King of the Underworld a hottie? Um, fo sho.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

EVERY GIRL who has taken the test has DIED.

Now it’s KATE’S TURN.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

Here’s the scoop:

Whoa.  Sounds heavy, right?  Well, yea, kind of, but there is so much more to this book than life and death drama.  Like swoony pants action with the King of the Underworld.

Kate Winters is grappling with the approach of her mother’s untimely death.  Mom has been struggling for years with cancer and we meet them on Kate’s 18th birthday on the road from New York to Eden, Michigan.  Mom’s dying wish is to live out the last of her days, which evidently are somewhere in the slim to none category, in her hometown.

Mom begins her walk down nostalgia road by asking Kate to make a stop in a wooded area not far from the outskirts of town. So they pop by and mom takes a moment at a hu-mon-goid wrought iron gate which she says is the entrance to Eden Manor.  Anything called a “manor” sounds creepsville to me.  And even though, after mom stares lovingly at the gate for a lil’ bit all they do is return to the car and go on their way, I know Eden Manor is something to watch out for in this story.  I am just gifted that way.

As they approach the town of Eden, Kate nearly sends her mom, and herself, to an earlier grave, as she has a near miss with a cow on the road and swerves the car into a spin that nearly crashes them into a line of trees, which I hear can be pretty painful.  Mom, in her weak state and all, pretty much sleeps through all of this, but Kate spots a hella good looking young, dark, brooding fellow in a black coat (because they always gotsa to be in foreboding wardrobe, it’s the rule!).  This brief encounter through her rear view mirror leaves her unsettled.

They settle into a not-so-cozy house, and Kate begrudgingly starts her new school, appropriately named Eden High where she befriends James, who incidentally is kinda the school weirdo. Then, of course, once Dylan, the captain of the football team, starts making googly eyes her way, all-a-sudden Ava, GF of the aforementioned high school football star, who is – shockingly – captain of the cheerleaders, decides it’s time to be friendly.

Ava turns out to be a big phony bologny byotch.  She takes Kate on a wild goose chase towards a supposedly awesome party, into the dark, dark forest, across a cold river (not cool since Kate is like tote’s afraid of water) not far from Eden Manor.  (Did I call it, or what?  Just sayin.)  Once there Kate realizes, WHAT?  There’s no party, no cool people by the keg!  Ava takes off her clothes, revealing a bikini – and with it – her plan to abandon Kate in this predicament all along, all because she was mad at Kate over her boyfriend sending some stink eye her way!  Like it’s Kate’s fault!?  Homegirl dives into the river, cracks her head and passes out.  (That’s why mom always said, “Feet first the first time,” yo!)  So now Kate has to save the bish-who-JUST-stole-her-pads?  Child, please.

So now, Kate’s not alone in the middle of the woods, at night, not knowing how to get back home.  Oh no, now she has a dead girl for company.  As she sits there pondering what to do about the dead girl, guess who shows up?!?!?  Um, dark, brooding dude with the black coat.  I KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!  And, in a nutshell he asks Kate, in his totally hot, swoony way, what she would do if only she could give Ava her life back.  And Kate says, “Anything.”  Oh shizz, girlfriend, don’t you know?  Never say, “Anything”!  Not to a dark, mysterious, seemingly super natural being in a BOOK.  Cuz in a BOOK, he’ll be all, “Alrighty then, how about giving your life over to me and being queen of the Underworld for 6 months out of the year, for the rest of eternity?”  Obvs you’ll say, “Sure thing, jelly bean,” because you think this guy is high.  Who would possibly do that?  Henry, as this gorgeous fellow introduces himself, that’s who!  And he does.  In two seconds flat Ava goes from dead to not.  Henry’s only condition is that Kate stay true to her word or Ava goes without a pulse again.  Because Henry is, in fact, Hades, King of the Underworld, just like we all learned in Greek Mythology class.  Or, he at least claims to be.

Despite Henry’s hotness, Kate struggles with her decision.  If she accepts, she must leave her mother, move in with Henry, and go through some crazy tests that will decide whether or not she is worthy of being Queen of the Underworld.  If she doesn’t accept, rumor has it Ava will drop dead.  Again.  But these are probably her last days with mom. How can she leave now that her mom is so sick that she has nurse care 24/7?  But if she doesn’t go, will Ava really die?

I would be spoiling some of my favorite thrills and chills of this book if I divulged Kate’s decision, Ava’s fate and the part that James plays in this story.  Suffice it to say that just as I felt I knew who was who, and what their role was in the story, the author surprised me time and time again.  Henry continues to be delish, if a little removed (but we’ll just call that brooding).

As a debut author, I think Aimee Carter has hit the nail on the head.  The Goddess Test, released on April 19, is entertaining and, satisfyingly – to a mythology dork – it offers logical explanations as to how the world of mythology, and a place like Hades, could still exist in our world, within the parameters of this fantasy.  And it does so without getting lost in its own explanation and without taking away from the main story, which is Kate’s journey to understand this world she didn’t know existed, and the journey she is on emotionally as she prepares to say goodbye to her mother.  Kate is a heroine with a good head on her shoulders, a strong voice, and a good heart.  The story has some incredible twists that you really, honest to goodness won’t see coming, and some swoon in there, for good measure.

