Monday, March 29, 2010

13 Little Blue Envelopes, Maureen Johnson

Now, I follow Maureen Johnson's blog and twitter, and she is very funny. :D I was expecting a very lighthearted, slightly absurd book when I picked this up. I didn't get that. I got something much better.

The premise of the story consists of something I used to wish desperately would happen to me when I was smaller. Ginny's Aunt Peg has given her a thousand dollars and instructions to fly to england, where she is met with a bank card and thirteen little blue envelopes. Challenges she has to gets to perform while traveling around Europe. (Kind of a personal amazing race. :D)

So she does the challenges, which are insane and hilarious, and really pushing Ginny outside of her comfort zone. I don't want to spoil them for you, so I'm not going to talk about the challenges. (Lion tattoo, lolz.) I'm going to talk about WHY she goes through with them. You see, Ginny has always admired her madcap, artistic aunt.

And Aunt Peg recently died of a brain tumour. This "challenge" is what she left Ginny in her estate.

When I met it, that- for me- was the first sign that the story wasn't going to be the carefree romp I expected. There is hilarious humour and it made me want to travel, yes, but that's also right smack up there side by side with the understanding that people you love die. Die unexpectedly, on the other side of the world, without coming home, none the less.

I'm gonna be a bit macabre here, and say I loved how the book dealt with death. Everyone reacted in a very realistic way- or what I could consider a realistic way. They weren't noisy about it, and they got mad at the person who was gone, and they did things that looked like "moving on," or even forgetting, while really keeping the person well in their memories.

It really made me want to read more books set in the "real world" (e.g. not fantasy,) if they could balance the understandings that life is hilarious, and embarrassing, and miserable, and full of love, and wonderful, and you can love people even when they are far from perfect. (Very far from perfect.) I gave it four stars out of five. (Also I loved how the romance, while important, wasn't the central focus of everything. :D It was just in the background of everything. Which is way more awesome.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Heist Society, Ally Carter

Kat has grown up in a large, extended, and very quiet family. (No squeaky shoes there.) It's the kind of family which enjoys the better things in life, especially art and miniature submarines. The kind of family which has a bit of an iffy relationship with the law. Where going straight and law abiding is the most rebellious thing you can do.

Kat is a rebel.

She pulled off the biggest con of her life when she was fifteen- scamming her way into a prestigious boarding school. This effectively cuts her ties with her past life, her family and most of her friends, but she's seen the effects of living on the run for the law, and she doesn't want to spend time in jail for cheap thrills.

So that's decided, ties are cut, skills get rusty- and then someone gets her expelled- someone from her past life. Her family is in trouble, and they need her.

Well, some parts of her family think they need her. Some other highly respected and influential family members think they don't need a teenager who's publicly announced that she doesn't want this life. But when it turns out that Kat's father's life is in danger, frankly she couldn't care less what other people think of her. She's got to get him safe, using every globe-trotting contact, exotic skill set, and carefully honed con art at her disposal.

Which, once more of the picture becomes clear, isn't really the greatest set of tools at her disposal. The adults are all out for plot-related reasons, her crew has all the erratic-ness of working with teenagers and their hormones, and her own skills are rusty. Which when you're facing someone who likes to SPOILER: brand his own staff as a minor disciplinary measure, is kinda nerve-wracking.

Whew, and the boys are pretty excellent. Pretty, and excellent. There was a really cute nerd, and goofy Weasly boys twins, and a dashing pickpocket, and an even more dashing con boy. *fans self* It was lovely. ^_^ In fact, the one boy I didn't like was the one who turned out to be a plot-related spoiler, which made me feel a LOVELY judge of character. Oh, and there were excellent girls who I am really looking forward to seeing when the MOVIE COMES OUT SOON, even though they won't be teenagers- (wait, that means the charas will be MY age? AWESOME.) - ahem. As I was saying, awesome girls. But I went into the book knowing that it was written by Ally Carter. Of course the girls will be awesome. That's a given.

I gave it three stars out of five. I did really like it, but for some reason the characters didn't connect to part of my soul in the same way that the Gallagher girls did. I hear there's another book in the series, right? Please? yay! ^_^

Friday, March 26, 2010

Right now plotting feels like trying to solve this.

(Have I mentioned I'm no good at Rubix cubes?)

You know that part where you grimly hate your story, you seem to do nothing except stare at a word doc (Okay, pages document) and everything that drivels out of your brain is basically brain-mush? (FUNNY, THAT.) Yep, I'm here. Me and Karma Police, we're here.

