Monthly Archives: April 2015

I Hate Myselfie by Shane Dawson – Book Review

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Shane Dawson claims this the first book he’s ever read. I thought: That can’t be good. And yet here we are.

I stumbled upon Shane Dawson in 2009 while browsing YouTube for Joe Jonas dancing videos. (I was young, sue me). Actually, I stumbled first upon Shane dressed as Shanaynay, and I was understandably confused.

For all of you who don’t know, this is Shane:
imageAnd this is him in his Shanaynay getup:
imageAs I previously stated, I was young, and I had a lot of time on my hands. I was fascinated by Shane. I loved his crazy, offensive humor. I was a little shocked by it at first, as I assume most people were, but I always wanted more. I liked his creativity. It’s been many years since I really went through Shane’s videos. Last year I listened to his podcast, and it was amazing. I even re-listened to old episodes when he took a short hiatus. I bought many of his original songs. Shane has kind of always been a part of my life, even after I stopped watching his YouTube videos. (I still watch them occasionally). Recently, I had the chance to meet him personally, which was nice.

That being said, I bought this book with very little enthusiasm. Lately, a lot of YouTubers have been publishing books. I think it’s great that they’re venturing into this new medium, but as a writer who is constantly learning about the craft, and as someone who reads as much as possible, it kind of irritates me seeing this new trend. Most of these YouTubers, like Shane, don’t give a damn about reading or writing. But because of their fame, publishers give them a book deal. They want to sell their name, not their words.

I don’t mean to sound preachy. I’ve bought two of these YouTuber books, and I’ve loved them both. I actually am entirely grateful that Shane wrote all of these stories about his life. I found it all incredibly interesting. I was able to understand him better than I had before. I think a lot of people who do know him and dislike him don’t see him the way that I do. I see a genuine guy who’s worked hard for what he has. He’s doing something that makes him happy. He’s earning a living in one of the best possible ways. I envy him, but I also admire him.

To say that Shane Dawson is an open book is the right expression. I might have grown too old or too busy for his videos and podcast, but I still like to know he’s out there. That he’s still doing his own thing. He was able to make his own movie, Not Cool, which is vulgar and hilarious and really strange, but unmistakably his. He sold his very own TV show. His podcast is a hit. His YouTube channel has millions of subscribers. I mean, for a bullied kid with a sad childhood, the guy turned out pretty good.

I had fun reading this book. It was true to Shane Dawson.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Book Review

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“Name one hero who was happy.”

I think this is the point in this story when I knew to expect a tragedy. I mean, I think whoever has read The Iliad knows what is coming. I haven’t read it, though. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Complex, dense writing is something I could possibly get into if I had more than a few valuable hours of free time during my days.

The Song of Achilles is basically The Iliad fanfiction. It was narrated by Patroclus, who was Achilles’ companion. I could relate to Patroclus in the beginning. He felt rejected by his own father, weak around a crowd, and was just a very insecure boy.

“I had not disgraced myself with trembling or tripping, and my words had not been foolish. Still, my face burned with shame.”

Alright, preach it, Patroclus. In all honesty, there were times when I hated Patroclus. We had our ups and downs. I mean, the guy was self-deprecating to the point where he really didn’t value his own life. His entire existence revolved around Achilles. I didn’t love that. I get that people find this romantic, but I don’t. I wasn’t sure who these people really were, not really. I knew what they wanted, but I didn’t know why.

Then we have Achilles, Prince of Phthia. A half-god, beautiful and perfect man, who is also the greatest warrior ever. He’s a serious person, but he’s probably the only character in this book that made me laugh. I don’t know if that’s the reason why I liked him, although I’m saying that lightly. Most of the time, I thought he was just an arrogant, spoiled boy who ran to mommy for everything.

imageSo, Patroclus and Achilles are a romantic couple. Their relationship felt kind of surreal. Not unbelievable, because it made sense. But I felt like there wasn’t really much there. They met as kids, they became friends, companions, but then there was a set of times where Achilles had to leave and Patroclus had to go after him. It was this really strange codependent relationship that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Maybe I just found it dramatic and unoriginal.

The writing was at times poetic and meaningful. But there were many parts in which I got the feeling the author was uninspired in her story. I felt like there were some longer descriptions of unnecessary things that added little to the story. I wasn’t bored, but I wasn’t dying to keep reading. It didn’t move me.

