Sunday, August 28, 2011

Facebook, Suggested Friends and Me...

Who isn't on facebook these days?

Seriously, it's so popular they made a movie about it. I mean google is pretty kick-ass, but no movie about it. I mean, there are stats I could post here and tell you how epic facebook is. But there is a good chance they you're on facebook and already know it's impact.

Well, recently I friended a few of my graduate professors, who are published writers. It's all like "yey! getting into the community and making friends!" And then... Then I see the "suggested friends" tab. And OH. MY. GOD.

It's like, now my "suggested friends" tab is blow up with well known authors. Very well know. At least in my circles... people like Jane Yolen. And then a few of my favorite authors since middle school, like Tamora Pierce. It's just so crazy. 


You may be asking yourself, well did you friend any of these authors?

And my answer is no. There has to be a level of respect. I can get really excited that three of my friends are friends with Jane Yolen, Tamora Pierce, and Francesca Lia Block... But I'm not friends with them. I've had no contact with them apart from reading their books. I respect them and their space. 

But it doesn't make logging onto facebook any less AWESOME.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Abandon Book Review

So I finished Abandon by Meg Cabot.

Really, I finished it several days ago, but I had to let things simmer for a bit.

I wanted to love Abandon, I really did. And for the most part, there wasn't much keeping me from loving it. The novel is part one in a trilogy (or a series but I'm pretty sure a trilogy...) and it does a fantastic job of getting me to crave more. It's not so much a retelling of the Persephone myth (you know the one: she gets stolen away but Hades into the Underworld and her Mom has to come and save her. But wait! Her lovely daughter ate three seeds and has to spend three months in the Underworld every year...thus we get Winter) but it is heavily influenced by it.

Pierce is our narrator. She is in high school, a senior, and is starting at a new school. Only, Pierce comes with a good bit of baggage. She died. And then came back to life. And while she was dead she kinda formed a bond with this guy named John, who seems to be in charge of the Underworld. She is drawn to him like a moth to a flame (and it's so much better than Twilight in the whole forbidden love thing - like really, I hate to even mention Twilight but yeah...) but he's somehow intimately involved with death so that tends to send up some red flags for most girls. Even the ones who have died.

And I feel like if I tell you too much more I'll ruin something that Cabot excels at. She is amazing at creating suspense. Of getting you to turn the page. Of going on to the next chapter. She gives you just enough to keep you sane, and then moves on. It's very artful. Like better than Lost because we actually get answers.

So good things: I like that Cabot has taken an awesome greek myth and given it new life. Also, I love Pierce. She seems so real. She makes mistakes and knows she's doing it, but hell, she's a teenager. It's what they do. And the attraction between her and John is electric.

Okay... so here's what keeps me from totally LOVING the book.

I'm not sure how many of you have read Avalon High (a moden day "retelling" of the Arthurian legend myth where Ellie/Elaine is the reincarnation of the Lady of Shallot and must keep the reincarnations of Lancelot and Gwen from hooking up and destroying the Arthur of our age)another book by Cabot, which I totally love (but I'm not as big a fan of the graphic novel/manga and I refuse to watch the Disney Chanel movie version of it...they made too many changes). So, as I was reading Abandon I started to notice something. Abandon and Avalon High are freakishly similar. By the end of Abandon it was almost disappointing and annoying how much it was like Avalon High. Here is all the ways that I noted that the two novels are similar...

