Four books I’ve read (Book Reviews: The Graveyard Book, Forest of Hands and Teeth, Fragile Eternity, City of Glass)…and writing I haven’t done enough of…

Have you ever been talking with people, reading blogs, searching amazon, or just searching books in general and you keep running across a particular book or author?  Well, that’s how I was a few months ago.  I kept hearing about Neil Gaiman.  Now, I’ve read stuff by him before and I liked it a lot.  However, I recently tried reading “The Graveyard Book,” and I just couldn’t get through it.  I tried, and I really had nothing else to do because of the new baby, but I just couldn’t finish.  I was interested through the first few chapters, and then I just couldn’t get myself to read it anymore.  I stuck it through about a third of the book and then gave up.  Now, this rarely happens to me.  Even books I don’t love, I almost always finish.  So, nothing against Mr. Gaiman (like I said I’ve read other books of his and like them), but I just couldn’t get into his latest.

Another book I’ve read recently is “The Forest of Hands and Teeth,” by Carrie Ryan.  I had read the cover flap of this one and had heard about it from a number of sources.  It sounded interesting so I tried it.  My overall view is that it was really interesting.  I didn’t realize before I started that it was kind of a zombie book, but that didn’t really bother me once I got used to the idea.  I actually kept picking it up to see what would happen next (even when I had other things that I should have been doing).  I read the book in less than two days because I really really wanted to see how she would resolve the ending.  And here is my only criticism…there wasn’t enough resolution for me.  And it wasn’t just that the ending wasn’t fully resolved to my personal liking.  There were little things throughout the book that I felt were left hanging, things I would have loved more explanation for.  And this might be entirely just me.  I like resolution.  It doesn’t have to be a  happy white picket fence ending, but I do like resolution.  And there was some…just not enough, at least for me.  Still, I would highly recommend this book if only for its creativity and originality.  The characters are great and their growth through the decisions they make was fascinating.

All right, now for a book I’ve been waiting for.  I just finished “Fragile Eternity,” by Melissa Marr.  I’ve blogged before about this series.  I loved the first one, I liked the second one.  And…I loved the third one.  This latest book got back to the main characters introduced in book one.  It also escalated the conflict between the faerie courts.  Old friendships cracked, new ones were forged.  Alliances were constantly shifting and sometimes strange.  And it was great.  I couldn’t put it down.  Ms. Marr has created such a great world that’s fun to delve into.  It’s both comforting and scary at the same time.  “Fragile Eternity” really brought everything to a head and I can’t wait to see how everything is resolved in her next book of the series.  As a writer, I’ve had so many thoughts on how I’d resolve this one (do any of you other writers do this, think of endings you’d write to other people’s books?).  I’m excited to see how she does it.

Ok, I know this has gone on way too long, but I have one more.  This is another book I’ve been waiting for.  It is the third book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare.  It’s called “City of Glass.”  I know this series has gotten mixed reviews, but I have really enjoyed it.  The world she’s created is so imaginative and yet you can almost believe it really exists right alongside reality.  I also love the characters she’s created.  They are real, flawed, and likeable (most of the time, which is just as it should be).  Ms. Clare has taken urban fantasy (which I’m starting to get a little tired of because it seems like everything is UF these days), and applies her own twist.

Now about my own writing.  I’m actually really excited.  I haven’t written much, but I’ve had the greatest idea.  There’s always been a part of my book, and it’s the critical set up and introduce everything part, that I haven’t been totally satisfied with.  I’ve left it alone because I didn’t know what else to do.  All that stuff had to be in there and I just didn’t know how else to do it.  Well, I finally figured it out.  I think the book will start off quicker and trickle the back story out bit by bit instead of a big dump of information.  Much, much better.  Maybe now, when I send out a partial, it won’t come back.  I hope maybe this has been part of my hangup with getting someone to read enough that they just can’t put it down.  Here’s my fingers crossed.

My Beautiful Daughter…oh, and some books I’ve read.

Wow, what a month.  First, I was tired and miserable the few weeks before my daugher, Adrianne, was born on April 24, 2009.  Now, I’m just kind of tired.  I haven’t been able to do much writing lately, but I have done some reading (but more on that in a minute).  I know it has nothing to do with writing, but here are a couple of pictures.  The first was taken the day Adrianne was born, so I’m not looking so hot, but what do you do.  The second is just to show you how cute she is (at least I think so).

