Thursday, August 22, 2013

TBC: All the feels

          The Book Chewers are having another awesome linkup!

Prompt: It's all about the feels this week! Walk us through the books that have had a profound emotional impact on you.

                                                           Be warned, this is not spoiler free.

          Made me laugh: Hm, a good many books do that. Eh, not always because they mean to either. . .  I'll pick two. The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan and The Knight by Steven James.

         Made me cry: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. The end. It follows Hood's life; so you know what happens in the end? And he was betrayed for such a petty reason! That book had me balling, almost in front of people too. *sniffles*

           Made me feel nostalgic: Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. The whole trilogy. It does have an Anne of Green Gables feel, but I relate even more with Emily. Kindred spirits. :)

           Made me depressed: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett. I love his style. But I just couldn't finish the series. I moped the whole week it took me to read.

           Made me angry: The Secret Garden by ? The girl made me so angry; she was such a brat! I didn't finish the book, so I'm not sure this counts. I don't normally finish books that make me angry. . . kind of like the depressing ones. Oh, AND my English textbook. It's a book- and I finished this one. You see, I was quite certain that it lied to me when it said that verbs could become nouns. I had refused to believe in gerunds. There were other issues I had with my textbook. I kicked it across the room once. Its sharp corner bit the bottom of my foot. Heh, that's why it only happened once.

           Shocked me: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I haven't read the back of the book. If it's a series and the author's gained my trust, I don't read the back of the book. It ruins the surprises. So I didn't know Katniss was going back into the arena. It totally devastated me, as much as it did Katniss. As soon as she found out, I closed my book. And didn't pick it up for another week. I realized it was because, I didn't want to go back into the arena again. I didn't want to follow Katniss and go through all that again. That's how amazing a writer Collins is. She really gets you into the world and mind of the character. (I did finish it by the way.)

           Satisfied ending: Any mystery by Sibella Giorello leaves me with a grin on my face. That refreshing, aaahh moment. When you know everything's alright, justice has been served, mercy given, but we don't have to say good-bye to our beloved FBI Agent just yet because the next book will be out soon. :)

           Astounding, yet inevitable ending: Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I. love. this. book! And the end, wow! All readers gasp and before we can let it out, we read THE END. The end? What?! But, really, it was inevitable. I was itching throughout the whole two books to know- What is outside the fence? What is the rest of the world doing? Why does the gate not lock things out, but instead locks them in? And now the answers! Can't wait for the next book!

           Worst ending: I'm blanking. Perhaps it's one of those books I haven't finished because they make me depressed or angry?

          Terrified me: The Cooper Kids series by Frank Peretti. Chilled me when I was younger. And it didn't help that I read at night either. The most frightening were The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey and Escape from the Island of Aquarius. Eck, still get the be-jeebers thinking about it. Steven James' The Rook was pretty creepy too. A villain who truly cannot feel physical pain. Then add spiders.

          Mixed feelings: The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. They never made it inside Snow's office. They didn't even encounter him before their mission was foiled. It felt very incomplete and rushed. Yet there were those perfectly planned, vital moments with her and Peeta. Then Prim. Prim! May I say, Prim, again? I know, I know, I should've seen it coming. But cut us some slack. Prim? Wwwhhyyyyyy? The end ending with Katniss and Peeta trying to mend the shattered pieces of their lives was really kind of sad. Hopeful, yes, yet still sad. But the end, with Katniss and Haymitch, Snow and Coin, and the arrow. Oh, it was genius! And, maybe I should've, but I didn't see it coming. And it was the best surprise of the whole book. :)
          Okay, so maybe I fell to using italics more often than I ought have. Again Emily Bryd Starr and I are kindred spirits. :)

          And now I realize that if you haven't read these books, then I've just written a very unintelligible post. :P I apologize.

          By the way, according to the Classics Club's spin on Monday, I'll be reading The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe. Uh, as soon as I find it. The possibility of the library not having it didn't seem relevant when I made my list. :P

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Random Inc.

          Hello again. I've been on the computer today scouring around at random things.

           Mostly because I get these emails from Writers Digest all the time and for once I decided to follow some of the links they send me. And you know, how links lead to links. . .

           So I found this really cool site called YARN. YA Review Network. They publish works on the internet by both well-known authors and, uh, not so well-known authors. Teen authors too. So I poked around for a little while. Lucky my internet was in a good mood today. There's neat story by Sara Zarr, I forget the title. And this other one with a cave and dragons, loved that one. I checked under the 'How to Submit' tab, you know, in case, one day. . . I actually get good at writing short stories. It's sounds fun though, they have such a wide variety of stories. You should look into submitting if you write short stories or poetry (though I'm not sure what YA poetry looks like).

