Friday, September 30, 2011

Ender's Game Movie Trailer

YIPPEE! Ender's Game will be a movie sometime in the next year. LOVED this book!
This is a fan-made trailer:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

From one of the all-time bestselling authors of science fiction and fantasy writing comes an excellent resource for beginners or pros. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card covers topics such as the creation of worlds and alien societies and the use and rules of magic, topics specific to the genre. Learn creative science fiction and fantasy writing from one of the masters.

I don't know why it took me so long to get to this book. I love to learn more about this craft I've chosen. Card teaches The Mice Quotient: "All stories contain four elements that can determine structure:


While each is present in every story, there is generally one that dominates the others.
Which one dominates? The one that the author cares about most. this is why the process of discovering the structure of a story is usually a process of self-discovery. Which aspect of the story matters most to you? That is the aspect that will give you your story's structure."
Great ideas in this book that will help any writer.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she'll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.

First Line: "Jason was going to Brain Camp."

Another good book by Sarah Dessen, with an interesting plot and subplots, quirky characters, a lesson learned and romance.
Macy watched her father die. She and her mother now tiptoe around the reality of his death. Her mom immerses herself in work, ignoring Macy. And Macy stays with a boyfriend who demands nothing and gives the same in return.
Then the boyfriend goes to summer camp and Macy starts a job with a disorganized catering company, where she meets the new love interest. Macy begins to change and it bothers her a little bit and her mother a lot. The same, comfortable routine is shifting which might mean opening up to pain and grief.
This book is an easy read. I did put it down a couple of times because of the cursing that seemed out of place. Also, there were a few pages I skimmed.

Rating: PG 14
L: sprinkled throughout; "F" bombs
V: No
S: No

25% test (p. 94):
""It's a huge hole," she conceded, reaching for the mayonnaise. "But that's kind of the point. I mean, I don't want to fix it because to me, it's not broken. It's just here, and I work around it. It's the same reason I refuse to trade in my car, even though, for some reason, the A/C won't work when I have the radio on. I just choose: music, or cold air. It's not that big of a deal."
"The A/C won't work when the radio is on?" I asked. That's so weird."
"I know." She pulled out three more slices of bread, putting mayonnaise, then lettuce, on them assembly-line style. "On a bigger scale, it's the reason that I won't hire a partner to help me with the catering, even though it's been chaos on wheels with Wish gone. Yes, things are sort of disorganized. And sure, it would be nice to not feel like we're close to disaster every second."
I started another sandwich,listening.
"But everything was always smooth and perfect," she continued. you'd get too used to that, you know? You have to have a little bit of disorganization now and then. Otherwise, you'll never really enjoy t when things go right. I know you think I'm a flake. Everyone does."
"I don't," I assured her, but she shook her head, not believing me.
"It's okay. I mean, I can't tell you how many times I've caught Wes out there with someone from the gravel place, secretly trying to fill that hole." She put another row of bread down. "And Pete, my husband, he's tried twice to lure me to the car dealership to trade in my old thing for a new car. And as far as the business, well...I don't know. They leave me alone on that. Because of Wish. Which is so funny, because if she was..."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal. 

Good, clean, paranormal read. Thank you, Ms. White for something new and different and clean.
Love: Evie thought normal included a locker! I enjoyed how she handled her assignments and helped the paranormals; new character, Jack.
Didn't love: Evie lying; Boyfriend turning PMS-y; that I have to wait for another book!

Rated: PG
V: No
L: Bleeping no
S: No

25% test (p. 84):
"But the fence would still be there, and I cold always find my way back over. Right?"
"Two conditions," I said, practically feeling her relief and excitement seeping through the connection. "One: I am not Level Seven or anything in any system. I am not IPCA. If I don't like a mission, I don't do it. It's totally my call."
"Done. And the second?"
"I want my credit card back." Clearly the unknown I was about to venture into would require a new wardrobe.
"Very well. As long as you reserve it for emergencies."
"Seriously, Raquel, when did you get so funny?"
She paused. "Evie, I'm--I'm very pleased you'll be helping us again."
"I missed you, too." I meant to be lighthearted, but was surprised by an uncomfortable itch in my throat and pricking in my eyes. Good heavens, I was not about to cry on a call with Raquel. After all, my seventeenth birthday was coming up, I was living on my own, independent, strong. I was doing this because I wanted to --not because I missed her. That would be stupid.
After a very suspicious throat clearing, Raquel's voice resumed its brisk, business tone. "Excellent. I'll send jack for you tonight around eight."
"Whoa, tonight? So soon?"
"I wasn't joking when I said we needed help. Lately, it seems as though everything that can go wrong does. And..."

