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QueenGwen

March 2011

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Mar. 11th, 2011

QueenGwen

Vesper (Deviants #1) by Jeff Sampson

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I would like to thank HarperCollins Publishers, for sending this book for me to read.

Throughout reading, Vesper, I had mixed feelings about it due to certain characterization.

The synopsis portrays lead character, Emily Webb as a geek who is happy her with herself. However, in the beginning, it seems as if Emily is uncomfortable within her own skin, which comes of, mainly, due to her "best friend" Megan. I found Megan to be really annoying character. She is one of those girls who has been so overlooked by the popular crowd that she decides that anything "cool" is horrible. When Emily starts going through these weird changes where her "dark" side comes out, Megan starts calling her "slutty" for showing off cleavage and flirting with guys. If I was Emily I would have dropped her like a brick.

"Nightmare" Emily, is a very fun character to read about, she is a hedonist who grabs life by the balls and laughs. Whenever she came out the book took a whole new, and compelling, light. She is what kept me reading and hoping that the two Emily's would meet and become one.

The event that jump-starts our protagonist's main story, is the death of Emily Cooke, the "other Emily" and how it starts to effect her. Emily Webb starts to think that the darkness inside of her is the ghost of the late Emily. Every night she seems to come alive and become the very antithesis of herself. It's like a less dramatic "Black Swan" type deal.

A very slow start, the story does eventually progress towards the end, which comes together with a very strong sequel hook. There was a lot of red herring to try and keep readers guessing what was really going on with Emily. For in the end what really mattered most was the epiphany near the end as showed that the character was developing into her own person and that made reading all the other stuff worth it.

Besides the character of Megan, the only real problem I had with this book was the constant name-dropping to make Emily seem like a geek. It was as if the writer was trying to make us know "yeah she's one of you, she loved Dr. Who, Lord of the Ring, etc." For me all that stuff just comes off as weak characterization.

Overall a light read and I would probably pay to read the next installment.

3.0
QueenGwen

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

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I give this book 3.5 stars out of five. I had a lot of mixed views about this book because it had a very strong start, but then it started dragging on towards the end. Dru, is the daughter of the a hunter and they go around the country (ala Supernatural, but without the incest undertones...maybe) getting rid of all the things that go bump in the night. Cool. One night Dru's dad goes out on a mission and he comes back a zombie and Dru is forced to kill her own father. That is the climax of this book and it's on page 43. Now, the rest of the book revolves around Dru dealing with her father's death, trying to figure out who killed him and then how to deal with changes within her. She has an ability which her grandmother dubbed "the touch" (horrid name) and it's role is discovered eventually.

Dru was an odd character for me, she was head-strong, independent and pretty tough all things considering. However, she was a little stupid when it came to handling situations. She spends pages upon pages trying to figure out if she should go right or left and ignores advice because her inability to stop hearing her father's voice in her head. Also, she is somewhat of a racist. Now, I'm not sure if this is a character thing or maybe the author's projection, but Dru repeatedly refers to Graves, who is half-Asian, as a half-breed and brings up race often when talking about his physical features. It was one of things that made me sort of uncomfortable reading it, because I wasn't sure what the point of it was. It didn't seem like the writers was trying to make Dru racist towards Graves in terms of feeling superior or such, but at the same time I think referring to a bi-racial person as a half-breed is pretty telling.

As I said before the middle and end drags on a bit, mainly because we get a lot of information splattered across chapters. While the mythology is good, there is too much of it at once that when all of it is being explained, it all sort of meshes together. That being said, I was glad to see that St. Crow did her research for this book and was able to give the reader that information.

Graves and Christophe are two very interesting secondary characters, but it is a little clear that they will be the beginning of a love-triangle with Dru. I enjoyed both boys' sense of humor and the way they solidified themselves in Dru's life.

Overall, I recommend checking out this book, it was a fun read, however, I will only be getting it in e-book form. Hardcover is for books I MUST have, this...not so much.
QueenGwen

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1) by Richelle Mead

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I am shocked as to how much I have enjoyed this book. It had a very slow beginning, so slow I was about to quit because I have too much work to waste on a pointless read. Thankfully, in true Mead fashion, it picked up a lot during the middle, which not only saved the book, but also made it one of the best paranormal adult-reads I've read recently.

