Sunday, September 30, 2012


Good Sunday and last day of September, followers. (And I've made it past 111 followers! I feel like I've bested Bilbo Baggins, when really I haven't done any such thing. Thank you for allowing me to feel satisfaction at having read the LoTR trilogy.)

I'll give you a basic rundown of the next week - Monday I have a book review waiting, Wednesday I might post a short spiff (yay for you - admire my jumpy writing skills!) and Follow Friday on Friday. I find this little list sad, for some reason.

I might change a few things around on the blog, about the sidebar and on the pages. Probably not the background - I like the black + white + blue theme I've got now.

Anyways, I wanted to let you know that between school and the beginnings of research on my novel (Yes, I've waited until I started my first draft, but it's a sloppy copy - I can go back and change the minor details I need to research) I might be awhile in posting another book review.

Tomorrow and perhaps next Monday I'll have a review up, but it might start slacking off after that. I joined an after-school choir at my school every Thursday and I'm going to Sunday School more often, as well as the homework I have steadily piling up. This leads to less reading time. I might start picking up again about November, or earlier.

Anyways, that's all I need to remind you of. Here's a pretty quote. Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Follow Friday #17

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

Q: What is the BIGGEST word you've seen used in a book lately - that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition and book, too.

Ohmygoodness, I love big words. The complicated, fancy, never-used words. Like Ornethology - the study of birds. Well, actually, that is used - it was the name of an after-school choir at our school one time. Not really a book.
ANYWAYS. Onto my answer. Umm... I know so many words that I rarely have to look them up. (How can I not apply these words to my writing?!)
One of my favorites (I have this on my little dictionary, which is really a bunch of useless words/definitions I typed up on a wordpad document) is MACHICOLATIONS.

an opening in the floor between the corbels of a projecting gallery or parapet, as on a wall or in the vault of a passage, through which missiles, molten lead, etc., might be cast upon an enemy beneath. (n.)

I found this in Eragon, a little less than a year ago. Around last January. Kinda long ago, but still a really cool, really useless word.

And to elaborate, a machicolation is that hole where medieval peoples would pour boiling oil/water/something similar on invading enemies below, if the enemies managed to make it past the main defence. This usually refers to castles: as in, if an enemy made it over the drawbridge and through that main gate, they'd pour something nasty on them from a hole in the ceiling to incapacitate and therefore kill them.

Don't I manage the funniest words. How many of you thought of this? What was your word? Leave a comment, I promise I don't bite people! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The list was my idea.
I didn't mean for anyone to die.
Will you ever forgive me?
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Val was as shocked as everyone else -- but, despite her own serious injury, she's implicated in the crime because of the list. The list she and Nick made of people of they hated. The list Nick used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boy she loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, her former friends, and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place, and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Print copy, 405 pages
Published: 2009/2010 by Little, Brown and Company

This book would normally not be my cup of tea. Boyfriend? Realistic fiction? School shooting? But, I'd heard some good things about it, and my sister had bought a copy for an English project, and I thought, what the hey?

I'm glad I did. This book seemed foremost to be memories and the aftermath of the shooting. Valerie, the main character, reflects on her memories of that day and tries to understand how she missed the clues. About how she could've missed that her boyfriend was crazy enough to do that. She can't help but see Nick as two people - the sweet, Shakespeare-loving boy she'd fallen in love with, and the killer he'd been on that day.

What I loved most about Valerie was that she didn't focus 24/7 on Nick. She was strong enough to accept help from her therapist. She did her best to focus on what was truly going on around her, instead of her paranoid delusion that everyone hated her for this shooting. She seemed a little selfish at times, but I couldn't blame her for it.

Her family... I don't know where to begin. Her father hates her. Her mother alternates between blaming her for the shooting and thinking of her as a victim. Her little brother accepts her for the most part. Actually, I'd love to have a brother as cool as Frankie - these two siblings don't fight like some do. They have a decent relationship.

