Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why do you DNF?

Hello all! Since I'm in a soul crushing reading slump while starting classes for next semester, starting a new job and getting far into some dramas, I find myself not being able to post as much. So I'm posing a question to anybody that still reads this blog despite my ridiculous absence.

What is the kiss of death for a book for you?

I've always tried my best to finish all the books that I start. I was very proud of myself last semester for finishing a text book cover to cover which I have never done before. Sure, I've gone through most of the chapters before but I've never just read everything, including the Appendix which had the Constitution and other things in it. But anyways, I'm in the middle of another book at the moment and I'm really thinking about not finishing it. And I asked myself why.

What makes a book so difficult or annoying or whatever to the point where you can't read a single more page?

For this one book, it's the main character. She's weak and has no real personality besides complaining. I understand her situation but in most other books, the main character has some backbone or something that drives her to be something. This girl has nothing. She's a limp noodle and so far has basically done what she has been told to do.

Oh well...fate accepted.

Another difficult thing for me to read is terrible dialogue. When authors try to do vernacular or their language is too stiff, it makes the book arduous and boring. I just want to scream that nobody really talks like that!

I'm struggling to remember other reasons why I quit reading books. Sometimes the main character or the supporting characters drive me crazy. I've quit a book before because it depicted abuse in a way that glorified it or there was excessive slut shaming, body shaming, or other types of ingrained behavior that denigrates women (or anybody for that matter. I hate bullies).

But I'm turning to y'all now. Is there anything that makes you want to hurl books across the room? I'm curious because everybody has different taste and different opinions about this.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Book Review: Within A Dream by Tempest C. Avery

I'm back from vacation so first things first! I gotta put up this review!

Book received in exchange for an honest review through Lovers of Paranormal

I'm going to need some help with this review...

Much better.

I don't even know how to start with this one.

On one hand, there's an interesting premise to the book. 4 teenagers are reincarnations of magical beings and have special powers. Bad people are after them and they have to try to protect themselves and learn more about their heritage and their powers.

On the other hand, it was everything but the kitchen sink when it came to the magical/supernatural beings and I was wondering when it would stop. Shall I list them?

You know it.

1) Witches
2) Faeries/Fae
3) Werewolves
4) Aliens
5) Shapeshifters
6) Reincarnations
7) Voodoo/Hoodoo
8) Celtic Mythology
9) Viking Mythology
10) Some Wiccan incorporated

Some bonus features:

A. Insta-love
B. Insta-love + love triangle
C. Insta-love for secondary characters
D. Hot guy on a motorcycle
E. Evil ex-lover type
F. Absentee Parental Units

The characters and the story was interesting enough but there was just too much going on. Too many histories and stories getting mixed together with far too many magical beings. It works in something like Harry Potter because as far as the first book goes, there aren't major characters that are different beings from different planets. You cannot introduce all of these different creatures into a book without it looking like you are trying too hard.

I liked Lily, the main character, fine though. She wasn't completely helpless and she liked to take charge which was nice. Her love interests both occupied the dark broody boy character which was a little typical but it wasn't a bad description of a relationship. It did feel like it was trying to pull on the Shattered series a bit with the old love interest coming to you in dreams but I was able to overlook that part of it.

But there's one thing that doomed this book for me.


There were typos or misspellings every ten pages if not more frequently. This book desperately needed some editing and a lot of love because there is absolutely no excuse for spelling "melodramatic" as two words. "Mellow dramatic".

So yeah, real rating about a 1.8 so I'm rounding it up to 2 stars. The saving grace was the interesting idea behind the book but there was just too much going on with not enough editing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Boost (A Haunted Addiction #1) by D.A. Paul

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Blurb from Goodreads:
They call it a boost.
It’s the buzz you get from absorbing the spiritual energy of the dead, and it absolutely terrifies Lidia Powell.