I want to send a huge thanks to Harlequin and Net Galley, for offering us the chance to review this book.  Being a bit of a mythology geek, among my many areas of geek specialty, this was right up my alley!

A sequel to The Goddess Test is scheduled to be released in February 2012, entitled Goddess Interrupted.  I am hoping Henry will reveal more of his romantic, passionate side in this one, if he does make an appearance…  (That’s my Jedi mind trick, playing with your head.  Will he or won’t he?  What’s he doing – or not – at the end of this book…ah!?!?)  Aimee has also revealed on her website that a third edition to this series will be released in November 2012, and is yet untitled.  I am looking forward to seeing how this story develops!

Crush Level:

4.5/5 – Great story, but I am looking for a more reciprocal devotion on Henry’s part.  A big chunk of him seems still pining for Persephone, his former wife,  as Kate is falling for him and it’s hard to decide if he could possibly be genuine in his feeling for Kate with all the baggage he’s carrying. But the exciting and unexpected twists in this story, and the smartly written heroine make this story a one-sit read for me.  I already am hearing that little voice in my head saying, “I wanna read  this again!”

How I See It:

Kaya Scodelario fits the bill for me - again (See Hunger Games Casting).

Kate: Kate needs to be someone really good-looking – she’s hanging out with gods and goddesses, so “must look good in a toga” is a requirement, but still down to earth, because she has to prove herself a worthy human with a good head on her shoulders.  I think Kaya Scodelario scores high for me on both those traits.

Shiloh Fernandez. Look at him, all dark and broody.

Henry:  This was a hard one, and as close as I could get being that Henry is supposed to be in his early 20’s.  As a young yet tortured looking dude, with millenia of experience in his eyes, I do declare Mr. Shiloh Fernandez will do.

OMG, this picture is so perfectly "Ava" its not even funny!

Ava:  Has to be someone who plays the recovered mean girl role really well.  Cheerleader with a heart, if you will.  Ashley Tisdale…perfect!  Now before you go ragging on my Disney Channel choice, let me just say that if Ms. Tisdale makes some good choices (better than the cheerleader show she was on not too long ago), she’s definitely one to watch.

Time machine, time machine, wherefore art thou, time machine? Sorry Matthew Lillard...

James:  This was not as hard to cast as Henry — always hard to cast my swoony men — but it was also quite difficult.  I couldn’t get out of my head the picture of a young Matthew Lillard, who is now way too old to play this character (sorry Matthew, but you’re supposed to be in high school).  I just think he’d be the perfect dorky, yet cute looking, head phone wearing, french fries on a tray eating friend who isn’t bothered or discouraged when someone turns him down.  Oh, if only I’d finished building that time machine like I’ve been meaning to!

The Greatest Books I Never Read: PART VEE

by Vee

It is not MY fault. See here, THIS is the culprit. Fareekin Jane and Edward Rochester, getting me in trouble.

MFEO had a great list last week.  There were a couple of books on her list that have been on my mental list as well.  But to keep this fresh and new, let’s focus on my literary shortcomings differing from hers.

1. Emma by Jane Austen

Say what?  Dude, I KNOW.  I was all shocked and dismayed with Tee not having read Little Women and then she caught me not having read this classic of awesomely awesome porportions.  For the record, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE the movie and Mr. Knightley fully rocks my world.  I love Jane Austen, I just never got to this one, because the movie came out before I read it and then it was just too easy to say, “Later, let’s watch the movie again.”  I am totes putting a deadline on myself and will read this before the end of this year.

Lookit...the swoon. Uhhhh!

2.Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggins

  This sounds like a sweet, simple story, about a sweet, smart girl.  I keep saying, “I am so going to read it, honest,” and I don’t.  But now that it’s on paper, I am going to have to give this old girl (book published in 1903) a try.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Truth be told, at the time when I assigned this piece of classic literature in high school, I was in full obsession mode with Jane Eyre (amusingly enough by Emily’s sister, Charlotte), which was not assigned at the time but which I so fully was enamored of – and am to this day.  How could I cheat on Mr. Rochester with that losah Heathcliff who sounds like a real corn hater?  Truth be told, this sounds like a real downer of a book.  But I’ll read it.  If Bella can do it, dammit, so can I.

Even the cover looks Downersville.

4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Again, Tee is going to kill me.  She loves this book.  Like loves, with a capital “This Book Is So Awesome.”  So don’t tell ok?  For what it’s worth, I think the movie is excellent.  Um, and, yea, for what it’s wooooorth…Gregory Peck is a looker.  And P.S…when this book was assigned in H.S., I was busy reading Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre (yes, again),  and learning every line from Sleepless in Seattle.  Important work, people.  I think I need to write my English Lit teacher an apology letter.

I know this book is all serious and shizz, but I just cannot help getting a little distracted. Can I get an Amen?!

5. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Have you ever heard the saying: “Don’t be such a Pollyanna”?  Well, guess what?  There is a BOOK out there that will finally explain what the heck that means, and by golly, I intend to find out.  Because, it could be a good thing, or it could be a bad thing, and I need to know whether to thank these people or punch them in the face.

