Monday, August 31, 2009
In Unreasonable Men, author Paul David Pope presents the unvarnished, often shocking truth about his grandfather, Generoso Pope, a 15-year-old impoverished Italian immigrant who became a millionaire and influential power-broker by the time he was thirty; and Paul's father, Gene Pope, who despite being cast adrift by the family went on to found the tabloid National Enquirer. (back blurb)
Meh. I wasn't all that impressed with what I read in the teaser. It's another pseudo-MAFIA type of story except this guy wasn't MAFIA. He's just a hanger-on that used them when it benefited him and dropped them when he was done. Not the wisest of moves, really, but the guy doesn't have anything to worry about now.
It's the guy's grandson telling the story and the writing shows it. It doesn't look to me like the author's a fine-tuned author but a guy that wrote a book about his family and it happened to be interesting enough for someone to buy. I think in the hands of an experienced writer who could drop some grime and grit onto the story, it would have been awesome to read. But it kinds of reads like that uncle of yours babbling on about some story or other at the dinner table that you only half listen to. Yeah it's interesting but it could be better.
I snagged this at BEA because the history interested me but this sample pamphlet was enough for me. It basically tells the entire story but it leaves out the bulk of the meat. If I already know what happens, why would I want to read the book? It's just . . . meh. I'm good. I'll leave the book to someone else.
I have some ideas, yes, but nothing concrete yet.
If you mean the traditional Cinderella stories from different cultures ... I'm not sure. There is room for any Cinderella to be seen as strong-willed, but most traditional fairy tales did not emphasize her strong will, but rather her modesty and ability to work hard. These stories really did have a moral: work hard, obey your elders, and you will be rewarded. It basically rewarded those who did not have a strong will.
There is no sequel to Ash. I've always found the Cinderella story to be complete as it is; it's about , not living with it day after day. But I am writing a companion novel which is set in the same world as Ash, but several hundred years earlier. It's about that kingdom's very first huntress.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
3 copies of The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads
Hottie by Jonathon Bernstein - Chelsea at The Page Flipper
3 copies of Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon - Ari at Reading in Color
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - Marie at cupcake witch
2 copies of Stealing Death by Janet Lee Carey - Jacqueline at The Eclectic Book Lover
Book preview of Black is for Beginnings by Laurie Faria Stolarz - Right here on Bites
The Heretic Queen or Cleopatra's Daughter plus a pair of earrings, both by Michelle Moran - Kristi at The Story Siren
How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman - Alea at Pop Culture Junkie
Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri - Tina at Fantastic Book Review
The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones - Tina at Fantastic Book Review
Your choice of 3 books from a list of 24 in the Vampires, Werewolves and Fairies, OH MY! contest - Tina at Fantastic Book Review
100th Follower pre-order contest, choose from a list of to-be-released titles - Lizzie at Cornucopia of Reviews
Cleopatra's Daughter or The Heretic Queen, both by Michelle Moran - Paradox at Paradoxical
Ash by Malinda Lo - J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog
Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook have been some of the world's most storied characters since JM Barrie introduced them in his beloved tale, Peter Pan.
Here, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson take a fresh look at these characters as only they can. Laced with humor, action and a dash of pixie dust, this cheeky retelling is the perfect complement to the vibrant art. (book flap blurb)
First I have to just say that galleys of picture books are just so cool! They're all loose pages and the book is all floppy but it has all of the art and story that the published bound version will have. I just get a kick out of it every time I see it!
This is one of those one-off reviews that I have. This was another BEA pick-up for me. They were stacked all neat in a pile at the Disney display and I just couldn't resist. While I'm not the best person at all to review a picture book, I can give a few words on it.
Dave Barry co-wrote it. How can you go wrong? Sure, it tells the same Peter Pan story we all know and love but at the same time it has this subtle snark that not all children might get but will have the parents snickering as they read the story to them. It's a nice touch and adds a bit of spice to a very over-told story.
And I love the artwork. They look like rough drawings but they're so full of life and color that you can't help but find yourself staring at them long after you've read the words that accompany them. It's just so rich. The art is a perfect compliment to the words. Or the words are a perfect compliment to the art, however you want to look at it.
