Mar 31, 2012

Book Trailers (12)

And off we go!

A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford


This trailer is sufficiently creepy - creepy enough to make me interested in Clifford's books, which I had never been interested before. The music and the visuals are paired perfectly together. Plus Chelsea's in it, so of course I approve.

Legend by Marie Lu


Oh deer lord. The cheese factor is so high - the music, the voice-over, the intense contrasting dramatic battle. It makes me want to read it less because of the cheese. It comes across like a bad movie!


What do you think about these two, hmmm?

Mar 30, 2012

Feature Friday: Bookcases (72)

Who said storage had to be boring?

Remember how I have that obsession with hidden doors and bookcases that hide doors or whatever you want to call them? It's actually possible to have one that isn't pre-built into the house!




I will never be able to afford this in a million kajillion years - it's $3000 from Opulent Items - but I want it! And it would be the best way to have an office. Hide from the world behind a bookcase!

Friday Fronts - Gravity



I love love love the simplicity of this cover. I mean, the picture itself is absolutely stunning. Beautiful colors, image, everything.

And the title is beautifully framed and colored and the font is chosen well. Same for the author.

I just wish they'd get rid of the silly slogan in the middle!

Mar 29, 2012

Gone Reading, Charity Work & Discounts

Gone Reading is a lovely company that does book themed items and donates all of their profits to charity!

Gone Reading International donates 100% of our after-tax profits to provide new funding for libraries and reading-centered non-profits.

They reached out the other day to see if I would be interested in blogging about them to you lovely people, and why ever not!? They make designer bookmarks, book journals, bookplates, book lights for e-readers and printed books, games about books, and shirts.


Code: WORDFORTEENS25


They also gave you lovely readers over here at WORD a coupon that expires on April 13! It's good for 25% off of any purchases at www.GoneReading.com (except the bookends). Anybody can use the code, too! Share it all you want! Whoopee!

Mar 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Riese Kingdom Falling

Because we all have something we're waiting for.

Riese: Kingdom Falling
Author: Greg Cox
Series: Riese (?)
Release Date: 12 June 2012

Riese has never been happy as a princess; she’d much rather be hunting or fighting than sitting through another lesson on court etiquette. When she meets Micah, a wandering artist with a mysterious past, she pretends to be a peasant—it’s a chance to be just a normal girl with a normal boy for a while. But with war decimating her once-proud nation and the sinister clockwork Sect infiltrating her mother’s court, Riese’s moments with Micah are the only islands of sanity left in a world gone mad. As her kingdom falls and the Sect grows ever stronger, will Riese remain true to her duty as a princess…or risk everything on a boy she barely knows?

It's based on a SyFy web series, and I might have to hunt that down now, because it sounds fantastic! I'm all for steampunk and courts and badass female characters, so I think I need this one on my list.

What do you think? Have you seen the SyFy web series?

Mar 27, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Adult High Fantasy Novels

Okay, this isn't an official TTT post, but I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while now. I know a lot of you lovely people tend to stick to young adult literature, but there is a whole beautiful genre of adult high fantasy - series and stand-alone books - that I've been exploring since I was 11. Yes, 11. I was a strange child.

Here are my top ten recommendations for adult high fantasy (slash fantasy/sci-fi), and I do hope you check some of them out!


10. The Wheel of Time series
Author: Robert Jordan

Add it on Goodreads!

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Why?: The Wheel of Time series is absolutely huge and unless you have oodles of free time and a strange dedication to really long series with a huge cast of characters, I wouldn't recommend it. However, the world is oh-my-god amazing, and some of the characters are absolutely fantastic; I keep reading just to know what's happening with them. Besides, I want to BE an Aes Sedai.


09. The DragonRiders of Pern series
Author: Anne McCaffrey

Add it on Goodreads!

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .

Why?: This is another series that has a lot of books, but if you just stick to the main ones - the DragonRiders of Pern (Dragonflight, Dragonquest, The White Dragon), the Harper Hall trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums), All The Weyrs of Pern and The MasterHarper of Pern, you get a great snapshot of a beautifully crafted fantasy/sci-fi world.


08. The Riftwar saga
Author: Raymond E. Feist

Add it on Goodreads!

To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry. Yet Pug's strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to being again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.