*repeated banging of head against table*

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY DID I EVER THINK THIS WAS A GOOD STORY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY????????????????????

Fortunately, none of my alpha readers seem to actually be reading the story. So I chortle madly over my computer and make extravagant promises to myself to fix it before they reach it. It'll be GOOD, see? Only far, far in to the future. FARRRRRR into the future. Hehehe. Maybe when I'm old and gray and have fourteen cats, a fragile plant and a ferret. Then it'll be done and I can let it out into the world again. Hehehehe.

Seriously though. When I'm planning a story? I REALLY need to keep it more cheerful. Anytime I decide I need to add comic relief by throwing in a teenage marriage, things are going wrooooooong. Also, lol unintentional sketch. You'd think by marrying a guy off things would be less prone to awkwardness? No, that only counts when the character is not as GIFTED with awkwardness as mine are. It's a gift, really.

And I got Hex Hall and War Of the Flowers and Nova War and Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in the mail today, along with others, and I really really want to hole up with them and some tea and never come out no more. But I'm not allowed until this draft is done.

My life is AAAAAAAAAGONYYYYYYYYYY. *abject weeping*

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev

Beatrice has grown up in the Theatre Illuminata. She eats in the Green Room, dresses in things she's found in Costumes, and she's friends with the characters offstage.

(No, I don't mean the actors. The characters. For example, Ariel, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed and Peasebottom are players in the book. (You may remember them from Shakespeare? Or not, but they're from Shakespeare, OKAY? ^_^) The Theater is seriously magic, and characters from the plays walk out of The Book they're written in and onto the stage. Sometimes then they walk around backstage later, causing havoc.)

She's lived her life there as long as she can remember, hobnobbing with pirates, faeries and drowned girls, avoiding the Stage Manager, and basically running riot. And as the book opens, the management has had enough of the foundling girl contributing nothing while messing everything up. She's been told to leave and make her own way in the outside world.

Hah, like they could get rid of her that easily!

Bertie, you see, does not take direction well. She's told to leave because she's not contributing anything? Why then, she'll contribute! She'll become a Director! She busily starts to work staging a production of Hamlet in Ancient Egypt, anxious to prove her contribution to the theatre.

But while she's occupied with kicking rebellious characters into new roles and the nuances of staging (Let's replace the poison with a basket of asps! Which then GET LOOSE,) other people who she trusts are serving their own interests. Their interests rarely line up with hers.

Also, ancient sea goddesses kidnapping people.

I really liked most of this book, but unfortunately I was bitten with that issue again where I don't like the main character. I kept wanting to go HERE and she kept heading off over THERE and I had to go along. I'm still pointing and waving and jumping up and down over the scenery, etc., and she's busy trusting adults and worrying about her mom. I guess I'm a heartless child, but I really didn't CARE about her mom. I wanted more magical things and rebellious characters and costuming and all the SHINY this book was practially dripping. But no, it showed me the shiny and then dragged me AWAY from the sparkles (oh my pretty sparkles!) to focus on the angst. Sigh. I gave it Three Stars out of Five.

I think I need to re-read it for the shiny.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Graceling, Kristen Cashore

Katsa is the niece of a king in the Seven Kingdoms. This sounds princessy, right? Either she's a defiant maiden desperate to make her own way and help the poor commoners, or she's a *giggle giggle* princess, with pink and sparkles. Right?

Er, nope.

You see, the Seven Kingdoms have a little genetic quirk. Every so often children are born with eyes of two colours, and that means that they are supernaturally gifted with some talent, or Grace. Sometimes the Graces are useful, like the woman who's working in the king's counting house, because of her gift with numbers. Sometimes they are less useful, like the kid who can eat rocks with no harm. In all cases, the Gracelings, as they are known, are in the employ of whatever king whose kingdom they were born in. No negotiation.

And when the Graceling is a girl named Katsa who killed her first man with her bare hands when she was eight, that means she's her uncle the king's pet executioner/torturer/assassin. This does not lead one to being the most dainty of girls, and Katsa wouldn't have been the *giggle giggle* kind of princess anyways. She's not interested in romance, or being pretty, or marriage, or having kids, or any other "girl things." Her main interest is justice, which she pursues secretly when her uncle is not sending her to kill or maim people.