I really don't have much to say about this one. You know the story. It's been jazzed up with Dave Barry's touch. Very cute. Just a hint of snark. Excellent art. If you have a young relative or know a young child, I'd recommend picking up this book for them for Christmas. I'm sure they'd enjoy it.
Dear Ms. Meyer,
It fills me with chagrin (a word I’m sure you’re familiar with) to address you with such a title but I’m trying to be cordial here. Major emphasis on the word trying. I just might fail. You have been warned.
In an Examiner.com article dated July 31st, 2009, with excerpts quoted from Entertainment Weekly, you proceed to call the 1994 movie, Interview with the Vampire, based off of Anne Rice’s wildly popular book of the same name, “yuck” and the 1987 teen horror movie, The Lost Boys, whose cult status has, thus far, transcended 22 years, “creepy.” You then proceed to refer to yourself as a “vampire girl.” For this I am deeply troubled.
You see, when writers worthy of their salt write in a given genre, they do this little thing called research. A foreign concept to you, I know, but you should Google it. The very act will give you a definition. The thing is, with this research garners information and information garners knowledge. If a writer is unfamiliar with a particular genre, they research it thoroughly in order to accurately portray whatever it is they’re writing about.
In that same vein, in order to distort a popular element within a genre, one needs to understand what that element consists of in order to distort it properly. Kind of a strange concept to distort something properly, I know, but if you don’t know all the proper elements of wood, and the techniques required in order to shape it properly into something worthy of its base parts, you’re just going to get a big ol’ mess. When writers fail to do the proper research required of a particular genre, what they end up writing is a big ol’ mess of drift wood lit ablaze.
That’s where you come in, Ms. Meyer. Your research on vampires consisted of ten minutes scanning Google links so you could add some offhanded remarks about particular types of vampires in your books in order to further legitimize it as a “vampire” book. But you did not do the real research. You hid behind your religion, claiming that it didn’t allow you to view movies with an R-rating, thus saving you from the monstrosities in the likes of Interview with the Vampire and The Lost Boys, movies with true to form vampires. You’ve also commented in various interviews as having never read any other vampire books, not even Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which any writer with a solitary functioning brain cell writing in the realm of vampires would read.
Please tell me, if you’re going to write mysteries, how are you going to how know to write one without having read them? If you’re going to write an historical fiction, how are you going to understand the tropes and cliches of that genre without having read any other books? How are you going to write horror without having read anything else in that genre?
You’re not. If you try, you will fail. And you failed. You may have convinced your legions of Twitards whose first foray into the “vampire” world happened to be your books, but for the rest of us, who are real vampire girls and boys, aren’t fooled. In fact, we’re disgusted.
You hide behind your religion, using it as one of many excuses as to why you didn’t research but proceeded to write about the occult. Does your religion not frown upon meandering into the world of the occult? Because that’s where vampires are, if you are so adamant to call your glitter pixies vampires. Or is it because they’re so watered down and not actually vampires that it’s ok? Please help me, for I am confused.
Let me give you a very brief rundown on what vampires actually are. In folklore (that’s another thing you would have come across should you have actually bothered to research anything), vampires are corpses reanimated by being possessed by a demon or devil who survives by feeding off of the blood of others because blood is a life force. They are soulless creatures that are doomed to wander the earth forever in the shadows. Of course, over the years vampires have undergone pretty radical transformations but they’ve never deviated too far from that base concept of what a vampire is.
Vampires are supposed to be “yuck” and “creepy.” Their facade is merely human, thus they can resemble the heart throb or the hobo as a means of survival. But they need one thing to survive. Blood. I find it wholly ironic that you find the likes of Louis and Lestat “yuck” when you have pedophile Jacob Black falling in love with a newborn at the age of 17 and the vampires of The Lost Boys “creepy” when your perfect Edward breaks and enters into his beloved’s room without her permission to watch her sleep, kidnaps her, and disables her car engine in order to prevent her from seeing her friends. Is this the Mormonism talking or are you just that deluded?
Vampires, pretty much across the board, have only a couple of things in common; most of the time fangs and blood. The ONLY vampires, to my knowledge, that don’t have fangs but are still worthy of the title are those from the 80s movie, Near Dark. Oh how I would love for you to watch that and get a dose of real vampires in action. But it’s rated R so your religion won’t allow you to. But it allows you to romanticize pedophilia and abusive relationships. And people wonder why I’m against mainstream religions.