           And then I went to this 'humor writing link.' With many other links linked to it. I feel I've trekked through the whole the cyber world for funny anything. It's seems settled though that most funny words have a k-sound. Sounds crazy. Almost superstitious. But it seems true. Like catapult. That can be funny. Launch? Not so much. Or a pocket full of pickles. Even comedy and joke have k-sounds in them. And the g-sound too. Goggle-eyed.  And who names their kid Gertrude?
           And series of threes. The first two go together and the last is more unlikely. Like peanut butter jelly soup. Okay, technically that wasn't a series.
           Of course, you always want to save the funniest word for last in a sentence. Like the last laugh, I guess.
           And then being specific is always more funny (uh, more funny, funnier?).

I washed my hands a lot today.
           Uh, not funny.

Today I washed my hands 271 times!

           At times the presentation helps too (figured that one myself

         Oh, and I found a list of funny words. I've only perused it. But I'm liking bamboozled, shebang, and lackadaisical. But the list starts with b. Apparently a words aren't funny.

           On a side note that is totally unrelated, I recently changed my major from English to music. Immensely nervous about that. Why? I talked about it on my other blog. And I've written a eulogy too. Interesting that today is bad poetry day.

           So as you can see today I've spent an unacceptable amount of time on the internet. And- I have a theory. When I don't have work, I go through the day doing things. Of course everybody does. But when 8pm ticks around, I realize, the whole day has gone by and I have yet to accomplish anything of worth. So I stay up, not too late, 2am perhaps. So I have something to show for my day. This is why I'm a night owl. I'm beginning to wonder if that's the same theory behind many night owls.

           I've also found out that August is Romance Awareness month. That's just- weird. But, since I'm terrible at writing the romance parts in my books, there might be a post or link-up for fun. What do you think?

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Knight by Steven James

           I took a break from reading fantasy so I could continue one of my favorite mystery series. The Knight is the third book in the Bowers Files by Steven James. (And if you ever have a chance to hear him speak, he's great.)

           I could give you a summery. I realize that I don't often do that. But since I dislike giving too much away because suspense is one of my favorite elements of reading, I'll just say that it's a psychological thriller. So it's filled with very unusual murders, and it makes you think. I love books that make you think. And it's high-energy. Don't forget that.

           "Pat, since Friday you were nearly burned alive, bitten by a rattlesnake, sealed in a mine, blown up, and crushed by a boulder."

           Let me start out by saying, the POV was excellent! It was a little shaky in the first book, The Pawn, because when the author would change to a woman's POV you could still kind of tell it was written by a guy. In The Rook, the POV improved, and now it's amazing how well each chapter or scene is distinctly one person's thoughts alone. You get to know the characters well and they each have their own distinct voice.

           Also even though the POV level is really deep, James isn't afraid to have many POV characters. I like that. The protagonist is spotlighted with first person and the other characters have third person. I could go without the italics because basically it's all internal thought in a way, but that's okay. Best POV I've read in a while!

           Something is always going on. The tension never stops. It also makes you think and not just about the mystery itself, but about life. Patrick Bowers, the main character, deals with a lot of large questions. What is more important: the truth or justice? He also continues to deal with other questions he wrestled with in the previous books, like the right and wrong way to carry out justice, and what's the difference between ordinary people and the criminals, who happen to have ordinary lives too? That last one always has me thinking long and hard. What causes people to do something so unfeeling like murder and then turn into monsters? And how do you react to that without becoming like them?

           It was also hilarious.
J The conversations between Patrick and his step-daughter. Priceless. The romance was more or less on the funny side too.

           Okay, now for the characters.
J Who, or course, were amazing. (no, I'm not telling you the mystery half. You must find out for yourself.)

           Ralph is one of Patrick's co-workers and close friends. Their conversations outside of FBI talk are hilarious. They're really kind of like brothers. Both Ralph and Patrick are smart and strong. But when they're together, you always see Pat as the brains and Ralph as the brawn. They make a good team. I was kind of sad that Ralph wasn't in this book as much as he was in the others, but that's okay.
           I folded my arms. "I'm just eating a meal in her general vicinity."
           "Sure. Gotcha."

           Cheyenne is also a co-worker. . . and a love interest. I have mixed thoughts on her. The best part: Wow, can she shoot a gun! And ride a horse. She's versatile, confidant, compassionate, and she has a great sense of humor. But maybe I’m a little old-fashion like Bowers, the guy is supposed to ask the girl out. Right? She just seems to be a little too strong in ways to me. If that makes any sense.

           Amy Lynn Greer. She's a newspaper reporter. Need I say more? She's determined and focused. And she has one goal: herself. Ugh, that lady drove me crazy! She might as well have been a mini-villain in her own little world.

