Monday, August 31, 2009

Article | Change of book review format...

So…. Me and my eternal brainstorming have come up with a new format for book reviews. I have noticed that while reading there are a few different stages to discovering a book.

There is the initial reason for choosing the book – what was the first attraction.

Part A of a book: The first date. You know the first time you crack it open and its first impressions that it leaves on you.

Part B of a book: The middle interlude, the second impression. This part it tricky. It is the wean off from the set up of the situation into the final melt down of the ending. It’s that part in-between were sometimes it can lull a bit, but that lull could also just be the quite before the storm. This is the part that if the initial part sucked and you kept reading the book with hopes that it might get better, it can go one of two ways here. Option one: It keeps on sucking and so you give up. Or if you are like me and can’t give up (for various reasons left to another post), and it takes 3 months to read a book that shouldn’t take longer than a week max. Option two: It picks up momentum. It drives you to the ending.

Part C of a book: The ending. There is that final dash to the end. That climatic high you reach were the world could be blowing up around you and you don’t even notice. Or if it was a sucky book and it’s three months latter, you sigh that finally you are done with this rotting tomb in your life. Either way it’s over, and there is an impression that you are left with. This is possibly the most important impression, because if part A and B rocked but the ending blew, you will forever not recommend the book because the ending blew ass. Whoever says “read this book up to page 200, but then don’t bother with the ending. It blows.” No. You would say something like. “Try this book. It was a slow start, but the ending really pulls it all together in a way that you would not expect that totally rocks your socks.” Some people may not give it a change because they don’t want to waste their time on the initial suck, but if you say that it rocks socks, they may be willing to give it a chance.

Then there are the questions. And the hypothesis about situations. Like why did this character do this when they could have done this. And there is the criticizing of tone and voice and pace. And all those nitty gritty little details, that may or may not fit in with the above sections, but I am left pondering at the end of a book. What I learnt from this style of book. If I thought it should have been more graphic or less graphic. What I might have done different and how I thought those changes could have shaped the story into a better book. I think about those things when I read a book, or at least I think about it at the end when I am mulling it over.

I will also somewhere try to do a brief synopsis of the book, but I may just steel it from Amazon and quote it too, because they are better at brief than I am. Or I may just link to Amazon and you can go there and read the review (I have been linking all book titles to Amazon). That way I am also able to deal more with the emotional set up of the book and how I reacted to it at various time.

There are definitely three stages to a book, and upon examining several other reviewers and their styles I find they don’t hit on this so much. That the whole review is an afterthought after their minds are muddled with the last impression. I am unsure if I will post the review up in sections like: Why this book; Part A; Part B; Part C and the final hypothesis, brainstorming and questions. Or I may save it all for one big honking slot. We’ll test this out and see how it works and like everything else here, work on it by trial and error. I realize that his is a much larger undertaking breaking it up like this but I think of things as I read a book and try to remember it at the end, and that initial observation isn’t the same tainted by the ending like it is. I am not trying to bash endings, but sometimes the journey is far better than the end result. Someone needs to stand up for that first journey of a book. And I want to be that someone. After all, reading is an adventure. And it’s just as important the obstacles on the way to slaying the dragon as the dragon being slain in the end. Both deserve equal merit.

Review | Elantris By: Brandon Sanderson

Elantris

By: Brandon Sanderson

**** please click on the Elantris link to Amazon in order to read a synopsis of the book*****

I am no longer a Sanderson virgin. Honestly I would probably never have picked up his books or ever been aware of him as an author if he was not the one to finish the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series. Maybe, I would have stumbled on him at a raid at the library… maybe.

I am glad I picked him up. I will admit that his books felt very PG. Violence wasn’t as flushed out as it could have been, but I am okay with that. I normally try to get through the violence as quick as possible, so this worked for me.

However, another slight glitch were the character clichés. Our hero and heroine were terribly stereotypical. However it was rescued by an antagonist struggling with his own demons – perhaps that too could be classified as a clichéd. However, even with that minor fault I was still able to loose myself in the magic of the book.

