Monthly Archives: April 2014

“To Love a Vampire” by Anna-Rose Vittoria Review

To Love a Vampire

There are spoilers in this review, but I recommend you read it anyway so you don’t make the mistake I made and waste your time reading the book!

I was looking for some free e–books on the Amazon Kindle shop last night, and I found To Love a Vampire, the first book in the Dark Vampire Knight series by Anna–Rose Vittoria. Now I could tell it was likely to be some daft trashy story, but I decided to look into it anyway. Let’s just say it really deserves the overall 2–star average it has…

The book claims to be about your “average Goth girl”, yet our so–called average Goth, Emily Payne, goes on to tell us about all the different kinds of Goths there are – so what makes her our average Goth girl? Perhaps it’s her “Scene hair”, which is what she uses to describe it pretty much EVERY time she mentions her hair, yet she doesn’t even explain what Scene hair is. Apparently it’s something we’re all meant to know. As well as not shutting up about the mystery “Scene hair”, the author also succeeds in over using description. I know, I didn’t think it was possible either, but if I read one more mention of Emily’s “Nightmare Before Christmas bedspread/alarm clock/Edward Scissorhands lamp/Emily the Strange jacket with the red cat ears on the hood”, then I will snap. Seriously, you are allowed to say “I checked the time on my alarm clock”; you don’t have to tell us the design every single time you mention it.

My very first issue came in only the first two sentences of the book: “The downtown city bus was taking me to go live with my dad. I had to admit, though, I was really excited.” Okay, considering she’s never at all given any reason to not be excited about living with her dad, there is no reason for that sentence to be there. Also, in the first sentence, surely it should be “[…] taking me to go and live with my dad”? Maybe that’s just my idea of the correct language, but I’m sure Vittoria knows best. That said, there are some truly atrocious errors littered throughout the book, including using ‘to’ instead of ‘too’, or ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ and vice versa. Surely, one of the most important parts of publishing a book is ensuring that you’re using the correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation? I mean, writing a good book is also pretty important too, another minor thing the author managed to overlook here. And whilst the so–called plot is nothing short of awful, I just can’t find words to describe how appalling the main character, in the form of your average Goth girl Emily Payne, is.

So, only a few chapters into the book, Emily is going to the ‘Coffin Club’ with her dad, who’s playing there with his band, and somehow manages to end up locked out in the car–park. The bouncer doesn’t believe she’s Blayke Payne’s daughter, which is fair enough, but then a mysterious guy comes out from the shadows to say that Emily is his date and he should let her in. Again, that’s not too obscure as I’ve read scenes like that in books before. But when you start making out with someone SIX pages after you’ve met them, I’m afraid that is beyond ridiculous. You know nothing about him, other than he’s called Jagger Maxwell (what kind of name is Jagger anyway?!), yet you’re in the middle of letting him take off your freaking dress?! Excuse me for not thinking that’s very realistic. When you finally have the sense to stop, you take him inside to meet your dad, where Jagger manages to convince your dad to let him date you, and you don’t object because you’re too busy thinking about how hot he is to pay any attention?! That’s just… it doesn’t happen, okay?

Despite constantly telling Jagger she just wants to be friends, that doesn’t stop her getting into his coffin (no, I’m not joking. He drives a hearse too) with him and then nearly having sex with him before panicking because she could get pregnant. After all, that’s what every girl does with the guy they just want to be friends with – or maybe this is just because she’s your average Goth girl? Speaking of, I get that the novel is about a Goth, and I get that she’s into darker stuff and has friends and a dad who are too, but seriously you don’t need to describe them so much or make them sound so stereotypical. Literally, pretty much every person she describes has “blood–red tipped hair” or something like that; dip–dying is not something done exclusively by Goths, so stop making it sound like it is. And as for Jagger driving round in a hearse, how ridiculous is that?! Okay, the guy’s a vampire (if you hadn’t already guessed) but again with the stereotyping – not every vampire is going to drive a hearse or sleep in a coffin.

