Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quote of the Week!

Have a good week, everybody!

A Quick Recap...

Excuses! Excuses! I had a scurvy paper to write this week, so I was only able to get one book read... I hope this week will be more productive, but it's midterms, so that seems unlikely...

Books Read
Child of the Dark Prophecy - finished this week
Shadows on the Stars
The Eternal Flame - began; in progress

Books Reviewed
My Posts

Layout Change! That's always exciting... and maybe the blog text is a little more readable now :)
Contest Newsflash-- Once I hit 75 followers, I'll be hosting my first giveaway, f.y.i.!!!


Very good, just like the first one! I'm so incredibly anxious to start the third, so I'll try and do something drastically out-of-the-ordinary and keep things brief!

What I really liked...

- Characters. I love the MC so very much! Tamwyn is an excellent main character because though he's imperfect, he's good *enough* and still likeable. His journey is one of self-discovery and realizing his potential - a "right of passage" story that is so sweet and fun to read. You just can't help but cheer him on! The supporting characters are just right - they have their own contributions to the overall story, but they don't usurp the position of the MC. They're an important aspect of the ensemble, but they *are* the ensemble. They're in the perfect position.

- Vivid scenery/descriptions. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this world is that Barron has created. Try thinking about a land made up of materialized wind and clouds. Or a series of islands in the middle of a rainbow ocean. Or trees that can walk, talk, and dance (like the ENTS! Only not...)

- Excellent pacing. Never once does this 400+ story drag. You get the feeling that every sentence matters, every detail is there for a reason. This is not a fluff author and this is not a fluff book. There are multiple perspectives, but Barron is a master of the concept because he's able to transition so well without dwelling on one and forgetting another (for the most part...)

What I liked slightly less, but still liked...
- the villain. Okay, in intermediate fiction, I really would *rather* have a villain who's a little on the overtly bad side... I don't like "complex, complicated" villains in this type of setting. Let them be evil, let them be crazy! However... there were thing that the main villain did that were a little on the "classic Disney villain" list: talking to himself, laughing incessantly for no reason, wringing his hands together, talking to himself some more... Yeah. That's silly!

- Some of the characters. Okay, I just flat don't like Scree. If there's a character who has to be sacrificed for the "greater good" in the third book, I hope it's him. He's what I would call "too flawed." Now, it's okay, because he's contrasted to Tamwyn, and Tamwyn is the main character that I care about, so yeah if Scree is a screwball, I'm not going to care that much...but it still bothered me a little bit. And Shim - the shrunken giant- gets on my nerves, pretty much because he talks *exactly* like Jar Jar Binks... *cringes*

- Plot Revelations: Scree's story arc was very vague, and the perspective didn't follow him except like 3 or 4 times, and so it made his Shocker Moment kind of random and a little on the unbelievable side. Not to mention icky... I won't say any more, but yeah, that part of the plot really didn't work well for me. But hey, it was about Scree, and I don't like Scree, so whatever...

So that's it. Okay, that was still pretty long, but I can't begin to say how great this series is! I was seriously tearing up in some parts, and I hear that The Eternal Flame is the most tearjerker one of all! Ahhh!

*runs to check supply of Kleenex*

Final Rating: 5/5. This is still an amazing book; even with the itty-bitty things I could think of, Shadows on the Stars is just as deserving of a 5-star rating as its predecessor.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cinema Weekend

It's the weekend--yay! Time to relax, read a bit, and watch a movie! This week my recommendation is one that you can rent/Netflix and watch in the cinema of your own home!

It's time for me to show you, blog buddies, my trippy side. And this film is about as trippy as it gets...

- 1986
- Directed by Jim Henson (the Muppet man!)
- Produced by that loveable little guy, George Lucas
- David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly

Where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems...

[From wiki]: The film stars David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King, and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams. The plot revolves around Sarah's quest to rescue her little brother, Toby, from Jareth while trapped in an enormous otherworldly maze. Most of the other significant roles are played by puppets or by a combination of puppetry and human performance (as in, Jim Henson's MUPPETS!!!!) It was the last feature film directed by Henson before his death in 1990.