It is a single volume epic fantasy, however I can see were it has the potential to be fleshed out into a trilogy. There were scenes I thought that could have been written that would have strengthened the book. However, it would also require the POV of several other characters. I am a character driven reader, and thought that this would have made the book much more complex. I would have liked to see the Elantrian adults meeting the Elantrian children for the first time, and how it effected them. I thought that had the potential to be a very powerful scene that was never written.

However, at a different end of the same complaint, is possibility. Now the scene although suggested, will forever be exactly how I imagined it. It will be perfect in my view, powerful and moving. There are enough moments like that in the novel that leaves the reader to flush out the details for the events mentioned but not written. And this too can be a very powerful tool.

I also really enjoyed his magic system. I liked the runes as a manifestation of channeling the earth’s natural magic. I also liked how at the end we find out that the Elantrians are not the only race that has taped into how to channel the earth’s magic. This leaves plenty of room to further explore in this world.

It is a good place to start with Sanderson. I will read his other material and I have great hopes for them. I hear they get even better. Perhaps after I am done with all his work I will have a better suggestion for a starting point with his materials, however at this point I believe that Elantris is an excellent self contained story. There are enough open ended questions left to create some more interesting works in the same world. I look forward to more works in this world as by this author.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Article | Why I am giving the romance genre the boot... until further notice.

I have been reading a veritable feast of romance novels lately. The problem is, is that I can feel my brain cells rotting. I can’t seam to concentrate on any other type of reading material, yet when I am reading the romance books I am constantly asking myself why I am reading such nonsense. They are a good distraction every now and again, but they should not ever be a permanent distraction. Plus I have been reading one author, and have become so used to her style that it is both comforting and sickening at the same time.


I would just like to say to the books, it’s not you, it’s me. But the fact it is, it is kind of them too. But they shouldn’t have to apologize. They are exactly what they are meant to be. Romance genre books, are supposed to be sappy and ignore everything else about life to focus on the love. It is what they are. So I should not get mad at a book that is what it says it will be. I should be mad at myself for going back to it like the dog that I am.


Here are the three most recent romance books that I have read:


A Rogue of My Own (Book 3 of the Reid Family) By: Johanna Lindsey


Love Me Forever (Book 2 of Sherring Cross) By: Johanna Lindsey


The Pursuit (Book 3 of Sherring Cross) By: Johanna Lindsey


Pictures withheld as I returned them to the library before my dog posed with them.


I won’t bother doing a review of them either. I would probably nitpick everything about them just because I am done with the romance genre for a good long while now. Next time I need a quick pick me up and distraction I will read Terry Pratchett or Christopher Moore. That is not to say that I view those two authors in class with romance. I view them as distinct and engaging and entertaining. The only thing they may have in common with the romance genre is that they are quick to read.


But just to wean me off kind of slowly whatever I read next better be damn welled engaging to the point of distraction and have some sort of love plot. A steamy sex scene wouldn’t be to amiss either. But I am in desperate need of some other kind of story line right now other than sappy romance and only sappy romance.


I will be conquering Elantris by: Brandon Sanderson next. This will be my first Sanderson. After this I will no longer be a Sanderson virgin. I hope it is not too painful and deeply enjoyable. I have high hopes for this one.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Article | Ideas for NaNoWriMo

Today I told my fries to go play in the Ketchup

Really I did that – but then it occurred to me that I could use that line as a start of a book. It is silly enough to catch. I was thinking of an adolescent fantasy series in the fun and witty category with evil something or other that they must conquer in the real world.

I have been toying with various ideas for what I would like to write for my November Novel. The current work in progress is out of the question. It says to go in with a clean slate on a new material rather than old material and characters you are already attached to. It might stem the creative flow. I can jive with this reasoning and personally I like the idea of devoting myself completely to something fresh and shinny that still has new car smell.