Why?: I'm not the biggest fan of this series - I much prefer the spin-off series, mentioned below - but it still is a fantastic example of high fantasy. The characters and the world are interesting (but still nothing compared to the spin-off series). Definitely worth reading.


07. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Author: N.K. Jemisin

Add it on Goodreads!

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together

Why?: It took me a little while to understand the workings of the world in this book, but once I did, man, did I fall in love with it! I devoured it quickly - the plot is awesome and the characters are badass.


06. Wizard's First Rule
Author: Terry Goodkind

Add it on Goodreads!

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher's forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.

In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them--for reasons Richard can't imagine and Kahlan dare not say.

In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword--to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.

This is the beginning. One book. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend.

Why?: I started reading the second book and couldn't get into it, but man, this book is absolutely fantastic. This is what sparked the Legend of the Seeker tv series, and it's even better than that first season is. (Again, couldn't get into the second season. Hmmmm.) But two reasons to win: Zed and Kahlan. They're just the most fantastic. Mainly Kahlan. I love me some Kahlan.


05. Through Wolf's Eyes
Author: Jane Lindskold

Add it on Goodreads!

Firekeeper only vaguely remembers a time when she didn't live with her "family," a pack of "royal wolves"-bigger, stronger, and smarter than normal wolves. Now her pack leaders are sending her back to live among the humans, as they promised her mother years ago.

Some of the humans think she may be the lost heir to their throne. This could be good-and it could be very, very dangerous. In the months to come, learning to behave like a human will turn out to be more complicated than she'd ever imagined.

But though human ways might be stranger than anything found in the forest, the infighting in the human's pack is nothing Firekeeper hasn't seen before. That, she understands just fine. She's not your standard-issue princess-and this is not your standard-issue fairy tale.

Why?: I've read this book about six times since I first picked it up when I was 13, and I still love it every time I read it; maybe it's my love of wolf-related things coming out, but there's something absolutely fantastical about it.


04. Restoree
Author: Anne McCaffrey

Add it on Goodreads!

She was a restoree.

She'd been kidnapped -- torn from Earth by a bizarre and nameless black force. Sara had no idea where she was or why she was in a beautiful new body...

She'd been enslaved -- controlled by brutal guards and tamed by terror. She could not comprehend her role as a nurse for a man who appeared to be an idiot...

She'd been awakened. But once she discovered that the planet she had been brought to was Lothar and that the man she was caring for was its Regent, Sara knew they had to escape -- and fast.

And when they did, they became fugitives on a world of multiple evils -- bound together on a daring adventure that would either join them for all time... or separate them forever!

Why?: Shameless high fantasy romance love. Like all of McCaffrey's books, it could be argued that this is sci-fi, but they all walk a fine line - the science in her worlds just aren't strong enough to be pure sci-fi. And I love this book. It's just... strangely... romantic. And awesome.


03. The Hythrun Chronicles
Author: Jennifer Fallon

Add it on Goodreads!

he small country of Medalon lies between the vast nation of Karien in the north and the nations of Fardohnya and Hythria in the south. For centuries the Medalonians co-existed peacefully with the Harshini, a magical race that abhors killing. But now they are gone and in their place the Sisters of the Blade rule Medalon from the Citadel. An elite army of Defenders enforces the Sisterhood's oppressive rule. The Harshini and their demons are believed to be extinct and Medalon has an uneasy peace with its northern and southern neighbours.

R'shiel Tenragan, daughter of the First Sister, and her half-brother Tarja find themselves caught up in the political infighting amongst the Sisters of the Blade. When their mother's scheming becomes too much to bear, R'shiel and Tarja are determined to follow their own path and they flee the Citadel. Their lives take a turn neither could ever have imagined and the Defenders of Medalon hunt them as traitors.

Meanwhile, far south in Hythria, Brak, a Harshini outcast, is called to find the demon child, the half-human child of the dead Harshini King, Lorandranek. But what can this mean to R'shiel...?

Why?: I don't love this series for the main characters so much I do the world and the side characters. I think the Gods are absolutely fantastic and that some of the side characters (including a certain character that doesn't get introduced until book two, no spoilers!) are beautifully crafted. They're what make the story so very good.