The book enters when she's rescuing a kidnapped (royal) man from the dungeons of a nearby king. He's being rescued because he hasn't done anything, and also because, well, he's the father of another king, which is why they noticed him being kidnapped in the first place.

She gets him out, being awesome along the way, and meets another Graceling. This wouldn't be terribly bad, (she knocked him out fast enough) except for the fact that he then shows up at her uncle's court in a few days. And it turns out he's the kidnapped man's grandson. And she was doing the rescuing secretly, so NO ONE MUST KNOW.

Does she kill him? (Spoiler: His name is Po, so if you've heard of the book you know how that ends.) Does she decide to be girly? (Cue feminist chorus of approval.) Who was kidnapping an aging grandfather who can barely walk by himself? (Trust me, the answer to THAT is awesome.) And why would they do that? Will Katsa ever be more than an indentured thug?

THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS YOU WANT ANSWERED?
YES, YES YOU DO.
READ THE BOOK THEN.

And now for what I thought of it. Uh, I think I was spoiled by reading Fire first. It was so very awesome, and dealt with such big themes, that I was disappointed this one wasn't as good or better. Which, since this is a debut novel, isn't really a fair expectation. And I kinda didn't make friends most of the main characters. HOWEVER. I loved the world, a lot. And the plot, the plot was LURVE. *is in awe of the plot twist*

As for the characters, I'm pretty sure it's not intentional, but I got a little miffed at how everyone in the novel who's smart or gifted seemed to be royal. There were stupid royals as well, but the most a common person could hope for was to be "quick" and loyal. Which is such an antiquated notion that I'm VERY sure it wasn't intentional, (I just read it at the wrong time of day and got my hair in a twist), and I'm glad that it got fixed (for the most part) in Fire. Love Fire so much...

I'm not going to comment on the marriage issue. I've heard enough on both sides for that, we don't need me weighing in.

I gave it three stars out of five. I am greatly looking forward to Bluebitter. :D

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Excuse for my absence?

Eowyn wins at life.


Ahem. I just had to put that up there. ^_^


Despite what it may appear on the internet, I have not forgotten about this blog. I have merely been WRITING.


Er, attempting to write. See, 25% of the workforce at my place of employment has been off sick, so I've been upgraded from part time to almost full time. Which I'm not entirely used to, and also I've been trying to finish the first draft of Karma Police by the end of the month. That appears to be a hope as realistic as the one that says that I'm going to get up at six in the morning, but it's not the end of the month yet, so I still retain it.

So yes. That's my excuse. :D I will have MANY reviews and maybe even some excerpts for you! Later. Maybe next month?

(Or whenever I get tired of staring at a blank word doc and retreat to the internet.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Match Made In High School, Kristin Walker

This was my second book for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge, and I actually bought this one. No more freebies, I got it in Chapters. :D Not that I did my famous PANIC LUNGE at the shelf when I saw it, or anything. Truly, I am so weird in bookstores.

Ahem. Anyways, I read it almost a month ago, and I have been very remiss about reviewing it. That's because I've been keeping it by my bed for cheerful reading before sleep. I can open it at random, read a paragraph or two, and always find something to make me chuckle, if not laugh outright. This is a very funny book. ^_^ I'll do the random open thing now, and find a quote. *opens to page 31*

Heh
"I thought today would be the first day of a fantastic senior year. Instead, it sucked. Now I have to spend the whole year SHACKLED to a person (who shall remain nameless, but his initials are TODD HARDING) whom I despise. I have been advised to try to find on redeeming quality in him to focus on. So far, the only I can think of is that he is breathing. But even that is questionable, because is very likely a zombie or some other form of the undead."
And that gives you a good glimpse of Fiona's voice to boot! As you may have gathered, Fiona has been paired with Todd (I'll explain why and how in a sec, be patient), and she doesn't think too highly of him. He shares this opinion. Of her, that is- he thinks he's pretty awesome. They would both be VERY happy never having to share space in the same room, only their principle has decided to instigate something called a "Marriage Education Class."

 The whole senior class has been paired together randomly- which means that basically no one is with someone they like. But they will have to work together, all year. Or they don't graduate.

And not even just in class, the terms of the sentence class dictate that they'll have to work together OUTSIDE of school as well, earning money. All the money goes into a pot, and at the end of the year the "couple" with the best "marriage" gets the money. (Which is probably the primary reason the entire senior class doesn't drop out, right then.)

