July 31, 2011

At The Movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


I'm really not going to write about the plot of the movie, since A) is spoilerish, and b) you probably know already, anyway.

I just want to say that I really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2!!!

I went with my family on Thursday 14th (7:30 PM, which was awesome because everyone else had to work the next day); and then again a couple of days ago.

Going to one of the first showings is always an experience and this time it was just great. People were gathering at the theater since around 4:30 - and my sister and I were the third in line!!! - but around 6 the theater manager came and said we could wait in our seats - which was great because for 7.1, they made us wait outside for three hours!!!

As for the movie itself, it was great. It covers roughly the last third of the book and most of the things I really liked about that part of the book made it into the movie. 

Though I'm still bummed my two most favorite parts of the book - Kretcher's Tale and when they visit Luna's place and see her art work- didn't quite make it into the first movie. 

The final battle for Hogwarts was quite cool, though I felt it lacked a bit of dynamism - I kept thinking I wanted some Helm's Deep LOtR awesomeness - but it was good all around.

I loved professor McGonagall! She's my hero! And I loved Neville and Luna. And I also took the chance to lust a little after Jason Isaccs because the man is just so damn hot, even when playing a run down Lucius. 

Anyway, I do highly recommend you go see this movie (though you probably already did!) and I give it an A-, plus my Mom's seal of approval (as in she DIDN'T Fall asleep during the movie, which is so rare).

Love, Alex.

July 30, 2011

Books Read in July


Okay! Update time!

You can see my running list of books read so far in my Books of 2011 tab in the navigation bar above, so I'll just run a tally here.

Books read this month: 11
Books read so far: 120
Out Do Yourself Challenge (2011/2010 ratio by this month): 120/66
Out Do Yourself Challenge so far: 120 /121
Historical Romance Challenge: 11/12

Historical Romance (challenge aside): 30
Contemporary Romance: 27
YA (Aussie and otherwise): 55

And that's my month in books! I think I was a bit slow this month but it has been one of those months where I can't seem to get anything done.

What say you?Alex

July 29, 2011

Book Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily
At First Sight: In the pre-Christmas haze of New York, Dash is wandering around the Strand - the iconic bookstore in NYC - when he finds a red notebook tucked among the the books. Inside, there is a challenge sent by a girl named Lily. 

Bored, Dash decides to follow along, first running all over the bookstore and then expanding the quest outside, as he has little else to do this holiday season as his parents have both left the city, firmly believing Dash is staying with the other parent. 

In Brooklyn, Lily is having a hard time dealing with the worse Christmas ever! Her beloved grandfather is in Florida, her parents are in Fiji and the rest of her family kind of wish she would grow a little out of her holiday fixation all ready! So, in an effort to keep her busy and out of his hair, Lily's older brother Langston concocts and idea to find Lily a 'guy', someone outside the protective blanket of their grandfather's influence (as grandpa knows EVERYONE in their neighborhood).

So, the red notebook is born. And soon Dash and Lily are running all over New York City - with it's tourist traps, holiday craziness and snow - getting to know each other in paper, a little afraid to know each other in person.

Second Glance: First off, let me thank Heidi of YA Bibliophile who sent me Dash and Lily's Book of Dares a couple of months ago after I won it in a giveaway in her blog *jumps for joy*. 

Anyway, I was quite excited when I got this book, I generally really like the Cohn-Levithan books, but Dash and Lily weren't exactly what I expected. In general terms, I liked them both - even if sometimes Dash came off a little snobby and Lily a little naive; the people around them speak volumes of the kind of people they are. 

And I LOVED the secondary characters; like Lily's extended family and Dash's best friend' Boomer (I really did love Boomer who unabashedly loves Pixar movies).

But I did have a couple of problems with the pace of this book, for some reason I had a hard time reading a lot of it in a row, though I did like the way the narrative went back and forth between Dash and Lily and how distinct their voices were. Also, it got to a point were things were little anit-climatic and I sort of developed a personal problem with Dash and Lily and felt a little left down.

