I tend to listen to autobiographies on audio because I love hearing stories in the voice of the teller. And I've been a huge fan of Remini for years bI tend to listen to autobiographies on audio because I love hearing stories in the voice of the teller. And I've been a huge fan of Remini for years because she's hilarious such a badass in my eyes. So I purchased this without any second guesses and was not disappointed. This was absolutely excellent, horrifying, hilarious, disturbing and addictive. It reads like a mystery/thriller and then I'd remember it's real life and become super horrified on a loop. But I could not stop listening.
Probably one of the best autobiographies I've listened to so far and a superb audio narration. Highly recommended.
HA! This was so cute and hilarious. I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. But with the solid artwork (IT'S SO PRETTY), the dialogue causingHA! This was so cute and hilarious. I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. But with the solid artwork (IT'S SO PRETTY), the dialogue causing me to LOL multiple times and the story being just plain FUN, how could I not?
Things I loved:
- Loved that the camp sign had HARD CORE LADY TYPES nailed over "Ladies." - Also, FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX! Heck yeah, positive female friendships!
- The Lumberjanes pledge! "Then there's a line about god or whatever." I DIED.
- Unexpected puns. LOLOLOLOLOL. Pungeon Master Badge. Can this be a thing? Let's make it a thing.
- The clever and hilarious way gender is challenged. Loved it!
Basically, I'm definitely reading the next one! ...more
The artwork was really pretty, but that about covers all the positives. The story had a lot of problems: gendered language, didn't care for the treatmThe artwork was really pretty, but that about covers all the positives. The story had a lot of problems: gendered language, didn't care for the treatment of the female characters (why must they always be half naked while the men get clothes??), the plot relied heavily on shock value, and it just wasn't very interesting.
I found most of the characters to be annoying, especially Marik and his complete 180 personality flip at the halfway point. He goes from being a super pessimistic loner to someone who could rival Spongebob's "I'm ready!" mentality, and I just didn't buy that.
The plot was a jumble of ideas that never really found its purchase with me, floundering around in an ocean listlessly. Where did the plot want to go? Was it lost? I think so. The running theme of "keep hope alive" was cute, but became tiring as the book went on. It's almost like this story was written on the "hope" that it would be good. Sadly, that's not how writing works.
Disclaimer: I read to about 65%. Skim read to about 90% and read to the end. Also, this review will contain spoilers for the alternate endingNo stars.
Disclaimer: I read to about 65%. Skim read to about 90% and read to the end. Also, this review will contain spoilers for the alternate ending that are not in spoiler tags.
Years ago, when Twilight was in its prime, someone told me that Breaking Dawn was never supposed to happen. That it was the book where Stephenie Meyer was given free reign to do whatever she wanted because the series was so popular, everyone would buy it regardless of quality, and rake in big dough-cheese for her and her publishers. I don't really know how true that assumption is, but dammit if isn't true for Life and Death.
Over the past few years, I've settled on generally disliking everything Twilight stands for while holding onto a morbid fascination and, begrudgingly, bestowing some sort of respect for a series that put YA literature on the map.
So when I heard of Life and Death, literally the day it released, I knew I'd buy it. No questions asked. I was hoping many of the issues I had with Twilight would be corrected with this version. It had so much potential to be great! I never expected there to be huge drastic changes to the story -- I did expect it to be pretty much the same as Twilight, so believe me when I say that was the least of its problems.
"But I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female— it’s still the same story. Gender and species aside, Twilight has always been a story about the magic and obsession and frenzy of first love."
I don't think she was very successful. There were times when I wondered what Meyer was truly trying to accomplish here. Was she trying to basically say her novel features an unhealthy relationship even with roles reversed? As in, "Hey guys, my book is horrible either way!" Or was her goal to further highlight how Twilight had a lot of instances of sexism, including sexual violence against women? Because if so, then I suppose, yeah, she was successful.
Here's a general run down: Beau is your classic Gary Stu who falls for The Ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Edythe. He has no aspirations to do or be anything until he spots the love of his life in his high school cafeteria. Not much has changed with our young, desperate lovers except for their pronouns, but Edythe is still a jerk/control freak/stalker and somehow less creepy than Edward. And Beau is still a very weak character and as interesting as the dirt beneath my shoe. There is an alternate ending which is essentially a pathetic attempt to pack New Moon and Eclipse into a clusterfuck of info-dumping. But more on that later.
What I really want to talk about is the treatment of the female characters.
I don't know how this was even possible, but reading Life and Death actually made me hate Twilight even more than I originally did. This is mostly because it became shockingly evident that certain scenes (sexual assault) were purposefully left out in this version because the characters didn't have vaginas. Lovely.
