Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Related Facts About Me

toptentuesday

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, focuses on the book bloggers rather than the books themselves. But since talking about myself is not nearly as interesting as letting others do the honors for me, I’ve enlisted my friends to contribute!

Here are ten book-related facts about me, according to those who know me best! (All facts have been quoted via Facebook comments).

1. “You’re a bit of a grammar queen, who tends to correct people’s Facebook posts. Like mine, for example.”

2. “You love Greek mythology.”

3. “If there’s a sexist rich guy in a book, he automatically reminds you of Christian Grey.”

4. “You prefer the fresh smell of binding to the fluorescent glow from some lifeless e-book.”

5. “You hate when books end, and you’re left without any real closure.”

eatpraylovemindy

6. “You’re frenemies with Elizabeth Gilbert.”

7. “Ideal book: Dystopian feminist-centric romance novel based in an alternative universe where dogs and cats have equal rights as humans.”

8. “Ideal male leads to fight for the heroine’s heart and affection are played by none other than Tom Hiddleston and Jared Leto in the movie adaptation in three parts.”

9. “You love fantasy with supernatural types and fireworks at the end.”

10. “I know you may not kick stray puppies when you’re bored, but you sure do have some built-up tension towards Nicholas Sparks.”

All I can say is that my friends have certainly described me in a nutshell! Do any of their facts resonate with you as well?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Things I Give Major Side-Eye

Image via The Broke and The Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a free-for-all, meaning that all us book bloggers who participate in the meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish are allowed to discuss anything that’s on our minds.

Now normally I don’t get snobby about books. For the most part, I’m just happy that people make reading a priority. However, since we’re being completely honest today, there are quite a few book-related things that rub me the wrong way. So if you want to avoid receiving some major side-eye from me, make sure you avoid the ten items on this list!

1. Men who only read male authors. There’s a particular brand of hipster dude in the Bay Area who thinks he’s so enlightened because he reads literary or experimental fiction. The problem is, ALL of these books are written by men. If you’re on a date with a guy, and he prattles on about his obsession with Franzen, Vonnegut, Palahniuk, Wallace, and/or Bukowski, get up and leave immediately, because you’ve just come across a literary chauvinist.

2. Non-fiction readers who don’t value fiction. On the flip side, there’s another type of reader (unsurprisingly, also often male), who thinks he’s above reading fiction entirely. He’ll bore you with the latest WWII war read or Steve Jobs biography, and if you attempt to bring up that fantasy novel you’re interested in, he’ll brush you off patronizingly by saying he’s more concerned with reality than fairy tales. He’s a total square with no imagination, so don’t bother trying to convince him that fiction makes people more empathetic and intelligent. He’s too dumb to care.

3. Readers who look down on romance/erotica. Once again, men are typically at fault for this snobbery, but plenty of women also believe that the romance and erotica genres are inferior to those of “substance.” I am not ashamed to admit that not only do I read romance/erotica, I write it as well. I came across this type of reader in my creative writing workshops in college, and although they were fortunately shut down by the peers who came to my defense, the experience was an eye-opener to the literary discrimination that romance novelists face from many readers.

4. Writers who look down on romance/erotica. Newsflash: Romances make a boatload of money. It’s the 2nd most popular genre behind thriller and makes over $1.1 billion annually, accounting for about 20% of all book sales. The publisher Harlequin alone sells more than 3 books PER SECOND worldwide. So get off your high horse, because there are millions of people around the world who love this genre, and thousands of novelists are profiting from it. You can be a starving artist if you want, but if desiring my cut makes me too “commercial” of a writer, then I’ll just go cry into my sweet, sweet cash.

Oh, and as for the writers who say they’re writing “love stories,” not “romance,” I give you double side-eye. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks!

5. People who think Fifty Shades of Grey is good erotica. That being said, just because I enjoy the occasional racy romp, that doesn’t mean that I have no standards. Writing good erotica involves more than inserting Tab A into Slot B, and it certainly involves more than writing terrible Twilight fan-fiction and changing the characters’ names. See, if you remove the shame from reading erotica, then you can open up the discussion to what makes good erotica. So let’s do our part and start talking! Recommendations are always welcome!

6. People who don’t respect LOTR. It’s a well-known fact that I’m a die-hard fan of The Lord of the Rings. I’m positive that if you are as well, then you’re most likely an awesome person who I would get along with. On the other hand, if you think LOTR is dull, then you probably are too. Call me harsh or judgmental if you want, but #sorrynotsorry.

