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19 September, 2010

Cholle's Bookshelf: A book review of: Just Ella - Margaret Peterson Haddix

Just Ella - Cover

Every once in a while, when my library stack drops below, oh, 20 books or so, I'll just roam a random section of the library and grab books that jump out at me. I'm a judge-a-book-by-it's-cover-until-I-read-the-actual-book type, so sue me. When nothing specific jumps out at me, I'll go to a familiar author and find books by that author that I haven't read yet. And that is how I ended up with Just Ella on my reading list.

Go figure - I mixed up 'Margaret Peterson Haddix', author of 'Among the Hidden' which was okay, with 'Mary Downing Hahn' author of "Wait 'Til Helen Comes" and "The Doll in the Garden", whom I LOVE. Mary Downing Hahn writes teen and young adult ghost stories. Not too scary, but slightly creepy, and creative, well written, and extremely interesting. Not to mention easy, quick reads for those nights that I can't sleep and want a book I can ready with my flashlight in the dark and not have to continue in the bright cheery morning. I would definitely recommend her books, and I'll definitely be grabbing a few on my next trip to the library!

But, since I made such an egregious (;]) error, I thought I should read it anyway. The story seemed enticing enough: It's the story of what happens to Cinderella AFTER she agrees to marry Prince Charming and is swept away to 'happily ever after'. Needless to say, that's not what she finds at the castle with her gossiping, daft ladies-maids, quietly tittering about the new princess's mistakes, her strict and foolish tutors, who are unyielding in the ridiculous rules of royal protocol, and of course, Prince UNCharming, who is brainless, personality-less, and really only interested in marrying a gorgeous girl who can pop out some gorgeous kids to follow in the gorgeous tradition set forth by his gorgeous ancestors.

The first half of the book is Ella complaining about the above mentioned hinderences in her happily ever after, plus being forced to stitch tapestries instead of taking care of her own fire or, may all her tutors properly faint, talking about something un-dainty. With all these boring things being forced on her, no wonder she starts to see the creep of a prince isn't who she thought he was (REALLY?? Somebody you danced with, said two words to, then agreed to marry???? REALLY??? I'm shocked.) and that she's not sure she's actually in love with.

Enter Jed, stage right. Cute, motivated, and passionate son of a tutor who lets her use her wit and ask forbidden questions. A little stupid, stubborn, and unwilling to act, but overall, I really like him. He's the only character I cared for at all. He had some kind of spunk to him. Jed's dream is to run a camp for refugees stripped of their homes by the war between two neighboring kingdoms, yet he's supposed to be following in Daddy's footsteps. Be some royal something or another. But when Ella goes drastic and stirs up the story, he realizes his dream(s).

So let's put it this way. I hated the beginning of the story. It was boring, it dragged, and all the characters were lame shells of people. Ella is whiny and I really didn't want her to have a happy ending. I was sitting there going 'YEAH, SUCKER!! MARRY YOUR STUPID PRINCE LAME-O. THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR BEING STUPID!! MUWAHAHA!!' But the second half, once Jed came into the picture, I really liked it. I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't know how. I was surprised (which is crazy for me!), and a little grossed out, to be honest. But the writing was exponentially better, but that could be because the story was more interesting. then... the ending. Grrr. I wanted to scream. The ending is not friendly. In the least. If you like cliff-hangers that NEVER get answers, then a must read. HA.

Parental guide: not much to be terribly worried about. The biggest thing is in the second half the prince and his advisors bring in a nasty guy to persuade the princess to fall into line. Later on it's revealed that he was sentenced to death for a string of rapes. Not exactly the kind of thing kids need to know about. There was also some violence and cruelty. The prince himself kills the rapist in front of Ella. Plus on the refuge there are a lot of wounded victims that are described in minimum. The actions of Ella's step family, along with the majority of  the palace's inhabitants are very cruel and emotionally to mildly physical abuse.Language, nothing, really. Just a lot of whines.

Overall rating - 2.8 out of 5. May someday grace my bookshelf.


"Fudge, Pshaw, and Other Salty Expressions." -Bullwinkle, from the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

Live, let live, be happy.