Shortly after meeting Ander at summer camp, Lidia is thrust into the world of psychic mediums and brought to a new school. At Mountain Heights Academy, even a casual pizza-date is accompanied by a ghost, and only a frightened uberdork would refuse the boost. To Lidia, the peer pressure to absorb phantom apparitions is horrifying, but to everyone else, it's the drug of choice.

However, when one of the students delves into dark energy, Lidia suspects that a boost isn’t as innocent as it seems. Soon, the boost becomes an addiction and Lidia must act fast before the changes become irreversible.

Boost by D.A. Paul is probably best described as a mix of Ghostbusters, and Vampire Academy. The main character, Lidia, is a teenage girl (I'm assuming around 16? The age was never really given or I missed it somehow) who gets entangled into a world of ghosts, spirits, and demons. She never wanted this life in the first place, never knew about it to be honest, and she wants to go home and live a normal life with her dysfunctional family. It's all a bit too much for her, getting whisked off away from her charming, normal boyfriend to go live in the mountains with a bunch of other teenagers who add high school drama to her already messed up world.

Okay, so I don't do most high school drama type books. My high school was a bit weird, I only graduated with 55 people and we couldn't really have that much drama because it was impossible to have secrets in the first place. Whatever grudges we had (and there were some, no doubt) we kept them to ourselves. You were stuck with them anyways and how else were we going to get a senior prank together? That being said, sometimes I just can't relate to the mean girls and backstabbing that goes on in some YA books. My reference for normal high school life comes from old school Nickelodeon. 

Odd note: if you google "high school drama gif" it's all Ouran High School Host Club and that makes me really happy
But anyways, Lidia ends up moving away from her boyfriend Ethan and basically being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the weirdest private school ever with his best friend who is not only a flirt but also terribly attractive. Because that's going to go well. Lidia has to learn how to deal with being away from the stability in her life while trying to figure out how to deal with the ghosties that keep cropping up in her life.

My appreciation for Lidia sort of waxed and waned throughout the book. I enjoyed the fact that she didn't feel the need to dress up when Ethan came by and rejected her mother's pleas to "look a bit cuter". My mother, to this day, still does the same thing. I went to church without lipstick and blush a few weeks ago and you would think I walked out of the house naked. We all know those mothers and I liked that this girl actually stood up for herself a bit. I didn't like the body shaming or the trash talking though. I know it was a few isolated incidents but wanted a girl to be smothered with her "overly large breasts" just rubbed me the wrong way. It's not the girl's fault that she is well endowed.

Also, the vegan part. 

Or semi-vegan. I get that some people do it for health, philosophical, and/or taste preference reasons and I completely respect that. What I don't like is when people call themselves vegan and then eat cheese and dairy saying that they couldn't resist the temptation. I don't care if an author makes a vegan character but PLEASE stop using it as a descriptor as if her diet dictates who she is as a person. I got it. She ate waffles for breakfast (which are made with milk by the way) and tried to avoid meat because it made her feel weird after something with her grandmother but it felt like it was every other sentence. Lidia was closer to a semi-vegetarian than a vegan and that really bothered me. It felt like it cheapened the point of her trying to be vegan.

Moving on from that, I actually really liked Ander for the most part. He's not a good boy and he's not a bad boy but somewhere in the middle. Lidia asked for him to leave her alone and he did so. He knew she was pissed off and he tried to protect her without being obvious about it. He respected the fact that Lidia was dating his best friend and respected her boundaries. He was flirty without being a jerk and there were no cringe inducing lines that you sometimes find in YA.

The idea of getting high off spirit energy is pretty unique and that was what held the book together for me. Getting a "boost" (hence the name) is literally like getting a tiny shot of adrenaline. It makes sense. Spirits = Energy. Energy = Endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't get into as much drama as angsty kids.

But despite all of the good, interesting things in this book, there were some major flaws that didn't work for me. 

