Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

WIPMarathon Intro

So I don’t usually talk about my WIPs in depth at my blog. Mostly because I have too many of them going at once—or started, anyway—and I feel ashamed that I have nothing to show for it other than sweat and tears and some rough, uncompleted drafts that no one on earth but me has ever seen. Life gets in the way, writer’s block hits, and even well-intentioned “I’m going to write every day and finish this!” goals end in getting stuck at what seemed like the climax of the manuscript. (I’m looking at you, contemporary suspense YA manuscript. I’ve shelved you for a while now, but I swear someday I’ll dust you off and figure out what went wrong.)

Well, I’m tired of having nothing to show for it. It’s been my dream practically all my life to be a published author, and—dare I hope—an author with more than one book to her name. But I’m never going to get there until I have more than one manuscript to shop around!

So luckily, shiny new idea hit in early July. Like I needed another new idea I wouldn’t finish… But how about one I WOULD finish? What if I told myself I’d write almost every single day (I’m sorry, me, but some days I’m just too busy or tired to write even a line, and that’s okay, as long as it’s not often.) and this time, I had an outline ready so I couldn’t possibly wind up stuck at the end?

So that became my goal: write this manuscript and finish it. Stop fretting about all the things people will find wrong with it, that everyone I know will hate it and I’ll have to start another project, and just write it, just have another project in the wings ready to go.

So last week I found out about a group of bloggers devoting the month of August to accomplishing their individual goals in their WIPs, and although I’m late to the game, I’ve also been writing a lot this month (more than last month even), so I decided to join in! Learn more here if you feel like doing the same (yes, you can join late, I asked!).

So here’s my intro, soon followed by my check-in:

Marathon Goal: As close to finishing the first draft of this project as possible. I originally gave myself until the end of the year, but I feel more pumped. I’m hoping I can finish long before that. I did also have a goal of writing my outline this month after finishing the first four (long) chapters in July (I wanted to get a feel for the characters before I decided the rest of the plot), and I did that last weekend, yay.

Stage of writing: Writing the first draft of my sixth novel project. (Of the previous five, one is completely retired, one is finished and got me an agent :D, and the other three are in various stages of being on hiatus.)

What inspired my current project: It’s YA fantasy. I want to say Game of Thrones meets Marvel Comics’ Runaways, but every YA fantasy these days has the “YA version of Game of Thrones” tag already, so… yeah. Also, it’s my first project with multiple POVs. Four to be precise. Because I’m crazy like that.

What might slow down my marathon goal: Getting distracted, getting busy, and having too much work to do. I write for a living, too, and if I spend all day staring at my computer, pulling the creative juices out of my brain writing for work, sometimes I’m simply too exhausted to keep doing that for my own stuff. (Seriously, I wish I had like a Kindle screen just for typing. I get so tired of staring at a glowing screen.)

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Posted in Geek Out

ALA Conference 2013

I’m not a librarian. (A few job interviews and a perfect score on an entry exam for entry-level work at the local libraries are as far as I’ve gotten to that career path.) So I’ve certainly never made a point of attending the American Library Association conference before. It’s one of those cons that floats around the country once or twice a year. A couple of weeks ago, thanks to my Twitter feed, I discovered it was being held in Chicago this summer, which is somewhat easy commuting distance for me. With a little research, I discovered it was open to the public and there was an affordable exhibits-only entry fee. With the blessing of one of my librarian friends (how can you be a book lover and not know more than one?), I decided to go ahead and go, and stop worrying about con-crashing something intended for a different career field than the one I’m in.

After all, I’m a writer and a reader, so we all love books, right? And I do love comic book, entertainment and anime conventions, so I was eager to attend what would be my first “book convention.”

It was a lot of fun! It was also very crowded, but NYCC holds the record for most-people-squishing-me-into-booths still. (And hey, sometimes being squished into booths is a good thing, like when I was accidentally squished into a signing line on my way out, and it turned out to be for free graphic novels and signatures from a few comic book writers!) I’m so grateful for the opportunity to attend and to be introduced to popular and upcoming books, and to meet a few authors of those books in person, all of whom completely rocked. It’s a good thing I was nearly finished with all the books on my to-read shelf because I just filled it up with these:

books

And I also got my paws on some cool posters!

posters

Sorry for the glare. Was anyone else there? Did you attend any signings or panels?