Georgina is a refreshingly complex heroine because she is a woman with a past-unlike the milk white pure virgins we are so often shown. Georgina is a very flawed character-hell it was her flaws that led to her demonic transformation-and has learnt and grown from her centuries alive. So often I'll read about a supernatural creature who will mope and complain without having any real problems. Georgina does dislike being a succubus, but she deals with it. She misses out on a lot and that is well developed, but in the same token, she accepts her reality and makes the most of it. Having gotten where she by taking the easy way out, Georgina has a sarcastic acceptance of her suffering. Her flaws are also often spelled out and delivered as a smack in the face by supporting characters.

On the topic of love interests, on the choice between Seth and Roman, I personally choose Roman. He had a depth to him, that I hardly see in many love interests these days. His story-line was compelling, especially at the end where it exposed not only the flaws in the system.

This book was a fun, humorous and had a great cast of characters. The mystery of the book was pretty obvious to me, but the wonderful way it handled it's mythology made me want to had it out to all the writers of today. If not for its dragged out exposition, it would get an "A" but I think it earned a B+.
QueenGwen

Beloved by Toni Morrison

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“The people of the broken necks of fire-cooked blood and black girls who had lost their ribbons. What a roaring.” This quote from Beloved by Toni Morrison sums up the tone of this novel; a haunting desperation that only has release through death. Sethe’s story poetically and tragically shows the sufferings of slavery without turning it into an after school special with the image of a whipped slave, which many have become almost desensitized to. Instead of focusing of the physical it shows the psychological instead. The fact that Sethe feels that the best way to save her children is through killing them, says more than a million pictures. For a mother, a loving mother at that, to slit her two-year old daughter’s throat because she think that is the only way to make them safe, it shows how afraid the system has made her. When Beloved returns in human form, she begins to enact her own form of revenge against her mother. In an attempt to atone for her past sins, Sethe is willing to give up her own life in order to keep her daughter with her.

Sethe herself is a very complex character to understand as she has shut herself out from the world and her own family. Due to her guilt she has created a very sheltered life for Denver, which keeps the girl from growing into a full woman. Denver even feels fear towards her own mother because the horrible things she has done, yet when Beloved threatens to destroy her mother, she looks to the very community that she was kept from for support. This skewed mother-daughter relationship could also be the result of Sethe’s own lack of maternal guidance. Due to the nature of slavery, mothers were often separated from their children and Sethe does not even remember her own mother’s face. The only female guide in the novel is Baby Sugg, but she dies early on with her own demons in tow.

Beloved is about rebirth and learning to let go of guilt. It is hard to look at a woman responsible for the death of her child and want her to move on, but Sethe did suffer for her “crime.” Everyday she carried the pain of not being strong enough to let go, to allow herself to become a fuller person until the weight of everything transformed into the “human” form of Beloved. Reading this book was a somewhat difficult read, because almost every passage is filled with immense symbolism and imagery that overlooking something can lead to confusion. But, when it was finished I felt like I had experienced a very powerful message about how we not only create our own demons, but fight them.
QueenGwen

John Belushi Is Dead by Kathy Charles

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Death is something that continues to fascinate human thought, because it is the only avoidable reality that comes with life. We enter the world and at some time later on, we leave it. The only way to cheat death, is to immortalize yourself. Yet, at the end of the day does it matter if you died a natural death or died from a drug overdose? We all reach the dirt someday.

John Belushi is Dead is a breakout novel by Kathy Charles, that touches on the obsession with death, especially celebrity deaths. Turn on VH1 and there will always be something about celebrity tragities.

Hilda and Benji are our lead characters who are best friends due to their shared obsession with dead celebrities. Instead of going to the mall or doing "normal" teen activities, the run around Hollywood looking for pieces of the past.

At first the book comes off as a place for the writer to drop her fun facts about the morbid, gritty lives and deaths of: John Belushi, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Fortunately, as soon as we are introduced to the character of Hank the story develops some true depth.

Hilda's obsession with death comes from seeing her parents die in a car crash ala Jayne Mansfield, which, oddly enough, gives her the comfort. In her mind if death can happen for someone like Jayne Mansfield, then it can't be that bad. However, in the back of her mind she is haunted by her own morbid thoughts.