So ideas:

  1. Post Apocalyptic world. Magic involved – called Essence. Except they haven’t gotten through the end of the world yet. What they thought was the big kaboom is nothing compared to were they are heading. Motorcycles and sword fights off of motorcycles. A breading project for magic. The idea s is very fresh and shinny and makes me a little excited. Of course there will be some sort of love story involved, but I think it will be a cruel tough kind of love. Not a love will rescue me kind but a love will damn me kind.
  2. Here there be Dragons. Dragons live in the reaches (mountains). People think that they are nothing but myth and legend. But within every legend is a grain of truth. The people who associate with the dragons are Fae. The fae were created from dragons, they are the other half of a dragon soul. I am not sure if I want to write this modern world, parallel, or create a whole new world. I like a kind of renaissance Italy feel too it. White marble – wild landscapes. I have been toying with this idea for about a year – haven’t touched it yet because I am unsure of setting.
  3. Books as an addiction. A modern world but futuristic kind of sci-fi like. People are like Sci-borges. They plug in kind of Matrix style. Everything we see in movies we have come about too. Stolen pieces all over. But books aren’t the same. WE plug in and experience them like virtual reality – but we still call it books and reading. Someone has an addiction that they can’t afford. Old books are relics but can be found if you go under – in the old parts of the world. To be sought and treasured. Teens go on a quest to get real books. It may sound kind of lame but the whole structure of the society that I am seeing is really fascinate to me. I have been toying with this for quite some time but it is something that I want to write once I have had more practice. I feel it could be great but only if I do it right.
  4. How Vampires became. After reading Stephenie Meyers version of Vampires and the love story involved, I came to think what if Vampires were people frozen in time who have turned to stone. What if they craved the blood to keep them functioning – blood because it is the life essence. When I started imagining it, it was as a short story. Now perhaps a novella. The biggest issue for me is that it takes place in China. A general falls in love with a young child, the princess. Would give his life for her. Freezes himself in time – has some kind of magic – to protect her and be with her always. My issues are that I would have to do some serious research into Chinese culture to make this fly. Also that is supposed to be a beautiful heartbreaking story. I am not sure I am up to par to tell the story as I see it yet.
  5. Child fantasy action mystery story, ages 10 to 12 ish or so. I want to write witty and silly and free and go from one action sequence to the next. I don’t really have a premise but I want to give it a voice like the Percy Jackson series. I think I will pick up Alcatraz by Brandon Sanderson to get a feel for this kind of writing too. I am not sure if I can pull it off, as I don’t even have an idea to run with but the style of it fascinates me.
  6. A teenage paranormal drama. Vampires, dark magic, secret societies. Not sure of the time period I want to do this in or the setting or the plot or the characters. But there is something about the intensity of emotions that teens experience. Add that with some cool shit and you get a really intense book.

Now I love me a good high fantasy and I have one possibility for this on this list. A few of them if not all of them will most definitely have a love story subplot kind of deal happening. No matter what I am reading I am always aware of the love affair involved. I look for it. I think that love brings out the humanity in us. But there are different kinds of love too. Not all love is peaches and cream. So I don’t see myself getting through this without writing a love subplot somewhere.

Anyways this is what I am mulling over for the time being. The night of the competition is probably when I will decide what I am going to write. But I love having my options displayed before me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Random/Writting | How to procrastinate successfully on your time off...

Or how not to accomplish anything you had intended on doing with your time off...

Today started out at 7:30 am with me wondering what the hell that smell was. I got up thinking “oh shit. Roo peed on the carpet again.” Well it literally was shit – but thankfully on the linoleum. I gave her this look that said it all and she gave me a look back that said even more.

The fact remains that come Monday morning I will be back at work. I got called on Friday to say that my temporary unemployment is now at an end. Before I have scene a single EI check. Maybe I will get a double payment at some time you know. Like paycheck and EI finally catching up to me. No I am not going to cheat the system. That will bite me in the ass. When I file my report for the time period that I worked I will say that I am indeed now working so I won’t get double pay as in paid twice for the same time. I am talking about double pay as in two paychecks for two different time periods coming in at the same time.

