Thursday, March 31, 2011

Peeta Casting & A Giveaway Tomorrow

Last week the rumor was that the Hunger Games (movie) makers had narrowed down their Peeta search to five guys, and were screen testing them.

Got bread? This picture is from The Hob.

Pick a Peeta (l-r): Josh Hutcherson, Lucas Till, Hunter Parrish, Evan Peters, Alexander Ludwig. I admit I've never seen these guys in anything, other than a Taylor Swift video for Lucas Till and 17 Again for Hunter Parrish (publicly admitting embarrassing library movie rentals continues)

Anyone have a preference? Judging just on who would look good opposite Jennifer Lawrence I think I'd go with Hunter Parrish. She looks older than her 20 years, and I think he is 23 or 24. He looks like my mental image of Peeta in some older pictures, but looks more Jacob Black-esque in newer ones. "Stocky" does not mean overly muscled, imho.

Also, I'm doing my first giveaway tomorrow! I know it's April Fool's, but I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mixed Review: The Golden Spiral

The Golden Spiral
by Lisa Mangum

The Short Story 
Second book in The Hourglass Door trilogy continues the idea of time traveling romance and affecting the present/future by changing the past. Interesting, but occasionally confusing, read that I liked - more than I probably should have. Also, no bears.

Come for the...
I heard about this book on Busy Bee Lauren's blog. She has some good book recommendations.  But her blog, like this book, is one that I enjoy but recognize may not be for everyone.

The idea of time travel has always interested me, especially when it involves going back in time to change the present. (Like Harry Potter 3. It's one of my favorites for the time turner alone.)  The Golden Spiral uses the same idea, only the bad guy is the one controlling time. I liked watching Abbi's life fall apart throughout the book, and seeing the people she could rely on for help literally disappear. This series has one of the best bad guys I've seen in a while.

You can read chapter 1 from The Hourglass Door here.

Stay for the
best friend Valerie's story time; Leo; The Forgotten Locket - final book in the trilogy that comes out in May. Check out the fancy trailer, thanks to Fire and Ice. They have links to reviews of the first two books, too. She liked them more than I did, so ymmv.

Why this isn't a "Read This"
  • Some of the writing is rough. Usually I'm not a stickler on this, but there were passages (in The Hourglass Door especially) that made me roll my eyes with their over-the-top melodrama. I'll spare you and not quote them.
  • The concept of the river and the bank was confusing to me. Even two books in I couldn't get my head around it. I finally settled for bad guy doing bad things with time = bad.
  • Some of the main characters spoke Italian and it was never translated. Not just a word or two - whole sentences in another language that were never explained.
  •  This is petty, but why would a magical door in 15th century Italy end up leading people to the US? Wouldn't Italy seem more likely, since it still exists and all?

The Big Three
Language: Not an issue
Sex and Stuff: some kissing
Violence: some violence but nothing explicit

Monday, March 28, 2011

True kathy Story: How I Read Leviathan

Last summer a friend recommended I read Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. These sounded like books about junior high, mean girl cliques. The girl on the cover of Uglies was far from ugly, and my initial impression that these were silly "girly" books held. It wasn't until I was out of stuff to read that I picked Uglies up.

It was actually good. And dystopian. And not about junior high.

Fast forward to October, when Scott Westerfeld spoke at my library. Leviathan was on display, and the gears and whatnot on the cover screamed "boy" book. The title made me think of the Loch Ness Monster and Vikings.  I left it on the shelf.

Moving on to January. My library copy of the movie Eclipse was ready to pick up. (Admitting this embarrasses me to no end.) Since it was a fairly new movie, it was being held behind the desk instead of the anonymous hold shelves. The desk was manned by a guy who looked like he would try to figure out if I was watching Eclipse for the sparkling Brit or the abdominally-enhanced minor. And then judge me.

This was a problem.

I needed a book to check out, in the hopes it would deflect attention from the movie. A quick trip to the safety of the YA shelves found me amongst the Scott Westerfeld books. My options were the one about sexually transmitted vampirism (shares a name with gross Easter candy. Seriously, Scott Westerfeld, who names your books? ) or Leviathan. Guess which one I picked. 

Turns out Leviathan was good. And steampunky. And not about an actual boy.

I liked Leviathan far more than the Eclipse movie, in case you were wondering. Has anyone else had a book with a bad title/cover surprise them with its goodness? Recommend them in the comments, because I've got a long list of embarrassing movies on hold at the library.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Blog Hop

Every Friday Crazy for Books hosts a hop and a book related question.  You should check it out.

