Suffice it to say, I won't be continuing the series.
Tempest Review Placeholder
Though this picture does pretty much sum up how I felt about The Tempest by Julie Cross, I will be writing more about the book. I just won't be doing it right now.
Suffice it to say, I won't be continuing the series.
Yay for another book giveaway! I've been lax about posting a new Triviadventure every week but my sloth-like qualities are your gain because now I am giving away a box of 12 books. Because it will be rather heavy, I have to do US only.
Oh, and the winners of the New Zealand Triviadventure from eons ago were Maja C. and Lisa O. (two of my favorite Europeans!) Congrats, lovelies!
1) Who doesn't love a bit of incest? (kidding!) This book, set in England, features a large family including siblings named Tiffin, Kit, Willa, Maya and Lochan and a *cough* over-the-line romance.
ANSWER: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
2) The lesson from this book is this: If you are ever thinking of living in the wilderness in Alaska, BE PREPARED...and definitely know which foods are edible in nature. (hint: the author is Jon Krakauer.)
ANSWER: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
3) Anjelica Huston creeps the hell out of me in the movie of this book. Written by Roald Dahl, this children's classic was illustrated by Quentin Blake and includes children being turned into mice.
ANSWER: The Witches by Roald Dahl
4) This is a novella based in Orson Scott Card's Enderverse. In this book, the kids at Battle School are in a tizzy about celebrating (or not celebrating) holidays.
ANSWER: War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card
5) This is the first book in the Steve Vail series by Noah Boyd. In this installment, a criminal group is blackmailing the FBI.
ANSWER: The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd
6) A movie based on this book was recently released with Kristen Scott Thomas playing the lead. The plot involves a woman who moves into an apartment in Paris and tries to find out what happened to the family that lived there during WWII.
ANSWER: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
7) This book is based on the ballad "Scarborough Fair." Written by Nancy Werlin, the plot involves date rape, teen pregnancy, and much more.
ANSWER: Impossible by Nancy Werlin
8) This is the first in a series about a family of private investigators. It was first published in 2007 and the audiobook was narrated by Ari Graynor. (but I have the regular book.)
ANSWER: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
9/10) These two books are the first two in a series by Melissa de la Cruz. Vampires! In New York City!
ANSWER: Blue Bloods and Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz
11) I wish I could just say "this is my favorite children's book" and call it a day. Alas, I have to be more informative. This is a mystery whodunit where all the people trying to solve the mystery are tenants in an apartment building. The author of the book also illustrates books and illustrated a Christmas book by Dylan Thomas.
ANSWER: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
12) Written by Ann Patchett, this book is about a party in South America where terrorists take everyone hostage.
ANSWER: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This Triviadventure is open until October 4th at 9pm PST. (2 weeks!) The winner will be picked by www.random.org and I will notify him/her within 24 hours. Only trivia entries with all correct answers will be considered. (Edit: I decided to accept up to one incorrect answer due to the number of entries with wrong answers) You must be a follower to enter. Extra entries for comments, following on Twitter and/or Facebook, and spreading the word. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! (or write them in your trivia answers box) Good luck!
CONTEST CLOSED. The winner is Penny B.!
Short Story Roundup
When I originally posted my review of Mark Twain's A Telephonic Conversation on Goodreads, I had just had a long phone conversation that absolutely lent itself to a one-sided rehash. Since that time, I've had several more. I was speaking to the same person today and we talked about how to make olive oil, going apple picking in Wisconsin, and airport security, among other things. I think I would be interested in reading an entire blog of phone conversations. Almost like Overheard in New York and its ilk, only all one-sided phone conversations.
A few weeks ago, I did a week-long read-a-thon. During that time, I found a bunch of short stories to up my count. I couldn't be happier about that decision, as it totally put me onto Connie Willis and Kurt Vonnegut. Speaking of Vonnegut, I recently found a website about correspondence. (Letters of Note) One of the most popular entries is a letter from Kurt Vonnegut to his family after he was a prisoner of war during WWII. I doubt anyone had any questions about Vonnegut's skill as a writer before that point but as someone who has (a bit embarrassingly, if I'm being honest) not read too much of his work before, I was amazed at his letter-writing skills. I'll definitely be making my way through everything he's written.
