Sunday, August 29, 2010
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
I finished this yesterday after a marathon reading, and all I can say now is "wow." Just WOW. It was great. Just as I'd expected it to be, and then some. It really left me thinking, too, which I know was one of the intended results. There were quite a few things that happened that made me cry, or cringe, but I won't post any spoilers here. I'll just say that I liked the ending :) Oh, and that one should read this with a box of tissues handy, but considering the topic of the series, that shouldn't come as a surprise. One of the main things that I must give props to Collins for is her accurate portrayal of the effects of war, especially on children. I don't think our society really sees this much--the news doesn't talk about it, and we don't live on a battlefield. But I think it's important, and something we need to understand, if only to remind us why peace is so valuable. Collins manages to show this, without being didactic about it, and I really think that's awesome.
I must admit, I had to go read Bridget Jones' Diary after reading this, though--I needed something a little lighter.
Anyone got any comments or more spoilery topics to talk about in the comments?
Friday, August 27, 2010
Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor, the Dark Life. Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea, helping his family farm the ocean floor. But when outlaws attack his homestead, Ty finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her brother, Ty ventures into the frontier's rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life . . . secrets that threaten to destroy everything.
This was an incredibly fun read. I loved all the little references to sea-life and Ty was a great characters. The world building was really well done (though there were a few things that made me scratch my head--but this is true of most dystopians/future-set books), and I loved thinking about all the little details of what it would be like to live underwater. I also found myself wanting to know more about the world "Topside" which was also intriguing in the little details here and there. The story itself was not that intricate, and was very much like a typical Western, but it worked. Lots of fun!
Okay, I've been waiting to start Mockingjay all week and it's KILLING me!!!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
1. Trickle it in, bit by bit, as the story unfolds. Kinda a 'duh' but supposedly the best way to go about it. Of course, this can lead to the dreaded 'wtf is going on?!?' situation, but if done well, can work . (I'm apparently not subtle enough to pull this off--or so I think).
2. Suck it up and write a short-as-possible paragraph that explains things. Find some way to insert this into the story without being too obvious. Try to keep it in the voice of the character. Sometimes, it's just the only way to get everything across. (I, personally, prefer this. I want to know what's going on. Just tell me. Honestly. Get it out there, and get on with the story. I think I may be kinda alone on this kind of thinking though :)
3. Prologue. Um, ugh. All I can think of in this instance is some of the prologues in Tolkien that drag on for-EV-er. Don't get me wrong, I love Tolkien, but I honestly don't know why half the info in those prologues was there. I just don't care. In more modern books, I've seen this a lot--sometimes it works, sometimes I just skip it. Again, if done well, it can work.
4. Work it in with a conversation or thoughts, while not being too contrived. The book I'm reading now does this well--mainly because the character is introducing an outsider to his world. This works. But most of the time, I hate this method. Who, really, thinks about why they're wearing shoes/drive a car instead of a buggy/etc., in a world where whatever's normal? It's a really hard thing to get to work.
Anyhow, these are a few of the things I've seen. It really comes down to figuring what works best for the writer and the story, I think. And, quite frankly, if you can do it well, just about anything goes.
So, any ideas of other methods?
Monday, August 23, 2010
Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Court has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.
Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.
The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .
I really enjoyed this book. I've never been one of the biggest fans of the fey--they've always seemed rather off-putting and not individuals I could identify with, which is probably why this book was much better suited to my tastes. I really enjoyed getting into Niall's head, and Leslie was an interesting character with whom I could really identify. The first half to two-thirds of the book were a blur of pages. But when the ink exchange was complete, well, I think the nature what that implied kind of blurred the characters and made it harder for me to not only follow what was going on, but to keep my interest. It's a fine line to walk, when the characters change so much, and are under such duress, that they no longer reach out to the reader. I don't think it worked especially well here. That said, I do need to pick up the rest of this series, as I really love the world Marr has built and need to read more :)
And Mockingjay comes out in an hour and a half. Holy crap, can't wait!!
Friday, August 20, 2010
- It's time for the Yolo County Fair again! Hubby and I will be going, and I'm looking forward to it, even if it's only to giggle a little at how funny my hometown is.
