OMG It’s Been a Month

Sooooo, it’s been a while. I’m sorry. I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet. I’m still reading, still writing, still love blogging, but I’ve definitely fallen behind.  One thing I didn’t spend this past month doing? NaNoWriMo. Nope. Didn’t happen. As I mentioned previously, I did do something kind of funny: I reread Twilight.

Twilight

Yep.

It had been about five years since the last time I’d picked it up. Before that, I’d read it about three times. Back then I was like most people; I was sucked in. I loved Edward, I was engrossed in the whole love triangle, and I hated Bella and Jacob in equal parts (Bella, you can’t be in love with two people. You can’t). So, imagine my surprise when I caught a showing of the film version of my least favorite book in the series, New Moon, over the Halloween season, and I said I’m going to read that series again! It was a strange desire, but hey, I went with it.

Twilight First Kiss

Here’s what I learned: I still hate Bella. Really, she’s so self-deprecating and such an Edward worshipper that I feel she and I could never truly be friends (it’s essential that I at least respect all of the heroines in my books). I don’t hate Jacob yet. In fact, I forgot that I…wait..liked him in the first book. He was sort of endearing and sweet. I still felt super-wrapped up in the whole who is this crazy hot Cullen dude who keeps staring at Bella like he simultaneously wants to kill her and make out with her? That was fun to read again. Not fun? Bella’s snore-inducing descriptions of her nightly dinner-making. Seriously, how did I get past that five years ago? How did no one see fit to cut that out of the books? I still really liked Alice (when she hugs Bella and comments that “she does smell good”, LOVE). But the rest fell short for me. It wasn’t because I knew what was going to happen (hello, I spend half of my time rereading books to the point that I can practically recite them. It’s about the build up sometimes and not solely the outcome), it was more or less because Bella really has no personality. And Edward–it hurts me to say this–he felt a little blah. A completely, stalkery, devoted blah, but blah just the same.

So that’s my reread take.

But then I reread a fabulous book I hadn’t picked up in about two or three years, Jellicoe Road. Now, hold up. I’m not comparing the two books. Even I know it’s unfair to compare a Melina Marchetta book to anything else because she is vastly superior to most writers…but I am comparing experiences. Like I said, I’ve read Jellicoe Road several times, but it had been a couple of years for me since the last time. I am happy to report that this one did not disappoint. In fact, I had the same love–if not a deeper love, a more profound connection–with it this time around. Of course, that is due in part to the ever spectacular

JONAH EFFING GRIGGS

but it’s also because of the magnificent writing, because of the beauty of the story, the angst, the pain, and the humor. Taylor Markham is everything a protagonist should be: flawed and frightened, brave, smart, and equipped with a beautiful heart. She’s a total, crazy enigma at times. She feels so real. She’s broken and yet she embodies such strength and character. I love her connection with Jonah, not just the romantic one (le sigh), but their history, their intensity. And I love the friendships in this story, both the ones in Hannah’s manuscript and the ones Taylor forges. My copy has so many dog-eared pages, and in re-reading it I found that I cried in all the same parts, I swooned in all the same places (maybe more), and I sat on the edge of my seat still waiting and hoping for all to turn out well. I was, once again, truly sad when it was all over again. This is one of those rare books I wanted to climb inside and relive again and again.

Jellicoe Road

Now, I think books like Twilight and Jellicoe Road both need a place on my shelf. And I fully intend to reread the rest of Bella and Edward’s story, as well as all of Marchetta’s work. They’re different stories, different depths for different moods, but I found it interesting to read one after the other. In one case I was wondering why I ever loved it (I still like it, despite how much I make fun of it at times), but in the other, I wondered how I could go even two years without reading it. It left a little hole in my heart, as though that book belongs to me and me alone. It was a reminder of all I loved about it and more…all I love about reading.

 

Love Triangles

Love-Triangle-crpI want to have a quick chat about love triangles. How do you all feel about them?

Generally, I have to admit, they annoy me. I don’t mind when a girl is leaving a guy, or getting over a guy, or realizing a guy isn’t all that, and ends up falling for another. In cases like those, it’s not really a love triangle as much as it’s just life. People grow up, their eyes open, they grow apart, they move on (hopefully to bigger and better things).

