#5 A Review of Twilight The Graphic Novel Vol 2 by Young Kim and Stephenie Meyer

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2As most of you know I’m quite the fan of graphic novels.  Their uniqueness and ability to depict more than just the words written on the page really piques my interest.  Therefore, although Twilight by Stephanie Meyer always seems to catch a lot of flak, I was determined to read it in graphic novel form and see if it matched my views on the novel and its movie adaptation.  It has been split into two volumes, the first volume having been published in 2010.  I read the first volume a while ago and enjoyed the illustrations immensely, so I excitedly dove into to the second volume and waited to see what Young Kim’s second adaptation had in store.

I won’t go into a huge summary, I think everyone is familiar enough with the basic storyline of Twilight to know it’s about Bella, a teenager who falls in love with Edward Cullen, a vampire.  The second volume picks up with Edward and Bella in the infamous meadow scene that Meyer credits for being the inspiration behind the novel.

I know that Twilight gets a bad rap for poor writing/ridiculous storylines, but there is something about this adaptation that gives it its (pardon the expression) sparkle back.  The scenes and dialogue that were chosen to grace the pages of volume two were very well done.  Kim’s illustrations were well worth the wait between the publishing dates of volume one & two, and bring new light to the series.  I enjoy the fact that even though the Twilight film was already out when these volumes were being drawn, Kim chose to draw them not to reflect the actors, but to reflect the characters.  In doing so, I thought it gave the work some of its integrity back.  The first film was sorta lackluster for me, so it was a treat to be able to see illustrations that matched what Meyer actually had in mind when writing. (i.e The meadow, the Cullen house, Rosalie and Alice’s prom gowns)

I also wanted to quickly note how awesome the covers for these two volumes are.  When placed together they are a mural of Edward and Bella in the meadow.  (Very cool touch)  Overall, although I already knew what to expect from this work according to how I felt with the first novel, it was still a great read that gave me new insight into an old storyline.  Meyer’s writing, coupled with Kim’s amazing illustrations made a great marriage that was highly entertaining.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my third completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Twilight The Graphic Novel Vol 2 by Young Kim and Stephenie Meyer
Hachette Book Group (2011)
Hardcover 240 pages
ISBN: 9780316133197

Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Vampires Suck

Welcome back to another Film Friday!  For this week’s film I decided to review one that parodies a popular vampire series.  Usually, parody films are sort of hokey, really poorly made movies that make repeated stupid jokes.  This parody made fun of not only the films themselves, but also the hype they’ve caused.  This week’s film is Vampire Sucks, and by now you can guess that its main objective is to ridicule the Twilight franchise.

Becca Crane, played by Jenn Proske, is forced to move to Sporks, Washington when her mother begins an affair with Tiger Woods.  Upon moving to Sporks, she realizes she has very little in common with her father Frank (Diedrich Bader), who is also the town’s sheriff.  On her first day at the local high school, she meets Edward Sullen, played by Matt Lanter.  Edward Sullen appeals to Becca as he has an air of mystery about him, and he seems quite different from the other students at the school.  However, these differences also frighten her, and after Becca wrongly accuses him of being a Jonas Brother, he reveals himself to be a vampire.  Becca overcomes the initial shock and eventually begins dating Edward.  After a birthday party gone awry, Edward is forced to leave Becca alone in Sporks in the company of Jacob White (Christopher N. Riggi), a shifter who transforms into a small but frightening Chihuahua.  What will happen between Becca and Jacob while Edward is away?

I have to admit that I was extremely skeptical going into this film.  I thought the whole idea looked incredibly stupid and the clips I had seen during previews looked as if they were created to get a cheap laugh from the audience.  How wrong I was!  I almost peed myself when Becca’s first response to Edward’s odd behaviors was that he was a Jonas Brother.  It was just a funny response, and to see the actor’s reaction to that in the film was funny.  It even contained some substantial humor that wasn’t used for a cheap laugh, but instead to make fun of the hype surrounding the Twilight series.  The opening war between “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” was a good way to get the audience into the film and to poke fun at how seriously teenage girls regard the feud of these fake characters.  Another funny jab occurred when Jacob randomly took off his shirt and said that he was contractually obligated to take his shirt off.  In the Twilight series (I’ll admit I’ve seen all 3 films – you can blame Kim), Jacob is randomly shirtless despite it being set in Washington state during the winter.  I never understood it, but it was funny to see them poke fun at it.