Bella's attempted rape scene has now turned into Beau's assault scene. If you remember, in Twilight, while Bella is getting lost in Port Angeles, she runs into a group of drunk men who attempt to sexually assault her. This is made clear by their jeers ("Don't be like that, sugar.") and Edward's later dialogue. But for Beau, his assailants are a mix between female and male and have the intention of beating him up because they think he is a cop. The section is entirely re-written with more dialogue, a gun and threats of death.
Then there is Rosalie's rape scene, now changed to Royal's assault scene. Instead of Royal being raped, he's tricked during the wedding and beat up within an inch of his life. Now, one could argue the time period and say, "Well, that's happened back then. It's just how things were." And, maybe, before I read Life and Death I could have seen that point. But when the two biggest instances of female sexual assault are completely left out when you swap the genders, oy, that's an issue.
Now that is not to say I wanted to see men get rape in Life and Death. It's just a glaring problem where I now see those scenes as "Literary Rape," used as plot devices to add depth and sympathy to Rosalie's character, and to give Edward a reason to look super heroic in the face of rapists. Maggie Stiefvater said it best in This is a Post About Literary Rape:
"I’m talking about novels where the rape scene could just as easily be any other sort of violent scene and it only becomes about sex because there’s a woman involved. If the genders were swapped, a rape scene wouldn’t have happened. The author would’ve come up with a different sort of scenario/ backstory/ defining moment for a male character."
That is exactly what happened here.
One could argue that Meyer wrote a more progressive version of Twilight with Life and Death and that's partly true to an extent. Edythe does appear to try to make her relationship with Beau as equal as possible. But there are constant references to the gender changes as if Meyer is trying to prove something to the reader, and they only seemed to further resign me to the fact that Meyer has no idea what she's doing. (Bold is mine.)
His straight gold hair was wound into a bun on the back of his head, but there was nothing feminine about it— somehow it made him look even more like a man.
I fumbled for my wallet. “Um, let me— you didn’t even get anything—” “My treat, Beau.” “But—” “Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.”
She turned toward the cafeteria, swinging her bag into place. “Hey, let me get that for you,” I offered. She looked up at me with doe eyes. “Does it look too heavy for me?” “Well, I mean…” “Sure,” she said. She slid the bag down her arm and then held it out to me, very deliberately using just the tip of her pinkie finger.
It was like Meyer was shouting me, "DO I IMPRESS YOU?!" And I kept going:
In the hands of a more skilled writer, this might have been pulled off flawlessly. I found the changes she made with Beau's narration interesting. Meyer mentioned in the Forward that Bella is more flowery with her words, where Beau is not. This is a complete understatement. The one thing Twilight actually had going for it, was the occasionally pretty quote. I say occasional, because the novel contains too many short, simple sentences than I usually like in my books. In Life and Death's case, the writing has been watered down so much that it feels on par with See Spot Run. And I don't necessarily think this is a gender thing. Just because a character is a boy, doesn't mean he can't be articulate or well-versed.
“Bonnie, there’s something you didn’t know about me.… I used to smell really good to vampires.”
Corny. So very corny.
It's not uncommon to discover popular YA authors' inability to write convincing male POVs. *cough*Veronica Roth*cough* And I learned from Midnight Sun, that it's not exactly Meyer's forte either, but c'mon! This was really bad, even for her.
The there's Beau's obsession with Edythe's unhealthy* body. Oh, god, I'm so disgusted with this part, and I don't really understand why it was included.
"Her pale arms, her slim shoulders, the fragile-looking twigs of her collarbones, the vulnerable hollows above them, the swanlike column of her neck, the gentle swell of her breasts— don’t stare, don’t stare— and the ribs I could nearly count under the thin cotton. She was too perfect, I realized with a crushing wave of despair. There was no way this goddess could ever belong with me."
Is this supposed to show Beau's unrealistic expectations of women's bodies? That only vampires can achieve this level of "perfection" that society constantly forces on us? Because there is no other explanation that works well here and I'm really trying to give Meyer the benefit of the doubt and throw her a bone. The issue with this theory is, there's no indication in the book that this is an unrealistic view. Actually quite the opposite happens later in that same scene:
I had a new definition of beauty.
Sigh. I don't think I need to go into why this is problematic, so I'll just leave that there for your critique.
*Unhealthy, as in for majority of women, this is an unattainable beauty standard. Apologies if that came off as body shaming women/girls where that is their healthy. I'm speaking specifically about society's constant pressure on women and girls to be as thin as possible, many times to the detriment of their physical and emotional health. When Beau describes Edythe, he focuses so heavily on the sharp angles of her bones and it perpetuates the idea that these characteristics make her more beautiful than others. I find these descriptions irresponsible and feel there could have been a better way to describe her.
So let's talk about the ending. This part will have spoilers beyond this point. This is your one and only warning.
