Friday, July 30, 2010

Character Parties are Cool

Major, major thanks to Hanna for the idea and for hosting.

I - or well, Charlie - met some really interesting and amazingly creative people. My first instinct was to respond to Hanna's post as myself, commenting on how I thought everybody was so great and creative and how I liked all their characters. But then everyone else started posting AS their characters! And at first I thought - well this is silly. But then I thought - no. This is BRILLIANT. (With a capital BARBARA KINGSOLVER)

I've never tried to be my character outside of the story. It's actually pretty difficult, but I think I nailed him.

See - I used to be really creative. Since college, though, I haven't been able to come up with a completely unique plots with completely unique characters that feel like flesh and blood to me. It's sort of depressing - to be a writer without a single unique thought. I kept pulling from my life - using dramatic events with real people that I tried to turn into characters. It was bad. Just. Bad.

As I think I mentioned before, Ana and Paul's story came to me during a car trip to the Catskills. In the dead of winter. And before I knew it, I had three characters who all felt very real to me. Sure they sprang from my mind, but they somehow feel more substantial than just imaginary characters in an imaginary world. And really, they dictate what happens to them.

For instance, I was filling out Charlie's invite questionnaire and came to the Occupation question. Now, I know what Paul does for a living. And I know what Ana does. But it won't ever really matter what Charlie does - he exists to further develop the characters of Ana and Paul more than anything else. Now, I know I have creative license to make Charlie do anything I want. My first thought was to put down "Unemployed," since Charlie is sort of the black sheep, always bunted to the side by A&P. But that felt entirely too wrong. I felt like Charlie was yelling at me, "Hello! I may let those two idiots walk all over me, but I'm not a complete loser! I DO stuff. Figure out what I DO!" Kindergarten teacher came to me rather suddenly and I realized how perfect it was. I can see him teaching. He's so good with the kids, so kind hearted, so fun. He treats them with respect and so the kids adore him. I LOVE that this is what Charlie does.

Also, when I first started writing this, I was lovingly telling my cousin all about each of the characters. I told her I couldn't wait to write Chapter Three - Christmas Eve. Charlie brings a new girlfriend to the house and Ana announces to everyone that she and Paul are having a baby. This is the first time Paul hears of it. In Chapter One, Paul avoids the baby topic. He doesn't want one.

My cousin said (sarcastically): "I'm sure Paul's going to love that."
And my first thought was, Oh my gosh! She knows him too!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I've Got To Show For It

A review of my 2010 resolutions. Because most people just forget about them.

- Read between 35 and 50 books this year. 35 being the final total of 2009 and 50(something) being the number I burnt myself out on in 07 and 08. (I think I'm on 23 right now. 23 fully read books. That's much slower than I had hoped. But I've been picking it up a little bit lately. I also have three books halfway read. And MOCKINGJAY comes out soon. I'll pull it off.)

- Stop using my credit card and fix my debt (it's already been two months since I last used it. Huzzah!) (I've not used it at all this year. But it's still out of control. APR is through the roof and I can only make minimum payments right now. Blurgh.)

- Read at least two works of non-fiction - filling out my notebook as I go along. (I am in the middle of both Raven and From Eternity to Here. I will finish both before the end of the year.)

- FINISH Les Miserables. I believe I have something like 3 or 400 pages left. (Who made this a resolution?)

- Keep my apartment neat. (HAHAHAHAHAHA)

- Write a review for every book I read this year. (Check, thus far)

- Update my blog with all of my book reviews. (Check, thus far!)

- Write. Anything. (And check! Sort of!)

Wow. I think I'm doing pretty good. If I do say so myself! I really should clean my apartment this weekend. I mean, it's getting OUT OF HAND. It's hard to do it though. When it's just you and you is who doesn't really care.

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Again, I finished this in one day. 11 hours passed, to be exact, from the moment I twittered "I'm starting this RIGHT NOW," to the the "finished it," tweet. I don't - I'm not sure I have the words.

CATCHING FIRE was just as amazing as HUNGER GAMES. Holy crap. It was. The momentum never slowed, not for a second. And I NEVER expected ANY of the events - not a one.

