Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Mid-Morning Coffee Break.

I'll be leaving for Kansas in less than a week, and rather than excitement, I feel completely overwhelmed.  The car is a best.  I got AAA, but not even that makes me entirely comfortable about this trip cross-country with my kid.  The poor guy is going to be so bored...and I will be, too.  I've already made lists of what to pack, what to buy, and what has to be done before we can leave.  The planning phase is nearly as stressful as the travel phase.  I am not a traveler.

It seems that books are all I ever write about.  Perhaps if I had a regular life, that'd be different.  Sadly, I'm not sure I'd be so apt to share the sordid details of reality... 

Anyway... On to the book.  Last week I finished Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and it was excellent.  I decided to read it based on two things - it has a creative title, and I like the author's name (Ransom Riggs - c'mon, he's got to be cool).  I think I read a synopsis at some point, but by the time I started reading the book, I'd forgotten what it was about.  It was so unique, though!  I don't think anything properly describes it without completely giving everything away.  And the way that the author went about creating characters and bringing them to life with REAL old photos - genius.  I've read a lot of sci-fi fantasy stuff, and can only take so many vampires and werewolves and fairies and trolls before I'm ready to scream.  The characters are none of those things, yet they're still amazing superhuman beings.  The *romance* could have been better, but this IS a boy story, so I'm not expecting much in that respect.  The writing, though... wow.  Ransom Riggs can WRITE.  The words were beautiful and moving and...every last one of them was right.  It flowed perfectly.  I don't think I ever tripped over an awkwardly placed word.

Anyway, it's about a boy and his relationship with his grandfather - sort of.  It's also about his relationship with his father...and then his acceptance of himself as a separate and strong individual, not a crazy, misguided kid.  He goes off to Wales with his father, to reconcile his feelings surrounding his grandfather's death - to make sense of it, to come to terms with the fact that his grandfather was a regular guy and that there was nothing magical about him or anything particularly sinister about how he died.  There's no such thing as monsters!  But, after hanging out on the tiny island off the coast of Wales for a while, he starts to realize that things aren't what they seem - his grandfather's stories were all true.  There are children who are capable of really amazing things, sometimes they're even sort of scary.  And, there are monsters.  The whole story felt a little sad - here are all these kids, most of them throw-aways, who've been segregated and can't ever return to the real world.  There was one little boy with his soldiers - little mud men he'd brought to life with the hearts of mice - I could see him so clearly.  While what he was doing was pretty disturbing, he was just a kid with toy soldiers.  While they're kept apart from the real world, the live in a sort of manufactured paradise.  Naturally, that has to end... and it has to be sort of our main boy's fault.  The monsters arrive.  There are some little battles.  There are some goodbyes.  And then they sail off into the glow of a war... and I sat staring at my Kindle because, while it ended in a great place, it didn't really end.  Who knows how long I'll have to wait to find out what happens next.  The author's blog talked about looking for pictures for the sequel.  Bleh.  I want book 2.

But you should read book 1.

And I should get back to doing my homework...and planning my reluctant trip...

(I would have posted a picture, but it seems that my amazon associates thing is broken :( hope it gets fixed...)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Colossal Disappointment

The Trylle "trilogy" by Amanda Hocking has taken its place at numbers 2 through 4 on the WORST BOOKS I'VE EVER READ list.
Switched (Trylle)Torn (A Trylle Novel)Ascend (A Trylle Novel)

And I hate to say that, because had she an editor, these books could have been great.  The grammatical errors and type-o issues throughout made me think that it was just a sloppy conversion to .mobi.  No one would publish something with so many errors, right?  Wrong.  When self-publishing, I guess editing isn't a concern.  At times the errors made the story hard to read.

And then there's the story... Probably the biggest issue I have here is that this is not a trilogy.  This is another thing an editor could have helped with...or someone, anyone!  The author had to have shown this to someone before self-publishing, right??  In a trilogy (or series...) there is an overall issue (main story) and some smaller battles or issues (all of the sub-stories) that lead to the ultimate resolution.  Sub-stories can be individual long as the ultimate goal remains present.  Take HP, for example... There's the overall battle of good vs. evil, almost everyone vs. Voldemort.  Each book had elements of that, yet each was its own story leading toward the resolution.  The books built on each other.  With each resolution, lessons were learned and characters grew...making them into characters who were capable of the final resolution.  The Trylle books did not have sub-stories.  There weren't lessons learned in books 1 and 2...they didn't end in appropriate places...they didn't work as stand-alone novels.  The rise and fall of action never happened.  There was very little growth, especially considering the circumstances. Had these books been seen by an editor, one book would have been the result.  And that one book probably would have been decent.

Maybe.  I guess now it's time for the spoilers.  It took 26% of the first book for something to happen.  Before then it was just weird girl and her nice friend and weird guy who stares at weird girl all the time.  Not too much going on... but then, all of a sudden, weird guy tells weird girl that she's a troll.  And so is he.  I was not sure what to think...trolls!?  But, no one writes about trolls.  It's a good idea.  And these trolls were sexy...  They run off to the land of the trolls, and weird girl is informed that she's a princess.  A very special princess.  And she's also completely in love with weird guy.  Thing is, she's a princess, and he's little more than a slave - it'll never work...they'd both be exiled.  There was a lot of running away...and then it was over, with no resolution and without anything much really happening.  There are some mildly dramatic things that happen in the next books, but they're all resolved far too simply.  The secondary characters are far more interesting than the main character, and as the book is a first person narrative, that's very disappointing.  Her voice isn't at all unique.