What bothers me the most is that you’ve passed judgment on a book/movie and a movie that have stood the test of time as belonging in the vampire world without having bore witness to either of them. Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire was first released in the 70s and it’s still going strong, with the movie having been released in 1994. The Lost Boys was released in 1987 and is still held as a cult classic to this day with new fans being born every year. Your books have been around since 2005. How about you keep your mouth shut and see where they stand in 2010 at the earliest before you go spouting off on other CLASSIC vampire literature.
Having never been exposed to any vampire classics (except your own works, which I’m sure you consider classics), and adamantly refuse to watch other vampire movies or read other vampire books, your opinion on the subject matter is invalid and worthless. Keep it to yourself. Do the leg work that the rest of the writers do and then maybe your opinion will hold some merit. Until then, shut it. Your opinion means nothing.
The difference between you and me, I’ve read your books and boy can I pass judgment on them. I’ve been a vampire fan since 1993, which is a solid 10 years BEFORE you had that sparkly dream of yours and even considered the thought of delving into the vampire world. You are in my world sweetheart, and you don’t belong. Aside from your pixies not having fangs, vampires don’t glitter. “The skin of a monster” and “glitter” are as oxymoronic as “jumbo shrimp.” If that’s a monster in your sheltered world, please pick up a Stephen King book. Please. And seeing as how you can’t accurately explain how the science in your Twiworld works, your entire world is invalidated. It’s called worldbuilding, which you’ve failed to do. Otherwise you’d know the answers to such questions as, “how can sperm survive 100 years?” and “why didn’t Edward flip out every time Bella went on the rag if he was so obsessed over the scent of her blood?” instead of passing off half-assed answers like, “only some fluids turn to venom” and “gross.”
And please answer me this, if your glitter pixies consider themselves “vegetarian vampires” because they only feed off of animals instead of humans, then if I stop eating red meat and just stick to poultry and fish, can I call myself a vegetarian? I think PETA would disagree, as would the Oxford English Dictionary.
You are a failure and a disgrace to every writer out there who actually does the work required of the job. Sure, you may think your offshore bank account says otherwise, but money does not equal talent. Just look at Britney Spears. Stop referring to yourself as a “vampire girl” when you know nothing of vampires. Stop criticizing other vampire works when you haven’t even so much as laid eyes on them. Stop writing in genres you know nothing about. If you insist on continuing, be a real writer and do the work required. That means research and reading. Fuck your religion. If you can write about the occult, pedophiles and stalkers, you can watch a real vampire movie and read a real vampire book. Stop being a hypocrite. It’s unbecoming.
And please, for everyone’s benefit, grab a thesaurus. There are other ways to describe skin color than “russet” and “granite,” among many, many, MANY other things. I’d also recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Dave King and Renni Browne. You do know what self-editing is, right? Because I really don’t think you do.
If I didn’t think your guard troll of a webmaster brother would cockblock (cock is slang for penis, FYI, and the term “cockblock” is a pseudo-sexual reference to someone getting in the way of another’s sexual conquests but can be used in non-sexual blocking contexts, as I’m sure, because of your religion, you’d be unfamiliar with the term) this letter because your eyes are only deserving of seeing the praise (because, I’m convinced, you’ve got your head shoved to far up your ass that you wouldn’t understand where any criticism is coming from because your work, according to you, is perfect), I’d actually send it. Alas, I must suffice with posting it on my blogs. Maybe you’ll see it, maybe you won’t but all I can hope for is that your sales numbers eventually catch up with your writing “talent.” Which I’m sure won’t be until the final movie is released which isn’t that much time since the studios want to milk this cash cow quickly because, I believe, they have a good eye into the future of this whore of a franchise as well.
