Friday, March 30, 2012

Badass Books: INCARNATE

Guys. GUYS. You have to read this book. I don't care what you're doing right now, drop it, buy INCARNATE, and read. You will not regret it (unless you hate awesome story lines, enthralling characters, and beautiful writing...in that case, you're hopeless).

Summary (from Jodi Meadows' website):

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

You guessed it. I'm swooning.

Image from Jodie Meadows' website.
Why I read it: Back in February, I saw a lot of people blogging about this book. The image and the title had me intrigued. I thought--oh a butterfly gets reincarnated as a teenage girl? Then I read the summary and realized it was way better than that. Seriously. So during my reading binge at the beginning of March, I got this on my Kindle. ZOMG Yes: Everything. Absolutely everything. Jodi does a great job building the world. She introduces fantastical elements alongside the familiar in a way that really draws you in. I love, no LOVE, that she includes technology in her story. Oh and the romance is swoonworthy.


My absolute favorite part of this novel is the writing. Jodi has a way with words. I wish I could write something that would even do this book justice, but I can't. So instead, I'm going to share some my Kindle clippings from this book. If that doesn't make you buy it immediately, you've either already read it, or you can't read. Spoilery sentences are in white.
"I must have slept for a little while, because the sky was clear and black, with a dusting of stars like snow."
"New silence, deeper like snow silence."
"Music overwhelmed me, soaked into my skin like water."
"Strings sang, long and warm as gold. Flutes sounded like silver, and clarinets like forests."
"He made me tremble, made me ache inside. My heart wasn't big enough to hold everything I felt, but I couldn't bear the thought of asking him to wait while I caught up." 
"There was a pause where I could have responded, but I left it filled only with starlight and misted breath."
Meh: Are you ready for it? Hold on. Just wait. Here it comes. There was no point while reading this book at which I said, "Meh." None. Zero. I've reflected on it for the past couple of weeks. I even looked at bad reviews to see if there was something wrong with the book. While I could see where some reviewers were coming from, the story wouldn't work any other way. I think Jodi ties the romance and the history and the fantasy together so well that there's nothing I would change. But maybe I'm just a sucker for love.


Five chiweenies to Jodi Meadows.




Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peace to you, Adrienne Rich

TERZA RIMA

1

Hail-spurting sky    sun
splashing off persimmons left
in the quit garden

of the quit house     The realtor's swaying name
against this cloudheap this
surrendered acre

I would     so help me     tell you if I could
how some great teacher
came to my side and said:

Let's go down     into the underworld
--the earth already crazed
Let me take your hand

--but who would that be?
already trembling on the broken crust
who would I trust?

I become the default derailed memory-raided
limping
teacher I never had     I lead and     I follow

RTW: Best March Book

I've been doing a lot of writing lately and not a lot of blogging, so I apologize you've gotten two RTW posts in a row!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.





This week's question: What was the best book you read in March?


First, let me say that I lied in February. I had TORN at the top of my TBR list. But I let a friend borrow it, so I spent all of my March reading on my Kindle. Even so I'm a little torn (cue laughter at my clever pun) for this month's book.

It's between CINDER and INCARNATE (I promise promise promise I'll have a review up by Friday for INCARNATE. I wanted to include my favorite sentences, and I never seem to blog when I have my Kindle around!). There's a brief summary for CINDER on my review, but here's the summary for INCARNATE:

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why...Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame...Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?


If you haven't read these, you need to add them to your TBR list. If they're already on your TBR list, move them to the top!

What was your favorite March book? Leave a comment or a link to your own post below!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RTW: Favorite Moments


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: 

A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision…  these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.

What is your favorite literary moment?

This is such a hard question! I can't pick just one, so here are a few:

CINDER (review here): This one's a total spoiler. Highlight to read on. I love the moment when Cinder takes Peony the cure for the plague, but she's too late. It's so heartbreaking, but so beautiful.
INCARNATE: This one's easy. The masquerade scene is SO swoon worthy. I'm swooning now just thinking about it, and I'll probably be swooning all day. Every touch, every breath is so beautifully done and long awaited. Here comes the spoiler: I guess I must have trust issues, because I was nervous the first time I read the scene. I was afraid someone was tricking Ana. So once I finished the chapter, I re-read it and LOVED it.

