Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I'd heard a lot of very good things about this book, so honestly, I expected to love it. And then to my shock, I didn't, exactly. Now don't get me wrong, I intend to read Catching Fire (the next book in the series) as soon as I can get my grubby hands on it. Certain parts of this story and the world-building therein swallowed me entire and are still putting up shelves in my head. On the other hand, other plot pieces made me grind my teeth with frustration, to the point that I was up till four composing this rant in my head.

(Then I promptly forgot it when I staggered awake. Note to self- don't do that again.)

(Also, this rant is going to contain spoilers. If you don't want to read them, don't read the rant)

Okay, let's go through this methodically. Katniss's story is set in a Dystopian Future, in District Twelve of Panem. Each year the Capitol requires each district to send a tribute of a boy and a girl (in addition to everything else the district produces,) to fight to the death in a televised event known as The Hunger Games. This is basically just to prove to all off the districts that they're just cannon fodder and entertainment for The Capital, in case they missed it. (We don't want the colonials to miss it!) The winner gets all kinds of bonuses for their district, and fame and glory- and the loosers die on national television. So far, so good. Machiavellian control, and the details of the world and the system were fantabulous. *hands them nails to help put up shelves*

Katniss's little sister Prim, who is twelve, is one of the children chosen at Random. Katniss, panicking, volunteers in her place. Also good. And it's not really touching since we're in Katniss's head for the book, and this is clearly just the only thing she can do. Not an option, it's just what you do. I did like that part, and it fit very well with Katniss's serious, do-what-needs-to-be-done personality.

The guy whose name is picked is Peeta, who Katniss has an awkward relationship with due to the fact that he probably saved her from starving once. Now, you know, she's going to have to try and kill him. (Also, she never thanked him for the life-saving thing, and any time she thanks him now is just bound to come across as insincere, or just plain not the right time. Throat cutting anyone?) He is nice, and gentle, quiet, pretty good looking, Katniss admits grudgingly, and smart.

It's also clear that Katniss is strong, fast, stealthy, accurate, and pretty much the muscle (and the cunning and beauty) between the two. She's a survivor, everyone says. She's also out of her debth in the Capital, where there are interviews and a training period before the games kick off. This media exposure is vitally important to the survival of any tribute, because for an outrageous fee, "sponsors" can send things to the tributes while the games are ongoing. This is the only contact with the outside world that the tributes will have, and the aid of some water, or food, or a new weapon or armour, or medicine, can be game-changing. But- the sponsors only send you things when they like you. So look good on video...

Katniss only manages to look flighty, in her estimation. Peeta, on the other hand, announces that he's in love with Katniss, and the audience LOVES the star-crossed-lovers bit. LURVE. Katniss, on the other hand, is naht quite so delighted. In fact there is blood, but cannier heads prevail, and she is forced to agree that it makes them both memorable, therefore more sponsor-able, therefore Peeta's a marketing genius, the b***ard, and now she has to kiss him?

(Up to this point, I basically loved the entire story. The games. The world. The stylists and the Mentor. (I less than three Cinna and the Mentor who's name I've forgotten right now. The drunk guy?) The little throwaway detail of the Avox? COMPLETELY BESOTTED. *I go to the store to get all details more material for shelves*)

And then the games start. I will admit that I like intrigue better than violence. Battles of wits have always been closer to my heart than battles of fists. But a good fight is also good for the heart rate.

These fights did nothing for my heart rate.

I think that's not a good thing. If I'm reading about a girl fighting for her life, I want there to be an absolute minimum of yawning on my part. But that's just my opinion, and perhaps I should have read the story when I was fresh, not after midnight.

Anyhow, the games progress. Katniss finds out that Peeta is fighting against her, and then wait he just saved her life, and there were these bees, and it's all very confusing. But after a time, with cunning fun with mines and flowers, there's a rule change announced. There CAN be two winners, if they're both from the same district. The Star Crossed Lovers suddenly have Fate-In-The-Form-Of-The-All-Powerful-Capital smile on them!

And, okay, you know there's a second book, you know they both survive. But once they get out and back into TEH DEADLY INTRIGUE, it turns out that the Capital is not happy with the way the rules had to be bent to keep everyone happy, and they'd better have unmistakable public declarations of love (This is a YA book, keep your mind out of the gutter,) or it will become clear that they were playing the men in charge, and then they die, as do their families.

The love thing, the intrigue, I loved it all. It was cunning and wonderful. *takes a moment to huggle* On the other hand, there were the games themselves.

This is where I began to beat my head against a wall.

Okay, so it's a fight to the death. Yes? Yes. At some point with 24 fighters, you'd think that Katniss at some point or other would have to make a hard decision- do I kill them? It's him or me but I want to live. Some kind of struggle. Moral struggle, yes? Or even if she's going HELL no, I want to live! I'm shooting first- she's sixteen. She's never killed anyone. She might have a hesitation before firing, or some regret later.

Nope. None of this. Because of the way the deaths "happen," her two kills are a vengance killing (revenging a twelve year old girl who liked to sing. I mean, can you tug the heartstrings more? CAN YOU?) and a mercy killing. (Of the nastiest, most possibly-insane character. NO regret there.) Basically she survived a death tourney with her hands clean.


*pulls head away from wall* Now, if it was because she was extra cunning and stealthy, I could accept that better, but basically no, everyone killed each other for her while she was busy buying food with kisses.

I mean, I know this is YA, but, I mean, trauma plz? Shouldn't there be some PTSD? I WANT PTSD.


Okay, perhaps I should read Catching Fire before ranting about this. Maybe I should never loudly express my desire for characters to suffer from PTSD.

BUT~! And again I say BUT- Peeta is the "gentle, sweet, quiet" character, and HE kills people outright. Katniss is supposed to be the "strong, cunning, survivor" character! She has more guilt about an Avox than about anything she does in the games! *sulk* I DEMAND EQUAL RIGHTS FOR GUILT.

Okay, I'm done now. I gave it three stars out of five. I want Catching Fire NOW please. *scrabbles at locked door of uncaring library*

This book clearly brings out the best in me.

P.S. Possibly my anger at the Games is because I read a draft of a story a friend had written, which was SO MUCH BETTER. I am srys, it was wonderful and I stare at her to finish it. It dealt with the MORAL ISSUES OF KILLING PEOPLE, and also I kinda want to kidnap Varesh and feed him chocolate till he's my friend. Please, you know who you are. Please write DimTour. I will totally mail you chocolate from exotic places.

AND ALSO- The mutts. I say in all seriousness, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? It was two a.m. when I was reading this, and I thought I had fallen asleep and started writing strange things into the story again. I had to literally bang my head on a doorframe and call up someone on the internet, to verify that what I was reading was the right book. WHAT? What is the POINT? Could you not have added wild dogs, or just plan supra clever wild dogs, without making them- what were they even supposed to me? Zombies? I just don't see the POINT! For me it was the only real false note in the whole book. Is it explained in Catching Fire? I just am so confused...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Under In The Mere, Catherynne M. Valente

I thought I had difficulty putting Tithe in a mental box, and then I read this. I'm not even going to TRY to box it.

