January 20

New Papercuts Podcast Released

I don’t imagine I’ll do this often, but since I did take a year-long hiatus from this blog, I thought I should mention that I am a founding member of Papercuts Podcast and one of three hosts.

We use the podcast to praise/bitch about the state of Young Adult media. We feature: YA book and movie reviews, trope talks, author interviews and whatever else us girls find relevant. We recently released our latest Podcast.  This one is on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where the goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. We discuss tips and tricks on how to win NaNo. The reasons you should and shouldn’t do NaNo. What to do once NaNo is over and more.

Here’s the podcast.  Though if you want to see the real page with all the juicy stuff that’s included you can go to: http://papercutspodcast.com/?p=688.  Be warned, we don’t watch our language, hold back on threats, or hide our dirty minds.


Right click to download

 

September 8

Stranger with My Face Critical Review

Cliché’s Are Not A Stranger

Stranger With My Face is about seventeen-year-old Laurie who learns she has an evil twin sister bent on taking her place in life. The book is laden with clichés that make the book predictable but Lois Duncan uses those same clichés to hold the readers attention.

The first of the major clichés encountered in the story is that of a good and evil twin. The concept is first introduced when Laurie learns she was adopted and has a twin Laurie asks her parents why they adopted her instead of her sister Lia.

“You weren’t alike,” Mother said. “You looked just alike—both of you so beautiful with big, solemn eyes and all that thick, dark hair. The people at the agency wanted us to take you both, and despite what Dad says, I really think we might have done it. It seemed wrong to separate twin sisters. I picked you up and cuddled you, and I knew I never wanted to let you go. It was as though you were meant to be ours. Then I handed you to Dad to hold and picked up the other baby, and—and–”
“And what?” I prodded.
“I wanted to put her down.”
“Why did you want to do that?” I asked in bewilderment.
“That’s what Dad kept asking me. I couldn’t explain it to him then, and I can’t to you now. It was instinctive. She felt alien in my arms. I knew I would not be able to love her.” (73)

However, the way Lia acts around Laurie makes readers wonder if her mother’s feeling was incorrect. After all, Lia hasn’t done anything evil. Laurie’s friends think they see her when they really see Lia, but that’s not necessarily because Lia is being malicious. One could argue she’s exploring her sister’s world when she’s seen. The only other person to claim Lia was evil was Laurie’s friend, Helen. And her basis for the claim was how Lia was looking at her when she woke up in Laurie’s pitch black room. And Laurie seems to enjoy her time with Lia.

Perhaps I could say that it was a bit like falling in love. When I first started going with Gordon, he was all I could think about. I got up in the morning with his name on my lips–“Gordon–Gordon–today I will see Gordon!”–and I fell asleep at night with his face superimposed upon the inside of my closed lids. Now it was Lia’s face—my face—that filled my consciousness. What I was experiencing was, in a way, like falling in love with myself. (102-03)

During that time, Laurie learns a lot about her biological mother and the hard-knock life her sister grew up in.

Eventually, Laurie finds out her mother was right about Lia after she and her friend Jeff get trapped in a cave because of Lia. She and Jeff discuss the incident and Lia once they’re rescued. During the conversation, Jeff interprets something Lia said and Laurie quotes.

“I don’t understand why she hates me,” I told him helplessly. “’We’re are the two sides of the a coin—’”
“The dark and the light side.”
“Coins aren’t that way,” I said.
“But people are.” (177-78)

Laurie had interpreted the quote “We’re are the two sides of a coin” as another way of saying they were twins. The new interpretation only reinforces what Laurie, Jeff and the readers now know: Lia is evil. As the story progresses, readers learn that Lia is a murderer several times over, not someone who is only beginning her evil reign.

At one point Meg, Laurie’s eight-year-old adopted sister, asks Laurie about Lia’s motivation in teaching Laurie how to astral project.

“What I don’t understand, though, is why she wanted so much for you to learn how to go away.”
“Why, because—because–” To my surprise, I found that I was unable to come up with an answer. I had accepted Lia’s insistence without questioning it. (217)

Immediately readers see Laurie try to figure out Lia’s the motivation. And readers get a chance to hope that Laurie will figure it out, as many readers already had and prevent Lia from fulfilling her plan. Laurie doesn’t figure it out until after Lia has taken over her body.

Lois Duncan has clichés spilling over in Stranger With My Face. These clichés make the book predictable but she tells the story in a way that allows readers to believe she’ll subvert them and create a completely different story. Although she doesn’t, she manages to keep readers attention to the end.