5. The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner 

You may never have heard of this book, but word on the street is, this book, published in 1850, was the first American bestselling novel AND the first novel with a girl as the main character.  I guess you could say Susan Warner is the founding mother of YA lit, and so, I have to pay homage to her.  Without her, perhaps there would have been no Little Women or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm for Tee and I to ignore.  Maybe not even Sweet Valley High or Twilight!  Perish the thought!!!

This is like a YA archeological artifact!

A world without this?  I think not.

How could I live without gratutious opportunities to insert this photo anywhere humanly possible. I am SO transparent. Just go with it.

What Would Frankie Do?

by Vee

Frankie is a girl after my own heart.  She comes out at the end of her story knowing herself, respecting and being true to who she is.  She is an awesome role model for young girls (apart from the breaking and entering thing, but hey, let’s not sweat the small stuff, ok?).  The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks is a favorite here at YA Crush and so, she was the perfect person for me to channel when I found myself in a situation of great duress.  Amusingly enough, my channeling Frankie resulted from Tee and I jokingly applying this question to another, way less severe situation, and mentioning it might make for a fun article.

What unimaginable, high stress situation had me trying to draw upon my girl Frankie’s fortitude?  What caused me to ask the question: “What would Frankie do?”    In this case, the answer is: snails.  Not garden snails, neithah.  Allow me to ‘splain.

I was sitting in a little Crepérie about to order lunch with someone I don’t know particularly well, someone who I really need to appear together for (read: who knows nothing of the full extent of my crazy), when the following conversation ensued:

Me: “Oh gee,” [reading off of a sign on the table], ” ‘Thursday afternoon, free escargots appetizers,’ too bad it’s not Thursday afternoon!”

Person Who Doesn’t Know About The Crazy: “Oh, I love escargots, do you want to order some?”

Me: “Oh, ergh, I was kidding…actually I’ve never thought of trying them.”

P.W.D.K.A.T.C.:  “Oh come on, it’ll be fun to try something new.  If I order them, will you promise to try one?”

Me (Inner Monologue): Noooooooooooooooooo.

Me (Out Loud): “________________!”

Me (Inner Monolgue, continued): “Ohmawgawd, I was just kidding.  That’s what you get for trying to be funny by making fun of the French people and what they eat.  It blew up in your face!  Now you’re going to have to eat…SNAILS.”

And then it hit me.  This is such a “What would Frankie do?” situation.

Well, for the fun of it, post traumatic gastronomic moment over, I decided to put words in Frankie’s mouth and answer that question the way she might have answered it.

Frankie would have stayed true to her convictions, and she’d have said something to the effect of:  “Sounds interesting.  Thanks but no thanks.”

After I put this down on paper I thought, “Well, this would be true to her, but it’s not that fun.”  So, instead of wasting a perfectly good idea for an article, and to make this all more enjoyable, I decided to apply the same situation to other favorite literary characters to see what happens:

A veggie plate, more up Ms. Thermopolis' alley.

Mia of The Princess Diaries: First, of course, she’d look like she swallowed a sock.  This would immediately be followed by her explaining her lifetime commitment to vegetarianism and a discussion about how every creature, great and small (even if gross and slimy) deserves to live a long and fulfilling life.  Then she might spend another half hour discussing how a snail might make its life fulfilling.

Katniss of The Hunger Games: Wouldn’t even have to be asked.  She would just order escargots because they’re a better source of protein than a crepe and because you better eat now as you never know when your next meal might come next.  She might even ask if she can go back into the kitchen to kill them herself.  If the answer is no, she might just shoot at the waitress with her trusty bow and arrow that she takes everywhere she goes.  (Target practice, you know.)

You may wonder what it is that I did at the end of my story.  I did what Frankie would do, though my answer was different than what I imagined hers to be.  This is a situation where you have to be honest about who you are (as Frankie is) and what you want to do, or not do.  A situation that you cannot allow others to pressure you into (which Frankie would never allow).  So, that’s precisely what I did.

Ruuuuuun, before they stuff a snail in yo' mouth!!!

Throughout my life I’ve sworn up and down that snails were one of the few exceptions to my rule of, “try something once”, as I worked through different culinary adventures.  It’s perhaps the only one that doesn’t have to do with personal, ethical convictions.  I just think snails are gross, is all.

Now, I know that initially I looked like I swallowed a sock when the idea was first proposed.  (I would have rather done that than swallowed a snail, quite honestly.)  My first instinct was to claim I was a vegetarian.  Had I had my trusty bow and arrow I might have shot the waitress as a distraction and made a run for it.  Instead I decided to be honest and said:  “If you order them, I may try one (I may not).  But if I do decide to try one and don’t like what I bite into, you have to be ok with me spitting it into my napkin, and not be offended.”  (Hey, I believe in full disclosure!)

And, we had a deal.  When the escargots arrived in a beautiful oil, garlic sauté, they actually smelled appealing.  Turns out they taste like clams and not like a rubber glove with salt, which is what I was most afraid of.

Some might say the moral of this story is, “Don’t be afraid to try something new, you might like it.”  Though another really good moral to the story, even if it all worked out for the best, might be, “Don’t joke around about enjoying eating creatures you find in your garden unless you actually mean it.”  Again, I gotta keep it real like Frankie, and, quite honestly, that’s really the first moral to my story that came to mind.

