Bookmark FAIL

So, I realized that I have been giving out my MooMiniCards with the wordpress address instead of the blogger address. So if you’ve met me in the last little while and are wondering when the heck I’m going to update my blog, I’ve been doing it–just not here!

Anyway, I’ll be backing up my posts on this blog from now on, so bookmark me wherever you like.

Releasing the Frontal Lobe: A Catch-Up Post

So, I really haven’t been doing much reading lately–well, I have, but I just can’t seem to finish anything! With all the events of the last few weeks, including LATFOB, Gayle Forman’s Musical Tour, and Children’s Literature Council, and everything I need to read/write/make for school… My eyes are about to fall out of my head.

So I’m going to unload a little bit of information onto the blog, and hope that makes some room in the grey matter chamber to finish the semester without too much screaming.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff
If you hunger for love and thirst for approval, you’ll devour this clever novel in just a few bites. This book was funny, touching, and a great counterpoint to Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I think it’s pretty strange that I decided to read them both at the same time. Food is much more enjoyable; I enjoy the complexities in the various characters like O. Douglas, the quarterback who takes Andrew “under his wing” so to speak; the various attitudes toward fatness that help both Andrew and the reader see beyond the blubber. For the synopsis, click here.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (The Queen’s Thief, Book 1)
This has been sitting on my shelf for at least a year or two. I finally picked it up last week and couldn’t put it down! Storytelling figures greatly in this book as Gen and other characters retell folktales based on Greek myths. The final twists and turns revealed at the end of the book are clever and well worth the wait! I wish I weren’t still in the middle of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell so I could plow through the next three books. For the synopsis, click here.


Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (Inside Out, Book 1)
A wildly imaginative new fantasy from the author of Poison Study. Some may find the endless tension tiring but it just kept me wide awake. I know from experience, Maria’s hard on her heroines–they can never seem to catch a break. If you love dystopia, you’re in luck. And if you’re not an attentive reader, leave this one alone: I needed a map to figure out where the heck Trella was going under, inside, in-between and upside down in this futuristic thriller. Luckily the author provides them on her website.😀 For the synopsis, click here.
FORTHCOMING:

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 2)
Due out July 20, 2010. I got my hands on an ARC of this for about 24 hours and I was not disappointed–all the romance of the original plus a sly, creeping dread; a new wolf; and what I love most of all: Maggie’s lyrical writing. So few writers now can really use language in a way that makes you want to dance; Stiefvater’s musicianship seems to come out of every instrument–even the lowly word processing application can be made to sing. Play on, Maggie, play on!

There’s more, but I’ve got to get to chem lab (shakes fist at double-displacement reactions) so check back later!

I leave you with a link to new original fiction at Tor.com: “The Courtship of the Queen” by Bruce McAllister.

Trying out this new layout. Hmm!

Trying out this new layout. Hmm!

Oh yeah!

Just a quick note to say this blog will be moving to http://frootjoos.blogspot.com/ sometime this week. You can enter the Fallen contest on that blog.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Harsh, I know. But honest.

Harsh, I know. But I’m being honest. I did not like this book.

Spoilers ahoy, and beware!

The Gist

Luce is a troubled young girl who has just been forcibly enrolled into Sword & Cross, a reform school where she is expected to overcome whatever violent tendencies led to her previous almost-boyfriend Trevor to die a horrible mysterious death–which she is supposedly responsible for, though the authorities couldn’t prove that what happened was her fault, nor can they prove really what happened at all. Something to do with dark, swirling shadows.

The Plot

Luce navigates high school usual (mean girls, gym class, detention) while being fought over by two boys, Cam and Daniel, to whom she is mysteriously drawn–Cam is gentlemanly and keeps giving her gifts, while Daniel is cold and aloof but she’s inexplicably drawn to him anyway.

The Good

There was one good and unexpected twist, a character who appears to be on on side but is really on the other. Lauren Kate, you really did fool me. Bravo.

The Bad

Luce and Daniel have a supernaturally connected past–he seems to know everything about her already, while she seems to have no idea why. Instead of exploring this intriguing setup by elaborating on these many past-life romances (which, done right, would have been WIN!), the author enumerates them in 1 sentence about 3/4 of the way into the book, after boring the reader to death by falling into the treacherous Twilight-find-and-replace formula (epic FAIL).

For those who are not familiar with Twilight:

1 ) Girl feels an inescapable “pull” towards Cute Guy
2 ) Cute Guy treats her coldly
3 ) Something threatens to crush Girl–in this case, a stone angel statue falling in the school cemetery (yes, the school has a cemetery)
4 ) Cute Guy saves her from smushing, starts being nicer to her
5 ) Girl spends rest of book remarking on how cute Cute Guy is
6 ) Kissing
7 ) Peril–in this case two factions of fallen angels fight over Luce’s soul, no reason is given, although ostensibly there is one that will be revealed in later books
8 ) Cute Guy saves Girl from further death, then pushes her away “for her own good” leading into the sequel

Replace Girl and Cute Guy with the names you picked for you character and you’re set for a teen blockbuster!

Also, while the fallen angel mythology is fairly transparent to the reader, it takes the main character much too long to figure it out. The “dark shadows” that follow Luce around are inconsistent and are rendered so non-threatening that by the middle of the book, you’re not sure whether you’re supposed to be worried about them or not. And by then, I also wanted to just make someone else read the book for me, then have them explain what happened just to satisfy my curiousity.

