Let’s rant about NA!

Hi, guys! 2014 is coming to a fast and ignoble end and finally it happened. We’ve hit that point – you know that point. The one we hit where we’ve read so many books, this time of the New Adult variety, that quite a few commonalities have begun to surface and we just can’t take it anymore. We have to rant! Let’s just jump right into this shall we cause we can’t hold off and be nice any longer. BTW this is so NSFW or people under the age of 18 or anyone but us really cause we are all about to start swearing and talking about girl bits and it won’t be pretty.

You’ve been warned.

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Rant #3: even more literary pet peeves

A while back Judith and I, fed up with complaining to each other, decided to compile a list of our biggest pet peeves in YA fiction in what was unarguably one of the best posts we’ve ever had (due in large part to the amazing comments and additions we received from you guys!). We felt it’s the perfect time to create an updated list – touching on some of our earlier points but also ranting about new things that bug us.

As before – please chime in and let us know what bugs you, if you agree, and what we might have missed. Oh and just FYI – this time we’ve expanded to include pet peeves from non-YA books. We gotta vent somewhere, y’all! (We both just got back from Texas, can’t help it.)

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Rant #2: Our YA pet peeves

It’s been a long time since we had a nice rant and both Judith and I feel there’s no time like the present. Or maybe it’s just that we got so sick of bitching to each other about all our YA complaints that we’ve decided to drag you all down with us. But just like how the new Step Up movie is using dance as a form of revolution (btw, seriously??) we are going to use our rant as a voice of the people!

That being said this rant is slightly different than my previous cautionary tale. This is not about a specific author but about things we keep seeing over and over again in books and can no longer keep quiet about. Also, this is a co-sponsored Judith/Ellen rant, rather than a solo fight against bad writing and friends who loan you awful books with no warning of what is about to come. So let’s get started.

Dear

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Authors,

While we do love your books we are troubled by the serious lack of research and editing that runs rampant through current YA novels. I know that many would disagree but it is our feeling that before pressing that “publish” button (not that I have any idea how this actually works) everything should be triple checked and edited to the nth degree. As we all know, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Here are just a few of our major pet peeves:

1) New York City. I understand that setting your book in NYC offers a wealth of opportunities that other cities just don’t provide. After all, world famous supermodels normally don’t mingle with rock stars in Syracuse. But if you’re going to set your book in New York PLEASE for the love of Prada get a few things right. First of all – no one in NYC drives a car. While the über-rich do have drivers who are at their disposal 24/7, the average person never drives in the city. Hell, I lived in New York for 9 years without ever driving. I’m sick of all these stories where every character owns and drives their own car and has no trouble finding parking. Ridiculous. Second – yes, the island of Manhattan is only 13.5 miles long but please keep in mind that this is not like driving your average 13.5 miles. You can’t get from the Upper West Side to Wall Street in 15 minutes, even though they’re like 5 miles apart. Think an hour at least, unless you get caught in a traffic jam or your train is running on a Sunday schedule. Ugh and don’t even get me started on random MTA construction, who knows what that’ll do to your journey. Trips from Wall Street to Brooklyn can take 20 minutes or an hour and a half depending on stupid construction (and that’s a mile as the crow flies).

2) Google is your friend. I recently read a book where not only did one character get sooo excited that her boyfriend flew “100 miles” from California to Princeton, NJ to see her but then took her to a hotel roof-top where “she could now see clearly most of the land that made up New Jersey. From here she had a three-hundred-sixty degree view of the city.” (Direct quote). Seriously? A two second Google search will show you that the distance from Cali to NJ is over 2,500 miles. And New Jersey is a state not a city!! Yes, maybe I’m overly sensitive about this since it’s currently (lamentably?) the state in which both Judith and I live but I’m pretty sure no one on Earth has escaped the wonderfulness that is Jersey Shore and should for that reason, at the very least, realize that NJ is a state which cannot be viewed in its entirety while visiting a rooftop bar. Jeesh.