Swoon City: Vee’s BF List

by Vee

Well, it about damn time isn’t it?  I know.  Sorry homies.  But hey, quality…it’s all about quality.  Just as in real life, I am kind of difficult when choosing my literary men.  And so, it took a very lucky reading binge I recently went on to have enough guys that were worthy of my BF list.  In case you were wondering, of said reading binge, the men that came out victorious were St. Clair of Anna and the French Kiss and Will of Clockwork Angel.

Thanks to MFEO for the reviews that had me running to the bookstore in a frenzy.  Which reminds me…I’d like to take this time to apologize to my local bookstore clerk.  Sorry, I know I scared you when I ran into the YA section and told you to hand me the books and no one would get hurt.  I’ll work on that whole serenity thing we talked about.

And now…drumroll please…Vee’s Boyfriend List.

Etienne St. Clair: As Scrummy as a French Eclair (and perhaps just as tall…)

by Vee

For those of you who’ve been with us for some time, you may have noticed I’ve been MIA from YA Crush.  Then again, you may not have noticed at all, thanks to Tee’s awesomely, awesome writing prowess.  (Thanks for saving the day, MFEO.)

In any case, I’ve missed you and though things have been a bit hectic I still made some time to follow YA Crush’s advice — as the entire world should —- and read a few of Tee’s recommendations.

Anna and the French Kiss is the book you want to take with you if a) you’re going on a fun vaca and don’t want something too heavy to read (both figuratively and literally), b) you’re having a bad day and need something to help you escape, or c) you’re having a good day and want something to enhance that mood.

It’s light and airy, super fun, it’s sweet and delicious.  Opening this book is much like opening a pretty little box from zee patisserie filled with delightful morsels of puff pastries.  And the piéce de resistance in the book would be (drum roll please): St. Clair, the hottie that Anna has her eye on.  He’s so friggin’ adorable and sweet that, much like un éclair du chocolat, he’s liable to give you a cavity for which you’ll say “thank you” afterward and gladly go get a filling.

My one tiny complaint (no pun intended) is Monsieur Éclair St. Clair’s height.  What the?  Why???  It’s lousy enough that this happens in the real world — you know, you meet the perfect prom date but, alas, you can’t wear heels because he’d be setting his head on your shoulders during the “slow ones”.  This isn’t the real world, so can we please just make him the proper height for tucking-your-head-into-the-neckage-area action?

I suppose, as he is so adorable in every other way, the author needs to give him one flaw that isn’t insurmountable (ok, I can’t kid anyone, that pun was totally intended).  This made it tough for me though.  Every time I was immersed in his charm, laughing at his flawless sarcasm or swooning at the subtle ways in which he revealed his devotion to Anna (sigh), she’d mention the height issue and *poof* I would feel my swoon fizzle and dissolve like a flat glass du champagne.  (Now, don’t you worry about me, troops, he’s so scrummy it wasn’t hard to return to the swoonage.)

Thankfully, after much discussion, Tee and I came to the conclusion that, though she – being a taller girl than I – could truly not get past this, my fictional self (who will always exist as a young, naïve, teen girl) could totally have been his prom date because at 5’3 and ¾” there’s no way he’d be shorter than me.

With this crisis averted, I will safely add him to my fictional BF list.  Oh, thaz right, he is yummy-terrif enough to actually make it to my list.  He is not just adorable, he’s got just a little bit of a temper (a controllable one, which is juuuuust right), he’s smart, cultured and funny.  The thing that sent him over the edge and a certain shoe in for my list?  He has…wait for it…and English accent! (Not to be confused with a French or Italian accent, which do nothing for me.)  Now, not only does he have an English accent for me to imagine as I read through the pages but the author is kind enough to actually spell out the way he might pronounce things in his English yummy-talk once in a while.  This means my brain doesn’t even have to work that hard.  It’s a win-win all around.

I suppose one could say that in conclusion (if you need one) an éclair is just as delicious, even if it is a small one.  So long as it has an English accent.

Edward Is No Stalkah: My Rebuttal to “Channeling Edward Cullen” (Not Really…)

 
 

"OMG, they think I'm a stalkah..." People, he's devastated.

by Vee

Listen up, I don’t care what people say, or even if there is a whole book out there in Twi-land about it (is there?).  Edward was not a stalkah. 
That he was a WAAAAAY too old for his future bride?  True.  (I try not to think about that too much, but thanks to Tee, can’t help it…thanks for pointing that out sistah, thanks so much.) 
That he   was a bit over the top in his absolute love for his whiny bride?  True, true.

"Babe, trust me...you do NOT want to be devastatingly hot like me...just look at me...look at me, I say!" (I LOVE this pic and was looking for the first random excuse to insert it somewhere...hey, at least I'm honest!)

He was even a little annoying when he’d tell Bella that, though she wanted desperately to become one of the undead, he’d rather she die than become totally hot and immortal.  True dat.  Good God, bite her already.

 Tee and I have a fun time bantering on this subject on a semi-frequent basis.  Now, lucky for us we’re not fahreeks…we crazy-pants, fo sho, but in a totally different realm.  We know that this is all in good fun, no one gets all emo or decides it’s time to take it outside, even if one of us passionately counts him as a fav romantical leading man (can you guess who?).  Iz okay to poke fun…we laugh and agree even as we disagree.  Then we laugh some more!  Inspired by the HIGH-larious (and I MEAN that) title of her last post, I wanted to set the record straight, as far as I am concerned. 

