Friday, August 31, 2012

On Unrelated Stuffs

So, this post is basically going to be a bunch of links elsewhere, to random but highly awesome places. Whether inspirational, wierd, or just plain interesting, I'm going to post them anyways.

Have you heard about this dad who wears skirts in support of his cross-dressing son?

Does writer's block exist? Before you spout this advice, think.

Posted earlier this month that I just can't stop thinking about, what is the relationship between dreaming and depression?

This article on how much your mind wanders while reading is worth reading.

 Do you know how to write horizontally and vertically?

"Dead Genres" - should you write them if the trend has ended? This post talks about whether you should still write that paranormal romance if it might not sell.

I start school next Tuesday, so I have to make sure these next few days are relaxing and wonderful. As for y'all, have a blessed Friday and many hopeful smiles for your weekend!

Follow Friday #13

Feature and Follow is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question is...

Q: Best cover? What is the best cover of a book that you've read and loved?

Ooh, this is difficult. Let's see... here are some of them:

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Keys to the Kingdom: Mister Monday by Garth Nix
Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Hollow Earth by John and Carole Barrowman

The covers are lovely to my eye. I don't know about yours, but I especially got caught on Gamer Girl. I'll have to add a new page on this blog of my favorite books with pictures of the cover and a summary. Ta-ta for now, as Tigger would say! (That was Tigger, right? Or was it Winnie the Pooh? Or Cristopher Robin? It's been a long while.)

[EDIT:] So, I took a picture of the covers and here they are! I merged them together on fotoflexer. I know, it doesn't look the best as I'm an amateur photographer/designer at best, but you can catch a glimpse!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hollow Earth by John and Carole Barrowman

The monster's eyes scanned the darkness. Hide. Hide. Hide...

Twins Emily and Matt Calder have imaginations so powerful that they can make art come to life. Their powers are sought by villains intent on accessing the terrors of Hollow Earth - a place where all the devils, demons, and monsters ever imagined lie trapped for eternity. If Hollow Earth is breached, the world will be plunged into chaos. If Hollow Earth is breached...
...the twins are as good as dead.

Paperback copy, 326 pages. Bought online from Amazon (I believe - we use several different online book sites).
Published: 2012 by Buster.

This book has given me mixed feelings.

First of all, the WORLD! Animares - people who can animate art - and their Guardians, who protect them from the eyes of the world. It takes place first in London, then for most of the book, in a seemingly-made-up place called Auchinmurn Isle, which I believe is meant to be in Scotland. At least, I think it's made up. My first glance through Google says "Auchinairn", which does not seem to be an island.

But anyways, I love the premise. The Guardians and Animares vs. the world. The twins are special even in this strange world, because their mother is Animare, their father Guardian. And Guardians and Animares are forbidden to have children together because of the strong combination of magic in them.

The problem arises when the head of the Council of Guardian wants to bind their imagination inside a painting, to prevent these powerful twins from getting out of control. The decision not to leads to a group of people called the Hollow Earth Society, decides to take advantage of this by trying to kidnap them in order to force them into opening Hollow Earth.

The characters in this book are all awesome. There's kindly Jeannie, the cook. There's Mara and Simon, their mom's friends, and Zach, Simon's deaf son. Renard, their grandfather, is a powerful man on the Council of Guardians. Also, Vaughn, a mysterious but good man, shows up several times. In all, there are a lot of interesting secondary characters, some of whom I found even more interesting than the twins.

Threaded through this present-day debacle is another story, another timeline. In this one, a boy named Solon in the Middle Ages on the same Isle helps save a village from a Viking raid. It ties in with the plot somehow, but how it does is in the shadows a bit.

The action is pretty nice in this novel. Also, a plus: very little romance! Well, a plus for me. The action isn't the sword-and-battle sort; most of the battle is drawn with pens (or charcoal, or pencil, or paint). There is some hand-to-hand fighting. Only one sword, but lots of drawings. This is my kind of novel: action, little romance, and far-off places that may or may not be real.

There were a couple of problems I had with this novel: one is that occasionally characters would refer to the person they're speaking to by name. You know what I mean, like:
"Bob, are you alright?" (This is not an actual quote from the book, obviously; just an example.)
In real life, people just don't do that. Or if they do, it sounds awkward. Writing like that detracts from the quality. Beyond that little problem (which only happened a couple of times), it was pretty well done, but that one thing irked me.