Have any of you ever seen this?! Well, I'm watching it right now and I have to say, it is a pretty weird movie, but it's one of my favorites! You can't help but like it!!

And that is my recommendation to you, blog buddies! Have a great weekend :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Finds [3]

Friday Finds are books that you've heard about during the past week. For me, I'm taking it a step further: these are books I heard about and may potentially read. Friday Finds is hosted by MizB @ Should be Reading

If you have any information on any of these titles please lemme know! If you have read/reviewed these books and would like to share that link, I'd love to read it!

Truthfully, I "found" these books a while ago, but only now have I really, really been curious about them!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Yeah, so Shiver has been around for awhile :) But my roommate Lindsey just finished it the other day and she's been raving nonstop about it, so now I'm incredibly curious!!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark. The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable. And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

Once again, The Maze Runner has been generating lots of reviews, but I only recently added it to my TBR because my youngest brother, Hutton, just finished and loved it! And since he's the one who got me hooked on the Percy Jackson series and The Great Tree of Avalon, I just have to listen to his opinion :)

Both Shiver and The Maze Runner are first installments in trilogies; both were published in 2009 and will have their 2nds coming out sometime in 2010, and both will end in 2011 (or at least, that's the predicted book forecast).

What are your Friday Finds? Oh, and if you have a review of either book and would like to share it, I'd love to read it!

Last week's Finds: Katherine Langrish's Troll Trilogy
Before that: Catherine Fisher's Incarceron & Sapphique and The Sugar Queen

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My alter ego is a writer 8D

Okay, I guess I'm a writer no matter what, but my alter ego would be a published writer!

This is incredibly on the 'random' side, but I was going through some of my old spirals and I found this note - or series of notes - from my mom. Senior year of high school, I was trying so desperately to finish a particular story that I'd been developing all throughout high school, and having the worst time of it. My mom (who is an English teacher) wrote me these notes over the course of that year, and now I've stumbled upon them again! They were exactly what I needed to read.

I don't know if these notes will mean anything to anybody else, but I just wanted to put them out there :)

Truths You Must Believe to be an Efficient Writer
1. You can only control you. You have no power over what other people write, what messages
they send, or the content in their stories. You cannot control any of that. Don’t write as a reaction to others. It’s like running: don’t look at the people next to you, or behind you, only look ahead and your fixed goal.
2. A successful story is like a body. First, you have to hash out the plot (skeleton). Only when you have your “start-to-finish” story can you go back and add layers, like literary elements and messages/ethics. Make the skeleton before you put on the muscles and the skin.

a. When you’re first developing your story, don’t get ahead of yourself. Avoid thinking, This is so shallow, this is so superficial! That’s what 2nd and 3rd drafts are for. The most important thing, for the moment, is developing the story.

3. This is your world, and these are your characters. They belong to you and no one else. Just as you can’t control what other people write, don’t let them control how you tell your story. This is your chance to be in charge – use it wisely. Writing may be therapeutic, but it should not be vindictive.

4. Don’t mistake your exhaustion for a lack of talent. Most writers, when they are honest with themselves, recognize their talent. They know that they have stories needing to be told and characters who just won’t go away. But it’s not going to be easy, either. If you find yourself stumped, it’s not because you’re untalented…it’s because you’re stuck. And at some point, you will get yourself out. This is the fork in the road where “Fun” and “Easy” go their separate ways.

5. Flexibility is not a suggestion, it is a must. This ties in with the previous point. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, don’t immediately start over. Granted, there may come a time when you have to start over, but don’t be quick to jump to that conclusion. It is good to have a rooted understanding of the message you want to convey, or the goal you want to reach, but flexibility is being able to take different routes to achieve your desired end.