All I can do is sincerely BEG you, all of you, to read this. I'm not really sure what I was waiting for. And I really don't know what you are waiting for. DO IT. DO IT NOW.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Boy Who Could Fly - James Norcliffe

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

The Boy Who Could Fly was, at times, a bit confused. As if Norcliffe, an award winning poet, had a hard time distancing himself from the beauty of verse. Not sure if that even makes sense. Still, the story was so completely original and wholly unpredictable, I thought it deserved more than just an "I Liked It" rating.

The Boy Who Could Fly tells the story of the loblolly boy - a boy who is invisible to most of the world around him, has giant green wings and has the ability to trade his existence for another. But as Captain Bass, the mentor to the loblolly boy, says, "Folks often forget that when they are desperate to escape from something, they have to escape into something else."

I finished this quickly and eagerly. I had no idea of the sorts of twists and turns the story would take and I was glad of that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Super Sad True Love Trailer

I'm a big fan of hating book trailers. However, this one is hilarious. All book trailers should be the book trailer for Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story.

Hop over to The Rumpus to watch it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Faithful Place - Tana French

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

I rarely ever rush out to buy a book. First of all, I don't make a lot of money and so jacketed hardcovers are out of my price range. Secondly, I'm lazy and forgetful. Tana French trumps my 'First of all' and 'Secondly'. I counted down the days for this and then, as soon as I got paid of course, I rushed out to the bookstore to buy it. I finished it in two days.

French spins a vivid tale with characters that are more real than your mom. I loved every gripping moment.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Faithful Place: A Novel

Since I wasn't regularly posting reviews around the time that I read both The Likeness and In the Woods, I thought I'd include them as well. Get y'all to read the entire series:

The Likeness
Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: 2009 Shelf

I just re-read my review of IN THE WOODS - my feelings on this book are so drastically different from my feelings on the first. THE LIKENESS helped me to form a greater respect for IN THE WOODS. Tana French is most definitely a master at character development. Her characters are so vivid, so realistic, so incredibly real to the reader - she achieves what most can not - a lasting impression. A group of friends you wish you'd really known.

In IN THE WOODS, I think I was never supposed to like Rob Ryan. French had such a picture of who Rob was and didn't stray from that at all, not even to get sympathy for him from the readers. THE LIKENESS focuses on Rob's partner, Cassie Maddox. Rob only enters the story a handful of times, through Cassie's remembrances of the previous case. And Cassie is a considerably more likable character.

They all were. There wasn't a single character I despised in this whole novel. Even the guy who did it (thank god there wasn't anything left unanswered in this one!). I also had NO CLUE what the outcome would be at any time. French took me for a very enjoyable ride with this one.

I'm actually really very sad that I finished. I think I'm going to sit with this one for a while.

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Likeness: A Novel

In the Woods
Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: 2008 Shelf

I was sorely disappointed with the outcome of this book. While entertaining, I don't think it was very solidly written. The Prologue is a great trick - written so eloquently you think this is what you are in for. But you aren't. A lot of whining and excuse after excuse by the narrator. I hated every time he sized a person up. I usually don't like women/men who are... Not a very good objective detective - maybe that is what French was trying to tell us? I knew from the moment the character entered the picture whodunit, it was just a matter of how. Watching buttloads of SVU preps you for that - and it isn't truly about Katy Devlin's case until the very end. Instead, French teases us with Peter, Jamie and Adam. The fact that she doesn't deliver at all on this story line is fantastically disappointing. She plants red herring after red herring, and they are obvious you just want to cut through it and get to the point! All that time wasted on the rape and the laughing animal in the woods... what?

I want to know who or what killed those three children and I want to know now!

Purchase Now from Amazon: In the Woods

The Series Characters

In the Woods - Rob Ryan
The Likeness - Cassie Maddox (Rob's partner in In the Woods)
Faithful Place - Frank Mackey (Cassie's Undercover boss in The Likeness)

I really hope the next book is about Stephen, the kid cop from Murder that Mackey takes under his wing in Faithful Place.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What I'm Reading Weekly Roundup