Her former friends were pretty rotten in Valerie's eyes. They ditched her because she ditched them, and it's a mess. Her new friends, including the popular girl who'd bullied her before Valerie saved her life, seemed kind of cautious of her, and she didn't really want much to do with them to protect herself from more bullying.

As I said, Valerie was pretty selfish at times. She was quite focused around her own little messed up world. But I couldn't blame her, because she was written in a decent light. This novel didn't really catch my spark, but I liked it all the same.

But overall, Valerie was a good character. She felt horrible about her indirect part in this shooting, but she grows, she changes as the novel progresses. The pacing is pretty good and the plot felt a tiny bit slack (as I said, it spent most of the time in flashbacks), but I enjoyed reading this novel all the same. I give it a four exactly.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Follow Friday #16

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. This is my 16th! I love even numbers. And 16 is special - 4*4, it's how old I am right now, its double my favorite number (8). Sorry, I love even numbers. Anyways, back to the question...

Q: What hyped up book was worth all the fuss?

...This one is hard. Um, Inkheart and the first Hunger Games were both pretty fabulous. Eon, by Alison Goodman, gets some good hype for a reason. (That one's a little less popular, and I hated the sequel, but still...)

The Percy Jackson series, obviously... Eragon and Harry Potter, do I even have to mention them? Okay, that's five. That was a bit of a struggle - I don't read a lot of books from the shallow end of the popularity pool.

Gah. I hate this new blogger interface - it doesn't open new tabs for new posts I click on, and everything's laid out differently. I'm not a person of change. Is there any way back to the old blogger, or do you have any tips on making it easier to use?

Anyways. Have a blessed weekend, y'all. :D

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with "the deathless man". But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her -- the legend of the tiger's wife.

~Print copy, 338 pages
Published: 2011 by Random House

(Just to inform you, Tea Obreht actually has an accent over the e in Tea, but I don't know how to type such a thing in a blog post.)

Let me tell you first what I THOUGHT this novel would be like. I thought it would be this Natalia actively searching for the clues through the book, where we learn the story of the tiger's wife and the deathless man and her grandfather's death in bits and pieces, as she does.

In actuality, this book reads more as a memoir. At first, I was confused, because I honestly thought this was a memoir when I thought it was fiction, but no. It's fiction.This book annoyed me for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it sounds like a memoir.

The book starts off with a memory of her when she was young, visiting the zoo to look at the tigers. This is innocent enough. The next chapter switches over to her in the "present day", where she is taking medicine to orphans across the border of who-knows-what into who-knows-where. (Names of these countries weren't mentioned.)

What irked me the most, is that while there is plenty of detail into secondary and even tertiary characters' back stories (this actually accounted for a lot if not most of the book), there isn't much about the present day. The city where she lives is just that -- The City. I don't understand what this "war" is about, why it's torn this country into two countries, and quite frankly, I'd have been more interested in the war than in this Natalia.

Also, she doesn't piece together the story of the tiger's wife -- she spoon-feeds us it. It was a sort of, "Let's jump forward in time; now that I've gathered together the pieces, here's how that story played out..." This was confusing, because it was jumbled together with the present-day, the flashback of her own life, and the back story of the characters in the tiger's story.

The present-day actually isn't focused on: not her grandfather's death, which is written off as a misunderstanding, not her grief or her work, not even of her gathering information. This accounts for the least number of pages in the entire book. It's mostly flashbacks and telling us (rather than showing) the stories of the deathless man and the tiger's wife.

With all that said and done, I didn't mind the stories themselves. I preferred the tiger's wife and the deathless man over the main character of the book. The back stories were amusing (to my eye; most people might think of them as touching/tragic), but really, it wasn't necessary to hear the sob story of Luka the abusive butcher. Also, nothing wring with the writing grammar-wise, or physically wrong (as with all those sentence, phrase, setting, etc stuffs). It was more emotionally wrong; invested in the wrong part of the story.