02. Dragon Jousters series
Author: Mercedes Lackey

Add it on Goodreads!

...a richly conceived, fully realized vision, inspired by the culture of ancient Egypt, the legends of Atlantis--and the science of animal behavior and biology. This is how dragons would live, breed, hatch, hunt, and bond.

The first book in this thrilling new series introduces readers to a young slave who dreams of becoming a Jouster--one of the few warriors who can actually ride a flying dragon. And so, in secret, he begins to raise his own dragon.

Why?: ALL THE DRAGON LOVE! I love this take on how dragons would live and breathe and interact and how humans would treat them and how they'd be used and it's just lovely and fantastic. A quick read, too, and easily rereadable!


01. The Empire trilogy
Author: Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Add it on Goodreads!

Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan. Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni. While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir. Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival. But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy. Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all--in his own impregnable stronghold. An epic tale of adventure and intrigue. Daughter of the Empire is fantasy of the highest order by two of the most talented writers in the field today.

Why?: This is the story that takes place in the alternate world being fought in Feist's Riftwar saga and oh-my-Oz, this book is fantastic - this entire series is fantastic. The characters, the plots, the politics, the world: if I had to pick any adult fantasy series to read over and over again, this might be it.



What about you? Have you read any of them?

Mar 26, 2012

Weetzie Bat

Weetzie Bat
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Series: Weetzie Bat (#1)
Publisher: HarperCollins
How Received: bought

In her stunning debut, Francesca Lia Block has created a wild, sophisticated fairy tale. She invites us into a magical world where love really does manage to conquer all.
Buy | Borrow | Brush Off

I understand that this is one of the first works of fantastical realism in young adult literature; I understand that it plays on a poetic kind of fiction writing; I understand that it's Block's first work.

But damn it, it reads like bad fanfiction.

Simple (bordering on childish) sentence structure, weird plot points, absurd humor. Things that happen that should bring about some character development but instead are just used as a plot point to bring characters to another scene or another conclusion.

For instance, take this section. I'm all for not even blinking an eye when character's are gay, but it's just a great example of this weird kind of writing style:

"Weetzie, I have something to tell you," Dirk said.
"What?"
"I have to wait till we get to the Odyssey."
At the Odyssey, Weetzie and Dirk bought a pack of cigarettes and two Cokes. Dirk poured rum from the little bottle he kept in his jacket pocket into the COkes. They say next to the d.j. booth watching the Lanka girls in spandy-wear dancing around.
"What were you going to tell me?" Weetzie asked.
"I'm gay," Dirk said.
"Who, what, when, where, how-well, not how," Weetzie said. "It doesn't matter one bit, honey-honey," she said, giving him a hug.
Dirk took a swig of his drink. "But you know I'll always love you the best and think you are a beautiful, sexy girl," he said.
"Now we can Duck hunt together," Weetzie said, taking his hand.

I just - I - what?

It just reads, to me, like something I'd find in the dark corners of a fanfiction website.

Final Comments: Not my kind of writing style at all. Not at all.

Mar 24, 2012

Thoughts On: Mockingjay

I've heard a lot of complaints about Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. I've heard that it's too fast-paced, too many deaths, too much unnecessary gruesome, that Katniss is too focused on killing and surviving and not focused on emotional growth or something stupid like that.

But mainly that there are two many deaths.

You know what? Have a Suzanne Collins quote.

This is not a fairy tale. It’s a war, and in war, there are tragic losses that must be mourned.

Yes, lovelies, this is a series about a war. It's not like the Harry Potter series, where the focus of the story is about the triumph of love over hatred. (Though I think anybody who argues that the deaths at the end of Harry Potter were unnecessary is stupid, because that is also the end of a war, and people die.) This is about the fact that people die for no reason, or for stupid reasons, or for great reasons.

People die in Mockingjay not because it's convenient for a story, or emotional development for the main character, or important to some overarching plot point.

People die because-people die! That's what people do!*

And to anybody who would have preferred a neat happy endings, or that everybody survived, or that there were less deaths, or neater deaths, or more dignified deaths, or better deaths - this is war. Nobody ever gets what they deserve, and that's always why the war needs to end.

If you don't understand that, then you might not have understood the point of the series.


*"Sherlock"? Anybody?