           The villain is, wow. If you ever need tips on how to make unfeeling, creepy villains, read Steven James' books. He always has the best villains. I mean, the best worst villains. Uh. . . oh, never mind. . . Giovanni is my favorite out of all of them. He's so unfeeling. How do you get like that? Forget that; I don't really want to know. But he was so brilliant too. And the whole fact that –spoiler- he considered himself a storyteller and based his crimes off the Decameron, was so intrigue and new. Just amazing -end spoiler. He's very composed and meticulous. Every detail is so well thought out and preplanned. He's scary. I know that's putting too simply, but it's the plain truth.

           Let me divert here on the note of the villain. I love how the author writes the mystery itself. He keeps you guessing at who the killer is. All the time. I love to try to figure it out (duh, Ashley, that's what you're supposed to do). He always sets it up where even at the end there's still a few people who could possibly be the killer and but he doesn't reveal it until the end. And more than likely you've guessed correctly halfway through the book, but he throws more possibilities at you and so you forget about that person. Like he said in one of his seminars once, the ending is always "unpredictable yet inevitable." Amazing, people. You should read the book.

           Back to the characters.

           "You listen to death metal and sleep with a teddy bear."

           Tessa, Bower's step-daughter, is one of my favorites. She's a typical teen,  sort of. She wears black, enjoys reading Poe, and edits her classmates' essays for a small fee, of course. And yet, she's always squeamish around blood and, well, anything that has to do with her dad's work. Even though she always wants to know what he's doing.  She's so intelligent. I love her humor. And her winsome incongruities.

           Special Agent Patrick Bowers is my favorite of them all. He's intelligent. He has a strong sense of justice. But he's also very honest. He just can't lie, even if he tries. He can think in stressful situations and always seems to push his limit of endurance.

           What I really like though is Patrick and Tessa together. With his dry sarcasm and her ironic, caustic humor, there's never a dull moment. Or a want of tension. They're one of the best father/daughter characters. They never fail to have some ongoing dispute, but when it really matters, they'll remind each other that they always love the other.  
           I stopped and stared at the door. "It's cool that I was almost burned alive?"
           "That you were
almost burned alive." The door opened a crack, and her head appeared. "If you had been, it would have totally sucked."
           Oh. Well in that case.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Classics Club

           (in which you get to snicker at Ashley's ignorance of classics)
           I recently read a post from Candy Apple Books about a site called The Classics Club. It's rather interesting. The Classics Club often does a Classics Spin in which they each have a list of  20 classics they want to read. On a set day they choose a number between 1 and 20 and what ever number they pick you have to read that book on your list. And for this next spin. The book has to be finished by October 1.
           I decided to take the challenge. I haven't read many classics. The most exposure I've had to them is watching Wish-Bone as a kid. :) But I've always wanted to. So I will do this! Though I'm not sure if I can come up with twenty classics off the top of my head. :P And I'm not going to categorize them. Here we go:

1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

2. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas (I've seen this movie recently and loved it.)

3. Silas Marner by ? (I tried to read this when I was younger, uh, because I saw the Wish-Bone version. But it really confused me; I couldn't finish it.)

4. The Purloined Letter by ? (I vaguely remember the Wish-Bone version, aside from that I know nothing of it. But it sounds interesting.)

5. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (I already plan to read this. So two birds. One stone.)

6. Sherlock Holmes by Arther Doyle Conan (see! I know this author. I suppose I'll have to figure out which book comes first)

7. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (always wanted to read this!)

8. The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (Again, I plan to read this one anyways.)

9. Innocence Abroad by Mark Twain (I read a snippet of this in my literature. Hilarious! Now I have to read it all one day.)

10. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (so I only know the author because the book was on someone else list. . . it's not cheating, it's. . . resourceful)

11. The Decameran by Giovanni Boccaccio (you'll know why after I review The Knight, and yes, that is coming up soon!)

12. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer

13.The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (because I saw the Alfred Hitchcock version)

14. Sweeney Todd or The String of Pearls by Anonymous (because I'm now perusing the Classic Club's archives to find anything familiar, and my friend sang a song about it in choir)

15. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (it was in their archives, and this book has always made me curious as to what's in it's pages)

16. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

17. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

18. Inferno by Dante (I've always wondered what this was about)

19. A Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

20. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

           So this coming Monday they will draw the number. It sounds like so much fun (even though I have no idea what most of these books are about). Anybody else want to do it too?
           Also that review? The Knight by Steven James. It's coming up soon. Just thought I'd remind you. :) It's a mystery.

           Do you read many classics? Have you read any of the ones on my list? How did you like them? Or do you rarely read classics?