This really only pulled through for me on those stories and the last paragraph on the last page. It's pretty much the reason I didn't set it down and walk away.

Overall, though I hate to say this, I started this with high hopes and was disappointed. It felt only loosely organized, and most of it was spoon-feeding me the stories. I don't know if this was because I'm used to YA and this is an adult novel, or if it's just the way it's written.

Now, let me tell you that this is completely subjective. I am responsible for my opinions, yes, but I am not responsible for your reactions to them. You may love this novel to death, but it's just not my type. As I said, there isn't anything "wrong" with this story, I just felt it was awfully off-course.

I give this 2.5 stars, but I'm nice enough to round up.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

On Updates and Inspiration

This is just a friendly post, from me (obviously). And again, thank y'all for letting me reach 100 followers! I am quite happy right now.

I've posted a glossary page, so if you don't understand a phrase I use, check there. If it's not there, comment on the post (whichever one I use it in) and I'll add it. You can now follow by email, if you don't have blogger (i.e. you have wordpress or livewritethrive or something else). Also, I put some cute little fish to the side there, because I am like that. But, moving on.

I just came back from Sunday School (which my mother teaches), and I am already feeling better. There's nothing quite like comparing your troubles to Job* to make you feel lucky.

My computer is acting a little wonky today, so this will be short. I can't promise sweet. I'll spend the rest of today doing homework, writing, and listening to Christian music, because Sunday School inspires me that much.

This post isn't meant to advertise my religion, I swear. It leads up to my point.

I've felt out of luck and inspiration for awhile now, and though I have plenty of interest and motive in my writing, I haven't felt motivated or interested to DO it. Putting things in practice tends to be harder than thinking about them.

It took a reminder of Job's sufferings to stoke the ashes of my interest into a fire again. It gave me a serious metaphorical talking-to: Danielle, you need to write this poor girl's story. She needs a chance to be alive, even if you are the only person to read the manuscript.

Well, somewhat. Danielle's my middle name, so obviously the lesson referred to me by my first. But I like keeping online and offline seperate, and it's irrelevant to the world for now.

But what I mean to say is, I've found my inspiration. I found it through my religion. What do you find yours through?

I pinned up the psalm above to my bedroom wall, and will try and print out a few verses from Job to help keep my candle-flame of passion from becoming ashes again.

You may find yours through sports, family, friends, future-readers, whatever. You may find yours through religion like me, or through more earthly, grounded matters. Whatever it is, I dare you to pull something out to remind you of my lesson: writing is hard, but it's worth it.

I dare you to remind yourself every day, to keep you on track and lucky.

*Job was a rich, happy, dutiful man in the Old Testament. God decides to test his faith by taking everything he owns: his children die, his servants and animals are killed by invaders, he himself becomes covered in boils, all in the space of hours or days. But no matter what, Job never blames God, and God rewards him with twice the animals and servants; another eleven children; and Job lives to be 140 years old. Happy ending.

Have a blessed Sunday and enjoy your week! I have a book review tomorrow and Follow Friday on Friday. I don't know about Wednesday.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend Melodies #4: Snowflake

Weekend Melodies is a weekly feature here at Inky Melody, in which I choose a random word and a song that relates to it. You are welcome to join in with your own song in the comment section!

This week's word is: Snowflake. Yes, I know it's Spetember, but it's never too early for Christmas.

[And by the way, I have 100 followers! *Meep!* Thank y'all so much. :D]

[How It Connects]

The Carol of the Bells is a Christmas song, and is one of my favorites. This version isn't the original - it has other Christmas songs mixed into it - but it is still fast-paced and awesome. And, of course Christmas = winter = snow. Snowflake. Yea.

[My Favorite Line]

This version doesn't have any lyrics. Hah. Of the original song, though:
Cristmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old
Meek and the bold...