WRINKLE IN TIME: I love the entire chapter that takes place on Camaztoz. It's so dark, but I really feel like this is the first time Meg gets an idea of how wonderful her differences are. Spoiler: Although everything that happens to Charles Wallace breaks my heart, when Meg sees her father it made my heart feel so full.

Those are just a few. What are some of yours? (Feel free to post a link to your post in the comments :) )


Friday, March 16, 2012

Badass Books: Cinder

I went on a binge-reading spree last weekend--plowing through ANGELFALL, CINDER, and INCARNATE. I'll have a review up for INCARNATE next week or so. But this one's for CINDER. Oh CINDER. This book is absolutely swoonworthy.

Summary (from macmillan.com):Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


Sounds glorious, doesn't it?

CINDER by Marissa Meyer.
As always, anything I might consider spoilery has been put in white text. Please highlight to read.

Why I read it: Jaime Morrow wrote about it for her January best reads RTW answer. In her description of the book, she wrote, "Think Cinderella meets Sailor Moon meets some sci fi reference that my brain can't come up with right now. Completely familiar and yet totally original at the same time." If you've read my "About me" page (which of course you all have so you don't need me to tell you this, right? right?), then you know I love Sailor Moon. That was all I needed. Even better? Marissa Meyer loves Sailor Moon.

ZOMG Yes: Almost everything about this story is ZOMG yes. Cyborgs, Cinderella, aliens, general awesomeness--what's not to love? And I couldn't help but think it would make a great anime (not just because it's set in New Beijing, either). I fell for these characters right away. Cinder's plight was my plight. I was swept away.

The world building in this story is fantastic. Marissa reveals parts of the world quickly enough to draw the reader in, but not too fast as to overwhelm. 

But my favorite part of this book, by far, was the writing. CINDER is beautifully written. The verbs are strong; the nouns feel hand-picked. Every word of this novel was labored over. It's full of beautiful sentences, and I'm a sucker for beautiful sentences.

Meh: There were only two things about this story that made me say, "Meh." First, Cinder's stepmother (like almost every classic Cinderella stepmother) felt a little flat to me. Her hatred toward Cinder, though tied in part to the general racism toward the cyborg which may be enough to redeem its, seemed hollow.

The only other flaw I saw in this book deals with the big reveal. Highlight to read on. I think Marissa made it much too obvious what Cinder's true identity was. Although the Cinderella story makes it hard to keep her identity a real secret from the reader, I felt like more should have been done to keep it a secret. As soon as the mysterious princess was mentioned, it was obvious Cinder was that princess. I'm not sure how Marissa could have changed it, but that was my biggest issue.

I feel like I need to make a new seal: the official seal of incredible, unbeatable badassery. This book is my favorite that I've read so far this year (beating out THE HUNGER GAMES by a long shot). If you haven't read this and you are at all intrigued, you should. I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down.




Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ellipses are for lovers

Or: How not to use the ellipses in business communications

For those of you who don't know this, my day job is at an agency. I work in public relations. As such, I do a LOT of communicating via email (now I'm imagining an ALOT of email). I have to say, there are a number of people in the business world who show their lack of tact and thoughtful discourse through their use of ellipses.

Because I'm not in the mood to paraphrase the Chicago Manual of Style, I'm not going to go over the proper use of ellipses. But, if you're curious Grammar Girl has a great post on it here.

Back to my rant.

I have received countless emails that use the ellipses at the end of every sentence or even between every sentence. While I understand that ellipses can be used to show a thought trailing off, there is a distinct difference between these emails and the writer trailing off. They are doing one of two things: completely overusing the ellipsis or using it as means of showing their frustration. It's an immature attempt at a personal jab via email.




They have turned the ellipsis into a weapon (or murdered it with overuse).

"It's custom and usage, the growth of the English language," you say.

Nonsense! It's people being too passive aggressive to express what they're really thinking or too lazy to construct a grammatically correct sentence. Do us all a favor and stop taking your frustration out by using this helpless piece of punctuation as a pawn.