6. Suspend all timetables. Now, timetables may work great for some authors, but those authors are different from you. Realize that a good story should have no expiration date: it may take you six months or six years to complete a 1st draft. The moment writing becomes a burden, a chore, an obligation, you fall victim to resentment and allow bitterness to seep in. Writing is not competitive, either. It does not matter in the least how long it took certain authors to complete their stories – faster or slower, this is your life and this is your project.

a. It may be of some interest if “So-and-so” had a hard time of it, too, and it can certainly be of comfort to know that you are not alone. But don’t let inspiration turn into a crutch. Those authors are now enjoying their place in the sun; if you want your place, you have to climb over the hills just like they did.
7. Outside forces (culture, etc) are as important or irrelevant as you make them. This goes well with #1 and #3. Don’t be intimidated or afraid by what people may think. You listen to your drummer and keep in step with its beat like Thoreau advised. Mathematics is in your favor that someone, somewhere, will like what you have to say, and someone, somewhere will be unhappy with what you have to say.

8. Live in the moment. When you are writing your story, all time suspends. “Live in the moment” may be too much of a carefree way to deal with school, or work, or life in general, but it is a very good principle for writing. When you are writing - or editing - it is not the time to be thinking about publishing. That time will come. It will come. The future is both exciting and terrifying; don’t give it any more attention than it deserves.
a. Remember Dad’s quote…*

9. This is more than a story – it is a world. You are not writing realistic fiction. You are writing fantasy. You are more than just a writer – you are a traveler, an archaeologist, a historian, a scientist, a philosopher. Make your world come alive. The places you create cannot be reached by boat, or plane, or train, or car – therefore you must be an artist and paint a vivid picture of your world. Don’t skimp on the creativity film.
10. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. This is why you should have no concrete timetable, this is why you should live in the present, this is why you must shut out all distractions. In the end, you are not just writing for your own gratification. You want to share your worlds with others – you dare to hope that your stories might be things of enjoyment for others people. That is why it is so important to get this right – not perfect, right. Perfection is not the goal – telling your story to the best of your ability - that is the goal. Take all the talent that has been given to you and use all you can. Your story – and everything in it – is a part of you.

a. Every character is important and has something to offer
b. Every scene explored in Hi-Def
c. Every word carefully chosen (this is will happen in the 2nd/3rd draft phase)
d. The story – in its perpetual completion – should be both macro and micro. This will eventually happen, but it cannot happen until a basic plot is taken from start-to-finish.
Wow, developing a story really is a lot like math. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d see the beauty in formulas and step-by-step equations. In a lot of ways, life is like a math equation. Problems happen when we miss a step in the formula, and we wonder why our answers turn out funny and (dare I say it) incorrect. I think that writing is a little bit the same way.

Well, that’s all I have for right now.

* I'm a little embarrassed to put this on here, because I'm afraid some might, ahem, not like it! But my good'ol dad has a saying (and he got it from his dad...) and it goes like this:

"If you've got one foot in yesterday,
and the other foot in tomorrow,
you're pissing on today!"

I know, that's horrible, right?!?! I'm apologizing now! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cover Wars [4]

It's a little early, but I thought I'd go ahead and post!

Cover Wars is a weekly meme (I run mine on Wednesday, but it can be any day) where you pick your current read - or any other fun book - and try and find as many different cover editions as you can!

I decided to pick the current series I'm reading - The Great Tree of Avalon.

Here are the American hardback editions (also the British, French, and Canadian edition)

Vs. the German editions

Hmm, I think I like the Original editions best :) And it's interesting, because sometimes every country will have a different edition, but the British, Canadian, and French versions all have the same cover designs as the American ones, and I only found different covers for the German editions - ja vold!

And as I promised last week, here's the Mr. Linky!

Location! Location! [1]

I can't help it - this is what I do!

If you've read a couple of my reviews, you know that I dearly love scenery and immersing myself in the magical worlds created by wonderful authors! So yesterday in class I had looked up some pictures that I thought could possibly fit as locations in The Great Tree of Avalon series.