The relationship she later develops with Hank and Jake allows her to realize that there is no glory in being death. Death tends to glorify people and puts a halo of sanctity over their personality, even if they were controversial in their lifetime (Michael Jackson). As the story progresses Benji becomes a darker, more disturbing character and Hilda realizes that there is nothing amazing about dying.

It really is a coming of age story in its own right and while I felt there were some cheesy parts, like Hilda and Jake's relationship, I do think the story itself was something worth reading.

Final Grade: B+

There was alot of name dropping in this book and some personal pet peeves with the interpretation of some celebrities (I wish they brought up that Jayne Mansfield was one of the most brilliant women in Hollywood, although people only cared about her breasts) and music. At the same time, this book was a great read and I truly enjoyed it. I was glad to see the characters develop and deteriorate in ways that make sense. There were enjoyable characters, a fun story with a message that can be defined as: LIVE YOUR LIFE. THERE IS ONLY ONE.
QueenGwen

Pale Demon Book Review

 THIS BOOK MADE ME SQUEEL LIKE A LITTLE GIRL!

I swear I haven't been this fangirly since I read the Time Paradox with all that delicious Holly/Artemis ust. If you are a Trench fan, this is the book for us, of course it is probably an attempt from the writer to jerk us around, but I don't care! It was as if everything I could have asked for in a book was presented and it was perfect.

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The last two books in the series were very large disappointment, especially White Witch, Black Curse, which is by far my least favorite book in the series. Black Magic Sanction was a better book, but in this one I feel the core of what I've loved about the series is back.

Rachel has finally matured as a character and is no longer trying to deny the different parts of her identity. It was refreshing to see her finally become a "complete" person, even though it was under certain circumstances.

The story was fast paced and exciting, which is why I managed to get it done in about three hours. Everything about it just dragged me in. I especially love that Trent finally became a more developed character, there have been hints of it alone the way, but now we really got to see who he is. Not to mention the relationship between him and Rachel, that has been happening since book 3 is bubbling into this amazing thing. If Kim doesn't end with these to or my boy, Al I will really be livid. It seems as if she gave a resolution to Ravy (which I am glad for because the shippers deserve it). I hope no random guy will pop up and ruin the dynamic (Pierce and Marshell-I'm looking at you). It was great to see that the original gang we started with in Dead Witch Walking, has come full circle and become a family unit.

A+++ Kim Harrison, I believe in you, just please don't mess with my Trench emotions and not deliver because you have made me hope. HARD!

Mar. 7th, 2011

QueenGwen

Why Your Love Interest Sucks

 Ladies and Gentleman it is time for me to explain to those writers of horrible, horrible, horrible YA romances why your male love interest sucks ass in three short and simple points.

You are very welcome.

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1) You have misunderstood every classical romance novel...EVER

Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and especially Pride and Prejudice are the obvious victims of this. Many of you claim to be inspired by them, but obviously have failed to look beyond the text and truly understand what it was trying to say! Others of you have obviously only seen this monstrosity:

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If that "movie adaptation" was your only introduction to P&P then may the gods have mercy on your soul.

You have taken the romance between Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, Mr. Rochester and Jane and so-on-and-so-forth and diluted them into the basic cliches that make it easy to wrap your minds around it.

When Mr. Darcy was being a standoffish dick to Lizzie she did not stalk him (Bella), she did not pine after him (Luce) and she certainly did not loose sleep over his dismissal of her (like all those other basic bitches). Just because Darcy was rich and attractive she was not willing to sacrifice her SELF-R.E.S.P.E.C.T! Because when a man treats you like shit, you should respond as such:

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Also remember that other than Bingley's super-desperate sister, girls were not fangirling for Darcy's man-meat because no one want to date a douche! Any girl with dignity anyway. It was that dignity that attracted Darcy to Liz in the first place. Also, let us not forget that Liz REJECTED Darcy because he treated her poorly.

Jane Eyre is quite similar in that respect, although I feel those inspired by it enjoy forgetting that he locked his wife up for going crazy.