As best as I can describe it, the book is a collection of short stories, each narrated by a character in the court of King Arthur. (Guenevere doesn't get to talk, and neither does the king.) And if you open up the book when Lancelot is talking, you know the difference between him and the Green Knight. The voices are vividly different.

I say narrated, but that's not right. It's almost stream-of-concsiousness, as the characters regret and accept and anguish and plot for the future.

What damosel is this? What damosel is this?

Perhaps I am nothing but a white arm. Perhaps the body which is me diffuses at the water's surface into nothing but light, light and wetness and blue. Maybe I am nothing but samite, pregnant with silver, and out of those sleeve come endless swords, dropping like lakelight from my hems. Will you come down to me and discover if my body continues below the rippling?

I thought not.
-the Lady of the Lake

I'm sure there is a genre name for this- post-modern fantasy, perhaps- but it was new to me. Perhaps because of the drug-like quality of the writing style, or perhaps because of the jolt before dropping into someone else's head, I couldn't read it all in one sitting. I mention this because I usually do read books all at once (it's a failing, I know, PLEASE DON"T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY?) and also because did want to read more. (Unlike, perhaps, the Summa which I am STILL very happy to walk away from for a while. Just to let it sit and regrow my mind...) But yes, before I was distracted by traumatizing memories of Aquinas, I was saying I had to leave the Valente for a while, and go wash dishes or sleep or such. Reading it is just like, lighting a handful of sparklers inside your head*. Awesome, but at some point the sparklers burn out, and things have to heal before you can light them up again.

The voices in these stories are old, and weighed down with memories. In the case of the lady of the lake, they almost have no concept of time anymore, if they ever had it. They are ground down by lives, sins, responsibilities, war, the way a king will bend all the lives surrounding him around him like a knot in a board distorts the grain, by, memories and cruelty and love. (They have difficulty seeing the difference between hatred and love, in a few notable cases.)

I- am having difficulty describing this book with any degree of coherence. *deep breath*

The voices are myriad with imagery. Cunningly imaginative imagery that finds its way into your head through unexpected chinks in your bones and makes you pause days later**. The plot is a shadow that stays at your back, whispering mockingly in your ears. The individual stories, even if you've read the "originals", are horrifying and aesthetically pleasing. The whole thing is crafted, all the strands of the stories tethered secure with nails or circling with malice intent to reappear.

It's most definitely not for everyone. The story gets graphic at points. (Which, I mean, c'mon, you're dealing with Camelot here. I think their morals and little indiscretions in the river have been pretty much flaunted to every conceivable corner of the sky.) But I will say that I went through an Arthurian Stage, where I read every bit of it that was available at my pathetic library, and this is the first tale that has made me warm to Mordred, much less LIKE Morgan le Fay. (That was a freaky shocker.) Oh, and if you're looking for a Christian retelling of the Christian myth of King Arthur, for heaven's sake look elsewhere. (SPOILER ALERT: There's incest you guys. GASP.) But for pure magical prose, reading this is a good idea. It's, good. I gave it four stars out of five.

*Metaphorical sparklers. I have not ever, nor do I intend to, nor do I condone the use of; lighting incinerary devices inside of one's cranium. That is between you and your gods. Srsly. Plz don't, I'd feel guilty, and think of the coroners! (I should have used the Seltzer Down The Spine metaphor, shouldn't I have?)
** Mordred's lies are his "other boy." Galahad talks of his father Lancelet being broken on a wheel made of women's legs- the Lady, Elaine and Guenevere. Kay sees his orders as a snake which climbs inside his armour and eggs him on, eatings its self as any part of the order is completed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Monsterology Handbook; A Practical Course In Monsters, by Ernest Drake

This fun "reference" book is divided into four sections; Beasts of the Earth, Beasts of Water, Beasts of the Air, and Semi-Human Beasts. It's presented as a field guide to Monsters of the world, lavishly illustrated and with information on the beasts' food, habitat, appearance, forms of attack or flight, and general notes.

The general idea, is of course, that the Beast of Myth are there for the study of the diligent Monsterologists, and this books will aid them in their pursuit and cataloguing of the Beasts. While most of the Monsters featured are from European Myth, there are also a few choice selections from Asian and modern North American Tales.

The facts and little stories about the beasts in this book were fun and informative. I didn't know that- for example- there were several varieties of unicorn from different parts of the world. However, it was the lovely illustrations that sold it for me. Having the unicorns all wonderfully laid out for perusal and comparison was what made me think wistfully of stories to write where the hero or heroine carried a book like this. I gave the book four stars out of five.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tithe, Holly Black

I've been trying to figure out a mental box to put this book into for the past week. So far, no box fits.

I tried Paranormal Romance (e.g. twilight)
-Kaye hasn't ever been one of the cool or popular kids in any school she goes to. But after she moves back home for her mother's sake, a popular boy starts following her around, obsessed with her.
Only she's the one who's accidentally glamourized him, and he's not enticing at all. He's so far from being the romantic attachment that it's laughable.

I tried Faerie Seduction.
-One of the main characters is seduced by a Knight of the Unseelie court
Only the said main character is also a male, and that does not end romantically in the least. HECK no.

I tried Tam Lin
-Kaye meets a mysterious knight in the woods, and soon finds herself drawn into a mysterious web of seduction, sacrifice and betrayal surrounding the ritual sacrifice know as the Tithe.
Only, Roiben isn't the one being sacrificed for the Tithe, or if he is, it's already happened, and the rescue is not in the traditional sense, and the whole notion of rescue is kinda iffy. Who's rescued again?

The best summing up of the story I can find is this quote from the book.
"What about you and your knight? I mean, look at [the scratches on] your arms; is that normal?"
"Makes me shiver when I touch them," Corny said reverently.
"At least we're scaring each other."
"Yeah, well, I better get back home. What's next on the faerie agenda?"
Kay shrugged. "I get sacrificed, I guess."
"Great. When is that?"
And no, I know it doesn't actually make any sense. ^_^ But it gives you a flash of the sense of the book.

The major sense of the whole book, for me, is people coping with things outside of their control. Kaye, Roiben, Corny, Janet; they're all just pawns in the hands of all the Adults/Royalty/Courts/So-Called-Friends. OH, and TRUST NO ONE. (Wow, that was incoherent. It's a good book, okay? I am only coherent about meh or bad books!)

I mean, it's also GRITTY. I almost put the book down several times in the first few chapters, just because it felt nasty to read. (I kept reading because of my declaration on Goodreads that I was reading it, and several people wanting to know what I thought about it. And then I needed to know how it ended.) I don't usually read Urban Fantasy, or if I do I suppose it's more hopeful. Kaye is not a hopeful character, and her world is not pretty.

Despite the off-putting nature of the first part of the book, I'm glad I kept going, and I even think I'll look up more by the author. This is a book that stays with you, and gets better on reflection. (Unlike Twilight Some Books I could mention but won't.) I gave it four stars out of five. (I am so glad that my edition has this cover art. It's my fave. ^__^)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Many random newsling bits! (I just had iced coffee, plz 2 escuse the italics.)