The Realm of Stoneroot

The Realm of Mudroot

The Realm of Woodroot:

The Realm of Fireroot

Can you find any pictures that might match the setting in the book your reading? It doesn't matter if it's high fantasy or realistic fiction - anyone can play along! Drop a link or just launch a post on your site :)
I don't know, maybe this could turn into a meme, or just a fun way for us fans to showcase scenery pictures from books we're reading/books we love!

Teaser Tuesday!

As always, Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB @ Should be Reading.
Here's how it works: Grab the current book you're reading- Open up to a random page- share a little "teaser" from somewhere on that page.

***Make sure your section is spoiler free!!

Seriously on the "spoiler free" - I got "spoiled" like 3 times just now before I came up with a good, interesting teaser! Dadgummit!

Here's my teaser, from Book 2 of the Great Tree of Avalon, Shadows on the Stars:

"For some time, Tamwyn peered at this painting. Could these people, he wondered, be flying to the stars? And if that was so, did it mean that some mortal creatures had actually made the journey successfully? Looking closely at the scene, he examined the people - their wings, their orange flames. Just who were they?"
- Shadows on the Stars, pg 192

Monday, February 22, 2010


This book was just beautiful – a great start to what I am confident will be an excellent series!

The Great Tree of Avalon is refreshing to me because it is the first “high fantasy” series I’ve read in awhile – and I personally think high fantasy is the most interesting of the Fantasy subgenres because it is so absorbing but also really difficult to create. The Wardstone books, by contrast, are more parallel-fantasy, in that they're supposed to be this "off-world" of real-life Lancashire... that's thoroughly confusing, isn't it :P ?

- T. ABarron’s prose is absolutely beautiful – somewhat lofty, but more along the lines of elegant and occasionally didactic. He is still a “modern author” and you can see differences between his style and say, the 50s-60s style of C.S. Lewis or Lloyd Alexander, but he’s pretty close. I’d say Barron and maybe Clare Dunkle come the closest to emulating that style. In other words, his writing is a long, far cry from “text speech.”

All his characters are beautifully crafted and well-rounded. The central figure, to be sure, is a young wilderness wanderer named Tamwyn, whose hidden identity is the key to a prophecy made years ago. What I like about the Avalon series – and was kind of surprised to discover – is the really large ensemble cast of characters and how big of a role they play. I was totally expecting the story to revolve almost exclusively around Tamwyn and the search for his true identity, but the perspective follows several other characters, including Scree, his adopted eagleboy brother; Elli, a fiery priestess with a sketchy past; a haughty seer-in-training named Llynia who believes herself to be the next Chosen One (note: there’s always a bloody Chosen One! Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Anakin Skywalker…); a captured elf maiden named Brionna, and the nefarious villain of the book, a mysterious wizard known only as White Hands.

I liked the different perspectives, even if I’m not sure I’d have so many in my own stories. What I like about Barron, though, is how clearly defined each perspective shift is – it’s mostly switched over on a chapter-by-chapter basis, so there’s no confusion. The only frown-worthy thing about the book has to do with the designated Prophecy (note: there’s always a bloody prophecy!). I couldn’t really understand why everybody – the other characters and myself, the reader – could figure out what the prophecy was saying but our sweet, adorable little MC Tamwyn couldn’t! It’s like, “hello, Mcfly!” (Back to the Future, anyone?) But oh well.

The number one Must, though, about writing fantasy – at least in my opinion – is Make It Believable! It’s like a deal that the reader and author enter into – in exchange for the reader’s initial suspension of disbelief, the author needs to provide a clearly-defined and clearly-written world that comes alive through the story. Barron totally succeeded. And the idea of Avalon is particularly creative: the entire world – seven realms – all stems from one Great Tree…named Avalon. Each of the seven realms: Mudroot, Woodroot, Stoneroot, Airroot, Shadowroot, Waterroot, and Fireroot, are all roots of the Great Tree. That’s an awesome concept, once you wrap your mind around it! And everything is so vivid and described in such wondrous detail, you can easily visualize this world and believe in its existence.