- Why is it that even though I'm not teaching I am still insanely busy? This, dear reader, does not make sense. I want some free time. Or all free time. Provided I still got a paycheck, this would be awesome. Hmm, maybe I should buy some lottery tickets.
- I survived family weekend last weekend--meaning most of everyone was home. My uncle included. It was interesting. I survived. Hehe!
- I have been applying for jobs. This amuses me to no end. I mean, I'm qualified to teach college classes, but it makes me laugh that I'm even thinking about actually getting to do so. It's along the lines of 'when did this become real?' I'd still like to know the answer to that question...
- My mom is dating some guy. It's pretty serious. This will probably be a future blog topic, but suffice it to say that it is strange. She's dated before, but this is much, much more serious. I'm not sure what to think about it... Like, it's really strange being the married kid watching my mom date. Strange. Just, strange.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London. Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head… and wakes up in the year 1815!
She stumbles about until she meets the kind-hearted Emily, who takes Callie in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. Sparks soon fly between Callie and Emily’s cousin, Alex, the maddeningly handsome—though totally arrogant—Duke of Harksbury. Too bad he seems to have something sinister up his ruffled sleeve…
From face-planting off velvet piano benches and hiding behind claw-foot couches to streaking through the estate halls wearing nothing but an itchy blanket, Callie’s curiosity about Alex creates all kinds of trouble.
But the grandfather clock is ticking on her 19th Century shenanigans. Can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, win a kiss from Alex, and prove to herself that she’s more than just a loud-mouth klutz before her time there is up?
Thanks again to the library book sale for this one :) Okay, so, let's see here. I read this in about a day, and had seriously been looking forward to it. Time-travel? Sign me up! But, well, I found it lacking, at least in the first half. I think this was mostly due to Callie, the main character. She kind of made me crazy. I wanted to reach through the pages and slap her more than once. Sure, she kind of grew up toward the end and made it bearable, but overall, I wasn't so sold on the book. Callie's emotions bounced around more than a rubber ball in a small box. She went from pissed off to elated in no time, with very little provocation. And when she starts off as a shy person, then yells in someones face, it left me wondering what was going on. But, things got more interesting toward the end, and I did enjoy the last part--even if I found her plan to "help" Emily forehead-smackingly stupid. (Sorry, but it was!) Anyhow, I know there are plenty of teens out there who might see Callie as expressing true teen emotions, but I found her dull-witted and obnoxious. I was never like her as a teen. (And on a random side-note, this might explain my rejection from this author--also an agent--we have very different views of our teen years? I'm not saying she was like Callie, as I'm sure she wasn't, but I think we may have different views of that age group. This has given me lots to think about, to say the least...) Anyhow, this makes a good, light read, maybe for a younger audience.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Margaret Lea works in her father's antiquarian bookshop where her fascination for the biographies of the long-dead has led her to write them herself. She gets a letter from one of the most famous authors of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, whose popularity as a writer has been in no way diminished by her reclusiveness. Until now, Vida has toyed with journalists who interview her, creating outlandish life histories for herself - all of them invention. Now she is old and ailing, and at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to Margaret is a summons.
Somewhat anxiously, the equally reclusive Margaret travels to Yorkshire to meet her subject - and Vida starts to recount her tale. It is one of gothic strangeness featuring the March family; the fascinating, devious and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline.
Margaret is captivated by the power of Vida's storytelling. But as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction, and she doesn't entirely trust Vida's account. She goes to check up on the family, visiting their old home and piecing together their story in her own way. What she discovers on her journey to the truth is for Margaret a chilling and transforming experience.
Another adult book, and another I snagged from the library book sale :) This was a fun, fun read, and I totally recommend it. There's a reason it's been so popular. It totally follows in the same vein as the older gothic stories, and reads a lot like some of the Victorian English writers. Now, I'll admit, I've read a lot of older novels, and sometimes I have a very hard time getting into them. The language and setting just isn't relatable to me and I have to really work to get into them. This book, while maintaining the older style, is still "modern" enough to engage me easily. The main character is very identifiable, and I really liked her. The story she records is captivating and kept me up late. Seriously--check this out!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Stephanie has also put us to the challenge to use ten words to describe our goals are a writer. I'm not sure I can come up with ten, but here's my go:
- Best-seller (does this count as two?)