Posted in Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Reading

Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Part 10

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but when I last did, I was working on getting through the manga I loved in middle and high school, and some recent news that one of those manga is getting a sequel spurred me to get back to business! In both of these cases, I was introduced to the anime version first, and it wasn’t until late high school/early college that I got my hands on English-translated versions of the manga series. But still, I loved the stories in middle and high school and imported the Japanese versions originally, so they count, right?

Marmalade Boy by Yoshizumi Wataru

mboy

One of the first shoujo (aimed at pre-teen and teen girl readers) series I liked that was just plain dramatic (and occasionally comedic) hijinks, no magic or sci fi or fantasy elements included. In the sense that there are so many love entanglements it’s practically a mishmash of love octagons, Marmalade Boy isn’t that different from standard shoujo fare. But it was my first, it was addicting, and I remember ravenously consuming every anime episode when I first watched—and then went on to re-watch it all within a year again. (I also re-watched it all some years later and realized only then how cheesy and overdramatic it could be, but I still love it. It certainly spoke to me when I was in the target audience.)

The basic introductory summary for Marmalade Boy is wild, and I could certainly see it as a zany YA book. As time goes on, the craziness that starts the action of the story is less important than the everyone-has-tons-of-people-who-want-to-date-them-and-misunderstandings-lead-to-heartbreak that follows, but still. It stars Koishikawa Miki, a high schooler whose parents come home from a Hawaiian vacation with smiles on their faces and inform her they’re getting divorced. If that wasn’t shocking enough, they inform her that they still love each other (more like brother and sister love, they say), and they’re both getting re-married—to another couple they met also on vacation in Hawaii who’s divorcing each other with no ill will. (As in, Miki’s mom is marrying the husband of this couple and her dad is marrying the wife.) And since the original couple still considers their exes-to-be good friends and there are kids to consider, they decided they’re all moving in together, both new couples under the same roof, with kids in tow.

Miki is flabbergasted, to say the least. When she hears the other couple has a son named Matsuura Yuu her age, she feels even more awkward, but she hopes he’ll think it’s as bizarre as she does and that the two of them can talk their parents out of it. Nope. When she first meets her new step-parents and step-brother-to-be, Yuu doesn’t give a crap about the situation, and Miki’s literally the only voice of reason. Before she can have more than a melt-down or two, her parents are divorced and re-married, the new step-parents are moving in, and she’s got a new step-brother, who’s aloof… But also really cute.

Of course, Miki’s got a ton of emotional baggage with her childhood friend and once unrequited crush, she has a gorgeous and quiet best friend who’s hiding an earth-shattering secret from her, and Yuu’s ex-girlfriend isn’t taking kindly to him living with another girl to whom he’s not technically related—just to give a hint of all of the drama to come. There’s a lot more going on with Miki’s and Yuu’s parents than meets the eye, too.

The manga, only eight volumes, is almost entirely adapted in the anime version, but I was able to read it later, so it was a refreshing way to get back into the story. There’s an entire arc set in the US that’s in the anime and not the manga, and the manga does have one small arc later on that never made it to the screen. Definitely check it out if you like crazy drama and sweet romance!

Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena) by Be-Papas/Saitou Chiho

rev utena1

Shoujo Kakumei Utena was one of my favorite anime in high school. It’s visually stunning, artistically bizarre, and really spell-binding. Unlike the other manga I’ve reviewed in this category, it was created to be an anime, and there was a manga adaptation, but that came after in development. (Although I believe it started publication slightly before.) If you like one, you’re sure to like the other. The stories in both are fairly different, too—enough to get a different experience when you read and watch.

Utena is hard to explain, but I’ll try. It takes place in a pseudo-classic French-looking Japanese boarding school (but you never see the real world). Tenjou Utena is a middle schooler who dresses and acts like a boy (but still looks fairly feminine). It turns out when she was very young, when she was at her lowest at her parents’ funeral, a prince appeared and offered her words of comfort as well as a rose signet ring. Instead of falling in love with the prince, she decided she wanted to become him, so much did she look up to him. She wears the ring still and always stands up for those who are weak and bullied.

One day she comes across a beautiful student watering roses in a greenhouse. She watches in horror as another student, a high school boy, batters her. Utena intervenes and learns that the female student, Himemiya Anthy, is engaged to the boy and has no objections to him beating her. Horrified, Utena challenges the boy to a duel, thinking they’ll meet in the practice room of the kendo club. Instead, the boy sees her ring and asks if she’s a duelist, saying he’ll meet her in the “arena” outside of the school.