Book Blogger Hop

This week's is:
If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?
A lot of what I've been reading lately has people living in the present (or dystopias) so that won't work.  I'd have to pick Scott Westerfeld's alternate steampunk WWI-iverse found in Leviathan.  
Don't let the name scare you. The book's awesome.
If I could fly around in a giant whale, have message lizards, or use the phrase wee beasties, I think I'd pretend to be a boy, too.  I have a funny story about how I ended up reading this one that I'll post soon.

ps - also, be happy for me. I vanquished my 4562 foe for another year and finished my taxes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Just In

Last night I got to pick up this book from the library

Beyonders by Brandon Mull, the guy who wrote the Fablehaven books.

I'm excited to read it once this wild week calms down!  What are you excited to start reading?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Read This (because you probably have to): 1040 Forms and Instructions

1040 Forms and Instructions
by The Internal Revenue Service

The Short Story
High stakes, choose your own adventure booklet for adults.  If you choose correctly you win fabulous prizes get a refund.  If not, better have deep pockets. 

Come for the...
The 1040 Forms and Instructions is a must read.  In fact, I do it every year about this time.  It's so consuming I can't put it down!

The most striking feature, though, has to be the language.  It's like one gigantic word problem from high school algebra.  Let's say you chose the storyline that led you to the 1099-G.  Here's your next mission:
None of your refund is taxable if, in the year you paid the tax, you either (a) did not itemize deductions, or (b) elected to deduct state and local general sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes.****
At this point I wanted to choose a new adventure.  Too bad those are the instructions for line 10.  Out of 76.  But take heart and keep going; as the wacky doctor on The Simpsons once said, "The most rewarding part was when he gave me my money."

Stay for the
Tiger Beat-style detachable posters forms; W-2 trading cards; the refund?

Unfortunately, think about this too hard
  • My archenemy, form 4562.  By the time the 5 years is up, the computer I'm depreciating will be obsolete.  I'm filling this out for the third year running and still have no idea how to do it. That's why I'm on hold with the IRS now.
  • There's actually a specific order for your tax forms and schedules.  Underneath the 2010 in the top right corner there are various sequence numbers.  I have no idea what happens if you get them out of order.

The Big Three
Language: the IRS won't be held responsible for what comes out of your mouth as you read their book
Sex and Stuff: not likely, as you argue with your spouse about the location of the third quarter expense receipts.
Violence: ymmv

Happy taxes everyone!  In all seriousness the IRS has a decent website and the customer service people are really helpful.  (Trust me, I know.  They fill out my form 4562 every year)  Does anyone else actually do their own taxes?

****I didn't make that up, but please don't actually take this as tax advice.

Library Jimmer Session | the library?

I have to acknowledge my alma mater BYU and how well they're doing in basketball this year. Hopefully this will be funny to people outside of Utah. If not, just skip this one. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Does She Say Katniss to You?

thanks to The Hob for the picture.

I want to be excited for the Hunger Games movie, but I must get out a small rant first.  Jennifer Lawrence does not look like Katniss, at all.  At all.  Like not even close.

Moving on...

Now that Katniss has been officially cast, I decided it's a good time to start managing my expectations for the movie.  I've never read/loved a book before the movie came out, so this is new for me.  This is what I've decided.

  • The movie won't look like what it looks like in my head.  Period.  And I'll have to get over it.
  • Things I loved from the book might not make it into the movie.  Like Katniss being olive skinned and somewhat hairy; I loved how she defied traditional views of beauty.  Jennifer Lawrence, not so much.  And I'll have to get over it.
  • They might add things that weren't in the book, and I will think they're unnecessary.  Hunger Games will probably feature its own cringe-worthy version of that Harry/Hermione Deathly Hallows dance.  And I'll have to get over it.
  • The movie will probably be more violent than I imagined in my head. And I'll have to close my eyes. 
  • Even though it won't be how I would have made it (like I'd know what I was doing), or who I would have cast, I will still love seeing Hunger Games brought to life.  And I'll actually pay full price to see it.

What are your expectations for the Hunger Games movie?  Are there any movies you think have really gotten their book right?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Read This: Matched

by Ally Condie

The Short Story
 The Giver meets Uglies with a less self-interested protagonist.  Cassia has the perfect life, in a perfect world, and soon with the perfect guy.  Until a "mistake" makes her wonder if she'd rather have choice over perfection.   Thought-provoking, super clean read.