Another problem is the ending. I won't spoil it, I just thought that... it was missing something. That not all the loose ends were wrapped up. I don't know if there's a sequel coming or not, but the ending to this felt a little lacking. They could probably write a sequel tying up the (pretty big) loose ends.

But I love the creativity. There are creatures I've never heard of, paintings I've never seen, places I've never visited. That last one is pretty easy to write about, but the first is nice to come across. The characters, setting, and creativity are all wonderful.

I would recommend this to you if you can look over my little quirks. It was a bit of a scrambled ending, but the idea captured my imagination. 4 stars.


By the way, John Barrowman plays in Doctor Who. Excuse me while I happy dance. *Meep!*

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend Melodies #1: First

I've decided to do a weekend feature here called Weekend Melodies. As the name implies, I'll post my favorite song or a song relative to a book I'm reading on a Saturday or Sunday, and include a line or two of my favorite song. The song has to include or relate to the one (random) word I choose. I may or may not explain my connection between the chosen word and the song if the connection is obscure enough.

Since this is the first post, the word is: first.

(Have you ever noticed just how wierd that word looks? First. It even sounds funny. I love funny sounding words. *Happy sigh*)

(In other news, Rose's Competition has officially ended! I rearranged some of the thingies around my blog. Also, I go back to school in a little over a week, on the 4th. Wish me luck on that. My computer's acting up, so the spacing on this post is a little off... I think this is enough "other news". On to the song!)

[How Does This Connect?]    -------    I love this song so much. To me, it describes a moment of perfect happiness, of sincerity, for the first time in a long time.    ------- [My Favorite Line] -------
        This innocence is brilliant, I hope that it will stay.  
I do not mind if y'all join me in this feature. Post a song in the comments or on your own blog (with a link to it in the comments, so we can see) with or related to the word of the weekend! I love to hear new songs.   

Have a blessed weekend! :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Follow Friday #12

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question is...

Q: Worst cover? What is the worst cover of a book you've read and loved?

Umm... this is so hard. I normally won't read it if it has a gross cover (shameful, I know). I didn't like the covers of the newer Artemis Fowl series (actually, I find them hilarious, because it reinforces the fact that I can't think of Artemis in a real-human-being manner, only in that drawn/animated form). Um... I didn't like the cover for Scars by Cheryl Rainfield. I don't know why. Beyond that, I honestly don't have any. I wouldn't say these were the "worst", because there are so many books with bad covers that I hated. I just didn't like them as much as the other covers on the rest of my personal bookshelf.  

My psuedo-answers shall have to do. Please comment and link to your post! I'd love to hear your answers. :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

On Storytellers

I decided to forego the usual Monday book review today, in honor of books, if you can wrap your head around that.

Do you know those books, where they're not just fabulous? The kind of book where you can't really tell if you loved or hated it, but there's no denying it rocked your world a little off its hinges?
Yes, the Bible. Another example of a book that can change your world. :)

(On a completely irrelevant note, what a funny expression. Do metaphorical worlds even have hinges?)

I finished reading the 8th Artemis Fowl book on Saturday, a couple of days ago, and I'm still reeling. I can barely focus on my reading. Maybe it's because I've loved this series since elementary school, and it's finally come to an end. Maybe it was the ending of that book itself. Either way, I feel like it has either opened a door or closed it, and I can't tell which.

Your world can change in the hands of a master storyteller.

My writing dream up until now was to be one of those worn, seemingly-forgotten books on a library shelf somewhere. Not to be rich and famous, but to be cherished. I've added another layer to this dream of mine: to be a master storyteller, where my readers are knocked a little askew.

So, I decided that it wouldn't do to post a review of the last AF book. For one thing, I probably couldn't talk about it yet without spoiling it, and two, I'm still a little shell-shocked. I don't think I could do this book justice. I am suddenly more motivated than I have been since... well, ever. I think it's time for me to start writing like a big girl - no getting distracted.

So, I will be thinking a lot more seriously about the outlining and beginning of my novel, and possibly actually finishing the first draft for the first time. I want my dream of rock-your-world writing to come true. Sometimes it's amazing what a simple book, just another one in the long line of TBR books, can change.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Follow Friday #11

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question is...