The acting as a whole wasn’t excellent, but it was perfect for what the film was: a parody film of a poorly acted film series.  Despite this, the best performance of the film was definitely Jenn Proske’s Kristen Stewart.  She acted everything down to the smallest detail perfectly.  From Kristen Stewart’s lip bite, to her awkward seizure acting, to her hair flip behind her ear, it was amazing.  Rather than doing a cheap imitation, Proske was able to mimic Kristen Stewart in a parody that deserves to be on Saturday Night Live.

All in all you have to take this film for what it is: a parody.  If you don’t expect Gone with the Wind type acting out of it, I think you’ll enjoy it.  It has some surprising moments that will make your stomach hurt from laughing too much.  It really reproduces the essence of the Twilight series in a comical manner.  As always, I leave you with a question: what film or film genre do you think should be parodied next?

3 out of 5 stars

Vampires Suck (2010)
Twentieth Century Fox Film
PG-13, 82 Minutes

My Top Ten…Villains (Part I)

Many apologies for the delay in my top ten list this month!  Everyone loves a good villain.  Well maybe not everyone, but this blogger does.  I love a villain whose characterizations sometimes beat out the protagonists. My top ten list this week is composed of my top ten most memorable villains! Enjoy!

10.) The Volturi from The Twilight Series

Dark and foreboding, the Volturi are the major ruling family of the vampire world in the Twilight series.  Originally appearing disinterested and detached from those whom they rule in the beginning of the series, they soon show their might and anger when finding out that Bella knows the inner workings of the vampire world.  Ruthless and efficient, these villans are especially dangerous because they employ humans to go out into the world and bring additional humans back to the Volturi as a food source.  Now that’s blood chilling!

File:Cronos armé de la faucille (harpè) contre son père et divers médaillons pierre gravée crop.jpg9.) Kronos from The Percy Jackson Series

According to Greek Mythology Kronos was the leader of the first group of twelve Titans that overthrew their parents: the leaders of the Golden Age of mythology.  Kronos and the other Titans were then overthrown by Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades and locked away in Tartarus.  He is usually pictured with a scythe, which he used to kill his father Uranus!  In the Percy Jackson series Kronos is responsible for coordinating plans to take down Zeus and the Gods on Mount Olympus.  It’s up to Percy to figure out the plans and keep Kronos in his prison in Tartarus.   This villan has it all: a classic tale, lofty ambitions, and mythic tales.  You could call him the father of all villans!

8.) The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland

Any character whose motto is “off with their heads” deserves to be on this list in my eyes.  The Queen of Hearts is an absolute crazy bitch!  She orders everyone around, forces people to do her bidding, and abuses animals so that she can play croquet!!  Her dominance over the kingdom is absolute, and her evil cunning is unmatched.  However, her dark sense of humor provides some respite from her cold heart and makes her all the more memorable as a top villan.

7.) Wickham from Pride and Prejudice

Wickham is an absolutely horrid person.  He is a gambler, cheat, womanizer, liar, and so much more.  He leaves debt behind him  and sullies women’s reputations wherever he goes.  In Pride and Prejudice, he lies about the type of person Darcy truly is to make the residents of Meryton like him and give them his sympathy.  He is one of the worst types of villans, one who hides his true identity behind a face of compassion that changes at the last moment possible.  The fact that Wickham got most everyone to trust him except for Darcy shows how sly this fox really is!