Mar 23, 2012

Feature Friday: Bookcases (71)

Who said storage had to be boring?





Yeah, I've got a think with secret bookcase doors. But just look at it! It's so cool!

I like the table that's on the inside, too - it makes me think that there's a wedding inside, and people can only get to it by finding and going through the secret bookcase door.

... okay, maybe I do want a wedding after all.

What do you think?

Originally featured on Tumblr.

Friday Fronts - The Darkest Minds



The cover for Alexandra Bracken's new novel The Darkest Minds was just released, and I'm excited because, um, Alexandra Bracken's new novel!

But I'm a little disappointed at the cover. I love that they went with a symbol rather than the stereotypical pretty-dead-girl-in-a-dress (because, let's face it, they use that cover when it's not even relevant for the book anymore). But there's nothing particularly outstanding about this cover.

It reminds me of Halloween.

I'd glance at it, perhaps, on a shelf, but if I hadn't seen it before, I probably wouldn't snag it.

What do you think?

Mar 22, 2012

Young Adult Literature: The Class (Day 7)

"Being jumped and nearly stabbed... all in a [normal] day for Ponyboy."

Spoilers ahead for S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders.


The first thing I learned in class: despite knowing the Socs are pronounced like the first half of the word "social," it is possible to slip up and pronounce it like "sock." It is also awfully embarrassing when you do so, so if you do, make sure the point you were trying to make is much more impressive than when you slip up.

And yes, that was the mistake I made in my first comment in class. ... whoops.



Class really kicked off with looking at the opening clip of the Outsiders movie - yes, yes, the full movie's on YouTube - and then accidentally ending up in a heated ten minute debate about books v. e-books. (Both have their benefits, but yes, us bibliomaniacs like touching real paper.)

But once we got back on track, we wanted to talk about something important regarding The Outsiders: why so canonical?

To figure that out, we took a look at the opening paragraph:

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman - he looks touch and I don't - but I guess my own looks aren't so bad. I have light-brown, almost-red hair and greenish-gray eyes. I wish they were more gray, because I hate most guys that have green eyes, but I have to be content with what I have. My hair is longer than a lot of boys wear theirs, squared off in back and long at the front and sides, but I am a greaser and most of my neighborhood rarely bothers to get a haircut. Besides, I look better with long hair.

We took a few minutes to dissect his character: Ponyboy comes across quite humble, or at least he tries to be. He supplements whatever he sees as negative with knowledge that he can't change it (though his vanity does come across later when they're forced to cut his hair).

He also comes across as more of a story-telling voice. He seems to have a "deeper," more introspective insight into the world around him. Part of that power of observation is instilled in him - if he isn't aware of what's around him, the Socs might appear and kick his ass. He's more aware of the world in a way that, say, Angie from Seventeenth Summer isn't. (Ponyboy is much closer to Holden from Catcher in the Rye in terms of young adult canonical literature than he is to Angie. Both boys us the pastoral trope and both boys connect to poems.)

"Angie has what you guys might call 'first world problems.' Ponyboy actually has to worry about survival from day to day!

Not only is there a strong character voice, but "[t]his story borrows some tropes, some techniques, that have been around much longer than Hinton has." We discussed the pastoral trope in the last post - Holden is obsessed with it in Catcher in the Rye, and Ponybody and Johnny actually go out and are 'reborn' as heroes in the country side - but Hinton touches on many more.

There is, of course, the adventure/quest narrative, which traces back to Odysseus and medieval romances. There's no denying that The Outsiders follows an adventure/quest of some sort.

Then, of course, there's the "narrative of eternal emnity." You know those stories: where two groups of people are eternally at odds forever, despite having more in common then they would originally think.





There's also the ideology of the Byronic hero. The Byronic hero is, in quick terms, your traditional bad boy. Now, our professor made a giant slide show about this and the history of the Byronic hero and Byron himself, but since I can't pull all of the slides for you guys, here are the most important points. (Also Batman.)





In the book, Cherry sees Dallas as a Byronic hero. I don't think Ponyboy is one - he's too kind for that - but it could be argued.

And last but not least, Hinton uses the bilsdungroman, or the coming-of-age novel. (Coincidence that this is one of the most commonly used tropes in young adult literature? I think not!)

