Wednesday, August 29, 2012

[Review] Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre: Teen Fantasy/Romance 
Published: July 3rd 2012
Pages: 292
My Rating: ★★★★1/2

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.


I grew up loving Disney's Peter Pan, so I was both excited and a bit leery of reading this book. Cracking open the first page, all I could think of was...she's gonna mess it up...she's gonna piss me off somehow... But once I got into it, I found I couldn't put it down. I devoured it in a day.

Beautifully written with incredibly vivid and descriptive language, I envy Anderson's writing style. Though the focus is on Tiger Lily, the book is narrated by Tinker Bell. I wasn't expecting this, but it's creative and works well. As an insignificant faerie, no one really notices Tink. For the most part, all she can do is observe. But we don't always feel her presence in the narration. Sometimes it feels like we're in Tiger Lily's head. It's a nice blend of first and third person. Tink's attitude and jealousy comes through at times too. Spitting in people's hair, biting, reguritating gnats on people...she's a fun character.

Tiger Lily is an outcast--girls don't like her because she's so manly and boys don't like her because she's better than them at hunting and fighting. Fearless, strong, silent, she's one of my favorite heroines. And she doesn't immediately become head over heels for Peter like most girls do in romance books. Nor does he immediately fall for her.

At first, the story makes Peter Pan and his gang seem sinister. Tiger Lily's people think he's dangerous. Numerous rumors surround him--he eats animals raw, kills viciously, steals girls. But we find out Peter and his lost boys are just a bunch of scared, lonely kids. However, they can be ruthless when they need to be. Especially when it comes to Captain Hook and his pirates who constantly hunt them. Pan is unpredictable and childish, which just makes him even more lovable. I have mixed feelings concerning his inability to fly though. I like that Anderson portrays him as more of a normal kid, but Peter Pan should be able to fly!

Though I would prefer to label it fantasy, this story is pretty much a romance. I grudgingly admit that. But it was about freaking Peter Pan, so I had to read it. Usually romance in stories makes me roll my eyes or worse. This story didn't really affect me that way. I think if Tiger Lily had been a girly girl it might've bothered me. I like being able to watch as both Tink and Tiger Lily fall in love with Peter.

Though the novel gets dark at times, I wish there had been a bit more action and death. Personal preference. I was going to give the novel five stars, but I was a bit disappointed in the ending: SPOILER ALERT: Peter goes to England with Wendy, leaving Tiger Lily to marry her childhood friend Pine Sap. I mean, it's a happy ending. But I hate to see Peter grow old. He needs to stay a kid. Always.

If you're a fan of Peter Pan, I don't think you'll be disappointed reading this book. As long as you don't mind  a bit of romance. It's an excellent twist to a classic tale. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello, Author. Nice to Meet You.

Since we're neck deep into the digital age, we have easy access to our favorite authors. We stalk them on Twitter, like their Facebook page, and creep on their blogs and websites. We learn more about them than just the short bio on the back cover of their book.

I'm not sure I entirely like it.

When I became obsessed with reading in junior high, I didn't want to know anything about the authors of my favorite books. What they looked like, where they're from, how they came up with their brilliant stories. I avoided the back cover like the plague. If I saw just a glimpse of their picture, I'd get pissed off. And it's not just with books that I feel this way. I have this thing where I hate learning who the voice actors are of my favorite cartoons. Why, you ask? Because I end up picturing them in my mind when I watch the show. I do the same with authors. I picture them as I read their story. And, let's face it, authors aren't always the most attractive bunch.

Most importantly, though, knowing the author lessens the story, makes it just a book rather than something more special.

Okay, so you're probably thinking I'm insane (and you're right). I realize, of course, it's just a made-up world with made-up characters. But I like to pretend something like it could actually happen, that it actually does exist. I can't help it I prefer fiction to reality.

But since I've gotten serious about writing, I realize I have to push away my wants as a reader and begin looking at things like a writer. It's imperative to know some things about successful authors. Their techniques, their style, how they got into the business, etc. Sometimes it gets me even more motivated to write by knowing how famous authors live. I want their lifestyle. I want to go to be able to travel to another country to write my next book. I want to go to writing retreats in the Greek Isles and to writing conventions. I want to do book signings. I want my book to become a movie.

*strikes godly pose* I want readers to grovel at my feet. 