And can I give you another example of how stupid Emily is? She has a dream not long after meeting Jagger where he takes her out, then reveals to her he’s a vampire. Okay, that’s a bit creepy so I can see why she would be a bit wary “because it felt so real!” – yet she’s not wary, she’s just concerned that she put on the outfit she wore in the dream, to go out on a date with him because he had to tell her something important. But if that’s not ringing any alarm bells, then don’t worry – who believes in vampires anyway? However, when the guy who drives a hearse, sleeps in a real coffin, and you dreamt was a vampire tells you he is originally from ROMANIA, that’s when you should start to think “Oh, maybe he could actually be a vampire…”. Emily cites Dracula as her favourite book; did she pick up nothing from it? Evidently not, as she just carries on as if nothing had happened. Even when, in the last few pages, Jagger takes her on a date to the cemetery (most clichéd vampire ever, I swear) and starts eating RAW steak, she still doesn’t take the hint, instead she just shouts at him because he’ll make himself sick. Emily, I really think that’s the least of your worries.

The author makes things worse by trying to add in a few jokes, and believe me when I say, they’re abysmal. For instance, when the pair reach the cemetery, Emily remarks on how tall the fence was, to which Jagger replied “‘Not really. Well, to you probably’” (Emily is quite short, a fact she likes to remind us of almost as many times as she tells us about her Scene hair). Emily’s own response to that is “‘Excuse me? Did you just call me fat’?”. That line just had me so confused. It was so infused with stupidity that I didn’t even realise it was followed by “I joked”; there is no way in hell that’s funny under any circumstance. Jokes are meant to make sense in the context – that didn’t. Jokes are meant to be funny – that most certainly wasn’t.

I can, however, compliment the author on her ending, where Jagger reveals his fangs. It’s quite a nice cliff–hanger, if a little on the predictable side, but it would have been much more effective if the book was actually well – written.

I’m not even going to bother reading the sequel because this made me despair enough. Vittoria, here’s some advice: stick to your day job. And if you want writing to be your day job… I suggest you find another one.

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“Divergent” Film Review

Divergent

Sometimes you see a film’s adaptation of a book which was so amazing, you just have to see it again. And sometimes you see a film which leaves you thinking “WHY did they think making that was a good idea?” Divergent, based on Veronica Roth’s novel of the same name, doesn’t really fit into either of those categories; instead it falls relatively nicely into the middle. I knew it wasn’t going to be exactly like the book, and I knew things would be missed – but that didn’t prepare me for how angry I was going to be at some of the things they missed out.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad film – it just wasn’t accurate. If this wasn’t a book adaptation I would say it was a very good, enjoyable film, but as it is I was slightly disappointed at how certain things panned out. Let’s take my main annoyance – Edward. Remember how, in the book, Edward came in first place, so Peter stabbed him in the eye which resulted in Edward being made Factionless? You know how that’s quite important in Insurgent? Well guess what DIDN’T happen in the film! Yeah, that part not being included in the film made me quite angry. In fact, I don’t think we were even shown who Edward really was, except possibly a brief cameo and someone saying “Edward”. I guess it wasn’t totally important to the film, but it would have helped to show how ruthless the character of Peter was, which was definitely something important. Even the scene where Peter, Al, and I think Drew attacked Tris and were trying to hang her over the chasm is done wrong; instead of grabbing her from the room, they somehow manage to nab her as she walks down a corridor, even though they didn’t know that she was going to be there! Despite that though, I really liked that whole scene and feel it was done pretty well.

In fact, that’s how I felt for most of the film: “That’s not how it happened, but they’ve done it pretty well”. My favourite part was from the start of the game of Capture the Flag (seriously, the Ferris Wheel scene… amazing) straight through to the zip–lining scene; that entire part was just fantastic. My heart was genuinely in my throat when Tris was going down on the zip–line, but at the same I really wished I was there, doing it myself. It was just done so brilliantly and looked so exciting – it was one thing to read about it, but honestly, getting to see it like that was something else. Actually, that’s definitely something I loved about the film; reading about it could in some cases be a bit difficult to picture, but when you were watching it happen it obviously really helped and actually made a difference. Normally I don’t like films as much because they mean you don’t get to use your imagination in the same way you would by reading it, but Divergent didn’t make me feel like that at all.