Q: What blogger inspires you? It can be any kind, it doesn't have to be a book blog.

Um... this is hard. I follow blogs because I am inspired by them, so that means every blog I follow is the answer. Some of the first ones, that inspired me to start blogging myself. were: The Epic, The Awesome, and The Random, and Birds Of A Writer. Another blog I've taken to recently is Down the Rabbit Hole, mainly because I love fairy tales. Alison Can Read (link above) is also one of my favorites, because she posts great book reviews and I've been meaning to look at manga/anime for awhile; I probably would never get a chance to buy the manga, since my mom is against it, but I could sneak copies from the library. Uhmm... it would take way to long to list every other blog I follow. These are my favorite of the moment (which might change in, like, five seconds) or they're the reason I started blogging.

Beyond that, the blogs I follow have that little spark of creativity, inspiration, what-have-you that makes me press that "follow" button. So, every blog wins.

(I have to go because my cat is alternately licking my bedroom door and chasing after a cricket.)
Have a blessed Friday, and keep reading/writing/lying on your couch!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Who is Artemis Fowl?
A genius. A criminal mastermind. A millionare.
And he is only 12 years old.
Yet as crafty as he is, Artemis may have met his match in Captain Holly Short, an elf from the LEPrecon Special Forces, when he plots to steal the richest treasure the world has ever known - the timeless treasure of the fairies!

~Bought, paperback copy
Published: 2001 by Scholastic Inc.

My review:

I will try not to squeak in happiness. This is an amazing book! I've read it at least four or five times.

There are good reasons for loving this book. The characters are awesome - I mean, a rich child prodigy who kidnaps a fairy?! Artemis Fowl is clever and always a step ahead. Then there is his bodyguard, Butler, who is pretty freakin' amazing as well. I don't use freakin' lightly. He is among the biggest humans in the world, with special knowledge of weapons and hand-to-hand combat. He does most of the physical work, while Artemis does the intellectual work. They make a good team.

Then of course, is Holly Short. The first female recon fairy - the test case. When she is kidnapped, she doesn't blubber or freeze, like I know I would - she thinks of a plan to get out. She is just as ingenius as Artemis, in some cases. Of course, Foaly, the computer geek centaur, is worth a mention, as well as Holly's boss, Commander Root. While their role is relatively smaller, they stop time to try and get Holly back.

But the characters are not the only reason I love this book. The setting is awesome - a manor/modern castle in Ireland, and the underground world of the fairies, are thought out in detail. Colfer doesn't just wow you with technology - he explains exactly how this technology works, and wows you with that. For example, he doesn't just tell you they stop time - he explains the process.

While this might seem like it's drag down the pacing, it doesn't really. Instead of the headlong rush to the climax you see so often in YA, here it's more of a leisurely jog through the park. If "leisurely" included kidnapping, explosions, fairy magic, and trolls. It's well-written and a refreshing change from those novels that just rush, rush, rush.

There is no doubt that this is one of my favorite books. While it's on a serious topic - kidnapping - it is filled with humorous moments and witty dialogue. I first read this back in fifth grade, and I still love it. 5 stars!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Follow Friday #10

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question is...

Q: What would you do over if you were to start your blog again from scratch?

Hmmm.... this is a difficult question. There's not many things I'd do over again. Maybe post book reviews earlier than I did? I started book reviews only in July, when I've had this blog since April. Maybe I'd change the layout (which I still will do anyways, but hey, if it looked good at the start...) Being able to make my own layout would be awesome, but relying on free layouts isn't all that bad, either.

I love this blog so much, I don't know how much I'd change. I've spent a lot of time on it. It's gone through, like, seven different complete-makeovers. I love the name and tagline up there, and I try to post quality posts at least once a week. So, if I had to start over from scratch, I might post book reviews sooner and change the layout - not really any "big" changes.

How about you? Comment and link to your own post!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday Updates

I have not really planned out a post. I'm going to write a review of Artemis Fowl - I am currently re-reading that series for the umpteenth time, because the eighth and last AF book came out recently. It'll be posted next Monday, which (hopefully) gives me enough time to finish the series. (Eight books in two weeks - well, seven, now that I've finished re-reading the first.)