But what I really wanted to say about Monday is to lament that being unemployed was not as productive to my creative career as I had hoped that it was going to be. I could look on the bright side first but I’ll save that for last for the cheer up.

I had hoped that I would be using the time to write. That I would get a good chunk of the novel I have been avoiding worked on. I would figure out the kinks and find my pace and start to fly. I found the kinks – well the most obvious one is view. But I have not fixed it yet.

I had hoped that I would finally master knitting a sock rather than starting and ripping it out and not bothering to restart ever again. Well I did start one. The gauge is wrong. I have not ripped it out yet. I will. Maybe I will recast on right away on a smaller set of needles. We’ll see.

I had hoped I would get caught up on a lot of summer reading. I did do a quit a bit of reading but not the materials I had intended for this time period. Instead I got sidetracked by some sappy romance. Psha.

I had hoped to get my sewing room mucked out and to sew up quite a bit of those projects that have been floating around in purgatory. I did clean out my sewing room, but that took my friend Nancy telling me she wanted me to maker her garb to get me motivated to do it. It was satisfying though. I did not sew up any of the purgatory projects, but I did make her a bodice and skirt combination that used of some old material. Not sure if that qualifies.

I had also wanted to get really fit. And go jogging in the morning. I did lose some weight and my clothes fit me better, but as far as jogging goes Roo is lucky if she gets a daily walk with the weather and my procrastination that we have been having.

Now for the greatest success of my time off. I went out to the west coast. We drove (and by we I mean Darren drove and I sat in the passenger seat and took thousands of pictures) all the way from here (northern Ontario about 4 hours out of Toronto) to Victoria BC. It was long, it was grueling, but it was worth it. Now I can officially say that I have scene both the east and west coast. My life is almost complete. Not even close.

So Monday, I will go back to work, and Monday and I will attempt to do all those things, I wanted to do with all that wonderful time off, on the side. Before/After work and on weekends.

November is National Novel writing month. I will attempt to write at the very least 50 000 words in 30 days. I think that this is totally possible. Especially with this tool here, that I will implement on lunch breaks at work if necessary. I am really excited about this. I have a couple of shinny new ideas that I am toying with using for this event, as I can’t use any pre-existing work. I don’t really win anything besides a sense of completion, but I appreciate that I will have others who are attempting the impossible as well. Maybe after I will hook up with a local writers guild too.

As for the sock thing. I may just wait it out until the winter Olympics and do the YarnHarlot knitting Olympics. I may not. I want to choose a patterned pair of socks for the Olympics and so probably should complete a basic pair of socks first, so I know what the heck I am doing… sort of.

I know this may be a blog post more akin to Pisces Muse. And I am seriously reconsidering opening up that blog again. Cause I can post random cool things like this over there, and then keep my bookie things separate. But I also like keeping just one blog. Yarg…. Posting here… wherever here may be.

Now until Monday morning I will attempt to mentally prepare myself for work – and will also attempt to fix novel problem tonight so I can do some out and out writing. Did I mention that my new approach will be ‘write now – edit later’. Just get it all out and then go back and looks for gaping holes in plot and development. Fix those big obvious holes. Then to the nittier grittier paragraph and flow and conversation and sentence structure edits. Trying to do it all at once is making me feel defeated. I have to be prepared to suck. It only gets better with time. Shit you should see the first garb I ever made for Amtgard. It sucked balls. And you should see what I just produced these past couple of days. It kicked ass hardcore. Just takes time, and patience and practice. And a willing to learn.

This is me world. Open to learning. Well the things I wish to learn anyways and in the time I have to learn them.. kind of. Man did I even mention of damned distracting the internet could be?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review | The Malory's Saga By: Johanna Lindsey

Second verse – same as the first.

In this case I will be stealing the same review strategy I used for Percy Jackson for the Malory’s. Sum up of each book and then an overall feel for the series. They are in order of books written – the best way to go about reading the series.