And then, as everyone unwillingly works together, they start to find that hey, there are actual human beings inside of that stereotype shell! (Not that it definitely means that we should be friends, mind you, but hey, you're a person! (And then later- hmmmmmm, maybe we can be friends! Maybe.))

Okay, anyone who reads the back of the book knows that's the way the plot is going to go. "People Learn To Look Beyond Surface Appearances." But beyond that turn, it manages to avoid a particular- dare I say it- stereotype of a plot. ^_^ Most of my predictions for what was going to happen were off, and there were quite a few twists which I really didn't see coming. The people who I expected to end up with each other didn't, and most importantly, the characters really seemed like real people. It wasn't just a case of an outcast learning that the popular people aren't so bad because she's accepted into their group- the characters unwillingly were forced to look beyond reputation and appearances. Nerdy Girl is still nerdy, and Jock Boy doesn't discover his artistic side, they just find out that there are people inside the uniforms. Which is a turn of events I like much, much more. :D

And can I say how much I liked Fiona? She's one confident girl! Yes, she's not "popular," but she's fine with that. She knows what and who she is, and the idea of changing herself to fit in never even comes up. This is quite a change from most teen female protagonists. ^_^ (Also, her parents are WIN. So much win. I want their relationship. :D)

Wow, this is a rambling mess of a review. :D Anyhow, I gave it three stars out of five, and I hope Mrs. Walker writes MANY more books!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Demon's Lexicon, Sara Rees Brennan

I haven't done a really long, rambling, absurd book rant in a while. Let's get ON that!

Okay. You know how when you really want to read a book but it's not in the library system, and you have no money, and you have no booking friends off of which you could steal it, and so you start stalking the author's blog and any place where they might be mentioned?

Yes, I'm here to say- don't do that. I managed to spoil every single plot point of his book for myself before I read it.

BE WISE, MY READERS. RESIST THE LURE OF BLOGS WITH FUNNY AUTHORS AND TEMPTING SPOILERS.

So, as a result of my rash behaviour with spoilers, I can't really comment on the unexpectedness of the plot. I can only comment on how well the plot and characters are stitched together. (btw, now I'm reading all of SRB's blog post with great care, and if "spoiler" is even breathed about, I don't click. I learned my lesson. Hopefully.)

Right, so the book. Plot wise, Alan and Nick are teen brothers, who live with their insane mother. I do not mean eccentric, I mean insane. Screaming fits are customary, and if she takes off her necklaces she'll die. But Nick and Alan get on pretty well by themselves. Alan works, and Nick is in school, and they move whenever the magicians get too pesky.

Ah yes, the magicians. One of the necklaces which Mum is wearing? It's a charm which she stole, and magicians from all over the country want it. So they're going after it. And by "going after" and "pesky" I don't mean annoying letters, I mean trapping children into circles which can only be broken when someone inside is burned alive, and sending homicidal crows and demons in through the the kitchen window.

Right, demons. Magicians have power to alter things in this world, but they always want more power. It's part of the lifeblood of being a magician. They can get more power by summoning demons and bargaining with them. Yes, Demons do not take Visa. Think payment in the bodies of enemies, or people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe your friend who drew the wrong straw.

Anyways, Nick and Alan have managed quite well to herd their insane mother along, avoid demons and magicians, and lie low. And then one day two teen siblings, brother and sister, appear at the back door, and Nick hadn't even had time to get the body of the latest magician out of the kitchen. I mean, inconsiderate much? Even more inconsiderate, the boy has a third tier demon mark on him, which means he's gonna die. Sooner, rather than later. In nasty ways.

Nick's all for leaving the kid to die and moving away, but Alan has a crush on the girl, and so he insists on helping her, and then things get serious when Alan tries to protect the useless children, and is marked himself.

The book is inside Nick's POV, which raises the bar for characters everywhere. He's so UNsympathetic that I liked him for it. The boy is nothing if not consistent...

Nick is rude, mean, harsh, laconic, hurtful, angry, violent, and very good looking. He is never not rude, mean, harsh, laconic, hurtful, angry, violent, and very good looking.
"Children, teachers and dogs liked Alan. Girls liked Nick. He thought it was a fair trade."
Despite many references to Nick's debauchery, there weren't any actual scenes of it, which was both disappointing (show me, don't tell me about it!) and very, very good. I am not old enough for those scenes. Especially with Nick in charge. Whew, is it warm in here or is it just me? Moving on... He has NO sense of humour, or if he does it would probably involve hurting children or small animals. He likes knives. Not because they're shiny, because they're good for killing people. He's a good dancer and he's the one in charge of getting rid of the bodies. He's honest. He's so honest... When he said he wishes you'd die he's not just speaking in anger. He wants you to die, and he can help with that.