3) Basic word usage. Normally little things like grammar and the correct word choice don’t bother me–oh, who am I kidding?! They do. In fact, they bother me a lot! So much so that I have to point this out to all the authors who do it: ‘drug’ is not the past tense of ‘drag’. OMG! This has cropped up so much lately that it’s ridiculous. Let me say it again, DRUG IS NOT THE PAST TENSE OF DRAG.

Along the same vein, the phrase is ‘intents and purposes’ not ‘intensive purposes’. I don’t even want to ponder what ‘intensive purposes’ means. Critical purposes? I have to admit: I made this rookie mistake oh way back in 1996 when I was fresh and young and had only heard adults say it around me and wanted to appear worldly and smart in my writing. It took a few years and a lot of reading to learn how stupid and naive it sounded when I wrote ‘intensive purposes’. But I am telling you now, you are a writer and it doesn’t make any sense so stop. Just stop.

4) A comma is not a period. I repeat, a comma is not a period. So many writers these days don’t seem to understand what a sentence is and where it stops. Now, I’m all for your freedom of expression: you should be able to use a comma however you want in a loosey goosey fashion that makes your writing seem poetic or lyrical or whatever you want to call it. But as soon as all those commas start to annoy me, it’s done. Over. Finished. Time to revert to using a period once again. And let’s be honest here, the period has been in use for a long time because it obviously works.

5) Stupid character names. For the love of all that is holy, what is with all the crazy and heavy handed character names lately? What happened to Sarah and John? LJ Smith wrote using names like Jenny and Matt and she’s now an internationally famous author with two TV series under her belt. Believe me: if she can do it, you can too. But no, I am consistently subjected to a slew of names like Finn, Mackenzie, Beau, Sawyer, Jude, Dank, Celeste, Lucy, etc. Now don’t get me wrong. These are good names (except maybe Dank cause that’s just crazypants). There is nothing wrong with them. My problem is that not just one or two characters has crazy names because even that would be acceptable. No, the entire character set has whacked out trendy names and it just makes it difficult to read and connect with them.

 

So there you have it, our top YA pet peeves (that come to mind, I’m sure next time we chat we’ll realize a few we’ve forgotten). Now really, is all this too much to ask? To all the authors out there please heed these few warnings and your books will be so much better for it! At the very least think of poor Judith and I who spend SO much time complaining to each other ad nauseum and are hoping to make the world a better place for all the book bloggers out there!

XOXO,

Ellen and Judith

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Caveat Emptor for sure: Melanie Marks (An Official Ellen Rant)

So originally this was going to be a book review and then I was strolling through Judith’s recent posts and saw this. Which made me pause and then get very upset because both Judith and I fell into the trap (well: Judith fell and then dragged me down by loaning me the books WITHOUT WARNING) of buying a bunch of books by the same author which turned out to be – I’m sorry to admit – awful . I really don’t type this lightly. I know that as an author you work long and hard over your finished product but sometimes you need to realize that not every book is a gem. And so I felt this was a perfect time for our first Official Ellen Rant in order to save anyone out there from suffering from the same punishment I did (and I said “I” because after I sent about 5 threatening emails to Judith entitled “How could you do this to me” she admitted she didn’t even read them all. She gave up. And then pushed them on me. WTF?)

Okay I’m not going to lie, I love to rant. I can rant about almost anything. Politics, that new Tim Riggins movie (looks awful but he’s shirtless, so I’m in), even which infomercial is the best (please, no question). So while I’m going to try keep this as organized as possible, please forgive me for any tangents or insanity. If you knew me (which is possible since I think the only people currently reading are friends) you’d realize this is just going to happen. Oh, and I’m sorry for any Kanye-level CAPS rants but sometimes that really is necessary.

