Monthly Archives: March 2013

“You will get pregnant – AND DIE” Death and pregnancy in teen novels

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Most teenagers have seen the classic high school movie ‘Mean Girls‘. Lindsay Lohan was in her prime, Rachel McAdams was up and coming, and the memorable quotes just go on and on and on. While I’m still trying to make ‘Fetch’ work, one memorable quote comes from Coach Carr whose Sex Ed lesson included the pearl of wisdom ‘Don’t have sex. You will get pregnant. And die.’ Although this was a flip comment, it is alarming how many novels aimed at teenagers that do include sex also include pregnancy and death.

First, my least favourite, but without doubt the most famous: Twilight: Breaking Dawn, by Stephanie Meyer. It may take one thousand pages to get there, but after their one sex scene, during which they’re actually married, so it’s hardly just horny high-schoolers, Bella gets pregnant. And, whilst giving birth, she dies. Technically, she becomes undead, as her vampire-husband turns her, but still. She does technically die.

Second, and my favourite, is Noughts and Crosses, by Malorie Blackman. Callum and Sephy only get to do it once, and though it is during her abduction, theirs was a baby made in love. However, as a result of this, Callum is arrested for rape, and dies. She gets pregnant. He dies. My heart breaks.

There is the slightly disturbing Koizora, the japanese tale of Mika and Hiro. She gets pregnant, but after being raped and abused she loses her baby. The second time, she is pregnant and Hiro dies from cancer.

Go Ask Alice, edited by Beatrice Sparks is primarily an anti drugs text, though at the point where Alice thinks she may be pregnant, her grandfather suffers a heart attack.

I understand that we shouldn’t be encouraging teenagers to have sex – but surely modern novels aimed at teenagers would be more useful if they mentioned a condom from time to time? Especially as a lot of the teenagers mentioned were over sixteen (guys I’m British – age of consent is lower than the states) and were completely legal in their actions. It actually really surprises me how often teenagers having sex is followed up with pregnancy and death in so many young adult novels.

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Book Review – Tempting the Bride, Sherry Thomas

tempting the bride I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. And I can explain exactly why in two words: They talk.  Halle-fricking-lujah! Finally. My constant pet peeve with romance novels is that the main characters don’t ever seem to have a full conversation. They’re all far too lusty and distracted by whatever drama is keeping them apart. However, with Tempting the Bride you can read the two protagonists verbally attacking each other, in the form of memories of the protagonist, David, and also the tender conversations they have while the heroine, Helena is recovering. David has loved Helena all his life, but after initial rejection has been ruled by his pride and made somewhat of an enemy of her, with constant jibes and taunts. However, on the day her affair with a married man is about to be discovered, David steps in, saving her reputation, but also resulting on their elopement.

Thus begin the pitfalls. Yes, I love that the protagonists talk, and thus have a chronicled relationship. However, other aspects of the plot could quite easily be categorized as lazy. For example, Helena gets amnesia. Seriously. Tale as old as time, however here it means that she and her husband, who her present self despises, have a chance to start over. Which is nice, in a very sickly sweet, predictable way.

They were forced into marriage after she was compromised, and then fell in love. I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly how many marriages were the result of being ‘compromised’ but it would be nice if something else compelled a marriage ever once in a while. There are surely hundreds of reasons why two people must marry, and being caught with a man is just one of them. It would be great if authors could explore more please.

Yes, this book is predictable. Yes, it is also clichéd. But the plot beneath the plot, the actual relationships that blossom are really well done. so if you can get past the superficial elements of the book, you may be surprised about how much you enjoy it. The sex scenes are pretty hot too.

 

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Counting Down for Sylvia!

Well, any randy readers out their must be licking their lips and cracking their knuckles in anticipation for the third installment of the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day! The predecessors, Bared to You and Reflected in You were both absolute scorchers and, judging by the snippets Ms Day has released so far, the Entwined with You promises to be just as hot!

The Crossfire series details the relationship between Eva and Gideon. Both are fabulously rich. Both are insanely beautiful. He has more power and money than most people could dream of, and she has connections and friends most twenty something career girls would sell their soul for. But before you hate them – they are also both damaged, almost, but not quite, beyond repair. After suffering abuse throughout their childhoods, the pair are finally acknowledging that they struggle with normal relationships, and so hold nothing back in an attempt to not lose each other. The love and passion in this books is amazing, and although their relationship is highly sexual, Sylvia Day also includes the conversations and every day going on that lead to love, a factor which is often missing. Normally, when I read a romance novel, I tend to find the characters in lust over love, but Sylvia Day manages to throw in that little extra something special to tip the scales.

I’m not going to lie, I did not think that I would like these books. Truly, after having been disappointed with the Fifty Shades trilogy, I kind of expected more of the same. In my opinion, this is so much better – unless you were into fifty shades for the BDSM, which doesn’t feature all that much in Crossfire. For a start, despite all that happened in her childhood, Eva is feisty, ambitious and tens to be pretty sure of her own mind. She wants Gideon, but won’t be used for sex, and is determined about that. Her thought processes are clear, unlike Anastasia of Fifty Shades who didn’t seem to ever really know what was happening, and could barely have a conversation with her boyfriend without dissolving into a quivering mess. And Gideon is as rich and powerful and damaged as Christian Grey – but he doesn’t seem quite so isolated or untouchable. His family are more of a feature than Grey’s, which maybe makes him more human, and he doesn’t dictate every mood and conversation.