Completely on the other side of the spectrum is Jamie. Jamie who is quiet, wordy, sarcastic, physically weak, hiding things, and gay. (Probably the only way to be more on the other side of the spectrum would be to wrap himself in electric lights and sing showtunes. With feathers. Which Jamie might do someday, on a dare, if he were not still running for his life.) He's the one with the demon mark, and I have an uneasy feeling he's been being visited by an incubus, but let's just skate over that issue. I'm definitely too young for that. Nick writes him off almost immediately, and he doesn't get his hilarious one-liners, so sadly the book doesn't spend as much time around Jamie as I'd like. I would like to go on record right now, though, as saying that I don't trust him. He's too good at hiding. And sarcasm.
"I'm not all that accustomed with the walking dead. Is it alright if I cry with terror now?"
WATCH OUT FOR JAMIE IN BOOK TWO. (Also there's spoiler related clues to him being dangerous, but still. I shan't share spoilers. ^_^)

Jamie's sister is Mae, who is Alan's crush. She's also a girl, which means that Nick thinks she's his lawful prey, at times. Did I mention that this book is from the POV of a boy? And that Mae is a girl? Who wears skirts? And shirts Nick can and does look down? And yeah. It's kinda hard to separate Mae-in-nick's-head from Mae-Who-Is-Real. Mae IRL is brave, pretty, smart, loyal, stubborn, and trying so hard to keep everyone together. Mae in Nick's head is- less awesome, and more of a pawn. (Though she does flirt well.) Cause she's a girl, and not Alan, and Alan likes her. She's something to be used against Alan, and therefore gets more attention than Jamie. But the focus is still on Alan.

Alan, Nick's brother. He reads Ancient Sumarian, did you know that? He also carries a gun, instead of the swords which Nick favours, and he never misses. He's crippled and nerdy and very, very good at lying. Children and dogs like him. He's not, really, trustworthy. But not only do you have no choice but to trust him, you want to. He's just so GOOD at lying! But he's probably lying for a good cause. Depending on your definition of what a "good" cause is.

The characters are REALLY, really well done. This isn't one of those "subvert the stereotypes" characters casts. They seem so individual that you (if you're me) are halfway through the book before you realized that they might adhere to a stereotype at all. "Wait, Alan's a nerdy boy, and Nick's the strong silent type? HAHAHAH. Ahem." I'm really looking forward to Demon's Covenant. ^_^

I gave it four stars out of five.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My shining dishonesty will be the salvation of me.

Dearly Beloved, I am beat out.

I wrote 1687 words today, of which all are trash and more are insane. I have completely lost my grip on grammar, and music only goes so far to keep my brain inside my veins.

I should not have tried to read Wintergirls. That was a mistake, and my internal organs have not commenced feeling calm again. In other news, I have to wear long sleeves to work because I keep doodling ink on my arms, and that is not "professional." (Seemingly there are such things as "appearances" to keep up. Who knew?)

But in writing news, I fear greatly my end-of-march deadline. Today- people lied and Nanami saw. (Or did she?) All that research about prisons, and it came to naught.

World-building revelation of the hour- phones are electric. DARN IT. So is the internal combustion engine, and radios. So I'm thinking of a nice way to use some electrics but not alls? Or perhaps I'll just leave that for times when I am less insane. Ah-hah.

Upcoming events- Ewan defines his insults, Adam is rejected and therefore despairs, Laura is calm and probably cuddling ensues, and Ethan goes dancing. Or maybe I'll just nuke the world. NO WEDDINGS FOR YOUSE. ALL DEATH.

Oh Midas-in-a-bottle-for-drinkable-end, I need to sleep. If anyone can make sense of what I wrote today- they should probably be committed.

I really need to rename Ethan. Does anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles

This was one of my ventures into reading books which I wouldn't normally go for. I think I've mentioned that romances aren't totally my thing. Much less books in the "real world." (Gaspage, no speculative fiction? WHODATHUNK?) Ahem. But this one was so recommended, and it kinda had an interesting cover, and, well, I was grabbing books which people said were good off the shelves like I was on fire and ONLY THE BOOKS WOULD HELP.

Why yes, I have been known to scare people away when I'm in stores. Something about the wild eyes and the fact that I'm walking down aisles grabbing things with both greedy hands. But you know what? If you can't take the crazy, get out of the bookstore.

