268: The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High #2)

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Synopsis

Cleopatra de Nile
– New pet snake
– Has Deuce–the hottest guy in school–all warapped up
– Herve Leger bandage dress, strappy gold platforms

Cleo was the queen bee of the RADs, the normies, and everyone in between at Merston High. But now it’s “Frankie this” and “Melody that” . . . these new girls sure know how to get her lashes in a tangle. When Cleo lands a golden Teen Vogue photo op for her friends, everything seems to be back on track . . . until they bail to be in some film . . . Frankie and Melody’s film! Can’t a royal get some loyal?

Frankie Stein
Frankie lost her head over Brett once and vows never to do it again. Not that she has a choice: Bekka is clinging to her guy like plastic wrap. But when Brett comes up with a plan that could help the RADs live free, sparks fly, and Bekka will stop at nothing to put out the flames . . . even if it means destroying the entire monster community.

Melody Carver
The clock is tick-tick-ticking. Melody has a serious deadline to save her boyfriend, Jackson, from being exposed by the vengeance-seeking Bekka. But Cleo is making it royally difficult for the normie while threatening her acceptance into the RADs’ exclusive group . . . a group that Melody suspects she has more in common with than she ever thought.

Fitting in is out.

The Good

Cleo De Nile- is the only saving grace of this book. She is the only reason this book got a two star when it deserved a 1.

  • Her minions
  • Her time with Deuce
  • Her interactions with her dad
  • She is such a fun character

The Bad

After all the good will of Girl Meets World: Let’s Do This! (going to do this review next but have to release this review off my chest) did of getting me out of my post-Children  of Blood and Bone funk (another book that uses the racial oppression = magical oppression but better while still rubbing me the wrong way) I decided to go back to The Ghoul Next Door because it had some interesting moments with Cleo De Nile, mistake. Big mistake.

There is this weird wonky racism commentary going on throughout the story

I. Uses racism as a analogy for monster/supernaturals discrimination (which is a pet peeve of mine because most authors don’t understand the meaning of racism)

A. 99% of time racism = hate against creatures isn’t done well.

One of the problems being at the root these creatures  can be dangerous. A character in this book electrocuted a boy and landed him in hospital so it is not a stretch to say they are dangerous/have potential but real life marginalized people are not at the root dangerous. It is one of the messy parts of this analogy and it can have this weird dehumanizing effect

C.  Folks who are using racism as analogy not being past racism 101 or chin deep understanding of racism

D.  It made me realize where all these weird wonky ideas people in real life comes from

  •  oppressed being just as discriminatory/oppressive as oppressors
  • racism is easy to cure
  • The story literally equated one of the non-monster characters getting bullied to monster characters experiences who have in the past had to deal with people with pitch forks

E. Making Cleo thus oppressed folks who feel certain ways about allies/normies as villains. I don’t like it because it took away valid opinions. I also don’t like this push to make every girl who isn’t the “good”/”nice” girl a witch. Pitting the “mean” girl against the “nice” girl to push a be nice message is an entire other conversation.

Non-racial issues

  •  Melody and Frankie are basically the same person
  • As I said with the first one so much of the story is petty teenage drama which I don’t like especially since the webseries is not petty teenage drama
  • Spends a long time in the story not moving the plot forward
  • Cleo seemed to take a backseat to Melody and Frankie
  • It left a bad taste in my mouth that Cleo friends abandoned and believed she was the villain so quickly
  • Of course Melody is incredibly beautiful that she does not need makeup
  • *sigh* there are so many more wonky weird ideas in this book but I’m done

In Conclusion:

This was probably the worst book  I’ve read of the year. It is the book I picked up out of my dnf pile that should have stayed. I did it for Cleo De Nile and her only.

 

 

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Reading Expectations Vs Reality

As you read you can never truly know what you will find in between the pages.

Novelizations

Expectation All the flaws of show/movie will be dealt with

Reality Most if not all of the flaws appear

Expectations Favorite characters will get chance to be centralized

Reality Characters I do not like are prominent

Expectation Story will dig deeper into underdeveloped parts

Reality Large boring filler parts

Reading Old Books

Expectation Discovering old books I never got chance to read

Reality Reaffirming why I never needed to read those books

Expectation Rediscovering old series I was into back then

Reality Realizing that most of these books are either bad or not of interest

Expectation Old books = cheap and easily accessible

Reality Hard to find and not cheap

Non-fiction

Expectations This is going to bring so much depth and information to this topic

Reality Spends chapter after chapter repeating stuff

Expectation Balanced conversation about topic

Reality Biased and unbalanced on topic

Expectation  Story is only going to be about subject nothing else

Reality  Author centers themself in story

 

What are some of your expectation vs reality you have noticed in your reading?