It felt like the stereotypical high school set up, that I'm starting to get really sick of seeing. We had the curvy sexy bitch girl. Check. We have the popular cool guy. Check. We have the awkward couple that everybody is slightly concerned about. Check. We have the guy with the lip rings. Check. It just seemed like there was a formula there and nobody really stood out. Lidia was beautiful and random guys developed crushes on her and she not only had a sort of boyfriend but also had Ander and every other guy that looked at her. Give me a girl main character who is confident in herself but doesn't have boys wandering around her like cows off their feed. I want strong girls who have insecurities but are honest with themselves.

Building on that was the sex. They are teenagers at boarding school. They're going to get it on. But it felt out of place if we're going to be honest. There was very little sexual tension for me because it was treated so casually. I think that if they weren't all having sex with each other, the relationships might have worked better. It went from zero to a hundred real quick. Lidia was thrilled about someone's pinky touching her thigh and then they were in bed together. It was rushed and there seemed to be little consideration for the stuff that happened between the first kiss and sex. That's not to say that it needed to be racy but it jumped around too much. There is awkwardness and deeper kisses between those things. There is more frustration and anxiety. The characters need to have more interaction with each other between those two settings other than just avoiding each other. It was a missed opportunity in that regard because there could have been more build up there.


The kids never actually seemed to be in class or at camp. They were supposed to be students and camp counselors but there was never any mention of them actually participating in any significant way. When I was at camp, the counselors were always busy and when I became in charge of 80 seven year olds for a few summers, I understood why. There is always something that needs to be done and you don't have a chance to go work on your tan. At school, there's always homework. Especially at a school that has high college acceptance rates and these kids barely seemed to go to class! I wanted a few classroom scenes but they were noticeably absent.

It just felt like parts of the book were missing. I was looking for tension. I was looking for teachers and kids getting caught out at night but it didn't seem to happen. This book could have been a hundred pages longer because it seemed like some of the descriptions and interactions had been pared down. Readers want to know what classroom life is like and what they do on their days off. Sometimes, it is good to see the characters lounging around talking shit and it just wasn't there for me.

But you know what? I probably would have really enjoyed this book in high school when I really think about it. It's a young adult book and I think it would be perfect for young adults. I wanted more from it but that might be because I like high tension and more crazy drama. I want high speed chases and hiding in the woods overnight with ghosts surrounding the main characters. The drama in this book was, I feel, suited for a particular age range and that worked well.

Big thank you to D.A. Paul for contacting me and providing me with this ARC!

Oh my goodness, am I getting old? Is that really happening to me?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I really need to read more these days. I feel like things have been turned on their head because Taylor is reading books and I'm watching TV. He's reading Red Rising and the rest of the books in the series after I basically told him to read them or else and he is loving them. I knew it. Such good books for guys and we've been having some lovely discussions about themes and characters.

But I digress.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in a new series by Sarah J. Maas of Throne of Glass fame. This one is definitely different though from that series though. This is another retelling of Beauty and the Beast but in a way that doesn't make me want to throw things and run through the streets screaming. I mean, I think we're all sick to death of the traditional story line and this book takes a different spin on it. 

Alright, before I get distracted again, I want to talk about the cover. While it is a lovely idea, I'm sick to death of black and red covers. Sometimes, they work for me but those tend to be a bit more subtle. I get that black and red are supposed to be the dangerous scary sort of combination but I wish that authors and publishers would mix it up a bit. It's all we see now! Please, I'm begging you. Some other color combination. Use orange. Use green. I'd die a happy woman if you used purple. CHANGE IT UP.

Feyre is a survivor and always has been. She doesn't remember much of the luxury her family used to live in but she does know how to aim a bow and take care of her kills. She knows that she has to work hard or her family will starve and knows equally as well that she will get neither help nor praise for her efforts. Her sisters were used to being taken care of and nothing has changed much there. Her father sees himself as a worthless cripple even though with a little effort, he could get a job. So that's why Feyre is out in the woods, alone, hunting a deer when the biggest wolf she has ever seen stalks into her life. She had heard stories of faeries turning into animals and kills the beast, not knowing what repercussions may follow. Feyre then finds herself spirited away to the land of Faeries and curses where danger not only comes in the form of her captors, but also what lurks in the woodland.