- Fantastic deal (as in, how they describe the publisher deals at the big houses ;)
Friday, August 13, 2010
The problem? My husband. He wants kids. Like, a LOT. It's been a bone of contention for ages. Lately, it's come to a head, again, and he can hardly even look at me. It hurts. I don't want to lose my husband because I want to work. Because I don't want to just be a walking, talking uterus for him. Because, that's what it feels like. He doesn't want ME, he wants me to have kids for HIM. And then to raise them, keep them clean and happy, and out of his hair. Because, let's face it here, he's not going to be helping me much in the parenting department. He about flipped out the other night when I pointed out that he hasn't done the dishes in months. And don't get me started on the fact that he can't remember anything, let alone that to pick up a kid from practise or that we need milk. Oh, and seeing as how I can't get him to wake up enough to move from the couch to bed without getting my head bitten off, let's get real about late night baby duty. I keep thinking about these things and I KNOW I CAN'T DO THE WHOLE RAISE A KID THING ALONE. I'll need his help. And I'm looking at how things stand now and I know I won't get it. So am I excited to start a family? Am I thinking I can even do it? No. Not at all. And I don't know what to do.
It's not like I can even talk to him about this. He won't listen to my criticism without getting totally defensive and argue every little point with me. I can't argue with him. I just start crying and that makes things go from bad to worse, and quite frankly I'm a shitty arguer. So, I'm stuck. I have a million concerns and no way to address them. I'm scared to death to have children with this man, but don't want to lose him either. I don't think I can have it both ways. It just won't work. And I hate it.
On a more personal note, I am scared to not be "me" with kids. I don't want to be one of those people whose whole world revolves around their kids. Kids grow up and leave. And then what? I'll have wasted my life for some new generation? I don't just want to be a uterus. I know I've said that, but it's true. That's all anyone wants from me. Yeah, sure, raising the next generation all that? Great. But what about THIS generation? What about making a difference in the world TODAY? Am I only here to make a better tomorrow? That just doesn't make sense. And, I don't want to get fat. I hate looking in the mirror already--it makes my physically sick. Add stretch marks and an extra twenty pounds? No thanks. I'll find something sharp first.
I need help and I don't know what to do.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Hazel Stone, who is just starting her junior year in high school, is desperate to make new friends. Tired of the default group she's a part of, Hazel wants to be a member of the Pretty Little Devils, which consists of perfect popular girls. To her surprise, Sylvia Orly, the leader of the PLDs, agrees, and soon Hazel is inducted into the group, which subsists on secret parties during babysitting jobs, horror movies, and practical jokes.
Meanwhile, Hazel has eyes on Matty Vardeman --- but so does Breona Wu, the head cheerleader and Sylvia's mortal enemy. Lucky for Hazel, he chooses the newly "damned" PLD instead of the cheerleader. Unfortunately this makes Breona extremely angry, and she and Hazel begin getting into fights in class.
Sounds like typical high school drama. Well, it is --- until things turn sinister. All of the PLDs, including low-key Carolyn, shy Ellen and giggly Megan, start receiving strange phone calls and text messages referring to them as "bad babysitter[s]" and threatening to kill them. None of the girls know who's responsible. Before long, students are being killed and suspicions are falling on the PLDs. The end result of this tumultuous year for Hazel and her friends is somewhat unexpected. (review from TeensReads.com)
A quick little read that is supposed to be Mean Girls meets Scream (or other really bad horror flick). Anyhow, I figured out who the real killer was in like the first ten pages, so this was pretty much a yawn for me. And the characterization--well, let's just say that I've had fish with more personality than the main character. I honestly don't think she was fleshed out at all, and I was almost kind of sad she didn't bite it in the book. Okay, that's harsh, but it was truly terrible. (I'm also kind of wondering--today's my 10 year reunion for high school, and while this in no way depicts what high school was like for me, I'm feel the teen-angst and annoyance just remembering those years...) So, anyway, I'm going to go thumbs-down on this sucker. Not worth the time, unfortunately.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Georgia Walker's entire life is wrapped up in running her knitting store, Walker and Daughter, and caring for her 12-year-old daughter, Dakota. With the help of Anita, a lively widow in her seventies, Georgia starts the Friday Night Knitting Club, which draws loyal customers and a few oddballs. Darwin Chiu, a feminist grad student, believes knitting is downright old-fashioned, but she's drawn to the club as her young marriage threatens to unravel. Lucie, 42, a television producer, is about to become a mother for the first time--without a man in her life. Brash book editor KC finds her career has stalled unexpectedly, while brilliant Peri works at Walker and Daughter by day and designs handbags at night. Georgia gets her own taste of upheaval when Dakota's father reappears, hoping for a second chance. The yarn picks up steam as it draws to a conclusion, and an unexpected tragedy makes it impossible to put down.