7. Readers who prefer electronic over print. This is likely an unpopular opinion given the mass adoption of tablets and e-readers, but I guess that I’m too old-school. I’m already on a computer all day at work, so when I’m home, I prefer to give my eyes a break from the screen. I understand how convenient e-readers are when traveling, but I would argue that reading should be a sensory experience. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a library or local bookstore, holding an old book in your hands, thumbing through its pages and taking in its intoxicating scent. But maybe that’s just me?

8. Book bloggers who don’t read the classics. Let me preface this item by saying that I’m not hating on book bloggers who have a favorite contemporary genre. Most of the blogs that I follow focus on YA because they’re managed by high school and college students. I love YA as well, but I believe that if you pigeon-hole yourself as a blogger, then you’re missing valuable opportunities to widen your subscriber base. Love The Hunger Games? Check out Lord of the Flies. Big fan of Divergent? Why not try Brave New World? Stretch your literary comfort zone by reading the classics, and you might find your new favorite novel!

9. People who only read books being made into movies. I often say that Hollywood has run out of original ideas, and you only have to look at the blockbuster list of sequels and reboots for evidence. I’m not hating on books that get made into films, and would in fact be overjoyed if a book I end up publishing gets its own adaptation, but if you’re only reading novels to see them on the silver screen, then you’re not exposing yourself to overlooked but equally talented authors. Sure, I may be reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with my book club right now in anticipation of the film release next month, but those selections are few and far between.

10. People who don’t read anything, period. As I stated in the beginning of my blog post, at the end of the day, I’m just happy if people are reading. Fiction or non-fiction, male authors or female authors, romance or realism, pretty please–for the love of all that’s holy–just pick up any book and read it. Turn off Netflix for once, and let your brain create the pictures for you. And don’t give me any crap about your crammed calendar: You’re never too busy to read (or at least, listen to audiobooks!). Almost a quarter of the population hasn’t read a single book, probably since high school when they were forced to, and that fact is awfully depressing. Don’t be that person.

What other bookish things would you give major side-eye? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Movie Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Image via E! Online

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

I just want to say that I deserve so much gratitude for taking one for the team and watching this movie, which we all expected to suck. Well, suck it did, but at least not as badly as I thought it would. Three cheers for super low expectations!

To better explain my rating, I thought that I would break each element of the film down and grade it individually. There’s so much discuss, so let’s get right to it!

The plot: C+. I’m not going to summarize Fifty Shades of Grey here, because if you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of years, then that’s not my fault. Although I have not fully read the series, given how crappy it is, I knew that this movie was the first of a trilogy. This didn’t stop me being disappointed with how and where the film ended. Many viewers may feel that there was nothing redeeming about Anastasia and Christian’s relationship, but I felt that it should have left hints of reconciliation since they end up married with children at the end of it all. Unfortunately, the cut-off point just gives the viewer a bad taste in her mouth.

The casting: B. I give Dakota Johnson a lot of credit for doing well despite the poor source material. Everyone has been saying that Ana is much more likable on screen than in the books, and I commend Dakota for giving her character a personality. Jamie Dornan, on the other hand, is a better model than he is an actor, and I couldn’t stop staring at his expressionless, rapist-esque face and wish that Ian Somerhalder had been cast instead. Dakota looked great, but Jamie ironically looked too vanilla for such a kinky bad boy role.

The dialogue: D. Holy crap. No seriously, holy crap, as in any college student who utters that phrase, or any other PG-rated terms, shouldn’t be participating in BDSM. The conversations were so stilted and awkward that they detracted from the erotic mood. The lines were funny without meaning to be, and they were just a reminder of how ridiculous E.L. James’ writing is. At least the inner goddess monologue wasn’t included!

The sex: B-. I feel that the sex scenes were more visually appealing than emotionally, meaning that they superficially portrayed two attractive white people, but they didn’t focus on real pleasure. I knew that the film wasn’t going to be that explicit since there was no full-frontal male nudity, but I enjoyed the consensual scenes in the playroom. Is the sex an accurate and healthy depiction of BDSM? Absolutely not. Was it sexy at times? Sure, although I think true FSOG fans should find an X-rated adaptation instead if they’re looking for something more hardcore.

LOL YASSS!!!