So in the beginning, we have a bit of a Cinderella situation going on. I mean, her sisters are pretty horrible. 
If you haven't seen this version of Cinderella, you're seriously missing out
They used to be a well respected family with money and power but their father lost all of their money and these girls haven't quite gotten over that. They prance around their little town like they are the best thing that ever happened to it because they were brought up with silver spoons in their mouths. Feyre never really experienced all that so she has a bit more humility. You end up hoping that something horrible happens to her sisters because they are the bullies that you always hate in life and literature. You want them to have to work and struggle when they don't seem to initially.

"Nesta cocked her head. I'd seen predators use that movement before. I sometimes wondered if her unrelenting steel would have helped us better survive - thrive, even - if she hadn't been so preoccupied with out lost status."

Moving on though to the actual fairy tale part of all of this. Feyre, in retribution for what she has done, is dragged off through the woods to live in an enchanted faerie castle with a terrifying male who seems to be lacking in the social skills department. Feyre has been told all her life to be scared of faeries. That they're wicked and they control the land and could unleash all sorts of hell on it. But this mysterious masked man isn't all thorns and snarling. And neither is his companion Lucien. 

So Tamlin (big scary fae) and Lucien and everybody else in this particular faerie realm is under some sort of curse. Tamlin and Lucien are both High Fae which means while they are handsome and powerful, they are cursed to wear masks that they cannot remove. But beyond that, both are incredibly attractive. Feyre finds herself being drawn in more and more to Tamlin, her captor, and can no longer see him as the enemy. And then...everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

The fairy tale aspect of this works really well in my opinion. It is definitely Beauty and the Beast but the beast has more personality and charm than the one we always associate with. You get to see into his mind more and understand his pain. And Feyre is more than just a Belle character. She can't read but she is an artist. She paints and tries to make the world a more beautiful place than her reality. She is bitter and cynical and all of the things that would naturally happen if you were left to fend for yourself with nobody's help. The magic works. The curse works. It all is great for me. 

And it's funny! I had some laugh out loud moments in it and the writing is actually pretty good. There's a nice balance between humor, dialogue, world building and introspection.

"He also said that you like being brushed, and if I'm a clever girl, I might train you with treats"

And it's sexy. It's so easy to try to tame fairy tales because it's what we grew up with as kids and we don't want to see them corrupted. But there's some definite tension going on here and Feyre is a mature woman. She is open and honest with herself and isn't some wilting violet. And Tamlin isn't either. He's possessive and dominant. He is fully aware of his sex appeal but he doesn't use it as a weapon. Once he gets over his supremely awkward stage, he is charming and the perfect gentleman most of the time. But when he gets pushed, he has this dark and alluring side that Feyre can't resist. 

"He took my hands. His callused fingers, strong and sturdy, were gentle as he lifted my bleeding hand to his mouth and kissed my palm. As if that were answer enough."

The biggest issue I had with this book, besides the cover, is the ending. And I'm not going to spoil anything for you but it felt a bit rushed sometimes. It had a Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire feel to it and it left me wanting more. The rest of the book had been done so well with all of the world building and character development that the ending just didn't live up to it. It felt like the author was searching for a conclusion. I'm not saying it was terrible but it was just not as good as the rest of the book. 

I will be reading the next one but I hope it builds more. The first book has established a wonderful world and an interesting plot. I desperately hope that the next one lives up to its legacy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Perilous Sea (Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas

It's been a while but I'm here with a book review! 

The Perilous Sea is the second book in the Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas. The first book was The Burning Sky and while I enjoyed it, it was a bit lackluster in the actual follow through. This was similar which is such a disappointment to me. 