Okay! So, first of all, I was unwisely reading author interviews with a certain Sarah Rees Breenan who I might have mentioned in the past, and I came across a rather MAJOR spoiler for Demon's Lexicon. This caused me to exclaim "Oh DARN" out loud, and then I did the only logical thing. I tweeted her to complain about it.

And then, you guys, she REPLIED.

It's a true story. I mention this not because it makes me famous- (though really, I mean, someone who's toured with Scott Westerfield spoke to me on Twitter. You may all bask in my glow from over There-) I mention it because it's a very smart business move! Before THIS WONDROUS EVENT I had her book on my to-buy list, and I read her blog. Now that a great person who has been published spoke to me, I feel connected to the Great One, and her book is at the TOP of my list. *beams*

(Also, the same thing happened with Stephanie Perkins and Abby Rustad, back in the day, with similar Obsession-Inspiring results. I love you both passionately. Don't worry, I also live on a rock in the north atlantic. No need to fret!)

I OTHER news, Bahnree posted this video,
And my MC for the-novel-tenatively-known-as-J4 promptly broke into in my head, playing pool, fighting boys, smoking, and generally being Awesome Illegal. SO awesome Illegal. (Smoking kills, kids.) Perhaps I should do something about her anger issues...


Oh, and my other news? Right. My laptop, though I love it, I'm rather hard on it. Using a computer for 8+ hours a day every day for a year and half, and loaning it out to small siblings, apparently has a negative effect. (I'm so sorry, Yinsen. Plz 2 get better soon.) Right now, the screen doesn't work unless I hold it at an acute angle. Which means I either can't see what I'm typing, or I hold the computer at a spectacularly carpal-tunnel-incucing angle. This makes typing difficult. (I am not really patient when it comes to computers. Either it works NOW, or I give up on computers and just spend more time on youtube and/or facebook and/or LiveJournal.) My options to fix Yinsen are either;
  1. Send it away to the big hospital for computers in the city (separation for three-plus weeks?)
  2. Buy a new computer? (I don't function with Windows, so at least a grand and a half for an OS which doesn't inspire festive thoughts of suicide.)
  3. Or buy a DVI to mini-DVI adapter and use a secondary monitor liberated from Daddy. (Twenty dollars from Apple Canada, at least two weeks shipping, maybe more.)
I'm leaning towards option three, but either way, what this boils down to is that I'm not going to be posting or writing in type very much for the next little while. At least until the new year. I plan on writing on paper (gasp!) and reading some of my lovely new books.

I know, I can hear you weeping from here. Try to get over it and have a good Christmas, Kay?

Monday, December 21, 2009

An Earthly Knight, by Janet McNaughton

I have a bit of a stand-off-ish relationship with Janet McNaughton. On the one hand, I usually enjoy reading her books- and on the other, I think I discovered them about two years too late. So I ALMOST buy into the story, but not quite.

I fully admit that this is one of my weirder failings. I can watch or read something that's totally outside of my demographic and enjoy it (tinkerbell movie anyone?) but if it's just outside, I'll twiddle my fingers and glare angrily at the story instead of just enjoying it. Sigh, it's a hard life I lead.


ANYHOW. The story. Sixteen-year-old Jennie lives in Scotland in the twelfth century. Her older sister has recently disgraced the family in some scandal that isn't immediately apparent, so Jenny- the younger daughter- is suddenly fresh meat in the marriage market. She's catch of the day, in fact, and ends up being paraded around in front of Prince William, who is the likely heir to the throne despite being the younger son, since the king has sworn to be celibate. Everyone keeps warning her obliquely about the Prince and his reputation with teh wenches, and then encouraging her to marry him in the next breath. Drama...

However! Jennie has her own secrets, which are primarily centred around the mysterious young man who is camping out in her tocher, Carter Hall. Tam Lin by name, he has a dark past. *dramatic music* A Dark Past Which Will Soon Be Entwined With Her Own Future, and that of their child...

Yes, you read that right. Tam Lin knocks her up. *nods* Basically, their relationship follows this pattern
  1. Tam Lin finds her in the woods, defenceless, and does not kidnap or rape her. (Point Tam!)
  2. They meet again and make magic eyes at eachother
  3. He poaches catches her a hare and some salmon (on her father's land,) and cooks it for her.
  4. He gives her a dress which then turns out to be made of cobwebs and leaves, and is glamourized to make everyone fall in love with her.
  5. He knocks her up. (To be fair, she kinda jumped him and wouldn't let go. I had to read that scene three times until I was sure what had just happened. It was weird.)
  6. He tells her to go enter a convent, he couldn't ask her to save him from his bondage to the queen of the fairies, who is apparently a cougar with a mean streak. I COULN'T ASK YOU TO SAVE ME FROM THE QUEEN WHO IS JEALOUS THAT I LOVE YOU MORE THAN HER.
Jennie: Wait, you're the Queen's Lover?
Tam: Look at it from my perspective! I was fourteen! I didn't know what I was doing! Now I do, if you know what I mean and I think that you do.*wink wink nudge nudge*
Jennie: But I thought I was special!
Tam: You ARE special, honey! Sex ain't love, and I didn't know what love was till we, uh, talked. Talked, that's right. What about that rescuing me?
And she does rescue him. I'm not going to say HOW she does, because if you've read anything Tam Lin related you already know how, and if you haven't, I wouldn't want to spoil your lol whut? moment.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not really a Tam Lin fan. I mean, he's okay, he's just. Weird Romance. Weird Glamourizing. Weird all around. (And then he refuses to marry her until he can provide for her? Which is like, a year after the baby is born? THIS IS THE TWELFTH CENTURY. MAKE A HONEST WOMAN OUT OF THE GIRL WHO SAVED YOUR SOUL . Ahem.) I do like Jenny though. Her trying to fumble through court intrigues and everything spiralling out past her control felt real, and she was a likeable character. I very much liked Jennie' sister Isobel, who, it turns out, killed the man who was going to kill her, and then married a harper. Go Isobel! I liked most of the minor characters, including her Brother Eudo.
(After Jennie has called off her engagment to William at the alter, because she's pregnant.)
Eudo: "Well, you got out of that Betrothal in the worst way possible, but I'm glad you did."
As with Dragon Seer, I wouldn't be too concerned to see my little sisters reading it, and I gave it three stars out of five.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm currently watching a horde of locusts devour my day. So no post today, sorry.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr

This is the third book in the Tales Of Faerie series, and it deals with the inevitable outfall of the first two books. Everything has consequences, shifts in power will effect other sources of power, all actions have equal and opposing reactions.

Oh, and Keenan is a jerk. SERIOUSLY. I went from almost liking him in the first book, to being suspicious in the second, to gleefully wishing for his blood in this, the third. Niall punched him out, and my reaction was best summed up in the noise "YEAHHHH." *cough*

Unfortunately, he's also blinkingly charasmatic, and he's linked to Aislinn, who wants to think well of him. Think well of the *censored*. Yes, I feel strongly about this. MAKE YOUR OWN COURT AISLINN! YOU CAN DO IT?!?!?!?!??!!!! SEDUCE HIM THEN STAB HIM IN HIS SLEEP! It would be easy. Like breaking a toothpick!