This book takes place in a high school. A nice, normal high school in senior year. (It's worth noting that I read A Match Made In High School back to back with this one. Despite technically being about the same age group, the feel of the story and actions of the characters are very, very different. Very different. There's no branding in AMMIHS, for example.) It starts on the first day of the term, when Brittany and Alex are getting ready for school.

Brittany is blonde, pretty, rich and perfect. She has a perfect boyfriend with which she has a perfect relationship, she has perfect clothes which her perfect family buys for her, and she gets perfect grades. (Not too perfect- she's not a nerd- but she's a perfect cheerleader, not a dumb one.)

Alex is Latino, handsome, working class and tough. He lives and works on the wrong side of the tracks. He rides his motorcycle to school- which he attends when he isn't needed by his gang. He's even tough enough to get away with good grades. He might be a thug, but he's a smart one. *Alex will hurt you if you make comments*

They are both firmly set in their lives- and then their chemistry teacher decides to be a jerk and seat people alphabetically. Alex and Brittany are forced to be partners for the remainder of the term. No, Brittany did not sniff her hair to make sure it didn't smell bad. (That's biology, remember?) Instead, she's annoyed at him, and he's almost less delighted, if that would be possible. They might have stayed happily hating each other, except that Alex's friends tease him about the barbie he's sitting with, and he bets his motorcycle that he'll have sex with her by thanksgiving.

Enter romance!

Er, wait. Not yet. It's pretty clear that they start seeing each other because there's sexual attraction going on. (And Alex's bet.) But as they start actually spending time in each other's lives, they find out that the stereotypes of Tough Guy and Perfect Girl are not as true as they seem. Brittany's perfect life is hiding some fairly intense "flaws," and Alex doesn't want the life he's been jumped into. He'll live up to it, but he didn't want to chose it. The labels are, in fact, still true, but not in the way that you think when you see the blonde cheerleader and the bad boy on the motorcycle. In the end, Alex is tough in a way I was not at all expecting, and Brittany's inflexible core allows her to chose what she wants in her life and not give in to whatever else other people want.

Despite that, they're teenagers, in way over their heads, and I was extremely uncomfortable a lot of the time. I mean, they started seeing each other because of a BET, and well. He's not in a good world. Spoiler, but he's stabbed. A few weeks into the school year. Knife fight! Endspoiler. There's a scene where Brittany gives herself a talking too and lists Alex's good points, which are valid and considerable. This did a lot to calm my fears about the bet-induced beginning of the relationship. I still wasn't very comfortable with most of the other things, though.

This is a GRITTY book. There's drinking, lots of swearing in spanish, (which means it went over my head for the most part, yay,) drugs (though not too many) sex, and people die. People are are knifed, people are betrayed, people are shot, and people DIE. A main character is almost beaten to death. Sleeping around is taken for granted, (for everyone who isn't a white girl, that is. But of COURSE boys and sluts latino girls are having sex with many people! White girls just are edgy cause they have sex with one person and are loyal.) And characters DIE.

Which, y'know, doesn't usually happen in YA books. Or maybe I haven't read realistic fiction in two long. That is possibly it. But I'd heard a lot about the gritty nature of the book, and somehow the DEATH wasn't mentioned.

Which I guess means it's normal? Huh, weird.

I wasn't really comfortable with, well, a lot of the book. (I am not even talking about the sex scene. NOPE. I know nothing.) While I was relieved by the end, I wasn't ever really rooting for the relationship. I was more rooting for characters to survive! With that said, it was well written, and I stayed up two hours past my bedtime to finish it. It was good, I just, was uncomfortable. My favourite parts were with the nerdy kid. Heheheh, and they were hilarious. ("This kid's been in jail more times than me! Check out his rap sheet, his speciality is grand theft auto." Heheheh.) I think I'm neither a bad boy nor a cheerleader, and if I was in a similar school I'd stay safely with the nerds. My kindred! Ahem. I gave it three stars out of five. I think I'll be checking out more by the author, just, carefully. :D

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Who is the love and who is the knife."

Word count: 1,593

Overall: I'm kinda stuck between hating PASSIONATELY what I'm writing now, and being struck by the glory of how much better it'll be when I rewrite. And granted, that will probably be my attitude when I'm re-writing. (oh, this will be so much better next time!) but it helps to make me feel pleasantly schizophrenic.