Yes, it's re-written -- horribly, if I'm being honest. During the scene with the ballet studio (which, BTW, Beau didn't take ballet as a kid because HE'S A BOY. *eyeroll*), everything is pretty much similar expect for the fact that Edythe can't suck out all the venom out of Beau's body, leaving him only one possible future: becoming a vampire super early and living happily ever after with his BAE, Edythe.
I wouldn't have had an issue with the change if it had actually been written without the massive amounts of info-dumping. It reads like Meyer decided last minute that she wanted to only do 2 chapters of the gender swap (which she mentions in the Forward), realized she spent all of her deadline time on re-writing the entire book, and quickly wrote an ending hours before she emailed it to her editor.
She crams the werewolf history, volturi history, rules of being a vampire, and Beau's human funeral altogether and it's just so goddamn messy. It also makes the insta-love look even worse because at least Bella had 3 other books and a pining Jacob to consider leaving Edward. It was just an overall hot ass mess that seemed so out of place. This is why I said they just let Meyer do whatever the hell she wants; half that stuff would have never flown with a debut novel or any novel that desired to actually be, you know, good.
Would I recommend this and should you read it? Hard to say. My first response is, "Oh, god, no. Don't waste your money." $12.99 is an unacceptable price for an ebook (thank goodness for Kindle returns!). It doesn't really offer anything vital to the Twilight fandom/universe and is generally a horrible piece of writing that I want to fling stones at. But then the other half of me enjoys the suffering of my fellow book lovers and is considering purchasing this as a gag joke to both of my lovely co-bloggers. Because that's really all this trite, wish-fulfilling, wankfest of a re-imaginging is good for, and I really, really need to stop being so damn curious about everything. But anyway, I'm rambling when all I really want to say is... the ball's in your court now, E.L. James. I eagerly await your newest, fan fiction original book.
I know a lot of people might be confused why I decided to continue this series despite disliking each book aloWarning: spoilers.
Absolutely no stars.
I know a lot of people might be confused why I decided to continue this series despite disliking each book along the way. I get that it might seem pointless to subject myself to mediocrity purposefully. But I'll be honest, a small part of myself enjoyed the terribleness in a sense of morbid fascination.
Without a doubt, Darken the Stars is the worst of the three and actually angered me. While books one and two can be swept under the rug as simple wish fulfillment gone terribly wrong, this one is a flaming pile of dog shit.
I didn't really have any intention of reviewing Darken the Stars, but after browsing other reviews, I feel morally obligated to say what no one is talking about. Kricket falls in love with the primary antagonist of the series -- the guy, who at one point, tries to choke her under water into submission. I'm not talking about a poorly written Stockholm syndrome. This is a legitimate romance that the author attempts to sell the reading on and it's so horribly offensive.
The entire novel is based around Kricket finally being in the palm of Kyon's hands, right where he wants her. She's trapped on his beach and makes several attempts at escape with no success. Each time she does try to fight Kyon, he hurts her in some way. He also chooses what she wears and makes it clear that her opinions and wants mean nothing. Basically, he's disgusting and the farthest thing from romantic.
However, somewhere along the lines, Kricket starts to fall for Kyon by way of a forced alliance (of course) and "changes" him. This is so very problematic. First, it completely glosses over the severity of domestic abuse. Second, you can't FIX people, certainly not abusers, with love. Out of the blue Kyon starts showing affection and a little more respect for Kricket. Then we find out that her mother entrusted Kyon to look after Kricket, which is supposed to explain why he sought after her so hard in the first two books. Kricket accepts this and starts to rationalize some of his abusive tendencies and dismiss the others. There's even a point in the book where she refers to him as "my psychopath." Also, there's a lot of sex between them, where Kyon insists on getting Kricket to confess her love as he pounds into her. >insert vomiting<
What's worst is how so many reviewers are so pro Kyon as a love interest and it's got me going HUH? I'm not the kind of person that is usually bothered by how others react to books, but in cases like this, it really disturbs me to see it. And I think it's entirely irresponsible for an author to portray an abusive relationship as romantic. It's sick.
Side note: this entire series revolves around the mental, emotional, and physical abuse of one female character by way of the people who supposedly love her. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?
Anyway, this is a case where my curiosity really did me no good. But I just had to know how it ended and the fact that it was free on Kindle Unlimited didn't help. Next time I'll try to remember that just because I CAN, doesn't mean I SHOULD. I definitely don't recommend this, not even for the lols. Stay far away. ...more
The romance isn't too bad in this one if you forget the fact that it's an Insta love romance. It has a good amount of cringeActual rating: 1.5 stars.
The romance isn't too bad in this one if you forget the fact that it's an Insta love romance. It has a good amount of cringe worthy moments that'll make you vomit in your mouth, same amount of wish fulfillment wankery and moments of intense eye rolling. But this time with sexy times! Sex in a bed! Sex in a dirt hole! Sex against a tree! Whoo hoo, sex, baby, yeah!