The talk of the bilsdungroman and the adventure/quest narrative kicked off a discussion about the lack of parents in some young adult literature. Angie has parents in Seventeenth Summer, and they acted as a safety net. If she messed up, they'd be there to help.

But in Catcher in the Rye, Holden's parents are absent for most of the novel, and in The Outsiders, Ponyboy's parents are dead. We think it has to do with the gradual shift of child to adult. If parents are present in the literature, there's a safety net; the stakes aren't as high in the social sphere. You're still coddled - it's only after you leave your parents that you become an adult. It's a gradual shift. Meanwhile, without parents, you're all BAM! suddenly stuck in adult situations, but you still have to grow. It makes things different.

Don't worry, we're not done with The Outsiders yet - we still have to talk about violence in the novel and the connection that Ponyboy has to other people!

Question(s) for the comments:
We also looked briefly at this MTV article on how the Harry Potter movies were snubbed for an Oscar - and the hope that The Hunger Games won't be. What do you think?

What do you think about the theory of parents in ya novels? Do parents, in some ways, hold the story back by providing a safety net? Or is it more of a reflection on how life actually is?

Did you miss a class?
(Syllabus)
(Day 1)
(Day 2)
(Day 3)
(Day 4)
(Day 5)
(Day 6)

Mar 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Sapphire Blue

Because we all have something we're waiting for.


Sapphire Blue
Author: Kerstin Gier
Series: Edelstein Trilogie (#2)
Release Date: 30 October 2012

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean. At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out

I adored the first book in this series enough that I've reread it and kept my copy - both rare things for me nowadays. I'm excited to see what happens next. (Also, did I mention the lack of a love triangle!? Squeegiggle.)

Seriously, though; Ruby Red was of the best sci-fi/fantasy novels I've encountered in a while, so I'm excited to see in which direction the sequel goes.

Also, cover lust!

Mar 20, 2012

The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London (#1)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
How Received: borrowed

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London, it's the start of a new life at a boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Buy | Borrow | Brush Off

After derping around with a friend's copy of this for a few months, I finally got around to reading it on a sick day - and I'm glad I finally picked it up!

The Name of the Star is a quick paranormal romp through the streets of London, filled with unexpected twists and turns and entertaining character (of both this world and the Otherworld). The story itself is fairly fast-paced and pretty easy to zoom through in one sitting.

I liked the charismatic cast of characters - Rory herself was strong and witty; "Jack" was mildly terrifying and somehow mildly hilarious; the wide range of side-characters were beautifully fleshed out and well crafted. Not gonna lie, though: Jazza wins as my favorite character. She reminds me of me.

Thankfully, characters are where Maureen seems to shine - I haven't met a character of hers I haven't liked or thought was poorly executed. This may be because Maureen herself is a bit of a character. But hey, gotta love it.

Overall Rating & Final Comments: 9/10. Solid paranormal romp, fast-moving plot, and great characters.
For a bonus tidbit: Read the acknowledgements, because Maureen is always funniest when she's just being herself.

Mar 19, 2012

Fan Trailer: The Theatre Illuminata series

I have this really bad habit of making fan trailers when I should be, you know, doing homework.

So you should validate my decision to be a really poor student by watching my fan trailer for Lisa Mantchev's fantabulous Theatre Illuminata series (Eyes Like Stars, Perchance to Dream and So Silver Bright.)



You can check out my other fan trailers and vlogs over at my YouTube channel.

Mar 17, 2012

Young Adult Literature: The Class (Day 6)

"Holden is totally obsessed with Allie and Allie's death."

Spoilers ahead for J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.

We took a look at analyzing Catcher in the Rye from three different viewpoints: a political, a psychological, and an ecocritical lens.

Political:
Professor had us read a NY Times opinion piece called "How To Fight the Man." (You can read it here.) Brooks believes that, in order to effectively rebel against a society, you need to align yourself to a previously created ideology in order to give your rebellion more strength.

If we're looking at Catcher from a political point of view, Holden would be a very ineffective rebel, despite his clear dislike of the society around him. He would see aligning with something created by adults as "selling out" or being a "phony."