You always choose Mark Darcy. Always.

For example: You always choose Mark Darcy. Always.

What I hate is the idea that a girl can be desperately in love with two people at once. Where it can drag on for books, and books, and books. First, this is because I just do not believe a girl can love two people at once. She can love one and be attracted to another. She can lust them both. She can love one as a friend. She can be in the process of getting over someone she once loved while falling for someone new. But to me love is very much a choice. We can’t help who we’re attracted to, or who we initially “fall” for, and yet the decision to love them means choosing them above everyone else. It means, Bella, that even though your wolf buddy has a nice pack,  maybe you’re just human (for now) and see what every other person in the world sees: nice abs. Or maybe not.  But to be absolutely in love with two people? I say no way.

DF-10639

There are two choices here: Edward or Nobody. Either is fine with me.

This is something that drives me bananas. The drawing out. The agony. The Who Will She Choose? The Which Boy is Better?  I mean, does anyone you know really have these problems? Two insanely hot guys who want to fight over them? It’s not an issue I ever had or wanted. I like my love story with my one boy thankyouverymuch.

And then there are  endings. I realize there is no way to please everyone and that an author has to be true to her heart, but there are certain characters who are just supposed to end up together. They go together. If Mia from The Princess Diaries series (SPOILER ALERT) had not ended up with Michael Moscovitz (Fake Man of My Dreams) and instead wound up with that dry cleaning fluid smelling corn hater JP, my world would have been broken. At least for a little while.

Why did she get on that plane?

Why did she get on that plane?

So what’s the best way to resolve a love triangle in your book? Some people kill off characters, which I feel is a major cop out. Some make one guy so utterly horrible that the MC would be an absolute crazypants for choosing anyone but the other guy (raising a couple of questions: 1. Was he always an a-hole and if so, why was she ever attracted to him? Or 2. Why did he suddenly change?).  Then, some people just fall into step together without a choice, like Katniss and (SPOILER ALERT) Peeta (don’t even get me started on Gale’s craptastic ending. He turned into a war-hungry douche and I still preferred him). And there are the worst: The girls who get both guys. I’m referring to a trilogy that just concluded which will remain nameless. That ending inflamed me with total grumpiness because at the very least, she shouldn’t get both guys.

Because while I've always been Team Damon this has really gone one for too long. Are there no other boys?

Because while I’ve always been Team Damon, this has really gone on for too long. Seriously, are there NO other boys?

Recently, I read the finale to a series I loved. And it had an epic love triangle. I was very satisfied with the ending because it was very clear who the MC should be with. There was no question. For me, by the second book there was no doubt. But for so many I’ve spoken to that’s not the case. So did I like it because it went the way I wanted it to for my team? Maybe. Mostly I think it’s because the writer did a good job convincing me to love one guy over another. I’m willing to do that. I’m willing to fall in love with a different book character if the author convinces me. This happened in The Queen of Babble series by Meg Cabot (if you haven’t read them, do it. They’re adorable).

So really, what do I want? I guess I want love stories–even ones set in dystopic worlds, even ones with paranormal creatures, even ones with the most fantastical backdrops–to be more authentic. I want to see girls like Lenny in The Sky is Everywhere, who makes mistakes with one boy but clearly loves another. Or Aura from The Shade trilogy, who really loved her boyfriend–but he died. And she falls genuinely in love with someone else despite that pull she’ll always feel to her old boyfriend’s ghost. Or stories like Better Off Friends, where there’s only one boy (because even with one person, sometimes it takes time to get there). Those, typically, are my favorites.

I didn’t realize when I began this that I had so much to say. Whew! Thanks for listening!

NaNoWriMo- Week Three…Let the Apathy Begin

nanowrimo2-660x963So it’s week three. We’re almost there. I mean, not almost there as far as actual real, live word counts being anywhere near the Nazi-esque 50,000 word goal we are supposed to work toward (do I sound bitter?). These are the days I wish I were young enough to participate in YWP NaNoWriMo, where kids actually set the goal they feel they can achieve. It’s not like I’d choose 800 words or anything just so I can say “I Won!”  Sure, maybe there are people who’d do that, but I wouldn’t. I’d set a realistic goal that didn’t leave me feeling like a big, fat failure, and maybe some years I’d make it, some years I wouldn’t. But I wouldn’t begin the adventure thinking This is never going to happen.