6.) Grendel from Beowulf

For those of you who have never read Beowulf do it! Grendel is an enormous monster beast that has been terrifying and destroying the kingdom of He0r0t.  He eats soldiers, destroys buildings, and is just a royal pain in the butt.  Although his motives aren’t explicitly stated, a general need for revenge and greed drive Grendel to be the angry monster that he is.  Eventually killed by Beowulf, Grendel puts up quite a fight and is just a generally disagreeable monster.  His mom is also a pretty worthy adversary for Beowulf a well, but you have to read the book to find out about her!

Join me tomorrow for my top five villains!! Until then, happy reading!

The Books That Changed Our Lives – Kim’s Edition + GIVEAWAY

Many of my friends know that I love having deep discussions, especially about books, films, and life.  I recently challenged some of my friends and fellow bloggers to try to come up with a book(s) that has in some way impacted their life.  It could be a book that helped you through a rough period in life, made you want to choose a certain job path, or just made you want to try something new.  I soon started thinking about what book I would write about and came to the realization that there isn’t just one book that has shaped me into the person I am today.  There are three points in my life where books have helped push me forward and I’ve chosen to write about those points.

Cover Image

As a child I was super hyperactive, hence my diagnosis with ADHD.  I was always running around and could never focus on one thing to do.  As a result my mom signed me up for a lot of activities to keep me busy.  One of my favorite activities was going to the library with my sister for story-time or arts and crafts hour.  Wanting to mimic everything my sister did, I soon found myself sitting down for hours on end reading the same books she read. I would steal her Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Boxcar Children books all the time.  It was when I stole her Little  House on the Prairie series that I really understood the power of books.  Never before had I read a book that I quite literally refused to put down until I finished.  I had no idea that books could be so enthralling and captivating.  Once I had read through the entire Little House series my sister told me there was a series about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s grandmother, mother, and even her daughter!!  That news had me greedily forcing my mother to take me to the library and the bookstore to keep getting me more books.  Thankfully my mom had NO issues having a child who wanted to read and willingly took me for books every time I asked!  The Little House series was honestly the first books I read for pleasure and I credit the series for the love I currently have of novels, most specifically memoir novels.  It was through reading these books that I learned to control my hyperactivness and learn to focus on one thing at a time.  Without reading these books I’m not sure what kind of focus I’d have as an adult today.

Cover Image

As I got into my later years of elementary school and early years of high school I stopped reading for pleasure.  I was forced to read tons of books in high school and was so busy with extracurricular activities that I just didn’t find it fun anymore.  My senior year in high school, my english course started reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.  WOW.  For the first time in a long time I was hungrily reading a book.  Angela’s Ashes was everything you could ask for in a book: emotional, gripping, honest, heartbreaking, inspiring, scintillating, and so much more.  It opened the path right back up for me and I started reading again voraciously.  At 17 I started being able to read as well as learn from what I was reading.  Angela’s Ashes taught me that no matter what life throws at you, with hard work and dedication you can overcome it.  Pride and Prejudice taught me not to be so hasty in judging a person’s character.  It is only through true knowledge of a person that you can really learn what is on the inside.  Things Fall Apart taught me that not all change is bad, but forcing change for the sake of change is not beneficial for anyone.   The Harry Potter series taught me about true friendship and overcoming all obstacles with faith and confidence in yourself.  (It also opened my eyes to this magical word that I couldn’t get enough of).

Cover Image

As my college years came, the amount of work that was given to us was substantial.  Being a media production major took up most of my free time as I spent it either filming or editing my projects.  As my senior year came and went and my professional life began, I found the time to read again.  Home one night and bored out of my mind I decided to watch the first Twilight film.  (You can all start laughing now) I loved it and wanted to get my hands on the first volume ASAP.  I read the entire Twilight series in 3 days.  I was hooked.  Hooked this time to vampire novels.  I read the Twilight series, the Sookie Stackhouse series, and the Vampire Diaries series all in a short period of time.  Through my vampire craze I found a book called Mr. Darcy, Vaympire by Amanda Grange and that just opened me up to the Jane Austen fan fiction world.  It is through reading all these books again that I found a passion for book reviewing, which has led to my blog!