I think the fact that Keenan got his face time contributed to my anger with this book. Also the fact that I only saw him bleed once. (But it was a good time. Go Dark Court.) I liked all the cameos by the side characters who I've come to know and love in the Dark and Winter courts. I also made friends with the Summer Girls, which was unexpected. But it didn't end with the kind of rousing denouncement I desired, or even with the final tying off of threads that happened with Ink Exchange. So I gave it three stars out of five.

Hey, it's a good thing I don't have, like, standards for these reviews! That might be awkward. :D I can has Radiant Shadows now plz? See Keenan broken prettily?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"You manage to fit sketch into the least hot situations."

This verdict after a friend read Expendables makes me proud. It probably shouldn't, but I cling to my small gifts, such as turning a hospital cafeteria into a situation for unintentional inappropriateness. Although, given that this was Sarti "showing off her scars" unintentional isn't exactly the right term. ANYHOW.

How's the writing coming, I hear you all ask? *deludes self that there is an attentive audience waiting to hear the response.* Well, my myriad loyal minions, it's not really coming along. I wrote one and a half two pages today! *preens*


That may or may not have been the first writing since Nano... *fiddles with fingers* But in other news, a family friend who is a youth paster and my grandmother both offered to proof read. I beg you for advice. What does one do in that situation? I'm not sure if my writing is grandmother-friendly!

And okay, my lack of sanity is becoming Obvious to all and sundry. Sundry being work mates. I'm rather out of it this week, for reasons including but not limited to;
  1. lack of sleep
  2. Family things out of anyone's control
  3. and mostly- SHINY BOOKS. (You spend enough time in other worlds, the one you are writing just looks, strange and inadequate.)
Why yes, I am blaming Melissa Marr for my lack of writing. *glowers* It's totally your fault, you and your worlds. And Sarah Rees Breenan, with your enticing blog! Totally not my fault that my, characters, have been left in limbo...

*regards characters, who glower ominously*

*Ewan grins unpleasantly, while Laura loads gun*

I may have made a tactical error. And now they're telling me off for blogging instead of writing. I SHALL LEAVE NOW.

(this is in the running for the worst blog entry of all time. I should make a list- later)

Ink Exchange, Melissa Marr

I've already read one of the stories in the series by this author, which book I loved greatly. And it's a romance, which ends with people in love with each other and those people together. This is, after all, the standard pattern for romantic stories.

I was expecting the standard pattern again with Ink Exchange. I did not get it. This makes me very happy. ^_^ (You want a clearer description? READ THE BOOK. I'm totally serious.)

Okay, here is the plot. Leslie is- not in a good home situation. Really, really not. There's been trauma including family shattering, a totally absent father, and her brother selling her to be raped to pay off his drug debts. Really not a good home situation. She's counting the days till she can leave, and in the interim she's saving up her money for a tattoo, to take back her body and mark it as her own. Unfortunately for that plan, the pattern she chooses ties her to the king of the Dark Court, Irial. The Dark Court feeds off negative emotions- fear, anger, lust- which has interesting connections to her desire for freedom from pain. Also, Irial is having his own issues, chief among which is the fact that his court is starving to death because of the peace that was forged in the last book.

And, OMG, Gabriel and the Wild Hunt. I really shouldn't love them as much as I do, I'm pretty sure. Gabe, who leads the hunt, punches a MC in the face, for teh lolz, and walks away with his tattoos and his chains and bad-ass-etute. They're the WILD HUNT. They inspire terror and violence for kicks and giggles. And Gabe attacks the PERSONIFICATION OF CHAOS who is a female raven-headed war-monger who returns the fight by ripping a strip of skin off his arm- because Irial told him too. Also he has a fast, shiny car. *loves from a very far distance*

In my rambling tradition of book reviews, I will now talk about a part of the series so far that I really like! That is, obsession. Nowadays, to say to someone "I'm addicted to you," is regarded as really romantic. ("You are exactly my brand of heroin," anyone?) Melissa Marr turns this on its head, with getting characters addicted, and then showing exactly what that means. I'll try not to spoil it, but that part when Irial tells Leslie that it's been a week- I died inside. Just died. Characters do get addicted, are obsessed, and it's not a good thing. This was entirely unexpected, for me. I realized after the fact that I'd been reading an addiction as a romance, which, y'know, is not a good thing. I am VERY glad that Ms. Marr followed did this, even though it does make for some "Hey, what just happened there? I thought-" moments.

I gave it four stars out of five, I'm planning on getting the next book out of the library tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This looks hard, so I'll be lazy instead.

I had one of those shining moments of clarity about plot this weekend. It wasn't about how to actually FIX my plot, oh no. That would have been useful. Instead, it was realizing how deeply flawed my writing technique is. ^_^

Those of you who've been masochistic enough to read an entire story of mine know that I have a tendency to get distracted from my central storyline. To the point that some readers have had to ask me what the central storyline actually was... I try, I really do! I just decide that i have to Explain why people do things, and then I get distracted by freedom fighters. Or libraries. Or bagpipes. Or tattoos. Or hair colour. A hundred thousand words or so later, I return triumphantly from my pointless excursions, and wrap up the plot in ten thousand words written in a day because I'm so exiling tired of the book.

The voices (Burnout, Muse and Inner Editor) in my head pointed this out to me on the weekend.
And I went hehehehe. Oops. But that's like real life, right?
They stared at me and said Noooo, that's not the point. Real life is boring and aggravating. This is A Bad Thing you are doing. Fix it. Make your shiny distracting storylines count, or cut them out.
I coughed and refused to make eye contact. But that sounds hard!
They made comments which I can't repeat, but they amounted to "Suck it up, Buttercup."

So that was my weekend, story-wise. And say, has anyone else noticed how HARD it is to lead up to a conclusion for eighty or one hundred twenty thousand words, making everything count? I fear writing now... But in other news, I finally managed to figure out how to rob the bank. ^_^ Silly small town, leaving their deputy codes lying around...

Don't pay any attention to this post, carry on...

Don't bother to read this, it wouldn't interest you.
Win an ARC of the novel A MOST IMPROPER MAGICK:
You don't want to enter to win a free book, here. I mean, who wants a book with highwaymen and magic? All you have to do is read the fascinating and lovely wonderful first chapter online and you'll see. It's true. NOTHING cool and enticing there...

This wouldn't interest you, go back about your business.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Calm down, it's not a tactical strike!" "But it's Chapters!"

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I was distracted by being IN TOWN. Which is the local term for being out of town, in the Big City. (It's a Newfoundland thing.) I went to a concert, and a party, and the mall, and BOOK STORES, and wished greatly for more time, but overall it was ver' shiny. I shall begin at the beginning, and recap. *clears throat*

My whole family had to go in for a party on Sunday, and because it's a four or five hour drive (depending on how many bathroom breaks we take and how closely we pay attention to the speed limit,) we decided to go in on Saturday, scatter to spend time with friends, and then return in time for work on Monday. Because I'm awesome, I got to go in with the early car. *smug* I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but my dad has awesome taste in music. (I'm serious!) I generally leave the car with a list of at least four songs I need to buy for my own, and this time was no different.