In Blogs

Library Cards on Etsy
Amazing photo of Hemingway that made me realize I STILL haven't posted about visiting his house in Key West!
Hemingway loafers Want!
Another LOST thing that I want.
RIP Steinbrenner Listen. I'm from New York. Okay?
Who is your favorite fictional character? I'd have to say either Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice or Joe Kavalier from Kavalier & Clay.
Ten Rules for Writing from Janet Fitch. I'm not really a fan of hers, but the rules are solid.
Time to Check your :'s (no that's not supposed to be an emoticon)
Um, Sassy Gay Friend is the BEST I wish he was my sassy gay friend.
Which Dystopian Future is right for you? I was split down the middle between A and D. My eggs shall be harvested but I won't be an "I" about it.
Frances Bean Cobain's Art Click through to find her piece on my friend, Jim Jones.
10 Lady Writers for your summer reading list!
A New Blog and Posters of Writer's Homes
Allen Barra needs to STFU because To Kill a Mockingbird is the most awesome. (By the way, I totally learned about STFU on an episode of SVU last night. Amazing!)
HOWL trailer
Argentina goes GAY and I say weeeeee!
Ship found under the WTC, WTF?
Amazing Illustrations for The Green Mare Provocative and awesome.

In Books

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (started at the beach, but it's pretty slow so far)

- Tim Reiterman (I've been reading this for over a year now. I love it, but Jim Jones is such an evil person that I can only read it a bit at a time before I have to put it down.)

Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann (bedtime reading)

A.H.W.O.S.G. - Dave Eggers (I haven't been able to force myself to pick this up again)

Eternity to Here - Sean Carroll (More than halfway through, but want to finish Raven before I continue)

And, of course! I'm going to pick up Tana French's book this afternoon. I'll have it read before the weekend is out. Happy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

So the last time I went against the masses and gave a semi-bad review to a book everyone else thought was so WONDERFUL, I was told by certain people that I obviously had "no emotions" and that they "felt sorry for me." I really hope that doesn't happen again, because it's sort of annoying to be berated for having a brain. This book wasn't all that great.

Sure, as you can tell by my rating, I "liked" it. It was entertaining and a quick, light read. But it was entirely too predictable. Nothing, not one thing, came as a nice surprise. Tess was an interesting and relatable character, but Charlie himself fell incredibly flat. The author begins his description of Charlie as if he's telling us a tall tale, so we are instantly distanced from the character. I was never able to regain the closeness I expect to feel to the characters in any decent novel.

And, why, WHY, did it have to end with Charlie telling Tess a neat little tale about their time together? WHY did it have to invoke THE NOTEBOOK? Why? "Well... it starts in Waterside Cemetery where a brave and beautiful sailmaker complained to the caretaker about a disturbance of the peace." Spare me? Seriously. Spare me.

Thank goodness the cover image was Zac Efron's face.

Purchase Now from Amazon:  Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wish List

Wow. A lot of posts on this Wednesday. I'ma busy lady.

Here are the newest books I've discovered this week and hope to read at some point in my life. And this Saturday will mark the return of my round up post. I've missed doing those for like, what? Three weeks, I think? Life. You know? (a.k.a. Lazy. You know?)

Over the Edge of the World - Laurence Bergreen
Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories - Shirley Jackson
The Facebook Effect - David Kirkpatrick
The Dream of Perpetual Motion - Dexter Palmer
The Empire of the Summer Moon - S. C. Gwynne
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. - Sam Wasson
I Was Told There'd Be Cake - Sloane Crosley
Light Boxes - Shane Jones
The Colony - Jillian Marie Weise

The Facebook Effect sounds like such a good book even though I was totally hesitant to admit that I was interested in reading it. But, let's face it. Millions of people around the world have come to rely socially on a program that was created by a kid in a dorm room. That's crazy!

As I've gone on and on about, Tana French's novel is out RIGHT NOW. I don't have any money to buy it until Friday and that is making me incredibly sad faced.

Also, Light Boxes sounds INSANE.

Shop Now - Satisfy Your Wishlist

An Early Morning E-Mail Conversation on the Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

G - (On Monday) So, I finished the book. It wasn’t the best, but it was a decent, quick read. Sometimes you just need a book with slightly cheesy love story, ya know? You should read it before we see the movie (you can borrow it, duh). You could probably read it in two days like I did. And you can stare at Zac Efron on the cover.

I actually think that the movie might have a chance at being better than the book. I want you to read it so we can talk about the looooove scene.

Me - About 100 pages in. I feel medium about it so far. I’m at the part where Charlie and Tess are sitting by her father’s grave. They’ve just met. I think the author brought Tess and Charlie together too quickly. (However, in a movie, I wouldn’t have wanted to wait forever. Weird) Also – my biggest pet peeve is when everything becomes about ‘I LIKE BOYS!’ or ‘I LIKE GIRLS!’. So like, the fact that this adventurous, solo boat racing girl is all like, why’d I have to meet a cute boy right before my race, wah!? Is annoying me. So far, I wish this book was about Tess and her adventure and not about Charlie at all.