So why did I read it despite disliking the first book?
Answer: The narrator is pretty great and it was free on Kindle Unlimited. I was curious on where the story would go, so I decided to give it a chance, and I was entertained. I can see why people like the book even though it's not really my cup of tea. And yet, I'll probably end up listening to the last book, because at this point, why not?
I almost gave Sea of Stars 2 stars because it is a better novel than the first. But thanks to that ridiculous plot twist at the end, I'm knocking off half a star. Review to come. ...more
Welp. Another case of pretty cover and terrible book has struck me again.
Kricket is a super special girl. She has special powers, special eye color,Welp. Another case of pretty cover and terrible book has struck me again.
Kricket is a super special girl. She has special powers, special eye color, special hair color, special name and spelling of said name. She's really beautiful, but doesn't know it and every guy wants her body for himself... some as old as dirt! She's also The One at the center of a prophecy her super special mom prophesized long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Are you rolling your eyes yet?
Never have I read a book with so many ridiculous tropes balled up into one novel. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with tropes because even I have a certain weakness for some. For example, I fall prey to the "girl and boy hate each other, but slowly fall in love through forced interaction" trope every time and I'm not ashamed to admit it. But Under Different Stars reads like a self-indulgent writing experiment with absolutely no purpose.
While on the run from the department of social services, Kricket is abducted by a group of men who share the same violet eye color as her. They end up taking her to a different world, and surprise, surprise, she's an alien with powerful abilities that are highly sought after. She's immediately thrust into a world where females are valued as much as a prized show dog and whose vernacular verges on both corny and juvenile.
Yet despite being born with a vagina and thus seen as lesser than her male counterparts, every male she runs into wants her. Whether for political gain, selfish wants or sexual conquest, Kricket is a highly sought after commodity, and much of the novel is a pissing contest between various man folk. One that seems interesting at first, but quickly losses its appeal with every new suitor.
Though most of the novel takes place over the course of a week, possibly two if I'm being generous, Kricket manages to fall in love with one of her original captors, Trey. I can usually pick out who the love interest is from the very beginning and Under Different Stars didn't even bother making this remotely difficult, nor did it make an attempt to keep the lovers apart. As I previously stated, this novel is very self-indulgent and doesn't particularly care to stay the course of what was originally laid out in the beginning for the reader.
At one point Kricket confesses her love to Trey only to be rebuffed and in her words "friend-zoned" due to his already established previous engagement to a childhood friend, something she was well aware of beforehand. Yet, imagine my surprise when while Kricket is yet again fawning over Trey, claiming her undying love, and he AGAIN telling her no, that he suddenly tells her that he's broken it off with his fiancé and wants to be with her. And then an argument over who loves who the most ensues, ending with her basically begging him to deflower her and he saying he wants to marry her instead. Because nothing else matters but their love, guys!
Oh, kitten. Oh, honey. *makes out*
It's the first time I've ever read a scene that does a complete 180 with no warning whatsoever.
To say this Under Different Stars has a bad case of wish fulfillment is a complete understatement since Kricket can, in fact, wish her way out of certain circumstances. Whatever Kricket wants, she has the power to get. Kricket doesn't want to marry someone? No worries, another male suitor will have him killed. Kricket wants Trey to be with her and ditch his childhood sweetheart? So it shall be done. I mean, the amount of wank that went into this novel is shocking.
Kricket isn't the heroine of the story despite her situation. No, instead she is the heroine of the story because the world is setup to be terrible so she can be the shining ray of light. With so many male characters that belittle her and constantly want to control both her powers and body, Kricket is the stanch feminist who desires to be in control of her own destiny. While all the men attempt to mansplain to her, they later find out that she's actually a genius whose "brain lights up like a christmas tree" on a scanner. They frequently tell her how she can't defend herself and yet Kricket has the most powerful powers out of everyone. Everyone in the book is deliberately horrible, so she can look flossy as fuck.
To make matters worse, the ratio of male to female characters is nauseating. Only three, including Kricket, have lines in the book and I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand how many times they chatted with each other one page. Two other female characters are mentioned, one being Kricket's dead mother and the other Trey's fiancé. Everyone else is virtually male or just not mentioned. Ugh.
(view spoiler)[Also, why is her name Kricket?! Why is she the only one with the super odd name? Why does she spell it with a K?? (hide spoiler)]
A part of me is confused, surprised and disgusted with myself for continuing to listen to the audiobook even when I knew there was no way possible for it to redeem itself with me, but I'm such a stubborn reader with a pinch of masochism. Maybe under different stars I could have liked this book, but it's made up of too many of the things I dislike to have ever had a chance. Such a shame because I really do love those covers.
More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more