Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

This book came out before I started it, but I took the galley (uncorrected proof) from Printz and read it. I loved it.

The plot revolves around sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, who lives in a not-too distant future in which a medical accident causes males to die at age twenty-five and females at twenty. And young women and girls are being snatched off the streets and sold as wives to polygamous mansions. Rhine is kidnapped and ends up with three other brides at the estate of Vaughn Ashby and his son Linden. And she plans to escape.

The prose was quite clear in this, and reminded me of that of The Hunger Games - not in a copious way, but in the sense that they are both well-written and both first-person present-tense. The story was clever, I thought, and I felt for Rhine throughout. I liked how she kept trying to escape and failing, or rather, how convinced I was she'd make it each time. Some really good methods, but you'll have to read the book to see that...and whether she escapes at all by the end. But this is the first of a series (the Chemical Garden trilogy), and I'll definitely want to see what happens next.

Final grade: A

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Poem: The Queen of Sprites

Her Majesty Queen Darkpetal
Of the sprites of Nimbling Wood
Has yet to ascend to full spritehood.
She must find her namesake,
A bird’s tooth, a snake’s eyelid,
And the marrow of a human
To become wholesome.
Created by a dragon’s tear
Striking a blue rose on summer solstice,
She is incomplete, but no sprite yet
Has become whole; she is the first of the kind,
And will become the first whole one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thoughts on the Hunger Games Movie Rumors

So far as I know, they are truly making it now and it is due in March of 2012. Someone I know said that March is a bad sign for something of this magnitude (the books are huge nowadays, if you didn't know), and I asked why. He proceeded to explain to me that movies aimed at minors tend to come out in the summer or late spring, while adult movies intending to score with critics tend to come out from November to January. Other areas are left for movies which don't expect to do well, or at least not to be Oscar winners. This concerns me. I try not to go to a movie these days unless I think it will be good, though I do sometimes see a film more than once if it's that enjoyable.

I've read the Hunger Games books, and I have my expectations. I was quite disappointed in the Eragon movie, although some bits in it were OK. But they butchered Paolini's novel and demolished chances for a sequel by killing off the wrong characters too soon. I remember many people not liking the Golden Compass film, but it's been so long since I read or saw The Golden Compass. And I still haven't read The Amber Spyglass, or The Return of the King.... Need to stop starting these series and start finishing them. Olivia says that many series tend to worsen over time, and I could see that: Ranger's Apprentice is supposed to be an exception, and I know Harry Potter is. I also seem to remember liking the later Spiderwick books and all of the Hunger Games novels: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. But I'm not going to waste my time trying Robert Jordan, whose books appear to take forever to come to a close - and I've also heard as such.

So. The Hunger Games film. I like the burning mockingjay logo I saw on a website, and I hear Suzanne Collins (the books' author) will be writing the screenplay, but it doesn't seem too confident if they decide to put it out in March. Come on, Lionsgate, have some conviction! It has also come to my attention that there will possibly be four movies. There are three books. I understand with Harry Potter, what with the huge last installment, and the rumors of The Dark Tower movie in 2013 or so, hell, even Breaking Dawn - I'm not a Twilight fan, but with all fairness, the last book is big - but each Hunger Games volume is under 400 pages! They're great, great books, but they are not huge like the others mentioned. Three movies will do, say I. This could be just a rumor; I don't know.

I'm going to read a blog from a long-lost friend now, here, but maybe I'll post in a bit. We'll see.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Writer vs. The Writing

"The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood." - Jean Cocteau

   You have clipped my wings
   And now I cannot fly.
   I am a lonely bird
   Imprisoned in this cage.

- "Clipped Wings" by me. I didn't think the poem was long enough for its own post, so I thought I'd include it here. Of course, it's also on Figment.