The music: A+. Hands down, the best part of this film was its soundtrack. The songs appropriately fit each scene, and they were diverse across genre. From the modern twists on old-school classics, like Annie Lennox’s version of “I’ve Got a Spell on You” to the club tracks of The Weeknd, everything worked harmoniously. And how sexy was Beyonce’s remix to “Crazy in Love?!” I’ve been playing it on repeat for days!

 

 

Bonus…The literary courting: F-. So, first off, Christian is super condescending when he asks English major Ana which author made her fall in love with literature, whether it was Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, or Thomas Hardy. He assumes Austen, because he’s being sexist, and she surprises him by answering Hardy. To court her, he sends her a first edition of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, to which I demand: WTF?! That has got to be the WORST choice to woo a woman. Is nobody going to point out that the novel was about a RAPE?! Spoiler alert: Tess is raped by Alec, and it ends with her murdering him in revenge and being sent to prison for her crime. If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is!

Overall, unless you’re a massive FSOG fan, you’re better off saving your time and money. Check out the soundtrack, but don’t bother watching this movie. The production is such a train wreck: the actors despise one another, and the director most likely won’t do the sequels because she hates the author so badly.

You want to watch a great love story featuring some hot eye candy and smoldering sex scenes? Hop on the Outlander bandwagon! There’s even torturous flogging on that show too, just out of the bedroom where it belongs.

Top ten things I HATE when it comes to romances in books

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

I couldn’t resist participating in today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is right on the heels of Valentine’s Day, as it discusses what we love and hate when it comes to romances in books.

I’ve read plenty of romance, and whether it’s the main story or just a side-plot, there are standards that must be met for me to consider it worthy of my reading time. It’s no surprise that Fifty Shades of Grey breaks pretty much all of these rules, considering just how crappy it is. Since the movie adaptation is about to hit theaters, why don’t we take a few more stabs at the series while we vent about what we despise in romances?

Haters, let’s start hating! Here are the top ten things I HATE when it comes to romances in books:

The look of a guy with mommy issues

1. Sob story backgrounds to justify normal behavior. In Fifty Shades, Christian Grey’s mother was a drug-addicted prostitute who committed suicide, an excuse he uses for enjoying BDSM. Say it with me: Boo. Flipping. Hoo. While it’s a tiring trope to make a character orphaned or ‘troubled’ to make him more likable, it’s especially annoying when authors do it to justify typical human behavior. There’s nothing wrong at all with BDSM as long as it’s consensual, and Grey’s backstory just creates the false impression that his kinkiness is a sickness. Commitment-phobic because your parents are divorced? Distrusting because your ex cheated on you? Call the whambulance. You’re not a special snowflake; you’re normal. Now get over your sob story and become a better person!

White people almost writing: a crappy attempt by Nicholas Sparks

2. Excluding the vast majority of society. Hey, romance novelists! Where are all the people of color? How about LGBT characters? Would it kill you to write about men shorter than 5’10”, or women who are larger than a size 6? Maybe I’m not reading the right books, but most of them seem to be about stereotypically attractive white people, and lord knows there’s enough of those in romance. How refreshing would it be to see more interracial or gay couples? Reading has been shown to increase empathy, so including more diversity in books will in turn better society’s tolerance. Get to it, writers! The world depends on you!

3. No secondary characters. Just because you’re writing romance doesn’t mean you’re excused from writing sidekicks. Your main characters had friends and family before they met, and those people didn’t disappear once they hooked up. Bella Swan sacrifices her mortality and her normal teenage life for vampire love; that doesn’t make her romantic, it makes her a stupid jerk. Don’t all Twilight fans realize that Bella gets the lovely opportunity of watching her parents and all her friends die? If your love interests “complete” each other, then congrats, you’re writing a crappy romance. How about making them complete on their own? Make love the frosting, not the whole damn cake.

Lighten up, Grumpy!

4. Why so serious? We get it: your love interests have never had chemistry like this before. No one in the world has ever experienced passion at this epic level. Ho hum. Too many romances have been written about brooding, angsty men and the cold, uptight women that they turn into sensual vixens. Everyone should check out Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Nerd series if they want excellent examples of how playfulness can be sexy. Let’s face it, falling in love can be painfully awkward, and if you can’t laugh at yourself, then I don’t care about your happily-ever-after.

5-10. Bad sex. Okay, I tried to make ten unique complaints, but I realized that most were on this particular subject, so I’m grouping them together. Let’s be honest, nobody reads Playboy for the articles, and nobody buys romance novels to read about two characters holding hands. #SorryNotSorry!