Utena goes, and finds that she can only open the door to the arena with her ring. She climbs magical, impossible stairs and finds a strange scene at the top of the arena. Anthy appears dressed as a princess, and her fiancé claims she’s the “Rose Bride.” He draws a sword out of her chest and fights Utena, who manages to defeat him even with only a wooden sword with which to defend herself. Baffled, Utena leaves and goes back to her dorm, not sure what to make of what happened.

Anthy appears at her dorm shortly thereafter. She explains that Utena is now the victor of the duels and that means that she, Anthy, is engaged to Utena. She’ll do whatever Utena asks of her, and Utena now must accept challenges from any duelist with a ring who asks for a duel. Originally unsure that she wants to be engaged to this other girl, Utena eventually comes to revel in the duels and keeping Anthy away from unworthy fiancés/fiancées, determined to protect the weaker girl and show her what it means to have self-confidence and self-respect. And of course, there’s a pretty weird, magical reasoning behind everything going on that’s revealed over time… And all these years later, I’m only sort of sure I understand it, actually, but I love it even so.

For some reason, the only kind of “battle” I love watching on screen is a sword battle. (I’m talking lightsabers, medieval swords, whatever.) Utena has plenty of those, as the duels are sword-based. Each duel has its own operatic song, too, and I just really got pumped every time I watch the duels, even when I’ve re-watched the series a few times over the years.

There are only five volumes of manga, and it entirely skips a large arc of the anime. There’s also a bonus sixth volume loosely based on the movie—and the movie itself is a different continuity than the anime series, so there are plenty of different versions of Utena to go around.

Posted in Geek Out, Reading

Happy Reading, Happy Holidays!

I haven’t been blogged in a few weeks, largely because of the holidays. I hope you’re all enjoying the end of the year and all the vacation time (I hope), celebration and laughter that comes with it. I know I have!

I just decided to drop by and blog about the books I got this Christmas:

  • The Casual Vacancy (don’t know when I’ll read it, but I have to read Rowling’s new offering!)
  • The Luxe final book (I got this from a friend a few weeks ago–I’ve yet to read the series, but she likes it so much, she got me all four over the past couple of years!)
  • Death Note complete box set (I borrowed it from the library in the past, and now I have my own copy; one of the most thrilling manga I’ve ever read [until about halfway through, but it’s still good])
  • Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 volumes 1-3 (so really volumes 1-9; also a library read in the past, and one of my favorite anime series [both incarnations])
  • Skip Beat 3-in-1 volumes 2-3 (so really volumes 4-9, as I had 1-3 already; another former library read, a humorous and fun shoujo story)

I also got a lot of games, so it’s going to be hard to decide which to do in my free time. What reads did you get this year?

Posted in Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Reading

Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Part 8

I’m going to sort of “cheat” for the next few posts on this topic. I decided to move on from the novels I loved in middle and high school for now to the manga I loved at that time, but technically, it wasn’t always available. The unflopped-$10-or-less-a-pop manga boom began when I was just getting to college. When I was in middle and high school, I had limited access to manga. What I did get was imported from Japan (at least I saw pretty pictures and practiced my fledgling understanding of Japanese, but I certainly didn’t totally follow the story) or limited/edited/flopped (as in mirror imaged to follow American left-to-right reading style)/much more expensive for the most part. In other words, this library wasn’t anywhere near this large back then (each shelf is double-stacked; there’s another row of volumes behind it, although some non-manga stuff has creeped in there. Should I be bragging about probably thousands of dollars spent on manga over a decade and a half? Not really, but yes… Yes, I should… ):

Still, the manga I’ll cover in this series meant a lot to me as a middle and high schooler, and they still mean a lot to me today. I may or may not have had the translated volumes until after high school, but I often had import volumes and grew to love these series through anime adaptations, so I certainly knew the stories.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon (Pretty Solder Sailor Moon) by Takeuchi Naoko

I have to start here. Sailor Moon was my first “official” introduction to anime at age 12–what I understood to be anime, anyway–and it snowballed into a huge part of my life ever since. Japanese anime and manga not only inspire me creatively, but this facet of pop culture inspired my love for the Japanese language and culture, helped me make many of my most treasured friends, and led me to meet my boyfriend of seven years in a college Anime Club, too. (More than seven years ago. We didn’t date immediately!)

