Twilight and Ethnicity

In case you don’t know. I like Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. As usual, I came to the party later than some, but earlier than a whole lotta others.  What that means is that I started following Twilight just before the movie craze hit. And I’ve been hooked ever since. We even have Twilight parties.  I enjoy the series because it is something that I can share with my now 17 yr old boy and my 13 yr old girl. And as you can imagine, you don’t often get the chance to share too many fun times with teens that age.  Pumpkin, as you can imagine, loves the series. She is about all things Robert Pattinson; It’s cute. To be sure, his acting in the movie is not that great, and I personally imagined someone else for the role but he IS easy to look at.  But I’m not here to discuss the movie, although I would be happy to on another post.

But the book.  First and foremost I LOVE any book that gets kids interested in reading: it makes them feel good and inspires them to read other books. And that’s all that matters: READING.  Now that I’ve said that, I want to look at the Twilight Series from a multicultural perspective.  As much as I love Twilight, I am saddened or even disappointed that there aren’t a better representation of minorities in the story.  It is still surprising to me that in this day and age that writers still don’t take into consideration the broad ethnicity of readers, young readers, who are out there.  I think the inclusion of the Native American population was great.  And, of course, necessary.

I can’t help thinking that even though the real Forks Washington does not have a large minority population, the Forks in the story could have.  Should have. When the story was brought to film the movie makers rightly added a little bit of color into the story: one of the vampires was black, one high school student (the one who hit Bella with his truck) was black, and a couple of the semi main characters are of a non descript Asian background.  And that’s it, as far as I can remember.  How can this be? Oh yeah, and in one of the stories there are vampires from Mexico and other Latin countries.  I don’t think it’s enough.  To be sure, I don’t like the token people of color addition, but why can’t some of the storylines included a Southeast Asian family and its culture, for example?

I’ll save my complaints about Bella’s need for male validation for another review. Is this the 1950s or what???


What’s in My Ear? Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

How many of you love audiobooks? I love that I can take an audiobook with me everywhere and plug in, even if it’s just for a few moments. I’m never too far away from a good read (or listen, haha). My latest audiobook from Audible is called Fangirl and it’s by Rainbow Rowel.

Here’s my video review:

Books Children

Blood Diaries by Marissa Moss

Now Don’t get all bunched up about the title. Blood Diaries by Marissa Moss is a hoot!

blood diaries

Think of it as a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid (without all the mean stuff happening to Rowley) and the I Funny series.

Imagine you’re a vampire.  Now imagine you’re in the 6th grade. Starting to get the picture? Middle school is difficult enough, without being a NERD and being a vampire and not letting anyone know you’re a vampire.

Poor Edgar. What’s a guy gonna do?

Eat  your liver sandwich and try to stay below the radar that’s what.

Until the most popular girl in school decides to bully you.

Now what?

Finally, a book from the VAMPIRE perspective!



Books Young Adult

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts

I just finished a fun romp called The Year of the Great Seventh by author Teresa Orts.  Here’s a synopsis:

Sophie has always felt out of step—an outsider, even amongst friends in her high school with all the hype about celebrity culture. Her life in L.A. seems to have been already written for her, but when her junior year starts, it all takes a drastic turn. When she cYear of the Great Seventrosses paths with the school’s heartthrob, Nate Werner, they fall for each other in a way neither can understand. What they don’t know is that by giving in to their desires, they are unlocking an ancient Egyptian prophecy that threatens to return Earth to the dark ages.

To undo the curse, Nate and Sophie embark on an adventure that takes them across the country. But their quest is not only to save the world as they know it. It is also a fight for their very survival. Behind the scenes, there are those that are counting on them to fail.

There’s a lot going on with Year of the Great Seventh.  I liken it to Twilight meets Beverly Hills 90210 meets Nancy Drew.  The main character, Sophie, lives in the glamorous world of LA, actors as friends, expensive parties, etc.  But yet, all she wants to do is study history like her father.  She is inexplicably attracted to Nate Werner, the uber-sexy uber-riche bad boy of the school.  Throw in a mix of Egyptian prophecy and you’ve got some confusing things going on.

It’s not that I didn’t like the story. To be sure, there were some fun parts and some psychological twists.  But what I’m not so keen on are the parts about this boy who is so bad for her but yet they are drawn to each other. I don’t want to add any spoilers so I’ll say no more about the bad boy.

I can see how a teen might enjoy the story:  Who doesn’t dream of having a handsome boyfriend to protect them from the bad guys?  It’s also fun to peek into the over the top lifestyle of the rich and famous and see what shenanigans they get into.