But whatever. That is not the case.

This week was a little better than last week (not saying much since last week was abysmal). I clocked about 4500 words. Not great, but an improvement on last week. But I like some of the scenes I’ve written. I may even keep them (after obsessing over them more than any human should). And it’s still more than I had last week. And more than I had when this venture started.

Still, I definitely didn’t make enough time to write this week. I was busy looking like this over Allegiant:

crying

And then I got all distracted by this.

Because I love it when TV shows and stars sort of collide. And I love that I didn’t know they were dating. And I love even more that Adam Brody was Seth Cohen, the cutest, most adorkable nerd around. And he grew up to be this:

1367588467_adam-brody-leighton-meester-article

Yep.

We’ll discuss that more next week, I think.

Anyway, what were we talking about? NaNoWriMo?

Write on!

Top Ten Tuesday- Best/Worst Series Endings

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The
Broke and The Bookish
.toptentuesday
Have you ever done something in your head so many times
that you think you’ve actually done it in real
life? Yeah that’s me today. I thought about this post over and over
while driving the kids to school, while doing laundry and answering
Girl Scout e-mails. But did I actually write in on the computer?
Nah! So, here is the short list (because you don’t think I actually
remember everything I had to say do you? That was days ago!) of the
Best/Worst Series Endings in the History of All Book Series
Endings.

Best:

Forever<br /><br />
Princess

1. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot- Well duh. What a fabulous, happy ending that made me feel so satisfied, so warm and fuzzy, that I probably reread this book at
least four or five times a year.  And yeah, part of it is my insane love for Michael Moscovitz, but the other part is that it really was a great way to end the series. Cabot left me believing that Mia is out there right now, living her life exactly as she was meant to.

Monsters of<br /><br />
Men

2. Monsters of Men byPatrick Ness-

This series started strong and ended beautifully. It
gives me chills remembering it all. I cried and I sat on the edge
of my seat, so moved by the profound bond between Todd and Viola,
and the love that drives them to attempt to overcome the odds.

Deathly Hallows3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling-
I think we can all agree that Rowling is a genius, right? Every
loose end tied up, all details so perfectly laid out from start to
finish. Beautifully, perfectly done.

Where She Went4. Where She Went
by Gayle Forman- Good Lord, bring out the Kleenex. This is a
swoonfest with great emotion, letting us into the heart of Adam,
the guy who just couldn’t let Mia go. This is one of those rare
sequels that surpasses the first book. I read this one over and
over.

We'll Always Have Summer5. We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han- I love
this series and I found it so refreshing to read chapters written
from Conrad’s perspective. He’s always been Belly’s big crush, her
first love, her big heartbreak and in that he’s been everything
from charming to douchy, elusive in every way. Finally getting in
his head, understanding him and his feelings for Belly, the
conflict he faces watching her prepare to marry his brother, was so
satisfying.

The Not So Good
I’m going to guess that most people have the first two:

Breaking Dawn1. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyers- I didn’t hate this book. I loved the
first portion with the wedding and finally, FINALLY the sexy
business. I loved the latter portion (some of it), finally seeing
Bella’s transformation, watching her go from the weakest character
to the strongest. What I hated was Jacob’s portion. Talk about
drawing out the story! It was SO boring (and it doesn’t help that I
hate him). And the ending, while I was happy to see all the loose
ends tied up, it felt rather uneventful after all the buildup. So,
I didn’t hate it, but I felt let down.