So lezzz roll: Point #1OMG, Edward, follows Bella, like, everywhere.

OK, let’s dissect this, shall we?  Yes, he does, he watches her sleep, he sings her songs, he follows her when she goes to outings with her girlfriends (where he saves her from real creeps, ahem).  However, let’s all remember…this girl is more accident prone than I am.  (Side story alert: Most of you don’t know me, but just ask MFEO about that one time when I was pregnant and I took a ride down her stairs on her daughter’s indoor trike thingy – not on purpose…scared her hubby to death!).  So, ok, just being the most accident prone person in the universe isn’t enough.  But here’s the deal-eeo: this is after he already had tried to stay away from her (this most accident prone person in the universe, everrrrrrr) for her own good, and after she was all…”No, dude, don’t go…”.  They are soul mates in a fictional world where this kind of crazy, soul mate, unbearable-like love can exist and where you never get sick of a person, even when they slurp their soup over a decade into your marriage, EVEN when you’ve told them to quit it already.  Wait, what?

OK, as we were.

Point #2:  He breaks her car to control her whereabouts…dude!?!?!?!

Edward takes out some sort of dinglehopper out of her car so she can’t go see Jacob.  Stalker-like?  Perchance.  And this is the closest I’ll ever come to conceding on this point.  However…let’s just say that this was Angela who found out that her homie Bella was going to go see a werewolf, a brand, spankin’ new one who allegedly (according to the standard newbie werewolf norm) doesn’t know how to control his temper yet.  I consider Ang a fictional GF of mine and I think it’s safe for me to hypothesize that she might consider pulling a wire or two.  Hullllooooohhhhh!!!  I mean just look at poor Emily!!!!!  Come on!  It’s not like he’s like, “Bella, I don’t want you to go to the mall.”  It’s like, “Dammit, Bella, do you WANT to get your face ripped off?”

Point #3: OMG, Edward like totally controls Bella, ugh, like uhmahgawd.  It’s like my momma always said: a guy will only go as far as the lady allows…and this doesn’t just apply to playing Parcheezi party people!!!  Men need to be molded and encouraged into the best “them” they can be…they don’t do it by themselves!  (No one call my beloved, he is fully under the impression that he did). 

I am CERTAIN one of these is a prime example of a snafoodle, and that there's a dinglehopper in there somewhere too...

My point, and I do have one, is that if Bella didn’t like it when Edward was saying, “Um, yea, no, you’re not going to go see Jacob,” it was her responsibility to nip it in the bud.

Had my beloved dismantled my snafoodle from my car, I would have LEFT THE WINDOW CLOSED that night…

Had he said, “Um, were you going to ask my permission about something?” (In this scenario my beloved can read minds, ya dig?)  I would have been like, “Um no, I don’t ask for permission from anyone but my dad, but thanks for asking.”

See?

Now, you knew I was going to add at least one more gratuitous pic of Edward and Bella right? And I mean, come on, talk about passion...this is THE kiss.

But, again, let’s get real (as real as I can be in Crazytown)…this is a story about two soul mates that have no “real world” comparison.  This is a story about the love we feel when we first feel it.  A love that continually envelopes your entire being so passionately, that nothing else matters.  It’s not real love, it’s not that deliciously peaceful love that you grow into.  Sigh. 

Now, if you’ll excuse, now that I’ve written this article, I feel a need to go give my beloved a great, big hug, as I’ve been pleasantly reminded that at the end of the day (even if it’s a day when we dine on soup) I always come to realize he is perfectly perfect for me.  Sigh, sigh, sigh.

 
 
 

For better for worse, in sickness and in health, even if you slurp...I do.

 

Just Because You’re a Fictional Character, It Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Better Yourself

By Vee

 Happy New Year!  (Yea, a month in, and I’m still saying it.)  With the new year come all those promises about losing weight, being a better person, and all that jazz.  It begs the question, (don’t ya think): What are some of our favorite book characters working on in the new year?  (Because they ARE, you know, it’s not like they’re not real.)

 I, for one, would love to know if Alpha can finally be a man in 2011 and own up to the fact that Frankie Landau Banks (I need to say her full name), totally moded, corroded and exploded his doggie arse.  Yea! 

OK Katniss...now tell me about your relationship with your mother. Oh shiz...

 Or perhaps this might be the year that Katniss wants to give a ring a ding ding to the local therapist and work on those pesky intimacy issues. 

 And while we’re on the subject of The Hunger Games characters, hey, um, Haymitch, I hear AA has been waiting for you to pop in for a visit. 

 Or maybe, Jacob Black could decide that this just might be the year to stop being YA Crush’s bitch who stole our pads.  Not likely, I mean, I’d have to re-write that whole story.  Hmmm…there’s a thought. 

 But I digress! 

 In other news, Mia Thermopolis may decide to…wait, she already rocks the house.  Not only is she all about Greenpeace, she wrote a book (like for real, right?) and donated all the proceeds to them.  Hulloh?  Is it a wonder we heart Mia?  (And plus, did everyone SEE how fab she looked at the Golden Globes with that taupe-80’s inspired numbah with the low back?  Wait…)

 As for me?  I am keeping it real, party people…I KNOW that come December 31, 2011, I probably won’t have abs of steel, I probably won’t have learned Italian, and I probably won’t have lost the lil’ love handles that remind me one must suffer a bit in the looks department for the love of having children.  But I will have lost 10 inches of hair. 