This is one of the reasons he still comes across as a childlike character despite being nearly full-grown. He clings to the ideologies of childhood and doesn't interact with others. Because interacting with others and learning about their ideologies is how a person determines their own ideologies and beliefs, Holden can't figure out his own until he truly interacts with others.

Suddenly that isolationism based tendency doesn't seem as awesome, does it?


Psychological:
I can't help but agree with Professor that Holden is completely obsessed with Allie's death. Out of all of the stages of grief, he seems trapped at the anger stage - possibly because he didn't get to go to Allie's funeral.

He often describes himself as being "depressed," "lonely" or "sad" and openly admits that he uses thoughts of Allie to pull himself out of those ideologies. He associates those thoughts with Allie, which sucks.

His younger sister Phoebe ends up acting as a mini-therapist with Holden during their interactions at the end of the novel. She forces him to confront Allie's death, and once he does that he even acknowledges the potential of the future - even if he actively resists it.

It goes back to last week's assumption that Holden is depressed. It seems to fit the bill.

Ecocritical:
This is my personal favorite viewpoint for Catcher, simply because I love looking at the pastoral things in literature. (I'm writing an essay on it for this class!)

Ecocritical readings of texts means taking texts from an ecological (environmental) point of view and seeing how the landscape shapes the text and the functions of the landscape and so on and so forth.

Catcher seems to use the pastoral trope. Pastoral is a rural old-worldy country literary trope that idealizes country life.








It's quite popular in many things (including McDonald's commercials) and is used often in Catcher. He repeats how he wants to live in the woods or in the country; he idolizes his time in Maine with Jane; even his choice of poem dwells on his ideology of the country.

This probably has to do with his craving for innocence, even if the country isn't actually a more innocent place. It's still fun to look at!

Worthwhile Quotes from the Readings:
Brooks, "How To Fight The Man" [link]

Most professors would like their students to be more rebellious and argumentative. But rebellion without a rigorous alternative vision is just a feeble spasm.

Question for the comments:
In the book, Holden thinks his former schoolteacher ("Ani") is hitting on him. Did you think he was actually trying to hit on him or was he just predisposed to homophobia?

Did you miss a class?:
(Syllabus)
(Day 1)
(Day 2)
(Day 3)
(Day 4)
(Day 5)

Mar 16, 2012

Feature Friday: Bookcase (70)

Who said storage had to be boring?




How fabulous is this? It's dynamic to watch, and it allows for an easy way to keep authors together while keeping series or genres apart.

Also, it looks like your house is constantly an earthquake.

Friday Fronts - the Other series

When Karen Kincy's Other first came out, it won my award as favorite cover of that year.




There was something so classy about it. The model looked elegant; the bird wing was very subtly done; the background was interesting but didn't distract from the focus of the cover. The font choices were spot-on and the colors fantastic.

And then Bloodborn came out, and I made a strangled sound because they couldn't have chosen a more stereotypical cover.




It's like they're trying to blend in with the crowd! There's too much focus on the models - why are there two!? - and not enough background; there's a weird facial expression on the male model; there's no explanation as to why the entire right side of the male model's head is blurred.

And then they made it dark blue with a sad girl on the cover.

WHY DID THEY HAVE TO MAKE IT DARK BLUE WITH A SAD GIRL ON THE COVER!? I understand it's a werewolf novel, but could you be more stereotypical!?


And now Foxfire. And I want to cry, because I had hoped that they would redeem themselves after Bloodborn, but nope.




The photoshop on the ear is blatantly obvious - it's not properly sized to what it would be shaping into! - and it just isn't at all elegant. The background is blindingly bright and in focus and takes away from the model on the cover; it distracts from everything else in a terrible way. (It's not even that pretty of a background.) The placement of the title is okay, but the added fire stuff on top of everything else that's going on in the image is okay.


What happened, cover designers? Did you get bored after making such a pretty cover with Other!? Tell me! Because I am disappointed.

Mar 15, 2012

Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice
Author: Anonymous
Publisher: Aladdin
Series: ---
How Received: bought for class

January 24th. After you've had it, there isn't even life without drugs...