I can't really say much about that because is spoilerish, but well, that's how I felt.

Bottom Line: This is a pretty decent holiday book, with great supporting characters and an amusing plot. But it didn't leave me with the wonderful sense of possibility that Nick and Norah's Infinite Play List did, so I don't think Dash and Lily will go to my special shelf, but I'll definitely keep them around.

Favorite Quote: "You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here's a hint - ask yourself who wrote them?. I assure you, it wasn't just the women. It's the great male fantasy - all it takes is one dance to know that she's the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or at look at her sleeping face. And right away you know -this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don't want a very long courtship. They want to know right away." - Sofia.

July 27, 2011

Book Review: Waking Up With The Duke by Lorraine Heath

Waking up
At First Sight: Ransom Seymour, Duke of Ainsley has been plagued by guilt for the last few years. He and his cousin, Lord Walfort were together the night Walfort had an accident that left him paralized from the waist down and unable to have children.

Walfort's wife, Jane, has hated Ainsley ever since, not only because of what happened to her husband, but because she ended up losing the baby she was carrying at the time of the accident, due to the shock of what happened to Walfort.

Since the accident, Jane has remained by her husband side, faithful and loyal, though still yearning for a child of her own. Because of this, Walfort has come up with a crazy scheme: to get Ainsley to impregnate Jane, and later pass the baby as Walfort's heir.

At first, both Jane and Ainsley refuse, as she can't tolerate him and because it doesn't sit well with Ainsley to give up a child of his, but eventually they both give in... and get in way over their heads as feelings they didn't want to have come up to the surface.

Second Glance: Alright, so I loved the Texas trilogy, which I read earlier this year; and I was kind of looking forward to trying more from this author, only that I couldn't get the first couple of books in this series (London's Greatest Lovers) and decided to skip them all together - didn't suffer much for it, I think - and found myself being introduced to Jane and Ainsley.

And I have to admit that I had a hard time getting over the premise of the book - mostly the fact that Jane was married and seemed to love her husband - and I actually tried to read it once before but I didn't make it far into it. But, this weekend I just felt like reading it, so I gave it another shot. And I'm glad I did because it turned out to be a better story than I had originally given it credit for.

I quite liked the character of Ainsley, because his actions made sense. He's an honorable man, all in all, and does feel very guilty about the accident. And he loves Jane and he knows he shouldn't, and even if it kills him a little to be around her when she doesn't feel that way about him, he goes out of his way to try to make her happy. I liked him and his family (other than Walfort, who is his cousin) a great deal.

But I didn't quite like Jane that much, she has the blindly stubborn streak that I find a bit annoying in heroines of late. I never really got why she was so devoted to Walfort, particularly when somethings about him were revealed. She drags things out and it had me rolling my eyes more than once.

Bottom Line: Waking Up With The Duke is an enjoyable read to be sure, but I didn't like the heroine all that much and that's always hard for me. Other wise, I thought it was a very heart fealt story and I did feel for characters, if I didn't always like them as much.

July 25, 2011

Book Review: The Chase by Erin McCarthy

At First Sight: Race driver Evan Monroe is having a disappointing season, he's facing the possibility of losing sponsorships and has to deal with Kendall Hollbrook having a great rookie season. 

Kendall is trying to make her way in the male dominated world of race cars. And she could do without having Evan as both a competition and fellow team member.

Ten years ago, Kendall and Evan were on the fast track to forever when a conversation gone wrong brought their relationship into a screeching halt, and the air between them is thick with the things they need to say to each other.

Second Glance: I have to say that I found  The Chase a little bit disappointing, I had been liking these books a lot, but things just didn't click for me with this one. 

I had always liked Evan - who has been part of this series since book one - as he's the older brother of the hero in Flat-Out Sexy - and he was nice even though he always remained in the background; and yeah, I liked him still in this story. 

I did have a big problem with Kendall - who was kind of childish and a bit of a wimp - and the fact that this is one of those cases where the "Big Misunderstanding Plot" doesn't work, because the Big Misunderstanding turns out to be kind of... stupid.

