A Very Twilight Review

By now, you’re all familiar with the way that I review movies.  It’s not really reviewing so much as sharing my unfiltered thoughts here on my blog.

Yesterday, the world of YA fiction got a bit of a surprise in the form of Life and Death, also known as Gender-Bent Twilight.

My initial reaction was, “What the hell?  Who came up with that?”

Then my sister explained to me that it was, in fact, STEPHENIE MEYER who came up with that.

And just like that, I knew that I was going to read it.  Not because I think Stephenie Meyer is all that great a writer (she’s really not) or because I’m a Twihard (I enjoy the books, but not obsessively like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games).  No.  I knew I was going to read the book out of pure, unadulterated, shameless curiosity.

And that’s what I did.


After I finished the book (yes, I read it in one day… yes, I’m a freakishly fast reader), I debated whether or not I was going to review it on my blog.  As I fell asleep, I was sort of thinking, “Nah… Not really worth my time.  Besides, dozens of other bloggers will be doing the exact same thing.”  But then, scrolling through GoodReads this morning, I saw that most readers were simply wailing and bemoaning the book’s existence.  So I thought, “Oh, what the heck?” and here I am.

I need to preface this once again by saying, yes, I read the original Twilight saga and yes, I kind of love it.  I thought it was a fun story with magic and great escapism.  It’s the kind of book that, while the writing not be great, you leave the world feeling like you belonged there and the characters in that world feel like old friends.  It’s exactly how books you love are supposed to make you feel.

That being said, Life and Death was not nearly as magical an experience as Twilight.  Maybe because I’m ten years older now.  Maybe because I went in thinking a male version of Bella was going to be hilarious.  I don’t know.  But here are my thoughts.  Enjoy.