Have a blessed weekend! What song do you think of?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Follow Friday #15

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

Q: What hyped up book do you think was not worth all the talk?

Hmm... Twilight, obviously. I didn't mind it, but I didn't connect with it. The later books devolved even further. I just couldn't understand why people obsessed over it so much.

What else? The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. He had very long-winded descriptions, and sometimes I mixed up the characters. Pretty good world, thanks to aformentioned descriptions, but thanks to my confusion it didn't catch my spark, and couldn't really understand why it caught so many others'.

Marked by P.C. + Kristin Cast is another. It doesn't recieve quite as much hype as the first two, but is still somewhat known. I felt that that series devolved into a sticky mess, as well. I didn't mind the first book too much, though. It was really the later books and a couple edgy parts in the first that put me off them.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl - this book didn't quite catch my spark, either. There was nothing wrong with it; actually, despite the fact that this is a love story, I kind of liked it. But I see it a bit too often than I think it deserves.

Also, Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck is a big one. The backdrop was pretty interesting - an Indian prince who's been cursed to remain a tiger - but its mistake was that it was told from the POV of a whiny girl instead of the prince. I mean, I remember a love triangle and one of the scenes that involved her whining about staying in the wilderness for "her" tiger and sleeping way more soundly than I ever have. Not a very good combination, to me.

*Now, you should keep in mind that these were difficult to dredge up. I read a lot of obscure books, because something about super-popular books puts me off. When I do venture into the shallow end of the popularity pool (the super-well-known books), I treat it as another book, but it usually ends up feeling mediocre. This is just my reader-bias, so if you like the books I mentioned, then I'm sorry.*

Goodness, it's been a long day. Three AP classes and Honors Spanish 3 - what a tiring combination. I am looking forward to that extra three hours of sleep tomorrow morning. Have a blessed weekend, y'all. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Writing Advice: Acceptance

For my AP Psychology class, I have to do an assignment that involves reading a non-fiction book called Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.

Now, admit it. No matter what genre you like, that is a pretty intriguing title. It is all about the "adaptive unconscious", which is the part of your brain that makes snap decisions based on very little experience. It automatically processes all the information in a given situation and makes a decision on how to act. This means that things like predicting if your marriage will end in divorce or whether or not something is a fake can be found out not within months but minutes.

So I started reading it and answering the assigned questions, and I come across this section that would apply to writing incredibly well, in my opinion.

If you know what improv is, then you'll know how hard it would seem. Making up witty dialogue and a play on the spot; I don't know about you, but I'm more inclined to think about that sort of thing for hours, analyzing the options, the outcomes, and pretty much every possible scenario. Improv is the opposite.

There are rules to writing that lead you to be a better writer, no matter your skill level. It is what keeps writing from being a sticky pile of atrociousness. Well, improv also has rules, and one of these is something I don't see very often in books.

Let your characters accept what is happening to them.
I read a lot of books that come across as angsty and vapid because the MCs always complain that this can't be real: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa - the MC thinks that there were no such things as fairies; Stoneheart by Charles Fletcher - the MC refuses to believe in the living statues; and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol - Alice believes this is all a wierd dream.

Now, these aren't bad - in fact, I find Alice endearing. But I find that when characters accept things, it opens opportunities. Who cares if your character is real because she can't accept magic? Make her real and inspiring by taking action.

Of course, no one is perfect. Your characters can have a respite; even Harry Potter didn't believe he was a wizard at first. But Harry Potter gets over his denial pretty quick.

Yes, my drawing skills are below average. The question is, though,
which would you rather read about? The one crying, or the one with her
hands raised in victory?

Let me give you an example. Say Mary (the stick figure on the left) is told she is a witch, and an evil magician is plotting to kill her. She denies, denies, denies. "What? That's crazy. I'm not a witch, There's no such thing as magic. I'm not worth killing." Blah blah blah. When the magician shows up at the door with a gun and shouts that he'll kill her, she starts crying, sticks her fingers in her ears, and says, "I can't hear you! You're not real." You can guess the next part.