Anyhow, after four hours of music and coffee, we got to Town. So we immediately went to the mall. (We're from a small town, what can I say?) Daddy was meeting people for business, and I was christmas shopping. It was- busy. People filling the concourse, I can take. It's like moving through an airport, and the crowds have no real connection to me. Crowds in stores, are not so much fun. I was going to try to spend a gift card on some work clothes, so I marched my way into the designated shop. I saw the line for the changing room stretch past the cashes, and marched right back out again. But I fought my way past the messy hordes in Sears, and bought the required gifts! The time in line was long enough to hear all about the latest divorce of the woman behind me, and her starbucks addiction, which information just added to the flavour of the day. It's not a proper trip to the mall without hearing personal information you wish you hadn't!

But I hadn't had enough punishment yet, I still felt the need to shop! I went to American Eagle, grabbed pretty things, saw the prices, put most of the pretty things back... Also, has anyone noticed how many layers the models in that store wear? I mean, I counted six layers in one instance, and she still didn't look warm. I had time to count, because I was in line for many, many minutes. *draws a veil over the line* It was long enough that once I was released I walked with a sense of urgency to the bookstore. Bookstores just calm the panic, y'know? And there I realized that I've been watching quite a few "best of the year" lists of YA books go by, lately, and these books were actually THERE, in FRONT OF ME, for SALE. And I had MONEY. (Not for long...)

I bought books. *cough*

I bought quite a few books. It's research, right? And I haven't been in a new bookstore in a year, and any bookstore at all in eight months. So we'll just pass by the issue of how much money I spent there...

Oh, and then we went to Chapters. ^_^

I actually skipped into the store, and literally was cooing over the bookshelves at one point. (I love how the staff is so jaded, they don't even blink when you're all but making out with your new purchases. (No, that wasn't me, that was a guy with some new Manga, which he apparently had abstained from for too long)) So I, uh, got some more reading material there. But by then my panic in the mall and euphoria over new books was starting to show, in addition to the fact that I hadn't eaten for quite a few hours. So we went to a restaurant! I had fajitas, and they were lovely.

Let me see, what else happened? Oh yes! Then Daddy dropped me off at a friend's house, and we talked for an hour before I walked down and saw the Messiah, then I came back and we watched two movies. Busy day, yes?

And the next day consisted of eating a quarter of a cheesecake, going to a party where people were friendly, and then driving home for five hours in the sticky dark. It could have used more reading and cheesecake, is my personal opinion.

And here are my books. *beams* I didn't really WANT to buy grown-up books, but people look at me funny and talk to me about potential; squandering of, if I only read YA. And I think I got some lovely things, "serious" books notwithstanding. ^_^

(I'm amused by the fact that my Dad thought Beautiful Creatures was a "darker" book than Battle Royale, based on a cover scan. *is amused)

Now I just have to read them and remember to write. YAY CHALLENGE.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reason I love Twitter # 37

This conversation:
  • Snazel: Cleaning my room is so exciting. I always discover random violins and that I do, in fact, own socks.
  • Spartezda: ...You have an infestation of wild violins in your room? Do they chirp mating songs at night like frogs?
  • Snazel: No, there is only one. He sings sad and lonely songs through my dreams.
  • Bahnree: XDDDD Do violins live in a herd? Mob? Flock?
  • Snazel: A flurry of violins? A Collective of Violins? A Murder of Violins?
  • Bahnree: "Collective" makes it sound like a hive mind. But if there's only one, does that work? Is it like the queen violin?
  • Snazel: First violin leads the hive mind?
  • Spartezda: So much is explained now about orchestras...
  • Inksie: *wants wild violins*

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Angel Experiment, James Patterson

I will admit that I did not have high expectations for this book. By which I mean I had one of those moments where you stand in front of the library shelves and realize you've read everything that looks even remotely good, and then you grab a random book off the shelf because it's YA. (I also admit that I may have been influenced by the fact that my grandmother read The Lake House, by the same author, and liked it. I honestly did not expect to share reading tastes with my grandmother.) But hey, I heard there were kids with wings in this book, and I have a character with wings who I love, so I thought I might as well give it a shot! I mean, otherwise I'd have to read The Brothers K. *fearful shudder*

So I checked it out, and brought it home, and opened it up, fully prepared to write a scathingly sarcastic review about how anything can be popular nowadays! Then, a hundred and sixty five pages later, I realized I might actually be enjoying this...

The plot is this. Max (short for Maximum) is one of six kids who've been genetically experimented on. The most obvious symptom of these experiments is the fact that they have wings, but as the story progresses it becomes clear that the flock has other "special talents." They escaped from the School two years ago, and are happily learning how to be normal in a house up in the mountains. Unfortunately, the people Scientists at the School are not eager to let their precious experiments just up and LEAVE like that, and they send their enforcers after the kids. Much chasing and freaky things ensue.

And really, that is it for the plot. There are chases, and escapes, and chases, and escapes, and narrow escapes, and really freakily narrow escapes, and more chasing. Unexpectedly though, I really didn't mind! It feels like the author was in love with these characters and a few ideas, so he started playing with them. He didn't really figure out where he was going with the plot until about two hundred pages in, when his editor said "ah-huh, this is great and all, but we have to sell this to kids. Make it a trilogy." And maybe I'm just in a startlingly amiable mood, but this was fine with me! I love hanging out with good characters, and the character of Max is lovely.

At the beginning of the book I was not sold on the narration, particularly because I though Max was a guy. But once I figured out that she was, in fact, female, I had a melt-down of relief and embraced the book gleefully. (That may or may not have been a literal description of my actions... ) I loved Max's voice once I got used to it, especially her wry comments on events such as hearing voices. (Can I also say I loved the genius hacker schizophrenic boy? Is that allowed?) Since this book is a continuation of two books for "grown ups" it starts out with many things already established, including the evil nature of the people at the School. I was particularly annoyed by how often they felt the need to repeat the evil nature of the deeds of the School. Then I met the white-coats of the School, and I no longer minded anyone mentioning the fact that they'd rather die than go back there. The habit of telling me things before they were shown was actually my main quibble with the book, though by the end of it I no longer minded.

Despite the number of pages in this book, it was a very fast read. I think I got through the 422 pages in under two hours, which has something to do with my reading speed, but also had a lot to do with the font size, four-page chapters, and easy comprehension level of the book. If you pick it up, don't expect it to take a weekend to get through. However, if you do pick it up, expect to have to seek out the other stories in the trilogy. The ending manages to both resolve almost nothing, and add new questions.

So yes. Plot was meh, then WAIT HOW IS THIS THE END??? characters were win, voice was win. A lovely, exciting, fluffy/dramatic read. I gave it four stars out of five.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Let that city take you in, let that city spit you out, let that city take you down.."

So, I was going to write, wasn't I? HAHAHAH. *cough* Or read books.