Work Cited
Duncan, Lois. Stranger with My Face. New York: Dell Pub., 1982. Print.
September 1

Northanger Abbey Review

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

Northanger Abbey is a prime example of how tastes in reading have changed.  This book has a lot of description in it and has a very slow pace. In fact, cut out all the tours and the long descriptions of the locations and the book will be half its length. This means readers are probably skimming a lot, unless you’re weird like me and believe you were born in the wrong century. I like the descriptions and the old-fashioned way of speaking because I love the time period. However, in this case, they weren’t things the author put in in addition to the story. It is how they spoke at that time. Authenticity guaranteed.

The romance in the story is completely different from modern ones.  There was no real spark, no “take me” physical attraction, no chemistry between the heroine and her suitors. No sex. Sex isn’t even hinted. I’d be curious to know whether that is how courting was supposed to be during that time or if it was a “Oh, no.  She can’t have *feelings* like that for him. No one will ever publish the book if she did.” Maybe I’m slow when it comes to picking up the mutual-attraction thing, but I didn’t see it in Northanger Abbey, other than through Catherine’s insistent search for Mr. Tilney after she meets him. That got on my nerves after a while. It was a dance. He probably left. Why obsess over the guy?

Even if the book were modernized, so the characters had chemistry, so a simple kiss resulted in a near orgasm, and the long descriptions removed to the basics…I’m not sure the book would have enough to survive as a modern novel. The only real intrigue is in Catherine’s mind and it’s short-lived. And the novel, most likely, would read like a teenage drama without the paranormal elements.

I think it’s a good book. But modern readers need to consider that the book is not the fast-paced googly-eyed romance of modern times. It’s a slow story, told as a parody on society. And, as I don’t live in that time period, may never fully realize what it parodies.  I normally don’t read parodies as a rule either.

August 23

Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan

Have you ever been haunted by the feeling that someone is spying on you, lurking around your house and yard, even entering your bedroom? Are your friends plotting against you when they say they’ve seen you do things you know you haven’t done? What’s going on — and does Laurie really want to find out?

Once I looked over the list of books Lois Duncan has written, I remembered having read one or two of her books and having watched a movie based on her book, Hotel For Dogs. Before that point, I hadn’t recognized her name.

Stranger with my Face was a slow read for me. It wasn’t boring, but it was one of those books where I could have put it down and never returned to it if need be.  If I read the book at 12 or 13 years old, however, my  opinion would probably be different. The book was predictable for me. In fact, when my grandmother saw me reading it, she asked about it. Based on the cover and the title alone, she figured out the entire story. No need to read it for her.

Their were things I liked in the book. I like the descriptions of life on an island and how that compares to the mainland. I liked the fact Laurie did research with books and friends. Despite the predictability of the book the story drew me in with the little details and the relationships between the characters, namely Laurie’s second boyfriend in the book. I liked the fact that the father, a SF writer, and the mother, an artist, did not believe Laurie’s paranormal “story”. Her sister, however, does. The exploration of Native Americans, though how accurate the information is, I’m not sure, was interesting. But the fact that Laurie is Navajo is a big bonus!

The predictability is obviously my biggest dislike about this book. But I must also say that I felt some of the characters were too cliche, caricatures. I wanted Laurie to break convention and figure out why her sister wanted her to learn how to astral project. With that new knowledge at hand, I wanted her to stop Lia in some other way than she was and I wanted Laura’s mother’s “feeling” about Lia to be wrong. I wanted Lia to have lead a miserable life, but be a good girl. Instead, we got the cliche “evil twin” thing.

The book is good for some light reading, and it may have been unpredictable when it was first published. I can’t be sure. Now it’s an outdated book with little to add on the subject.

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because Grammarly is Hungry For Words.

July 18

Let The Right One In Review

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

This is a strange book. I will say that. And I absolutely enjoyed it’s strangeness. However…

The book progresses too slowly for my taste. If the book had a faster pace I would have enjoyed the book significantly more but in this case, I felt every page I read.  And I often found myself having to reread pages, because I didn’t understand what happened, mainly because the slow pace had me reading-but-not-reading the passages at times. This is not to say nothing interesting happens in the book. I imagine this would make a great movie, high-energy, exciting and gory.  This book contains several attacks, murders and mysteries.  However all that “excitement” that “creepiness” was lost under a monotone. That is my main issue with the book.

Lindqvist is very good at allowing readers to get to know almost every character in the book on a deep level. In that way, I see why people call him the Swedish Stephen King, but a lot of that information also slowed the pace down and made the story predictable in many respects. So it’s a toss up on whether that particular presentation is good or not.

The thing I liked most about this book was that it wasn’t afraid to explore sexuality. Their were homosexual, and heterosexual characters in the book. Their is Pedophilia. One of the main characters, I won’t say which, could be identified as non-gendered. I found this exploration interesting, mainly because it is so rarely done.