What makes sex bad in books? Let me count the ways:

5. Calling your lover by name way too frequently. I’m talking to you, Mr. Grey and Ms. Steele. If you have to reference your lover’s name that often, whether it’s inside or outside the bedroom, might I suggest name-tags?

6. Referring to your lover’s nether regions with obnoxious terms. I swear, if you use the phrase “velvet-covered steel,” I will stab you in the face. Same goes for rods, members, nubs, and love buttons. You don’t have to talk like a doctor, but don’t talk like a middle-schooler taking her first shot at fan-fiction either (*cough* E.L. James *cough*). If you wouldn’t use the term in real life, don’t write it down!

7. Gasping at your lover’s well-endowed package. Cue eye-rolling! There’s nothing wrong with admiring the male form, but if your sex scene begins with a gasp and a “But…will it fit?” then you need to go back to Creative Writing 101. Not all men are porn stars, and that’s totally fine. It’s about quality, not quantity. I could add something about boats and the ocean, but I’m pretty sure you get what I mean.

8. Expecting climactic results with little-to-no foreplay. This is my biggest pet peeve in all erotic media: it’s all reward and no work, creating generations of men who are horrible in bed. No man’s “member” is so magical that he can flat-out ignore his partner’s pleasure. If your male protagonist doesn’t make a stop downtown, you can bet I’m throwing your book out the window.

9. Having an inner goddess. Imaginary friends are for children, and there’s absolutely nothing sexy about that. Your inner monologue doesn’t need a spokesperson providing commentary. If you’re having a great time between the sheets, just say so! The inner goddess trope in Fifty Shades is so absurd that even Cosmopolitan magazine makes fun of it–a huge red flag that the book really does suck.

10. Not making it safe! Look, no one is saying that contraception is a turn-on. But you know what’s definitely NOT sexy? STDs. Even Mr. and Ms. Perfect are at risk, and since they most likely fell in lurrrrvvvveeee in only a matter of weeks, they better wrap it up after whipping it out. I also feel inclined to make a joke about life’s most common sexually transmitted disease–babies–but I’ll leave that to comedic genius Donald Glover:

Alright, on that note, I’ll see myself out! There you have it: the top ten things I hate the most when it comes to romances in books! I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day! You’ll find me at the movie theater, hate-watching Fifty Shades, of course. I’m taking one for the team, so you don’t have to! Don’t forget to come back to Book Club Babe this weekend for my review!

My Most Anticipated Movie Adaptations of 2015

In my last blog, I shared the most anticipated books of 2015, and today I wanted to extend the discussion to film adaptations. There may be few original ideas in Hollywood, but as long as there are good books out there, we’ll always have good movies!

Here are the films that I cannot wait to blog about this year:

Image via io9

1. “Victor Frankenstein,” release date October 2. Two of the UK’s biggest heartthrobs are set to star in this adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel. Directed by Paul McGuigan, James McAvoy plays Victor Von Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe plays his assistant Igor. This movie will act as a prequel from Igor’s perspective about how he met Frankenstein when he was just a medical student. I have to admit that I have not read this classic monster tale, but I’m intrigued by how these actors will bring this story to life!

Image via Hunger-Games.net

2. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 2,” release date November 20. Finally, The Hunger Games saga comes to an end; it’s just too bad that I hated the ending. Despite that, I’ve been impressed so far by the films, and I look forward to seeing Panem’s rebellion on the Capitol. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth have done an excellent job playing Katniss, Peeta, and Gale respectively, and I’m sure fans around the world will be breaking box office records when this finale hits theaters.

Image via Heavy

3. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” release date February 13. Okay, I’m not saying that this will be a good movie. But hear me out: since the book was so crappy, isn’t there no way to go but up? Even if Jamie Dornan looks more creepy than cool, and there were rumors of lackluster on-screen chemistry, I still can’t peel my eyes away from a train wreck waiting to happen. It won’t be nearly erotic enough for fans with its “R” rating, but at least we can look forward to Beyonce’s sexy rendition of “Crazy in Love!”

Well, that’s a diverse selection of movie adaptations! Which ones will you see or skip?

Abandonment: A Book Lover’s Worst Crime?

“I am embarrassed for all of us”…Love!

Yesterday I came across an interesting infographic on the Goodreads blog, titled “The Psychology of Abandonment.” It discussed which books are the most abandoned by readers, and the reasons why.

Here were the top five abandoned modern novels:

  1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Watching these fifty shades of grey dry would be more exciting than reading that drivel!