It's also nice being able to chat with fellow aspiring (though I hate that term) writers. I like that I can share my work on my blog and have other writers read it (*waves* wassup?). I like being able to talk to people who have published their work and are wonderful enough to share their secrets.

My biggest fear, however, is following an author on Twitter or their blog and finding out they're, quite simply, an asshat. I mean, what if it turns out I don't actually like the person who created such an amazing novel? Will I still like their work? Or will I hate it just as much as I do them?

Do you prefer anonymity? Or do you like getting to know your favorite authors?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review Wednesday - Insignia

Author: S.J. Kincaid
Genre: Teen Science Fiction
Published: 7/10/2012
Pages: 464
My Rating: ★★★★★

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War III. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?




Kincaid's debut is humorous, fast-paced, and action packed. I enjoyed every second of it.

Her take on WWIII is intriguing and disarmingly realistic. Though there are still governments, corporations basically rule the world. I think her story is very critical of big businesses today and how they have so much influence. The battles between the Indo-American Alliance and the Russo-Chinese Alliance are fought with spaceships that are controlled on earth by teenagers who have neural processors installed in their brains. There's no risk of death, but there's always the chance of having your brain messed up by a virus or having it reprogrammed by the enemy.

The main character, Tom, is funny, easygoing, brave, utterly ruthless when provoked, and, at times, bloodthirsty. When others run away in fear, he charges on, sword swinging. The best thing though: he's a normal kid (besides the computer he gets in his brain, of course). He's not a genius, not some amazing athlete. He's your average, scrawny, pimple-faced fourteen-year-old who's good at playing video games. I found him to be super likable.

This book has something for everyone--computer geeks, gamers, fantasy freaks (*waves* That's me!), history buffs. There are tons of references, especially to fantasy books and movies as well as real life people and battles. During their training simulations, they fight as King Arthur and his Knights, defeat Japanese ronin, fend off zombies, relive the battle of Troy... Kincaid does an amazing job incorporating all of these elements.

Overall, awesome read. Highly recommended. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Five Mediocre Film Adaptations

Here is a list of book to film adaptations I can watch more than once without wanting to shove my head into a blender. They're not completely terrible, but they're also not entirely great. If you click on the movie's title, it will bring you to the trailer on YouTube.

The Thief Lord

Movie Directed by: Richard Claus
Novel Written by: Cornelia Funke
Synopsis: Threatened with separation, recently orphaned brothers, Bo and Prosper, run away to Venice where they join a group of young thieves who live in an abandoned cinema. Led by Scipio, the Thief Lord, the kids steal from the rich to support themselves all the while evading a bumbling detective, who seeks the two orphans.

Though it was an enjoyable movie, it didn't give me the same tingly nostalgic feeling I get when I read or think about the book. The effects were pretty bad, but they weren't a huge part of the movie, so it didn't bother me too much. The pacing was kind of slow at points too. I also think they could have cast a better actor for Scipio. Though he looked the part, the actor just didn't have the charisma needed to pull off the character.

It's a cute children's movie, and I would recommend seeing it at least once, but it didn't wow me like I wanted it to.

Stormbreaker 

Movie Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Novel Written by: Anthony Horowitz
Synopsis: After his uncle's death, Alex Rider, a fourteen-year-old schoolboy, learns that his uncle wasn't the banker he claimed he was, but in fact a spy for MI6. Alex Rider is recruited to continue the mission his uncle failed. He is sent to Cornwall where he must spy on a billionaire who is planning on donating thousands of his newly developed computers to schools across England.

I was so excited when I learned Anthony Horowitz's book was going to be made into a movie. I was literally jumping up and down, and nearly in tears. I then spent the next few months getting all of the information I could on the movie's progress, which was mostly me stalking Alex Pettyfer (Alex Rider), who I immediately had a huge crush on (I was, like, sixteen. Shaddup).

When I saw it, I was severely disappointed. Sax changed quite a few things from the book. The tone of the book was a bit darker, a bit more serious. In the movie, it felt like they were trying to make it more lighthearted and comical. And then they went and brought the girl (you see the stupidhead gawking at the sexy blond?) in two books too early. Why does there ALWAYS have to be a freaking love interest? I also didn't care for the choice of Mickey Rourke as the bad guy. He didn't fit the part at all and he's not, in my opinion, a very good actor.