My Creative Writing teacher from this past school year made a post a while back (which I just discovered) about how a girl's parents were worried about her mental well-being due to her dark poetry and bloody stories. Mr. Nantz's reaction is equal to mine: while there is such a thing as artistic expression, what comes up on paper - or screen - by no means necessarily reflects the writer. I mean, has Thomas Harris been arrested for cannibalism? People often wonder if Stephen King is disturbed and/or insane. I even had a therapeutic instructor once who told me not to write dark things. I didn't listen, of course. She also said that she appreciates King from a distance; she would not go to his signing for fear of his slashing her throat. With all due respect to Miss Anonymous, that's codswallop. This is someone whom also believes that gays choose their sexuality and that it is wrong. I guess if she chooses to appreciate me, it will be from a distance.

Anyhow, I think it's good to be able to seamlessly blend expression with fictive feelings. After all, fiction is called fiction for a reason, and poetry can reflect fictional viewpoints. Mr. King is one of my all-time favorite writers, right up there with Jo Rowling and Mary Shelley, and I have no issue with him as a human being. I know that he once had a drinking problem, but that's not my business. That's one cost of fame: the whole world monitors your affairs.

Be yourself!
Daniel Cole Phelan
Lewis Mason Winter
Charles Evan Blackwood

Monday, July 18, 2011

Terrible Books

"Novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand." - Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

My friend Ara intentionally reads books that are awful and blogs about them. For the longest time I would read only books I thought I would like, and generally my predictions were accurate, with a few exceptions such as Twilight, Requiem: Poems from the Terezin Ghetto, and The Lightning Thief. But now, in order to season myself as the amateur critic that I am, I chose a poorly-reviewed book from Printz (Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma). It's about a brother and sister who fall in love, which in itself is odd. Could be a good book (not too far yet), but I only hope to whatever gods may or may not exist that it doesn't encourage incest. I still hope to read some other of the well-liked ones before this fall when endings are spoiled, but if I love everything I read, then what kind of critic am I? A person once told me I couldn't critique stuff properly. Of course the bloke was wrong, because he hardly enjoys any books and anyone who's a bit less cynical is apparently a softy.

If I've made any typos and left them, you must excuse me: I cut open my left thumb and index finger and am wearing plasters at the moment, which makes it hard to type.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Mossflower by Brian Jacques

This is a prequel to Redwall (which I reviewed a while back) and is the second book in the Redwall series. I loved the first one, as well as this one, but this one was less awesome than the first. Not to say it wasn't brilliant, but it just wasn't quite as brilliant.

The hero is a mouse called Martin the Warrior - a legend by the time the first book takes place - and when he travels to Mossflower country, he finds it ruled by the wildcat Tsarmina, Queen of the Thousand Eyes. Martin believes that to slay Tsarmina, he must find the mythical mountain of Salamandastron and meet the badger Boar the Fighter. It's got great description of landscapes and great-sounding food, as well as delightful characters such as the hares of Salamandastron and the mousethief Gonff.

But certain parts, such as Martin's and Bella of Brockhall's characters (Matthias and Constance), and the riddle-solving, seemed a little too close to Book One. I like it when series can produce something entirely new with each installment. Overall I liked it, however.

Final Grade: B

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Sorry I didn't post yesterday. Weird schedule. I think I've already talked about California, so instead I'll discuss my second wrock (wizard rock) concert.

I met Alex Carpenter and Jason Munday - among others - and the Blibbering Humdingers were in the audience. They're my favorite. I met some new people not in the bands, too. I don't remember all the songs, but "California Dorks" was awesome as always.

Short post due to short memory. Goodbye!

Love and hugs,

Saturday, July 2, 2011

California So Far

I am currently in San Francisco, City of the Golden Gates. Yesterday I saw my first wild sea lions and went through Chinatown, which had some awesome sword shops; today we visited Muir Woods and some lighthouse. The former was a lot less silent than it is supposed to be, what with the loud children passing through, but there were some really pretty redwoods. I took several photographs, which ought to speak for themselves if I can put them somewhere - maybe I ought to get an account on a photo-sharing site. We climbed these huge coastal crags covered in scrubby plant life and saw harbor seals at a distance. I like this state so far, other than the ridiculous traffic laws, and I might even consider living here someday. Maybe.

Anyhow, my computer is running really low on juice because the people who built the hotel didn't put in three-hole outlets.