Monday, August 29, 2011

Katniss Everdeen, Hanna, and Hollywood's Skewed Perception of Moviegoers

How could I have missed the movie Hanna with Saoirse Ronan?  Check out the incredible movie site!  I'm definitely buying the DVD on September 6th.

If you're wondering if I have a blurting problem, the above does pertain to something I read while completely ignoring my weekend visitor, Irene Hurricane.  Hollywood executives wrongly surmised after reviewing poor ticket sales for the movie Sucker Punch that people won't go see action movies that star women.  Huh?


I just want good, quality entertainment and it doesn't matter who's in it.  (Hanna was mentioned in the article and I researched it.  Now I'm sorry I didn't see it in the theater.)  I can't help wondering what those same Hollywood executives will say after the release of The Hunger Games.  You can bet your auntie's glass eye people are going to see this action movie driven completely by the female protagonist Katniss Everdeen, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Did you hear the four musical notes (Rue's tune) at the end?  It gave me goose bumps.  A nice teaser!

Will you see action movies starring female actors?  Did anyone see Hanna?  What did you think of the first look at The Hunger Games trailer?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land. Magical winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts who has only visited the islands once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.

The cover of The Girl with Glass Feet and the flap copy pretty much lasso'd me into reading this book.  My imagination went wild picturing things.  A harsh, snowy landscape inhabited by strange creatures.  Magic.  Fairies.  A cruel, spiteful witch.  A curse placed on a desperate young girl, and the handsome prince that would save her.  True love.  A quest!

 Oh, I do so love a quest!  It gives meaning to hiking!

  So I nestled in for the evening, and with trembling anticipation I began to read. 

After a bit, a little voice in my head began whispering:

"I wonder when the fairies are gonna show up..." 


"The witch should be making an appearance anytime now..." 

Then the whining began.

"But he's not swooooooonyyyyy!" 

The Girl with Glass Feet was nothing like I imagined.  I was expecting a cute little entertaining fairytale, but what I got was something I like to call:






A thinking book

It wasn't an easy read at first, but that was entirely my fault; I dug in the heels of my preconceived ideas, and wasn't giving the story a chance.  Several times I was tempted to toss it.  I'm very, very glad I didn't.  Once I let go and trusted the author, I began to enjoy the book with a renewed appreciation for storytelling. 

Ida Maclaird returns to St. Hauda's Land to find a cure for her mysterious glass ailment, and enlists the help of a local young man to help her.  Introverted and a touch neurotic, Midas reluctantly agrees.  Ida wants to deeply connect with someone because of her condition, but Midas is so shy and afraid of showing emotion that their relationship is awkward.  As the story unfolds, several characters are introduced and a common thread weaves them together.  

I brushed up on the meanings of metaphor, simile and allegory, jotted a few lines about each character, and thought...and thought, and thought some more until I figured out what I think the author is trying to say.  

Go me! Go Book Fiend! 

Of course, as these things go--and what makes literature so interesting and fun--is that my interpretation may well be completely different than yours.  There's no right or wrong answer.  I won't discuss my interpretation here because I don't want to spoil anything for you in case you plan to read it, but I firmly believe that how we interpret this story--and how we feel about its ending-- says something deeply personal about ourselves.  Oh, and there are magical creatures, and strange things happening on St. Hauda's Island.  But no witches or fairies, and it's all the better for it.  Honest.  

Ali Shaw's story is a well imagined fairytale that would make a great book club selection.  It wasn't until I finished the novel that I learned The Girl with Glass Feet won The Desmond Elliott Prize in the UK.  

In addition to the questions in the reader's guide, I wonder:

*Why did the author choose glass for Ida Maclaird's transformation instead of, lets say, stone or graphite or fudge covered oreos?

*Why her feet?

*Why does the other character's transformation begin in another part of the body?

It took me a few days to fully appreciate this novel, and it will stay with me for a while, so for that I'll add it to my favorites, and will most likely read it again.  The cadence of the writing felt a bit off, but that could just be me (I'm sort of nerdy about sentence rhythms).  The cold, monochromatic setting totally fits the theme of the story.  The author's use of stumbling dialogue (err, umm) was annoying at first, but once I changed my mindset, even that made sense to me.  

Overall, The Girl with Glass Feet was :
Give this one a try.  Be open to it, and let me know what you think. It's not the usual fodder, but that's a good thing.  Sometimes we need to exercise our literary muscle.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone ARC Winner!

Congratulations, Andrea!  I'll be contacting you via email.
Thanks to all the entrants, and stay tuned for a cool, but different kind of Daughter of Smoke and Bone launch giveaway September 27th! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

Graveminder is Melissa Marr’s foray into adult literature after the conclusion of her successful young adult series Wicked Lovely.  Marr has great ideas, and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into juicy, complex story lines. 