Forks is for Hogwarts Rejects,
If you have a dog, try to avoid sprawling mansion compounds, especially if your dog refuses to shit on your property. While it may be a good daily workout, it might just suck if the dog needs to go in the middle of the night. Keep a flashlight by your bed.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
When fifteen-year-old Beck Phillips travels by train to the secluded village of Kingsplot to live with his wealthy but estranged uncle, Beck discovers some dark family secrets. A buried basement, a forbidden conservatory, an old book of family history with odd references to . . . dragons? Beck's life is about to be changed forever in this suspenseful tale about the destructive nature of greed and the courage it takes to make things right. (book blurb)
To be fair, I haven't had this sitting around for a year. This was another chapter sampler I grabbed at BEA. They must have been leftovers from the publisher or something. And being the hoarder that I am, I snagged.
Meh. I wasn't all that impressed. I think it had mostly to do with the language and the way the story was told. I mean, this is a first person narrative of a 15-year-old boy and he was saying things like, "The fearful faces of the crowd of onlookers told me quite clearly that rampaging ivy was not something that normally happened at Callowbrow." Yeah, it's snarky and it's a pretty funny line. I just don't think it fit the mouth that it was coming out of. How many 15-year-old boys do you know that speak like this? It just didn't click for me.
I liked the excerpts from the dragon book, The Grim Knot, and even the story itself was pretty interesting; I just didn't like how it was being told. I don't know. It didn't sit right with me. It's almost like the timing wasn't right or something. Like maybe if I'd read it on a different day I'd like it. Strange, I know but there you have it.
There really isn't too much of a good reason not to like it (except for the voice which really did irk me) but I don't think I'd be able to get into it if I had more to read.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Author: Nicole Davidson
Published: April 1995
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Since the death of an obnoxious teenager--who witnesses say was pushed overboard--the crew and passengers are all on edge, including 16-year-old Carol Walters. Someone on board the cruise ship is a psychotic murderer, waiting to strike again. Is Carol's name next on the killer's elimination list? (bn.com)Still not finding covers for this one. Elusive, I tell you. Just from the summaries, I'm nonplussed about this series. Doesn't sound all that original or particularly thrilling. But it's old school bookk love nonetheless.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
As you all (should!) know, ALA's Banned Books Week is from September 26th to October 3rd this year. Be sure to hit up the website for some awesome graphics and other banned book goodness for your blog.
Here on Bites, I want to take it one step further and make the entire month of September all about banned and challenged books. I'm sure we all think the same thing about banned and challenged books--STOOPID! So consider this the Rally Against Stoopid.
Anyone can participate in Ban This! All you have to do is do something for/about banned and challenged books in the month of September (technically until the end of Banned Books Week). Have giveaways for books on the most recent top challenged list, interview an author of a banned book (or any author and get them to talk about book banning and challenging), have running commentary on the slew of articles out there about the idiotic actions of people attempting to ban (and in some cases burn) books, review banned and challenged books, and so on.
Just as long as you're doing something for banned and challenged books, even one post, I'll add you to the list of participating bloggers. It's going to be a month of fun pointing and laughing at the stoopid in the world and it will culminate with ALA's awesome Banned Books Week. You really can't go wrong!
The following bloggers are showing banned and challenged book love in the month of September--
1 ARC Tours
Shooting Stars Mag
TV and Book Addict
The Eclectic Book Lover
The Book Obsession
Mrs. Magoo Reads
The Book Pixie
I Was a Teenage Book Geek
An Addicted Book Reader
Steph Su Reads
The Book Lush
The Obsessive Reader
Neither Here Nor There
Behind The Cover
Serendipity Book Reviews
Wag the Fox
Crackin' Spines and Takin' Names
If you want in on the list and plan on showing some First Amendment love, just let me know, either by commenting or sending me an email that you'd like your blog added. All I ask is that you post the Ban This! banner on your site for the month to get the word out.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
What if? Why not? Could it be?
When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch. (bn.com)
So when I stopped drooling and got over the envy of such amazing writing, I immediately contacted the publicist and requested an ARC of this book. Just from reading the first chapter.
I've never read any of DiCamillo's work prior to this but I've heard great things about it. But how often does that happen, right? Opinions and all, they can differ widely. I finally got around to reading the chapter preview I picked up from BEA and holy shit did I want to kick myself for not having read it sooner.