*****

Love Only Once

By: Johanna Lindsey

Is the story of Regina Ashton and Nicolas Eden. Regina is kidnapped as Nicolas mistakes her for his jealous lover, an affair he was about to end after her humiliation. Even though it is a simple misunderstanding, one that Regina is most amused about, the gossip mills got to town as the former lover delves all in hopes to regain Nicolas and drag him to the alter. Only Regina’s reputation is at stake and her chance for a match destroyed. Nicolas is forced, by her uncles, to marry Regina. However, he has a secret he is too ashamed to share with his new wife. A secret that drives them apart, until they are able to overcome their own stubbornness and find true love.

Tender Rebel

By: Johanna Lindsey

Is the story of Lady Roslynn Chadwick and Sir Anthony Malory. She an exquisite Scottish heiress, he a confirmed rake. She must marry to secure her inheritance and her life against her greedy cousin who schemes to marry her. She is terrified that once married, some tragic accident, instigated by her cousin, may befall her. She runs to London and the marriage mart in hopes to make a quick match to find her freedom. There she meets sensual Anthony Malory, the type of man she swore would never do for a husband. The type of man who inflames her senses. The type of man who becomes her savior.

Gentle Rogue

By: Johanna Lindsey

This is the story of Georgina Anderson and James Malory. Georgina comes to England to find her long lost fiancé, to marry and move on with her life. What she finds is a man who has abandoned her and made a life of his own. Her world shattered, she wants nothing more than to hightail it back to America. In her desperation to return home she takes on the guise of Cabin Boy to Captain James Malory, a man who swore not one could entice him to marriage. Aboard ship, her guise discovered, both find themselves caught by their desires. However, after he loses her at port in the Caribean, he seeks to regain what is his in whatever manner he can.

The Magic of You

By: Johanna Lindsey

This is the story of Amy Mallory and Warren Anderson. Amy is wild and reckless and determined. She is a woman who knows what she wants. She wants Warren Anderson, but under her own terms. Knowing his bitter past she seeks to bring happiness back to his life. But he resists her charms to his own misery. Against the judgment of her uncles she chooses a path that will obtain both her and Warrens happiness… later rather than sooner.

Say you Love Me

By: Johanna Lindsey

This is the story of Kelsey Langton and Lord Derek Malory. After her parents death, The Tragedy, her and her sister move in with their aunt and unlce. However, soon after it is discovered that they too are going bankrupt. With no other options immediately available Kelsey resigns herself to being sold as a mistress. Just slipping out of the grasps of a cruel bidder, she is rescued by Derek Malory’s bid. Hiding her past, so as not to shame her family, Derek does not realize the true gem he has one. However, he soon realizes that he is madly in love and will not live without her and dares risk scandal to marry her without knowing her true identity.

The Present

By: Johanna Lindsey

This book is about the history of the first Malory’s. How a Gypsy woman stole the heart of an English man to avoid a cruel marriage. A book read at Christmas that finally brings together Derek’s father and his true love – the parlor maid and Derek’s mother.

A Loving Scoundrel

By: Johanna Lindsey

This is the story of Danny and Jerome. Danny is a street urchin who can’t remember her past. Jerome and his friend find themselves in a predicament that only a thief can fix. They come up with a plan to hire a stealthy thief, much against the thief’s will. The thief however is not the young boy they pretend to be, but a girl with a forgotten past. Danny gets kicked out of her guild of urchins and thieves for breaking the rules and robbing the gentry in their own house. Pissed off and with nothing to lose she seeks out Jerome to give her a job. Her plans in life are to secure a job, find a respectable husband, have kids – in that order. Having a tryst with Jerome was not in her future plans. But passions can’t be denied. When faced with the decisions to lose the woman he has come to love and respect and risk scandal, he chooses scandal for the sake of love.

Captive of my Desires

By: Johanna Lindsey

The following is a capture from my previous review on Pirate Romance:

Gabrielle Brooks mother passes away. Her father somewhere down in the Caribbean. Being too young for her inheritance but not too young for a sea voyage with her maid she goes in search for her father rather than accept the guardian assigned to her in England.