Besides Rourke, this movie had an amazing British cast: Bill Nighy (Viktor from Underworld, Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter), Stephen Fry (V for Vendetta), and Ewan McGregor. American actresses Alicia Silverstone and Missi Pyle also starred in it. Great cast. Yet, even they couldn't save the movie.

I should've known it wasn't going to be very good when I had to have my dad drive me and my friend a half hour to some theater in the middle of nowhere because it wasn't playing anywhere else. *sigh* (I still bought the DVD though...shhhh).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review Wednesday - The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Published: 1973
Pages: 450
My Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she'll meet Vizzini--the criminal philosopher who'll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik--the gentle giant; Inigo--the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen--the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup's one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

Normally, I wouldn't do a review on such an established book. I like to find more obscure titles to analyze, but as it happens, I didn't have time to read another book this week and, for the sake of trying to keep to a schedule, I'm posting this.

Goldman's story is outrageously bizarre and funny. Throughout it, I chuckled my ass off. The entire story is just so light-hearted and amusing. It's very different than the books I usually read (which have a lot of violence and, you know, death).

At first, I was a bit confused. Was there an actual S. Morgenstern? Did he indeed write the novel that William Goldman abridged? So I googled it just to be sure and, of course, there wasn't any such person. I really liked how Goldman created the pseudonym to add another layer to his novel. It's an incredibly unique and creative narrative device. I had once wanted to write a fairy tale that is similar, I realize now, to his style. I scrapped the idea years ago, deciding to go with a more serious approach to the story. I don't think I'm funny enough--or at all--to get away with something like that anyway.

Surprisingly, there were quite a few negative reviews for the novel. A lot of people gave the book one star. Their reasons:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Titles Make Me (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

I loathe titles. With a passion. Always have. For term papers, I use "Paper One," "Paper Two," and so on. If a teacher asks for something more thoughtful, I take a keyword or two out of the paper. Needless to say, I never got, nor will I ever get, extra credit for having a spectacularly creative title. Honestly, if I could get away with it, all my research papers and essays would be titled, "Go Suck It, Mr/Ms.____." or "I Just Love Wasting My Time Writing Crappy, Useless Essays."

I've been playing around with the title of my blog. I change it almost daily (hope I haven't annoyed anyone besides myself by doing so). I just can't seem to find one that I like. I've reverted to [Insert Title], which, I am very well aware, is incredibly lame. It's just a placeholder until an epiphany slaps me in the face. Of course, I want something witty, something clever, something that will stand out and also give a fair description of what my blog is about (which is writing and books if no one has noticed). However, my mind keeps coming up blank every time I think about it.

In the book industry, titles are rather important. Perusing the shelves at the B&N, your title has to stand out from hundreds of other books. This has me a bit worried. Not only do I struggle with the title of my blog, but I also strain to come up with a title for my manuscript. Luckily, however, I've read that agents don't really worry too much about the title in query letters. And, besides, the publisher gets the last say anyway.

A few horrendous titles:
  • Le Livre This was when the story was about a special book that brought my characters to another world. Waaay back in 8th grade when I was taking French. Titling a book "the book" in a different language is just idiotic.
  • The Kingdom of Garthna Yeah, that's just stupid. Nobody knows anything about "Garthna." Which, by the way, is a horrid name for a country. I also have trouble giving names to countries, rivers, fortresses, swords, horses, etc. Most of the ones I do come up with are mediocre at best.
  • Summoned Because the main character is summoned to a foreign world.
  • The Kingdom's Champion: Summoned Meh.
  • The Kingdom's Champion: Book One Which is now the current title. I'm not certain I'm happy with it. It doesn't make me "oooh" and "aaaah" like I'm watching fireworks, but it doesn't make me want to stab myself in the appendix. So it works for now. Until someone can suggest something better. *looks meaningfully at*
I've known some crazy mofos who enjoy titling things more than they actually like writing. They come up with dozens of titles and don't even write the story to go along with it. What is that, I ask you? And I say "damn you!" to amazing world-builders like Terry Goodkind and R.A. Salvatore. How dare they be so imaginative! How dare they come up with hundreds of creative names! Makes me wanna take an icepick to someone.

I must ask myself why do creative titles so elude me? The answer:

I am inept.