The three books above have been my gateway books into the world of reading.  I’ve been to Ireland, Washington, regency England, the court of Henry VIII, concentration camps during the Holocaust, a state road during the apocalypse, Hogwarts, and so many other places through the wonderful worlds that have been created by Frank McCourt, Jane Austen, Stephenie Meyers, Homer, Neil Gaiman and so many others.  Reading allows us to take journeys to anywhere we want to go and to do anything we want to do without ever leaving the comfort of our favorite reading spot.

I’d love to know what books have helped shape your lives so leave a comment below!

GIVEAWAY- I’m going to be giving away a copy of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.  Leave a comment telling me if you’ve ever had a gateway book or had a book completely change your life.  Comments will be accepted through Wednesday March 30th at midnight.  Winners will be picked at random and announced Thursday March 31st.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. 

Living With A Book Addict – Week 3

Hello there fellow blog readers.  It’s been a long week, but not an uneventful one.  This past weekend I attended a bachelor party in Atlantic City, a conference in Cambridge, Mass, and in general had a lot of work to do.  Therefore, my apologies that this post is a bit late.

So, where were we on the book front?  Well, as expected Kim, Adam, and I took a trip to Barnes and Noble yesterday and picked up some books (yes, I also had coffee for those at home keeping score).  Of particular interest is the first installment of a series of comics called Walking Dead.  These tell the story of a man who awakens to find himself alone in zombie-infested Georgia.  Similar to 28 Days Later, he must orient himself with his surroundings and find his family while trying his best to avoid becoming a zombie entrée.  We originally heard of this series via a show on AMC that is based off of these comics.  It’s really interesting stuff (I love a good old-fashioned zombie apocalypse), and the show is really well done.  Unfortunately there are only 6 episodes this season, but it’s already been picked up for another season.  Gina, I know you read this, so don’t tell me what happens!

Anyway, zombies are a good segue into what I thought might be a good topic for today: the paranormal/undead.  I’ve always been interested in this sort of stuff, but ever since vampires sort of exploded into the collective consciousness of America, everyone has been scrambling to get a piece of the undead pie (so to speak).  Originally Kim was obsessed with the Twilight series, as were most females when the series of books and movies came out.  However, once the original Twilight mania ended, Kim and I found a little show called True Blood on HBO.  As most of you know who watch the show, it is the adult-ified version of Twilight with much better writing.  Kim read though all 9 books in the series in 5 days (yes, you read that correctly) and we promptly began to watch the show week after week.  In a nutshell, it is amazing.  The series mainly takes place in Louisiana, which already is host to a long culture and tradition of ritualistic cult and magic worship that has been passed down through the state’s history.  This makes it the perfect backdrop for the twists and turns of the plot which seem to get more detailed every episode.  Recently I finished the first book in the series: Dead Until Dark.  It is sharply written, with no lags in the plot and follows the classic tale of a series of unsolved murders that mount until a climactic end.  I’m quite excited to try the rest (although not in 5 days), and can’t wait to see what Charlene Harris comes up with next.  Incidentally, have you ever seen a picture of her?  She looks like the nicest lady ever.  Anyway, if you’re into the undead sort of thing go give it a try.

Finally, I thought I’d pass along another good author that I’ve just told Kim about and just heard of myself via some friends at work: HP Lovecraft.  He’s a horror author from the early 20th century, who wrote about science fiction, the existence of human life, and the cosmos.   Check it out!

Until next week, you stay classy, internet.

A Rebuttal of Complex Reading vs. Simplistic Reading

Earlier today I posted a blog entry entitled “Complex Reading vs. Simplistic Reading, which you can read here. Adam has written a rebuttal of his personal views on the subject which you can read below:

Adam says:

I was always taught in school a simple acronym when writing short or long essay questions; K.I.S.S, or Keep it Simple Stupid. (I think my teacher’s just added on the stupid part to get a laugh out of the students)  It’s that very same rule that I feel many authors should comply with when they write their novels. Many times authors feel the need to explain the hell out of a situation to give the reader a visual to base their understanding of the novel off of. I believe that’s what a person’s imagination is for. Yes, the setting needs to be set and characterizations need to be established but I think some things are better left unspoken. Many times, in my opinion authors over-write their books when they should instead follow the same advice I was given as a middle school student and keep it simple stupid.