In other news, I am looking for blog designs and am entering a couple of writing competitions, including AN AWESOME ONE OVER AT VOYAGE. You should go check it out.

Beyond that, there is not much going on in my life. I am writing like crazy for nanowrimo camp, on a story that I am a little dubious about. I am reading AF. I need to (and am procrastinating) start on my summer assignments.

Here is a picture of my cat. Sorry it's blurry - Nala does not make a good model. But she is a pretty kitty, isn't she? :)

Sorry about the lack of writing posts recently. I will try to do another next Wednesday. Have a blessed day and keep writing!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shade's Children by Garth Nix

If you're lucky, you live to fight another day.
In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no human shall live a day past their fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the children of the Dorms are taken to the Meat Factory, where they will be made into creatures whose sole purpose is to kill.
The mysterious Shade - once a man, but now more like the machines he fights - recruits the few teenagers who escape into a secret resistance force. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlord's power - and the key to their downfall. But the closer they get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become...

~Bought, paperback version
Published: 1997 by Harper.

My review:

I am a big fan of Garth Nix's work. He's the author of the Sabriel series and the Keys to the Kingdom series, both of which feature (or used to feature) highly on my list of favorite books. So, I picked this book up with that thought in mind.

The synopsis up there doesn't do this book justice, in my eyes. The story revolves around these four teenagers, all of whom seem older than they are thanks to years on the run from monsters and Overlords. There's Ella, the "avenging angel" of the bunch, who can create or transport any object to her hands; Drum, a big boy who'd been forced steroids (you know what those do to you, right?) with the power of telekinesis; Ninde, a perky, flirty girl with the power to read minds; and Gold-eye, a boy just off the streets with the power to predict the immediate future.

These four unusual characters pretty much do Shade's dirty work. They sneak around the city, breaking into places where the Overlord has complete control, and they try to uncover information on the Overlord's weaknesses.

What I really, absolutely loved about this book is the worldbuilding. There are incredible monsters, built from the bodies and brains of children, that battle each other for the amusement of the Overlords. It kind of reminds me of a giant game of chess, but with seven colors (seven Overlords) instead of two, and like Harry Potter chess, where one figure gets smashed instead of put to the side. The children are in this nasty world where Trackers could smell them out, or Myrmidon soldiers could capture them.

The children themselves are warriors. I felt Gold-eye and Ninde didn't do as much fighting - mainly Ninde reads minds to help them avoid trouble, while Gold-eye is too inexperienced to do much fighting - but Ella and Drum were awesome, independent characters. They were my favorite, by far. Shade was... well, shady. He spent children's lives like they were money. He seemed almost more dangerous than the Overlords, because he was a "friend".

There was some swearing and sexual references in this novel. It threw me off a bit, because they are generally not a part of other Nix novels. While it wasn't a ton of it - some f words, but also a lot of s words, and Gold-Eye had to learn about sex sometime, I suppose - it still made me a little upset. I'm not much of a changeable person, especially when it comes to experimentation with these two. But there wasn't any actual... intercourse, and the swearing wasn't nearly as bad as other YA novels I've come across.

There is no lack in pacing. All of the events are sparked by the one before, and it all begins crashing down like dominoes... very fast-paced. Also, every other chapter is like this "computer archive" recording, where characters are having recorded conversations for the future listeners. Some of those recording are done by Shade - which gives you insight into his thoughts, almost like you're reading his diary - while some are Shade asking a question and the characters responding, while still others are conversations recorded by Shade without the consent of the children. Sorry if I don't explain that right, my mind is a little frazzled.

All in all, it's worth reading, especially if you've never read his other works and think you know what to expect. It's not for the faint of heart - lots of battle and monsters and evil. A little swearing and sexual references, but overall a pretty awesome novel.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Follow Friday #9

(Do you notice the new blog design? It's kind of hard to miss. It used to be so pink, now it's so... white. I'm having a frustrated time trying to find a perfect blog design.)

FF is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This week's question is...

Q: Do your reading habits change based on your mood? Do you read a certain genre if you are feeling depressed or happy?