Bottom Line: Have to say this wasn't a stellar addition to the Fast Track Series. I liked the old characters that came back from the first three books, and I liked Evan -who's a fairly decent guy - but I didn't like the heroine or her friend (who's geared up to be the protagonist of the next book, Slow Ride, to be released in October, 2011). So, for me, this was a bit of a book fail.

July 22, 2011

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I don't dig the cover
At First Sight: Spending her last year of high school at a snobby school in Paris is neither Anna's idea of fun or her idea at all, but her parents have shipped her off, and Anna finds herself alone in a a strange city where she knows no one, doesn't speak the language, and she's lost.

But, before she knows it, she has made friends with four fellow students who help her take to Paris better than she had hoped, even if she still doesn't quite understand a word of French. 

Among her new friends, it's Etienne St. Clair who stands up. He's on the shortish side, he has slightly crooked teeth and a English accent, and he exudes charm. He also has a girlfriend and is way off limits.

But their friendship - and attraction - is still there as they wander through Paris, watch old movies and discover that home might not mean a place, after all.

Second Glance: I was both reluctant and very stubborn about reading Anna and the French Kiss since glowing reviews tend to put me off; and it really wasn't until I saw some less than stellar reviews of it that I took the plunge and read it. And I'm glad I did. 

Anna was very easy to like, she's a bit lost, and angry and misses her brother and friends back in Atlanta; but she loves movies, constantly makes jabs at her best selling-Nicholas-Sparks-like father, and at being an American in France. 

I didn't fall head over heels with Etienne as others have. He was nice, but also capable of great ass-hattery and wussiness, though I kind of liked him more for it. I don't think I would have been able to stand it if he was 'perfect'. 

And they did have good chemistry together.

I had some issues with the book, which are personal and I'm trying not to hold against it - to be completely, absolutely honest I found some things in the book a bit pseudo-intellectual-snobby.

Bottom Line: While I'm not a fan girl, of this book, I have to say that I did get the story full of sweetness, awesome and Paris that I was promised. So I do recommend it, I'm just not in love with it.

Favorite Quote: "Some people are finicky about going to the theater alone, but I’m not. Because when the lights go down, the only relationship left in the room is the one between the movie and me." - Anna (I guess I chose it because it reminded me of myself)

July 20, 2011

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

At First Sight: Known as Skeeter to her friends, Eugenia Phelan finally returns to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, after finishing college, with the dream of becoming a writer but not knowing what to write about, bothered by the sameness of her days in Jackson and by the absence of Constantine, the black maid who raised her and who is suddenly gone. 

Finally, she stumbles into an idea, in part because of talking to Aibileen - her best friend Elizabeth's maid - about writing what is like for the black women waiting on white families in the South before civil rights. 

Aibileen has brought up 17 children, and is just starting to find a new normalcy after the death of her only son. At first, she is reluctant to help but eventually takes up the project as her own and convinces her friend Minny to help out too.

Minny starts thinking that what Skeeter and Aibileen are doing is foolish, until Hilly - the daughter of Minny's former employer and all around Queen Bee and mean spirited person - pushes her too far, and she eventually is the force that brings more maids into the project. 

The three women lives twin and twist around the book Skeeter is pulling together, intersecting with the lives of the other people in Jackson for good and bad.

Second Glance: I'll admit I was worried about reading this book. It's not my usual and to be honest is quite long and that sometimes puts me off - I listened to it and it's 18 hrs long! - yet, the voices in the audio recording puled me in, right away. Part of me loved the slow narrative, how it builds and winds and goes on and on talking about every day life; and another part of me wished something would happen already!! but I kept listening. 

And I'm glad I did, because it was a wonderful story in it's own quiet way, yet I'm not quite sure anything did happen in the end, though you do get a glimpse of what happens to the main characters. 

However, I often found myself wishing the Skeeter parts would speed up already, and sometimes that happened with the other narrators as well. My favorite characters were the Footes, Celia and Johnny, who are Minny's new bosses, their story touched me the most.