This is another one of those books where you can never quite figure out what your feelings are about it. Think of it as a cross between Harry Potter, Aladdin, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Hunger Games. There are wands, flying carpets, bending, and all sorts of other craziness that goes on in this book.

We meet back up with Iolanthe and Titus when they go back to Eton to take on the Bane and then everything starts going a little crazy. Does anybody else remember that season of LOST where they added the flash forwards and you could tell that it was important to the story line but weren't quite sure how and you were just struggling to keep things straight in your mind? It was a bit like that to me.

This definitely had a bit of Second Book Syndrome going for it too, which was incredibly disappointing. Titus kind of turns into a royal jackass and he loses all faith in who he is and what he is supposed to be doing. I can understand having a bit of an existential crisis but to me, he basically threw his hands up and said "Fuck it, we're all gonna die anyways!" which felt weak to me.

Truly, the strongest character in this series is Iolanthe because she not only is an incredibly powerful sorceress but also puts up with Titus' waffling and nonsense. She kind of felt like the sidekick that went along behind the steamrolling main character and cleaned up their messes and got them set back onto the right path. Titus seemed to miss the logic sometimes and she was there to tell him to slow down and think things through.

BUT! Big But!
I did enjoy the book. Once the plot got rolling, it was a fun read despite Titus acting like an idiot for the majority of the book. I enjoyed the banter between him and Iolanthe and there was a healthy dose of romance and cuteness to go along with it.

There was also a bit more *actual* action to this book. The first one seemed like there was a lot of planning going on but the flash forwards allowed for there to be more magic and fighting instead of just training and preparing. They weren't just running scared and trying to figure out what was going on. Once they had a plan, they attempted to execute it.

And the world building was so much better in this book! I love a well constructed world that a series can exist in. The first book, while it was there, it didn't really have any details about the actual space that all of this happened in. There was no real sense of oppression, despite having an apparent evil overlord and the bad guy was far enough away that it didn't really impact anything. The addition of more action helped and it gave the characters more space to inhabit. However, there was still a massive lack of enough bad things going on to the regular people to justify needing a rebellion. As I understood it, only the wealthy and royalty ever felt oppressed in any way and that was because they were dealing with the drama loudly and up close. The normal people never really had anything to do with it. They are free to move about and live how they want for the most part.

The ending is a cliffhanger and this doesn't need a spoiler tag since it is pretty obvious from the first book that there is going to be a battle.

The author spends all of this time and effort building up to a battle and then just stops the book. I hope the next book isn't just about three or four days of the battle and right after because I will throw something. This book covered about 7 weeks of time. It wouldn't have killed the author to just add the battle at the end and then have the next book be the aftermath. But no. Just had to be a cliff hanger. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

But's a good book but not one of my favorites. I'll pick up the last one when it comes out so that I can have some resolution but it felt a bit like a filler book and I wanted to punch Titus in the face more than once. It's a quick read and entertaining if you like magic and stupid boys.

So three stars? Three and a half? It wasn't bad but it also wasn't fantastic, you know? I'd explain more but frankly, I have stitches in the tip of one of my fingers and this shit is starting to hurt.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: Phantom by Susan Kay


It's been a while. If we're going to be honest here, I've been crazy bogged down with school. It's online classes but holy shit there is a ton of reading and work and I haven't had time to read. Add that to an ever expanding obsession with KDramas and people that feed that obsession and I am just short on time for everything.

But I'm back! At least for now. And I have a book review!

Phantom by Susan Kay has been a favorite of mine for a really long time. I first got hooked on Phantom of the Opera stuff in high school. I watched the movie with Gerard Butler, I read the original novel by Gaston Leroux and I found this book. Then, in college among moving stuff from dorm to home and back again, I lost my copy of it! It's probably still floating around somewhere but I bought a new copy and I'm so thrilled that I was able to read it again.