So although I’ve read and seen so many manga and anime since, and I may not think SM stands up as the very best of the best or anything, it means a lot to me. At the time, finding a whole team of girl superheroes–girls around my age at that–spoke to the comic-book-loving girl I was. The series not only balances superhero battles of good and evil, but it has drama, comedy and romance, too.

The series starts with a single heroine, 14-year-old Tsukino Usagi, who discovers she can transform into Sailor Moon and fight evil demons attacking Tokyo thanks to a talking cat named Luna (whom I named my own kitty after). Eventually, she finds four other girls her age who are other Sailor Senshi, and even later, she encounters five more, older and younger girls, to round out the team. (And possibly even more girls after that. It gets complex.) There’s way more to it than that, including reincarnation and a love that lasts through lifetimes, but that’s the very basics.

The anime is actually quite different from the manga, other than characters and the enemies of each battle arc, but I actually did have access to translated SM manga in middle and high school, a sort of butchered version by Mixx/Tokyopop that I collected first in a magazine called Mixx Zine, then in a magazine called SMILE, then in individual American comic-book-style issues, and then in graphic novel form. Actually, some of that was concurrent; they published different arcs at once. And the translation used half English dub names and half original Japanese names; it was just a mess! But still, I collected it eagerly. And a few years ago finally rid myself of the whole haphazard mess… Thank goodness Kodansha started bringing out a much nicer and better translated version last year! (And they were the first to translate the prequel series, Codename Sailor V, yay.)

The original manga is 18 volumes, although the re-release packs more in one volume, so it should be 12 (14?) in the end. Although it’s much more drawn out, I think I prefer the anime to the manga, although I’m a fan of the manga’s gorgeous style. Still, I appreciate having two versions of the same story; many manga are almost completely unedited adaptations of their manga (or these days, light novel or game) origins.

Fushigi Yuugi (or Yugi; “Mysterious Play”) by Watase Yuu

This series became my absolute favorite series in middle school, perhaps only eclipsed in high school by a another Watase series, Ayashi no Ceres. I started with the anime (and watched it four or five times all the way through–there was less to watch back then!) and collected the manga in Japanese shortly thereafter, but some of the manga was available in English by the time I got to high school, in a magazine put out by Viz called Animerica Extra. I collected the manga in English through the magazine for all of its run, but it was canceled before the 18-volume manga ended, and years later I got rid of the magazines and collected it in six big three-volumes-in-one re-releases.

FY follows the tale of two 15-year-old Japanese best friends, Yuuki Miaka and Hongo Yui, who get magically sucked into a book about fictional ancient China. One goes on to become the Suzaku no Miko (“priestess of Suzaku”‘; Suzaku is one of four mythical beasts in Chinese folklore), and the other the Seiryuu no Miko, her mortal enemy. How these two friends come to be at such odds is a compelling part of the drama, and the two are in a race to gather their seven warriors and call their mythical beasts to grant them three wishes. Oh, and those warriors? Most are handsome men, and there are love triangles and rectangles and all sorts of shapes going on, which spurs more of the drama. And the series can be pretty funny at times, too.

There’s a prequel series, Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, about the first Japanese girl to become a miko in this ancient book, that’s still coming out both in Japanese and English, but volumes are few and far between these days since Watase is juggling multiple projects and this one seems to be on the back burner. The middle schooler in me loved hearing there would be another tale set in that universe (especially since we learn a bit about this protagonist in the original series), and I do love many things about it, but it perhaps doesn’t have quite the charm as the original to me (it’s less funny, too), and the conflict is more political than personal like it was in FY. I actually would have preferred a prequel story about the Byakko no Miko, who comes after the Genbu no Miko, from what we learned in the original FY, but I’m not sure Watase will be up for it since she’s accomplished her dream of doing a weekly shounen (boys) manga, as opposed to the monthly shoujo (girls) manga she used to do. Ah, well.

Posted in Geek Out

My Trip to NY

Once a year for the past five years, I’ve visited New York (stayed on Long Island, took the train in to NYC as often as possible) to visit some of my boyfriend’s family. Coincidentally, his family lives a short car or train ride away from one of my best friends of thirteen years, fellow agented writer and one of my beta readers, Melissa. So it’s been a lot of fun making time to hang out with her when I visit–although this is the first year we met as two agented authors!