Her ship gets attacked by Pirates and she is brought to a remote lair on an island were an alliance of pirates meet and use as a home base. She is to be ransomed to her father and is therefore treated with a certain amount of respect and care (she is not being damaged).

A dangerous pirate takes notice of her. Not the good dangerous, the bad dangerous. The serial stalker kind of dangerous. He would like to buy her ransom from the pirate that had captured her, but as the pirate who had captured her is still reuniting with his wife on the island, he must bid his time.

When the pirate who has captured her finally reemerges after days of reuniting (yah lopsided grin their as we all know what I am talking about) there is another pirate captain who has just sailed into the island. Upon seeing the girl he offers her immediate ransom and the pirate who has captured her accepts. The serial stalker pirate is out of duty as he got piss drunk the night before and hadn’t emerged in the morning to strike a bargain. Timing darlings.

Turns out the man who bought her is her father. Thus the foundation of piracy begins. He is in fact more a treasure hunter and remains a part of the alliance as a middle man who will often times purchase captives for the ransoms as it is burdensome to the rest of the pirates and can cause some captives their lives in impatience. Her father is to be viewed as a kind hearted compassionate man who inspires loyalty in his crew. And a treasure hunter not technically a pirate.

When she comes of age. Approximately 3 years later, she is shipped off to England on a husband hunt. Sent to approach an old acquaintance of her fathers to introduce her to society.

Drew Anderson, Georgina Malory’s brother, is drawn into the story as he is in town visiting his sister and coerced to attend some of the functions. He lusts after Gabrielle, and in his desire for her and his inability to attain her gets foxed and spills to the Ton that her father is a pirate thus systematically ruining her husband hunt in the London market.

We then find out her father is kidnapped by the serial killer pirate who wants her in return for her father’s life. She decides to abscond with Drew’s ship and him and his crew as revenge to his ruining of her reputation and as a means to rescue her father.

Love follows lust. Family is rescued. Treasure is found.

No Choice By Seduction

By: Johanna Lindsey

This is the story of Katey Tyler and Boyd Anderson. Katey Tyler, fled the small town of Gardener, Connecticut upon Boyd Anderson ship. His smoldering looks leave her fabricating a husband that doesn’t exist.

Sir Anthony Malory’s daughter is abducted from hide park by Anthony’s wife’s jealous cousins wife. The ransom note is mistakenly delivered to James Malory’s house – too many Malorys in one city, however as he is away on the high sees bailing out Drew Anderson, that leaves Boyd Anderson in residence to help Anthony.

Katey Tyler, on her grand tour of the world, hears a mewling sound that won’t allow her to sleep coming from the room next door. Thinking that she is simply going to rescue a trapped kitten she finds an abducted child. Instead of leaving her to her fait Katey endeavors to free the girl and return her to her family.

However, in a classic tale of mistaken identities and crossed lines she is mistaken as the culprit by lusty Boyd Anderson. Finally clearing her of false charges, she is thanked by the family, however she hodls a grudge to Boyd for her mistreetment.

His attemps to redeem himself to her and win a bride, bring up her solid resistance. It is also discovered that she may be a lost relative to the Malory clan, adding another obsticle in the way to Boyd’s seduction.

*****

I have a certain weakness for historical romance. In truth it is pretty much the only type of romance I like to read. I mean of course if I were to receive an ARC of some other type of romance, I would read it, but if left to my own devices I most often pick up historical romance. Why? Because I like the old system of things. But I like it with my pink tinted glasses as observed through the romances genre. I like the big balls, and the gowns, and the lifestyles. I like to escape to a world that I will never get to truly experience.

The classic romance novel in this genre that I have read follows the following formula: Girl comes of age to marry, girl enters society to find husband, girl may have other motives for needing husband that may need to speed up the process, girl meets unwilling male, girl and male lust after each other, girl and male have sex, male is tricked into marriage, marriage trickery is overcome, girl and male live happily ever after. I like this pattern. It is familiar. It is nurturing to read. When I need comfort food in my reading selection, something easy and familiar to get through, romance is always there for me. I don’t have to expend to many brain cells keeping things straight, I just have to sit back and enjoy. It’s like a mindless vacation in a book .

