Wednesday, June 29, 2011

monsoon night.

There is absolutely nothing better than sitting on the back porch in a big rocking chair with my son on my lap... watching a storm roll in...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading things... still...

As I continue on my "Reading for Research Purposes" journey, I find there's little out there that really captures my attention...and emotions.  Since my last post about books, I've read the following:

Uglies (The Uglies)Pretties (The Uglies)Specials (The Uglies)Extras (Uglies)
The first three are a pretty solid trilogy, and the forth is a good book, too...though I feel it was unnecessary.  These are very light.  I never felt emotionally involved with any of the characters, and none of the 'romance' ever felt like anything special.  The characters didn't have a lot of depth.  Some of that may have been intentional, because of the things going on in their worlds, but I really feel that it's important to have depth and *real* change in characters as the story develops.  I'm not saying these are bad books - not at all - but they were just... light.  Fluffy.  The stuff they were dealing with was so serious, but there was emotion behind it.  Perhaps it's the way that men approach emotion as opposed to how women do... That's something I've learned this summer: when a woman pulls up a past event as a way to stir the emotions, it's used eloquently and generally it's the right event/word/vision at the exact right time (of course there are exceptions...).  Male authors are less consistent in this area.  Westerfeld provided a nice diversion in these books...

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
I took a risk reading this.  I'm not a big fan of books about regular humans living in a normal world.  The reason I went for it was because of the amnesia - that provides for a lot of self-discovery and growth.  It started out very well.  The self-discovery was there: teen girl realizes she's a petty, self-absorbed brat.  It doesn't take a Hollywood turn, though.  All these things are realized, but nothing much is done.  The book was okay, but the ending was just so normal...that I was bored.  It was exactly what would really happen.

...I read to escape things like that...I don't have any desire to read about the world I actually live in...

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
I picked this up based solely on the title.  It sounded like it'd be interesting.  The thing is, I'm not a big fan of zombies.  I'm just not.  I've tried... really.  My favorite movie as a child was Night of the Living Dead (the original, of course).  The story wasn't bad, I guess.  I didn't get emotionally involved with any of the characters, and the romantic aspect was weak and mostly empty.  There was a lot of death.  A LOT.  This author killed all the time...didn't care who was being killed.  My biggest problem with the book was how it ended.  Pretty much nothing happened, and I was disappointed.  I didn't find out until just a couple minutes ago that there are two more books in the series.  Oops.  Guess I'll check the library site and see if I can get the next two books...though I didn't care for the characters...even the few who lived.

Some parts of this book were pure genius, and others were not.  There are two worlds, a prison and the real world - and naturally, the real world is a prison in its own way.  The real world prison is the aspect of this book that I find to be the most interesting.  They follow a strict Protocol... they've chosen an era from the past and live in a way to eliminate all those things that come along with competition and the creation of new things.  Everything is period.  It came across as 18th century Europe... with royalty and poverty.  Everything was controlled - even the weather.  It was a really unique take on the future and ways to control a society.  The rest of the story wasn't as genius... and this is one female author who wasn't adept at creating an emotional connection between the characters themselves or the reader and the characters.  Absolutely nothing was settled in the end, and honestly, there are more questions than answers, so I'll probably have to get the next book.  Again, it's tough to continue with a series when I feel so little for the characters.

Oryx and Crake
I am REALLY trying here, but... try as I might, this book isn't hooking me.  I read around 20 pages yesterday and was so terribly bored that I didn't even bother with a bookmark.  The writing is really good.  Atwood is clearly a very talented author, but I'm not interested in the main character.  He's not a hero-type; he's really kind of gross.  Unfortunately, he's not gross enough for it to matter.  I just feel nothing for him.  I don't care if he finds what he's looking for.  Typically I'm all about the character-driven novel, but in this case, I think a better hook might have been the world in which they live.  The jacket hints at some interesting stuff... but there's just no room for a slow start.  I think I might be giving up on this one... which will be a first this summer.

And that's it for what I've been the fiction department, anyway.  I'm still working on 70 Mistakes Writers Make...and the usual plethora of articles and blogs.  As a reader of mostly nonfiction, all these stories are starting to seep into my interpretation of the world in a disappointing way.  After reading HP, I was almost depressed that I lived in this boring world with no Hogwarts and no magic.  I've got to admit, though, that that is the only fiction world in which I really want to live.  And even then, I'd only want to live there if I'd gotten my Hogwarts letter.  Now, I'd be gunning for a letter for Oliver... he'd look great in Ravenclaw robes.  The thing is, reality is awfully dull in comparison to even the most depressing alternate world.

It all makes me think of my most recent Twitter follow - firstworldpains. It's a hilarious yet deeply depressing look at the things we westerners struggle with in our daily lives. Some pains include, "My dog doesn't fit in my Coach handbag," and "I accidentally walked to the non-automatic door at Target and I had to open it myself." Somehow I think that, even though I'd be unsuited for it, a life of struggles lends itself better to a depth of emotion that...matters. Of course it's easier for characters in books to fall in love - they're in life-or-death situations. Their emotions are already piqued, so they're primed for it... bring two (or three) people together under those circumstances, force them to rely on each other, and they'll automatically form a bond. It may or may not be genuine romantic love, but the urgency and necessity of it all falls easily to passion. They're clearly already capable of passion. And then we read books and watch movies and see all these people having thrilling romances...and want it. It kills authenticity, but that's ideals for ya... and entertainment. I'm having trouble deciding if I'm okay with this...