Mary (the stick figure on the right) is told she is a witch, and an evil magician is plotting to kill her. She denies, denies, denies. But she realizes that if on the off chance this really was happening, then THERE WAS SOMEONE OUT TO KILL HER. She asks the person who told her she was a witch to train her in this so-called magic, and she realizes that not only is magic real, but it is the coolest thing ever. She becomes a pro in no time. The evil magician comes to her door, waving a gun, she laughs and levitates the gun out of his grasp. She twists it into a knot, and the evil magician runs crying to his mommy.

This is an extreme (and somewhat hilarious) example, I know. But do you see my point? Writing about the first Mary sort of stalled. There wasn't really enough opportunity to let her become the heroine she is in the second Mary. The first Mary was vapid. The second Mary was strong.

Now, this entire post may be biased, because I read and have read a lot of fantasy; if I suddenly gained magical powers, or was turned into a cat, I'd be ecstatic. Others might not be so pleased to grow fur. And denial is a natural reaction: he couldn't have died. They can't be killers. She can't be mentally insane.

But I think a character who gets over their denial and takes action is a character we can relate to and look up to. A realistic character who inspires is always better than just a realistic character.

So, to sum up this post: let your character accept his/her circumstances. It provides amazing opportunities for his/her to grow. Also, this book Blink is pretty mind-blowing. It's not a writing book, but you can probably expect more tips on writing from it.

What do y'all think? Acceptance or denial? Can you think of any characters who irked you because of this?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher

A city has many lives and layers. London has more than most. But not all the layers are underground, and not all the lives belong to the living. Twelve-year-old George Chapman is about to find this out the hard way.
When, on an otherwise normal day, George breaks the head from a stone dragon outside the Natural History Museum in a tiny act of rebellion, he inadvertently awakens an ancient power. The results are instant and terrifying: a stone pterodactyl unpeels from the wall and starts chasing George. He runs for his life, but the strangest part is, no one around him can see what he's running from. No one except Edie, who is also trapped in this same world.
Now that George has disturbed the fragile truce between the warring statues of London, he is forced into a race for survival, where nothing is what it seems, and it's never clear who to trust.
And this is just the beginning...

Printed copy, 450 pages
Published: 2006 by Hyperion Paperbacks for Children

This is an... interesting story.

The spits are statues with a sentient "soul", where their maker has put a purpose in them. They are at war with taints, who are statues with a "lack" of soul or purpose. Normal people's brains cannot comprehend and therefore reject the sight of this warring, impossible life.

Obviously, this is why I picked up the book. Statues coming to life + war = awesome premise. Even I can understand that basic math.

Nevertheless, I was a little disappointed with this. The main character, George, was a bit... what's the word... tasteless. Selfish. Weak? I didn't really have much patience for him, or at least not until he pulled through in the last 50 pages or so.

Edie, his new friend, was also disappointing. She was supposedly a tough girl with a mysterious past, but the only two roles she seemed to play were George's supporter and the victim. I can recall at least two instances where she was captured and had to be rescued. In fact, she and George were rescued numerous times: bailed out of danger by spits.

The best character, by far, was the Gunner. He is a spit, of a WW1 soldier, who saves the children's lives on more than one occasion. He was decisive and always did what he could, even though there was no reason to. He probably should have left snivelling little George to fight things out, but the Gunner seemed a kind protector, the type of person to give to the unfortunate from the bottom of his (metal) heart.

The Gunner and the premise were pretty much the best things about this book. Oh, and the impressive amount of British jargon - I was narrating this book in my head with a British accent. What a lovely change from the normal my-voice narrative.

What I didn't like, as I mentioned, were the main characters. They spent a disproportionate amount of time running. There were few food breaks - I thought that that much running constituted more than a chocolate bar, a sandwich, and some chips; but what do I know of running? - while there was plenty of confusing, mysterious statues conveniently handing out the information.