Now we come to what I call “Lost Season 4 Syndrome”: when the Story poses more Questions than it Answers, and none of the Answers that it does reveal are compelling enough to make the Audience want to continue on further discovering Answers, you Lose the Audience. I, being a conscientious audience member, soldiered on (both with Lost, which I now like again, and with Fallen, which I finished but did not enjoy) and I really do hope that both creative parties make me glad that I did. Will I read the sequel, Torment? Probably, yes. Will I like it, now, that’s a different story.

Now what?

If you know me, you know that while I like Twilight, I am not blind to its weaknesses–I know it’s poorly written and kind of silly. I also know that it is extremely easy for young adult authors to, whether they go into it knowingly or not, end up using the same formula–see also Evermore & Hush, Hush. I am still holding out hope that somewhere along the production line for whatever the author/publisher thinks will be “the next Twilight”, someone is brave enough to go, “Hey, you know, this sounds exactly like–“. I am still holding out hope that whoever worked on Fallen and the other two didn’t just see the similarities and, instead of pointing it out, rubbed their hands together and said “We’re gonna make millions!” followed by an evil laugh or two.

I am hoping that the author has a better idea for the second book. sigh.

The contest!

What? You’re giving away your ARC? I thought you hated it and are telling me not to read it!

First of all, I’m not telling you not to read it. It’s a free country. Undoubtedly there will be people out there who do not have the same reading tastes as I do, and/or are looking for something that will hit the same nerves as Twilight (and unfortunately for this author, those nerves of mine have been beaten to a pulp by Twilight and no longer activate). In which case, Fallen will scratch that itch!

Secondly, there’s that whole FTC brouhaha (The Story Siren has a great blog post about that from a few months ago) about ARCs as compensation for favorable reviws–in this case, it was not a favorable review anyway, but I’m still getting rid of the book.

So!

If you are still curious, and if you liked Evermore and/or Hush, Hush and think you will enjoy this book too, then enter to win.

Comment below and answer one or more of the following prompts:

Are you still in the thralls of Twilight-mania, and do you think this condition will allow you to view Fallen in a more favorable light than I did?

Are Angels the new Vampires? Why or why not?

Is there a YA book that you enjoyed in 2009 that stood out as not being a Twilight clone? What was it, and why do you think so?

If you read a negative review of something, will you still read the book? Why or why not?

+1 for every prompt you answer and +1 for subscribing or being a subscriber already <–edit: do this on Blogspot! I’m moving later this week.
+1 for friending me on GoodReads!
+1 for each tweet and/or blogpost about this review and contest. Here’s the shortlink: http://bit.ly/rnslfallen

Each point is assigned a number, and at the end of the contest I will use the random# generator to choose a number between 1 and the total number of points. If the number corresponds with one of your points, you win! The more points you get, the more chances you have of winning. I can only track the points you declare in the comments portion of this entry, so comment whenever you tweet or blog leading someone to this post.

The contest is open to US residents only (sorry, I’m poor on postage right now) and ends at 12 am on January 11, 2010.

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn

This is what I got my godson for Christmas. He’s 13 and getting interested in cooking–I’m glad! I’m also hoping the end result will taste good and end up in my belly.

Husband, for the record, was intimidated by cooking to the point where he didn’t attempt making anything from scratch until after watching 9 years’ worth of Alton Brown’s Good Eats. He can now make pot roast, burgers (with freezer fries), chocolate chip cookies (really good ones!) and he can finally run the rice cooker without screwing it up.

Other good cookbooks that don’t look too girly and are not written in scary specialized culinary language:

How to Cook  Revised Edition: An Easy and Imaginative Guide for the Beginner

How to Cook by Raymond Sokolov

Seriously, a great book for someone who’s never even mashed a potato before.

Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin

Eat Me: The Food & Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin

Be prepared for swearing. There’s lots of swearing. Don’t miss the great intro by Calvin Trillin, who explains the institution and culture of Shopsin’s.

Nigella Express


Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson

Ok, this last one is a bit girly-looking and pink. But the recipes are really easy, fast, written in simple language, and let’s face it, Nigella’s voluptuous figure provides a bit of extra eye-candy in addition to the mouthwatering food. I don’t think the guys will mind.

For those who are already expert in the kitchen:

Momofuku

Momofuku by David Chang & Peter Meehan

This one scares even me. But I really really want to make my own ramen someday.

Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites That Delight Before the Meal Begins

I’m in love with hors d’oeuvres. I think that’s all I’ll eat next year.

The Dark Divine & Magic Under Glass

Hitting bookshelves everywhere today:

The Dark Divine

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

and

Magic Under Glass

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

– – –

I can’t even bring myself to synopsize either of these books for you because they end up looking like this: “squee!!! !!! !!!” and absolutely incoherent with excitement. Click on the (gorgeous) covers and that will take you to GoodReads where you can read proper jacket copy like normal people. And then descend into the squealing madness that I’m feeling, which I’m about to exacerbate by consuming a large amount of coffee and sugar.

I was going to wait until the mailman could bring my copy, because the wind outside has been howling for about 3 hours now–and throwing things against the side of the apartment building with dramatic crashing noises–but I think I am going to brave the weather and hunt these down today! (…though still hoping husband feels like driving…)

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