The story opens with a creepy scene that’s so riveting I couldn’t read it fast enough. Maylene Barrow, Claysville’s graveminder, meets a very disturbing seventeen-year-old girl in town and invites her home. Maylene is later found dead. Her granddaughter Rebekkah returns to Claysville for the funeral with plans to leave as soon as possible, but she finds out she’s the next graveminder. Claysville is suddenly like Hotel California: she can check out any time she likes, but she can never leave. 
I wanted to like this story because conceptually it sounded interesting, but Rebekkah is an annoying character. She’s manipulative and immature, and her long history of using Byron makes her unsympathetic.  She contradicts herself (with internal dialogue) entirely too much, to the point of reader distraction.  Byron appears weak, pining for a woman that continually does him wrong.

Although Marr does a good job of revving up suspense, I kept getting jerked out of the story by deep point of view italics, poor editing and unbelievable behavior. Since I wasn't lost in the story, I began analyzing everything and therefore became much less forgiving of things I’d otherwise overlook. 

Marr overuses the technique of showing her characters thoughts with italics. It’s essential for readers to get this character insight, but Rebekkah questions and contradicts herself so much she appears mental. 

I go all fussy britches with weird names or strange spelling variations. It's fine if they fit the story setting, but doing this just to be creative annoys me. (When Harry Potter first came out, I wouldn’t read it because I didn’t know how to pronounce Hermione. Stupid, I know but I can’t help it). I’ve never seen the name Rebekkah spelled this way, and it's often shortened to Beks in the story.  Don’t love it, but I’ll go with it. Byron is shortened to B, Alicia becomes Lish (shoot me), and Charles is Mr. D. I mustn't forget Daisha and Amity Blue. 
Marr’s narrative can sometimes be messy, and the overuse of fragmented sentences was irritating. Character’s behave like adolescents and the story reads very much like a young adult novel. I was disappointed in the simplicity of it. The ending felt rushed with information awkwardly crammed into the last few chapters. The best part of the story is the initial scene, and Marr's concept of the underworld. 

For the concept of the underworld, and maintaining suspense, I'll be generous with my rating:
Don't let me discourage you from reading this book. Many people liked it, and it's been optioned for a television series. If it comes to fruition, I'll definitely check out the television series because the underworld is intriguing, and much more interesting than what goes on above ground. I'm sure the television series will be popular with fans of AMCs The Walking Dead.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Authors Are My Super Heroes

Do you like to hear good news?

I do.  I especially love to hear great things about authors. Writing is solitary, sometimes lonesome work, and the entire process of writing a novel-- from idea to polished manuscript--is a long, arduous journey littered with pitfalls. If it was easy, we'd all be doing it, amiright? Authors are my super heroes. Enough already about actors. They're just playing dress-up in character. But who creates the characters? Exactly.

Thanks for sticking with me this far.  Good news commencing!

Erin Morgenstern, Veronica Roth, and Marie Lu all had dreams of their first novels making it to publication, but what followed in the wake of their book deals was never expected. Movie deals. (Happy dance who bought what details can be found here.)  

Divergent by Veronica Roth was released in May so that makes sense to me--it's a best seller--but Morgenstern's The Night Circus won't be released until September 13th, and Marie Lu's Legend won't be out until November 29th.  Hmm. My curiosity is piqued.

I can't help but wonder at the WOW factor of these novels that moved powerful, influential people in the entertainment industry to part with their cash and snatch up the movie rights before the book's popularity could be assessed. The stories must be pure jaw-dropping, epic awesomeness. And make it a la mode.

I want. I want.

Surprisingly, I haven't read Divergent. It just wasn't on my radar, but you can bet your auntie's glass eye that I'll read it now. Have you read it?  How do you think the story will adapt to film?  Which book are you most looking forward to:  The Night Circus or Legend?  

Be well, and happy reading.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Enter to Win ARC *CLOSED*

Enter to win an ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  Contest ends August 26, 2011 at 11:59PM.

Laini Taylor arrived on the scene with her remarkable Faeries of Dreamdark seriesBlackbringer and Silksinger.  She enchanted us with her epic stories in Lips Touch Three Times.  Now, with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Taylor once again proves she's a master storyteller.  Read my review and watch book trailers here.  

It's not necessary to follow me, but I would enjoy the good company!

If there is a problem with the entry form, please leave information in a comment or email me.

Good luck, and happy reading!