I don’t necessarily mean simple wording or simple language when I say keep it simple. I understand that as a person, you should constantly challenge yourself and reading is an admirable way to do that, but I think that some things are better left unsaid. I think the author should give basic details and cut out a lot of the extra stuff, or fluff. Think of Fluff when you put it on a peanut butter sandwich, it adds nothing to the sandwich. If you cut it out, you don’t necessarily miss it. A lot of times authors go off on a 40-page tangent to say what could have been said in 10 pages. They instead should challenge the reader with introducing them to new language and new ideas, but not bore them with inane details. 

One author who I feel understood the average reader like me, kept it simple, and didn’t bore readers with frivolous details was Ernest Hemingway. In his short, but classic novel The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway got right to the point and told a story about an old man and the sea. There’s no 7-page digression of how the water is calm or how the old man is conflicted between capturing the fish or humanity. It is a simple worded book and is a story in it’s basest form. You may say that I am being lazy by not wanting to read all the details or read longer novels but I like that the story is just that, a story.

You may or may not know this about me, but I am obsessed with musicals. The best comparison I can make to what I am trying to say is that a book with tons of inane details is like a poorly produced musical.  The reason the musical is so bad is that the music doesn’t push the story forward. The characters sing for the sake of singing, leaving the audience bored with the musical. I feel when authors over-analyze the setting or go into every last detail about what the character is wearing, it takes the reader away from the main plot of the story. Unless the character’s clothes suddenly go up in flames and we have to figure out why it occurred, I don’t need to know that the shoes they were wearing were given to the character on her 12th birthday by grandma. I just think those minor details are filler and fluff. 

One author who did detail overload is Stephanie Meyers. I can just picture 2,000,000,000 teenage girls cursing my name, but it is true. Twilight was one hell of a boring book. She went into so much minor detail about everything.  It didn’t make me like the story any better; it made me dislike it to the point where I couldn’t finish the book. I couldn’t handle the 40 pages of explaining one simple event that could’ve been explained in 10 pages. A lot of that book was filler crap, and I refused to read the other three because I didn’t want to put myself through that sort of torture again.

I think books are best when kept simple. When reading a book, the author should give you the basic details, but then you, as the reader, should be able to imagine what the author is telling you.  In my opinion any other way is being spoon-fed the information. When Kim and I were discussing this she said that if you’ve never been to a place or never given the details, how are you to supposed to get a feeling for the surroundings? I am not advocating that all details should be thrown out the window, I just think the author should give us the basic details of the surroundings and we figure out the rest. As readers, we should be able to visualize what the author is saying from the hints given. If the author said, “The setting is a typical high school cafeteria, it is raining and all the kids are wearing rain coats and boots” we should then be able to visualize the kids walking in wearing squeaky boots.  We assume that the boots will be squeaky because we’ve seen in our own daily lives that wet boots squeak when you walk on the floor.  We can also assume that if a kid didn’t bring an umbrella they’d be wet. I don’t need the author to go on a tangent talking about little Pete and how he’s upset because he didn’t bring an umbrella.  I can assume that because I’ve been in that situation. We should as humans take our own experiences and be able to visualize the scenes in our own mind without be giving every little detail.

If you’re like me and want to read novels minus the fluff, two other works of literature come to mind; Of Mice and Men and Our Town. Both of these works are literature in its purest form.  In Of Mice and Men  Steinbeck strips everything down, into a quick and easy read.  Our Town is a play that doesn’t deal with the frivolous components that are often connected with a play. There are no sets and nothing to distract the reader from really understanding what actions the characters are taking. In my opinion they show that literature is at its best when there is nothing distracting the reader from the main plot.

How do you find time?!