Instead I read six years of Least I Could Do, which is a highly hilarious and highly inappropriate web comic. And by "inappropriate," I mean you shouldn't read it if you are under the age of consent in your country. Or if there are small people who might look over your shoulder. (sample from ages ago)

Right, so I asked a question, a while ago. And to my eternal delight, I got answers. *pets silky lovely answers* Unfortunately the answers were pretty much split down the middle. *cough* So it was left up to me to decide what to do with my INFINITE CONUNDRUM. Perhaps I shouldn't be trying to blog with these holes in my brain. Perhaps I should eat more butter toffee. Mmmm, Butter toffee.

Er, what was I saying? Oh yes, infinite conundrum. (I really like that phrase. Perhaps I should steal it from myself.) I decided to keep writing with my fractured timeline, and go back and write later.

This is for two reasons.
  1. I actually don't know how to re-write, never having done that. Or edit. Those are whole new skill sets, which will cause much weeping and possible ritual suicide. *happy smile*
  2. This may sound absurd, but I don't, actually, uh, feel at home in the setting of the first part of the story. This is because it's a, uh, high school. Before you laugh me out of town, know that I was home schooled! I have never been inside a high school during school hours, and it's such tacit knowledge for, like everybody, that it makes me nervous to bluff. So I need to research High Schools. *hides in shame* And honestly, it's more fun to research WWI class structure for the NEXT bit! *beams distractingly from hiding*
So that's that. I will write this weekend, I promise. And now a question, that I think sounded very fun! :D
If I came with a warning label, what would it say?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Gail Carson Levine

"She could storm a castle, but you could last a siege."
-A description of the two princesses by the dragon Vollys.

Meryl is brave, brash and energetic. Addie is shy and terrified of everything. But when Meryl falls fatally ill, it's Addie who has to face monsters in a quest to save her sister. Whether the quest is successful or not is- debatable.

The book has been around for a while, (published 2001,) so it's possible you've already read it. ^_^ This is a re-read for me, as after devouring Ella Enchanted I went through everything my library had by Levine in a week. The first time around I just decided I didn't like this one, and dismissed it. Since now I am an "adult" I thought I should think about it more on the second visit, which I did enjoy more.

One of the reasons I didn't like this one at first, I think, is because of the different tone of the story from what I expected. In Ella Enchanted the main character is essentially hopeful. Even when she's cutting herself off from the boy she loves, there are still friends by her side, and there's still a sense that this can be fixed. In The Two Princesses of Bamarre, the main character is essentially fearful. Even when she's triumphed in battle, there is still a sense of what else can go wrong, and Meryl is still dying.

The majority of the characters in the story are only treated with briefly. In fact, only four characters really take shape in any way, and one is a dragon. (The greedy, temperamental and clever Vollys is actually my favourite . "In case you were thinking of escaping, I always close the door securely. *lies down* I am the door.") I love lots of characters, but for this story, the sparse cast worked. The main conflicts are Addie's internal battles.

The whole story was about finding courage, and it thankfully neatly side-stepped the easy speech about "courage is doing things you're afraid of even though you're afraid." It showed that you can find your courage, face the worst thing in the world, and it can still happen. The ending is a- source of contention. I have friends who say they hate it, and friends who love it, and friends who refuse to answer the question. For me personally, I thought it fit well with the rest of the book. To give a pat "happy" ending would have been jarring after the rest of the book, and to give the ending I cynically expected would be too bitter for the age group. (Plus it would probably have doubled the book, to deal with the outfall.) So the bittersweet frustration to end off with did work, in my mind.

I still don't really like this story, but once I get past the second chapter I'm sucked in till the end. I gave it three stars out of five.
(I should mention that my stars system is based on how much I personally liked it, and would I read it again. From "I didn't like it" at one star to "I loved it" at five. This isn't intended to be an overall describer of quality.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

They say acceptance is the first step...

This quiz comes courtesy of Liana Brooks from and a moderator at AgenQuery Connect.

"In my desire to help others, I have created a quiz with some of the common symptoms of book slut behavior. If you have one or more of these symptoms, you too, may be a book slut."
Does this sound like you…
  1. You read more than one book at a time, sometimes even more than one in a day. (For a while I wasn't doing this, but I recently backslid. *cough* I currently have six books on the go?)
  2. You can’t pass a table of discounted books without feeling that you might be missing out on something really good. (People pass tables of discounted books?)
  3. You belong to at least one book club. (Sadly, no. Unless you count goodreads?)
  4. As you are nearing the end of one book, you are already thinking of the next one. (*Combs hair out of eyes* Yes? And?)
  5. It stresses you out that there are more delicious books in the world than you can possibly read. (Um. Food is optional, right? I can, I mean, I'll live a long life! I'll stick to only a few genres! I'll read fast! *weeps as reality strikes*)
  6. You will read anything. If it is a book, you’ll read it. And probably even enjoy it. (No, I have standards! I won't read trashy romances- anymore. And I don't like horror, unless it's written by certain authors, and uh, Christian Fiction! I don't like Christian Fiction! Unless there's nothing else to read...)
  7. Book workers, i.e. booksellers and librarians, know you by name. (I've been offered three jobs, they know my file from memory, and they knew me when I was twelve. *pause* Whut? Whut?)
  8. For you, reading isn’t just an in-bed-before-you-fall-asleep activity, you will also read in public if the opportunity arises. (I've been told off for reading in the middle of parties, but come on. That conversation just wasn't interesting!)
  9. You carry books with you–just in case you find an opportunity for a quickie. (You mean you don't?)
  10. You try to hook others by gifting books or by promoting your favourites by saying things like, “Everyone is reading this and they love it. Just try it.” (Not just one, very much. Well, only with my close friends and cohorts.)
  11. You will take a free book even if you aren’t interested in it. (Don't knock it till you try it!)
  12. There aren’t enough bookshelves in your house to hold all your books. (Heck no. I'm using orange crates and banker's boxes and the top of my dresser and the floor.)
  13. Friends describe you as an ‘avid reader.’ (No, friends describe me as insane. People who don't know me either think I'm a reader or photographer, weirdly enough.)
If you replied ‘that sounds like me’ to 1-2 of the above, you have begun exhibiting signs of being a book slut. There is no immediate cause for concern.
If you replied ‘that sounds like me’ to 3-5 of the above, you are in significant danger of developing into a book slut. If symptoms worsen, seek support. You do not need to go through this alone.
If you replied ‘that sounds like me’ to 6-9 of the above, you are a book slut. Seek support immediately.
If you replied ‘that’s sounds like me’ to 10-13 of the above, you are a book slut of the highest order. There is no hope for you. Embrace your book slutishness and repeat with me (loud and proud), “I am a book slut!”

I am a book slut!
(Srysly so. heh.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Soon I'll be out of my mind, and you'll be out of ideas..."

So I was going to dance class today, thinking about plastic. What, you mean you don't do that? Surely you jest! You lie! *cough* But here's the thing. I'm doing a steampunk world in Karma Police, and there's a floating town in the ocean. (Which makes me happy inside, btw.) And because I'm just like that, I need to know why it's there, and how it's there. My first thought was, of course, plastic floats! Then I went, uh, wait just one second here, plastic? In steampunk? That doesn't really sound right, not for the amounts I'd need to float a town...