It kind of depends on your definition of "reading habits". I always read only one book at a time, no matter my mood - if I try to read two books at once, even for school, I feel like I'm cheating on it. I always have a grace period of no reading (except online or virtual reading, which I don't count as "real" reading) for a book I just finished reading. So, no, those don't change based on my mood. No matter how badly I feel upset, I can always find solace in the book I'm currently reading, or by daydreaming if I've finished it.

As for genres... my mood changes quicker than I read. If I feel depressed (for longer than an hour or a day), I'm more likely to pick up fantasy, which is my absolute, all-time favorite genre. When I feel calm or at peace for longer than an hour, I'm more receptive to all genres. I still might not pick up romance, but I might pick up general fiction, or sci-fi, or even paranormal. I might even pick up a whimsical MG book, if I'm bordering on long-term happiness.

What are your thoughts? Don't forget to comment! Have a blessed Friday and keep reading!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday Spiff (On Ghosts)

So, my short piece of writing. I don't want to call it a short story, because it kind of isn't; now that I think of it, it's more of a scene. I just wrote it to write. (In a way, it was a sort of writing prompt: just a way of saying, "look! I wrote something today!")

       The faint crunch of boots in snow and of children laughing were all that could be heard. Inside, next to the window sill, the little girl kept cutting folded paper into the shapes of snowflakes.

"Watcha doin' there, honey?" her mother asked. She bent of the little girl, watching her struggle with the big-girl scissors.

"I'm making art," she answered happily. Her dark pigtails bounced as she looked up at her mother.

"Mamma, do you think the Big People will sell them in their museums?"

"Sure they would," her mother lied. She changed gthe subject. "How about we go into the kitchen and make some hot chocolate?"

      The little girl stood up and walked into the next room, momentarily distracted from her work. A teenage girl, who had been standing invisible peered at her little sister's snowflakes still scattered about the floor.

      Among the clumsy paper snowflakes was a green one with an indistinguished pattern. On it was written "Chandra" in silver Sharpie. She picked it up, smiling at her sister's innocence.

"Mamma, can Chandra have some have some hot chocolate, too?" came the little girl's voice from the other room. Her mother's voice, when it came, sounded choked.

"Now, Clara, we know that Chandra isn't here, remember? I told you all about how God wanted her to stay with Him for awhile."

"Yea, but she's back! Mamma, I saw her."

      The overheard exchange left Chandra depleted. As her energy faded, her body did as well, until the snowflake fell through her fingers to the floor. She wished her mother could believe in ghosts: the faith kept her solid for awhile longer.

     The sound of Clara's footsteps clattered across the kitchen tiles and back into the living room, where her snowflakes waited for her. The invisible Chandra floated on light feet to the doorway. Her mother took no notice as she swept through Chandra's spirit and back towards her living daughter.

 It kind of feels representational of my voice, and I write using more or less the same voice in my novel-writing, so feedback would be nice (to avoid similar mistakes while I'm writing my novel). It looks a lot shorter in my post than it does on lined paper.

Anyways, have a blessed 1st Day of August (and a blessed Wednesday, for that matter). Don't forget to write! <3

I decided this post needed a picture. So I found a flower in the public domain, through Google/Creative Commons.

Wednesday Writings

I'm so happy, I feel like a puppy! Meep! :D

First off, I finally finished LoTR. There's both a hollowness and a sense of completeness. I'm not completely satisfied with the ending (WHY, Frodo?!) but it's taken me a long time and I've finally put it down.

Second, my copy of Angela Ackerman's and Becca Puglisi's The Emotion Thesaurus just came today:

Taken via laptop-webcam-thingy.

I'm very happy right now. But these aren't what I meant to post about. I meant to post a short spiff, which I shall do in a new post in a couple minutes. But right now I want to revel in my new emotion thesaurus and my finished reading.

Ohmygoodness it lists the emotion, the defintion, body language, mental responses, and internal sensations, and more. Meep! :)
For those who don't know, Miss Ackerman and Miss Puglisi are the bloggers over at THE BOOKSHELF MUSE. It's a wonderful resource for writers. I use it all the time to spark an idea for my writing (on the sidebar, they have lists of emotions, colors, shapes, weather/phenomena... if you close your eyes and pick one, then write a short spiff involving the random thing, it works wonders.)
And this post has officially run out of usefulness. I'm going to happy dance out of your sight for a minute, and then I'm going to post my little spiff.