With this series the Malory’s they can be read as standalone novels. I had actually read Captive of my Desires first when I was searching up Pirate Romance Novels. In each book they give you kind of a briefing of the backgrounds of each couple. So you never really are too far out of the loop. But I found in order to get full enjoyment of the series and really appreciate who the Malory’s were, it was best to start at the beginning and work my way through.

Now I admit, that after about 4 romance books in a row I was starting to feel a little gut rot. Like eating too many sweets and feeling like I was going to be sick. Because romance books are also like a box of chocolates. A fun notty desert to delve into, but not to overindulge or else it will lose its appeal. The fact though remains that they are best read in order. Maybe not back to back as I did it, but close enough that you remember the details, and are in on the jokes. Because each book subsequently thereafter are like an inside joke to the previous books. They make references and remarks and if you know the other books, you get more out of it.

Each book has it’s own unique tail of why girl needed husband and the circumstances under which girl obtained husband, but the characters are very two dimensional, with motives that would never work in reality. But it is escapist literature, and for that Johanna Lindsey succeeds marvelously. As a reader you must be able to suspend reality and how you would think that normal people in this day and age would behave, and you will find at once you are able to sit back and enjoy.

Johanna Lindsey writes some very witty dialogue. I found myself giggling quite a bit. Especially Tony and James constant ribbing of each other. It could become a bit tiresome as they were constantly at it, however they did remain very true to their characters.

In a Say you Love Me when Kelsey is kidnapped I absolutely could not put the book down. It was very suspenseful. However, the after shock of such an encounter should have left Kelsey with Post Traumatic Stress, but the book just has them carry happily along on the course of true love they were previously pursuing. Fitting for a romance novel, and I won’t begrudge it that. However, if it were any other genre I would seriously consider this woman’s mental health after that incident. It would make it a much stronger read, but at that point it would become a much different novel, if the author were to examine the darkness that would ensue after being kidnapped and almost tortured.

After getting through them all I was a bit sad to leave their world behind. I really got to know the characters, and cared for them and their circumstances. If you are looking for some escapist literature in the historical romance vein, then this family saga is one to put on your list.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review | Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series By: Rick Riordan

I read the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series by way of recommendation from Stephenie Meyer's website. I looked into it first and seamed to be modern world, young boy, magic involved theme. While I am no longer a YA I still like to read YA books. It gives me a good idea as per what is popular on the market and the type of books Young Adults like to read. Plus they can be vastly entertaining.

I just finished the series several days ago and have been digesting my feedback on it (shhh… it’s not procrastination). I will give you a brief rundown of synopsis for each of the books and then give you my overall feel towards the series.

*****

The Lightning Thief

By: Rick Riordan

This is the beginning. Were Percy starts to suspect all is not normal in his world, and that he himself is not a normal kid. After his mad race to Camp Half Blood (a summer camp for Heroes or demigods – child of both a mortal and god parent), he finds out who his dad is. However his mom is “killed” in the rush to get him to camp. He is angry and afraid and alone and just wants his mommy back. So when he is given the opportunity to go on a quest to find Zeus missing lightning bolt which they suspect might be with Hades in the underworld, he accepts on a more personal level to hopefully free his mother from the underworld.


The Sea of Monsters

By: Rick Riordan

In this next installment we meet Tyson. Tyson is a Cyclopes, who just turns out to be Percy’s brother. At first resentful, Percy slowly comes to terms with his half-brother and a bond of brotherly love forms. But that is only a little hiccup. The boundaries for Camp Half Blood are failing. The tree has been poisoned and the only thing that could remedy that is the golden fleece. Unfortunately is has been missing in action for quite some time. Also, his friend Grover has gone missing in his quest to find Pan and has created and empathy link with Percy to get his help. On top of all that Percy is refused the quest for the fleece and to find Grover. Like that stops him.