*Warning: SPOILERS*

Thoughts on Life And Death

  • Obvious that Smeyer is making the effort to make this inner monologue a bit more typical of a teenage boy, but he still sounds awfully wishy-washy.
  • Beau’s description makes him sound like an Emo-Kid and even though he doesn’t say this at ALL, for some reason I’m imagining him with greasy hair and bad acne.  That’s just the vibe his personality gives off.  No way is he going to attract the hottest vampire girl in school.
  • Why aren’t Renee and Charlie gender-bent?  Why couldn’t Police Chief Charlotte Swan welcome her son home after her flaky husband Raymond left her and married Pro-Softball player Felicia? It could have worked, people. Come on.
  • All these gender-bent guys are acting WAY too much like girls.  Forgive me, I’m not meaning to perpetuate heteronormative stereotypes or anything, but really.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was in high school.  Guys don’t talk like that.
  • Somehow, the gender-bent girls work.  I can see a bunch of new girls flocking to the new boy in school. Although, once they figure out how much of a bummer Beau is, they’ll probably flock right back.
  • Okay WHERE did Smeyer come up with the new names for the Cullens?  These names are ridiculous.  Royal?  Archie?  I’m having a really hard time remembering who is supposed to be who (although since this is supposedly an entirely separate work, I guess I’m not supposed to).
  • Also, I’m very disappointed that neither Jasper nor James nor Jacob was renamed Jackie.
  • Speaking of Jacob/Julie, there’s definitely not going to be a Renesmee or Ronaldo or whatever weird, gender-bent name might have been bestowed on the human/vampire spawn.  So I’m guessing she ends up alone.
  • I don’t know why, but I actually really like Edythe.  I think she seems kind of kickass.  That being said, I can’t imagine her falling for Beau who has the personality of a wet wash cloth.  Seriously, I’m usually pretty big on the, “Why do these fictional heroines always go for the brooding bad boy?  Why can’t they go for the sweet, nice, normal boy next door?”  But Beau, again, is just… Blegh.
  • Wow, this book is exactly like Twlilight but with gender-bent characters.
  • I’m not buying the whole every girl in town is into cars.  One?  Sure.  But come on, Smeyer, if you’re going to gender-bend them, make them kind of believable.  Not one of my girl friends is into cars.  My guy friends?  Yeah.  Like, all of them.
  • Also Don’t make Royal drive around in Rosalee’s super girly car and then give Eleanor Emmett’s off-roader.  Seriously.  I know you’re trying to make a point that Bella isn’t a damsel in distress or whatever, but you didn’t even try to actually gender-bend them.  You just changed the names and the pronouns.
  • Okay, I finally realized why, as a female reader, Beau is unappealing to me.  Other than the fact that he’s Bella Swan in boxer shorts.  It’s because he has such low self-esteem.  His whole inner-monologue (like Bella’s) is, “Oh, how could this gorgeous girl ever love me?  Oh, she’s a goddess and I’m just a mere mortal.  Oh, I’m so dull and normal.”  As a woman, I have to come out and say it:  That is NOT an attractive quality.  Humility is great.  We all love a guy who’s modest.  But for the love of God, please have some sense of pride.  Don’t base your entire self-worth on the woman you’re dating.  For one thing, that puts way too much pressure on us.  For another thing, if you don’t think you’re all that great, then why should we?  I like a guy who sees me as a person, who’s comfortable around me.  I’ve dated guys who put me on a pedestal before.  It’s awful.  It’s completely dehumanizing and unrealistic.  I just… Grrrrr, Beau.  Grrrrrrrr.
  • Sorry.  Rant over.
  • Beau pisses me off.
  • But still, I really like Edythe.  Somehow, Female Edward works.
  • Okay… Instead of “dazzling” Beau says she’s “disarming with dimples” or something?  Okay.  Maybe it’s actually a good thing that Smeyer didn’t change all that much because that’s just excruciatingly awkward.
  • “A part of her saw me as food.”  Stop.  Please, Beau.  Just stop.
  • I seriously just can’t with this piggy-back riding scene.  This is so awkward.  OMG.
  • I’m trying really hard to picture Beau as someone more appealing, like Matthew Gray Gubler (who is actually my Michael Sinclair), but it’s just not working.  I’m still seeing him as this gangly kid who wears stupid t-shirts and has oily hair and zits.  I really think it’s the personality.
  • I wonder what gender-bent Cemetery Tours would be like?  Not that I actually have time to write it.  I have way too many other stories that I want to work on first!
  • I actually really like Carine and Earnest.  They’re super sweet and somehow, they work.  The rest of the Cullens?  Not so much.  Except maybe Royal.  I can totally see this snobbish, scary, super full of himself blond vampire.  Kind of picturing him as Malfoy’s older brother.
  • I had no idea Joss was a girl’s name.  I’m over here reading this and thinking Joss Whedon.
  • Should have been Jackie.  I’d love to read about evil vampire Jackie trying to take Beau out.
  • Just like Twilight.
  • Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Woah.  Wait.  This isn’t like just like Twilight.
  • What?  What?
  • Okay, this alternate ending is somehow making the hours I just spent reading Beau drivel worth it.
  • Well, sort of.  Smeyer just somehow managed to cram all three of the rest of the series into about four chapters.
  • Beau and Edythe are talking about marriage?  Ew.  I’m sorry.  They’re so young.  I can’t see them married.  Just no.
  • Although, I guess Edythe is 109.  She definitely makes me feel like less of a cougar for liking a guy who’s three years younger than me.
  • Still, if I was Beau, I’d be totally miffed at how all this turned out.  Sorry.
  • Interesting.  Okay.  Well.  I read it.

And there you have it folks.  For me, the original will always be better.    Fans of Twilight, though, I am eager to find out what y’all thought of the *new* Bella and Edward.

Happy Bookday!

It’s here!  After more than a year, After Death is finally available in Paperback AND Kindle!



I’m so excited for the ghostly misadventures of Michael, Luke, and Kate to continue.  I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

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I want to take a little bit of time, however, to celebrate a few OTHER books being released today: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer, and of course, the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The fact that my book came out on the same day as all of these ladies is, quite frankly, a huge fangirl honor for me.  JK Rowling is Queen, as everyone knows, and I don’t know a single person whose lives she hasn’t touched with her magical world.  Stephenie Meyer, yeah, okay, it’s kind of fun to make fun of Twilight.  But I’ve got to be honest.  I still love it.  I love the story.  It’s just pure fun and fantasy, you know?  Very escapist, and I do love to escape.