I will spare the the rest of the stream-of-conciousness wherein I thought about rivets and Kipling, Star Trek, gears, the American Civil War, greasing methods and child labour and submarines and Kipling again and mining and ice caps and fishing and- I'm telling you about it. Anyhow, wow, I love my little town, and I can almost smell it, I know how it works so well. While thinking about this, I realized that the piece of tech that I'm starting out Karma Police with, does not jive with the rest of the story. (If you're read it, you know what I mean when I say "Harbour Tree." If you haven't read it, I'm sorry you missed the benefits of my insanity.) It was semi-organic, and everything else I'm writing is mechanically minded.

This made me sad, because I loved that harbour tree. HOWEVER, before I became too broken-hearted, I realized it actually belongs in my Medusa/Fire/Fantasy/SF/Pick One/War/Children/blindness/SO MUCH SHINY story that keeps hovering behind my head dropping maddening hints. So I squeed over that revelation and nearly walked into the barre at dance. I had everything plot-wise figured out and it was wonderful!

This lasted about ten minutes, till we were talking about costumes. This was when I realized that my plot order for Karma Police is all backwards and knotted, and I narrowly kept from beating my head off the floor.

You see, my plan was to start writing with a big event, throw in some flashbacks to explain why they were there, have a big realization, and then End triumphantly at 50,001 words. That- did not work. I'm currently halfway through the flashbacks, and halfway through the strange little plotlines that insisted on appearing between the Big Event and the Big Realization. One of those is the floating town, actually. *takes a moment to love floating town* My realization was that my story actually is in three parts.
  1. The flashbacks.
  2. The Big Event and the cunning plotlines.
  3. The Big Realization and outfall.
Also, the cunning plotlines are supposed to help with the Big Realization, and I need to research metal working, specifically Ship Building, Zeppelin Design, Hydrogen safety, turn of the century Prisons, Rebellions and Guerilla Warfare, Class Structure, High Schools, Bank Security, Catholic rites for the almost-dead, oh, and gas mining. That's what I know about now, more will undoubtedly come later.

Remind me again why I ever thought that writing fantasy would be easier than "real world?"

Anyhow. As riveting as I'm sure you found that, I actually have a question for you, my lovely readers! (I know you're out there, I check my stats occasionally, and some of you even comment. Shocking, I know.) Here it is.

Should I go back now and write out the flashbacks that have revealed themselves to be Part 1, or should I fight on to the end before re-writing?

Part of my brain is saying Never Go Back!!! Resist the urge to edit! Resist! RESIST!!!!!
And part of my brain is saying Wait, you don't even know why your characters are doing things! Go back, figure out what you're exiling doing, THEN continue.

I'm not sure which plan is better, so there is the question of the hour.

What do YOU think?

My Discovery Of England, Stephen Leacock

This book was published in 1922, and since it deals with Current Culture and Affairs, it's a bit like looking into a time machine.

Mr. Leacock published this volume of his impressions of the British Isles after going on a humorous lecture tour there, and he covers Prohibition, Education, Publishing, Capitalism and Humour, among others, in very amusing fashion. I read some of this aloud, and it is even more dryly hilarious when spoken.

I can't say I agreed with all of his views. The suggestion that women not be educated made me glower just a bit, for example. (But I'm willing to take that as opinion from a different time and move on, since his descriptions of traveling made me chortle out loud.) Worth reading just for the descriptions of traveling and education, (as well as prohibition.)

I gave it three stars out of five.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr

I hadn't been reading, and I mean for months. Since I want to be a writer, (as you may have noticed,) this seemed unwise. I finally went to the library and stared at the YA section, and then pulled out a book with a shiny blue-purple cover.

The shiny-cover-method did not let me down. The enclosed book turned out to be exactly what I wanted; exciting, adventurous, romantic (and salacious at times,) and frothy. I can't say that it was the deepest book I've ever read, but I liked it a lot. *beams at shiny book*


The plot is thus. Aislinn has always seen the Fair Folk, which is a bit of a family tradition- her grandmother can too. But, given the faeries' lamentable history of gouging out the eyes of people with the Sight, she knows not to ever aknolwedge that she can see, hear, or does in any way notice the hordes around her.

This becomes harder when a beautiful/tasty man name Keenan shows up at her school and shows obvious interest in her- and she knows that he's faery. Court Faery, none the less, and he's been stalking her outside of school too. Of course, it is slightly easier for her than it is for the rest of us mere mortals, because she has an even more beautiful/tasty man friend named Seth who lives in a steel house and is also showing obvious interest in her. *Sigh* Amusingly, we're seeing this from inside Aislinn's head, so Keenan's pretty smoothness is barely even mentioned in the face of Seth's piercings and ink. (Soooo much hawter. *smirk*) From there, drama, court intrigue, and romance happen, and it's really lovely.

While this book was wonderful and I want my own copy, it feels a little bit disjointed and or/muddled. I know it's arrogant for me to say this, given my own skills, but this was a debut novel, and I think it shows? Certain plot points didn't mesh into each other as seamlessly as I would have liked. Once I thought about it things were clear, but I did have to stop and think about it. However, the one part that really irked me because it wasn't explained turned out to be a herald of the next book. So I'll forgive that. :D And any disjointedness just made me more eager for the next story, to see how she improved!

Which next book is currently on order at the library. HURRY UP POSTAL SERVICE. *cough* I gave it four stars out of five.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Watchmen, Alan Moore

I was trying to think of how to write a coherent review of this one. Then I realized it was impossible, so I should stop fretting.

This was terrible, a horrible book. But also SO GOOD.

I can't even talk about the plot, because it sounds like it's on drugs. Oh, you think I should try?

Uh, okay, there's murder, a giant squid, floating dead bodies, sex, rape, blue men, history and time and freaky things, a plushy deadly giant cat and red snow- NEVER TRUST PRETTY MEN. ESPECIALLY SMART PRETTY MEN. Squids will save the world by killing you all.


I told you.

ANYHOW, possibly reading half of it in a stolen hour in a library and the other half after midnight in a hotel room didn't help my mental state much. I was staring at random walls and shuddering, and my dreams were, uh, rather imaginative. But circumstances of my reading notwithstanding, the book is vivid. You just get images stuck in your head. Like the view down a skyscraper. Or boiling oil. Or red snow in a pattern. Or- *shudders* I think I need to read something fluffy before I go to bed. *searches for fluffy books*

I can't talk about the plot because of the aforementioned drugs, but I have to mention the different POVs. As different characters were followed, different styles of delivery were used for the story. For example, the Night Owl's story was told in excerpts from his autobiography, and Rorsarch's tale was from the point of view (nominally) of the physiologist assigned to work with him. Dr. Manhattan's part of the book was told in his freaky stream-of-conciousness. Oddly enough, that was the part of the book that convinced me that I had to finish it. I was seduced by time-manipulation and prose style, what can I say? (No, nudity was not a point in any way for me. I read Sandman too young, and that permanently warped my mind.)

