Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Don't Eat the Camera Guy

When Twilight hit the New York Times best sellers list all the way back in 2005, it prefaced a major change for the small and cramped Teen shelves of bookstores everywhere. All of a sudden, Young Adult novels were a hot ticket to popularity and literary success (for the sellouts), by way of vampires, werewolves, witches, and monsters galore. The emergence of the Teen Paranormal Romance genre spelled a major boon for children's book companies, and a massive headache for uptight mothers, while many simply questioned the merit of books that essentially capitalized on being creepy.

However, in a decade that witnessed the Rise of the Geek on shows like Glee and Big Bang Theory, it was nice to know that the pseudo-Goths got their share of the locker room glory as well.

As more YA books of this species flew off the shelves, and it became more socially acceptable to proclaim that the lack of a pulse was considered a turn-on, vampires were thrust out of the darkness and into the limelight, and not to burst into clouds of dust as the vampire mythology purists had expected. The all-too-pale inhabitants of Forks, WA, made their on screen debut in November of 2008, and eventually racked up way more than 5 times their production budget, as well as assurance that their saga would continue for longer than had originally been envisioned, both on paper and on screen. However, even though it was only Edward that first sparkled his way into America's heart, the other "things that go bump in the night" were still causing a racket.

A small advertisement on Twitter first caught my eye about two weeks ago...

The City of Bones, the first novel in Cassandra Clare (aka, Judith Rumelt)'s The Mortal Instruments series, follows fifteen-year-old Clary Fray, a young girl with extraordinary power, and a very missing mother, as she discovers the true darkness hiding within the dangerous paranormal underbelly of New York City.

The book involves seemingly every monster in the closet, convoluting the mythology of demons, vampires, werewolves, faeries, and more by throwing whatever a "Shadowcaster" is into the mix. It was released by Simon & Schuster in 2007, and became a New York Times bestseller shortly after its debut.

However, despite all of the positive reviews I have heard about it - "Buffyesque"? Really? - The Cheerleader raves the loudest. Despite my personal feelings towards my sister's reading habits, maybe it deserves to be considered a little differently.

Premiere Date: August 23rd, 2013. 
Starring: Lily Collins as Clary, Jamie Campbell Bower as Jayce. 

That advertisement was followed a few days later, by a trailer - on the Cheerleader's Facebook page, no less - for this movie...

Warm Bodies, the debut novel of Isaac Marion, examines the topic of humanity and living life to the fullest, by way of a zombie named R. R -- who can't remember the rest of his name, just that it starts with an R -  falls in love with a human girl named Julie, and protects her, on her way home to a human encampment, from other zombies, as well as terrifying skeletal entities named "Bonies."

The novel was published in 2010, and gained endorsement from zombie lit lovers everywhere as quickly as it did a movie deal. Praised for its message as much as its plot, the comments for Warm Bodies on Goodreads are as quick to embrace the romance as much as shy away from the gore.

Besides, the actor playing R is currently dating Jennifer Lawrence, so if Katniss approves, you know he's got to be pretty cool.

Premiere Date: February 1st, 2013. 
Starring: Nicholas Hoult as R., Teresa Palmer as Julie. 

And finally, I was lured into this trap by a gorgeous still I found on Pinterest this morning...

Beautiful Creatures is the first novel in the Caster Chronicles, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It introduces the quiet Southern town of Gatlin, as well as its newest inhabitant, mysterious Lena Duchannes, her odd and powerful family, and a terrible curse, that threatens to destroy her relationship with Ethan, the boy who thought nothing important would ever happen in a town like Gatlin.

The book was released in 2009 from Little, Brown & Company, and several in the series followed shortly thereafter, gaining progressively impressive amounts of word-of-mouth at my younger sister's middle school.

And the people involved in this cast list are simply too amazing to be overlooked. I mean, Emmy Rossum? Come on!

Premiere Date: February 13th, 2013
Starring: The two lead actors, I've never heard of. But Emma Thompson is Mrs. Lincoln, Jeremy Irons is Macon Ravenwood, and Viola Davis is Amma, so I'm sure they're fine. 

My point is, now that our fang-toothed friend Edward is out of the way at the box offices with the end of the Twilight franchise, maybe it's time to get new perspective on the teen paranormal romance movie. That is, unless Stephanie Meyers changes the game again, with her teen alien romance, The Host (premiering March 29th, 2013; starring Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder, and Diane Kruger as The Seeker). But let's just wait this literary trend out first.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Descending into (Tumblr) Madness

Happy Friday! 