Mockingjay2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins- I liked so many things here. I mean Crazy Peeta alone was worth the price of admission. I loved getting more of my man Gale,
too (and that Collins felt it necessary to point out his obvious
hotness all of the time).  I also loved Finnick’s portion. The
wedding–oh, the wedding–with the cake and the flowers made by Mr.
Real of Fake himself? Loved it. But the very end. That whole scene
where Katniss is “sleeping” and having a Bella-like moment where
she listens to Gale and Peeta talk about her. Ugh! And then, when
she has the chance to kill Snow AND SHE DOESN’T? What the what?
Then she suggests they continue the games in Prim’s honor. Is she
on crack? And finally, the worst to me, watching Gale skulk away
and just disappear. He didn’t have to end up with her, but he
deserved a better ending than that.

Requiem3. Requiem by Lauren Oliver- I
didn’t love this book because it was very slow, but I appreciated
seeing life through Hana’s eyes. The main thing that upset me was
the ending. It was such a non-ending, so elusive. That annoys
me.  If a series is over at least tell me what happens.
Please.

On The Fence
Clockwork PrincessClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare- This is mildly spoilery, so
you may want to run and hide if you haven’t read it. I thought the
majority of the book was fabulous, heartbreaking at times, but very
well-done and quite satisfying. Then came the Epilogue. I even
loved, sobbed, while reading the first few pages. Then came the
very very end (but it’s not quite an ending is
it? Tessa is immortal, after all). Without spoiling too much, let me
just say this regarding love triangles: characters, in my opinion,
should not have their cake and eat it too. I know Ms. Clare has
defended her position on tumblr and good for her. But to me, as a
reader, to be truly satisfying, protagonists may have to make a
painful choice–one they hopefully won’t regret. I understand
that Tessa’s case is different, as she lives forever, and I wanted
her to be happy. But it would have been nice to see her happy with
someone else. The end.

Happy Tuesday to all!

We’ll Always Have Page 187, Edward

by Vee ( I know right? She’s back with a sweet goodbye to her beloved Twilight franchise.)

There’s a new break up that has the paparazzi abuzz…the much followed relationship that started in 2008 between The Twilight Movie Saga and millions of women all around the world has ended.  Spokespeople for both camps tell us that they’ve parted ways amicably and wish each other all things wonderful.  They promise to remain friends via DVD and BluRay sales and rentals.

I’m not gonna lie.  For me, it wasn’t always the perfect relationship but as I look back on it, with everything said and done, I will cherish our time together with love, scent of stale popcorn and all.

I remember sitting in the movie theater, as excited as a girl on her first date, to see the Twilight movie on November 21, 2008.  If this had been a first date for realsies I would have said the “dinner conversation” Edward provided left much to be desired, but boy was he a good kisser.  I think all sins were forgiven – cough…Bella’s ceaseless lip biting…cough…and wait, did Edward just say he read that guy’s mind and he’s thinking about HIS CAT?!…cough – the very moment they had their first kiss.  Oh.  My.

Ok, ok, ok, so I think it’s only right that we rewind just a little bit to touch on how we first met, these books and I.  Metaphorically speaking it was through a blind date set up by my homie, and yours, Tee.  True story.  I refused but finally for reasons I don’t remember – perhaps Tee just broke me down – I relented.  And it was as if a clever suitor was wooing me with his delicious, toe curling words.  Who isn’t a sucker for a dude that says stuff like:

You are my life now.”

Be safe.” (Written in free hand calligraphy, no less.)

And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.”  (Ha, ha!  Just kidding…that was kinda cheesy, but I was so lost in the romantical saga that I was too far gone to care.)

My fervor for the written story was how I forgave New Moon the movie for making vampires brittle like a piece of frail marble (ick, that was so weird), or how Eclipse never quite captured the deliciously smug Edward handling Jacob after Jacob kisses Bella.  (Jacob: “May the best man win.” Edward: “That sounds about right…pup.”)

Of course, throughout the release of all the movies, I continued to be distraught by Bella’s lip biting and weird choking noises to express distress.  Did she swallow a piece of an apple that was too big?  Maybe her allergies while in Forks were killing her?  No one could explain it to me.  Add to my concerns the pained face Edward made (and the grunting noises?!?!) when he kissed Bella.  I worried, wondering if the good was enough to outweigh the “other” stuff.  P.S.  I totally KNOW he’s “supposed to be in pain”, but still…my own pain was starting to get uncomfortable.

