Monday, February 25, 2013

Dystopian Overload

This weekend I really didn't want to work. I guess that hint of freedom from San Francisco was enough to get me ready for the end of the quarter. Spring Break can't come fast enough. So I picked up For Darkness Shows the Stars, a dystopian retelling of Persuasion. I had to put it down. Then I picked up Partials. I made it about a third of the way through before I put that one down as well.

It's not that these are bad books. In fact, I know they're good. I think I've just been reading too much Dystopian lately. It's making me cynical and overanalytical. I think what I need is a good dose of YA high fantasy. Something a la Throne of Glass or The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

Suggestions?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gold Medal Summer

A short read, light and fluffy and nice for people who like gymnastics. Donna Freitas was a competitive gymnast herself, which is a large reason I picked up this book. Also, I love gymnastics enough to have centered a book around it. I was part of the sport for six years, then quit for a while. Then I joined back up on my high school team before an injury took me out for the rest of the season. I love Make It Or Break It. I watched the Olympic gymnastics as well. So, Gold Medal Summer was going to be a look at what other gymnastics books do.

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Joey Jordan is an elite gymnast who's never been on the gold medal stand. Her parents refuse to come watch her compete after enduring her sister's painful rise to National Champion. Her friend Alex has begun to hate the sport, and Coach Angelo refuses to listen to any of her ideas about changing her routines. Then her old friend Tanner moves back into town to spice up an already complicated summer. Joey has to keep her head in the game if she wants to get the gold at Regionals.

A lot of the concepts explored in this book are ones I knew about. The lack of social life for elite gymnasts. The pressure on parents and the strain gymnastics has on the body. Not to mention the early retirement age of gymnasts and the snarkiness of the other competitors. These were portrayed very well in such a short book. Still, I thought the situations were solved a little too easily in the end, and Joey's big dramatic speech about trust to her coach left me underwhelmed. Still, I love me some gymnastics.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Baby Steps

Hey, remember last year when I wrote a book for NaNoWriMo and had enough time to write another one as well? Yeah, I do too. I miss those days when I could relax with some hot chocolate, country music, and write a few scenes.

I've been catching up on work for my internship so I haven't had a whole lot of free time this week. But last night I did get a chance to open up Origins and scan through what I've already written. Every time I go through my character profiles  I fall in love with this story again. I can't wait to buckle down (probably over the summer)  and get into the meat.

At least I know the first few chapters are going to be very polished. I've gone over them at least half a dozen times now. Baby steps, is what it is. Baby steps so I get to sleep, and get all of my work done without going crazy.

To all those out there who have been able to make time to write recently, I applaud you. I envy you, as well.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Eyes Like Stars

Last weekend I ran away to San Francisco for a few days. I have mentioned several times that I love travelling. Well, here you go. Spontaneous trip over the Valentine's and Presidents' Day weekend. I walked the Golden Gate Bridge, strolled the Wharf, stood beneath the pillars of the Palace of Fine Arts. And I read.


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Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has always had a way with words. And a way of getting into trouble. And no recollection of how she came to live at the Illuminata Theatre. Accompanied by four fairies from Midsummer Night's Dream, she calls magical scene changes and interacts with all the play actors ever written. But when the Theater Manager threatens to throw her out of the only home she's ever known, Beatrice must find a way to make herself invaluable. The fairies, a loyal pirate Nate, and the elemental Ariel provide the cast of characters as Beatrice tries to save her home and find out who she is.

It took me a long time to get into the swing of this book. I picked it up on several occasions, but the style was so funky I couldn't get into it. But a delayed flight later, and an inability to sleep, I did it. And yay! It was great! The dialogue was incredibly snappy and messing around with age old play characters I know and love was AMAZING. Seeing Hamlet in real life as the whiny idiot he was. How Ophelia reacts to having to drown herself every night. You should read it. Really.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cinder

Made time to read. It was amazing. And Cinder? Also amazing.