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden

When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn't be more mistaken--the maid is not only a lady of birth, she's the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.

Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine's utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife's transformation from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs may become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

Opening line: "Blast it all!" Crispin Handle, Lord Cavratt, did not generally resort to muttering under his breath, but an exasperating female could push even the most levelheaded gentleman to extremes."

Loved, loved this book. Who doesn't  love a good, clean romance? And a Regency Romance is even better.
Sarah has a great way with words and humor in her writing and her 'real' life. She's funny, smart and short. But we can't all be tall. Then who would be find all the pennies and pick them up for good luck?
I digress. Back to the review.
I read this book in one day, not because it's not well-written, but because I couldn't put it down. I felt like I was friends with Crispin and Catherine and wanted to make sure everything worked out for them. It's the classic tale of misunderstandings, love growing stronger, villains, caveats and yummy food.
In a fit of pride, Crispin kisses a servant who turns out to be the abused niece of a rich man. Catherine has been emotionally and physically abused for so long she believes it's common practice. 
The uncle announces Crispin has taken advantage of Catherine and forces them to marry. Crispin vows to get the marriage annulled. In the meantime, while waiting for the annulment, he falls in love with Catherine, his accidental wife.

Rating: G
V: A few slaps and punches
L: No
S: kissing

25% test (p. 63):
""I see someone I'd like to introduce to you," he told Catherine in low tones and began moving in Mr. Ritfield's direction Around them the murmur picked up again in the room and the latest arrivals were announced.
"Lord Cavratt!" Mr. Ritfield smiled as they reached him. "A pleasure!"
Crispin undertook the introductions, miraculously managing to quite smoothly utter the phrase "my wife."
Mr. Ritfield paused only long enough for a breath before launching into a one-sided conversation with Catherine. "Only the other day I said to my wife, 'lord Cavratt really ought to find himself a wife.' And now I find out he has. Capital! Capital!"
Cripsin had forgotten Ritfield's tendency to grin unceasingly. That would either prove relieving to Catherine or unnerving. Crispin watched her, ready to move on if the encounter didn't look promising.
"Lord Cavratt is quite a favorite in the neighbourhood. We've all been hoping he would find a lovely lady to bring home to Kinnley."
"Kinnely?" Catherine whispered to Crispin.
"My estate in Suffolk," he answered quietly.
"Lord Cavratt is quite the catch, I understand." Ritfield's grin only grew. "Quite sought after by the ladies--er, that is he was quite the catch. But then, you surely knew that."
Catherine nodded, not appearing at all overwhelmed by Ritfield's ceaseless flow of words.
"He is genial and polite. A gentleman to the core, of course. Bang up to the mark, I've always said. His estate is the envy of all of Suffolk. And we must certainly add to his talents that of discovering hidden treasures."
"I think that is sufficient flatter for on evening, Ritfield," Crispin said the man really was a very good neighbor but had a tendency to be too effusive in his praise. "I will be sure to enlist your services if ever my good name is in question."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

I dubbed this book my 'bathtub' book and reread it again. I don't know why I enjoy this book! Clary, Simon, Jacy, Alec, Isabelle--I enjoy each character. They have their unique voices, habits, idiosyncrasies and conflicts. 
The storyline moves and there are constant obstacles in the way of Clary and Jacy. 
There is also a great villain.

Rating: PG 15
V: Yes. Paranormal fights
L: Sprinkled throughout
S: Innuendos. kissing.

25% test (p. 121):
"...fantasy and mystery thrown in. Clary remembered plowing through the entirety of the The Chronicles of Prydain here, curled up in Luke's window seat as the sun went down over the East River.
"I think he's still around," called Simon, standing in the doorway of Luke's small kitchenette. "The percolator's on and there's coffee here. Still hot."
Clary peered around the kitchen door. Dishes were staked in the sink. Luke's jackets were hung neatly on hooks inside the coat closet. She walked down the hallway and opened the door of his small bedroom. It looked the same as ever, the bed with its gray coverlet and flat pillows unmade, the top of the bureau covered in loose change. She turned away. Some part of her had been absolutely certain that when they walked in they'd find the place torn to pieces, and Luke tied up, injured or worse. Now she didn't know what to think.
Numbly she crossed the hall to the little guest bedroom where she'd so often stayed when her mother was out of town on business. They'd stay up late watching old horror movies on the flickering black-and-white TV. She even kept a backpack full of extra things here so she didn't have to lug her stuff back and forth from home.
Kneeling down, she tugged it out from under the bed by it's olive green strap. It was covered in buttons, most of which Simon had given her. Gamers do it better. Otaku wench, still not king. Inside were some folded clothes, a few spare pairs of underwear, a hairbrush, even shampoo. Thank God, she thought, and kicked the bedroom door closed. Quickly she changed, stripping off Isabelle's too-big--and now grass stained and sweaty--clothes, and pulling on a pair of her own sandblasted cords, soft as worn paper, and a blue tank top with..."