But, besides the poor misinterpretations of romance what some of you YA writers fail to realize is that these classical books were not just romance novel. They were social commentary on class, gender bias and the complex relationships between men and women. By only taking the bare-bones of the books (the romantic element) you have missed out on what these books are trying to say.

2) Wet dreams are not characters

While not all of us were ready to rip our bodices from our heaving bussom at the sight of Mr. Darcy's throbbing calves, there is no denying the appeal of these men. After all, when it comes down to it who doesn't want a partner with intellect, looks and money? Gold digging is really simply business management for anyone who understand what marriage was made for...but that's another topic.

Point is that while on the surface Darcy and Rochester seem like the idea hubby, they have issues that keep them from finding their own happiness. That is what makes them dynamic characters. Their lives are filled with daily challenges and expectations, some they cannot meet and others they constantly struggle with.

Brooding constantly and complaining about the difficulties of abstinence only existence doth not make a three-dimentional lead.

When your parents have been gunned down in front of you after watching Zoro, mentally scaring you into the anal part of development for life, then we can talk.

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Men in the modern romantic settings are both unrealistic and glorified sexual playthings. Often we talk about the objectification of women in society and while it is certainly an issue, it is imperative that we show men to not simply be our sexual companions around to save us from everything. One, because it isn't fair to our boys and two, why teach that when the reality is so much harsher. 

3. Overprotective Dominance, Hyper-Masculinity and just good ol' Douche-baggery.

Now I love men. Men with passion, who know what they want and good after it. Men who are not afraid to be intimate with you. However, there is a fine line between that and having someone drag you out of party because of a little bump-n-grind. Or forcing you to attend prom when you are so upset to go that you cry on the way there. Sneaking into your room when you are sleeping or just follow you around constantly without any warning. Then the apologizes and excuses commence. What's worse is that it often gets dressed up in a sexy package so that anger and sex gets wrapped up in one. Case and point:

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Problem with this is simply ABUSE IS ABUSE NO MATTER HOW ATTRACTIVE THE ABUSER!

While this should be obvious to modern women, the current treat of rape-culture in YA lit shows that looks make everything alright. What's even worse is that these overprotective attitudes are defended by the argument "well such and such is only human so they have to be protected."

BULLSHIT!

I am active Anime fan and I love mindless violence so naturally Dragon Ball Z was one of my favorite shows of all time. What was great about it were the characters and the relationships they shared, especially the couples. Chi-Chi and Bulma were both human women married to these super-warrior men, Goku and Vegeta. If a physical match came out between the couples neither the women would be killed in a second, however that never shows in their relationship. Chi-Chi and Bulma, exert themselves as equals in the relationship can actually strike fear into their husbands. So don't tell me that being human means that you have to act subservient to some supernatural male. Strength is not simply measured in the physical.

I wish a vampire would try to control my life, I would stake him so fast he wouldn't even know how to handle it.

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----My final point is simply that female writers need to: Stop projecting their wet dreams onto pages and actually develop complex characters. Stop taking stories written in a time where all a woman could do was marry and putting it on the same level as a rom-com. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE! Stop writing male characters who are one step away from a pimp-slap. There is a reason people love bad-boys and it's not because their are bad it is because there is a depth to them. I won't deny it, evil is sexy. However, there is a point where any woman would turn to the guy and go:

"Um, you need to get the fuck out of my house."

Thank You I am going to fantasies about my future husband: Lex Luthor

Nov. 27th, 2010

QueenGwen

Personal Demons {Yours and Mine}

I would like to apologize for this harsh review, because it really is not the fault of the writer as a whole. Her book is just another notch on my annoyance towards Angel/Demon young adult fiction as a whole. If I had not read Once Dead, Twice Shy and that abysmal book Fallen, I might not find this book so repulsive. For a debut novel is not bad in terms of writing. However, the plot leaves a lot to be desired.


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QueenGwen

Your Shallow Is Showing ;p

 So there has been a lot of controversy over one of the latest episode of Glee 6x06-Never Been Kissed. For those of you have not seen the episode, you should go look it up on Hulu. For those who don't watch glee or care about spoilers: you have been warned.

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Sep. 25th, 2010

QueenGwen

The Duff

 I love the crap out of this book.

It was smart, witty and I felt it was one of the few young adult book that actually captured the voice of a 21-century teenage girl.

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