Despite the fact that this weekend in itself is nothing to look forward to - as everyone in my chapter is consumed by the panic of the mid-terms blitzkrieg that is hurtling towards Monday like its our professors' life goal to give us all paper cuts - I've been having a pretty good day today.

It's because that after enduring the hell that was Winter Quarter Registration this morning at 5:30 am, I decided that I needed to relax. So, I took to trolling some of my favorite book-related Tumblr sites, and I thought that you just might enjoy them as well.

1. Life in Publishing -
The snarky GIFs of a person who is obviously much more accomplished than I am, and whose job I want.

2. Why Authors are Crazy -
Along the same vein as "Life in Publishing," but from the other side. Also, I still want this job, too.

3. John Green's Tumblr -
Because as every teenage bookworm knows, there's nobody quite as special as John Green.

4. Bookfessions -
Now numbering over one thousand, bookfessions are, at times, a little narcissistic, preachy, or downright worrying. However, take #830: "When I go on a trip, it takes me but a few minutes to pack my clothes, but it takes me hours to decide which books to bring."

5. And while I'll always mourn the loss of Hot Guys Reading Books ( , self-explanatory), its still okay to scroll through the archives.

If you're guessing that this half-baked post means that I have yet to finish either my research paper or Anna Karenina, then you're right! Sorry 'bout it. But I was kind of hoping this would tide you over until at least Thanksgiving weekend, when I once again posses the mental faculties required for formulating a cohesive and insightful blog post.

Have a good weekend! :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That's So Punk Rock

Yes, I know it's not Monday. But it's this week's Monday, which is what I really meant, of course. If it counts for anything, I've just finished a rather exhausting annotated bibliography for my English class, and yet I'm still taking the time to write this. Well, because I care.

Speaking of English class, I love it when the books you read for assignments actually overcome the enormous burdens of reading logs and papers on the topic of thematic elements, and overturn the conventional status that a book you read in school will forever carry the bitter tang of education. Novels that can outlast the arduous efforts of your teachers to pick apart every string and stitch that holds the bindings of the book together, and cement themselves as a still-standing, solid journey. I love those.

Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad - though but a recent national bestseller and winner of both the N. Y. Times Best Book, as well as a little honor called the Pulitzer Prize, in 2011 - was a favorite of our ENG 111 TA, and found its way onto our syllabus simply on the grounds that it would provide insight into more contemporary literature, instead of a dust-covered something-or-other from the 19th century. While I was initially a little put off by his disregard for the classical works that I so enjoyed, I quickly understood his viewpoint upon reading the first few chapters: the book itself has no regard for chronology, either.

Let me explain: Egan's novel is an ensemble piece, focusing on the lives of two broken and brilliant New Yorkers, Bennie and Sasha, as well as the people who make up key parts of their lives. However, instead of following a linear or chronological pattern when discussing the interlocking group, Egan threads their stories together across the boundaries of time, traversing months, days, years and decades, to explore exactly how this seemingly unrelated cast came together. It's as if the entire book is a love letter to those six degrees that separate us from Kevin Bacon. It reinforces each of those chain links between us, that we may take for granted, and reminds us that strangers - or employees and bosses, girlfriends and one night stands, husbands and brothers and especially terrible fathers - may end up mattering more to us than we think, and we may still matter more to them.

In other words, if there was ever a book to remind you that every person you pass on the street has a past, a story, a family, a best friend, and especially a future, it's this one.

If I haven't already expressed the utter amazement I felt in traveling through the interlocking webs within this novel, then let me make myself abundantly clear: I love, love, love this book. It's real... the people within it are recognizable. That makes it a little scary sometimes, especially when these characters that you relate to and find familiar, do something terrible. Everyone is broken is some way, and each of the characters within the novel demonstrate some of those habits and issues that plague us all. And yet, instead of dwelling in darkness for the full novel, the end notes that tinge each story are not simply defeat, but instead, hopefulness for the future, and, if you're lucky, even a happy ending or two.

And when you're stuck cramming for multiple mid terms, you take whatever hope you can find, whenever you can get it.

