Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Amy Helmes and Kim Askew Deliver Two Fantastic Shakespeare Themed Books From Their New Twisted Lit Series.

Today I will be reviewing two books from the new Twisted Lit Series, Exposure and Tempestuous. Authors Amy Helmes and Kim Askew co-wrote these wonderful books that put a YA twist on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Macbeth. Both were quick reads that I advise getting both of. Tempestuous is a great way to start your way into what will no doubt be a continuing series. So take a look at my review of these two delightful reads from the Twisted Lit Series and be sure to come back tomorrow when Amy Helmes and Kim Askew stop by I Blog, You Read and tell me what they would ask William Shakespeare himself.

If you like to read adorable hilarious books with a budding romance you will need to grab a copy of Tempestuous on December 18th. The title plainly reveals that this is Amy Helmes and Kim Askew’s take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Instead of an island our many characters are trapped inside a mall overnight because of a winter storm. The mall serves as the perfect setting for lead Miranda Prospero to plan her revenge on her so called friends. Employees and shoppers definitely make use of the resources that the mall has to offer. While reading I did find the idea of using the mall as a personal candy store a bit far-fetched, but it made the book extremely fun. I kept picking out moments that could be included in a trailer of a movie adaption.



Recently banished, unfairly, by the school's popular crowd, former "it girl," Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall's nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Miranda is definitely someone that you’d want on your side if you were playing capture the flag at camp. Even though she seems a bit tired of being the girl who is known to make things happen she is very good at it. When we meet her she’s in the process of reinventing herself. She was caught using her manipulative powers for evil rather than good. When she uses them for good she proves to be an incredibly good-natured person. She just has to convince Caleb that the rumors he’s heard about her are not all she’s about. Miranda proves to be a great friend to Ariel when she weaves a sweet sparkly matchmaking web for her and Chad and is even able to use her resources to hold a concert featuring her own romantic interest Caleb.

Caleb doesn’t take to Miranda right away. He comes off as being irritated by her and I loved it. Miranda is used to always getting what she wants and Caleb isn’t going to be easy. I think it was brilliant how Helme’s and Askew kept these two together throughout the book. Even though he’s a bit rough around the edges Caleb isn’t at all like Shakespeare’s Caliban. He’s the quite guy in the corner who has many talents but doesn’t feel the need to show them off.

My favorite moments of Tempestuous were from Miranda herself because of her talent to make things happen. The party that winds up happening under an unpredictable glitter shower and the concert she whips together in order for Caleb to perform with his band are events I can imagine teens dream about. Tempestuous is very entertaining because of the unpredictable mini adventures the teens get themselves into while being trapped in the mall. There is even a little mystery that needs to be solved that adds to the turn of events in this quick and quirky read. It’s a great book to read over the weekend and laugh with your friends about.  

Exposure is the second book from duo Helmes and Askew due out January 18th. It’s darker then Tempestuous because well…it’s Macbeth. Of course it’s going to be dark but not as crazy. Helmes and Askew manage to attach a lesson in social high school identity with their YA version of Macbeth through their characters Craig Mackenzie and Skye Kingston. Craig and Skye are brought down to a level that teens will sympathize will. What Craig and Skye experience is highly unlikely in a typical high school but it still conveys the message of what an obsessed youth is capable of when their social status is everything. I love the way that the authors used Shakespeare’s characters differently and reinvented them. Exposure is a great book that I hope teens will gravitate to and hopefully seek out more of Helmes and Askew’s future work.     



Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally charged twist on Shakespeare's "Macbeth," a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves and herself before they get caught in the crosshairs?

I enjoyed how Craig was written from Skye’s point of view. It definitely made him more of a mystery and someone the readers could care for. I saw Craig as a victim because of the web he gets caught in thanks to his girlfriend Beth Kingston. I enjoyed reading the two sides of Craig. The first is when he has an inseparable friendship with Skye the summer before he starts school. Then second is his struggle to keep Skye is his life while still hanging with the popular crowd. He doesn’t totally blow her off and this makes him endearing in my eyes. It’s his saving grace.

Skye is literally the eyes of the high school. She’s a photographer, and an excellent choice for a reader’s perspective. She is described as a beautiful girl who doesn’t believe she is compared to others. Skye is a great definition of the word friend. She is constantly pushing Craig to do what he is passionate about and pursue his future as an artist. But Skye isn’t totally perfect. She struggles with putting herself out there. She is perfectly content with her wallflower tendencies in the beginning. I did enjoy how she managed to surprise Craig in stepping out of her shell. Taking the first step at a young age can be overwhelming and Skye accepting a simple invite was a big step in the right direction. It’s a good example for teens to see that little things can make a big difference. Of course in Skye and Craig’s case things don’t turn out so well.

I thought Exposure was an excellent version of Macbeth, and I think the title is perfect. Exposure is the main theme of the book. Whether it’s telling a girl you like her, coming clean of a truth, admitting what you want to do instead of doing what others expect is exposing yourself. Exposure shows teens that everyone is vulnerable; you cannot escape it. Hanging out with who you want, or dating who you want is your choice not someone else’s. If a book can discuss the never-ending issue of popularity in high school and involve the dramatic theme of Shakespeare, I say read on and enjoy. 

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