*Open internationally.
*By participating I understand and accept the rules and conditions outlined on contest page.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth has grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
This is a story about a girl that's more than she seems, a story about a war pitting angels against demons, a story about star-crossed lovers.  You may be thinking it's all been done before, and sounds so familiar that perhaps you may want to pass this one by, but I implore you, don't.  Please don't.  This book is so much more than readers can imagine from the jacket copy.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the magical story of seventeen-year-old Karou, an orphan with a yearning for love and a  “normal” life.  Raised by Brimstone in his secret shop in Prague, she knows nothing of her origins.  She travels through portals gathering teeth for him for reasons he won't reveal. Often she feels she should be doing something else, be someone else.   While running an errand in Djemma El Fna, the marketplace in Marrakech, the powerful seraph, Akiva, glimpses her, and suddenly her life is in danger.  Who is Akiva, and why does he want to kill her?

                                                                             Karou by Jim DiBartolo

Karou is a sympathetic character; we can relate to her immediately.  Terrible ex-boyfriends have a way of doing that, but she doesn’t lose herself in her heartache.  She’s strong, intelligent, and a little vindictive, but who can blame her?  Zuzana, Karou’s best friend, is the perfect funny sidekick.  It was easy to lose myself in this book because it’s beautifully written, and the characters leap off the page.  It's a riveting page turner. Oh, and Thiago… the most villainous of villains.  Taylor definitely knew how to make us hate him.

The US book trailer:

From the first paragraph of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I knew I was in good hands.  The story flows gracefully like a lover’s dance between author and reader, as Taylor leads us into Karou’s mysterious, magical world without a single misstep.  Writing good stories isn’t easy, but she makes it seem easy, effortless.  Her love of writing shows in her beautiful prose, explains her crossover appeal, and is why she’s my favorite author.  Every sentence is meaningful, and the rhythm, and evocative language turns the story into a memorable experience.

“Happiness.  It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer:  homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort.  It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”  (I have never read a better definition of happiness.)

“Karou with her wry smile and crazy imagination…creamy and leggy with long azure hair and the eyes of a silent-movie star.  She moved like a poem and smiled like a sphinx.”

“For the way loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve—like the soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.”

“Ah, Zuzana.” (Oh, Susanna?  I couldn’t help but smile and wonder.)

The UK book trailer is brilliant!  Love.  Love.  Love.

 Daughter of Smoke and Bone is crazy imaginative, extraordinary and smart, and I loved every delicious word of it.  It's not just a story about love and self-discovery, but also about the tragedy of war, of hope when life is tragic, and the strength to fight for what you believe in.  No one writes like  Laini Taylor.  The only problem with the books is that I devoured it.  My eyes couldn't move fast enough when I really wanted to slow down and savor every exquisite sentence.  I rarely say a book is phenomenal, but Taylor's novels are a combination of everything I look for in a good book: originality, well developed characters and plot, tight writing with beautiful language, believable actions and dialogue.  The only book Daughter can be compared to is the author's own Lips Touch Three Times.  Epic love.  Read it while you're waiting for the release date: September 27th.

Young Adult
432 pages
Advanced Readers Copy
Release date:  September 27, 2011
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Most Popular Book on the Beach, Unofficially

I just got back from a much needed vacation at the beach where I was able to do two of my favorite things.  Read and relax.   I lost myself in Harry Potter world, and whenever the heat got to bake my brain temperature, I'd walk in the surf, peeking at the books everyone else was reading.  Then I had an epiphany.  Or possibly heat stroke, I don't know which, but I decided to conduct unofficial research to find the most popular book on the beach!  Fun, right?  I could get friends and family to help.  NOT.

But I would not be deterred.  It was a good idea.  I slathered on SPF, put on my straw chapeau and set out on my own to gather information.   Of course, I didn't want to appear weird weirder than I am , so I tried to be sleuthy and non-chalant about it which is really difficult when you're the only one on the beach craning, squinting and stooping to read book titles.  Adding to the difficulty, the author's name often appears much larger on the cover than the title.  My research lasted only a few miles (I wasn't wearing a watch) but I still think the findings are fun.

Beach reads are often considered light reading.  Most books were paperback, and I only saw two eReaders.  James Patterson, Amanda Quick, Tess Gerritsen, Anita Shreve and Fern Michael's were uber popular.  One person was reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as I was.  Two people were reading Game of Thrones by George Martin.  I saw Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Impulse by Ellen Hopkins.  I spied Helter Skelter, the story of the Manson murders, under the same umbrella with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  One person was reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

But which title did I glimpse most often?  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins takes the lead with a whopping eight adult readers.

With filming of The Hunger Games underway, excitement over the series hasn't waned.  Its fan base is increasing.   Check out this awesome Hunger Games youtube video.  I'm not ashamed to admit I burst into tears.  It's not the actors in the actual movie, but it's professionally made.  I can't wait.

So what'd you think of the video?  What book did you take on vacation this summer?

Be well, and happy reading,
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