Bottom Line: The Help is an interesting story, I'm not ready to say it's an instant classic or anything of the sort. But it was a good story, I really liked listening to it, though I don't see myself re-reading it soon, there were magic moments in the story telling that make it worth the long while that it took me to get through it.

Favorite Quote: "...it was like something cracked open inside of me, not unlike a watermelon, cool and soothing and sweet. I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it." - Skeeter.

July 18, 2011

Interview with Alex Epstein

Today, I'm happy to welcome Alex Epstein -author of The Circle Cast - to the blog.

I asked him a few questions and he answered them tweet-style!


First, tell us something about your book, The Circle Cast?
Ever wonder how King Arthur's sister learned how 2 b a legendary badass sorceress? They don't exactly teach that in high school. #wicca

What got you interested in Arthurian Legend?
My dad used to read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING to me when I was a kid. I could never get it out of my head. #excalibur

Why Anna/Morgan?

Losing your name is huge. When Uter kills her dad, Anna has 2 become a new person, with a new name: Morgan ("sea-born"). #metamorphosis

What was the hardest thing about writing THE CIRCLE CAST?
Satisfying my editor. I rewrote the entire book 9 or 10 times, 2 make the story come alive. #writingisrewriting

The easiest?
I feel like Morgan speaks to me: stubborn, angry, passionate. Writing her always made sense.

If you could be in Arthur’s court, who would you be?
Arthur! But I'd divorce Guinevere, remarry, and have a bunch of heirs. And I'd give Mordred a dukedom so he wouldn't feel dissed. #realpolitik

Now, tell us something about yourself that no one would believe?
In my day job, I'm mostly known for writing movie & TV comedy. TCC is sort of primordial me. #boncopbadcop


How did an exiled girl become the most powerful witch in legend?

Britain, 480 AD. Saxon barbarians are invading, pushing the civilized British out of their own island. Morgan is the daughter of the governor of Cornwall. But when her father is murdered and her mother taken as the King's new wife, she has to flee to Ireland to avoid being murdered herself.

But Ireland is no refuge. She's captured in a slave raid and sold to a village witch. As Morgan comes of age, she discovers her own immense magical powers. She falls in love with a young Irish chieftain, and makes him powerful.

But will her drive for revenge destroy her one chance for love and happiness?

This interview is part of The Circle Cast's Blog Tour (which I get to kick off! YAY!). For future stops of the tour, you can check out The {Teen} Book Scene by clicking here

And, as part of the blog tour, four ebook copies of The Circle Cast are up for grabs, just leave a comment and a winner will be chosen every week out of all the comments in all the tour stops  of the week (so be sure to check those out!)

Good luck!


July 16, 2011

Book Review: Catch Me by Lorelie Brown

Catch Me
At First Sight: Maggie Bullock is in desperate need of money, so she decides to rob the bank in Fresh Springs, where her dad is Sheriff; thinking she will pay for her father's medical care and disappear for a while. 

But the bank owner is of a vicious vent and quickly sics a bounty hunter after Maggie. 

Dean Collier has spent the last five years as s bounty hunter, doing quite a few questionable things in order to forget the life he once had and what he lost.

But when he's offered the chance of becoming sheriff or Fresh Springs, with the condition that he captures Maggie first, Dean jumps at the opportunity of winning back some of his soul. 

Too bad Maggie might just as well steal his heart.

Second Glance: Catch Me was quite a fun book, I liked the twist that Maggie was the outlaw and that she was, over all, quite capable and willing to do what needed to be done. 

Dean was a nice hero, he was just trying to rebuild his life when he stumbled into Maggie and seeing them argue was kind of fun.

At the same time, this is kind of a road-book, as practically all of it takes place while Dean is taking Maggie from Texas back to Arizona to face charges; and I he does something kind of jerky near the end of the book (though he does redeem himself).

I did feel like the ending was a bit drawn out but it wasn't bad.