The Titans Curse

By: Rick Riordan

Percy, Anabeth and Thalia are called to help Grover bring in two new half bloods. But it couldn’t just be a simple mission of picking them up at school and leaving. It turns out some monsters were already on the trail. Amidst all the chaos Anabeth goes missing. Furthermore, the Goddess Artemis, head of the hunters, goes missing trying to rescue Anabeth. Also there is a very powerful monster on the loose that they must find before it finds them. And the crème due la crème, the forces of Titan are trying to rise, backed by an opposing army to Camp half blood and the Olympians. Once again Percy is not invited along on the quest, but somehow still manages to get involved.


The Battle of the Labyrinth

By: Rick Riordan

The Titan Lord Krnos has almost risen. His army is getting more powerful. Their first mission is to destroy Camp Half Blood so that they can not come to the aid of the Olympians. Their tool to sneak into the camp past the magical borders: The Labyrinth. Which only means that Percy and his friends must find the magic string before Luke and his forces can find it and the path through the labyrinth. Anabeths quest amidst the labyrinth brings many twists and turns.


The Last Olympian

By: Rick Riordan

This is the book of the final battle. Were the final prophecy regarding Percy Jackson and his sixteenth birthday is revealed. Were forces of good go head to head with forces of evil. Were the prophecies aren’t all black and white, and can have various meanings and interpretations. Hearth fire.

*****

The first three books I listened to as audio books. I loved this as I was working and in a play and didn’t have much time for reading but lots of time for listening. As mentioned before in my blog I was a previous skeptic of audio books for various reasons, however, as long as they have a pleasing voice I am more than willing now to try an audio book.

Now I read the last two books. What this means is that whenever a character would pop up, the narrators voice for that character would also pop up in my head. Particularly the Pegasus Black Jack. The problem with that is that I found that interpretation particularly annoying while listening to it, but hilariously endearing while reading. Try listening to the series than reading it and you may pick up on what I mean.

I think this is a wonderful series with an intriguing concept. Perhaps a bit farfetched, but books aren’t meant to mirror reality. Books to me are an escapist pursuit. It is very well targeted towards its age group, starting Percy at the age of 12 progressing as the series unfolds. This allows YA to emphasis with the character and really back them up. As an adult I am kind of left in disbelief of the situations they must handle at such young ages and am thinking were are the older Heroes to help them out? But that is looking upon it from an adult’s perspective. As a youth, I can see were they would be gunning for him. He even acts like a youth, and not trying to be a 30 year old in a 12 year olds body. I love that and hate it at the same time, because often I was left frustrated by the lack of insight the character had, but at the same time it suited his age.

I also really loved the voice of the character. He sounded like an adolescent. Thought process and everything. It was very funny and amusing and very gripping to read (or listen to) as you get lost in their world. It really helps sweep you into the concept.

The quests kept the action coming and really drove the books. It is one event after then next. The books are good standalone, as each story line is wrapped up within a book, besides the foreshadowing for the ultimate prophecy which, was dealt with at the end of the series.

What I liked most about the concept of the book is that youth would be learning about Greek history and the ancient gods and not even realize it. Of course they are given modern personifications but that is what makes it all the more engaging. Learning while being entertained.

All in all, they are highly engaging reads, very well targeted to their intended audience. I would buy them for any young boy on my list. Give them a Hero.

EDIT: There has been some debate about YA (Young Adult) and MG (Middle Grades) over between the Twitter accounts of Brandon Sanderson and Stacy Whitman. Wether books are being properly categorized. In my neck of the woods, I go by what is on the shelves at the book store (Chapters), as I am not involved in the publishing industry. Books get grouped over in the children's section of the book store, and then by age. The last age group is 9 - 12 (I believe) and then everything after that is YA. The Percy Jackson books can be found in the 9-12 age category. I think this would make them MG instead of how I described them in my above post as YA. They are great books either way, but they would be intended for the younger audience.