And speaking of agents, I met mine for the first time, the very kind Jason Yarn, who picked out a chic restaurant with great food, Gramercy Tavern, for our meeting. (I apologize for being a few minutes late! That was the only day I’ve ever had to deal with train delays to that extent!) I had a fun time talking my writing, books in general and the geek culture at large. Now that I’m back home, I need to snap back into focus and get back to editing and working on new drafts!

Some highlights of the trip include:

Shopping

I’m not usually big on shopping, or clothes shopping in particular, but that’s not the case in NY. We hit all of our favorite stores, including Uniqlo, which I admittedly just started liking because it was a Japanese brand of fashion (similar to Old Navy in pricing–I don’t like spending tons on clothes!), but I really do love their HEATTECH line during frigid winters.

We also stopped at the Scholastic store, so I could squeal over Harry Potter and Hunger Games displays.

I hit the HBO Store, Disney Store, Nintendo World, FAO Schwartz, Kinokuniya (Japanese bookstore), Book Off (used Japanese and American bookstore), and Mitsuwa (Japanese marketplace in New Jersey), to name a few.

Eating

Aside from the aforementioned Gramercy Tavern, we ate at another chic restaurant with yummy food for a lunch, NoHo Star. We got some peanut butter sandwiches at Peanut Butter & Co, ate delicious Japanese food at Go Go Curry (multiple times), dined at the Mitsuwa food court, and stopped by Cafe Zaiya and Sunrise Mart for Japanese cakes and sweets more than once. (Sensing a pattern here? Yes, I tend to focus on Japanese places in NY!)

Wax Museum

Melissa convinced my boyfriend and I to accompany her to Madame Tussauds, and it was a lot of fun! The wax figures were so real, at one point, we fell for a trick; there was a wax figure of a tourist taking a photo of other wax figures and we seriously hesitated to let her take her picture… Which she never did. There was a Marvel 4D experience, and it left a bit to be desired, plot-wise, but it was amusing. And there were wax figures of the Avengers outside!

Central Park Zoo

We headed to the Central Park Zoo for the second time; we went a few years ago, too. But it’s conveniently placed in a beautiful location, pretty affordable for a NY attraction, and full of cute animals. The red pandas are my favorites here, but I got slightly better pictures this time of other adorable guys, like the polar bear, the snow leopard and the sea lions! Too bad my camera battery died right toward the end!

All in all, it was a great trip. Bye, NY! (And have fun at the NYCC next week, everyone there! I’m sorry I’m missing it… Even though it’s impossible to move inside the convention center anyway.)

Posted in Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Reading

Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Part 5

I apologize for neglecting my blog a bit lately; I’ve been on a roll creatively and am trying to get one of the WIPs’ first draft done within the next few weeks, if possible. But I thought I’d stop by and talk about a few more books I loved in high school.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

This was another required reading, I think for my AP English course. I remember that we strangely got to take TWO WEEKS out of regular class to watch the miniseries during school, too. (And that actually our history teacher of all people was vying to be allowed to show it in her class instead, but the English teacher won out since we could actually read and discuss the book…) It wasn’t this welcome break that made me love it, though, although I loved the Jeremy Irons adaptation for the most part; it was one of my first forays into period fiction (I didn’t grow to love Austen and the Brontes until college and post-college… Granted, those are much earlier periods, but still…), and I loved the characters, and the journey the protagonist goes on, although I remember not really being too happy with the ending for personal reasons. But not all books end the way you want them to.

The story follows Oxford student Charles Ryder first through his close (close, like really close!) relationship with a spoiled, haughty, carefree rich kid, Sebastian Flyte. Sebastian is a jerk, but his laissez-faire attitude is of course masking deeper problems, and Charles begins to see another side of his friend-maybe-lover. The two part, Sebastian off to drink himself into ruin, and Charles entering into an unhappy marriage. The latter half of the book features a middle aged Charles returning to Sebastian’s family home (which is named Brideshead, thus “revisited”…) and becoming closer friends with Sebastian’s sister Julia, who’s also in an unhappy marriage. The two become lovers on the cusp of World War II and hope to one day wed…

That’s just the bare bones of the plot. There’s also an important theme about faith that resonated with me and led to the aforementioned ending I wasn’t sure was what I expected or wanted for the character, but that’s just me. It’s still a great read.