 Say whaaaaat?

 Inspired by all that these fictional characters are doing (in my head) working towards their goal of self-actualization, I thought and thought. 

Soooo...this is Carl Jung. Um, if this is what self-actualized looks like, I might be having second thoughts.

P.S. Thank you Meg Cabot, oh queen of the YA, for the awesome term I steal again and again for my own personal amusement.  And Carl Jung, can have some credit too, if you want to get technical.

 But as we were: there I was thinking and thinking.  What could I do to feel like I am doing something for the world?  I mean, I recycle, I volunteer at school, and I’ve taught my boys to clear their plates and hold the door open for ladies (you’re welcome future daughters-in-law).  I even spread the love of YA books in my quest for world domination.  OK, maybe that’s not a good example of my attempts at altruism.  So, what to do, what to do???  And then it hit me. 

 St. Baldrick’s is an event held each year at my local school.  Students, parents, staff and community members alike, participate in this worthy event by shaving their hair and finding sponsors willing to make a donation which will go towards cancer research.  Now, nobody panic…I am NOT shaving my hair (I would but I have a nearly tween age child who I still have to walk to school every day and, really, that would just be cruel).  Luckily, a local hair salon sends their fabu team for anyone who would like to chop off their hair (minimum 10 inches) at this event.  The hair is donated to Locks of Love, something I’ve done before, and is used to make wigs for those who have lost their own lovely tresses due to chemo.

 And so, this year, instead of empty promises about changing the world (though I am still planning on taking over it), or changing my body, I am going to, perhaps not change a life, but hopefully make one a little brighter.  And in the process I will work on my vanity…my hair, like Joe March from Little Women, is the thing I consider my one beauty.  I love my long hair, I love that hair won’t be mad atchya if you have an extra piece of cheesecake.  Just wash it, use the right hair products, brush it like Marsha Brady and, no matter what you ate that day (week, month or year), it will still look pretty and shiny for you.  Once in a while, though, I think it’s good to put this kind of vanity in check. 

 So won’t you help me help others?  I am putting the link up for anyone who would like to help me in reaching my goal of donating $1,000.

 http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/participantid/417844

  Thanks to everyone who can help!  Love, Vee

It’s Vee’s GF List Party People…

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  Yes, it’s true.  Vee’s Girlfriend List is finally here.  Why the long wait?  Seriously?  Are you really asking me??????  Look, I am a very busy woman!  Between looking up awesome You Tube clips to add to the soundtrack section of my reviews, and reading — people how can I bring the magic to you if I don’t read, right???? – I am a VERY busy girl!

And now, without further ado, I give you, Vee’s GF list:

https://yacrush.wordpress.com/the-girlfriend-list/vees-list/

Dear E. Lockhart…we’re cosmic soul sistahs. So…can I call you E.?

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, by E. Lockhart

A teen girl infiltrates a boys-only secret society at her boarding school in this suspenseful, thought-provoking, and humorous novel.

by Vee

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!  I love your major girl power mentality.  I love your Catcher-in-the-Rye-esque old chum’s club feel (without the loony pants main character).  I love laughing at and with Frankie and all her quirky observations which mirror some of my own.  (If the word immaculate exists, why not maculate????  Amen sistah, I’ve been asking that question for years!!!)  I even love the light blue cover version of your book cover that contrasts so beautifully with the red seal of the Basset Hound Society.  That seal of a basset hound intrigues the potential reader without them even reading the synopsis – I mean, really…what in heaven’s name is a basset hound doing on the cover of a YA novel?  Open this fabu book and find out!  So there, that’s my review.  Go out, read it, and enjoy.

Ok, FINE!!!!!  I know I have to give you more than that, but seriously people, the books I most enjoy are also the books I find hardest to review.  Why?  I don’t know.

Perhaps it’s because it would be so easy to write a full term paper as to why I love them, and spew crazy talk about my love for them all over the place and get super detailed about the story.  Because when you love a book you want to shout it to the seven winds and you hope that it loves you back and come next Valentine’s it will send you a card and a dozen roses.  Or maybe one of those delicious chocolate covered strawberry bouquets that come with the bonus of a pretty pot that you can use later for when it sends you flowers on your anniversary.  Or wait, does that actually happen?

Well, if it could, this book would do it.

Our story starts at the end of summer on the Jersey shore.  A bored Frankie convinces her mama (pronounced mah-mah…like an east coast heiress, please), to let her walk to the nearby boardwalk for an ice cream cone, as any teen girl would do if she was stuck with her LAB guy cousins and the rest of her extended family.

Thankfully she succeeds in ditching her utterly boring and insipid present company, and, as luck would have it, makes the acquaintance of a handsome fellow who is neither the former nor the latter, during her stroll.  He is charmingly cryptic about who he is, flirty, amusing and has a witty exchange with Frankie in which he tells her hardly anything at all about himself before running off.  This leaves the savvy reader with the impression she will be running into this intriguing character at some point later in the book – or at least she better!!!  He exits, leaving a seed of interest planted but with no exchanging of cell numbers, e-mails or FB accounts.  Obv’s this is the dude that she’s destined to hook up with right?  Riiiiiiiiiiiiight???  Oh, E. Lockhart, you tease me so (and I so love you for it).