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"Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on. Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an 'honor' that no one has survived. But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for."

I use quotes this time because I am too tired to come up with my own description. This one came from the book jacket. This book mostly lived up to the hype I've heard over the past few months. While it wasn't my favorite book of the year, it's definitely up there. Cinder's world and personality is intricate and interesting. The only thing I didn't like? The connection between her and Kai. It was sweet, but it didn't burn. I like burn. Definitely going to get Scarlet!

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Short Stories

This quarter at university I am taking an introductory course to short story writing. The concepts are the same as writing a novel, except you don't have as many pages to get your ideas across. Seems like a breeze for someone who's written four books right? Wrong.

I understand the concepts just fine, and I like our exercises. It's the ideas that I find difficult. I am not good at coming up with stories on demand. That's why I write books. I like to wait for an idea that I love, and develop that for a year or so. The ideas every week for a poignant story are really really tough on me.

And I've noticed that most of the ones I come up with involve travel. And my final story is looming  ahead of me. It's supposed to be 10-15 pages, and I've got zip. No idea what to write. Uh-oh.

Any suggestions on kick-starting my short story brain?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hitting the Peak

I have worked very hard this quarter to stay on top of my school work, meetings, clubs, internship obligations, and life. I've gotten better at time management. But I have reached the middle of the quarter and I think I'm hitting my peak.

Every day this week I have come back to my room, dropped my book bag, and stared at it, disheartened. I had no motivation to do anything. Really, truly, I just wanted to sleep. No pleasure reading has occurred, nor any writing. Every day is just getting to the next. And it's not like it's been a bad week.

It's just that it's the middle week, when I can look back at the first part of the quarter and realize I have that exact same amount of work heading towards me again.

Sorry not to be more exciting, folks. This weekend is for getting as much work done as possible!

Monday, February 4, 2013

White Collar Abbey

This weekend I had no homework. Which has never happened in the year and a half I've been at college. And, honestly, I didn't know what to do with myself. I wasn't able to get hooked into a book for some reason, so I watched Netflix. An unhealthy amount of Netflix.

I have already watched all of the show White Collar, which, if you haven't seen it, you really need to. Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay are incredible actors. But I love going back through and watching shows again to pick up on clues or mannerisms I hadn't before.

I also started watching Downton Abbey. I've heard a looooot of great things about this show and it certainly didn't disappoint. The worldbuilding is incredible, the characters well thought out. And, you know, Maggie Smith.

So, that's my weekend. Engrossed in period and crime dramas that made me want to sign up for the FBI and wear pretty dresses. Hope someone out there got some writing done!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fashion in Books

I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door for many reasons. One of them was the clothing. Lola's New Year's resolution was to not wear the same outfit twice. And she wore some pretty awesome clothes. And I was thinking about it, wondering why I liked it so much, and I realized why.

In so many of the books I've read, even just in my Summer Reading Project, the main female character is a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers girl. And I have nothing against that, nor do I believe it is a bad thing in any way. I used to dress like that every day myself. But I find myself craving a bit more variety in the teen novels I read. It made sense in the last one, Pushing the Limits. Echo wore long sleeved shirts to hide her scars. But of the books I read this summer, the number that had girls like the kind described above was at least 12 out of the 34. The other ones, I either couldn't remember or there was some plot device/world building that restricted it.

Reading these teen books, there is a lot of importance put into caring mostly about what's inside. Totally commendable. But as a girl who dresses up in sorta fancy clothes on a day to day basis, and who has friends who love fashion and design, I really wish I saw more variety. Sometimes I feel like caring about your clothes is portrayed in a negative way. And I think that sends the wrong message. Of course, clothing shouldn't be your entire life. But it's not a bad thing to want to wear fancy clothes.

Maybe it cuts down on descriptions when clothing is simple. But I like me some lace and drop-waist dresses. Suede boots, dangly earrings. They're fun. And I'm not ashamed of it.