Friday, September 9, 2011

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen's life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing.  Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she's about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent--he's a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie's small town.  It seems change is the one thing Jessie can't avoid...

First line: "Rio stiffened beneath my touch, striking a glossy hoof against the floor."

 I want to say, "another werewolf book" but this book was more than that. Over three-fourths of the book set up the world, characters and love interest. Last part showed us the animals.
As the reader I knew what Pietr was from the beginning with the foreshadowing and use of words like "mutt," "growled," "bristled," etc. You get the point.  
There is a love triangle.
A tragedy.
A love unrequited.
A best friend doing what she thinks is right.
A pack of werewolves.
People who aren't what they seem.
And that is where the story left off. Not kidding! So many unanswered questions. What about the "other" boy? Will the best friend blow-up? Can the secrets stay secret? Who will be the next to get hurt? And who will appear from the past?
I read this book in a 1 1/2 days.

Rating: PG13
V: Fights
L: yes, sprinkled through out. No "F" bombs.
S: kissing

25% test (p.77):
"I believed him. I had to believe Derek "the man" Jamieson was good at everything he tried. Something deep inside me got soft and warm at the realization I wanted to find out exactly  how true that belief was.
Derek ducked out of the office as unobtrusively as he'd appeared. Sure, he winked at the secretaries and asked about their kids--threatening to marry one's daughter when she got into ninth grade--but then he left, leaving the middle-aged women chuckling at being so easily flustered by an eleventh-grade boy. If Derek could work magic like that on my behalf, not only would I get off scot-free, I might be sainted, too.
The office door wheezed open again. Mr. Maloy flopped into the seat recently occupied by my would-be hero. he was holding a set of thick manila folders. With a sinking heart I knew they were labeled with my name.
Counselor Maloy held my life in his hands.
I reached into my backpack and dug into my jeans for my worry stone. I kept my mouth shut. I'd learned early that saying too much to the wrong person was sometimes more destructive than keeping it all bottled up inside.
After three minutes of facing my stony silence, Mr. Maloy spoke up. "you have to talk to me so I can help you, Jessica."
I had the sudden impression of him as a struggling defense attorney begging a client to cooperate. Maybe that was why he was a school counselor now.
"I want to help you, Jessica. Girls like you--"
I ground my teeth. Go ahead, I thought. Compare me to some case study on grief and adolescence. Tell me how I stack up against other disturbed girls in my age range and socioeconomic class.
I rubbed my thumb across the pietersite bead, making slow circles on its surface as I focused on staying calm. I rested my cheek on my knee and stared at the floor. And kept massaging..."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

First Line"I've confessed everything and I'd like to be hanged."
This is the type of writing to drink in nice and slow, like a lemonade on a hot summer's day. The way Ms. Billingsley turns words and sentences is new and fresh.
Briony believes she is a witch. She has a way with words that is very enjoyable to read.
Briony tells herself she is wicked and must obey all her dead stepmother's orders: Take care of your twin sister, Rose. Don't go in the swamp. Never tell anyone you're a witch.
Everything goes along fine until Eldric comes into town. This character I REALLY liked! I liked his playfulness, witty remarks, creativity, humor and the way he knows and takes care of Briony.
I also enjoyed Rose, Briony's twin sister who has a bit of Autism. She's delightful.
The whole cast is interesting, intriguing, and with their own quirks and strengths. The ending was satisfactory and better than I thought it would be. Can I saw again I. Love. Eldric.
Here are a few interesting lines:
"Another few minutes won't hurt, " said Father in his sermon voice, which is his favorite voice, the one he starches and irons every morning (p. 5)."
"The kitchen door groaned. It was arthritic and cranky from the flood, and it took advantage of every opportunity to complain (p. 13)."
All that being said, sometimes Ms. Billingsley way with words got in the way of the story for me. I tried to picture her sentences in my head or I tried to decipher them only to miss a part of the story.
Also, I couldn't decide if Briony really saw and heard the Old Ones or if she was hallucinating/crazy or if it was her imagination. Still not really sure. 