Being A Y.A. Returner: Being Y.A. Returned

A while back I talked a bit about Being An Adult In Y.A./Being A Y.A. Returner so today I want to talk further into some observations about my y.a. reading.

Here are a couple of things that I have noticed about my young adult reading.

  • Own Voices/diverse books are the majority

A. Young adult is more diverse (or at least there is a community to push up the diversity happening)

B. Young adult that talks about so many different things that past y.a. did not

This could be a post in itself but I just enjoy so much about reading diverse books.

  • #1 Genre Read = Realistic Contemporary

Diverse books are mostly in the realistic contemporary genre (what I would give for a good fluffy contemporary). It will be interesting in 2018 with more genre expansion and particularly sff for diverse books how that will affect my reading.

  • Unknowns are my favorites

Most of the books I liked/loved I did not plan to read. On the opposite end some of the books I got really excited about I did not like or finish.

  • Mainstream ≠ me

A. Diverse books do not necessarily become mainstream (which actually sucks now that I am thinking on it).

B. It is a weird thing where I am into y.a. but not extremely into it. In the past I have described it as being a guest, coming into y.a. to read certain books then leaving out.

  • Nothing later than 2010’s or Future/Present YA is my realm

Anything not between 2015-17 seems to not be for me. Sometimes this can be awesome because everything I am reading is pretty new. On the other hand it can be annoying waiting on the newest book to come out.

Overall, I am just excited about being back. I did not expect after everything that I would be back but I am enjoying it.

Since it has been troublesome deciding what post to do next in this series I need your help.

Being An Adult In Y.A./Being A Y.A. Returner

  • Being conscious of that adultness.

There are a lot of discussions about how adults are taking over the young adult category. I am not going to get deep into my thoughts because it is a loaded conversation that needs its own entire post that I may write one day. Overall, it is a valid and needed conversation.

  • Adult listening to adults

A. I do not want to invade teens reading spaces.

I believe that I mostly follow adult y.a. readers which is probably because as a y.a. returner I have different expectations for the genre. Also, I feel kind of uncomfortable coming into a teens space.

B. Criticalness/Critique/Discussion

Part of the reason I am able to be a part of  the category is because of the discussions. I’m connected to people who discuss all the issues I have had with category since I left back in the day. Not to say that teens are not  part of these discussions but I think adults are mostly part of these discussions.

  • Past y.a. reader me

A. grew up with y.a.

Archie comics and Fear Street were the first books I really read.

B. having a blog/goodreads footprint of me with y.a.

I can look when I first read certain books and let go of y.a.

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  • Changes in y.a. then and now

A. Mass market paperback to mostly hardcover or trade paperback

B. Y.A. novels are bigger

C. More diversity

D. More voices hitting mainstream publishing  than before

Questions

If you are someone who has been around y.a. for a long time what are some things you have noticed change about the genre? How do you feel about the whole adults in y.a. discussion? What are some things you have noticed since more adults have come into the category?

#Diverseathon Wrapup: Comics & Picture Books

(Dates: Sept 12-19)

 

Sept.12

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This book (and most wordless books) force you to really look at the art. A lot of the time I look but am focused on reading the text so I miss a lot of things. I really appreciated the different art style and structure of the book.

It is in French I believe but it still lets you get an idea of how this book is structured.

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It is interesting that what this book is about is different from my interpretation.  I don’t want to spoil/warp someone else interpretation of the book so I can’t go into that aspect.  I did like it for the art and story.

Sept. 13

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I seriously need to read more books that deal with South American in general culture! I really liked the different art styles used for this picture book. Viva Frida helped me to learn more about Frida Kahlo, who I need to read a non-fiction book about soon.

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+You can really tell when there is a #ownvoices because it sounds authentic (I could  hear my cousin in the little boy character), Art,  all kinds of diversity background, creative, looking at beauty in your surroundings (especially in poor neighborhoods which you are told are ugly and etc all the time),  It has commentary/stuff that adults can get out of it too.

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+Art, creative story (this story stands out compared to other stories)

It has a sense of loss which makes it feel kind of sad. It is the viewpoint of someone who is older retelling a story basically saying I remember when.

I don’t like the heavy emphasis on the men of the  civil rights movement without any women being shown.

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+Art, thing we do to get through rough periods, depict depression/sad period because of point in life.

I like that it is bringing depression and sadness to a younger audience. We as a society don’t talk about sadness, depression, mental illness, and etc enough. There is so much put on strength=being emotionless/hiding or holding in emotions.

Sept 16

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I could tell what this one was about and I liked it. I like the commentary that came out of this.