Here's what I wrote about Mark Twain's A Telephonic Conversation:
Oh Samuel Clemens, you are hilarious. Mostly because I also love hearing one-sided phone conversations. I make fun of my mother all the time because she tells everyone that her email address is "MY FIRST NAME DOT MY LAST NAME AT GMAIL DOT COM."
Here's a typical one-sided conversation that could've heard me say the other day:
An armadillo? Where were you?
Ha! That's so amazing. The Amish horse looked you straight in the eye?
No, I know you hate movies that came out before 1985.
I guess in October. In Chicago?
I'm glad you have my life goals in mind.
"Annnd I miiiiis youuuuu, like the deserts miiiiss the raaain."
Did you see Tots & Tiaras the other day?
OMG, I know. She totally messed up on her tot walk. And that one lady that was eating drywall afterward?!
I'm not saying you like The Arcade Fire.
Yeah, well I hate you sometimes too.
Now that I think about it, this is a pretty typical phone conversation for me. Anyway, my point is that one-sided phone conversations were ridiculous even at the turn of the century. Mark Twain was just a trendsetter like that.
Read the one-sided conversation that was inflicted on him while he was trying to write here.
And of Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron:
This short story takes about 5 minutes to read and it is absolutely worth it. It is set in a society where, in an effort to make everyone equal, anyone who is above average in any respect is given mechanisms or hindrances by the government to suppress whatever it is they can do. If they are mentally gifted, the Handicapper General (It was written in 1961) gives them an earpiece which plays annoying noises when they are thinking. If a person is attractive, they are forced to wear masks.
The story focuses on a couple and their son, Harrison, who excels at nearly everything and, as such, is covered with more hindrances than any other citizen. At the risk of this review taking you longer to read than the story, I'll stop there. Go read it at http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison...
And Kurt Vonnegut's 2BRO2B:
Man, this was bleak. It is set in a future world where aging can be halted and the average age is somewhere around 130. Because people are living much longer and the planet's resources are depleted, the government keeps the US population at 40 million. The Federal Bureau of Termination provides several ways for people to die if they'd like to give up their life for a newborn. One man is at the hospital waiting for his wife to give birth to triplets, but he doesn't have enough volunteers to die so he'll have to make a choice. Like I said, totally bleak.
Read it here.
Or get it for free on Kindle here.
That's all for now, folks. I'm trying to get back into the blogging swing o' things. I know I've gotten some great recommendations on Goodreads for other short stories but if anyone stumbles upon this blog post, let me know if you have any favorites!
All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication Date: 9/6/11
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
This book was a total air ball for me. The premise sounded so fun— a futuristic society with a Prohibition-era-type ban on chocolate,a black market run by mobster families, and a teenage heir to the family empire. MURDERS! POISONING! Boredom? Boredom. Oh, and tepid romance and a selfish MC. Imagine all the places this book could’ve gone. Yeah, that’s right, I’m thinking total badass teenage girl threatening her way across NYC and putting her dysfunctional family business back in order. (I mean, wouldn’t it be totally normal to have a Boondock Saints type situation in a YA book? No?) I enjoyed several of Zevin’s other books (Elsewhere, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac) but reading this book made me want to go back and reread them to see if they were read by delusional version of myself.
I found it rather annoying that the narrative would stop every once in a while for the narrator to speak to the reader. Dear reader, if you are reading this review, you might notice that it is mostly personal feelings about the book with absolutely no objectivity. See how annoying that is? Another thing: this book dragged. So many plot points just kept coming up, and up, and up, and WE FREAKING GOT IT ALREADY, ANYA. You don’t want your brother to work at the Pool. Check. You and Win really like each other but you shouldn’t be together. CHECK. You run the household because Leo can’t—we seriously got that point the first four times it was mentioned. (note: I was reading an ARC of this so perhaps the editor realized the repetition and remedied the situation before publication. *crosses fingers*)
The beginning of the book was promising. I went into it with the attitude that it was ridiculous to have chocolate be illegal and to have a black market for it. Funnily enough, I was on board rather quickly. The setup was fun and I was ready to see where the story would go. The answer? Basically nowhere. At one point in the story, Anya ends up in a detention center. I was evilly tapping my fingers together at the prospects. I don’t want to spoiler it but if you’ve been paying attention, I’m pretty sure you know what happens. (Answer: Um, not too much) Reading about the justice system was really frustrating--evidently in this future, due process rights are just tossed out the window. And the eeeending. At least there was no cliffhanger.