Bottom Line: Catch Me is a nice read, particularly if you're in the mood for an American historical lite. There were a few things that made me roll my eyes, but over all it was a good read.

BTW, Catch Me is published by Carina Press, and as such only available as an ebook.

July 15, 2011

Retro Friday (17) - Love is Blind by Lynsay Sands

Retro Friday
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! 

If there is an author that can me Historical Romance funny is Lynsay Sands, and for this week I chose one of my personal favorite books by her: Love Is Blind (... or it should be).

Love is Blind
At First Sight: Lord Aidan Monfort, Earl of Mowbray hasn't been back in London in over ten years, not since he put on an appearance shortly after he was injured in the war and the scar on his face managed to scare off everyone. 

But now he's back, maybe looking for a wife; though sure everyone still sees him as a monster. So, when his cousin points him toward Lady Clarissa Cambray during the first ball he attends, Aidan can't believe his luck: Clarissa is funny and sweet and is practically blind without the glasses her stepmother won't allow her to use. 

Clarissa's season in London, so far, had been rather dull and right down miserable, thanks to her stepmother, who insists no man will offer for her if she wears her glasses and is constantly scolding Clarissa for the all scrapes she gets into due to her lack of sight. 

But that changes when she meets Aidan and they strike a friendship that quickly turns into love.

And, to top it all off, it seems like some of those scrapes Clarissa has gotten into might not have been accidents after all. 

Second Glance: Love is Blind is a silly, cute little book. And I mean it in the best way - the characters are nice and sweet, and they do fall cutely in love with each other and who they are under their flaws. 

There is a bit of a mystery that has something to do with something in Clarissa's past, but it's really a small part of the book. And I really liked how Aidan takes Clarissa's past in stride (you find out what early on). 

The book is not very historically accurate, and there is not much to the book other than a cute love story; but it is fun to read.

Bottom Line: I don't think Love is Blind is one of the best historical romances ever, but it's funny and sweet and very fluffy, and if you're in the mood for something like that, I highly recommend it.

Favorite Quote: "Oh, do stop gawking at Clarissa," his mother said impatiently, apparently put out. "She will be your wife soon enough, and you might gawk at your heart's content." (Chosen because it sums up the tone of the book).

July 14, 2011

Story of My Life #7: Dear Mr. Potter

Dear Mr Potter
So, a couple of weeks ago Dear Mr. Potter: Letters of Love, Loss and Magic was released. It's a book that compiles letters from fans telling how Harry Potter influenced them and their lives. I've previewed some of the letters and I was quite touched by them, and I decided to write a letter myself, so here we are.

Fair warning, though, I might get a bit personal.


Dear Mr. Potter,

You came into my life at a time of upheaval.

One of my favorite uncles had died months before, I was struggling as a college freshman, trying to face the fact that I had chosen the wrong university and the wrong major. But you helped me get through that first semester of hell.

And then, in the middle of it all - and before I started book 3- my grandmother died.

Grandma Sophie was sort of the center of my family... and without her, I had the hardest time dealing with just everything in general. She wasn't a walk in the park, but she was my Gran and losing her that year, six weeks before I turned 18 shattered me.

Life went on.

Few weeks after the funeral, my Mom and Aunt took my sister Boo, my cousin Betty and me to go see Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone on opening night. It was the first fun thing we did as a family after Gran Sophie died. That December Mom - who doesn't really approve of my reading so much - bought me Goblet of Fire and I was reading it when my Dad got a call, on Christmas day, that resulted on the four of us going to Spain next spring.

The Prisioner of Azkaban was with me as I stood as far away from home as I have ever been, and it comforted me in knowing it was there, all tattered and with food stains all over because I wouldn't put it down to eat. 

Then Order of the Phoenix came out and I nearly got flunked out of school - after Spain, I switched schools and majors - because I wouldn't stop reading it after I got it, not even in class and I had midterms around the corner. For Half Blood Prince, I had to pace myself, because it was finals week, I was older and trying to get over a mid-college crisis.