It's such a simply told story but in that simplicity lies the magic and the wonderful prose that DiCamillo weaves her tale with. This is another one that's reminiscent of older fairy tales; it has that air of . . . superiority, but that's not the right word, just the word that fits ok right now. The tone, it's very old school, almost stilted, but it's meant to be in this type of tale. Think Neil Gaiman's Stardust but only not at all contrived and told with ease.
The drawings, just the couple included in the preview, are gorgeous and just made me want to flip through the whole book that much more eagerly.
The first chapter is so riveting yet so simple but it pulls at your heart, urging you to move forward, only there's no forward to move to because it's only the first chapter! I had to have this book and I know that anyone that likes simple, touching, eloquently told tales will fall in love with it.
Look for my review of it soon!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
The Blue is for Nightmares series that put a spell on half a million young adult readers continues - in graphic novel format!
Prophetic nightmares. Near-brushes with death. Killers pursuing her and her friends. Stacey Brown knows that being a hereditary witch isn't all it's cracked up to be.
All she really wants to do is work things out with Jacob and figure out what to do with the rest of her life. But before Stacey and Jacob can have a future, they must face their pasts. Black is for beginnings reveals the never-before-seen backstory - and what lies ahead - for the young, spell-casting lovers. (book back blurb)
This isn't a book review since I don't have the whole book. It's just a bound preview edition that's the first 99 pages of the book itself. I figured why not put in some cents on it, right? It's not going to get a rating or anything since I don't think it's fair to rate something based on a portion of it. But I can give an impression of it.
I know with this series I'm not coming in in the right place and in all honesty, I don't know if I'm the best person to be judging graphic novels. I just don't read enough of them to get a good grasp on them so I'm not sure what's normal, what isn't, what's good, what isn't. But I can say a few things.
I'm almost positive I'd like the book better. It's not that I don't like comics but to me it's lacking a lot from an actual book. I can paint a better picture in my head with the words from a book than I can with the pictures already in front of me. Weird, I know, but there you go.
Plot-wise, it's really jumpy. The timeline is more stream-of-consciousness than chronological (although it's chronological within the stream-of-consciousness which lowers the confusion slightly) and I found it hard trying to keep all of the events together coherently. With everything jumping all over the place, it was hard for me to remember what came when and where.
And a major writing issue for me was the "let's recap even though you guys should know what's going on in the story" moment. It's in there for the benefit of the reader, not the characters, so it comes off as an infodump. Granted it's a crucial infodump for the book itself but I think there are other, better, ways to go about it.
The drawings are pretty cool but like I said, I paint more vivid imagery with words than I do with pictures. But the story itself I actually really liked. It's very fast-paced, has the right amount of drama and tension, it's got some action. There really isn't anything not to like about the story as it is. In fact, it makes me want to go out and buy the books to get a feel of just what I'm jumping into here because I do feel a little lost. But I'm sure that's due solely to the fact that I've never read the series.
So I'm not too sure how I feel about the comic but I definitely like the story.
+1 Comment with your email to enter
+2 for following (new or old)
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This'll end September 7th at midnight, EST. US residents only please. Good luck!
By special invitation of Beth Fantaskey, you all are cordially invited not only to the wedding of Jessica Packwood and Lucius Vladescu, but to actually plan it! The planning started yesterday so I'm a day late in the release but the first round of voting is still open for a while so get to it! Click on the image to read the invitation!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Tangled by Carolyn Mackler, The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore, Fire by Kristin Cashore and After by Amy Efaw - Amy at Addicted to Books
Ends 8/23 (better hurry)
2 copies of Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors - Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson - Chelsea at The Page Flipper
Crafty book stuff - Sharon at Sharon Loves Books and Cats
ARC of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink - Lenore at Presenting Lenore
6 signed copies of the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr - Free Book Friday Teens
Signed copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike - Lee at Lee A Verday's Book/Writing Blog
Signed ARC of Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin - Robin Titan at TV and Book Addict
ARC of Intertwined by Gena Showalter - Jess at Book Reviews by Jess
3 copies of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - Wrighty at Wrighty's Reads
3 copies of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - Nadine at Starry Night
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble - Kate at The Neverending Shelf
Meridian and One Butt Cheek at a Time by Amber Kizer - Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag
ARC of Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani - Right here on Bites
Super End of Summer Contest with 9 books - Jessica at Lost in a Book
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick or After by Amy Efaw - Lilibeth at ChicaReader
2 copies of My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent, 2 copies of Intertwined by Gena Showalter and t-shirts from Harlequin Teen - Liviania at In Bed with Books
Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley - Tina at Fantastic Book Review
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink - Liviania at In Bed with Books
Back to School contest with 4 books - Kristi at The Story Siren
2 ARCs of School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari plus two SoF pins each - Right here on Bites
3-2-1 Contest with the option of winning many books and/or gift cards - Kate at The Neverending Shelf
Bookie goodies prize pack - Wdebo at The Electrical Book Cafe
The Mega Palooza Contest with 20 books - Taschima at Bloody Bookaholic
Secret Society by Tom Dolby or Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles - Eleni at La Femme Readers
I forgot to mention my copy of Cathy's Key that I won from Callie. Got that this week too!