Here are a few helpful articles I found:
How To Title Your Book
How to Title a Novel
Choosing the Right Name for Your Story

Does titling stuff make you want to bash your face into the keyboard too? If not, do you have any tips you'd care to share? *nudge* *nudge*

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ten Books I Want on the Big Screen

A lot of my favorite books have already been adapted into films. Harry Potter, Stormbreaker, Eragon, Howl's Moving Castle, The Thief Lord, etc. But there's still a TON of books I'd like to see made into movies. Here's a list I'm dying to see in theaters. Although, they're also very special to me. So if the director messes them up (as they so often do), I'd have to kill him/her. Anyway, onward!

Homeland - R.A. Salvatore

Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, first introduced in The Icewind Dale trilogy, quickly became one of the fantasy genre’s standout characters. Homeland first reveals the startling tale of how this one lone drow walked out of the shadowy depths of the Underdark, leaving behind a society of evil and a family who want him dead. It is here that the story of this amazing dark elf truly began.-- Goodreads

I actually read this book first, mistaking it as the first in the series. It is if you go by chronological order, but I like to read books in the order the author published them. When I found out, I was none too happy.

I have no idea who would play Drizzt (it would have to be someone outrageously sexy) or how they would even go about with his costume. I would love to see Johnny Depp play Jarlaxle though. He's quirky enough to do it.

Alanna: The First Adventure - Tamora Pierce

Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. 

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. 

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins--one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a  legend in her land. 

I really enjoyed this quartet as well as Pierce's other Tortall books, which she ties together quite well by including the same characters.

New Moon - Midori Snyder 

Two hundred years ago, the Fire Queen destroyed her rival queens of Earth, Air, and Water in the fateful Burning and took power over the land. No child with a trace of the elemental magic was allowed to live. Years later, the country of Oran still trembles under her oppression. There is unrest in the city--and, for the first time in decades, rumors of hope. They say that four young women bearing the ancient magic escaped--four who have the powers of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air--and are even now finding one another. 

These four have allies. A ragtag army of artists and singers, orphans and vagrants, thieves and knife-wielders, is stealing into the city. Their sign is scrawled on the tavern walls: the bloodred, blade-thin New Moon . . . 

This was a pretty gruesome trilogy. It's a teen book, though at times it seems like it's adult. Lot of swearing, graphic violence, and sex. But I love anything that deals with controlling elements (huge Avatar: The Last Airbender fan). I don't think this book is in print anymore, which is super freaking lame.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review Wednesday - Anna Dressed in Blood

Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance/Horror
Published: 8/30/2011
Pages: 320
Rating: ★★★★

Ghosts aren't just harmless phantoms who spook people. They kill. Viciously. Armed with the athame he inherited after his father's gruesome death, seventeen-year-old Cas Lowood travels the country dispelling violent, killer ghosts. For the past few years, it's been a familiar routine for him, his witch mother, and their spirit-sniffing cat. Until he goes after Anna Dressed in Blood, a girl who was violently murdered sixty years ago. She haunts her house, ripping apart everyone who enters. Except Cas.

Anna isn't like any ghost Cas has ever met. She not only is clever, but also has tremendous power. Cas quickly learns he's in way over his head. Especially when he begins to have feelings for her.

***

First off, I didn't care for the color of the text. It was a dark shade of red. At twenty-two, I have old people eyes. I need black ink on white paper. I almost didn't buy the book because of it. And at one point, I almost threw the book down when Harry Potter was referred to as a wimpy boy wizard. *not amused face*

Other than that, it was a gruesome story and I loved it. One of the first books I've read in a while that's really held my attention. I loved the main character, Cas. He has a dry sense of humor and a brooding personality. He's seen so much stuff, so many dead people, that there's a fearlessness about him. When normal people freak out, he's calm and collect. Except when it comes to the ghost who killed his father. Then we see his fear. But it's not enough to stop him from seeking revenge.

I'm not a good judge at what makes a great horror story. I haven't read enough/seen enough horror movies to be an expert. I thought this book was pretty scary in parts, but I get scared super easily. Like I said, not a great judge.

Though it's labeled paranormal romance, I wouldn't necessarily consider it chick-lit. It's written from a guy's perspective and has plenty of action and gore in it. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of romance. Makes me wanna vomit. But this story's romantic elements aren't obnoxious. There's a great balance.

I believe there is going to be a sequel. Definitely looking forward to reading it!

Have you read it?