Tess is a very REAL character. I mean, besides the fact that he made her boy crazy to fit in with his plot. I like her. But there’s really nothing to Charlie. He started out talking about Charlie St. Cloud like he was a tall tale. I feel no connection to him whatsoever. But I did really like the part where they make it like Mrs. Phipps is grieving over her husband and then reveal that she’s really grieving over her own death. But now that that cat is out of the bag, Charlie is just talking to dead people and I’m bored with him.

G - I know! That’s why I can’t believe that all of these ladies are like “THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER!” I get that the author is totally appealing to the love-hungry part in all of us, but come on, it’s a book. A realistic relationship could actually be developed—you don’t have a page constraint.

And honestly, if I hadn’t pictured Zac Efron as Charlie in my head, I really wouldn’t have cared for him at all. I’m glad we’re on the same page. I was worried there was something wrong with me.

Me - Unfortunately, lots of people think that the worst books are the BEST BOOKS EVER. That’s why Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks do so well.

I Write Like...

I write like Stephen King. No matter what I put into the machine. Though, the paragraph that I shared a while back, the one where Anabel is telling the story about how a baby saved the sun and moon and stars compares to James Joyce.

Who do you write like?

*Edit* Click on the "I write like Stephen King." link to be brought to the magical analysis machine that was brought to us by the interwebs.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

I can't even remember the last time I devoured a book with such voracity. I finished in less than a day, choosing to spend the entirety of one evening reading instead of cleaning/cooking dinner/watching any sort of TV like I normally do after work. It was all cereal, ice cream and HUNGER GAMES. I had to force myself to go to sleep and save the last bit for the next morning. And then, it took everything in me to keep from flipping the book back to page one and starting all over again. That's how good it was.

I was drawn in immediately. IMMEDIATELY. I found a love for the characters in the first few pages that usually isn't developed until at least a third of the way through a book.

A friend of mine wrote on her Twitter that Hunger Games was more than a book. It was an experience. I wish I had more to write than that, but it's true. What a wonderful, WONDERFUL book.

Please read it. Please?

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Hunger Games

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tana French's Faithful Place Out in ONE WEEK!

Bahhhh! I can hardly stand it! Since I suck at actually remembering release dates (I also suck at remembering birthdays), this completely snuck up on me.

Check it out here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 01 - A Picture of Yourself

Me in my 'i'm an ugly.' t-shirt. Comes from the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I forget if the publisher was giving out the shirts for Spring or Fall previews, but it was before Extras came out, definitely. (However, since the original trilogy wrapped up so nicely and was SO GOOD, I decided to pretend that Extras was never written.)

Here is the editorial copy from Uglies:

"Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license--for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world--and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever."

The two books that followed are called Pretties and Specials. I loved each one of them. Westerfeld is such a good writer and the concept behind Tally's world was incredibly unique and thought provoking.

I am, very proudly, an ugly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wish List

Blah. I'm so behind in everything. I'm blaming the heat wave. That seems appropriate. Anyway - here's some more books I'm dying to read but won't ever get to because I can't even seem to finish the 40,000 books I already have in the pile.

The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman
Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis
Methland - Nick Reding
I Only Mark the Hours that Shine - Edith Bouvier Beale
The Passion - Jeanette Winterson
Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks
Minder - Kate Kaynack
Slam Book - Ann M. Martin
The Four Fingers of Death - Rick Moody
Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart
Faithful Place - Tana French
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

I am BEYOND excited for Tana French's new book. Even though I was meh about In the Woods, her second book, The Likeness, was one of my Top Ten of 2009. Faithful Place is the story of a young Frank Mackey, Cassie's undercover boss from The Likeness. I can't wait!

Also super excited for the diary of 11 year old Little Edie. I am obsessed with Grey Gardens. Totally. Obsessed.

Shop Now - Satisfy Your Wishlist

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Best Children's Non-Fiction

I'm trying to put together a list for work of the best Children's Non-Fiction titles. I've got an alright selection going including Seymore Simon, Steve Jenkins, and Philomen Sturges, but I could use some help.

Any ideas?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...