Cathy has finally settled her curiosity about Victor—her off and on boyfriend—and his mysterious past. Suffice it to say that dating an immortal is far from easy! But now Cathy is stumbling across a trail of evidence pertaining to her own family—secrets about her father and the circumstances surrounding his death. Having an immortal boyfriend is sure to come in handy as her investigation continues, considering Cathy’s father is still alive. . . . (bn.com)
Beware of elephants. It would really suck if one materialized over your head and fell on you. You must be prepared for all things, including but not limited to freak elephant accidents. Better to be safe than sorry.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an Iraq army hospital, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But one memory haunts him: the sight of an Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt fears he was somehow involved in his death--but a head injury keeps him from putting the pieces together. Eventually sent back into combat, Matt discovers the notion of guilt is very complicated indeed. (book blurb)
First, let me just say, I can't stand eBooks. I hate reading books on a screen. There. I tried it. No one can say I didn't. And I hated it. My eyes ended up in this weird Magic Eye swaying thing by the time I was done reading, and I only read five chapters at a time. I had afterimages of the white pages burned into my retinas. Ugh. Give me your normal, tree-killing paperback any day over one of these.
No, that mini-rant didn't come from the crevices of my buttocks. This book was an eGalley and the first book I've read on screen. And it will be the second to last. I have one more. And then NEVER. AGAIN.
Now onto the real review.
You know, I didn't know what to expect going into this. Is it going to be a glorification of war? Is it going to be starkly anti-war? Is it going to carry some kind of agenda? I really didn't know and the blurb is a little ambiguous. But when I started reading, I just didn't want to stop. But if I didn't limit my reading, my computer screen would have made me blind so I had to. If this were a tangible book, I could have easily read this in the span of two hours. Maybe less. And not just because it was a decent-sized font with wide margins. I wanted to find out what happened to Matt in that alley as much as he did.
This book doesn't glorify war. It isn't far to the left against it either. It's real. It's as real as a war story as I think a war story could get. There's one small anti-Bush mention. If I remember correctly, it was a poster with the joke, "W put the 'duh' in dumb." Something like that. Other than that, it could have very well been the journal of a soldier suffering from PTSD. There's no leaning. There's just doing your job and staying alive.
Matt is compelling from the first second of the story. Absolutely. You're kept sitting right on his shoulders. You know just as much about what's going on as he does and because of that you develop the same mad drive to figure out what happened in that alley that Matt does. You have to know. You need to know. You have to know why everything's different. Why your buddies are so strange. How the hell you ended up in the hospital to begin with. Why your superior officers are giving you memories that you're pretty convinced aren't your own.
This is a very cut and dry plot. Point A to Point B. Matt wakes up in the hospital to Matt finds out what happened in the alley. It really is that simple. But there's so much else going on that while the walk from A to B might be cut and dry, it doesn't mean you're not getting splashed on the way to B.
What this book also opens up is just what is real. What could be real. Are soldiers really returned to their units with TBIs, motor skill issues and physical impairments? Considering how hard up we are for soldiers over there, I wouldn't doubt it. Do commanding officers take liberties with situations in order to avoid real messes? Really don't doubt that.