Phantom really delves into the mind of the Phantom, Erik. He isn't just a mindless psychopath living in the basement, praying on young women. He has motivation. He has his arrogance. He is brilliant and so broken in this. Every aspect of his adolescence is so twisted, from his mother refusing to give him any warmth to his imprisonment in the gypsy camp to losing the one man who he could call a father figure. You begin to understand how he became the way that he did.

God, this book hit me so hard in the heart the first time I read it. It's so dark. It's so hopeless in many ways. You see someone suffering for how they look, despite their amazing mind and you wonder what would have happened if he had had love as a child instead of fear and scorn.
“I am not forsaken! I'm no longer alone in the darkness! Before my eyes I see a thousand little devils lighting black candles along the path which leads toward the edge...the blindingly beautiful edge.”
The secondary characters are remarkably well built as well. I hated his mother, Madeleine but you can understand her fear. In that time, Erik would have been seen as an abomination. There would be no place for him in society because of his image and you desperately hope that wouldn't be the case now. She was scared of this child that had so much intelligence but was hampered by her revulsion towards him. She was a young mother whose husband just died and she saw Erik as a curse. I can't imagine.

And then the Daroga. And the architect in Italy. Where he had once had hope and friendship, he managed to lose it all. I feel like throughout the book, up until he meets Christine, Erik strives to be a better person but his situation in life turns him into the sadistic person that he is.
“My mind has touched the farthest horizons of mortal imagination and reaches ever outward to embrace infinity. There is no knowledge beyond my comprehension, no art or skill upon this entire planet that lies beyond the mastery of my hand. And yet, like Faust, I look in vain, I learn in vain. . . . For as long as I live, no woman will ever look on me in love.”
My biggest fault with this book is the last ten to fifteen percent. The last little bit where he finally meets Christine and succumbs to the madness that he has been fighting for so long.
“She wanted an Angel of Music . . . an angel who would make her believe in herself at last. I'd been the Angel of Doom for the khanum. There was no reason in the world why I could not be the Angel of Music for Christine. I couldn't hope to be a man to her, I couldn't ever be a real, breathing, living man waking at her side and reaching out for her . . . But I could be her angel"

I hated Christine. She follows blindly and doesn't question anything. Lamb to the slaughter. And I'm not saying that she was supposed to be more worldly since she was only 20 and had hardly experienced any of the world but I wanted her to have more doubt than she did. Erik loved the idea of her more than anything else and she knew it. She couldn't make decisions on her own except on the occasions of threats against her or others. She ruined Erik's character for me since he had been so resolute and strong for most of the book but finally crumbles under an obsession.

But I guess that's the point of it all. He is supposed to lose it. Erik finally relinquishes control of his mind and basically damns himself. It's all so sad and terrible and that's why I love this book.

If you haven't read this book, you need to. It is such a beautiful supplement to the story that most are familiar with and it only enhances the musical and the original book. Seriously, go get it. Now. Do it. It's wonderful.

I promise I will get back to regular posting and reading other blogs. I've just been so busy it's ridiculous! Take pity on me and don't forget about me! I'm still around. I'm just lurking.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Discussion Post: Why We Love the Bad Boys

A good villain is hard to find. 

Sometimes we want them so terrifically bad that we want their defeat to be over the top and glorious. We want them to go down in a spectacular way with dramatic ending lines and walking away from the explosion. Then there are the villains that you know, that you can relate to. They are the horrible bosses that make you work overtime on the holidays. They are the ones that torment you at school and love the fact that they have some sort of power over you and you can't do a damn thing about it. Those are the ones that you hope live a long miserable life just so they can remember that they could have been nice and this never would have happened.

And finally, there are the ones that we are attracted to. The bad boys with the sad past. The ones that act so cold and distant but are really just extraordinarily warped or broken. Their pain and anger isn't natural but developed. Their hatred is learned and we can all connect to it.

This is not going to be a Harry Potter post, I promise.