X-Men: Mutant Empire Trilogy by Christopher Golden

Not every book I read and loved in high school could pass for required school reading, of course. When I was 11 or 12, my sister showed me the ’90s Fox X-Men cartoon and I joined in her in her obsession for that soap-opera-with-superpowers that is the X-Men franchise, which opened the gate to my overall love for superhero comics, movies and cartoons that’s still with me today. (An aside: The ’90s animated Batman is THE best version of The Dark Knight, I swear!) Part of the way I got my superhero fix between waiting for the latest issues and episodes was reading a bunch of Marvel superhero books coming out at the time. I loved a number of them, but the X-Men: Mutant Empire trilogy was my favorite, hands-down, and I’ve re-read them a few times since I first read them as a teen.

These books follow the X-Men at what was the height of the series to me, the Blue and Gold Teams in the ’90s. Cyclops’ Blue Team was off in space helping his father space-pirate Corsair deal with some intergalactic problems (meh, my least favorite part of the trilogy, but Cyclops has always bugged me…) and Storm’s Gold Team was dealing with Magneto’s takeover of Manhattan to serve as a home for mutants. Magneto managed to reconfigure Sentinel robots to attack humans instead of mutants, so only mutants could get in on the ground and take him out. This was a much more tangible kind of crisis against Magneto versus what I’d seen in the comics or cartoon, with the made-up island of Genosha or Asteroid M acting as Magneto’s havens.

By the way, I was reading these books when an English teacher asked what I was reading in my free time, to “prove” I was an avid reader… Which didn’t score me too many brownie points! She didn’t know what I was talking about, so I had to explain that I read a lot of franchise books like Star Wars books (at the time–haven’t touched those in over a decade)… At least she’d heard of that! Ah, well, read what you love, I say!

Posted in Reading, Sweet Valley Confidential

Sweet Valley Confidential Review

I know it’s a little out of order, and it’s been more than a year since its release date, but I was lucky enough to get a copy of Sweet Vally Confidential for review this week. This is the book that started the all-grown-up Sweet Valley High franchise that continues with The Sweet Life, the brand-new e-series that just started coming out this past weekend. I thought I would share my thoughts on the book to go along with my reviews of The Sweet Life.

Find out where to order SVC here.

The Wakefield twins are now 27 years old. Elizabeth lives in NYC and works as an Off-Broadway theater reviewer, and Jessica is back in Sweet Valley working for a “green” cosmetics PR firm. They aren’t speaking to one another anymore–or more accurately, Elizabeth isn’t speaking to Jessica. She ran off to NYC to deal with what she feels is an unforgivable betrayal, and she’s probably right. This time, Jessica’s selfishness has gone too far! But the situation is not as black and white as it initially seems.

I loved it! To be honest, I’d read a number of negative-okay reviews of the book online (but about as many positive reviews as well), so I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d be similarly disappointed. I think what made me enjoy it was that I’ve actually forgotten a lot about Sweet Valley, other than the very basics. (It’s been so many years since I was into it!) Most of the complaints were about continuity errors or how characters acted differently than they used to. Since I didn’t remember enough to notice any errors (assuming they weren’t corrected for my edition anyway), and I didn’t notice characters acting “differently,” I was able to read it with a fresh pair of eyes for the most part.

Elizabeth and Jessica are certainly as I remember them–with a certain amount of changes (Elizabeth more aggressive and angry, Jessica more subdued and quiet) that I thought were only natural given the circumstances. I loved the personality changes given that their relationship has been torn asunder.

It took me a little while to get used to it, but I loved the narrative format. Rather than each chapter belonging exclusively to one character’s third-person POV, the narrative skipped from the present to the past and back again. The past scenes build up the context of Jessica’s big betrayal and are told in first person (from different characters’ POVs, depending on the scene), which I thought was a fun choice. The scenes are clearly delineated, so it’s easy to follow along. I do remember, though, that toward the end, during a party with many characters, the POV seems to shift between multiple characters (in the third person) every few paragraphs. This is the only time the POV gets a bit muddled, in my opinion.

I agree with some reviews that point out that Jessica’s Valley Girl-like use of “so” and “like” in her narratives and dialog gets distracting. I don’t think it was necessary to portray her as the more popular, shallow twin; she’s supposed to be almost as smart as Elizabeth, in a different way. This seemed to have been rectified for The Sweet Life. At least I didn’t notice it.

Some of what happens is a bit over the top–particularly the recap of what every character had been up to since their high school days (I don’t remember a lot of the characters…)–that appears at the end. But Sweet Valley has always been as zany as a soap opera to me, so this wasn’t too hard for me to swallow.