Going onto our main characters now, and I feel that Shailene Woodley was perfectly cast as Tris. She’s also going to be playing Hazel Grace Lancaster in the film The Fault in Our Stars (out in June) which I’m really looking forward to, so it was nice to get a feel for her acting and see what I thought of her. As it turns out, I really liked her and she is a very good actress. Tris, in the book, annoyed me a little bit so I was quite worried about her portrayal in the film, but as it was I had nothing to worry about – Tris was a likeable character in the film and it certainly made the film more enjoyable. Four/Tobias, played by Theo James, was also a good cast choice, as he matched the idea of him I had in my head, and that doesn’t happen too much these days. Despite the two aforementioned characters being our protagonists, my favourite character was probably, of all people, Eric, one of the leaders of Dauntless. Played by Jai Courtney, he didn’t look or act at all how I thought he would, but seriously he was so much better than I could ever have imagined. Admittedly every time he was on the screen, I got quite distracted by his tattoos and piercings (though I think that’s partially why I liked him!), but he was an extremely good character and actor.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, I found that I really rather enjoyed the film – though, somehow, I would have enjoyed it more if they had stuck more to some of the book – and I’m hoping that they do make the sequel, Insurgent, into a film too. Not only was that book far more enjoyable, I’ve just not quite got my Divergent fill yet, which I wasn’t expecting at all! I recommend going to see the film; if you’ve not read the book it probably won’t have much of an effect on your enjoyment of the film, although I don’t know if it will all make sense that way. If you have read the book, then like me you might get a bit annoyed at some of the thinks they missed out, but it’s definitely worth seeing regardless of whether you’ve read the book or not.

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“Butter” by Erin Lange Review (Spoilers)

Butter

For all the reading I do, and all the characters I fall in love with, I’ve never really found a character I could truly empathise with. That is, until I read Butter by Erin Lange. It was the character of Butter who I could really see myself in, and judging from the reviews I’ve read on it, I appear to be one of the only ones – or at least one of the only ones who admits it. Honestly, I can’t decide if that’s a good or a bad thing – on the one hand, it means people aren’t feeling how Butter himself feels, and on the other hand, it makes me feel strange saying “Yes, I can relate to this character!”

Butter is about a vastly overweight teenager who is referred to throughout simply as Butter and is so fed up of it that he’s decided to kill himself – in fact, he’s decided to eat himself to death. After seeing on a “Most Likely” page for his school that he’s believed to be the most likely to die of a heart attack, and then hearing on the news that airlines were going to start charging obese people for two seats on a plane, Butter starts his own blog where he announces that on the 31st of December, he’s going to film a live broadcast of him eating himself to death.

Focussing an entire book around the contemplation of suicide can be a risky and touchy subject, but author Erin Lange handles it very well. Although Butter’s suicide is the focal point, the book still doesn’t make it the ONLY point of the book – it also looks at Butter’s relationships: with a girl called Anna, and how they interact in school and online, where she doesn’t know it’s him; his contrasting relationships with his mum and dad; how his school peers change around him once they hear about his suicide plan; and finally his relationship with a music teacher in the school. In short, the book tackles everyday issues which affect us all, but puts a more serious spin on it.

Butter himself also manages to be a pretty real character – more like an actual person than just part of someone’s imagination. You feel sorry for him when you see how he’s treated by his peers and even his family (his dad makes me pretty angry throughout) and the whole aspect of his suicide brings about a lot of sympathy anyway. However, he’s not a stereotypical character who can do no wrong, so there are points throughout the book where you feel aggravated by him and think that really, he needs to get a grip and stop being so petty. That’s something I really enjoyed about this book as Butter isn’t just lumped as a character everyone needs to feel sorry for and he can’t do anything else, he instead is just like a real person, and that’s not something I’ve seen an awful lot in books these days.

Despite all the build up to Butter’s suicide, however, you just know straight from the outset that he’s not actually going to go through with it – or, if he does, something will happen that will mean he survives. I know saying “I wish he did actually die” is going to make me sound quite weird and a bit odd, but that’s genuinely how I wanted the book to end. It would have been interesting, and ACCURATE of what Butter wanted – or thought he wanted at the time – and it would have been quite unique to the books I’ve read because nobody ever seems to kill their main character or have their main character kill themselves.

Although that annoyed me slightly, the book was very good and I enjoyed it a lot. Quite a few parts brought tears to my eyes, mostly towards the end, and mostly revolving around his dad, who managed to ignore him throughout the book. Butter wants to be acknowledged by him, a fact which we can clearly see, so when his dad says to him (in regards to his saxophone playing) “‘No, I missed my chance to be your coach. But if it’s not too late, I’d like to be a fan’”, you can completely understand why Butter says he has to fight a lump in his throat – I had to as well, but all that effort was left meaningless when his dad admits he still goes to “their” mountain, which is something Butter still does but thought his dad had given up on. Butter’s relationship with Anna (a girl in his school he talks to online with the alias JP) is resolved and I like how they ended up friends. In fact, it’s through their eventual friendship that, on the very last page of the book, we find out Butter’s real name, Marshall. Up until the last few pages, I realised we had never been told his real name, he was just referred to as Butter – it was accepted, really, and Butter himself did nothing to change it. I stopped noticing pretty quickly that that obviously wasn’t his real name, and I think that was cleverly done on Erin Lange’s part – some authors may write something like that in such a way that you spend most of the book thinking “can you just tell me his name already?”, but she manages to make it all so natural and smooth, that it all just flows and you don’t think twice.