This book is so reminiscent for me of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. There's no bias to one side or another, just the perception of the soldier. A ringing motif in Purple Heart is the little boy Ali being killed and how Matt remembers him dying. He remembers the boy flying up off his feet, floating, looking almost happy, and then his arms and legs start to flap and he goes down. It rings so close to home of Ted Lavender in Things. A running motif in that book is that Ted died by sunlight. That's how the MC remembers seeing it. The man stepped on a land mine and just before his body exploded all over the foliage, the sun's rays were coming in from behind him and he looked almost peaceful, as if the sunlight was gently putting him to rest. I just couldn't help but make comparisons between the two books.
The real kicker with this book for me was that this 18-year-old boy, BOY, because you are not a man at 18, I don't care how many of them think they are, is having to endure all of this death and destruction and confusion. Even Matt mentions the insanity of it all when he gets a letter from his girlfriend where she talks about such inconsequential things like tests in school while he reads it in a battlefield. The juxtaposition of those two elements bring the severity of Matt's situation into focus. Here's a boy whom we tell isn't old enough to handle the responsibility of drinking all the while dressing him in full body Kevlar and arming him with rocket launchers, hand grenades and assault rifles. What it going on here?
What I got from Purple Heart is that this isn't a book about war. Not about fighting it but about interpreting it. How is it seen through the eyes of a soldier? Through Matt's, thanks to his TBI (traumatic brain injury, in case you weren't sure what that meant), it's damn near indecipherable. And here he is with a gun in his hands.
I cried reading this because it can be true and it probably is. This book could very well be many soldiers' realities in war. If a book in which a soldier, our epitome of a man, collapses into a fetal position and weeps because three of his buddies just got blown up and he just had to sort through their belongings, doesn't make you cry, I don't know what will.
It's about perception and this is the perspective that the news doesn't give us and the soldiers themselves are wont to talk about. Read this book. Read it now. And while you're at it pick up The Things They Carried too. You'll see the similarities that I'm talking about. And I can guarantee you won't want to put either of them down.
And I don't care what anybody says, Aqua rocks. Yeah, Barbie Girl Aqua. This has to be one of the best music videos ever made by man and is the inspiration for today's post. Yay!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Author: Nicole Davidson
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
Published: March 1995
When 16-year-old Carol Walters lands a summer dream job as part of a cruise ship crew, she's delighted. Romance blooms with both a straight-arrow junior officer and the flashy singer in a rock band. But the horror begins on their first night out, when an obnoxious teenager falls overboard--and witnesses say he was pushed.Dun dun dun! Not quite sure if this is more murder mystery or horror. Or both. I couldn't find much on it, including the cover. Nothing. Judging by her book list, she leans more towards horror so it might take a slant there. Alas, love gone wrong. Where will it end??? I guess that's what happens when you start double dipping . . .
The argument is and always has been that young writers just don't have the chops to get published. Writing is one of the talents that as you grow and nurture it, it gets better. That's why most of the people published are adults, even in the YA market.
But the reality is, most people in general don't have the chops to get published. Just look at any agent's slush pile. Most people just don't have it. That fact isn't discriminatory against any particular age bracket. That runs straight across the board. With that being said, there are just as many publishable teen authors as there are adult authors. And when you submit to a slush pile, you are ageless unless you put that label on yourself.
Look, if the writer has something to offer, if what they're writing is publishable and has a place in the market, why deny it? But please, don't patronize it. I hated the tone of that Guardian article. I really did. It's like the author was just patting kids on the head, chuckling a little and sending them off with "good try, one day you'll be better." Yeah, because that's so much better than giving them constructive criticism on their writing, right? O_o How encouraging.
But I can't help but think when I see that 9-year-olds are getting book deals just who those books are for. Are they really for kids her age or they for adults who like kitsch and will get a good laugh at just how cute the book is? Again, I can't help but think that it would be patronizing and that it could kill any desire the girl has to write or draw.
Then again I can be a bit of a cynic.
You know what, if we can publish Stephenie Meyer's literary masturbation that more closely resembles the writing of a ten-year-old (but that's kind of insulting to ten-year-olds, isn't it?), why can't we publish a nine-year-old's comics or a teenager's book? Sure, until you've entered the "adult" world and gain some kind of perspective on life, your writing's going to be derivative. And the longer you work at something, the better you're going to get. But some people are just good. Who's to say those kids aren't those types of people? They're just that good at that early of an age while the rest of us must suffer into adulthood to master something they already have?