When Deathly Hallows came out... boy wasn't that crazy! I remember I was on holiday with my family when I sneaked off to check my email and saw the announcement of the title. And on the release date, I made my dad drive me to one of the bookstores selling it at midnight. He was sure there wouldn't be anyone around and couldn't believe there were over 400 people at that store alone, with another good 300 in the store next door which was selling the UK edition instead of the US one. My sister actually told me "I never thought there were that many crazy people like you."

There were. But I still got all the collectible bookmarks (the ones with the seven questions that would be answered) and even a special, super cool bookmark the store was giving away with each purchase. It's a night I still remember and it makes me smile.

When I think about it, the girl that went to buy that book at midnight was quite different to the girl that read the first book, in between I had lost my Gran, gone to Spain, dropped out of college, got into a different college, realized I had chosen the wrong major again, but also that I had to see it through or I would keep hopping from one thing to the other, career wise, forever. I had made friends a world over, in great part because of HP and fanfiction (I was relatively well known in the Spanish Lily/James fics circle of writers, back when it was still quite small).

In many ways, it was because of you, Mr Potter, that I began to find my own voice as a writer.

Now, I'm getting ready to watch movie 7 part 2. I still find comfort in your adventures, Mr. Potter; and I thank you for it, and for all the friends I've made through you.

All the best,

Me at the store
Not my best pic, but that's me the night I bought HP7!

July 12, 2011

Girls Acting Catty by Leslie Margolis

At First Sight: Having gotten the hang of boys at her school, six grader Annabelle is about to face a tougher adversary: sixth-grade girls!

So far, Annabelle has been oblivious to the other girls in sixth grade, happily enclosed in her group of friends, until they land on the sights of the mean-girl clique of their grade: Taylor and the Three Terrors.

At the beginning, Annabelle doesn't want to get into it, as she doesn't know the other girls well enough to like them or dislike them; and she has her mom's wedding to worry about, not to mention the fact that she might be crushing on her soon-to-be stepbrother. 

But soon, Annabelle realizes that whether she wants it or not, she is in the middle of it all; and that dealing with girls is far more difficult than with boys.

Second Glance: I really liked the first book about Annabelle's adventures - Boys are Dogs - but I have to say that I didn't find Girls Acting Catty quite as charming, though I've totally been on Annabelle's shoes when your friends are telling you to dislike someone though you're not sure you do, sometimes they are right and somethings they aren't but it's very annoying anyway. 

And I think the book captures that very well. How even good friends can act questionably specially when you're 12 and being a girl feels so complicated, but other than that I didn't feel there was much to this book.

Bottom Line: Girls Acting Catty is a nice MG read, though I don't think it's my favorite.


July 10, 2011

At the Movies: Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane Eyre
Orphaned at a young age and left in the care of an aunt who ended up sending her to a rather harsh school; Jane Eyre didn't have a happy childhood. But as a young woman with a good education, she gets a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall.

Thornfield is a place of many secrets and mysteries, the biggest of which is it's owner, Mr. Rochester.

Meeting him by accident, Jane is intrigued by him but knows him to be out of her league. But she and Rochester do become friends; despite their differences - in age, temperament, station - but there is one thing about secrets... they are always revealed at the worst possible time.

*Sigh* I feel kind of silly writing the summary for Jane Eyre because - in the words of my father - this is the story all other love stories are based on, but it needed to be done.

As you can probably guess, I'm a bit of a Jane Eyre fan. It's one of those books to which I have a very visceral connection - I still remember the first time I read it - and I love to watch TV/movie adaptations of it; and I do take it kind of seriously, which is why I'm going to say that I didn't like this version of it.

The production values - costumes, art design, etc - are great, but I don't think the script and direction were very good. I was put off by the constant back and forth of flash backs, it didn't work for me, and gave it a very sluggish pace. And there were scenes were it was just awkward. Plus, while I found Michael Fassbender to be a terrific Rochester; I sort of confirmed my suspicion that acting isn't exactly Mia Wasikowska's forte (or at least that she's not yet a mature enough actress to carry a title role) (And no, I didn't like her Alice either).