I won’t be buying a copy of the book myself. But it is an interesting one to study.

June 25

A New Podcast: Blood and Chocolate

Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf? 

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would. 

 Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?

We decided to test to go back in time and re-read a book we’d been happy with as teenagers.  We compared our old view of the book to our current one and then added in the movie.
How did it hold up? Listen and find out!
June 20

Princess Bride Review

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams? 

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears. 

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere. 

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex. 

In short, it’s about everything

I read the abridged version and judging by what Goldman said took place in the chapters/sections that he took out, I’m glad I did. I don’t think I would have read the entirety of Morgenstern’s story if Goldman’s descriptions are accurate. I don’t read satire often, so I more than likely wouldn’t have even seen those bits as satire. And given up, wondering “What is the Point?” of showing this?

The book and movie have a lot of similarities. They are pretty close.  However you get much deeper character understanding.  Fezzik’s parents started enrolling him in fights when he was eight and dragged him from country to country to compete despite him hating fighting, until they died. You learn of how Inigo lived after his father died, along with the details of his father’s death. Even Miracle Max has an interesting history that’s revealed in the story.

Inigo and Fezzik did not have as easy a time getting Westley out of the Pet of Despair, which is actually called the Zoo of Death in the book.  After getting passed the Albino, they have to get past snakes, bats and other horrors.

The ending is different.  Everyone gets on the horse to escape, like they do in the movie.  However, that’s not where the book ends.  The book ends on a cliffhanger, leaving readers to decide whether and how the characters get a happy ending.  After all, remember, Count Rugen did do a lot of damage to Inigo during their battle. So he’s bleeding badly.  The ‘miracle’ Max performed on Westley is starting to reverse itself, which is reasonable with how it’s written in the book.  Fezzik and Buttercup also get in trouble.  And Prince Humperdink and his men are in hot pursuit of all of them.

The book gives a lot more characterization, details and a few extra adventures than the movie does. In the book you get to meet the Princess of Guilder, Buttercup’s parents and see how Humperdink ended up meeting Buttercup, among other things. I enjoyed this book. However, the movie is a good representation of the book. Or at least the abridged version. Unless you’re wanting a deeper understanding of the characters or the world, you don’t need to read it. But you won’t regret it either.

June 18

Stardust: Book Review


Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victoria.n-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.

This is going to be more of a movie/book comparison than a book review. Hopefully you don’t mind, but when homework requires the book, and the screenplay to be read and the movie watched, it’s hard not to make the comparison.

To be honest, I think the way the movie tells the story makes a little more sense and is a little more realistic than what the book does. I’m not saying the book was bad. The movie kept to the book for the most part.  But unsurprisingly there were differences between the book and the movie. In the book,Tristan has a sister, whose 6 months younger than him, a fact that Tristan never seems to find suspicious, there is no Humphrey tormenting Tristan, though there is a Victoria and their relationship isn’t quite what the movie suggests, but she does tell him to go after the star.

The way Tristan and his father cross the wall is completely different from the movie. No one gets hurt, though seeing poor Tristan get beaten up by a 90-something-year-old in the movie was funny. A minor point I suppose but one of the things I prefer about the movie is that Tristan is told about his mother before he crosses the wall.  In the book, he believes his father’s wife to be his mother and he continues to believe that until near the end of the book. The movie, I believe, was a little more believable in that respect.

Since Tristan did not exactly cross the wall in the movie, we skip over a lot of elements that happened in the book and he lands on the star. I can see why the movie did this as it pushed the pace of the story along and you don’t really lose anything for them having done it.  For in the book, a creature helps Tristan out. Tristan helps him out, etc. And eventually the creature gives Tristan a Babylon candle, which is how he finds the star.  The candle works in completely different ways between the book and the movie but the effect is the same. Again, the way Tristan received the candle in the movie seemed more efficient and more believable, especially since his Mother really did want to see Tristan again.

Nursery rhymes appear throughout the book. But they’re real in the world Tristan finds himself in.  A unicorn and a lion are found fighting for a crown. That’s how the unicorn is encountered in the book. The unicorn had significantly more screen time in the book than in the movie.

However the pirates have significantly less time in the book than in the movie.  The captain is also not named Shakespeare, he’s not gay and he doesn’t pretend to throw Tristan out a window..  He is very kind. I prefer the movie version. The captain and crew had a great deal more personality and I really enjoyed the contrast of Shakespeare being gay and a fierce pirate.