Why not? If Nicole Richie can get a book deal, why not a kid? I'm sure the kid's writing is better than that ghost writer's.
At the end of the day, you're ageless in the slush pile and all that matters is if your work will sell. No, most teens and kids don't have the chops to write a saleable book. And neither do most adults.
What do you think?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Best Speculative Fiction Blog (fantasy, horror, sci-fi, etc)
http://litbites.blogspot.com/2009/03/freaky-friday-index.html (it's just easier pointing to the index for this meme thingy than choosing a solitary post)
Best Humorous/Funniest Blog
I found these harder to choose than the specfic ones since I think it's pretty difficult to judge your own funniness. And I also has to choose things that were funny instead of just downright ranking on something, like Twilight. That was hard! LOL!
http://litbites.blogspot.com/2009/05/things-ive-learned-from-books-index.html (and again with the indexing, it's just easier)
How'd I do?
And someone, please, help me! What's the name of the YA book that's either just recently out or is coming out soon about Nefertiti? And the author? I could have sworn it was Michelle Moran but it doesn't look like it is. Help!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know of the stink that was made over the cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar (here). The original cover was the top one. Thing was, the MC is an African-American tomboy with nappy hair. Doesn't really look too much like that cover, does it?
So stinkies were made. Larbalestier never liked that original cover because it didn't portray the MC accurately. Unless you're Helen Keller. Then the bloggers started shouting and damn did our voices get loud (this is the first time I'm commenting on this here but I voiced my opinion about it on my writing blog). The publishers came back with the defense that the MC is an unreliable narrator and the one thing we all decided to believe her about was her looks?
Lame, I know. Sorry excuse much? So the stinkies kept being made and what happened was the publisher just couldn't stop listening. Book sales were at stake. So they gave the world the second cover, with a chick that more closely resembled the MC of the book (here). Granted I still don't think that's what the author had in mind and that's the most put together tomboy I've ever seen but it's a minor victory and voices were heard. None of that can be denied. Should the cover even more accurately portray the MC? Yes. It's still sad that after all these years we're still taking baby steps towards progression but eventually the baby has to grow up. Eventually.
What I'm really getting at here is not the race issue but the fact that the publisher thought this cover was ok, a white girl for a black MC. Had we not made a stink, the cover would have stayed the same. Again, I'm not talking about race, not explicitly. I'm talking about thought processes and common sense.
It's like Costco's Lil Monkey doll issue they're currently having. Yeah, sure, there's a white doll and an Hispanic doll. But a black doll with a headband calling it Lil Monkey? Are you fucking serious? It's just common fucking sense. I can totally understand that no harm or ill will was intended but in the words of Carlos Mencia, dur dur dur. Unfortunately, I do think people can be that ignorant where they are completely oblivious of things like that and believe they are acting with the best of intentions.
It's like there's only one side of the coin with these people. White-washing a book cover and giving a black doll a racial slur for a name should be obvious things when sitting in on those brain storming sessions. But it makes me think if pot was involved in any of those meetings. Holy crap.
Considering the fact that such issues didn't come up before things like this were released, does remedying the problem by changing a cover or pulling the toy really mean anything? Because if people hadn't said anything, they would have stayed the same. If those brain-stormers did think of the possible repercussions of what they were doing, they didn't care and did it anyway. If they didn't, did they learn their lesson and see the error of their ways or are they going to remain oblivious? So really, does changing it mean all that much? They were forced into the change. Their arms were twisted so painfully behind their backs that they couldn't ignore it.
So is it really a win? Or is it little more than a slap upside people's heads to think things through a little more thoroughly next time so they don't look like ignorant asshats the second time around? I mean, the lack of common sense on these things is absolutely astounding.
Seriously, I think I'm going to faint. What is going on here? For someone that doesn't promote their blog, I sure am feeling the love! :) Thank you to everyone who nominated me! Holy crap!
I just sent in my requirements for the specfic nods. Now I have to do the humor. I'm thinking my anti-trollspirant post might make it in there! And oh so many Twilight knocks to choose from. *squee*