Today: Ethan still has a lock on being cute, Mister Theyneker is uncaring about you or your pain, and Islay is cuter. Also, Laura is a woman of steel.

Upcoming: Ewan throws up (yay!) Adam questions his faith cause girls don't like him, and Ethan finds that he doesn't like newspapers.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sabriel, Garth Nix

Sabriel was published fourteen years ago now, but in reading it I thought it was even older. You know how the style today is for everything to be bright, and brash, and colourful all all the time? (Must add more sparkles...) Sabriel isn't. It's quiet. (This is despite that the dead are walking around, mind you.) But the characters are- controlled. Controlled in the way that my grandparents and other people who've lived through the depression and several wars are controlled. "A fuss won't help anything! We are simply going to get the job done." *while the world explodes messily*

This is not to say that the characters aren't realistic. I very much think they are, and I am desperately fond of Touchstone, Sabriel, Mogget, and especially the soldiers and schoolgirls. :D It's just- people who can face and live through the kind of things that the characters did and do are not your normal flighty teenagers, right? Right. (OMG Love the soldiers SEW MUCH. And they're almost matched by the school girls mobilizing for battle. LURVE.) :D Okay, let's get on with the book.

*Ranting deleted* I, uh, was going to tell you about the world. And then I started describing the details, and I realized how delightful it was to discover said details for myself when I was reading the book. (Spoiler: Magic works on one side of The Wall but not on the other, but there's leakage on the border. So the soldiers on guard duty are in, like, 1940 gear, only with swords and shields and medieval weapons. The Government officially doesn't believe in magic, so they keep sending out machine guns which refuse to work.) So I will INSTEAD tell you about the plot. Ahem.

Sabriel has lived most of her life in an all-girl's school a country away from her father. He sent her away for the best schooling and to keep her safe, but they still talk by magical means and she looks forward to his visits- both magically and in person every summer. But just as she is about to graduate, she gets a peculiar message from him- by VERY unorthodox means. He's sent her his weapons with which he kills the dead. (And no I don't mean "kills people dead" I mean "kills dead people." As in "Dead people with notions," "Uppity corpses" and "evil creatures that are too stubborn to leave when you cut out their vitals.") These are weapons which she's never seen him without, and which mean that he's probably dead.

So she goes after him, over the border into the Old Country, which she hasn't been in since she was very small. Not "going after" in the way which some annoying fantasy girls have, of just never doing what they're told. She's been born into a family which knows that death is sometimes a negotiable state, and she's convinced that there should be a way to get him back, or at least talk and find out who killed him. Unfortunately, once she crosses the border it doesn't take long to realize that she's so far in over her head they have to pump in daylight. High school theory only goes so far in the real world, even if your high school DOES teach magic and sword fighting.

That covers up to the first hundred pages. And then it gets really exciting..... *sing-song happily*
It's REALLY GOOD.

I gave it four stars out of five. It would have been five out of five if not for an unfortunate incident in the guest house which entirely kicked me out of the book-world, and a bit of an issue sometimes with following what the characters were doing. I want the next book.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This is your mind calling. You have no idea what you're doing, do you?


I found this outline in my files the other day. I think it's for Karma Police, but I still have no idea what it's supposed to be talking about. I thought I'd share the logic. :P
Plot outline
  1. recruitment
  2. terrorist?
  3. built tension and discovery with the life stuff in this world
  4. DISCOVERY?
  5. capture is love
  6. ind├ępendant assignements
  7. (also they have to get the kids out of the claws of the unholiness while they arrest people)
  8. discovery of evil girl
  9. get her out
  10. we've got friends
  11. (they were watched, they know this)
  12. (how watching? Explain)
  13. go to the unholiness
  14. get her out
  15. (figure out how)
  16. reveal that they've been being used?
  17. I weep for us all
SCRATCH THAT
Moving on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Along For The Ride, Sarah Dessen

Okay, I know that Sarah Dessen doesn't exactly deal with "easy" issues in her books. It's not like you think about the future, and go "hmmm, I'd like one of my daughters to develop depression and eating disorders, and another daughter to be sexually assaulted, then shunned by her school and end by taking up with the resident anger-management boy." (That's Just Listen, in case you didn't recognize it.) But the relationships in her books are so gorgeously sweet, that when I want a happy book I find myself gravitating towards what she's written.

(Possibly this is also because I am a very twisted individual.)

(Or possibly because I read Along for the Ride, and then Catching Fire.)