BUT, it is only fair that we do touch on the good, is it not?  (Indulge me.)

Um, there was that one part in New Moon where Bella jumps into a very shirtless Edward’s arms and saves him from the sun’s rays and what they might reveal.

Page 187, as I will forever call that scene, when Edward shows Bella how he, um, remodeled his bedroom in Eclipse.  And though it was never quite as good in the movie as it was in my head, it was, uh, pretty good.

Of course, then came Breaking Dawn Part One, and I saw a true glimmer of hope that the series just might end on the up and up.  I present to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury exhibit A: the headboard scene.  Need I say more?

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the characters beyond Bella and Edward that I enjoyed in this relationship.  They were like your boyfriend’s friends and/or family that you really, really like hanging out with maybe a little more than you will admit you like hanging out with him.  Charlie – no wait that goes more like this: Chaaaaaaaarlie, Jessica, Mike, Alice, Carlisle, Emmett.  Let’s K.I.T. you guys…love ya.

And so, with some trepidation, much like my first date back in 2008, I arrived at the movie theater to witness the last interpretation of the book series that made me sigh as I turned pages on late nights in my living room.  I know that’s a lot of pressure to put on anyone, so I once again resigned myself to focus on the parts I really loved in Breaking Dawn Part Two, hoping to blur out the parts I didn’t.

To my utter delight I can report that my last date with this movie series was divine.  Not only was the story what I’d hope it would look like on the silver screen, but as the girl turned vampire — gasp — gone were Bella’s annoying quirks!  Not one cacophonous sound coming from her throat, if there was any lip biting, I didn’t see it.  And (BONUS!), with Bella’s scrummy, yummy, human scent a thing of the past, kissy faces for Edward no longer included the look of a man smelling rotten egg; this was replaced by a really H-O-T vampire in love with his new bride, getting steamy and all bothered.

And then all-a-sudden (WARNING: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE…TRUST ME JUST SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH…OK, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED…)…as I was saying, all-a-sudden, Carlisle’s head gets chopped off!  SAY whaaaaaaat?!?!  I know.  All sort of insanity ensues, to the point where I thought this was Melissa Rosenberg having a last, cruel laugh at my expense.  (She is and will forevermore be the byotch-who-stole-my-pads for the butchering of the first movie!)

So in the midst of insanity, just when I was about to cry and run out of the theater, sweet relief, they brought things back to what they were meant to be.  I’ve spoiled things enough already for those of you that didn’t heed my warning, so I won’t reveal what I mean by that…cuz it’s pretty fly.  Once sanity IS restored, the movie keeps the end rather true to the book in a most satisfying way.

I felt peace, happiness, a little breatheless from that crazay thing there at the end – but in a good way – and an all around sense of kumbaya.  Best break up everrrrrr.  And now, with a renewed sense of love  for my Twilight movies I can move on with my life.  I think I can actually watch Bella bite that lip knowing that perhaps, just maybe KStew decided that was going to be a character trait of pre-vampire Bella.  Edward and I will always have Breaking Dawn Part Two (and page 187), and we really do wish the best for each other as we move on with our lives.

Which is good since, now older and wiser maybe a little more mature even, I’m considering accepting a first date from this new guy who’s been giving me a bit of the stink eye for some time now.  Name’s Christian Grey, and word around town is he’s kinda dark and broody, filthy rich, knows how to play a mean piano sonata, loves to do the clever banter thing.  Wait a minute…

Top Ten Tuesday Flashback- Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week I get to pick whatever past topic I want to do. And It was so hard to choose.  Villains?  Childhood Favorites?  All Time Favorite Books?  There were too many options, but for some reason, I really wanted to talk about names. Character names are SO important. Sometimes they miss the mark and sometimes they are truly stupendous.  We must discuss!

1. Renessme, Breaking Dawn– SO, let’s get the obvious one out of the way. What is the freaking deal here? I mean, I understand that it’s a hybrid of Esme and Renee and I understand that everyone has given Stephenie Meyers so much crap about this, but that is because, hello, has she seen the name?  There is no excuse for it.  Even if, being up late at night typing her heart out all amped up on coffee or chocolate may have led to this, there is no way on Earth that Renesmee could have ever sounded like a good idea to a rational person.