Cholle's Bookshelf: A book review of: Dark Blue - Color Me Lonely, A novel - Melody Carlson

Alrighty. This is a book series I got by request, and quite honestly, one I've never heard of. But, alas, my almost-local library had it, so here I am. I just finished the first book in the series - Dark Blue, Color Me Lonely. My overall impression: Let's save that til the end.

The story is about shy, almost non existent, teen-aged Kara, who - oh dearest me!- loses her one and only friend Jordan, who's been her voice since kindergarten. And by voice, I mean she completely ran Kara's life for her. Kara makes it pretty clear that she has never had an identity. And without her security blanket of a best friend, she goes into a major depression as bubbly and outgoing Jordan lands a spot of the oh-so-fabulous school cheerleading team, and along with that a whole slew of the proverbial snot-nosed, snide, bratty cheerleader friends who belittle and degrade everyone not cool enough to sit at their IN-lunch table. So, very predictably, Jordan and Kara are pulled further apart, with Kara crying about it, and Jordan saying she's trying to 'make Kara fit in'... In other words, inviting her to lunch once, totally ignoring her, and then coming up later and saying "well why didn't you do this and this and this?" Oh yeah, great friend.

Anyways, after bemoaning her dire situation for a while, Kara, who decided to take the very uncool class of art (seriously? Who in their right mind decided that art is uncool??), lands in a group of art freaks who admire her work: The crazy rebel girl, the devoted geeky Christian boy, and the middle of the road personality-less preppy girl. let's be honest, I don't really remember their names, and I already gave the book back. Oh well. Which leads into the second half of the story.

The art freaks have a lunch-time art study group that they invite Kara into, and in doing so invite her into their lives. Crazy rebel girl, I think her name was Amy??, turns out to not only be a cool gothic chick, but also turns out to have a talent for makeovers, finding treasures in thrift stores, being confident, and **SHOCKER** she has a soul hidden under all the black (OH NO!) makeup and sarcastic attitude. She uses all of these to transform first geeky Christian boy (Eugene maybe? That definitely sounds geeky) and makes him into a hot 60's DUDE (I'm sorry, but 60's? Not the hottest fashion trend there, honey), and then Kara for a (OF COURSE) date to a school dance between the two. Shocker. Shy lead character dates geeky-turned-hot secondary character. Anyways, this leads devoted still-mostly-geeky Christian boy to sharing his religious pursuits with her. Preppy girl really doesn't have anything to do with the story, other than fighting with Rebel chick.


Ahh, good ol' Christian values. Now, don't get me wrong, I am very religious, and I appreciate God and blessings and good religious stories. But I'm not too into the whole everyone-has-to-believe-what-I-believe. And I'm really not into the whole "I AM CHRISTIAN, HEAR ME ROAR". I prefer people to think I believe in God and Jesus because of my actions, and not because every time someone asks me who my best friend is, I reply "Jesus" and am constantly talking about how I'm letting Him into my heart. That is MY business. If someone wants to know more, and asks ME, that's fine. But it has to be THEIR choice. So the whole preachy holier than thou thing really got to me. I prefer a little more understated approach.

Worse still, the whole tale was supposed to be about Kara growing away from her old friend and finding herself. I didn't get that at ALL. What I got was sad-girl found new friends to follow, and did so whole-heartedly. She always devoted herself to being the perfect best friend for Jordan, having the same hobbies, liking the same things. She did the exact same thing with her new friends. What kind of message is that?

So to finish up with the technicalities, I'm going to point out a few more negatives. Go figure. The writing was poorly executed. I wrote something of a similar caliber when I was ten. Seriously. It was very straight forward. Like no sentence was more than 6 words. Whew. Think you can manage that? Likewise, the character development..: There was none. Everything was very predictable and cliche. The closest it got to crossing the line was literally borderline words like 'crap' and 'lesbian' at the beginning. Kind of like a trap to make you think you're getting into something just a touch racy. But alas, you get a Sunday Sermon (and I mean SERMON) instead.

One thing I did appreciate was the author pointed out that religious doesn't make everything peachy-keen-jelly-bean. You're going to have hard times no matter what. The idea is that religion can help you THROUGH things. And this was shown (again, in a predictable, cliche, way) when Kara and her friends helped each other through a tragedy.