Come for the...
I fought the buzz on Matched until my library was plastered with promos for the book.  Turns out Ally Condie is a local author.  Soon the cover with the gorgeous green (for St. Patrick's Day!) dress was in my hands.  I read the whole thing in one sitting. 

Most things about the book worked for me.  But I have to highlight how incredibly clean it was - all while being suspenseful, mysterious, and interesting!  Sometimes I feel like authors use sex or profanity as a crutch to show strong emotion.  (I am so mad.  Look at my string of expletives!  We really like each other; watch us spontaneously burst into nakedness.)  Matched doesn't have that problem.  The story is generally successful at showing emotion, especially in Cassia's relationships with her family.  I loved her interactions with her grandfather:
I try not to look at the timepiece on the wall.  I have to leave soon so I can make curfew, but I don't want Grandfather to think that I am marking the minutes.  Marking time until our visit is over.  Marking time until his life is over. Although, if you think about it I am marking time for my own life, too.  Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes a part of theirs.
Grandfather senses my distraction and asks me what is on my mind. I tell him, because I won't have many more chances to do so, and he reaches out and grips my hand. "I'm glad to give you part of my life," he says, and it is such a nice thing to say and he says it so kindly that I say it back.
Matched is just plain good without content that would make a reader uncomfortable, and I would recommend it to anyone. 

Stay for the
writing that starts out simply and grows more complex as Cassia's view of her world changes; the grandpa; contraband poetry; cursive lessons; a love triangle where neither guy is a jerk; the sequel, Crossed.

Don't think about this too hard
  • This may be addressed later in the series, but I would have preferred if Cassia had chosen a guy for herself that hadn't been suggested by anyone else.  Ky was just as "picked" for her as Xander.
  • To go with that, I wasn't completely sold on Cassia and Ky's relationship.  I think I actually like Xander better.  This series may break my trend for picking the love triangle winner.

The Big Three
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: not an issue

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

My sister told me the other day that she once confused these two:

Jimmy Buffett
Warren Buffett

My husband had a similar problem, thinking this kid
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

grew up to be this guy:

instead of this one:
Guess he doesn't have the
same effect on Rusty

I'm not immune to mixing things up, and it's usually a lot more embarrassing when I do.

For example Dr. Ruth vs. Dr. Laura
Did not write The Proper Care
and Feeding of Husbands, per se

Actually wrote The Proper Care
and Feeding of Husbands

Or, the other day I mentioned I was reading The Golden Compass.
The book was Northern Lights.
I wasn't reading that either.

I meant The Golden Spiral.
There are no bears in this book.

Friend: The Golden Compass?  With the big bear?
Me: No, with the river and the time changing, and the girl and the blond guy and the dark haired one.
Friend: You mean Lost?
Me: facepalm

I'll actually be reviewing Lisa Mangum's The Golden Spiral soon, along with a book that had an Inception-like "I don't get what's going on, but I like it" feel, James Dashner's The Maze Runner.

Anybody else want to share what they mix up?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cover Lovin'

Looky, looky at some very nice, newly-released book covers.

Firstly, the super shippy cover for Scott Westerfeld's Goliath:

The war's been pretty good to Deryn.  Here's hoping her secret's out 9/20

Ooh, la, la over Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door:

Lola, that is one good looking guy cover.  Coming to a neighborhood near you 9/29

And lastly, but not leastly, Ally Condie's Crossed:

You go Cassia, with your photoshopped foot.  Busting out 11/1/11
That's a lot of 1's.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Read This: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss 
by Stephanie Perkins

The Short Story 
Instead of finishing up her senior year at home in Atlanta, Anna gets shipped off to boarding school in France. She makes new friends, including the perfectly taken boy, and learns a lot about herself.  Nice take on a familiar idea.
5/5 Eiffel Towers

Come for the...
I heard so many good things about Perkins' debut novel I had to check it out.  And I'm fangirl-ily happy I did.  The plot is familiar: girl meets boy, boy has girlfriend, angst, flirting, kissing, swooning, sighing.  Just add water touristy French landmarks.  But it's done well.  Anna is an incredibly fun read.

Why?  Because of Anna.  I could completely relate to her neurotic self-consciousness.  Maybe it's having spent time trying to adjust in another country or being completely gobsmacked by a cute boy.  But I got Anna.  I bet you will, too.  And I loved reading her become increasingly more confident all while making me snort with laughter.