I will say, though: that the story develops at a pretty steady pace. Not a slow pace, mind you, but it’s about pg 150 before the true plot begins to unravel. That’s okay, I think, because Barron budgets his time wisely by going ahead and setting up the world of Avalon and its history; so many authors ignore detail and leave you feeling confused or hollow about this fantasy world…he reminds me a lot of Tolkien in the way he includes the history and the art/literature of his world. It’s even more incredible when you remind yourself that everything – every song, every story – is entirely made up.

Wow! Rating: I really need to figure out a clean and simple way to do this – I love my blog buddy Juju @ Tales of Whimsy who has a Kiddie-O-Meter and an Adult-O-Meter which really quickly goes into content. There’s what I would call PG-level language (but it’s there, and it’s funny in my opinion – I usually never here the MC say “damn” but oh well…!) and PG-13 level violence (there’s actually quite a violent scene in the Prologue section that didn’t really surprise me per see, but seemed almost out-of-place considering this is an Intermediate-level YA… and like no sex, which is always a plus in Amelialand :)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quote of the Week!

Here's another one by Dr. Seuss :D

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
And since I'm a Potter-ite, why not put up a picture from Hogwarts to go with it?!

A Quick Recap

Books Read
The Sugar Queen
Perelandra (for my C.S. Lewis class - I don't have a review yet)
Child of the Dark Prophecy (in progress)

Books Reviewed

My Posts
Cover Wars [3]: Incarceron & Leviathan

Friday, February 19, 2010

So long to one series, hello to a new one

From January 16 to February 14 I was immersed in The County of The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney. The series is incomplete and the next installment (The Spook's Nightmare) is scheduled for UK release on May 27, 2010. It was weird to read The Sugar Queen this week because for nearly a month I had read nothing but this series, and I had come to love and care about all the characters. I also loved Delaney's knack for scenery and detail, and The County seemed like such a real and attainable location :)

For fans of Harry Potter, Septimus Heap, and other magic-and-fantasy YA series, The Wardstone Chronicles (known as the Last Apprentice series in the US) is a must-read.

I’ll miss Tom, Alice, the Spook and their pet boggart, who I’ve come to know and love in this last month, but I’ll see them again in May. Until then, it’s a sad but fond farewell to the world of The County...

...and a 'hello' to the Seven Realms of Avalon! The Great Tree of Avalon by T.A. Barron is a completed trilogy so there will be no axiety awaiting the next installment (I could barely focus last year, I was so excited about The Last Olympian!).
Here's some info...
- 12 October 2004 by Philomel
- (Hardcover) 432 pages
- GR reviews: 42% (5 stars), 33% (4 stars), 19% (3 stars), 4% (2 stars), 1% (1 star)
Long ago the great wizard Merlin planted the seed that would become the peaceful world of Avalon. Now, the enchanted land is in peril, and its fate lies in the hands of three people-but only one of them is Merlin's heir who can save Avalon, while the others are destined to destroy it.
- 6 October 2005 by Philomel
- (Hardcover) 432 pages
- GR reviews: 44% (5 stars), 33% (4 stars), 19% (3 stars), 2% (2 stars), 0% (1 star)
Continuing the Great Tree of Avalon epic, three companions embark on separate, far-reaching quests to solve the mystery of the vanishing stars-confronting the very powers of darkness along the way.
The Eternal Flame - T.A. Barron
- 19 October 2007 by Philomel
- (Hardcover) 400 pages
- GR reviews: 43% (5 stars), 33% (4 stars), 19% (2 stars), 0% (1 star)
I'm not putting the blurb because it has a SPOILER! I got SPOILED!!

Friday Finds [2]

Friday Finds are books that you've heard about during the past week. For me, I'm taking it a step further: these are books I heard about and may potentially read. Friday Finds is hosted by MizB @ Should be Reading

If you have any information on any of these titles please lemme know! :D

My finds this week:

The Troll Trilogy by Katherine Langrish.