I've been slacking in the fiction department for a while now, but I've got a backlog of books to read for my dissertation. I'm afraid I'm not going to be reviewing The Mimbres People here, much to everyone else's disappointment I'm sure :) (It's actually a really good book, for anyone looking.) Anyhow, I picked this up from my overflowing TBR pile and dove in. Overall, it was a good book. The characters were real, I felt for them, and I liked their interactions quite a bit. It made me wish I knew how to knit :) I laughed at the depiction of the academic being "too good" or whatever for knitting, as over 50% of the female grad students here knit while studying. It's far more common than most people think, though my sample may be biased as anthropologist tend to have a better grasp on the importance of the past... Okay, I could ramble on that for way too long. Anyhow, I did have some confusion at the sudden POV shifts in the book, where the 3rd person narration was from one character's point and would shift in the middle of a page to someone else's. Really frustrating!
My only real problem with the book was the ending. I mean, I saw it coming (I read the acknowledgements too early I guess, which is never something that's been a problem before, but these gave it away), and it was sad and all, but also felt kinda forced. Like, all the other characters have things working out for them, but something bad has to happen, so let's kill someone off. Um, okay. Anyhow, there's a sequel out "Knit Two" and I'll be hunting for that this weekend at the library book sale :)
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Okay, let me back up here a bit. I'm incredibly happy for my critique partner. We've been working together for several years now and I love her work. She deserves to succeed more than anyone I can think of. She's got an utterly awesome book that I am so happy to be able to say I got to read it in its early stages. It rocks! And, of course, things are falling into place for her. It was bound to happen, and I'm really, truly, happy for her. And I'll admit that I wish that I could say the same for myself. No, I don't wish it were me, not her, but I do wish I were seeing the same kind of response. And I kind of hate myself for even thinking that. But, there's no way to just "turn the switch" and have my feelings go away, so I really should be funneling this energy into something, right? Um, like making cookies. Cuz that's what I'm doing this morning. Yup. Oatmeal chocolate-chip. *insert drool here*
And, hey, I won a little contest this morning, over on Rose Cooper's blog :) Some days it's the smaller things--right? Like contests and cookies.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Okay, I'll admit it, I'm really just looking for an excuse to buy an iPad. I'll admit it. I want one. Badly. And I'll never be good enough for Santa to bring one to me.
There's just one problem with buying an eReader. I can't get used books on it. I mean, that's pretty much how I support my habit of books in general. (Library book sale this weekend! The dates for such are posted on the fridge--hallowed ground for things to do in my place--and hubby and I wake early on Sundays for $5 a bag books. Oh, it's glorious. And we have WAY too many books.) So, yeah, even paying $10 for a book is much more than I generally spend. What can I say? The University pays me just above minimum wage to teach your lovely children about evolution. With the way things are going in Cali, I'm frankly surprised I get paid at all.
(This isn't strictly true--I mean, I do get paid peanuts to teach at the university--but I do buy regular books frequently, too. But, the vast majority of my library is used. Someday this will change, like, ya know, after I sign that mammoth book deal that allows me to quit my job. *Insert hysterical laughing here*)
So, that's my issue with buying the new kindle that's coming out, that I really want, is actually totally affordable (thanks to my in-laws and their b-day gift of a gift card to amazon--totally the way to my heart, trust me!). It would still answer the conundrum of all the freaking academic papers though, so I might still do it.
So, the question is, do you have an eReader? Do you like it? What kind do you have?