Another fun aspect of the story is what I’ll call the Nancy Drew stuff.  Sophie is smart. She loves history and she decides to research this prophecy and because her father has taught her much about history, she’s able to understand it.  Who doesn’t love a smart young lady? And? because I was just in NYC recently for BEA, I loved running the streets of New York with Sophie and Nate.

There is a sequel, so keep up with Teresa Orts so you can see what happens to our dynamic duo!




Books Reviews Young Adult

Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff

I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Veronica Wolff this summer at BEA (Book Expo America).  Naturally when she told me she wrote a YA series I was intrigued.  Veronica Wolff is author of the Isle of Night series and Pumpkin’s new bestie!

The Isle of Night series is like any teen boarding school story.  Pretty girls, handsome guys, super hot instructors, vampires, and violence.  That’s right, The Isle of Night is no Facts of Life sitcom.  Unless of course, you’re Vampire and you enjoy watching young women beat each other to death.  In that case, you’ll be right at home.

If you’re tired of the simple minded heroine who needs a guy to rescue her cuz she can’t function in life on her own, this book isn’t for you.  If you’re a young lady with a brain, hate gym class, and feel like a misfit, then you’ll be able to relate to our heroine Annelise Drew.  What I love about our protagonist is that she’s smart.  Crazy smart in a Mensa candidate kind of way.  She’s smart and she knows it and she LIKES being smart. She doesn’t value herself based on her looks, which in her mind are nonexistent, and as a side note, hardly drive the story line.

Kudos to Wolff for giving us a character who isn’t obsessed with shopping or drinking or doing drugs.  Our heroine finds herself at a boarding school training to help vampires.  All of the students are misfits in some way and Annelise can’t figure out how to fit in.  What she does figure out is how to survive: and that’s by avoiding getting killed by her roommate and her Mean Girls minions.

How good is this book? As I was 30 pages in, Pumpkin took the book from me, finished it and devoured book 2 in one day.  When I finally got Isle of Night back, I stayed up until 1230 to finish it.  I’m dragging today, but IT. WAS.WORTH. IT.

I liked the book so much I’m making it my to avatar.  Oh and did I mention that one of the secondary characters is a cute Japanese boy? Wolff must have heard my yippees as I rejoiced in the multicultural characters!  I give Isle of Night four paws.  But be warned: it is violent and there is language.

Books Giveaways

Ender’s Game – An LDS Author Giveaway!

Did you know that LDS (Latter Day Saints aka Mormons) have a long history of writing? It’s true! To be sure, they write alot about their faith, but many of them do not write religious texts and write popular fiction.

The author I am featuring today is Orson Scott Card (YES), author of Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Here’s a brief synopsis of Ender’s Game found on Card’s website:

“Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails. ”

Doesn’t that sound interesting? I hope so, because I have good news: I am giving away my OWN personal copy of Ender’s Game for one lucky winner!  I am teaming up with my buddy Inspired Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer to bring you this giveaway.  She is highlighting LDS authors all month which I think is a FABULOUS way to introduce these great writers (Stephanie Meyer, anyone?).

So here’s the giveaway


LDS Authors Giveaway Hop

I am thrilled to participate in the

LDS Authors Giveaway Hop

hosted by my friend

I Am A Reader Not a Writer

and The Book Bug

Did you know that there are many LDS (Latter Day Saints) authors?

Sure you did:

Stephanie Meyer

and Orson Scott Card

for example.

There are lots more!

This hop appeals to my multiculturalism approach

because I want to include everyone.

It’s a Hop and a Giveaway!

Check back here to enter the giveaway May 11th

and see which LDS book(s) I’ll review and give away!


The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth about Forever by Sarah DessenPumpkin has enjoyed several of Sarah Dessen’s books and asked me to read The Truth about Forever.  I enjoy sharing books with my kids so I eagerly picked it up.  Dessen writes about teen girls and the topics that most interest them: boys.  I love that Dessen’s stories do not contain foul language or sexual behavior.  There are some instances of drinking, however, but you can’t expect a story about teens to be totally clean, can you?  I wouldn’t mind someone in the story learning a lesson about teen drinking, but that’s just my personal feeling.

Briefly, The Truth about Forever centers around the main character, Macy, a young teen who recently lost her father and lives with her surviving parent.  Macy’s boyfriend goes away for the summer and Macy discovers that she is unhappy with the cold, unemotional state of her relationships.  Throughout the book, Macy discovers the level of emotion she is comfortable giving and receiving.