A secret kingdom of trolls, and their legendary gold, lies in the mysterious shadows of Troll Fell. It is to this eerie and dangerous place that Peer must go after his father's sudden death, to live with his greedy uncles, Baldur and Grim, at their mill.
When Peer discovers his uncles' plan to sell children to the trolls, he has to bury his fears and set out to stop them somehow. In a world filled with magic and mystery, Peer has only his bravery, his wits, and two new allies -- a daring girl looking for adventure and a mischievous house spirit looking for a good meal. Their story will become part of the legends and lore that fill this extraordinary land by the sea.

Fifteen-year-old Peer Ulfsson is haunted by his past. Forced to live with his evil uncles under the eerie shadows of Troll Fell, he nearly fell prey to their plan to sell children to the trolls. Now Peer lives with his friend Hilde's family, but can he ever truly belong? And will Hilde ever share his deeper feelings?
One rainy night, Peer watches in shock as his neighbor Kersten pushes her baby daughter into his arms and then disappears into the sea. Rumor says that Kersten is a seal woman who has returned to her ocean home, and the millpond witch, Granny Green-teeth, seems intent on taking the "seal baby." Peer also discovers that the mill, abandoned when his uncles joined the troll kingdom, is running again -- all on its own?
With angry trolls, mysterious seal people, a mischievous house spirit, and three unusual babies in the mix, Peer and Hilde have their hands full and more! Katherine Langrish returns to the magical world of her acclaimed debut, troll fell, in this second story set in an extraordinary land by the sea filled with Viking legends and lore.

The dramatic and gripping conclusion to Katherine Langrish's highly-acclaimed TROLL trilogy. When seafaring traders, Gunnar, and his sword-wielding son, Harald Silkenhair, land in Trollsvik, looking for crew to join their journey to Vinland (North America), Hilde is desperate to join the ship. She begs her parents to let her go as Gunnar's wife Astrid's companion, and when Peer agrees to go and look after her, her parents reluctantly agree. But Gunnar and Harald are dangerous men. Harald has killed a man, and Gunnar has been cursed and is losing his wits in fear that the dead man's ghost is following him. Harald has an uncontrollable, raging temper, and a perilous rivalry develops between he and Peer. By the time they finally reach the shores of Vinland, the settlement is looking less of an attractive proposition. And that's before they meet the "Skraelings" (the Native American people) and the terrifying Jenu -- the cannibal giant with a heart of ice! Action-packed, suspense-fuelled and with a wonderful cast of characters, Troll Blood is a truly rip-roaring read.

And look - mighty purrty cover designs! That's almost always a good omen (except if you're Wicked Fugly, of course...sorry I couldn't help myself!)

I cannot wait to read these! My brothers read them over the Christmas break and they absolutely loved them! Did I mention my little jock brothers are avid readers?! So we're going to do a Avalon-for-Troll swap in a few weeks!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newsflash! Newsflash!

Here are 2 contests that I wanted to >spolight<

My lovely-wonderful blog buddy Melissa's birthday is coming up! YEEHAW!
She's hosting a birthday contest and giving away 2 of her favorite books & a $25 card to Amazon! Isn't that nice of her to give gifts on her birthday!!

For more details, visit Melissa's site @ I Swim for Oceans

My amazingly awesome blog buddy Choco @ In Which a Girl Reads recently reached 400 followers! HUZZAH!
To celebrate, she is generously hosting a giveaway in which you can win a book of your choice from The Book Depository (they are great) up to a total cost of $20.

For more details, visit Choco's site. The deadline is March 6, 2010.


Some Awards :)

So...either I can study for my Greek test (baaarf) or we can have an award ceremony (huzzah!).
I'm going with award ceremony :)

Thank you so much to Jami @ YA Addict for this kewl award!

And now I'll pass it along to some other kewl blogs:

And then thank you to Sara @ Along for the Ride for this cutie-patootie award!

I am so excited to pass this along to some of my other great bloggy buddies!