I realize my cries may fall on deaf (lazy, passive aggressive) ears. So in order to maintain my sanity, I now try to come up with excuses for their use of ellipses. Here are a few:

not ready to release the flyer...In meeting all day...will try to catch you at break.
Clearly, this person was lying about being in a meeting all day. She must've been on the treadmill, severely out of breath. But I get it, she didn't want to admit she was exercising instead of working. I can let it slide this time.

I would like to see something more motivating and forward thinking...
Rather than internalizing the intended jab, I'll take that ellipsis as an invitation to begin thinking forward. Thank you very much for seeing so much potential!
I am concerned that I provided the information to you Dec 8…Does this mean that there has been no progress? 
This use of an ellipsis is obviously an intended omission, but it seems the information omitted should have been left in for clarity's sake. It should read: I am concerned that I provided the information to you on Dec 8. I know you've emailed and called me numerous times, but I haven't been very responsive. It's been incredibly busy around here! I take complete responsibility. But I have to ask, does this mean that there has been no progress?

Thanks for listening. I feel much better now.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Badass Books: Angelfall

I know I said the next book on my TBR list was TORN. I lied. I read ANGELFALL first. As a note, I try not to be too spoilery in this review, but there are a few points that some may consider spoilers. I've written these in white text. You'll need to highlight them to read them.


Image taken from Susan Ee's website.

Why I read itI browsed the Kindle store and came across ANGELFALL (Penryn & The End of Days Book 1) by Susan EE for only $.99. Lora Palmer mentioned the book in her RTW last week, so I picked it up. I read it in two days.

ZOMG Yes: I love the characters in this book. No one feels particularly flat. By the time I got to the last chapter, the two primary characters--Penryn and Raffee--had both grown and changed. I was also engrossed in the story. Although I haven't read many angel novels, it seems like Susan has found a unique take on angels, and I especially loved the fact that Raffe is agnostic. The angels really don't know if God is real any more than the humans do. Blew my mind.

I was intrigued by Susan's choice to make Penryn's mother a paranoid schizophrenic and am interested to see how this will play out. Part of me has always wondered if people who suffer from this disease aren't all that crazy afterall. Maybe they just see a reality the rest of us aren't capable of comprehending. I hope Susan plays with this idea in her series, and I think she's setting it up for that.

Meh: I hate to say this for fear of sounding stuck up, but I think the writing for this book could have been a little tighter. I noticed that Susan uses a lot of the same words in close proximity, especially in the first few chapters. This sort of jarred me and pulled me out of the story because it made me examine the rest of her writing style. But, by the time I got to the fourth chapter, I was so engrossed in the story that--except for a few isolated incidents--I didn't really notice if the rest of the book suffered from this sort of writing.

I'm also not sure what I think about Obi. Part of me thinks Susan is setting this up to become a love triangle, and I'm really tired of those.

Warnings: No real warnings for this book. It deals with angels, but the religion isn't heavy-handed. Susan makes a few Biblical references, but nothing that feels out of place.

I give it a 3 out of 5

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

RTW: We all have secrets


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's question: NAME THIS LIFE: What would your memoir be called?

I love this topic. When I was in college, I took a class that required me to write a memoir. I know what you're thinking--you were 19, what could you possibly write about that would require a memoir? 
This is the face I imagine you all having: WTF Liz, Srsly?
Oh wait, most of you are YA writers. You get it. Teens go through hard things.

This class was an incredibly healing experience for me (I've always loved the idea of writing as a way to healing). My memoir was only 40 pages double-spaced. I had planned to continue working on it after the class was over.

But it was too hard to write more. 

Someday I hope to go back to it, finish my story, maybe try to find a way for others to find healing through my experiences (in an empathetic way, not at all a "look at me, look at me" sort of way). But this was my first real taste of creative writing (other than poetry). And I fell in love. I couldn't finish the memoir, but I couldn't let myself stop writing either.

I turned to fiction.

Even though I haven't been able to finish the memoir, writing fiction can be incredibly healing, too.

What was the point of all this again? Right, a title. My memoir was/is titled SKELETONS. We all have secrets, but sometimes the only way to heal is to let people know what they are. The first line: "I never expected to end that night on my sister's closet floor."