See, for me, the whole point of Jane is this young woman who has so much passion in her but who was forced by the circumstances of her life to hide all those feelings... until she meets the man who recognizes the longing in her soul and helps her bring the feelings out. But all I got from Wasikowska was awkward at best and blank/flat at worst.

She looked the part but she didn't act the part; and you can't have Jane Eyre without Jane.

So... I'll give it a D+ because yes, Michale Fassbender is that hot, but Mia sucks that bad.

Luv, Alex.

July 8, 2011

Welcome (back) to the Darkside

So... this is the second and final part of Welcome to the Darkside (or my thoughts on YA is too dark). You can check out the first part here. Let's just jump into it, continuing from yesterday...

Oh, So Glamorous!
hawtAnother thing that was addressed in the article and in the radio talk two days ago, was whether or not these books glamorized certain behaviors, like cutting or drugs or eating disorders or even incest. If it was such a good idea to expose young people to these kind of things that might not have touched them otherwise.

That's nuts. Talking about something is not endorsing it or advertising it - these are real issues that touch many people's lives and I can't imagine  a world where not talking about something is better, it just becomes an elephant in the room and that never helps anyone.

Darkness touches people every day in many ways. Look at me: I'm a college educated 27 year old, firmly middle class, with two loving parents who still love each other after 30 years of marriage, never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from, and other that fighting with my sister, I've known no violence. On paper, it's a perfect life. And I think I'm one of the luckiest people ever, but I've had to deal with overwhelming anxieties and crippling fears and that's my reality and it had nothing to do with the books I read.

As a side note, I think there are far more disturbing things happening on YA these days, such as Bad Romance. Personally, it worries me that so many books portray lust, stalker-like behavior, and obsession as True Love - I had a guy stalk me when I was 13 years old, and it's not fun, it's not romantic and to be honest it was right down terrifying. Do I think these books should be censored? Hell, no! But I think more people should talk about it.

How to Kitteh
It's Not a How To Manual
Another part of the argument is how these books can get very graphic and descriptive and how that might put ideas in people's heads. I suppose everything is possible but for me that sort of stinks of blaming the media for people's actions.

Just as I think you can't blame certain types of music or films every time some wacko goes and opens fire at a mall, you can't blame books for putting the idea of anorexia on a teen's head. Those people are sick, it's an illness as much as cancer, and blaming it on what they read and listen to it's the cowards way out, and it's a lie. 

Age-Appropriate is Not Censorship
This topic is very dear to me. I don't believe in censorship, I don't think books should be kept off the shelves on terms of subject matter. But I do believe there is such thing as age-appropriate.

There are books that I wouldn't feel comfortable giving a thirteen year old, because of they way certain things are handled, the language, whatever, but I wouldn't mind if they read it at, say, fifteen or sixteen once they were a little more mature. 

But I believe that parents have the right to make that call for their children (though not for other people's children) - it's their right and I'm all for it, but they HAVE TO do their homework and read what their kids want to/are reading. It's called parenting, people. Do it!

In general terms, I use the Meg Cabot approach: "If you are wondering if you're old enough to read it, you probably aren't old enough."

And In The End...
After all of this, I have two things to say. First: It's time adults stop condescending younger readers - they can differentiate fact from fiction, they can handle difficult topics and there is no reason to think they can't just because they are younger.

And second, that I think the discussion is good. I would love to see more parents involved on what their kids are reading; I would love to see mature and fair dialogue about the things happening in literature these days.

I think it's on everyone's best interest to discuss it - though never censor it.

And I'll like to end this all by quoting author Geoff Herbach, whom I had the pleasure of hosting on the blog a few weeks ago: "The more I write, the more I love everybody. Writing makes me see other peoples’ perspectives and follow chains of mistakes that get people into big trouble and I have empathy and I just start loving to whole freaking world for all the disaster and sadness we all have to make it through… There’s good stuff, too, of course. Thank God."

Think it over, it applies to reading too.

And, in conclusion... COOKIES!

Love, Alex.