Actually, Edie had a horribly fascinating talent that could be added to my list-of-good-things-about-this-book: she was a "glint", a person who could see into the distant past by touching an ancient item. It was usually a painful, nauseous ordeal, but still: pretty epic talent.

So, to clarify this confusing post...

Things I like:
-the Gunner.
-the premise (warring statues of London).
-Edie's Glint talent.
-British jargon.
-the villain was pretty cool. The Walker: a man cursed to walk forever, who's desperately seeking a way to end it, even if it means a certain boy is cursed instead. *hint, hint*

Things I don't like:
-the main characters, George and Edie.
-the handing out of information.
-too much running, not enough food or action.
-This isn't fair, but I don't like cities. Especially popular ones, like London and NYC. They are, in my opinion, way too often the settings for books.

I give this book a three. It's pretty balanced. I might recommend this book to a person wishing for an in-between book (a not-completely-serious book, one to pass the time. Maybe just before a book you've been dying to read arrives on shelves).

*By the way, Happy Suicide Awareness Day! Not happy about people wanting to die, but happy that you have the power to help. To show you care. Tell someone suffering they're beautiful! Take them out for ice cream or to do something they love. Or if you're stuck inside, make them something cute, and compliment them. Show them some love. Even a little makes a big difference.*

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Weekend Melodies #3: Restless

Weekend Melodies is a weekly feature here at Inky Melody, in which I choose a random word and a song that relates to it. You are welcome to join in with your own song in the comment section!

This week's word is: Restless

[How This Connects]

This one is pretty obvious. Belle wants adventure, more than her normal life. She's restless in this tiny French village. In case you didn't know, I love Disney movies: Mulan, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King... Beauty and the Beast is my fourth or fifth favorite.

[My Favorite Line]

With a dreamy, far-off look
And her nose stuck in a book...

(Doesn't that describe me so well? Haha.)

Have a lovely, blessed weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Follow Friday #14

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

Q: What are you reading right now? How do you like it?

I am reading Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher. It's about the statues of London at war with each other. *Meep!* I am liking it so far. You can expect a review on Monday.

My goodness, this was short. I think I'll post a haiku I wrote earlier today in Creative Writing.

A candle flame burns
wishing to be a bonfire
But content for now.

Have a lovely, blessed Friday! Keep reading/writing/staring at the wall this weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Musings

So, today was my second day of school. I'm officially a junior.

I am taking three AP classes (all on the same day, if you can believe it). I have a ton of homework. So, what do I do? I go look through my little blogger inbox and read blog posts, and I post something myself... you know.

So this is going to be a short, update post, until Friday when I can breathe.

First of all, my novel is coming along poorly. I've written maybe the first sentence. I need encouragement; I feel like I've talked about this before, but I may have read someone else's post on motivation. My mind is fuzzy. I really need a way to stick to my writing, and I hope that by filling that creative well in my mind I'll either be driven crazy or to writing. Anyone have any ideas for a girl with minimal supplies, no money, and no driver's license?

(By minimal, I mean my mom's craft supplies: popsicle sticks, maybe pipe cleaners, foam stickers, those little pom-pom balls. Stuff you find in a little kid's artroom, except way less of it.)

(I also don't mean do my homework. It's the first week of school, for goodness sake.)

It's been hectic, but I might post a short spiff next Wednesday. A sample of my writing, if you wish to call it that. Beyond that, I don't know.

I have a picture quote with some penguins on it. Yay. :)

 I used a sample picture from my computer and added a quote to it.

I have... really nothing else to say. How do you stay motivated when writing? Do you have any ideas to get my creative well... welling up again? (What a pitiful metaphor. Oh goodness.) Comment or link to a post with a good answer, please.