Then, finally, there’s Rainbow Rowell.  I fell in love with her writing after reading the story of my life, Fangirl.  I’m serious.  I’ve never read a book that so keenly described what it feels like to love a book and, frankly, to be apprehensive of the world outside.  Oh my Heavens, do I love Fangirl.

As if I didn’t already love Rainbow Rowell enough for  bringing that story to life, I then got to meet her last May.  She is incredible, basically everything I want to be as an author and as a person.  When I found out that her new book, Carry On, inspired by the book series in Fangirl, was being released the same day as mine, I was thrilled.  And yes, I’ve already run out and bought my own copy.


Yes, I bought Life and Death too.  I wanted to buy the new Harry Potter, but let’s face it, as an Indie Author, I barely have two dimes to rub together.  I really shouldn’t have bought these two books, but I can’t help it.  I have to support the authors and stories that I love.  And, yeah, okay, I really need to feed my addiction to YA literature.  Most importantly, though, these books serve as a reminder of why I do what I do and why I put so much time and effort into my books.  I want this world of words to be my world, too.

Happy Bookday, everyone!  Go read your favorite book!  Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, go pick up something new!

May I recommend a ghost story?


Living in Dreams

On Saturday night, my sister and I attended one of the best concerts we will ever see.  Ed Sheeran came to Texas and we had floor tickets.  I’ve never had floor tickets before in my life, so I had no idea what to expect.

After spending more than seven hours on my feet in the stifling early September heat, I can tell you that I have mixed feelings on the whole floor crowd thing.

For one thing, like I said, it’s super hot.  Plus all the sweaty people literally surrounding you, running into you, and smelling like farm animals makes it like a million times worse.  I’m not sure if people in Texas smell like farm animals because… well… it’s TEXAS, but I swear, I smelled sheep and dogs and horses at that concert.  And pot.  There was definitely pot.

For another thing, people on the floor like to shove.  Everyone is vying for a better view.  I mean, I was too.  It’s very constrictive and if you have any sort of social anxiety or anxiety in general, I don’t recommend floor tickets.  There was also a lot of fainting due to heat and so many people.

Speaking from a perspective standpoint, however, floor tickets are AMAZING.  It was like being a part of the show itself.

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For those of you who’ve been to concerts, you’ll know that headliners often have opening acts.  Ed’s opening acts were a British guy whose name I didn’t catch but was very talented and… Christina Perri!

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Christina is a delight.  She is a great musical talent with a phenomenal voice and beautiful songs.  In between songs, she told us about her life spent singing songs and dreaming of performing and making music.  She spoke of the nay-sayers and the self-doubt and moments of feeling like she simply had nothing to write, nothing to sing about.  And yet, she fought through.

“You are living in my dream right now!” she exclaimed before diving into her hit song, Human.

Naturally, she ended her set with my absolute favorite of her songs: A Thousand Years.  And of course, as she sang and we all sang along, I couldn’t help but think of Twilight.  I know, I know, Twilight is lame, but hear me out.  When the books first came out, my sister and I read them all.  And I’ve got to be honest, I thought they were fun.  I thought they were kind of magical.  They were a great escape.

But you know, what I love about Twilight isn’t really the story or the characters.  It’s that it’s brought a lot of readers all over the world a lot of joy.  It isn’t a story that really makes you think or a great literary masterpiece by any means.  But it is a story that millions of readers all over the world love, and it inspired a beautiful, amazing, wonderful song.  I realized there, living inside Christina Perri’s dream, that that song inspired my dreams as well.  I would love to write the kind of stories that make readers happy, that connect and resonate with them.  I’ll never be a literary genius and my books are really just for fun.  They’re not very deep or profound.  They’re just fun.  I want my books to bring that same kind of joy.

Ed gave a similar performance of his song, I See Fire.  This is a song that has made me cry at least half a dozen times.  If Twilight is just a fun little escape, Middle Earth is a world that truly holds a special place in my heart.  It all began in middle school.  My friends and I were in love with the places and characters of Middle Earth.  Seeing it brought to life once again through The Hobbit movies was, in a way, like returning home.  Hearing Ed Sheeran sing his hit song live, however, with images of Smaug the Dragon flying and breathing fire in the background was nothing short of pure magic.  Music is powerful.  Books and stories are powerful.  They exist to transform and inspire.  They are proof that magic does exist.  That the human soul is something truly exquisite.  We are capable of creating these worlds and this music and… I just don’t even have words to describe how wonderful I think that is.