Anyway... girl can't have the guy she loves, and for the good of the kingdom, she marries a guy she doesn't love.  It's ok though, because he doesn't love her either, and they're good friends.  The night before the wedding, the guy she loves comes to her and wants just one night with her...but she says one night isn't enough.  Then, a bunch of random things happen.  People behave in ways that don't really make sense...the most interesting aspect of the story - the class system in the troll world, which is preventing lots of relationships - is glossed over.  There are some war things with the bad trolls...there are some mildly political deals made...there are plans to help other trolls and make things better.  Then, somewhere near the end of the third book, after spending all this time thinking that girl is going to change the world when she's queen so that she can be with the man she really loves, girl ends up cheating on her husband with random guy who came from the bad troll camp and has asylum.  She wants just one night with him...but he doesn't think one night is enough.  Right here she should have stopped and remembered her conversation with the guy she used to love...but that isn't what happened.  Husband wants a divorce anyway because he doesn't love her... and so... she ends up marrying the guy she cheated with...not the one she loved for most of the story.  She married 2 guys in less than a year...and no matter how happy and in love she seemed with the second, it's still the wrong guy.  He was high-ranking, so it was a lot easier to write him in and make them get married than it would have been to change the world and write a love story that worked.  Oh well.  There was no conclusion.  There was no progress.  The world was just as messed up in the end as it was in the beginning, but hey, she married a guy who was her equal, and the one she'd loved was flirting with someone who was his equal... happy endings all around... :|

It just felt like...rather than take the time to do things right, the author took lots of easy ways out...and wound up with a very disappointing trilogy that could have been a really good novel.  What a shame.  It was sometimes painful to read simply because I was thinking about how good it could have been.

Faeries are Fun!

I've been a bad, bad blogger as of late... and I am sorry.  Between the kid, the job (at the library...awesome, right?), the classes, and the Kindle, I find myself without the time to waste online... my farm is dead.  I've received complaints due to my lack of Facebook activity.  I suppose it doesn't help that I also got a new phone and it's a bit of a bitch to work with.  Oh well.  I'm sure that in time all will fall into place and I won't feel like falling asleep at 7:30.  This last week I've had an excuse, though.  Thanks to my having spent the better part of the last 3 years at home, my immune system is shot.  I thought I was feeling better, but as it turns out, I'm not... not really.  I'd like a bio-hazard'd make my day to day interactions with the real world much easier.

So, anyway... the Kindle.  His name is Henry and I love him.  For the longest time I was very anti-ereader.  I always thought that there was something special about having a physical book - something romantic and full of history and meaning - like a paper letter.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't imagine myself curled up with an ereader of any kind.  It seemed unnatural.  Henry is perfect, though.  There wasn't even a period during which I found myself trying to turn pages.  Within minutes I was wondering why I hadn't gotten one sooner...  I do still love real books.  I like the smell of a new book...and even some old books (so long as it's JUST book smell...not any of the many interesting fragrances I've had the displeasure to encounter in books...).

The first thing I read on the Kindle was Go the F**k to Sleep.  While it wasn't exactly nice-looking on my little black & white screen, the story was great.  I have a feeling that someday Oliver will outgrow his good sleep phase and I'll really understand the story better.  My kid tells me when he wants to go to bed, and he means it.
Go the F**k to Sleep

After that, I decided to read something with more of a story.  I didn't actually know what I was getting myself into, though.  I read nothing about the books prior to reading them.  All I knew was that the male lead had gone up against a character from another series I've read, and that he lost...but that it was close.  Anyway, had I known it was about faeries, I might not have been so eager.  Anyway...these are the books I read:
The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)The Iron Queen (Harlequin Teen)
The thing that nearly stopped me from reading these books is that they're Harlequin Teen.  Never in my life have I considered reading Harlequin...never...until these.  And guess what?  I wasn't entirely disappointed.  The writing wasn't fantastic, and the majority of the story was predictable, but it was still decent.  I was entertained.  It was nice to know the characters a bit (Oberon and Puck...etc.), and there was a real-enough conflict - technology was killing the Fey...people weren't believing in them, or were forgetting about them.  There's a love triangle, but both guys are pretty desirable.  There's the usual dark *bad* guy and the goofy best friend guy...and it's all very predictable, but still decent.  The first book was probably the best.  I really liked the descriptions of the faery world.  The author tied everything to scents, which was genius.  The spring/summer world smelled warm, like sunshine, grass... and gardens and warmth.  The fall/winter world had a crisp, cold scent, like snow and ice.  It was good world building.  :)  Anyway... I got to the end of book three in what I thought was a trilogy, only to be left unsatisfied...and having to wait until October 25th to find out what happens next.  This story will be from a different perspective, so...I kinda look forward to that.  

Anyway... decent enough books.  Haven't decided if they're library-worthy.  I'll know after reading Iron Prince... :)