But overall, I was kind of disappointed. It is a very simple read due to the simplicity of the writing. I read it in about an hour. It was definitely too preachy for my taste, but for people that have grown up with the 'You have to let Jesus into your heart" or you're looking for a religious awakening, and you want something that smacks you in the face, this might just be your kind of book. It wasn't AWFUL. It had enough to justify me grabbing the second book in the series. So sooner or later I'll let you know about Deep Green: Color Me Jealous. Hopefully it's a little more interesting. We'll see :]

So: Now for my overall rating. 1.5-2 out of 5. Not one that I'll be buying for my bookcase.

So that's it for this book review. Hopefully I've helped some people find a read they'll really enjoy or saved someone from a tragically disappointing tale. Check back for more, or send me in requests!


"Fudge, Pshaw, and Other Salty Expressions" - Bullwinkle, from the Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky Show

Live, let live, be happy.

07 September, 2010

So... It's September... You know what that means... :D

Good evening, bloggers! I... officially can't sleep! So I took it as a personal reminder that I was going to post!
I'm sure you've noticed roaming around stores that the Halloween stuff is out already, and has been for about a month. Since when did Halloween prep start in August?? Although, I'm not one to complain. Being that makeup is one of my absolute favorite things to do, Halloween is one big play-day. What could be better? A day that you're allowed to go all out and crazy. The day you can be anything in the world that you want. I'm in!

So... It seems silly, but the ghoulish merchandise is actually getting me excited. I gotta admit, I'm the "ohmigosh-I-can't-believe-they're-putting-stuff-out-already"-and-put-off-thinking-about-it-until-the-last-minute-type. This year, however... I'm ready. The sitting-in-a-chair-and-bouncing-up-and-down-like-a-little-kid-waiting-for-birthday-presents-excited. The problem, I have about 10 things I think would be amazing to be for Halloween. Anyone care to start a petition to make Halloween a week instead of one night? 

What makes it seem even MORE anxious is I have people calling to make appointments for make-up... already. I have the feeling I'm going to be booked this year. So much for freelance. HAHA. and then in addition to that I have a bunch of friends and followers writing and saying 'I'm stuck. This is what I wanna do, how do I do it??"  I am having way too much fun shopping for crazy makeup (Okay, okay, glitter make up. Everything else I keep year around. But glitter...I'm always disgusted by it by the end of the season), and I have officially purchased about 30 different false lashes. and not simple, nice, modest ones. Crazy, full, edgy, and some just downright cheesy. 'Tis the season!!

It's been amazingly fun. My family keeps looking at me like I'm insane cause I've been walking around the house with fantastic looking bloody gashes, as multitudes of dead characters, and glam-izons galore.

This is my first practice cut. I was pretty darn proud of this. But I'm getting a lot better now. The best part: it was all make up, and ridiculously cheap makeup at that. I didn't waste ONE CENT on any awful costume make up that tends to only last about half an hour, and looks fake anyway. I had this stuff on for hours. It's super easy to control the look of. And ACUTELY more comfortable.  It would have looked a lot better if I wasn't so pale, but considering I showed my mom and she freaked out with the "WHAT THE HECK DID YOU DO???", I'm not going to complain. ;) Sadly, I'm having more fun doing the blood, guts, and gore than I am with with all the pretty stuff. Probably cause I get my fill at prom and homecoming, but you'd think I'd be estatic to get into the big gaudy hair, jewelry, and makeup. Maybe when we get a little bit closer to the holiday...

I guess what I'm saying is... I'm ready, and I'm eager. If you have any ideas, LET ME HELP.  I'm officially in the Halloween zone. Ready for all the vampires, animals (CATS make up turned out AWESOME), dead rockstars, gothics, angels, fairies, zombies, witches, ogres, and anything that takes major amounts of creativity. Last year I ended up doing stuff as random as a housewife. I gotta say, that is the first, and hopefully the last, time I've ever TRIED to make myself look like I had zits all over my face. ICK!!

So go on... Challenge me.

Happy Haunting


Live, let live, be happy.