(WHO KNOWS.)

Anyhow, the story! In true Sarah Dessen style, she deals with divorce, the death of a friend, what it means to be a girl, and parental expectations. Plus what it means to grow up, and taking responsibility for people and things that are in no way your fault. (Are those last two things related? I WONDER.) However, despite what you may have heard on the Barnes and Nobles site, it does NOT contain scenes of- or references to- Auden loosing her virginity. *cough* (I have the author's support on this on, you guys. I am secure.)

And the actual PLOT is that Auden has been an over-achiever her whole life. More than an over-achiever, she doesn't know how to goof off. She basically missed all the insane things that teenagers do, or even just how to have fun, because she was so busy being a good, well-behaved mini adult. Um, I mean child. Her idea of impulsive and wild behaviour is that when her stepmother invites her to come stay with Auben's new step-sister and her father, she says yes, packs for two weeks, and then goes to stay for the summer. Ooooo, that's living on the edge.

But once she gets there, she finds that with no homework or school activities to do, she's lost. The girls are terribly, well, girly. And the boys seem to be crazy and confusing, and everyone wants her to talk to them. Like meaningless chatter about jeans or dresses actually accomplishes anything! To make thing's worse she's an Insomniac, and her favourite haunts are now not accessible. She's left with nothing to do but drink bad coffee at a surly diner and walk the boardwalk at night.

And then she meets a quiet boy, who doesn't expect or want her to chatter. His name is Eli, and he's insomniac as well, though for different reasons. Then from there it just unfolds inexorably, but still full of surprises, like life. Like the life that happens over a very hard, very good summer where a miniature adult learns to be a kid for the first time, and then a real adult (with relationships.) It was very sweet. I gave it four stars out of five.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Sean Williams

I think I should start with my star wars history. When I was eleven my (younger) siblings rented the Original trilogy from the library, and settled in to watch these formative pieces of culture. I, being the hysterically brave creature that I am, sat outside on the patio tormenting ants, and only watching when the people were outside. I figured that anything inside was too frightening, which was possibly inspired by unwittingly walking in just in time to see Darth Vader strangle an angry guy in a grey uniform. To make it better, I was watching through the glass doors into the living room. No sound. I'm so brave.

But then flash forward two years, and I have literally read every book in the library children's section that doesn't have a drooling bloody plant or similar horrific thing on the cover, or teenagers making out. This includes some truly unfortunate books which I'm still trying to forget, but that is not the story today. I figured it was time to wander into the adult section. But the Mysteries had a lot of blood on the covers, and other "adult books" had icky romances, and the nonfiction was boring and angry, I didn't like horror, and I had bad experiences with Westerns featuring torture. (This was honestly my rationale.) I settled for the SF/Fantasy section as being my safest bet.

...

I know, some of you are now laughing incredulously at me. But in my defence, the books either went WAY over my head- Yay metaphors!- or they were Star Wars EU novels, and Star Trek books. That was also where my Star Trek knowledge base sprung from, but that is not the topic at hand either. I read the star wars books, found they were good, and put a standing order in with the librarian to order me every other star wars book in the system. The results were, mixed. But I was going through two or more books a day, so I just threw aside the painful ones and re-read the good ones. (Oh, Mara Jade and Thrawn, you never fail to make my heart soar.) (Also, I have never liked Luke Skywalker. Nope.)

And then at college I discovered Karen Traviss's Republic Commando and the New Trilogy movies, and many much lovely expansion in the universe, and even found people who knew more than me about Star Wars. When you've grown up in a small town when you are the only one who has read anything in the SF/F section for the past three years, this is BIG.

So I've been known to elbow the boys aside to get at the star wars section, that's all I'm saying. Even if those stupid boys think I don't know the colour difference between a sith blade and a jedi saber. FOOLS. Ahem. Anyways, I did snatch this book away from a particularly snobby creature of the male persuasion, and carry it in triumph to the counter. Where I BOUGHT it. And then I READ it. So there, boys, I can participate in your fandom just as much as you can.

And the triumph over the purchase was the best part of the book. I think if I want to know a video game story in the future, I'll just watch or play the game. I get the sense that this would be awesome to play. To read, well. The characters weren't fleshed out, the plot was meh, the universe was WRONG- (I read many much books, I know this. ( WHO GOES TO THE GROUND ON KASHYYYK? SERIOUSLY??? ) I gave it two stars out of five. I will now expunge the false history from my mind.
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