  1. Both narrators are girls who have names very close to the characters that they are the "new version" of. Pierce --> Persephone and Elaine/Ellie --> Elaine of Astolat 
  2. In a way, both girls are caught up in a destiny that they aren't really sure they want to be in
  3. "Retelling" of myth/legend: Greek and Arthurian
  4. Older man who at first seems to be a threat of some kind, but turns out to be a guide. Oh yeah, and he's also a member of a "secret society" Abandon: Richard Smith and Avalon High: Mr. Morton
  5. Pool plays a noticeable role. Pierce drowns in a pool while Ellie likes to flot in hers
  6. Magical object that assist the heroine in some way, shape, or form... Pierce has a necklace and Ellie gives Will (her Arthur) a sword that saves them all
  7. Both Ellie and Pierce are the new girl in town. Pierce has to leave her old school after the "incident" (to get you interested the "incident" does not refer to her death/coming back to life) and Ellie follows her parents who are on a sabbatical
  8. Drawn to guy but knows it's a bad idea: Pierce --> he's involved with death/is dead and Ellie --> he has a girlfriend
  9. AND finally! Both stories' climax during an intense (notable) storm
Really, I'm not making up how alike the two are. It really bummed me out in a way. I mean, at first I thought it was a coincidence how alike they were... but then the similarities just kept coming. I will say this though. Cabot actually has some "on screen" deaths in this book compared to Avalon High (where the deaths were just part of the back story).

So, do I recommend this book? Yes! While it is SUPER similar to her other book that I love, it's still fantastically written and totally worth the read. Besides, if you haven't read Avalon High (even though I really recommend that books as well) then really, there's no problem.


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Golden Era of Books: An E-reader Debate

So I was playing around on my twitter earlier today and come across this link --> The Golden Era of Books really it's a short article and I think it's totally worth the read if you like books and are worried about their future.

I have a confession to make. I have an e-reader.

Does this mean I'm anti-bookstores and totally against hard copies of books? No! It just means that I like to be able to feed my addiction in another way. I mean, yes, I was on the fence about e-readers since they came out. I'm a hardcore reader, and I'd like to think of myself as a pretty intense writer (maybe not as intense as I should or could be but that's for another post...) and I love adore books. I like the feel, the font, the binding. Everything. Yes, one of my biggest goals in life is getting one of my books on a bookshelf in bookstores across the nation (and if I'm feeling really confidant -- across the globe). BOOK being the keyword there. Shooting for the goal of my book being on some e-reader bookshelf doesn't really have the same glory to me.

So, yes, for a long time I felt like the ereader was a possibly evil invention. It's hard enough to be a writer and get published... now with self publishing on the Kindle and whatever it makes the waters even more mucky. You could score big like Amanda Hocking (blog and amazon page) and self publish and then get picked up for a book deal... OR it could be like a fanfiction site where you get lost in the crowd.

But the article above makes some really good points. E-readers do something pretty damn amazing that I didn't even think of. They get people who might not really read (and I mean really read -- like for fun) exposed to an avenue where they might be more comfortable picking up a book and reading. I mean hey, a ton of the classics are FREE in many of these e-reader stores.

Do I think the printed word will die? I sure as hell hope not. And really, in the big picture does it matter what I think? No. Not really. Because as much as I love the feel of a hard book in my hand, I think there are enough people out there that feel the same way (and people who don't trust electronics not to crash and loose all their data) so that the written word will always exist in some way shape or form.

I think we should embrace the e-reader. I mean, it gives us a library at our finger tips (both our own personal one and many public libraries have apps where you can "check out" books to your ereader as well), cheeper books (which really, there are some books you just don't want to pay full price for, and others that you do), and a way to get people excited about reading who weren't before. And this excitement may lead them to actually buying hardcopies of books.

Well, one can only dream.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to Bordertown: Book Review!

So, you all disappoint me (but only a little bit). I know you are reading my blog, but it makes me sad that you all don't comment. Not really. But, I can't be too sad, at least your reading :-)

Okay, moving on to the read point of the post.

I finally finished the Welcome to Bordertown Anthology.

Why did it take me so long to read it? Because when I was in the middle of reading it I went to school, got married, and then went on my honeymoon. So, I have no had time to finish it and think about it.

To comment on my previous post, what do I think about anthologies, I still don't know. I think I might approach anthologies in a way that just doesn't suit my reading style. They are not like regular novels, reading them from cover to cover isn't the same experience.

Having said all that let me launch into the review, but keep all of that in mind.