This book was by no means bad. It wasn’t boring either. It was just lacking something. I wanted to feel like I was really in the story, not watching it from a telescope. I wanted to understand the characters better. The explanations given of their motivations were not satisfying.

I feel like I know a little bit more about Greek mythology, though. I actually remember reading The Odyssey in high school and I was completely enthralled in that journey. It’s one of those stories that made me love literature. I would recommend The Song of Achilles to all those who enjoy Greek mythology. It is easy to read, and overall informative.

Writing Playlist #6- Self Love

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Christina Aguilera- Beautiful

I am beautiful no matter what they say/Words can’t bring me down/I am beautiful in every single way

Estelle- Do My Thing

I wear my clothes like this because I can/I wear my hair like this because I can/I walk around like this because I can/And I do my thing like this ’cause this who I am

Jessie J- Masterpiece

I still fall on my face sometimes/And I can’t color inside the lines/’Cause I’m perfectly incomplete/I’m still working on my masterpiece

Beyonce- Flawless

You woke up, flawless/Post up, flawless/Ridin’ round on it, flawless/Flossin’ on that, flawless

Bruno Mars- Uptown Funk

Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty/I’m too hot (hot damn)/Called a police and a fireman/I’m too hot (hot damn)/Make a dragon wanna retire, man

Pink- Raise Your Glass

We will never be, never be anything but loud/And nitty, gritty, dirty, little freaks/Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass

Destiny’s Child- Survivor

I’m a survivor (What?)/I’m not gonna give up (What?)/I’m not gonna stop (What?)/I’m gonna work harder (What?)

Nicki Minaj- Feeling Myself

Kitty on fleek, pretty on fleek/Pretty gang, always keeping them niggas on geek

 

The Newest Trend: Turning Fanfiction into Books

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Fanfiction has been around since forever it seems. It’s a great way to fix mistakes in the original work, to add in more representation, to explore different routes the characters could have taken, or to simply give the characters happiness that the original always seems to keep out of reach. I also find it is a good way to practice writing while getting nice feedback.

Recently, with the rise of self-publishing, turning fanfic into books for profit is very easy. Change some names, slap a cover on it, and there is a new book out in the world. Some have even become best sellers, and turned into movies. And I have to say, for the most part, I don’t really like this.

I’m not saying this to bring down people, or because I think that fanfiction should stay fanfiction or anything. I don’t begrudge anyone any success or money they might get from doing this. My main problem is that fanfiction works because the reader has that background information, and the new book usually doesn’t make up for it.

Fanfiction doesn’t need to explain why a character is the way that they are. Everyone who reads it already knows the back story. They know the world that it is set in. None of it is needed to be expanded on. Usually when it gets turned into a book the author does not expand on that, and the book is stale. It just doesn’t work. The little inside jokes don’t translate, and any sex scenes are typically useless to any plot.

Turning fanfiction into a book can work, but it isn’t just switching names out. It would have to take more work than that. Work that people typically don’t put into it.

Crash & Burn (Cut & Run #9) by Abigail Roux – Book Review

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I managed to finish Crash and Burn, and I’m feeling generous, so it’s getting two stars instead of the one star it deserves. Let’s get started, shall we?

“If there was one thing Ty and Zane knew how to do, it was abuse each other for fun.”

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(If you don’t mind, I’m going to use nothing but X-Files gifs to express my utter disappointment with this book. See, The X-Files has genuinely amazing, kickass FBI agents, if you were wondering.)

We start off with Zane, working in his office, hating his job. Then he miraculously discovers his house is bugged, so he gets home pretending to be drunk, fucks Ty, and takes off. Why? I dunno. Some genius, mastermind plan he came up with. WHICH MADE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE AT ALL. That was just the first couple of chapters. But hell, it basically summed up the entire book.

I’m not entirely sure what the plot of this book was, but let me try to be explain it. (Some spoilers ahead, but hell I don’t give a fuck about them because I’m trying to convince myself this book wasn’t real). So, Richard Burns, who was like a father to Ty, was killed in the previous book. Now suddenly he’s the reason why not only the Vega cartel is after Ty and Zane, but also the NIA, and the CIA, although the latter wants to help them in very shady ways. The only reason Ty and Zane know about this is because Liam Bell shows up and tells them so. Also, Liam is not to be trusted. Although maybe he is. Wasn’t he brainwashing Nick? Nah, he’s a decent guy. Let’s just abuse him as much as we want, he literally will do nothing to defend himself. Ah, my favorite kind of bad-guy.