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On the reading front, I have read a few interesting books while I’ve been getting back to a normal schedule.  The first seris is The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.  It’s entertaining and an easy read.  On a little deeper level, I read “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.  This book is definitely more of a thinker and I really enjoyed it.  It reminded me a lot of “The Lord of the Flies,” except I think I liked it better.  Anyway, for anyone who wants to read a great book about how people react to and approach extreme situations, this is a good one.

I haven’t posted in over a month…and Shannon Hale…

It’s been a long time and I don’t really know why.  I do know that I’m not going to finish the first draft of book 2 before I have the baby.  I’ve been so busy getting ready and the other three kids seem to have taken a lot of time lately.  Oh well.  It will get done eventually.  Hopefully sooner than later.  I haven’t really had a lot to say over the past month, so I just didn’t write.  I’ve gotten a few more rejections, one which was a true disappointment, but what do you do?  I just need to keep on sending out queries and hope to find that one match.

On another note, I read a book I wanted to talk about.  I don’t know how many of you know of Shannon Hale.  She actually lives a few miles north of me and writes for the younger end of young adults.  I’ve read four of her books.  “Enna Burning,” “River Secrets,” “Princess Academy,” (which received  Newberry Honor) and “Book of a Thousand Days.”  The first two on the list were good and I loved the second two.  Now, the first two are books two and three of a trilogy.  I had never read the first of the trilogy.  I didn’t realize there was a trilogy and I figured I’d gathered most of the story about the first one anyway.  And when I liked, but didn’t absolutely love, the second two books in the series, I figured I’d just skip the first one all together.

So, the first book of the series is called “The Goose Girl.”  It was Shannon’s first book.  One of my friends read it and absolutely loved it, so I thought I’d finally give it a try.  Besides, I needed something to read.  And to my surprise, I liked it a lot better than the second two in the series.  It was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone.  My neighbor’s ten year old daughter even read it and loved it.  Just a brief summary:  It’s about a Princess who’s been betrothed to the prince of a neighboring kingdom in order to prevent war.  She isn’t thrilled about it.  In fact, she’s kind of angry.  And then her trusted guard are murdered.  She barely escapes with her life.  And the people who wanted to murder her have disguised one of their own as the Princess and presented her to the foreign prince as his future bride.  The true princess must find a way to prove who she really is…and discover herself in the process.

Book Review: “The Thief,” “The Queen of Attolia,” and “The King of Attolia,” by Megan Whalen Turner

I know, I know, another book review.  I’ve been enjoying myself lately by reading a lot of books, and these three were ones I really enjoyed.  You know when you finish a book or a series and you can’t stop thinking about the characters?  Well, that’s how this was for me.

The first book (a Newberry Honor book) is about Eugenides, a thief.  It starts with him in prison and where it ends is actually quite surprising and unexpected — and therefore great.  The second book is about Eugenides’ role in a war going on between his kingdom and the neighboring kingdom of Attolia.  I don’t want to say too much more for fear of ruining it for someone.

The last book, and probably my favorite, was really the one that left me thinking about the characters, their motivations, their fears, and their humanity.  It was really good, mixing political intrigue, war, and romance.  The characters acted because of who they were and not becasue Turner wanted a particular result.  Sometimes you wanted to hit them and tell them to get real, suck up, and do what they know they should.  Sometimes you hurt right along with them.  Either way, it was a good book.

Because of the way the third book ends, I assume there is going to be a fourth, and I can’t wait to read that one!

Book Review: “The Ranger’s Apprentice” series by John Flanagan

I’ve read the first four of “The Ranger’s Apprentice” series and I have enjoyed them.  I don’t know that I can say I absolutely LOVED them, but they were definitely good and I didn’t want to put them down.  I think the first and second were the best, but I am excited to read the fifth.

The basis for this story is that a young boy who is too small to be a knight gets chosen to be apprentice to a “Ranger.”  Rangers are a group that serves the king and works more behind the scenes.  The boy finds that being a ranger entails more than he initially thought.  He acquires skills he never would have imagined and becomes good enough to participate and help the kingdom and his friends.

I like the characters here, especially those of Will and Halt — and Horace in the later books.  The stories are creative and the world feels real.  I would recommend it to those who like fantasy.