But as far as the plot of the book, SPOILER ALERT (if you’ve read my The Sweet Life review, you’ll know this spoiler, though), I really did not mind Jessica winding up with Todd, although I certainly agree with Elizabeth for getting angry about it. I don’t think I ever liked Todd that much, as explained in my last review. This reminds me of my thoughts on the Archie Comics love triangle. Betty (whose actual name is Elizabeth, what a coincidence, she’s the Elizabeth in my Sweet Valley comparison!) is sweet, beautiful, and selfless–and yes, she deserves happiness. Veronica (Jessica) is gorgeous, spoiled and moody, and she plays the field, although she has her moments in which she demonstrates a heart of gold and love for Betty. Archie (Todd) is supposedly this “great” guy, but he’s kind of a jerk, in my opinion. He’s quick to anger and moody, although he can be loyal to his friends. Frankly, Betty may deserve the man she wants, but Archie doesn’t deserve her! So don’t Archie and Veronica seem more like they deserve one another? Especially considering how Veronica is more likely to stand up for herself than Betty? Betty will be brokenhearted, but in time, she ought to find someone more deserving of her. (And if you’ve read the always fun but very bizarre Life with Archie series, you realize how appropriate it is that I could compare Bruce, SVH’s resident playboy, arrogant jerk, with Reggie, Riverdale High’s much the same. They become kinder, nicer men and they wind up with ladies who deserve someone who truly treasures them.)

Anyway, I apologize for the segue, but my longstanding view on the Archie triangle explains why I was totally fine with the events of SVC! If you love Sweet Valley, definitely catch up with Sweet Valley Confidential. I may not remember SVH completely, so that may affect my view on SVC, but this does give me the same fun, fast, frothy feeling, so I couldn’t ask for more!

And a side note, this isn’t the cover I have (I have the sexy modern cover above), but I found this (UK?) cover on Amazon that’s supposed to look retro, like the original covers. How cute!

Posted in Geek Out, Reading

Reading the Source Material: Too Much for the Mainstream?

“Most people just don’t care that much, Amy….”

I heard that from my boyfriend the other day. No, we weren’t discussing anything of import at the time (although the quote sadly applies to those topics, too). I was in the middle of another ranting geek fit that my boyfriend puts up with. (He’s a geek, too, but since I’m the one who drags him to conventions, and I have a love for superhero comics that he simply has never shared, perhaps I flatter myself to be slightly more geeky.) The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season two had aired, and I was telling him about some of the reactions I read online. Many people feared something had happened to a beloved character… And I knew almost as soon as I became a fan of the series what that character’s entire future (thus far) would be. Hadn’t they read the books? Or at least Googled info? It’s been online probably since the days of dial-up. I didn’t even start watching Game of Thrones until this past March, and I didn’t pick up the books until shortly thereafter. I wasn’t one of the fans who knew for years and years, but still, once I was interested enough in the series, I was dying to know more, and I devoured almost anything I could find on the topic.

I had a similar geek fit earlier this year towards the end of the second season of The Walking Dead. My own friends were the culprit this time, shocked and confounded by what happened on the screen! Meanwhile, almost as soon as I liked the TV series (a year later than most), I picked up all of the graphic novels and devoured them in a matter of a week. True, the series differentiates quite a lot from the original source material, but the particular event in question is something I braced for from the start… Seeing as how it happened almost at the start in the comics.

It could simply be a matter of time, and the fact that when you earn some free time, it’s far easier to veg out in front of a screen that does all of the entertaining for you. Sometimes going back to the source material is a pretty big commitment. (I’m now week six-ish into my vow to read all of A Song of Ice and Fire, and I’m only about 3/4 through the second book… By the way, I bet you didn’t know that’s what the Game of Thrones series is actually called, if you’re among those not interested in the source material!) Other people want to be surprised as they watch the movie/series, and they consider the originals sources of “spoilers.” (Me, on the other hand–I’ll look up spoilers before I even get that far in the reading, although I am getting better at fighting that urge…) I get it, I get that I’m probably just too much of a geek, but I can’t imagine loving a movie or a series, finding out it’s based on books, comics or even a video game, and not wanting to immerse myself further!

…And yes, I know, I probably just need to chill.

Do you read the book/comic first or are you inspired to read something after seeing an on-screen adaptation? Do you ever love a movie or TV show, learn that there are source materials and just not have the urge to check out more? (I’m looking at you, millions and millions of Avengers movie fans!)