I would be very careful who I recommend it to, as it's very graphic. But if you can get past the death, and despair, and death, and sex, and rape, and death, and nihilism, and death, and nudity, and death- it's good. (Did I mention the persistent presence of death? Several kinds of death?) ^_^ I gave it five stars out of five.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Dragon Seer, Janet McNaughton

I'm going to put my jugemental hat on now and do some reviewing. This is part of my plan to think about what I'm reading. I'll tell you how that works out for me. ^_^

I found this story really hard to get into, simply because of the author's voice. Small words and simple descriptions just don't do it for me, sorry. I actually assumed at first that the story was MG, (though later plot points (romance, death) supported the idea that it was YA,) because of the simplistic story telling.

However, once I adjusted to the fact that this was not going to a thrill-a-minute tale, and the prose was not going to make me shiver with glee (yes, I do that occasionally) it turned out to be a mild and fun story. Madoca is a slave in an abusive household until she is chosen by the dragons to be the next dragon seer! (OMG FOR REALZ???) Once accepted into this prestigious position by many kind people, she learns that the job is more difficult than she thought, (Magic is hard? Lol Whut?) but also more rewarding. Life unfolds happily, she makes friends with a cute boy (though she doesn't know that's what she's doing, *blush* *cough* *scuff toe*) and then the Vikings arrive, and it all goes to heck in a hand-basket.

I really don't feel the need to spoiler the ending, but it was sufficiently unexpected and worked well.

Overall, the romance was talked of in simple terms for simple readers, but it was believable. It even had several "awwwwww" moments which made me happy. The two respective important death scenes were well done, and the bad guys were Very Bad. We know this because they kill helpless animals and make small boys cringe, also they have a magician who can turn into a raven. (Like Woah.) The dragons were small, clever, arrogant, pretty and awkward. They also talked mind-to-mind, which is is IMPERATIVE for YA dragons. Unfortunately, I found myself not really caring about Madoca's five years of being beaten and starved, or her dragons dying out, or even the terrible Vikings come to destroy our affinity with the land. I felt like I should care, but I was just annoyed at the sanctimonious tone of the tale whenever awful/stressful things happened.

This book did not catch much of my attention, but I think that is because I am not the target audience. I wouldn't be distressed to find my little sister reading it. I gave it two stars out of five.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I need to stay away from "clever" titles. This is clear. But I'm going to let that one stay, for teh lolz. *cough* It's time for the tradition, the wonder, that is Nano Wrap-up! WHOOOOO

(I just washed two hours of dishes and now have tea, can you tell?)

I'll start with a shout-out to my characters. *beams*
  • Adam - It just gets worse. I'm sorry. But you're so FUN to break. *cough* I'm sorry about the girls. And the torture. But really, it wasn't THAT bad...
  • Nanami - You'll feel better later. I'm sorry. I really am sorry, but sometimes the only way is to break and re-form. You had shiny travels?
  • Laura - I didn't want to like you, but I do... You haz mad skillz, woman. I don't want to know what they are, but still. Props to you.
  • Ewan - Heh. Heh. Don't look at me like that! You KNOW you asked for it. You just attract violence! I uh, don't know what's going to happen to you. I think fights are gonna be involved. Aren't you HAPPY? Don't use language like that around me, young man. You love it, I know.
  • Ethan - You're a jerk. Too bad I keep liking you! Stupid dis-loyal jerkface pretty boy. *growls* I'm gonna make you PAY.
  • Mr. Theyneker - Stay away. Seriously. You scare me. Seriously. AWAY. I mean it. *hides behind anything large and locked*
  • Amelie - *salutes* You were random and I like you. I like your back story. I like your distain. I like that I'm never going to see you again, Lord Willing.
  • Dijimon - Jerk. Go away.
  • Claude - You're a random pretty boy who keeps morphing roles and I named you to annoy a fictional characters, what can I say? I'm going to make you fail, soon. Enjoy your life.
  • Katie - Hi, you're pretty. Let's break Adam together.
  • The Duke - I will find a way to involve you later, Fop. I WILL.
  • Islay - You're sweet, and awesome! I'm sorry I'm using you. Er, have a new pair of shoes?
  • Sidney - You are still my favourite bit characters. I'm gonna bring you back. ANd then the Bad Girls can fight to see who you are married too, cause you're awesome. *hugs* I'm sorry about the whole prison thing.
  • Mrs. Swallow - I'm sorry about your son. You're lovely. I really, really am sorry. *cringes*
  • Hana - You're WAYYY to perky. Go perk over there kthnxbai.
  • My Bad Girls - I less than three you all. I'm sorry about the whole prison thing. I'm gonna get you out? GJ with the torture and kidnapping and all. I promise it'll be better in the edit, too.
  • The Train People - I thought you were my favourite bit people. Then I realized that you're actually another novel. Someday...
  • Jim - I'm not sure yet if you're a good guy or you just killed a bunch of kids. But you're pretty. Um. *unsure* I'm sorry the flirting lines I gave you were so lame. I'm sure you're MUCH smoother than that.
I think that's everybody! Aren't they wonderful, and doesn't my story sound cheerful?

Now to go over what was actually accomplished. (And what I learned)

  1. I wrote 66,690 words on a story that doesn't show any signs of stopping any time soon. There is srysly a LOT that has to be revealed and dealt with. *I take a moment to weep* (My plots are weeds. They grow in directions I don't want them too, take root in strange places, and Do. Not. Die. Also I'm wordy.)
  2. The story started as a fantasy which was shiny and full of teenage fun, and it became, well, steampunk featuring betrayal, deception, and death. I mean, if you start with your MCs being terrorists, there are only so many ways it can go. (I'm pretty sure that I'm still writing YA, but I have a potential to get dark. You want hope? You're going to have to WORK for hope. Also, teenagers are so flexible for one reason only- to heal faster after they've been broken. There will be breakage.)
  3. I tried to keep continuity, and keep plotlines under control. I failed. (WRITE A DETAILED OUTLINE AND KNOW WHAT YOUR EVER-LOVEING PLOT IS. I AM NOT EVEN JOKING, SELF.)
  4. I realized today that I came up with most of this plot a.) when a family member was moved to palliative care b.) while waiting around the hospital for this person to die, and c.) while being attacked by normal life after the death. (When in a setting like this, you will think your plots will be nice and light and frothy. They won't be. You'll do things like putting a main character on death row for a murder they didn't commit- for the sake of character development- and seriously consider not getting them off- and think it's just normal and cheerful teen drama. Be Aware Of Your Mental State When Plotting. Also, what was up with the invisible kids that I cut on the first day? Srysly, brain, sleep is good for you.)
  5. After, I think it was 18 days straight, I burned out, and needed to take a break. This felt awful, but I did write better after taking a day off! (Writing is wonderful, we know this. I still need to give my mind time to catch up and develop sub-plots that make any kind of sense.)
  6. And finally- After much non-production in the final days of nano, I turned off my internet for six hours and wrote over 5 thousand words. (I am easily distracted, I shouldn't try to stay on twitter, facebook, chat and blogs- and write at the same time. It will not work.)
There you have it! My profound wrap-up. Now if you'll excuse me, my family hasn't seen me in a month.
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