Yay! And hey, tomorrow's Friday - yeehaw I'm ready for this week to be oooooverrrrrr

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.

I went into this book kind of the same way I go into candy stores – not knowing what exactly I’m going to get, but expecting it to somehow taste good.

- What I liked best about The Sugar Queen was Sarah Addison Allen’s writing style. Her prose is simple yet really elegant and also packed with all sorts of literary techniques that will have English teachers squealing in delight. There are several times when this book just seems so savory! I am probably going overboard on the references to sweets, but come on, sweets play a major role! And so do books. Bloggy buddies, we all can probably see a little of Chloe in ourselves when it comes to her “relationship” with books! There are also several passages in my copy that are underlined; not only does Allen have an amazing style of prose, but she is so good about conveying the messages and themes of her story. Unlike candy, The Sugar Queen is not all fluff and sweets: there are important lessons that can be learned from the stories of all the characters.

- Characterization is another of Allen’s strong suits. She is able to take several characters, give them all important stories, connect them all together and yet keep them somehow independent. Josey Cirrini – a 27year old “this side of plump” young woman with a penchant for sweets and romance novels is the main character, but the omniscient perspective of the story follows pretty much every character at least once – I counted at least 7 perspectives by the end. While it was certainly interesting to get the dibs on every major character in this small town, and watch their emotional growth, it got a bit hectic at times.

For example, if there were 3 people in a scene, the perspective would switch back-and-forth so rapidly that I wasn’t sure who was doing the thinking and the speaking. That’s the downside of omniscience, I guess.

- And also, because each character is explored in such a complex way (kind of like putting characters under a microscope) you really start to develop feelings for all of them. I can’t believe it, but Allen was able to make me sympathetic to characters that I thought I’d already figured out (Jake - for finished readers)! All of her characters are flawed – they all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that are binding them in some way and keeping them from living their potential. That’s always an interesting thing to see in fiction – particularly grown up fiction. I guess at some point in literary history, characters were idealistic and “super-human,” without faults or weaknesses at all, because now the pendulum has pretty much swung in the clear opposite direction: we have characters who are so flawed they run the risk of being unrelatable. Sure, nobody’s perfect in real life so that needs to be seen in fiction, but if authors “screw up” their characters too much, they lose common ground with the reader. That’s probably my main disappointment when I read – authors write characters who are such screwballs that not only can I not relate, I can’t sympathize. The reason I want to introduce this idea is because Allen does not do that in her book. You can trust me on that – I’ll be the first to say how critical and hard-to-please I am! While I can’t relate specifically to certain characters, like what Chloe is going through (completely dependent on a man and thus in a passionate but one-sided and unhealthy relationship) I can relate to the feeling of not being in control of your own life. I'm sure we all feel that way sometimes. That’s pretty much the theme here – every character, for some reason or another, has a hurt, habit, or hang-up that they’re "in bondage" to. This book is about what happens next. And so I find this book appealing on the broad scale – on the lessons that Allen teaches through the story. And sure, I don’t see eye-to-eye with the author on some plot-y parts of the story, but I definitely am on board with her themes.

So bottom line: I ventured out on a limb with a bona fide adult book and was pleasantly surprised not only by the sweet story and emotion-grabbing characters (you can’t help but cheer for Chloe and Josey and even Della Lee!) but by the substance of the thematic elements. I love books that teach, or at least, books with messages!

Final rating: 4/5. Since this is an adult book, I wasn't surprised to find sex (not explicit but more that 'la la la how romantic!' feel and usually in flashbacks only) and language (I think like 3 'f' words toward the end). I only turn into a screaming banshee when I see that in YA stuff, so I guess I have no complaints. And I love the idea of books being magical, enchanted objects with minds of their own! That in and of itself is a brilliant and endearing concept!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Yummy Award!

Thank you so much to Maxine @ Maxine Reads for passing this yummy award on to me! Oooh it looks so good!

The rules for this Bliss (Happy 101) Award are that I must list 10 things that make me happy, then pass it along to 10 other bloggers.