Their is no real showdown at the end of the book.  The witch approaches the star, asks hers some questions, especially about her heart and, after having tried to kill her several times before, wishes her well and walks away. As for Tristan’s…uncles… Well, the last one dies in a way completely different from the movie. So, either way you look at it, the book has an anti-climatic ending.

He meets his mother. Travels for 8 years and then, finally takes the throne.

The book has more characterization in it, more character depth and more complications in it than the movie does.  The movie sticks to the major plot points and has more action.  The book, however, has more sex scenes and more cuss words. Both are worth checking out if you haven’t seen them.  But I much prefer the faster-paced movie.

June 6

JR Wards Lover At Last Review

Qhuinn, son of no one, is used to being on his own. Disavowed from his bloodline, shunned by the aristocracy, he has finally found an identity as one of the most brutal fighters in the war against the Lessening Society. But his life is not complete. Even as the prospect of having a family of his own seems to be within reach, he is empty on the inside, his heart given to another…. 

Blay, after years of unrequited love, has moved on from his feelings for Qhuinn. And it’s about time: The male has found his perfect match in a Chosen female, and they are going to have a young—just as Qhuinn has always wanted for himself. It’s hard to see the new couple together, but building your life around a pipe dream is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. As he’s learned firsthand. 

Fate seems to have taken these vampire soldiers in different directions… but as the battle over the race’s throne intensifies, and new players on the scene in Caldwell create mortal danger for the Brotherhood, Qhuinn finally learns the true definition of courage, and two hearts who are meant to be together… finally become one.

JR Ward has, unfortunately, lost me as a paying customer.  She keeps my attention just enough that I’ll pick her book up at the library but not enough for me to spend any amount of money on her books.  The Black Dagger Brotherhood seems to have lost its spark and Ward is beating a dead horse by allowing it to live. The books I keep re-reading are her first three. After that…well…

Lover At Last is the story of Qhuinn and Blaylock.  They’ve been playing hard to get with each other for several books now. Their story a subplot that was nice. Their love story should have remained as a subplot.  I’m all for reading about a gay relationship.  However, in this case, their wasn’t much to their story.  The book would have been a hundred, may-be 200 pages long if all the secondary romances hadn’t been intertwined in the book.  The book is okay.  But I was more interested in everything that did not involve Qhuinn and Blaylock getting together.

Their are several subplots  in these later books, often with characters I don’t see the relevance of or how they really relate to the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  In one subplot, the story ends with a character being kidnapped and needing rescue. Another subplot stalls after the male horribly flubs the first conversation he has with someone he really likes and is convinced he’ll never have a chance with her.  The one minor plot I really like, the only one that feels like it should be in the story and be focused on feels really neglected…

Layla is pregnant with Qhuinn’s child.  She and he wanted to have a child.  They don’t desire or love each other.  And since they both wanted a child they decided to see about conceiving one. They do! This was set up at least a book ago. However at the very beginning of this book, Layla is on the verge of losing the child.  Despite medical science being unable to save the fetus, the miscarriage stops with some magical help and Layla continues to carry the child.  What was the point? I would have been more interested in seeing how Mother and Father handled the loss, especially when both parents desired another. Instead, the rest of the book allows Mommy and Daddy to simply go:

“How are you?”
“I’m well.”
“The baby?”
“Doing well.”
*snooze*

Anyways, the neglected plot point I mentioned above is that, Layla desires another male.  The male she desires is a traitor to society.  He has attempted to kill the King of vampires.  I think his name is Xcor.  She wants to keep the king where he is.  And Xcor will die if the Black Dagger Brotherhood catches him.  Layla lives with the black dagger brotherhood.  This is what I want to read!!!

What would make the baby thing more interesting, considering the situation Layla and Qhuinn are in with each other…. What if Blay didn’t want a baby? If he were in a relationship with Qhuinn then Blay would have to be around the baby at least some of the time once it was born.  And what if it was the same for Xcor.  He may not want to have a child.  But no one seems to consider this.  No one seems to consider the child as anything more than a “Is Layla still carrying it?” question.  And with the whole prophecy/vision thing, that question is kind of redundant.  I mean, we know what the child will grow up to look like.

To me, poor Ward has lost what once made this series un-put-down-able. I’ll borrow the next book, like I did with this book.  But if the story doesn’t improve….I may stop reading all together.

March 18

Beautiful Creatures Podcast

A supernatural love story set in the South which tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan, a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena, a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. The film is based on the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

After watching Beautiful Creatures in theatres, Cyna, Ollie, and I, plus Kayla again, got together to discuss the positives and negatives of this movie. We had a lot of fun discussing this movie and I hope you enjoy listening to our discussion on it.  Have you seen Beautiful Creatures? Have you read the book?  What do you think of what we had to say on both?