So, with attitude, realism, and a kick-ass punk feeling, Egan traverses generations, to craft the hope for a better tomorrow, by way of an ensemble cast you could meet on the street. Even a series of absolutely horrific essay prompts couldn't take that away. If only the book we were reading now - Jay Z's Decoded - wasn't so easy to kill. :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Veteran's Day Weekend!

I hope everyone out there has a great day today (I know I am), but just because I won't have a blog post prepared before Monday, I wanted to ensure you have a great Friday as well.

So please, enjoy this video: "B*tches in Bookshops (based on Jay Z and Kanye West's "N*ggas in Paris")," from the incredibly talented La Shea Delaney and Annabelle Quezada, who I am now considering following on Twitter (new follower alert: strange, unknown college kid from WA suddenly interested in your tweets because she liked a vid? Yeah, minor leaugue creepy... maybe not).

Anyways, everyone have a good weekend!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stuck in the Doldrums

And just like that, this dismal weather has started to get me down.

What was once a novelty is now the norm, and it's quickly become more than a little dreary. Pretty soon, even the burnt orange and tarnished gold colors of the leaves will run together into a murky brown, and there won't be any color much of anywhere. If I've learned anything from my past inability to do my homework in the same place where I spend all of my time (well, not ALL of my time) on Pinterest, it's that environment determines attitude, and as the clouds droop ever lower in the sky, so do the corners of my mouth. I'm uninspired, uninterested, unmotivated... quite frankly, as I confessed to my father a week ago, I'm stuck in the doldrums.

He told me to go back and reread this: The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster.

He had read it to my sister, The Cheerleader, and I for the first time when we were just tiny. Henceforth afterwards classified as my favorite children's book EVER, and just currently finished with celebrating its 50th Anniversary, this tale follows the travels of a regular boy named Milo - who was none too motivated or inspired himself -through a mysterious tollbooth into a fantastical world full of witty puns, tremendous wordplay, and important lessons, in the hopes of rescuing the beautiful princesses, Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason. It was a hit when it was first published back in 1961, (and not so much a hit when it was made into a film about a decade later) and has gained comparisons to the likes of fantasy counterpart Alice in Wonderland, while proving itself to be just as durable, having been credited as the NPR Kid's Club Book Pick in 2011.

The most terrifying moment, for me, always happened within the first 30 pages: Milo, having breezed through the bright, colorful, cheery land of Expectations already, relaxes and lazes, simply enjoying the scenery, never knowing that he missed his turn, until his car sputters and stops in... the Doldrums. Home to the Lethargarians, a boring bunch whose only daily objectives are to relax and daze - as well as daydream, procrastinate, nap and sleep, and deem it illegal to smile or think - the Doldrums are inescapable to those who enter, as they fall into the ways of the Lethargarians as well. Thankfully, Milo is saved by Tock, the watchdog (my favorite character), who gives him the secret to restarting his car and escaping the Doldrums: to think. And so, Milo thought of "birds that swim and fish that fly," "yesterday's lunch and tomorrow's dinner," "words that began with J and numbers that end in 3," and "as he thought, the wheels began to turn."
As it turns out, The Phantom Tollbooth was my key to escaping the Doldrums as well.

A visit back to my childhood was exactly what I needed. Get caught up in day-to-day life, where the only objective is to get done with that which is required from you the most immediately, and strive for nothing exceeding expectations, is not the right way to live. I needed that harrowing trip back to the Mountains of Ignorance, and to regain the inner sight necessary to see those same demons who have been hounding me since senioritis kicked in back in the Spring: the Hopping Hindsight, who only moves forward based on what's behind him; the Gross Exaggeration, and his beastly buddy, the Know-It-All;  the long-nosed, green-eyed, curly-haired, wide-mouthed, thick-necked, broad-shouldered, round-bodied, short-armed, bowlegged, big-footed demon... of insincerity, who really isn't any of those things he says he is. Most frightening to me, was a flimsy creature, simply riding on the backs of others, and not really proving substantial in anything but his victims: the Threadbare Excuse, the same demon that's been riding on my shoulder since I contracted a minor sinus infection a couple of weeks ago.

The Phantom Tollbooth has ties to my childhood, and therefore, my heart, and was exactly the kind of intelligent and lightly moralizing thing I needed to get me going again. And speaking of going, it's time for English class again.