Anyway... It's 11.  I need to get some stuff done before it gets too hot to do anything!  The monsoons should arrive later this week...and I am THRILLED!  The smell of rain in the afternoon... the dark skies and amazing sunsets... the electricity on the air... I really can't wait!  Sadly, I think it's way too late to save our 4th of July, but hopefully we'll get some fireworks later in the year.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two dreams

Last night I had two dreams that I great, the other...not so great.  In the first, I got married.  I don't know who my husband was, but he was pretty perfect.  He may have been a bit too young.  I was really happy, though.  Giddy, actually.  The wedding took FOREVER, though...because I kept making them all wait.  My dress had a malfunction: it was completely transparent in the back.  I ended up not wearing underwear, and my husband was bothered by that, but I'm not sure why.  Maybe the dress was showing more than I knew about.  The dress itself was pretty hideous... but my hair was amazing.  I don't remember the actual wedding... when I walked out to do it, all I saw was the guy's face, and then it was some time later.  Oliver was 4, and my husband and I had just found out we were going to have a baby.  The dream ended with us going out to get pizza.

The bad dream was... bad.  I went with some friend to a detox place for alcoholic women.  It was like a warehouse prison.  It was dark, lit only by small lamps and the reflections of light from those lamps in the numerous puddles throughout the building.  The floor had blood on it in places, as did the walls, and it smelled like urine.  The friend I was with told me that one of the women who lived there had lost her temper the night before, so there was blood splatter all over a wall.  We got to the main dormitory, and it was...scary.  There were massive gothic beds covered in oddly lush rags, floor-to-ceiling windows, and everything was filthy, black, and dripping.  There were puddles everywhere.  It was hot and humid and smelled both rotten and stale.  Most of the women were in beds.  Eventually they started leaving their beds... and I noticed that from the knees down, their legs and feet were rotting.  They were yellow and the skin was coming off.  It was like what happens to diabetics, but much, much worse.  One of the women took out a razor and was shaving her rotting leg... and thankfully I woke up at this point.

Don't know why I needed to write that down... but there it is.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I like books

It's been a nice couple weeks since classes have ended.  I'm currently signed up for the web design and intro networking course, as well as both cisco courses.  I'm fairly certain it's time to just drop those cisco courses until I know a bit more about machines.  It's too much money I don't have for such a big risk...gotta get the background in so that I can be successful.  Bleh.  Probably should call the damn school, see if I can get into a fiction writing course.

I am so tired right now...for no good reason.  Oliver went to sleep at 7:30 tonight, which is miraculous, but has left me sitting here with nothing to do.  It's just weird.  He did fairly well at story time today.  He did the craft, and wandered through the story area a couple times.  He only threw a tiny fit.  The more we go, the better he does, though... soooo we'll keep at it :)

Anyway... I'm actually here to talk about reading.  The last couple weeks have been spent playing catch-up.  There's this sense of urgency that comes near the end of semesters...this NEED to devour every book that I WANT to read as quickly as I possibly can...because I know that once the next semester starts, I won't have time to read for pleasure anymore.  The need is stronger this year than it's ever been.  Somehow I think it's because I'm taking a somewhat different approach...while I am reading for pleasure, I'm also reading for research.  As I read, I'm picking apart the story...picking apart all the little details and asking myself why the author did certain things.  I'm thinking about what works...and what doesn't.  In addition to all the YA dystopic fiction, I'm also reading books on writing.  And blogs...and other articles... pretty much anything I can get my virtual hands on.  I've been reading about character-driven vs. plot-driven and how to write good query letters.  It's such a good way.

Here are the books I've read so far:
Matched City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments)City of Glass (Mortal Instruments)City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

I started my summer reading with the Hunger Games trilogy... and I am so beyond in love with the story and the characters.  Collins created characters that mattered.  I really cared about them.  The story was so emotional.  I don't know how many times it made me cry...but I do know that I was completely crushed when I finished the last book.  It wasn't the story, but that it was over.  I've only ever felt that once before - with HP.  These books are amazing  Starting with the best and going on from there may not have been a great decision; everything I read now is just all right.  I actually felt guilty when starting Matched because I felt that it was too I was betraying the memory of the characters.

Also, since there's going to be a movie (that will no doubt pale in comparison to the books), I feel it necessary to get this out there: TEAM PEETA!

The Mortal Instruments books aren't terrible, but I really feel like City of Fallen Angels was unnecessary... and the next two books will also be unnecessary.  City of Glass ended in a good place...the story felt over.  I have to admit, though, that I read spoilers about the series because there was an element that I found completely disgusting.  I couldn't go on reading...I got almost through City of Bones, but had to know how it ended was gross.  There is just no way I could have kept going otherwise.  I am curious about the new series the author is working on... but not sure I'll get the first book any time soon.

Matched was...bland.  I'll read the next books when they come out, but I'm not eagerly anticipating them.  There was nothing particularly unique about the story or the characters.  The dystopia was pretty average, the characters didn't have much depth, and the love triangle was too plain.  I'm going to keep reading though, because I know the author got a six-figure it's good research.  I don't think the shallowness of it all would be too noticeable to a 15yr old girl, and since that's the target audience, it's probably a very successful book.

Anyway... Now I'm reading this:
I've only read about 50 pages, and I'm not hooked yet.  We'll see.

I want to read this series:
Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (The Underland Chronicles, Book 2)The Underland Chronicles #3: Gregor and the Curse of the WarmbloodsGregor And The Marks Of Secret (Underland Chronicles, Book 4)Gregor and the Code of Claw (Underland Chronicles, Book 5)
But only because I really like the author...and want to see if these stories and characters are as real and meaningful as those in the Hunger Games.

All this talk of reading has made me want to  G'night :)