Although there is some domination/submissive talk in Crossfire novels, it tends to be more of an emotional thing, rather than physical. I mean, yes, Eva like it better when he’s on top or in control, but that’s about it. This is just personal preference: I just don’t get a guy who takes pleasure in hurting a girl. I understood his issues, the control, the tying up and bondage, even the eye contact thing – but when he caned her, I just lost interest. I didn’t get how that stemmed from control, and it sure as hell turned me off. But that is just me. I prefer Gideon’s attitude, which is probably as controlling – but where he would never even dream of hurting Eva ever. not even a little.

Another thing that surprised me was how well Sylvia Day manages to walk the tightrope between erotic and crude. She uses some pretty vile and explicit language – but it works, and there is nothing vulgar or cheap about the lovemaking scenes in the Crossfire novels. She gets the balance right, which is really hard to do.

Seriously, start rereading the first two books now, and bring on June!

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Noughts and Crosses – The Ultimate Teen Read

ImageNoughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is without doubt the ultimate teen read. As a young adult, it is a great step towards more adult fiction, and it covers a myriad of serious topics that really affect teenagers – and I’m not talking about spots, bitchy friends or strict parents. Noughts and Crosses really has it all – racism, suicide, sex, violence, murder, corruption; the really serious issues that smart teenagers want to learn about without having to shake the dust off old tomes and have a dictionary by their side.

So meet Callum, a Nought, and Sephy, a Cross. In a world where Crosses (black people) are the superioir race, and Noughts (whie people) are still fighting for equality and independence, Callum and Sephy are as unlikely as two best friends could be. As their lives spiral out of control in opposite directions, they both struggle to make the right choices in life, though every route seems to lead back to each other. I love this book too much to spoil it – but have your hankies at the ready, as the character depth and build up of emotion in this story is astounding, and it WILL pull on your heartstrings. I was twelve the first time I read this book, and it truly stayed with me.

The great thing about this book, compared to many novels for both younger and older readers, is that things don’t tend to work out the way you want them. It’s real, it’s representative of life. it teaches us to accept that good people do bad things, that you have to fight if you want to make a difference, and that you might not win. It shows that there is injustice and corruption, and rather giving the message that things will work out if you are a good person, it makes a clear statement that things don’t always work out, and if you want them to you will have to get up and do something about it. The character development really sucks in the reader, who will love, understand and sympathize with every step the characters take, even when you’ll be wanting to scream at them not to. There are no ‘terrible misunderstandings’ or situations that are blown out of proportion – civil rights don’t come easy.

If you are ready to put aside high school dramas and sink your teeth into something great, then you MUST read Noughts and Crosses. Despite the breadth of serious topics the book covers the plot is easily followed, and everything just flows. The characters are written brilliantly, and the subject is given the respect and seriousness it deserves without making the book too heavy. I really cannot recommend this book enough for any young readers out there.

Also – watch out for Jude. He’s a complicated fellow, and ten years on, I still can’t make my mind up about him.

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Book Review – Fate Interrupted, Kaitlyn Cross

Fate InterruptedFate Interrupted is currently one of the most popular novels on Amazon under the romance genre. It is a contemporary romance novel describing the blossoming relationship between Dean, a lawyer, and Evy a cupcake baker/barmaid, whose love story takes place in Milwaukee.
However, despite the book’s popularity, I personally found that the plot fell victim to several common pitfalls and clichés. I want to know why every beautiful, sexy, confident woman in a romance novel is a virgin, or only ever been with one guy. This is nice, and I’m not saying that hot girls should be promiscuous, but every guy seems to be a player. And there seems to be some massive gender gap here, which is absolutely never, in my experience, reversed. A girl can be classy even having slept with more than one guy, and a guy can be sexy and confident without having to prove it with regular one night stands.
There is then the ever infuriating (for me personally) hotshot business man, with the girl who makes cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, Evy is smart, pretty and talented, but I’m just sick of heroines who enjoy baking, sewing, teaching etc. I’m not disparaging these careers for women, but there is no doubt that these days women have the option to do more than pursue feminine tasks. Give me a heroine who’s a doctor instead of a nurse, the lawyer instead of the victim client, or the hotshot business woman instead of the chick who needs advice from one. Novels such as Fate Interrupted, the Cupcake Café, and Candy Store have all mounted my frustrations. I’d love for a couple of romance authors to give the Good Wife a watch – women can be smart and high powered as well as sexy. If I want to read about feminine females, then I’d pick up historical, not contemporary romances. Though even then, I prepare the heroine to have a feisty, sassy, unpredictable side.
Then there is the modern-day urgency that just doesn’t translate. You know how in a horror movie, the characters do something and you’re sat thinking ‘Why? Surely someone would call the police right about now?’ Well in Fate Interrupted, our hero Dean is in fact a lawyer, who ends up in dire straits being blackmailed by a city alderman. I mean, seriously. An apparently capable lawyer, who doesn’t even try to challenge or fight back with the alderman, but instead gives in to all his demands, and does nothing but sulk about it. It just doesn’t seem realistic. And how much power does an alderman really have? The ridiculousness of this situation just felt a bit silly and over exaggerated to me. There are so many things Dean could have done, and so much legal actions that could have brought the alderman to his knees, that the plot loses credibility for me.
The final pitfall, and this is one that has been dawning on me gradually, is the absolute lack of conversation, or anything other than lust between the protagonists before they realize they are in love. It’s clear they are in lust, but I feel like the reader deserves a little more character depth and dialogue before the L-word is thrown out. I want to know why they love each other, that doesn’t involve playtime between the sheets. I mean, most women know that you don’t necessarily fall in love with a guy because he’s great in bed – it’s the thousand other things about them that make you swoon.
Fate interrupted has some steamy sex scenes and pretty intense chemistry between the characters, but if you’re looking for something with substance to go with sex, I’d maybe keep looking.

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Quote for readers

 

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“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Jane Austen

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