And here were the top five abandoned classics:

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Even Atlas got tired after a while!

The most common reasons for ditching a book were if it was slow, boring, or poorly written/edited. More righteous readers also abandoned stories if they were “inappropriate” or “immoral.” Granted, these labels are all subjective, and it would take a closer look to determine how people defined them.

However, most Goodreads users are determined to see a story to its rightful end. Over 38% of them always finish books, no matter what. These people cited some sort of compulsive commitment and dogged determination to continue turning pages.

As for me, I can understand these top picks. Many people jump on a bandwagon regardless of whether it’s a good fit for them; I’m not a fan of violent thrillers, so I didn’t even bother with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Now this? This I would read!

The other choices were also understandable: A great number of readers were disappointed with Rowling’s first attempt to leave the Harry Potter series behind, and honestly Fifty Shades is so horribly written, I’m surprised by its massive popularity.

The classics I believe, however, were more debatable. Familiar with Melville’s work, I’ve already mentioned that I’d never go near the dull-fest that is Moby Dick. I also haven’t heard great things about Joyce and Rand. Even Catch-22, although I enjoyed it for the most part, wasn’t riveting enough to motivate me to finish it in less than a month.

BUT! The Lord of the Rings?!  I admit that the prose is extremely historical and thus dry at times, but oh my goodness is it such a fantastic story! I have a feeling that the more you enjoy bubblegum bandwagon picks like Fifty Shades, the less you’d like LOTR. And you know what? I’m okay with that. More merit-worthy literature for me!

I’m also one of those readers who rarely abandons a book. Even if they’re horrendous (I’m looking at you, Pop Kids), I’m motivated enough by my self-imposed reading quota to complete them.

Surprisingly, the only one that comes to mind is Pride and Prejudice, which surely would get me murdered by most book lovers. Perhaps one day I’ll return to it with a better state of mind, but for now, I gave it 50 pages to wow me, and it failed.

So what books have you ditched? What were your reasons for abandoning them? Any that you plan on giving a second chance in the future?

Does Age Affect Your Reading Experience?

You’re never too old for cupcakes!

Last week Flavorwire had an interesting article about the “15 Books You Should Definitely Not Read in Your 20s.” Some of the books included themes about falling out of love, taking romantic road-trips, or the horrors afflicted upon or by children.

Others, like Gossip Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey, were not so much presented as a slight against all young adult fiction or erotica, just that these series are not worthy enough representatives of their genres.

However, as an avid reader, I must say that this list was pretty disappointing. Blowing off Plutarch because, “The Romans aren’t going anywhere?” Seriously? Most of the reasons for avoiding these books were superficial and weren’t even limited to people in their 20s.

By all means, read Terry Pratchett even though Discworld has 39 installments (not to be morbid, but wouldn’t reading the series while you’re young mean that you still have plenty of time to finish it?).

The only legitimate type of stories on the list that might be affected by age are the ones that deal with life’s transitions. You can certainly enjoy Eat, Pray, Love in your 20s, but I can see how reading about the struggles after divorce would better impact people who are old enough to experience the same challenges.

And even then, that’s only assuming that everyone lives on the same timeline. Some people will never marry, divorce, have children or pets, go to college, move across country or abroad, or even live to see old age. That doesn’t mean that their lives are less rich or fulfilling.

Of course, lying about your age is like keeping your life on repeat!

So yes, I felt that I was too young to appreciate a troubled marriage tale like Wife 22. In school, there’s also many classics that we fail to recognize their significance because we’re too wrapped up in teenage self-absorption.

But after taking another look at my “Books I’ve Read” list, most of the stories are enjoyable at any age. Granted, it helps that one of the biggest reasons that I read is to escape from the daily grind. I’ve never dated a vampire, been on trial, lived in Paris, time-traveled, or possessed magical powers, so it really doesn’t matter how old I am when reading about people who have.

So are there any books that you feel you should have read sooner or later in life? Why or why not? Let’s get a lively debate going!

PS: And for books you definitely should read in your 20s, check out a few from my non-fiction week: Life After College20 Something, 20 Everything and Generation Me.

UPDATE 10:40AM PST: Thanks to Grace over at the wonderful blog, A Confederacy of Spinsters, I stumbled upon Buzzfeed’s “65 Books You Need to Read in Your 20s.” My opinion? Another superficial list of mostly modern American novels that should by no means be limited to only 20-somethings. Lots of disappointed commenters. Skim with a grain of salt!