My problems with Ms. Marks’ Books:

  1. The fact that the first book both Judith and I read was “His Kiss” is cosmically hilarious. As you read in her review it’s a cute book but nothing much happens. And come on, how many of us haven’t read a so-so book and then thought “I could read more so-so books by this author”. So that’s what I expected! And instead each one got worse and worse. Either my Kindle actually loaded them in order from best to worst (“best” being used subjectively) or they just wore me down in the exact way something is NOT supposed to wear you down, by making you realize how terrible they were.
  2. THE COVERS. Okay I only need to focus on one right here – can we please all agree that the girl on the cover of The Dating Deal is maybe 13? Cause that’s just creepy. I know some YA books are written for younger audiences but when your book is about high school students pretending to date each other PLEASE don’t have a girl this young on the cover. Oh, and this was only compounded by the fact that the author kept describing her as looking child-like. Let’s say it together: ewwwwwwwwww
  3. As I read through the books I noticed that the author LITERALLY CUTS AND PASTES PASSAGES FROM ONE BOOK INTO ANOTHER! I’m not even joking. I read one passage in at least 3 books. I remember several instances of her pasting entire pages from one book into another (I’m sorry that I can’t give you specific pages but they were loaned from Judith and I’m so not buying them to make a point. Judith can help out if she wants!) Seriously? If you can’t come up with original material then at the very least skip that section. Don’t f’ing cut and paste. If students in a middle school English class can’t do it then neither should you — someone who is CHARGING people to read what they write.
  4. The hidden religious agenda. Look I’m not going to lie, I’m not a reader of religious fiction but I have no problem with it as a genre. As much as I rant about certain topics, I truly don’t care if you want to write books rated G or X, about aliens or even angels – just be up front with what your books are about so I can avoid them if I choose to. I don’t think it’s necessary to specify what religion is mentioned in terms of this rant, all I have to say is that I felt like it was constantly pushed on me. For instance – in When Kyle Came Back the boy (Kyle) has been through an amazing amount of stuff. He was kidnapped from his idyllic home by his clinically insane father and forced to do awful things. Then he is found and comes back to his original (foster) family. And you know what: he handles all his shit completely admirably. Yes, he smokes a few cigarettes but always puts them out in front of his little sister because he doesn’t want to be a bad influence. AND THAT’S IT. He doesn’t go crazy, or lock himself in a room, or become an alcoholic – he just tries to get through his day. And yet the main girl (who was his bff before Kyle was kidnapped) is worried because he won’t go to church. She seriously at one point was like “I knew he was on the right track back to being MY Kyle because he was hanging out with church friends” (paraphrase). Oh! And in the aforementioned The Dating Deal the main dude is so in love with and inspired by his secret crush (obvi the girl he’s “pretending” to date) that he and his younger sister convert to their religion WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH HIS PARENTS. Ugh, talk about unrealistic.
  5. The ultimate “piss Ellen off” topic. It turns out (spoiler alert) that part of the reason Kyle came back in (wait for it) When Kyle Came Back is because the power of the main girl’s prayer saved Kyle’s life when he was supposed to die. And so now ANGELS AND DEMONS are chasing after Kyle and generic girl. Oh, there are also A+D in A Demon’s Kiss (not as shocking that they’re there, though). Are you kidding me? I just….I just can’t with this one anymore. Please just read my comment here.
  6. The punishment my liver had to go through due to these books. Now granted I read these over a long weekend but I still think it took me between 3-4 BOTTLES of wine to make it through. You guys – that is NOT okay. And for those of you who know me this isn’t like “all I drank over a 4 day period was 4 bottles of wine” because we all know that’s nothing for me. I’m saying in order to get through these 5 books I had to drink 3-4 bottles of wine. That’s almost a bottle per book! And (no offense) but I need to save my liver for nights out in NYC and bad days at school, not YA books. So even though I’m not rating the books I’m giving them a -50 (-10 per book) on behalf of my liver. Someone needs to speak out for the unspoken YA victims!

So there it is. I promise next time I’ll review an actual book instead of several (with a lot of ranting along the way). And if you ever want to rant along with me just drop us a line, I’m always interested! Especially if you want to discuss the eternal Pajama Jeans vs EZ Cracker Infomercial debate. I truly love them both.

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