But I have always personally felt that the villains are often more compelling than the heroes. Heroes have one job and that's usually to save the world. Their "goodness" is based off of them being compassionate or brave, not based off of their past. Their history can either be rosy or horrible but they have hope and they want something better than the world that they are existing in. And while we have to have the good guy in the end, there has to be the bad guy to balance them out.

But characters are rarely evil for the sake of being evil. It's hard to hate that much without reason and I am obsessed with characters that play the villain role that slowly transform into something else. I think we all have a favorite bad boy. It started young for me, with Beauty and the Beast where the character that is supposed to be evil and terrifying turns out to be gentle and compassionate. Obviously, my favorite bad gone good character of all time is Draco Malfoy (and Dramione is my eternal OTP) because we get to see what he goes through.

That's the important thing about creating a bad character. You have to understand his pain because otherwise you just have a sociopath. There has to be a cause, whether it be physical or mental. And they have to be able to redeem themselves which doesn't necessarily mean that they will. This character must be capable of it when he/she is given the choice and they have to make that decision and it has to be believable. There's no redeeming quality to someone who has killed hundreds or thousands and won't repent but there is hope for those who carry the guilt around like a blanket draped over them. Compassion must be developed at some point.

As I stated earlier, I love me some Malfoy but I also really love Morpheus from Shattered and Warner from the Shatter Me series. I love it when characters can redeem themselves.

So, the entire point of this post, is who is your favorite bad boy/girl? Do you have one and why do you like them as a character?

In other news, I have finally made it into graduate school so my posts may drop for a few weeks while I get used to my new schedule. I promise, I'll keep reading and I will catch up soon!

Everybody have a happy weekend!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: Phantom (Dark Musicals #1) by Laura DeLuca

I went through a stage of my life, right before college, where I was absolutely obsessed with Phantom of the Opera. It started with the movie that had Gerard Butler as the Phantom which led to reading the original novel, then Phantom by Susan Kay, and eventually having the pleasure of watching the musical on Broadway a couple of times.

I wanted a new interpretation of the novels with a high school twist, a character just as distorted and flawed as Erik but with more modern problems. I wanted the beauty of the prose of Susan Kay's Phantom with the wonderful storytelling of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera but in the end, I was more disappointed than a child opening a Cracker Jack box and there not being a toy inside. 

First: the blurb from Goodreads since I'm not going to bother writing one
The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card. 
Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist. 
Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.
 Alright...I should have known better from the blurb.

I am pretty much over most high school drama, mostly because my experience was incredibly different from a lot of these characters' that you read these days. I went to a small school with a graduating class of 55. Most of us were in the same classes for 8 years together so you sort of learn to live in harmony. Are other high schools this horrible where kids are attacking each other in the hallway and there are catfights and challenges being thrown about like confetti?

Anyways, Rebecca is one of those girls who has never done anything special in her life and then suddenly decides to try out for the main role of her favorite musical. She (of course) lands the role of a lifetime with Christine and she thinks that she connects to the character in a special way. After all, she has spent her life in the high school equivalent of the chorus dancers, staying out of the way and trying not to do anything to gather attention but she can't pass up this opportunity.

So she gets the role, pisses off the popular girl, gets the popular boy Tom to finallyOMG notice her and then the creepy goth guy shows up and steals all of attention. Justyn has a beautiful voice but a tendency towards lurking in the corners and singing lines from the musical to her. Carmen and Debbie, her best friends, think that he's strange and urge Rebecca to stay away from him but she can't resist him and finds herself drawn to him.

Tom, who is supposed to be the basketball player who surfs with an awesome voice is the most over done character I've seen in my life. He's supposed to be perfect and blonde and pretty and oh wait...

I've seen this character before somewhere! I wonder where...