The harrowing true story of a teenager's descent into the seductive world of drugs. A diary so honest you may think you know Alice -- or someone like her. Read her diary. Enter her world. You'll never be able to forget Alice.
Buy | Borrow | Brush Off

I normally don't review books that I read for class, mainly because I tend to think in two different patterns - one when I'm reviewing, and one when I'm analyzing a text for all it's literary nuances and how it uses certain phrasing and whatnot.

And, for most of Go Ask Alice, I managed to keep in the thought process of of literary nuances and how it uses certain phrasing and whatnot. But the reviewer part of my brain was nagging me, going, "You would recommend Crank over this. You know you would and you know you know why."

And since I can never deny the reviewer half of me... I would recommend Ellen Hopkins' Crank over this.

It's not because Go Ask Alice lacks merit; I see why it would have transformed the world around it and so on and so forth when it was originally published.

But I don't think a lot of readers today, myself included, are going to be as aweshocked as they were back then. Not because we're exposed to more reading material like it, but damn it all if Alice didn't talk the same way every stereotypical drug addict from that time period ever talked.

I mean, I know stereotypes come for a reason, and I know it was a real diary and whatever, so it can't exactly be helped. But it borders on being cheesy at times - talking about The Establishment and the man in ways that drive me insane. It's part of that time period and she is young and that's how she thinks.

But I can't help but be annoyed by it. It just comes across a bit fake, even though they claim it's not.

Unfortunately, it is, of course; perhaps if it were a true story, I'd be able to deal. But despite how it's marketed, it is placed in the fiction section for a reason - it was written by two adult women. (When we talk about this in my ya lit class, I'll mention how that affects how people read it and so on and so forth, but really, it's just more annoying than anything.)

Final Comments: Read it for a look on the development of ya lit in history and if you're really into darker contemporary fiction, but I'd stay away otherwise. There are better reads with better character voices.

Have you read Go Ask Alice? What did you think?

Mar 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Kill Me Softly

Because we all have something we're waiting for.

Kill Me Softly
Author: Sarah Cross
Series: ---
Release Date: 10 April 2012

Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy-tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy-tale curses of their own ... brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

Let's face it; I thrive on fairy tale retellings. I need them in my television and my movies and my books. I adore them. Especially if they're based on Beauty and the Beast, which is one of my favorite fairy tales of all time.

So I definitley need this in my life.

Do you?

Mar 13, 2012

Top Ten Favorite (YA) Covers

When in doubt, talk about how much I'm a coverwhore! It's time for another Top Ten Tuesday. I'm sticking to YA covers, because if I didn't this post would be full of adult fantasy covers as well. I'm a sucker for those things.

And yes, I know this is a week late. Shhhhhh.

10. The Scorpio Races


I love the simplicity of this cover. It's beautiful.

09. Above



I love the cover for Above. The cover itself looks like a still from a beautiful movie, and I love how it ties into the book without being a complete scene from it. (Or maybe it is! I don't know; I haven't read Above yet.)

08. Matched



I don't like Matched as a book - something about love triangles and weak main characters, I think; I don't remember what - but this cover's simplicity makes me flail with love. The symbolism is great, too!

07. The Hunger Games series




The simplicity and the symbolism in these covers makes me flail viciously in writhing fits of love. The contrast in the colors is stunning. It makes me want all of these as posters. (One day, one day!)

06. The Firelight series



I absolutely adore these covers. The makeup is gorgeous, and I love how each of them represent a character important to the story. (I hear that the next one will be Az. I'm excited!)

05. Beauty Queens



This cover doesn't seem awesome until you realize that the bullets aren't bullets. They're lipstick. And it's awesome.

04. Wither



I love this cover. The photography itself is stunning, but the way each individual item - all relevant to the plot! - is highlighted and pulled together is amazing.

03. Nightshade



There's no words for how stunning I think this cover is. The color choice, the model, the flowers, the font - it's amazing. I don't understand why they redid the covers to that weird merging thing that looks like somebody took five minutes in Photoshop to do when they had this piece of artwork!

02. The Harry Potter series






This is another instance of beautiful artwork for book covers. I'm ridiculously happy that Scholastic never did movie covers for the books; they're all so beautiful and perfect as is. They capture the essence of each book, and I love that.

01. The Theatre Illuminata series




I adore these covers. Each of them depict a scene from the novels and they're so beautifully and artistically done. I can't help but adore them. Look at them! They're gorgeous!