1. Reading awesome YA/fantasy books! (everybody say "duh" on 3)
2. Chatting with my lovely bloggy buddies
3. the Anaheim Angels
4. Books with pretty, eye-catching cover designs
5. Guffawing at inside jokes with my bestfriend/roommate Lindsey! She's either Robin and I'm Batman, or I'm Robin and she's Batman...still trying to figure that one out...
6. BBC TV serials (the British really know their way around period pieces!)
7. Glenn Beck - I can't help it, that little dude cracks me up! He reminds me of a little elf...
8. church youth group back home
9. talking Percy Jackson with my ultra-awesome professors
10. anything to do with J.R.R. Tolkien!

I am happy to send this award on to...

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Award!

Thank you so much to Christy @ Readin' and Dreamin' for this awesome award!

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)

I am so excited to pass this award onto a few of my other awesome blog buddies!
(I tried to do a little bit of research before making the list, so hopefully this will be a new award for you!)
Have a great week everybody! Remember, be who you are and say what you feel!

In My Mailbox [2]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme where I post the books that I either bought or ordered from the previous week. This was started by The Story Siren.

No new books this week - which is definitely a good thing, because I really need to catch up on the lovely books that I already own!

The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen
The Warrior Heir - Cinda Williams Chima
The Wizard Heir - Cinda Williams Chima
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Heart's Blood - Juliet Marillier
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier

Has anybody read any of these? Any suggestions on which to read first?


In terms of excitement and non-stop action, The Spook's Sacrifice is right up there with the first book in the series. I read this installment in just 2 days' time and now I'm a little bummed that I read so fast, because this is it until May!

This book has a formula that I consider to be successful in nearly all cases: there's a quest - an actual journey that takes the characters out of a familiar setting and plunges them into a totally new atmosphere. That tension nearly always creates a fun and exciting read for me. Also, there's a battle: the whole story revolves around this major good-evil confrontation and the suspense surrounding the planning and execution of the goal. Action, when done right, is definitely a winning element. And Delaney is a master when it comes to setting up scenes, particularly in the visual elements. He's also really good at drawing you in to the suspense and excitement of what's going on, particularly through the narrative voice of the MC, Tom Ward.

- That being said, there were a few plot revelations that really didn't work for me. I'm one the readers who believes that not everything an author writes has to be devoured with this "Oh sure thing!" attitude. I didn't like a few things that happened - they just seemed a little too far-fetched for my liking. But hey, I'm obviously not docking stars or anything...
- Characterization, though, has regressed a little throughout the last 2 books. I still like Tom and everything, but lately he's kind of gotten on my nerves, and he seems at times like a major walking contradiction, especially when it comes to how he deals with the Spook, his Mam, and Alice. He'll do something really noteworthy, and then just a little while later he'll revert back to the same old self that he was I don't really know what to think of him sometimes. He's a well-rounded character, sure, but his actions/emotions seem very contradictory. I don't want to drop spoilers, so I won't elaborate. And this is bad for me since he's like one of the MCs, but I pretty much don't like the Spook. He annoys the crap out of me - gah he's so hypocritical! It drives me so crazy! I just want to thrust my hand through the page and smack him! It seems like everything to Spooks says and does is justified by the author, because I'm not picking up on any "well, clearly the Spook is wrong" message, and that annoys me. I like my Authoritative Figures (the Dumbledores and the Chirons and other teacher-mentor characters) to either be relatively flawless OR flawed-and-used-as-an-example. But by the end of the book, the Spook seemed to have been slipped some Compassion Pills so maybe we're good...

If you haven't started this series already, they are highly recommended! I like to muse and rant, sure, but the bottom line is that this is a highly engrossing series by a very creative and talented author that you will DEVOUR! Now I'm off to Wal-Mart to find a pet boggart :P

Final Rating: 4.8/5. Winning formulas and nonstop action make this one of the better books of the series! NEARLY a perfect 5-star rating!!
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