OK I’m done.

2. The Gang from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory– I cannot possibly pick just one. Willy Wonka, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee, and  Oompa Loompas? It’s the hog heaven of names.

3. The Immortals series by Alyson Noel– Holy wow, this is another book with too many names to actually choose one.  But while Charlie had fabulous, fun names, this series is full of soap-opera cast offs.  Try these on for size: Ever, Haven, Honor, Sabine, Drina, Roman, Romy, Rayne, Jude…don’t make me keep going. I can’t make this crap up. Some of the names are nice and quirky, but all of them together make for a hella lot of cheese.

4. Cricket Bell, Lola and The Boy Next Door– I really wasn’t jazzed about this name because in the summer my garage becomes infested with these little guys (and by infested I mean there’s like four or five) who seem totally harmless and then jump practically in your face the moment you go near them.  But Cricket Bell, well they don’t get more adorable than him.  And he’s tall and quirky and sweet and just adores Lola in the cutest most awkward way ever.  Sa-woon!

5. Jace Wayland or Whatever His Last Name Is Now, The Mortal Instruments series– I can’t really explain this one. I just like his name. And his cool, arrogant awesomeness.

6. Karou and Akiva, Daughter of Smoke and Bone– These names are so weird and yet they work. They are phenomenal, strange characters in an amazing, magical story and any other “normal” names would have seemed out of place.

7. Jonah Effing Griggs, Jellicoe Road– Okay, I may have added the effing part.  I love this character. His name is simple, nothing crazy, but it suits him.  If you’ve not read this book and discovered Jonah (and Taylor!), then do it ASAP. You’ll see why the “effing” is pretty much required.

8. The Hunger Games peeps– Just, no. I get that this is a dystopic story set in a world we can hardly imagine living in, but there is no reason their names have to be THAT bad.  So, the Capitol can kill you on a whim. Does that really mean you have to subject your kid to a name like Katniss? I guess I can deal with Gale, but Peeta for the main male lead?  Well, I just feel bad for him because it’s a stupid, stupid pansy name.

9. Tina Hakim Baba, The Princess Diaries series– The best best friend ever deserves the best best friend name ever!  I love Tina and the perfect advice she always gives Mia (usually taken from romance novels. Tina, I so hear you, girl. All life lessons should come from books). I guess I just love this name because I love the character so much.

10. Aura, The Shade series– I really love these books and I love the heroine–except for her name (all of the other characters have really good, solid names). Aura sounds more like it should be in The Immortals (see #3).

11. Jack Force, The Blue Bloods series– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the best name ever.  End of story. Also, Jack totally lives up to his name. He’s a hottypants even when he tries to be all jerky.  No wonder Schuyler (ack! The spelling!) is so into him.

Top Ten Tuesday- The Best Picture of Me(No, not really)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those lovelies at The Broke and The Bookish.

This week we’re supposed to talk about posts that will give you, dear blog readers, the best picture of me as a reader and a person. Honestly, I can sum myself up very simply: I am a huge nerd who loves (in no particular order) books, my husband and children and our awesome life, Michael Moscovitz (Fake Man of My Dreams) and Disneyland with a passion that can never be considered normal.

But here are a few of my previous posts that will show you a bit more of my inner dork:

1. I make lists– This blog was started because of my weird obsession with listing all of my favorite literary crushes and then forcing Vee to read and comment on it, so it’s imperative that you read my Boyfriend List and my Girlfriend List.

2. While I read Adult fiction sometimes, there’s a good reason I’ve latched on to YA.

3. I’m mildly obsessed with The Princess Diaries and Michael Moscovitz Fake Man of My Dreams– I think that says it all.

4. I often stalk people in bookish places

5. I love swoon, swoon and more swoon.

6. I sometimes openly profess my desire to marry books 

7. When I really love a book, I spazz hard. And I make more lists.

8. I’m a good girl. Always have been.

9.At times I can be very sarcastic.

10. Sometimes I get passionate about things completely unrelated to kissing and romance

Happy Tuesday!