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Then we get Ty and Zane, the newlyweds whose romance is harder to buy than the fact that 90% of the main characters in this book consists of gay killing-machine men. (Might I add, a large portion of them have banged Ty). No, really, and the newlyweds only really speak to each other in bed. In the first four, five books, Ty and Zane actually had a semblance of romance. They had depth. They had sweetness and care. I think the author tries to make up for the lack of emotion between these character by tossing out a bunch of pet names.

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But back to the plot. If there is a plot. I’m still trying to find it, buried underneath all of the crazy plan ideas that were tossed from left to right by the characters. Honestly, Roux, this shows how unplanned this entire storyline was. When your characters start by planning to kidnap Zane–and then wait a minute, we can’t do that, okay let’s kidnap the cartel leader, oh wait, no that won’t work, okay let’s go to Bluefield, oh man never mind, let’s go here instead–and then so on and so forth, until nothing really gets done, then all you manage is to confuse the reader. And then the fact that I believed so many of the plot twists that kept being tossed at me, when it was all used to stall the non-existent plot, was just too much to deal with. I had a headache.

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And then we have the fact that all of my favorite side characters had little to no lines at all! What the hell, man? Why would you bring in Mara and Chester and give them like two lines each? What about Deuce and his family? Where was my closure for these characters? I honestly don’t get why Roux hates female characters so much. Sure, she had Clancy, but who the fuck really is Clancy? She’s barely been in the series, and I don’t know shit about her. She had very few scenes, but Zane is in awe of her. If he really cared about this girl, he would fucking talk about her. I mean, how can you have so many developed male characters and no female characters to even it out? It makes no sense.

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When I picked up the first book, Cut and Run, I was mesmerized. I had been given awesome characters, who were FBI agents, who knew how to put up a fight, who were honest and brave, who solved fascinating crime mysteries, who had fears and loses and who were ready to face the world without a second thought. I was given Ty and Zane, two people whom I loved and respected. I was given a gift. And I kept thinking “Wow, by the end of this series, I’m going to love them ten times more!” And here we are, and all of the love I had for them has dwindled to vague memories. I’m not sure who these characters are anymore. I’m not sure I care about them at all anymore. And that is fucking sad.

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Goodbye, Ty and Zane. It was so great meeting you. I wish I had said goodbye to you around book five or six. I wish I hadn’t read about you at your shallowest point. I wish you were still the amazing FBI agents I was introduced to. I wish you had been given a proper ending.

Zane grasped Ty’s hand and threading their fingers together for a short squeeze. He dropped his voice even lower. “Te amo.”

“Je t’aime, mon cheri,” Ty said brokenly.

And as I wrote down one of my only favorite parts in this book, I realized there is a grammar mistake in that sentence above. I was going to fix it, but I’m copying it down exactly how it is written in the book. The poorly written book I spent eight bucks on. I’m all about wasting money, I guess. Maybe I could be like Mulder and find a positive side in all the junk I buy.

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It’s probably clear by now that, no, I do not recommend this to anyone. But if you’re still curious about this series, then read books 1-6. The last one has a happy ending that should give you enough closure. Trust me, you don’t need to read this book to wrap up the series. Save yourself the disappointment.

Writing Playlist #5 – Favorite Songs

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I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately. It occurred to me that I usually rely on the same few songs to really get my inspiration kicking. I tried to narrow it down to these few songs because I know they will always move me. There’s something truly special about these songs, some perfect recipe that makes me feel so many emotions at once. I’m sure these won’t work for everyone, but I still think you should give music a try whenever you need that push to create something new.

~~~*~~~

* Arrival of the Birds and Transformation – The Cinematic Orchestra

Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free.
Be more like the man you were made to be.

The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin
This is the wonder of devotion. I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient. Upon us all, a little rain must fall.

* Ho Hey – The Lumineers
I’ve been trying to do it right. I’ve been living a lonely life.
I’ve been sleeping here instead. I’ve been sleeping in my bed.

* Joy – Ellie Goulding
I know I’ll always ache with an empty heart.
I think it’s time to run ’cause I’m seeing stars.

* Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
Like a river flows, surely to the sea. Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be.
Take my hand. Take my whole life too, for I can’t help falling in love with you.

* Bloodflood pt. II – Alt-J
A flood of blood to the heart.
A flood of blood to the heart.