Frankie is intelligent, clever, beautiful and rich.  You hate her already?  WAIT!!!  Give my girl a chance.  She also has to suffer through her family’s serious lack of respect for her (their nickname for her is “bunny rabbit” — and they mean it), not to mention living with the standard insecurities after being in her older sister Zada’s shadow for quite some time (this was no one’s fault, Zada is also strong and fabu and shadow-casting worthy).  Oh, yea, and then there’s also her major unrequited crush on the campus “it guy”, one Mr. Matthew Livingston, who knows little to nothing of her existence.

To top it all off, my people, poor Frankie has to start her sophomore year at the prestigious Alabaster Preparatory Academy, a fancy pants, froo, froo boarding school – the alma mater of her father – all alone, on her own, to make her own way.  Last year Frankie had established herself within Zada’s circle of popular people but alas, this year sissy is gone, gone, gone off to Berkeley.

Now, thing is, despite some feelings of trepidation, ultimately we realize Frankie is gonna be a’yt…she’s not one that enjoys the shade of anyone’s shadow (that’s a major hint people!).  She’d rather slap on her metaphorical SPF 45, and bask in the allegorical sunshine.  And sunshine she shall get – fo sho.

Before we know it, she is dating Matthew, Mr. Swoony Face hisself, and we are all devastatingly crushing on their first encounter.  Seriously…it curled mah toes, it was just SOOOOO cute!

But wait…as a special bonus, moments after they have the fateful first official meet and greet that may very well bring them together forevah (because they’re just so damn cute) – tun, tun, tuuuuuuuhhhhhn!!!! – the dude from the board walk shows up.  Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeee-eh-uh!  He’s Matthew’s best friend (now that’s what I call a perfect co-inky-dink) and goes by the nickname of Alpha, a rather appropriate nickname (his real name is Alessandro) as he seems to be the ring leader of a click of boys on campus.  But not just any boys…but the most popular and seemingly influential boys on campus and Frankie wants to know, “Why?”  And guess what…so did I.

Now, perhaps another author would take this opportunity to confuse our girl’s heart and make it a hem and haw story a la Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle between Alpha, Matthew and Frankie but dawg, E. Lockhart takes Frankie on a journey of self-discovery that surprises the heck out of the reader.  At least this reader, because what ensues next is like nothing I’ve ever read in any YA novel before.  Did I tell you yet?  LOOOVED IT!

So, see, here, this is what happens (picture me right now praying to the literary gods that I, in my love blindness for this book, don’t reveal too much —wish me luck):  Instead of getting lost in the dazzle of two totally gorgeous men, Frankie looks beyond the looks, the popularity, the charisma and the money and digs deeper.  This book is the antithesis to the current YA fiction trends where, despite the nagging feeling that something just not quite right about the dude that’s giving you those initial, delicious butterflies in your stomach, you just throw your hands in the air and go for it anyway.  Hulloh!!!!!!!!  It’s, like, revolutionary.

Frankie discovers that prince charming may be, well, not so much a prince.  Or no, wait, I take it back…he is “the prince”, but is a prince what she wants?  She starts to question if appearances are really as they seem.  She observes as others fit the roles they’ve been assigned by the little society within the boarding school and whether or not she wants to accept her designated role.  In so doing, she uncovers a mystery of legendary proportions (but no supernatural shiz here…it’s all real, human stuff), becomes the mastermind behind unveiling this little mystery to the rest of the school, and teaches some boys a much needed lesson that goes a little something like this:

“Never underestimate a smart girl who hates nothing more than being written off as JUST a girl!!!”.

Dig it!!!!  In other words, that old saying (and all the t-shirts that have followed) should be modified to read a little something like this:  “Don’t mess with Texas or Frankie Landau Banks, bishes”.

I will say that had I been the author I may have given Frankie a bit more self control (I think she took her mission a touch far) but had she not gotten a smidgle carried away, then there wouldn’t be a story.  This one slight ding on my part is the same ding I give to the 5th episode I watch in an I Love Lucy marathon…I start cringing and talking to Lucy (yes, I talk to TV characters too) about her lack of good critical thinking skills, but still, it’s easily forgiven and I continue watching and laughing.

This book presents a fantastic challenge for the reader who can’t help but put herself (or himself?) in Frankie’s shoes and wonder…if presented with two options: acquiesce to a role assigned, or challenge the status quo (which means possibly losing the affection Mr. Hot Pants boyfriend), what would you do?

Oh, and interlaced into this fantastic story is Frankie’s awesome sense of humor and wit.  She is totally on my GF list cuz we’re SO on the same wavelength I got a little spooked (after I was done laughing, iz funny).

Crush Intensity: Really?  Do you have to ask?  Fine then…if I must state the obvious: 5/5 – Loved Frankie, loved her sister, loved how well the author set up the major swooniness of the dude in the story only to challenge us as we chose along with Frankie…self worth or potentially losing the hot guy (and not knowing if this will happen until we follow through with it)????  OMG…I know.  As an added gift, the tone of the book is tremendously smart.  The author really shines with a story that is both well written and fun.