Rating: PG 13
V: punches, things in the swamp trying to rip off hands
L: "B" word used in reference 
S: kissing, boy trying to take advantage of girl

Want to buy it?

25% test (p. 90):
"...on an island of moss. Against it, I set the knife.
A burble of water--that meant the Boggy Mun was stirring. A wailing of wind--that meant the Boggy Mun was rising.
I opened the twist of newspaper, sprinkled salt onto the moss. Next came the knife. Which hand to use, left or right? My left hand was nimbler, but my scar constricts my range of motion. I took the knife with my right hand.
Slicing yourself is harder than you'd think. Your skin doesn't slice, not like bread of cheese. Your flesh pushes back.
I though of what I did to Rose. I thought of what I did to Stepmother. I pushed through my mushroom skin. Self-hatred is powerful: Out came the blood, drizzling into the salt.
"Boggy Mun, I, Briony Larkin, come to beg of you a boon."
Should I tell him I'm a witch, or would he already know? If he knew I was one of the Old Ones, might he be more likely to grant my request? A trade discount, so to speak?
The water lip-lapped; the wind wailed.
"You have sent the swamp cough to us, to the people of the Swampsea. Our loved ones are dying and dead. If you will take back the swamp cough, I promise to visit this spot every evening and give to you our salt and give to you my very own blood."
The wind wailed.
"Every evening," I said. "I promise faithfully."
"An' church days?" said a dry little voice.
A witch can fell surprise, but it takes her only a minute to swallow it down. 
"Church days too."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joann Rocklin

When a mysterious man arrives one day on Orange Street, the children who live on the block try to find out who he is and why he’s there. Little do they know that his story—and the story of a very old orange tree—connects to each of their personal worries in ways they never could have imagined. From impressing friends to dealing with an expanding family to understanding a younger sibling’s illness, the characters’ storylines come together around that orange tree.

Taking place over the course of a day and a half, Joanne Rocklin’s masterful novel deftly builds a story about family, childhood anxieties, and the importance of connection. In the end the fate of the tree (and the kids who care for it) reminds us of the magic of the everyday and of the rich history all around us.

Nice story. I loved how all the children got page time to tell their story. All the stories then weaved all together. No one's life is what it seems outside their homes. There is magic in everyday and we need to open our eyes to it, like children do.

Rating: PG
L: No
V: No
S: A teeny, two sentence reference to how babies come about

Friday, September 2, 2011

Troy High by Shana Norris

Narrated by Cassie, a shy outsider at Troy High, the story follows the Trojans and Spartans as they declare war on the football field. After the beautiful Elena—who used to be the captain of the Spartan cheerleaders—transfers to Troy High and falls madly in love with Cassie’s brother Perry, the Spartans vow that the annual homecoming game will never be forgotten. Off the football field, an escalating prank war fuels tensions between the schools.

The stakes are raised when Cassie is forced to choose between the boy she loves (a Spartan) and loyalty to her family and school. Troy High will seduce readers with its cast of mythic proportions.

A fun retelling of Helen of Troy for high schoolers, the battle taking place on the football.
And that's about it.
Okay, not really. This is a clean, quick, summer read.

Rating: PG 13
S: No
V: Rivalry, pranks, etc

First line: "It was a late Sunday afternoon when I kissed my best friend."

25% test (p. 65):
"...the same thing, a large thin-crust pizza with everything, no mushrooms on Greg's half and extra mushrooms on mine.
He walked into the restaurant five minutes later. Glancing quickly at me, he moved toward the table, his hands buried deep in his pockets and his eyes focused on the floor.
"Hey," he said as he slid in to the seat across from me.
"Hi," I answered.
We were silent for nearly a full minute. I played with the paper from my straw wrapper while I tried to think of the right thing to say.
Millie, our waitress, saved me from having to decide right away. "Hey, honey," she greeted Greg We were at TJ's so often that she knew our names, but she always called everyone honey. "The usual?"
Greg nodded.
"Okay," Millie said, smiling wide. "I'll be right back with your coke and the pizza."
Once again, we were alone, sitting silently. Greg stared at the wall over my shoulder.
"Hi, Greg!" some girls called as they walked into the restaurant. Spartan cheerleaders. I recognized them from the game. I shot a quick glare at their backs as they headed across the room."