The thing about this book is that if it lost at least 70 pages, stopped repeating itself, and maintained a single narrator, I might’ve given it four stars. Anya was an annoying and self-centered character but there was potential there. I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I’m interested enough to read the next book in the series. Let me know what happens.
Author: Connie Willis
Publication Date: 6/05
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Connie Willis is the master of the science fiction novella, from seminal efforts such as "Blued Moon," "Fire Watch," "The Last of the Winnebagos," and beyond. "Inside Job" takes its place on that permanent shelf, a tale of spiritualists, séances, skeptics, and a love that just might be able to rise about it all.
You might like this book if: You’re a skeptic, you get depressed by this, you know a lot (or a little) about the Scopes Trial, you think séances, channeling, and psychics are a bit of a joke, you love Connie Willis, you are making your way through all the Hugo Award Winners (best novella), you can laugh at yourself for at least thinking once or twice of ordering stuff off of infomercials, or you like H.L. Mencken quotes.
You probably won’t like this book if: You are a creationist, you believe that séances, channeling, and psychics are NOT a bit of a joke, or you don’t like Connie Willis.
Plot in a sentence: A man who runs a skeptic magazine and his Lady Bountiful partner attempt to uncover one of those people who charge hundreds of dollars to contact the ghosts of your loved ones and other fascinating jazz like that.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A.S. King
Publication Date: 10/12/10
Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.
Vera Dietz is a good person. This book is like watching Vera in the gallows being pelted with tomatoes until she is finally released to go on her way. Her lifelong best friend Charlie just passed away under somewhat mysterious circumstances, the town blames him for something which tarnishes his reputation, and Vera is being harassed by some of her schoolmates. The thing about Vera, and I absolutely loved her as a character, is that she just deals with it. She is angry with Charlie, she hates him and she loves him and she realizes it is possible to feel both of those feelings at the same time. She resents all the choices that he made that led up to his death and she resents herself for not doing something more to help him.
Vera’s father has been raising her as a single dad since his wife skipped town. The narration, which skips between Vera, her father, Charlie, and even a town architectural landmark, lets us know that the main characters are all worried about being foregone conclusions. Are we all destined to be like our parents or what everyone tells us we’ll become? I truly hope not, not because my parents aren’t lovely people but because that would be a sad state of affairs. Vera’s father Ken struggles with Vera drinking because he is an alcoholic. Vera worries about becoming like her absent mother. Charlie worried about becoming an abuser like his father. We all worry about something.
I can absolutely see why this book was a Printz Honor pick. Vera’s voice is very matter-of-fact but her contemplations and commentary were funny at times, poignant at others, and she keeps a level-head for almost the entire book. She deals with her missteps while still trying to figure out how to grieve for her best friend who was mostly lost to her even before he died. I’m reading another book right now where someone has just passed away (Minding Frankie) and a character talks about that saying that a person remembered through memories or mentions is never truly gone. Or how Jacob Coote tells Josie Alibrandi that he dealt with his mother’s death by crying at the memories until one day, he could smile or laugh at them. (Looking for Alibrandi) This book takes place before Vera has come to terms with the loss but by the end, it was clear that she was no longer using a band-aid to cover up a gaping wound.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz was very successful in audio format. The narrator’s Vera was perfect and I appreciated the fact that male narrators pitched in for the points in the story not narrated by Vera. I’m curious whether the descriptions of flow charts in the narration were actually flow chart images in the book so maybe someone who knows can chime in with an answer. I would absolutely recommend it in this format.
I’m excited to check out A.S. King’s upcoming Everybody Sees The Ants. After reading a review that said it had similar themes, I’m hoping that it will be sufficiently different but retain a similar tone. This one was sad but weirdly hopeful.