I think this anthology might have a bit of something for every fantasy lover: faeries (but really they are elves, and really they prefer to be called Truebloods), vampires (kinda), a werewolf (well, not really, he's just cursed to look like a wolf), and humans.

So, what's the concept of the book? Well see, Bordertown was this idea that Terri Windling was asked to come up with in the 80s. Back then fantasy was pretty much just epic stuff (like Lord of the Rings) and there wasn't much else. (Terri does a much better job of explaining the birth of Bordertown in her introduction to the book -- this is just the watered down version). What Terri did was invent a place where the World and the Realm ("fairyland" meet up together) and it's a place where magic and electricity don't always work, where there are Trueblood gangs, and where the city is just as hard and as nitty gritty as any city in the World. But still, there's magic to it. So, it's been 13 years since anything on Bordertown came out -- and now, original Bordertown writers, and those writers who grew up reading Bordertown books, have teamed up and brought you this awesome anthology. For people like me, who totally missed Bordertown when it first came out (I wasn't really at the right maturity level), this book is more than awesome. It's like a doorway that's been opened. It's as if we have been finally let in.

The stories that bookend the anthology are probably my two favorite. They're the ones that stand out the most in my memory. The frist story, by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling (two of the orginial Bordertown writers), really sets the stage for the rest of the stories. See, the Way to Bordertown has been blocked for thirteen years (this correlates to the last time something about Bordertown was published) but to the people in Bordertown, it's only been thirteen days. So, in the first story "Welcome to Bordertown" Jim decides to go and find his sister Tish who has been missing for 13 years, but a postcard that she had sent when she fist arrived to Bordertown shows up and sets things in motion for Jim. (I don't want to summarize the story because if you read it that'll take the fun away -- I think the most important aspects to this story is that it sets up the rest of the anthology beautifully and draws the reader in).

The last story, "A Tangle of Green Men", by Charles de Lint, is perfect as a final story. By the time I got to it, I was a bit bored with the same format of the other stories. They all seemed to focus on the same thing: I just got to Bordertown, I just met someone that got to Bordertown and should help them, etc... This story (like the first one) starts with a main character out in the World, looking to go to Bordertown, not for themselves really, but to find someone else.

The poems in the anthology are all so different, and I'm not really a poetry person... but my favorite was Jane Yolen's "Night Song for a Halfie" it's written to the same pattern/beat as "Mis Marry Mack". Awesome. And, there's even a short graphic novel/short story "Fair Trade."

Okay, so this might not have been an in-depth, ground-shaking, earth-moving review. But it's what I thought about it -- Like I said, I think that I might have been able to do more if I had read it by just picking random stories in a random order instead of doing it cover to cover.

So, should you read this book? Yes. If you have ANY intrest in urban fantasy I think that this is a must read. And then, go to the library and check out all the other books and read them too. I know that's my plan.    

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm ALIVE!!!

Yes, I know I've been a bit MIA as of recent, but I've had a lot on my plate.

But I'm back now! Still, lots on my plate, but I'm doing much better at balancing it all now...

This won't be an epically long post. No, I'm finishing up a book and will be posting the review (hopefully by the end of the week) and that will be a bigger chunk of wordage.

Anyway, the book I'm finishing is an anthology and I have discovered that I hold mixed feelings about anthologies. Do I like them? Do I dislike them? I don't know. Sure, they depend on the subject that the anthology focuses on and each individual story... But can one AMAZING story out weigh five or so bad ones? Any thoughts?

Now, this is where you (the reader) leaves a comment. ANYONE can comment. That's what's supper awesome about my blog, no subscription needed. So, yes, I really would love to hear some thoughts on anthologies...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Can you hide in a book?

The answer to this question is a hard one.

Can you literally hide in a book? No. As of right now it's physically impossible. Not until the Prose Portal from Jasper Fforde's novel The Eyre Affair becomes a reality.

Can you take a really good book, find a place out of sight (and out of mind) and read? Yes. This is what I'm attempting to do now.

Only the downside is everyone knows my hiding spots so I keep getting found...

Let's get to work on that Prose Portal now shall we?