Moving onto Justyn. The goth boy with inconsistent character descriptions. He was originally described with facial piercings, eyeliner and black lipstick. He wears fishnet shirts and chains on his boots. Now, with my obsession over KPOP, I've gotten over most reservations about guyliner but the black lipstick is too much. There was some hazing at my college where the girls in sororities made the pledges wear black lipstick so if they made out with a guy at a party, everybody would know. Sorry, but black lipstick + making out + creepy character role = taking it too far. 

And he loves his cape and takes every opportunity to hide in the corner and lurk. He takes himself too seriously and fucking calls himself LORD JUSTYN I SHIT YOU NOT

Not only that, but randomly the author decides to insert that he is Wiccan into the plot. It does nothing to further the plot but seems to be there just to make him a little bit more different and make it so that his mother won't take him to the hospital when he breaks his ribs. I'm all for natural healing but I'm speaking from personal experience that when you break your ribs, it fucking hurts. It is difficult to sleep, especially if you break them on your side and a little bit of willow bark tea is not going to help much as far as pain scale goes. Take him to the hospital and get him some decent medication and treatment so the boy can sleep!


Want some quotes? Well, you're getting them anyways. Prepare yourself...

"Why are you so nervous, Becca?" Carmen Webber asked. "You've got to be the only person in the school who's had the entire script memorized since kindergarten. Besides, you have an amazing voice. You're going to be fine. Really!"
 I hate teenybopper pep talks, especially as an introduction. Off to a bad start.

"He's the stagehand the Phantom kills right before the intermission. He gets hung."
 Being hung is something completely different than being hanged. I get that they're in high school but the editor should have caught that.
"I'm not the one who's been upstaged by some usurping loser from the geek squad."
 Ahahahaha...I miss insults like these. It's like all the old teen movies are coming back to laugh at the modern world.

"The phantom always used a noose to kill his victims."
 No...he used a Punjab lasso that was utilized like a garrote. Educate yourself.
"I can't believe you two would actually read that dribble on purpose."
 This is dribbling. The word you are looking for is drivel.
"I've put up with your crap for long enough, Wendy. The jibes. The looks. The nasty comments. Well, I've had it. It stops now. I got the role of Christine. I have the better voice. And you have been upstaged. Get over it and get on with your life. Being a bitch isn't going to change things."
 Ugh, sassy standing up for yourself is soooooooo two thousand and late.
"His one cataract eye was oblique and almost glowing"
 Did you even try to edit this thing? Your eye can't be oblique. Cataracts can make your eyes opaque though.
"Willow bark is just a plant."
No, it is the bark off of a willow tree which is where aspirin is derived from. As stated earlier, if you have fallen and broken your ribs, you are going to want a little bit more than some diluted aspirin tea.
"I heard he hung himself in the bathroom stall."
 HANGED. He hanged himself. You can't "hung" yourself. It is grammatically incorrect and therefore impossible.

All of this is before even considering the plot, which felt like it was *insert yourself here* fanfiction. Rebecca has no obvious flaws besides being so stupid that you wonder who ties her shoelaces every morning. Her friends are bitchy and have an opinion about everybody and everything. Debbie is described as the scary Amazon (which I personally take offense to) and doesn't stand up for herself through the entire book. Tom and Justyn fighting over her is the most played out plot line ever and the bitchy horrible Wendy is the most stereotypical mean girl I've ever seen.

I honestly cannot fathom how this thing is rated so high on Goodreads. A 4.05? Are you fucking kidding me? The author can't even call the musical by its proper name, doesn't credit the quotes that she used correctly and spells Andrew Lloyd Webber's name incorrectly at the start of the book. For a fan of Phantom of the Opera, it sucked at being a good tribute to the work.

There are two redeeming qualities from this book. The plot twist was unexpected (but not well written). I can honestly say it surprised me. The other is that it has made me want to find some good Phantom of the Opera literature and reread Phantom and the original novel.

So skip this one. Don't come near it. I've more than warned you. If you are an avid fan of Phantom of the Opera you will be excessively disappointed.