“Brisingr” — Christopher Paolini

I don’t know how many of you have read Christopher Paolini’s books, but I personally like them.  Sometimes I think he gets a little long-winded (and I seriously wonder why his editor didn’t cut more material), but the story is great!!  I read “Eragon” after it had been out for about a year and “Eldest” right after it’s release.  I’m excited to get “Brisingr” tomorrow.  I hope it is as good as I want it to be.

Anyone who follows this series probably already knows that this third book was originally supposed to be the last in the series.  Not any more.  Paolini decided he had too much story left to tell and he added a book.  So…there’s still one more to come.  I sincerely hope he doesn’t wait another three or more years to release the fourth book.  I honestly think that because it’s been so long since the release of “Eldest” that some of the hype has died down and that people aren’t as interested.  I may be wrong, but I just don’t know very many people (besides those I’ve give the books to) that have read this series.  Maybe I just know the wrong people, though, because it’s been a New York Times Bestseller.

So everyone go to your local bookstore tomorrow (or Wal Mart, in my case) and pick up a copy of “Brisingr.”  Hopefully it will meet expectations.

Book Reviews, 1500 hits, and a movie

I decided to start sharing my opinions on some of my latest reading adventures.  Be warned, a lot is YA fantasy or urban fantasy because that’s what I write, so I’ve been doing a lot of research into the market.  Today I’m going to start with Melissa Marr.  She has two books that have done extremely well.  The first was “Wicked Lovely.”  (Side note:  the cover is beautiful, and I have to say, isn’t that the best title ever?)  I like this book a lot.  There was just enough romance but just enough true urban fantasy.  I never want to give too much away, but it is about a girl who can see faeries and then gets caught up in their world, changing her life.  I would reccommend this book.  Ms. Marr’s second book is called “Ink Exchange”, and it just came out a few months ago.  I also liked this book but, have to admit, not as much as the first.  I’m not even exactly sure why, but it wasn’t as fulfilling at the end.  Still, if you read the first, you should read the second (some of the characters show up in both).

Now to the second part of my post title.  It took me almost two months to get to 1000 hits, and it’s only taken me a few weeks to get an additional 500.  Yea!!!  Everyone keep reading and commenting.

Finally, it has come to my attention (it’s come to almost everyone’s attention) that the sixth Harry Potter movie has been moved from November 21, 2008 to July 17, 2009.  That’s quite a delay!!  And while I was really excited about seeing it in a few months, there is one good thing to come of the move.  With a great pre-Thanksgiving spot opening up, the Twilight movie has upped its release date three weeks to take the now vacated Harry Potter spot.  So while I have to wait an additional eight months for Harry Potter, I get to see Twilight three weeks early.

Breaking Dawn, again.

For those of you not at all interested in this topic, sorry.  A couple of days ago I posted my initial impressions of “Breaking Dawn.”  I then went online and found that quite a few people felt the same way I did.  I also saw some discussion about how the second read is much better.  You know how when you read a book the first time you just don’t absorb it all.  Sometimes you miss little nuances that are important the second time through.  Well, I reread it (ok, I’ll admit it, I didn’t reread every word.  I skimmed some spots), and I agree.  I didn’t miss Edward the second time through.  His role in this book was still there, he was still there, he did interact with his family, it’s just not the main plot element so it’s harder to spot.

Conclusion:  Second time through, even better than the first.

Book Review Time: Breaking Dawn

I haven’t seen any other reviews out there yet (I purposely haven’t looked because I want to write my initial impressions first), so here goes.  And if you haven’t read it yet, there is one little spoiler.

I LOVED the book.  I thought Stephenie came up with some great solutions to little problems we’d all been wondering about.  I also thought that even the “Team Jacob” people would probably be satisfied.

I only had one problem, and it wasn’t even a problem so much.  It wasn’t what she wrote, it’s what she didn’t write.  I loved the plot and the way things worked out, but I wanted to see more of Edward.  Specifically, I wanted to see a scene (even one) where Edward was interacting with Renesmee.  I mean, if he’s so passionate about Bella, wouldn’t he be about her also?  And yet, we see almost no immediate interaction, no tender moments.  If he wants marriage so bad, wouldn’t it follow he also wants a family (at least once he realizes Bella isn’t going to die)?  Anyway, just a thought.  I’ll have to go online and see if anyone else feels the same way.