Have a blessed Wednesday, and I hope you don't get eaten by tigers!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

Jennie feels the tingling prescence of something unnatural in the house now that Will is dead.
Her heart aches without him, and she still doesn't know how he really died. It seems that everywhere she turns, someone is hiding yet another clue. As Jennie seeks the truth, she finds herself drawn ever deeper into a series of tricks and lies, secrets and betrayals, and begins to wonder if she had ever really known Will at all.

Printed copy, 258 pages
Published 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire

Honestly, I didn't expect much from this book. Romance, a girl obsessively sniffing out other people's secrets... I actually picked this up on Saturday because I didn't want to be seen with it at school. Shameful, I know.

I was surprised at how well it was written. The main character, Jennie, was an outcast in this prissy house, with filthy clothes, running about, getting engaged at sixteen. Her twin brother, who had died in the Civil War, had always wanted to be a spy, and after his death she took to sleuthing about, stealing things to put in her scrapbook.

One thing I was confused with at first was Will. Apparently, Will is both Jennie's fiance and cousin, which I figured out after the first chapter or so. Being the person I am, I accepted this and moved on (the Ancient Egyptians married full brother/sister, even father/daughter; why not two cousins?).

Another thing I couldn't tell was where this story takes place. I know it's during the American Civil War, but are they Yankees or Southerners? It took me a good half of the book to realize they were from Massachusetts.

I liked the pictures, though. in my printed copy, there are pictures at the end of each chapter that foretell the next chapter. It made it feel somewhat middle-grade, despite the fact that she's sixteen, but I did feel that it helped my opinion of the book. I'm a sucker for pictures.

Also, there is a good deal of research on photography: really early photography from this time period, which involved lots of chemicals, and exposure to the right amount of light, and so forth. This is called tintype photography, I believe. I know next to nothing about this early process, and don't feel like Googling it, so I'll take its word.

I debated at first between rating this 2 and 3 stars. I felt that a lot of this could've been solved with a simple conversation, and that the authors were simply avoiding getting these characters to talk. And then when the Conversation happened, the romance happens, too, within that one conversation. As in, Jennie figures out pieces of things from Will's spirit, and confronts this boy about it. (I'm not spoiling it.) Then, when he confesses this story about Will's shameful death, they kiss, and she realizes this boy - who she's known forever - might be the one she loves. They end up engaged, before Will's funeral.

Even to my asexual eye, romance does not happen like that. And who gets engaged before their ex-fiance is buried (metaphorically, since his body wasn't even recovered)?

I wanted to smack Jennie up the head. She starts bathing and looking pretty for him. Ick. But then, something happens that turns this story on a dime. And all of a sudden, she realizes the full truth, the boy she engaged herself to is a psycho, and just everything changes. This bumped my opinion of it up quite a bit.

Overall, it was somewhat good. The bad and the good weighed about the same. I give it three stars.

(By the way, Happy Labor Day! And to those who don't celebrate it, Happy Monday!)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekend Melodies #2: Accusation

Happy first day of September! Don't you just love the uncertain feeling in the air, as if nature is wavering between the end of summer and the beginning of fall?

Weekend Melodies is a weekly feature here at my blog, started because of a love of words and music. Over the weekend (depending on how busy I am on Saturday), I share a random word and a song that connects to this word in some way. Anyone can comment on this post with a link to the song they thought of.

This week's word is: Accusation.

(I created a list of words a few weeks ago as a writing prompt, and I'm pretty much following that. It's not that I actually feel like making accusations. :D)

[How does this connect?] This song is sort of an accusation against a king. It asks this king, "what will people think of you when you're gone? I know they'll think of me as a hero." Heather Dale has such a beautiful voice and sings these rather fabulous songs about medieval times. This one stands out to me as speaking up against someone in power and accusing them of what they're doing wrong. [My favorite Line] I know what they'll remember in the words of every song What will they say about you... when I'm gone? What song do you think of? I love feedback!