For example, Anna on the cafeteria:
I'm such a wuss. I'd rather starve than try to order in French. "Oui, oui!" I'd say, pointing at random words on the chalkboard. Then Chef Handlebar would present me with something revolting, and I'd have to buy it out of shame.  Of course I meant to order the roasted pigeon! Mmm! Just like Nanna's.
On her Christmas break:
In the history of terrible holidays, this ranks as the worst ever. . . . Worse than the Halloween when Trudy Sherman and I both went to school dressed as Glinda the Good Witch, and she told everyone her costume was better than mine, because you could see my purple "Monday" panties through my dress AND YOU TOTALLY COULD.
Oh Anna, never change.

Stay for the
Nicholas Sparks mocking; some Pablo Neruda; the cute email-only chapter; Nutella and Girl Scout cookies.  Oh, and the boy.  Short English-French-American boys aren't usually my thing, but St. Clair definitely grew on me. (haha)

Don't think about this too hard
Overall I really liked the book.  But if you want to find fault....
  • Some of the characters were a little flat, like Meredith. Not to mention drama mama Amanda or Ellie.  I couldn't figure out why Ellie would have appealed to St. Clair to begin with.
  • The conflict(s) resolved too quickly for me. Seriously, that was all it took to thwart St. Clair's dad?  Meredith is just cool with everything?  Where did Amanda and all her talk go?

The Big Three
Language: yep, in all its colorful varieties, including a few f-words.
Sex and Stuff: mostly innuendo, some making out (you caught the title right?), Katniss/Peeta sleep overs, and that one scene in a graveyard. Or was it a cemetery? Also a guy pees in a shower.  Gross.
Violence: not an issue

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So Much Cooler Online

To go along with the idea that not liking a book does not equal not liking an author.....

Have you seen the youtube videos by John Green and his brother Hank? They're like the YA Click and Clack or something. Personal favorites are the one on naming a baby, or the interactive Sheen or Gaddafi quiz.   Here is the latest one, on a more serious note.

Monday, March 7, 2011

On Bad Reviews

The other day I read an interesting post on Justine Larbalestier's blog about the value of getting bad reviews  She says, among other things,
It’s very hard for authors to believe that reviews are not about them. To not take them personally. It’s hard for anyone to read or hear people hating on something they worked very hard to produce. But you get over it. Or you learn to stop reading your reviews.
I liked the post because she basically gave reviewers the ok to be honest in their reviews.  That's good for me to hear.  I generally don't like being negative about stuff (in print anyway), or done by someone I know.  In fact, sometimes I don't like giving feedback on Rusty's art because it's not always going well and NO ONE wants to hear that.  So is it really fair to write up something that I would never actually say to someone? 

I guess in this case, yeah, it is.  Because as Larbalestier points out, reviews aren't for authors - they're for readers.  If I can save somebody time by pointing out that a book has some major flaws, or more f-words than prepositions, that's a good thing.  Not a personal thing.  So I'll try to review everything I read, even the stuff I dislike so much that I don't finish it.  Just don't go telling the authors, ok?  :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Skip This: Graceling

by Kristin Cashore

The Short Story 
Traditional fantasy where some people have special powers, or Graces.  Katsa's a superpowered butt-kicker who tries to use her skills for good, but has serious commitment problems.  Interesting idea that could have been good but just didn't work for me.

I couldn't help but notice...
I've seen this book on several "If you liked the Hunger Games, try..." lists, which is how I picked it up. But other than some fairly weak connections (capable female protagonist, violence), I didn't see it.  I'll readily admit that old school fantasy is not my thing.  I took me a while to get into the idea of kings and ladies and the whole Middle Ages style.  But my main problem really was the content.  The violence was more graphic than I cared to read, and the sex scenes honestly were too descriptive and unnessecary.  I have no idea what Cashore's intent was, but I felt like the end of the book sent an "it's ok to sleep with someone but don't tie yourself down to a comitted relationship" message.  Even if that was completely not her intent, I wouldn't be comfortable recommending this book to anyone.

It wasn't all bad
This is a pretty negative review so I'll try to be nice here.
  • There's a map that actually comes in kind of handy
  •  Katsa tries to do the right thing in terms of her killing abilities.  She learns to control her power so that she doesn't take out everyone who ticks her off.  And she develops enough confidence in herself to break away from people who use her.

The Big Three
Language: I don't remember this being a problem.
Sex and Stuff: Far more than I was comfortable with, and more descriptive than it needed to be
Violence: Katsa injures/kills people in fairly graphic ways