While enjoyable, I found the book a slow read.  I think the story dragged on a little too long.  I lost interest three-quarters of the way through and put it down, reluctant to pick it back up.  Once finished though, I was satisfied with the ending.

My biggest complaint is the lack of diversity within the story.  While not openly stated, it is obvious the main characters are white, upper middle class.  The minor characters are slightly more diverse: orphaned, abused, sent to reform school, working class.  I would love to see a main character of a different ethnicity or from a different social class, as representative of Dessen’s readers.

As I think about this genre of what I’ll call teen chick lit, I cannot stop wondering why the storylines center on dating.  Surely teen girls have other interests?  And why does Macy  need a boyfriend?  Do all female characters need a mate to define themselves?  Macy defines herself by what her boyfriend wants her to be.  Initially, when he goes away she struggles to identify herself.  Her mother suffers similarly.  The mother, who lost her husband, is struggling to identify with herself without her husband.  Consequently, she becomes a workaholic.

Is the message being inferred that women are incomplete without men?  Neither the mother nor Macy has any female friends outside of their relationships with their men.  Macy gains new friends during the book, however; there is little mention of prior friends.  Pumpkin tells me that many of Dessen’s characters are loners. And what of our self-esteem?  Where are the female characters who are strong willed, open minded, adventurous, or smart, quirky, and funny?  Do young women really want to be overly protected and owned like Bella in Twilight?  Why can’t young women be more like Hermione from Harry Potter: smart, adventurous and capable of liking herself regardless of whether he has a boyfriend?

I stand down from my soap box.


The Feminism of Twilight

I seem to have a lot of thoughts about Twilight lately. And the funny thing is, my 13 yr old, die hard Twilight fan of a daughter is seeing things similarly. I posted the other day about the lack of ethnicity and then I enjoyed a conversation about it with my kids. During some rare family time, we all sat down and watched New Moon together. This, after Pumpkin announced that she didn’t like the third Twilight movie as much as she thought (she’d just recently seen it a second time). I do not hide my feelings about women’s rights (or anyone’s rights for that matter) from my children, but I think it’s important that the kids make up their own minds. But even without my guidance, Pumpkin discovered that Bella is too attached to having a man in her life.
Given that frame of mind, we re-watched New Moon and enjoyed ourselves as we pointed out Bella’s lack of feminism or self worth during the movie. Not only does Bella need a man to make her life complete, she needs a “super” man of sorts; an all powerful superhuman type of guy. Here are Bella’s other needs and faults as we saw them.
• Bella is very clumsy. VERY clumsy. Always needing to be rescued.
• She lets both men in her life drive her car. Chauvinism much?
• Edward tosses her around a lot; tossing her across a room to escape being bitten, tossing her over his shoulders so they can climb trees, or tossing her away when he thinks they shouldn’t date anymore.
• Jacob also carries Bella around a lot, almost always shirtless. What’s that about?
• Bella is an adrenaline junkie: in New Moon she’s constantly setting herself up to get hurt, and in Eclipse, she cuts herself on purpose.
• Both guys in her life tell her to go away and that they don’t want her. But she won’t believe it.
• Bella leads Jacob on. She’s a close talker and EVERY conversation they have is close up. No wonder the poor boy always tries to kiss her. She is sending him mixed messages!
• She feels like she’s Mother Earth and needs to protect her boyfriends. So…she’s all powerful but yet not worthy of anyone’s love.
• And most importantly, she is willing to die for the love of her life. Why do kids always want to die to prove their love for someone?
I can’t discuss this series without talking about the lack of parenting in this series. I understand that young adult literature usually has parents who are in the background of sorts and that’s OK. But in this story, it doesn’t quite make sense. First of all, the Mom gets remarried first and lets the daughter go and live with the Dad? Who ever heard of such nonsense? And the Dad stays a bachelor forever? That’s kinda odd too. It is the men who usually remarry first. Ok so Charlie is still holding out for Bella’s mom. He needs help. Or to move on. And Charlie, you let Bella sit and mope for months after Edward leaves?? Bad Dad, Bad. Give her a week or something and then talk to her. But no, you let her suffer all fall and winter. Dude, she’s having nightmares and doesn’t eat. She needs some help. Get her some counseling or some Prozac. And how come the mother is no where in the movie? If the daughter is that out of it, the mom should be right there offering her support. Mom’s understand about heartbreak. It’s what we do.

What are you thoughts on the series? Agree or not?