I’m often asked, “how do you have/find time to read?’ Most people in my life know that I love being involved in 1,000 things at once.  They also know I’m fiercely dedicated to everything I attempt to do.  Ever since I was in high school I’ve loved being involved.  I was involved in numerous clubs, I was the head of tech and assistant director for my high school plays,  played volleyball, tutored, and took dance classes.

2002 Dance Recital

 Once I hit college I knew I needed a bit of a break, I was burnt out.  I decided to take a semester off of being involved and I just spent the time hanging with friends or doing schoolwork.  I started getting the involvement bug again and started joining clubs, working two work-study jobs, as well as becoming an orientation leader. 

Most of the orientation staff my final year interning

 I applied my sophomore year in college to become the orientation intern, helping run a program that shuttled in over 1,500 potential freshmen every summer for a weekend stay on our campus three weekends in a row.  We also ran a 5 day program the 5 days before classes started in August.  It was through being an orientation intern and everything I did in high school that taught me to make time for the things I really wanted. 

As I graduated college and my schedule got considerably lighter, I moved in with my then boyfriend, now husband Todd.  We both worked a 40-hr work week and were enjoying our new free time.  We signed up to join our local alumni chapter for our alma mater and began taking part in the sporting events our college put on.  I began to read heavily, finding it a pleasure to read again.  Todd would always make fun of me because I would find a series of books that I’d never read before and want to read them all at once. One example is when my former roommate Ashley

Ashley and I

 told me about the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris.  She knew I enjoyed the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer and said Kim you have to check them out.  Well around the same time True Blood (the HBO series based on the Sookie books) was beginning its 2nd season.  Me having the obsessive personality that I do went out and bought the first season on Blu-ray. I forced Todd and our good friend Adam to begin the first season with me.  12 hours, a lunch break, dinner break, multiple pee and drink breaks later we had completed the first season.  We were in shock and awe.  I looked at Todd and said Todd I HAVE to read these books. Adam (who really doesn’t read but gives it a shot for me anyway) proceeded to make a bet with me.  (At this point in time there were 9 Sookie books available)  Adam bet me that I couldn’t read the 9 books in 6 days.  I bet him that he couldn’t finish them in 2 weeks.  Adam lost his half of the bet and I won my half, finishing the 9 books in 5 days.  Todd called it Bomb Shelter week because I literally refused to do anything but read.  I came home from work and Todd made dinner and cleaned and took care of our two cats that week.  Todd and Adam both still make fun of me and every once in a while tell me that bomb shelter week seems to be happening again. 

I fully admit that I get caught up in books, sometimes allowing them to take over my daily life. I have gotten more of a routine and schedule down with books though.  To jump back onto the subject of the post, how I find time, I answer – I don’t “find” time – I make time.  I read every night without fail before I go to bed.  The more you read the faster your reading pace will get, hence why I make myself read every night.  I’m at a pace where I can read 100pgs an hour, which is another reason I go through books so fast.  As things get busier in my life the time I spend before bed obviously diminishes, but when I get time I read.

I try to tell people who are interested in reading to split up every book they want to read.  I’ll use Adam as an example.  Under the Dome by Stephen King was selected as our book club book for September.  (Our book club incredibly flexible, being completely done online)  The book is over 1,000 pages and he didn’t get to it for September, and wasn’t able to fit it into his schedule for October.  I told him to stop looking at it as this 1,000 page monster and break it down.  Take the entire month of November if you want to and break it down by day.  1,000 pages over 30 days equal 33 pages a day.  That’s not difficult at all.  When you take books and make them have small attainable goals you can fit the time in anywhere.  Don’t have time at home to read before bed? Bring a book to work with you and read 20 pages at your lunch break.  As long as you try to read something everyday your reading pace will quicken over time.  Thus this has been my secret all these years to reading so much.  I find minutes here and there and everywhere through my day to keep my passion for reading alive. 

Happy Reading!

Note: I’ve written a review for Sharon Lathan’s In the Arms of Mr. Darcy that is set to appear on http://www.austenprose.com I’ll post a connecting link once it’s gone up, but do keep your eye out for it!