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I liked its message about accepting yourself. It is also important to show a black girl being encouraged and beating the odds.

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The art is good but the story was o.k. I understood what was going on at the beginning but I started getting confused towards the middle. Of course I did not read what it was about before reading it. What is the fun of a wordless book if you know what is about before reading it?

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+Art, commentary on one child rule/Chinese culture

~On Wordless Picture Books and Graphic Novels

I don’t know if I like authors telling you what a story is about instead of letting you interpret it yourself. I can understand why many of these books explained because what the books are portraying kids (and many adults) may misunderstand what they are about.

Overall, I really enjoyed all the books I read. Most of them were creative and unique  which does not always happen with picture books. This makes me want to seek even more diversity in picture books than I already do.

Samples&Previews: Pre-Library Checkout {37}

Now that school is starting soon my attention span is tacking a dive. It is making it hard for me to finish books because I have no desire to read the books from the library. So I decided to sample a bunch of books.

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A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

[ chapters 1 and a bit of 2]

Cons From the first sentence I did not like the main character or the story, the music aspect of the novel seems gimmicky

DNF

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With the scope of Dune and the commercial action of Independence Day, Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from  China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

[3 chapters]

Pros  learning about Chinese history, beginning is strong, main character and her history

Cons it feels like a slow burn

I do worry about how sci-fi this is going to get. If I am going to read a slow burn book I need to like the slow bits which I do.  I like learning about the Chinese history and about the main character so this is a continue definitely.

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It’s undeniable—technology is changing the way we think. But is it for the better? Amid a chorus of doomsayers, Clive Thompson delivers a resounding “yes.” The Internet age has produced a radical new style of human intelligence, worthy of both celebration and analysis. We learn more and retain it longer, write and think with global audiences, and even gain an ESP-like awareness of the world around us. Modern technology is making us smarter, better connected, and often deeper—both as individuals and as a society.

In Smarter Than You Think Thompson shows that every technological innovation—from the written word to the printing press to the telegraph—has provoked the very same anxieties that plague us today. We panic that life will never be the same, that our attentions are eroding, that culture is being trivialized. But as in the past, we adapt—learning to use the new and retaining what’s good of the old.

Thompson introduces us to a cast of extraordinary characters who augment their minds in inventive ways. There’s the seventy-six-year old millionaire who digitally records his every waking moment—giving him instant recall of the events and ideas of his life, even going back decades. There’s a group of courageous Chinese students who mounted an online movement that shut down a $1.6 billion toxic copper plant. There are experts and there are amateurs, including a global set of gamers who took a puzzle that had baffled HIV scientists for a decade—and solved it collaboratively in only one month.

Smarter Than You Think isn’t just about pioneers. It’s about everyday users of technology and how our digital tools—from Google to Twitter to Facebook and smartphones—are giving us new ways to learn, talk, and share our ideas. Thompson harnesses the latest discoveries in social science to explore how digital technology taps into our long-standing habits of mind—pushing them in powerful new directions. Our thinking will continue to evolve as newer tools enter our lives. Smarter Than You Think embraces and extols this transformation, presenting an exciting vision of the present and the future.

[2 chapters]

Reading books like this makes me realize how intellectually unstimulated I am in many ways. To learn things and talk about things critically is interesting to me.

Young Adult Fiction
I know ya and me are supposed to have parted ways but here were are.
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Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

Pros
Setting, how the main character is described, family dynamic feels interesting and different.
Cons
Something is stopping me from full investment.
DNF
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Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Pros mentions the racism in the ballet community, racially diverse cast (black, Asian, and white main characters)
Cons  There does not seem to be a break from the drama, has some annoying ya stuff poking out that I can see getting on my nerves later
Pro/Con I’m on the fence on Gigi’s portrayal. On one hand I am happy to see a black girl character be allowed to be a bit naïve but on the other hand her naiveté is more than likely going to get on my nerves. I want her to keep her morals and stay innocent while still being self-aware. I think that the characters overall are not going to get that fleshed out to be honest.  DNF
Discussion

A Few Things Technology Is Benefiting Me As A Reader

This is based on Smarter Than You Think

-Connecting:
It is connecting me to so many books and authors I would never hear about before. There are a bunch of books that fail because people just don’t know they exist. That is why it bothers me that I see the same books being shown over and over again.
-Self-publishing
Gatekeeping is a very big problem in the publishing industry. So many voices that people actually want to hear are not let in. For example, interracial romance is rarely seen in the mainstream publishing industry. If I see a book advertisement about romance it is very rare to see a black woman included in anything. In general honestly I am fatigued by the whiteness of the publishing industry.

[all images and synopsis are from goodreads]