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I love you all.  Thank you for books.  Thank you for music.  Thank you for reading.

Ultimate Book Tag!

I’ll be honest.  I love these surveys.  I think they’re so much fun.  This one, I found on Callum McLaughlin’s blog: http://callummclaughlin.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/ultimate-book-tag/ 

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Nope.  Though I’ve got to be honest, I rarely read in the car.  I like to listen to music and watch the world outside the window.  

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
That’s a tough one.  The one that has always stood out to me, however, is Madeleine L’Engle.  I remember the first time I read A Ring of Endless Light, she simply had me captivated.  Her writing, her thoughts, were just so incredibly beautiful.  This quote, in particular, has stayed with me for years:

If I’m confused, or upset, or angry, if I can go out and look at the stars I’ll almost always get back to a sense of proportion. It’s not that they make me feel insignificant; it’s the very opposite; they make me feel that everything matters, be it ever so small, and that there’s meaning to life even when it seems most meaningless.

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Is this even a question?  Harry Potter! 

1) Harry Potter is real magic.  It’s not just a story.  JK Rowling created an entire world, a society, a culture.  It’s intricate and brilliant and colorful and simply alive.

2) Harry Potter got me through the toughest time in my life.  I even wrote a whole blog post about it. https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/i-believe-in-dragons/

3) Characters are always my favorite parts of any book and Harry Potter’s characters are all truly exquisite.  I wish several of them were my best friends.  Sadly, very few of my very favorite characters actually survived the series.  

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books…)?
I don’t have a book bag, per se, but when I need to carry a book with me, I use my giant orca purse.  It’s a bag with a lot of pretty embroidered killer whales and dolphins on it.  It also carries my phone, wallet, planner, and notebook.  

5. Do you smell your books?
Oh yes.  

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
I haven’t read a book with illustrations in a while (unless Harry Potter counts with the little pictures at the beginning of every chapter), but I don’t mind them.  In fact, I like seeing what the author or illustrator had in mind.  It’s always interesting to see others’ interpretations.

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
Every Nicholas Sparks book ever.  I love them all.  I read each one the day it comes out.  However, in the end, they all kind of end up being the same book.  Except The Guardian.  That is one heck of a good book! 

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I started wearing glasses when I was in first grade.  I didn’t mind really, except that I really, really wanted to be a Disney Princess and none of them wore glasses.  So I went through all of my big Disney picture books and drew glasses on all the princesses.  

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
Either Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard or a book of Episcopal Haikus.  Yeah, I’m that kind of person. 

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
Either The Complete Works of William Shakespeare or The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.  

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
Now that you mention it…


12. When did you get into reading?
I can’t remember a time I wasn’t into reading.  My mom was reading to me from the day I was born.  

13. What is your favorite classic book?
This is going to sound nerdy, but I really love Beowulf.

14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
Yep.  That and Biology.  I really love animals and nature.  

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I would act like I loved it and then sell it to Half-Price Books.  

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to
Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
I recently discovered the Inescapable series by indie author Amy A. Bartol and I’m kind of loving it.  However, it’s probably more similar to Twilight than it is to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

17. What is your favorite word?
Ergo.  I love it so much.  

18. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
I prefer fangirl. Or Ravenclaw.

19. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
I actually haven’t read many Fairy books (unless Midsummer Night’s Dream counts) so I guess I’ll have to go with Vampires. 

20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Angels.  Because I secretly wish I had wings.  

21. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Spirits.  Because Cemetery Tours.  

22. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Depends what I’m in the mood for.  If I’m in the mood to be scared then ZOMBIES.  If I’m in the mood for dark, supernatural romance (or Twilight), then vampires.

23. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Forbidden love. If a girl is going to have two hot guys fighting over her, she’d better be pretty darn awesome.  

24. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Oh gosh… I read both and I enjoy both.  Again, it depends!  If I’m sick or in a particularly girly mood, I’m going to choose romance.  Usually, however, I do prefer a bit of action.  

To whoever has read this… I tag you!  Only if you want to, that is.  I hate internet peer pressure.