Soundtrack:  You may wonder why in my past reviews there is a major lack of soundtrack choices on my part…and I’ll confess.  I have a problem.  An addiction, some might call it.  I have no musical self control.  If I pick soundtrack choices, it’s like I’m eating potato chips…I can’t have just one.  I mean, hello, stories have different moments – the ups, the downs, the sad, the inspirational high point, the happy (or not so happy) conclusion…and so it’s hard to choose one song to put a book in a nutshell.  I think I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I am not a nutshell kind of girl…I’m more of a giant conch shell, if I have to put something in any sort of shell.  So that being said, I’ve used as much self control as I have on this front and narrowed it down to three moments that could use music in the movie playing in my head:

Supernatural – “Smile” — At this point she’s thinking:  Why doesn’t it feel right when people call me “bunny rabbit”?  Why don’t I like being thought of as “just the girlfriend”?  Why do I want to be the mastermind behind the greatest prank this school has ever known???

“Haunting Me” by Stabbing Westward — Dedicated to the dawg that was more like the bitch who stole Frankie’s pads.  Hee.  You’ll find out.

“The Dark Days Are Over” – Florence and the Machine — Perfect to roll end credits to!

A Christmas Poem for the Peeps

by Vee (who can’t promise that this rhymes well)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Crazytown,

Not even a vampire was stalking stirring or making a sound.

The Crushers (as in YA Crush fans, ahem) were nestled all snug in their beds,

while visions of Peeta’s sugar cookies danced in their heads.

 

Vee in her “You looked like you swallowed a sock” tee

and Tee in her “Muggle” shirt best,

had just settled down for a chat and some rest .

 

When what to our wondering eyes should appear

but Michael Moscovitz and Skinner Box..

we just can’t believe it, but really, they’re here!

 

Along for the ride, we noticed right quick,

another fictional character?!?!?

Were our eyes playing tricks?

(And how big is this sleigh, anyway?)

 

Why no!  It is true, at least in my head,

it wasn’t just one, but a number of them!

 

“Come on, Mia,” said Michael to his beautiful lady,

“come on, Katniss and Frankie, it’s time to visit these crazies.

Let’s, move it, Jack Force,” gotta say his full name,

“and Edward, let’s go,

if we’re late it’ll be a bloody shame.”

 

Mmmmmm...buttah beah.

“Let’s get a move on Hermione,

there’s no homework here…

Adam and ‘If I Stay’ Mia

grab the pitcher of butterbeer!”

 

That’s when I saw Mr. Knightley

(duh-amn he looks good in that hat!)

We heard him say, “Alice, knock it off with the visions

and lift this sleigh STAT!”

For me? Oh Edward, you totally should have, you gorgeous immortal you.

 

As if they weighed nothing more than a dry pile of leaves,

Edward carried the packages as well as a wreath.

 

So up to the front door these characters raced,

and Tee and Vee ran to the hall mirror

to make sure their lip gloss was in place.

(Make up checks are always important when you’re about to meet some of your favorite fictional characters.)

 

And then, in a twinkling, we heard the doorbell…

and as we opened the door,

we smelled the most terrible smell.

Katniss cooked up a Christmas squirrel and it stunk like hell.

 

And then, to our greatest of loony delights,

they unloaded the gifts,

but alas had to bid us quickly good night.

 

Before they did leave on their magical sleigh

we heard them sing carols and loudly exclaim:

“No matter how crazy, no matter how old,

we wish all YA Crushers the best that this season holds.”

 

And here is the list,

as we love our lists so,

of the goodies they left us,

before they had to go…

1.       From Frankie:  Super stylish black pants and cashmere turtleneck —and also a ski mask…hmmm…new accessory for the season?

OMG, they make totes too.

2.       From Mia Thermopolis – A Greenpeace tee shirt.  And another “You look like you swallowed a sock” shirt, cuz Vee’s is getting kind of worn out.

3.       Mia and Adam – A CD of all the sad ass Yo Yo Ma songs that can make anyone cry.

4.       From Mr. Knightley – Just himself.  I just wanted to see him.  I love him, you know.

5.       From Hermione – A thesaurus to help me in my writing.  Oh, and some butter beer.

6.       From Alice – A whole new wardrobe.  And side note to Frankie…Alice didn’t think the ski mask was a good idea.  And as the saying goes: I’m bettin’ on Alice.

7.      From Jack Force – He just said his full name over and over a few times.  It was awesome.

8.       From Peeta (he sent it with Katniss) – Some of that delish cheesy bread.  He made the bread to go along with the dead squirrel…alas, nothing goes well with dead squirrel.

9.       Michael Moscovitz– A snowflake necklace. (I know its Mia’s special gift, but I want one.  Mia won’t mind — in my head.)

10.   Edward – the little Audi sports coup that stupid Bella wouldn’t accept.  I dig Audi’s and I am gracious when someone gives ME a gift (take that Bella…).

Much to my delight, feather wreaths, like the one in my head, really exist. And now, I need to revise my letter to Santa.

11.   Edward – Yes, again.  Because a) he’s loaded so he can afford two gifts and b) he’s my favorite, so he gets to go twice.  Remember that wreath he had?  It was made out of white feathers, thank you very much.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a crazy night from YA Crush.