting up couples that both drew my ire and inspired my sympathy.

THE ROMANCE
Good:
So they didn’t go the direction I was hoping and make Clarke and Wells a thing.

Clells? Warke? Graha? Jiffin? No wonder they didn’t work out.

Nothing else interesting romance-wise happened for the first few episodes. Finn was around, but you know how I feel about him. Octavia kept hooking up with random dudes (boring), and the writers sexed up Bellamy so you knew he was the villain.

Necessary
Pictured: necessary character establishment.

I started to like Bellamy in “Day Trip” when he was plagued by visions of the people he killed. He acknowledged that he deserved whatever punishment was coming, which was a step toward humility. Then he and Clarke had a nice conversation about guilt and redemption, which was a positive change in their relationship and…wait a minute…

WAIT A MINUTE.

This is a ship. The writers are shipping these two! I’m…I’m not even mad!

What I love about Clarke and Bellamy: it’s not love at first sight (I HATE YOU, FINN). It’s gradual. It feels natural. No one is talking about intense feelings or true love or soulmates. This is a relationship I can get behind.

The other relationship I really liked was Octavia and Lincoln’s.

Yes.

There was the forbidden love element, the ethical dilemma of torturing for information, multiple rescues, Olivia as Lincoln’s caretaker–basically everything I’m ashamed to admit I love when it comes to romance played out between these two.

When Lincoln kissed Octavia out of nowhere, I thought it was a little fast–not to mention kind of gross, since he was still bloody from the torture–but otherwise fine. Surely their relationship would continue to develop as the season went on.

Bad:
The very next episode I asked myself why Octavia and Lincoln were having sex when they barely knew each other. Silly me.

I realize Ricky Whittle and Marie Avgeropoulos are beautiful people. That’s no excuse to skip relationship development in favor of fanservice. Hope you liked the two episodes of sexual tension; the rest of the season is the two of them “in love” because that’s how love works.

BORING, BORING, BORING.

My other romance pet peeve, of course, involved Finn.

I hate Finn. I HATE Finn.

My problem, as I’ve said before, is that the writers want me to buy into this Finn-Clarke pairing. They’re asking me to ignore

  • the fact that Finn has a girlfriend
  • the fact that Finn cheated on said girlfriend
  • the fact that Finn won’t dump said girlfriend

I have no reason support this relationship. Finn is not a tortured, confused, all-in-all good guy. His relationship with Clarke is boring and cliché, based on a “chemistry” that the writers haven’t show me. Finn is the writers going, “Look, a bad boy! Everyone swoon!” after they’ve already shown they can do better.

This is the last of my rants until Netflix puts out season 2. I’ve heard a few things about the second season (“Look, girls kissing! Everyone swoon!”) but am otherwise in the dark. Can’t wait to see what other twists the writers have prepared. All hail Bellamy and Clarke!

Posted in Books

MAKE-YOU-CRY MONDAY: Ronan Lynch

Let’s talk about book characters, shall we.

I’m going to straight up spoil all of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, so ye be warned.

Ronan Lynch is hands down my favorite Raven boy. Here are some of the things Ronan has to worry about:

  • His father was murdered and Ronan was the one to find the body
  • He’s been banished from his childhood home and forbidden from seeing his mother
  • He’s plagued by nightmares and has the power to bring the creatures in his dreams back with him
  • His older brother hates him and is always on his case

If that wasn’t enough angst for one, person

  • He’s gay, in love with his presumed enemy, and harassed by a homophobic acquaintance

I might be in love with Ronan’s pain. I identify with characters who have a lot of self-loathing. Ronan perfectly embodies what it’s like to carry this guilt and self-hatred without coming across as whiny. He’s also brutally honest and really funny – the series’ best scenes have something to do with him.

The following is a scene from The Dream Thieves that made me cheer when I read it. After Ronan’s younger brother is kidnapped, Ronan tries to bring back a dream creature capable of defeating the unstable Kavinsky. My favorite lines are in bold.

He closed his eyes in relief.

It would be all right. They would give him a weapon, and he would wake and destroy this dragon of Kavinsky’s before anything else happened.

In the blackness of his closed lids, he heard: tck-tck-tck-tck.

No, thought Ronan. Not night horrors.

But there was the rattle of their claws. The chatter of their beaks.

Dream to nightmare, just like that.

There was no real fear, just dread. Anticipation. It took so long to kill him in a dream.

“This won’t help,” he told the trees. He knelt down, bracing his fingers in the soft soil. Even though he knew he couldn’t save himself, he couldn’t ever seem to convince himself to stop fighting. “This won’t save anyone.”

The trees whispered, Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit; occidentis telum est.

(A sword is never a killer; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.)

But the night horrors were not a weapon Ronan could wield.

“I can’t control them!” he shouted. “They only want to hurt me!”

A night horror appeared. It surged over the trees, blocking out the sky. It was like nothing he had dreamt before. Three times the size of the others. Reeking of ammonia. Glacially white. The claws were yellowed and translucent, darkening to red tips. Pink veins stood out on the tattered rag wings. Its red albino eyes were tiny and furious in its wrinkled head. And instead of one ferocious beak, there were two, side by side, screaming in unison.

On the other side of the lake, Adam held up his hands, pointing at the sky. He was an alien version of himself. A dream version of himself. Lightning struck the stone beside him.

Like a heart, the ley line jerked and spasmed to life.

Cabeswater was alive.

“Now!” Adam shouted. “Ronan, now!”

The night horror hissed a scream.

“It’s only you,” whispered Orphan Girl. She was holding his hand, crouched down next to him. “Why do you hate you?”

Ronan thought about it.

The albino terror swept in, talons opening.

Ronan stood up, stretching out his arm like he would to Chainsaw.

I don’t,” he said.

And he woke up.

Need cheering up?
Ronan has a pet raven named Chainsaw and it is adorable.

Also, this happened:

Ronan’s bedroom door burst open. Hanging on the door frame, Ronan leaned out to peer past Gansey. He was doing that thing where he looked like both the dangerous Ronan he was now and the cheerier Ronan he had been when Gansey first met him.

“Hold on,” Gansey told Adam. Then, to Ronan: “Why would he be?”

“No reason. Just no reason.” Ronan slammed his door.

Gansey asked Adam, “Sorry. You still have that suit for the party?”

Adam’s response was buried in the sound of the second-story door falling open. Noah slouched in. In a wounded tone, he said, “He threw me out the window!”

Ronan’s voice sang out from behind his closed door: “You’re already dead!