All in all, I was very pleased with this book. It’s well–written, it’s clever, it’s emotional, and it’s funny in places too. I definitely recommend reading Butter and I know it’s one that I’ll be going back to more than once.

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“Rock War” by Robert Muchamore Review

Rock War

When I first heard that Robert Muchamore was writing a new, non–CHERUB related book, I was pretty excited as the premise of it was actually good. However, once I bought the book and read the book, I was disappointed by how… well, not very good it sounded:

“ Meet Jay. Summer. And Dylan.

Jay plays guitar, writes songs and dreams of being a rock star. But his ambitions are stifled by seven siblings and a terrible drummer.

Summer works hard at school, looks after her nan and has a one-in-a-million singing voice. But can her talent triumph over her nerves?

Dylan is happiest lying on his bunk smoking, but his school rugby coach has other ideas, and Dylan reluctantly joins a band to avoid crunching tackles and icy mud.

They’re about to enter the biggest battle of their lives. And there’s everything to play for.”

My first problem was with the grammar in the first line; in my eyes it should really be “Meet Jay, Summer, and Dylan” as the full stops just leave a sense of abruptness, and it just doesn’t seem right. Maybe the author thought that commas would make it sound as though the three of them were in the same band, who knows. Anyway, I feel that it’s wrong – but I’m sure Muchamore knows otherwise, what with being the author and all.

Leaving the grammar aside, I’ll move onto the book itself. I’m afraid to say I found it quite dull and it moved far too quickly. It was nice hearing from three different people, from very different backgrounds, but honestly, you barely got the chance to get a feel for each character before the book ended. Maybe that sounds like a lot happened just in a short space of time, but actually… Practically nothing happened. There was a lot of whining, complaining and some singing interspersed, but honestly I’m not sure what the book was actually about. Usually my problem is that books take far too long to get going and just drag, but with Rock War it’s quite the opposite – fine the happy medium, and use it.

The characters themselves aren’t very good either. If you look at some of the characters from the CHERUB series, then compare them to this, you might wonder if it’s even the same author, but it is. Summer, Jay, and Dylan all have as much depth as a teaspoon, and that’s not even individually. I thought that Summer at least might have been an interesting character, what with the fact she lives with her Nan and is the only “main” girl in the book, but I’m afraid I was wrong. There’s one scene in the book with a boy she met and seemed to quite like, yet he’s never mentioned again – maybe we were supposed to just forget about him (or perhaps Muchamore himself forgot about him), but he was on my mind for most of the book, as it seemed something was going to be made of it. Dylan was actually an okay character, but what annoyed me is that he wasn’t featured enough throughout the book; that mostly focussed on Jay and Summer. Jay, despite hogging the limelight far too often, was quite an interesting character to read about; he didn’t come from a well–off family, and his brothers are often in trouble with the police. However, Jay just couldn’t quite carry the story and I feel that if the characters had more depth and were quite frankly more interesting then I would have enjoyed this a lot more. Perhaps if Muchamore had written about just one character, the novel would have flowed better – trying to fit in the stories and back stories of three different characters just didn’t work here.

The plot idea was actually alright, although I was expecting that they would all find each other at the talent show Jay takes part in and form a band the three of them, but that didn’t happen. Instead, they’re all three different bands, which is fine… But of course, as I said, the three different story lines all ended up morphed together into a jumble, so you didn’t really get a feel for each band as a whole. However, one thing I really didn’t like is the mention of suicide. Now, I’m not saying writing about suicide was a bad thing, it’s just the manner in which it’s written – basically like it’s a joke, which I found quite offensive and not very sensitive at all. I’m hoping this issue will be spoken about in a more sensitive manner in the next book, and not just forgotten about like that guy Summer decided she fancied for all of half an hour.

Will I read the next book? Probably, to be honest, because I do like Robert Muchamore’s books and I’m hoping that this was just a bit of a slump after getting out of the groove of writing about CHERUB for so long. However, do I recommend this? If you don’t want a good read, then feel free. If you want a captivating and engaging read, find something else.

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April 10, 2014 · 7:29 pm