Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Current Reading

I haven't posted in a while because I am in the middle of some long works. I am reading The Mists of Avalon (about half way through) and listening to Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross. I only have the first half of The Fiery Cross on CD, so I'll have to read the last half. When I get there, I think I'll start listening to The Help; I am a firm believer that accents and voice matter!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Breath of Angel by Karen Henley

This book will be publsihed in June 2011. It is Book One of The Angeleon Circle. Information on this book can be found at http://www.karynhenleyfiction.com/Karyn_Henley_Fiction/Welcome.html.

I know that vampires were "it" a couple of years ago. Since then, people have been trying to find the next big thing in fantasy: ghosts, witches, zombies, and even angels. This book is about angels.

It is the story of Melaia, a priestess in Navia who has been trained as a chantress but has NOT been trained in the ways of angels. This is unfortunate, since an angel is killed in her courtyard by a hawk-man. Through her recitation of a song she has known all of her life, she comes to understand that angels and legends she had not believed in before are actually real. As the book continues, she comes to understand that she plays a great role in the angel legend.

I really liked Melaia's love interest, Trevin. I hope future books further develop this relationship. In fact, I feel that this relationship is the most well-developed part of this book. It seems real and captures the uncertainty and need for acceptance that constitute teen relationships.

The rest of the book seems rushed. I feel that the author probably wrote a 500-page novel and someone at the publishing company told her to cut it down to 300 pages. There is so much action (plot-driven-ness) packed into these pages, that character development seems left out. I think this book would benefit from first-person narration; at least one character would be more fully developed. In fact, there is so much action and there are so many characters, that I am not sure teen girls (the intended audience) will stick with it. There were times when I felt overwhelmed reading this, and I'm a good reader. Also, the end seems contrived and too neat of a package (Jerrod and Melaia's father, etc.); the story almost seems soap-opera-ish with all of the inter-connections.

With that said, I do want to read the rest of this series. I like Melaia and Trevin, and, since I pushed on and finished the book, I want to know what happens to them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I watched the movie version of this before I read the book; I do not recommend doing so.

Why do I read Nicholas Sparks? He just makes me sad. I know I looked like a goob crying in my car while I listened to this book on tape. I found this little nugget on the same webpage and find it enlightening: http://www.nicholassparks.com/LearnMore.asp?BookID=12. I like the 3rd paragraph best as an answer to my issues with Sparks.

There is a summary of this book at http://www.nicholassparks.com/LearnMore.asp?BookID=12. Will someone else who read this book please tell me if John Tyre dropped out of high school? I just read it, and I did not think he dropped out; I thought he graduated and then lived as a loser for a while. The description on Sparks' own page describes him as a drop-out. (If that had been the case, then the book would have had to describe his getting his GED before he could join the army...which it didn't do...BTW!)

My problem with this book is that I know what happened in it was the right thing to do, but I still wanted something else to happen (like her husband to die of cancer? Horrible thought!).

Finally, the saddest question of all: How many people did this happen to after 9/11? (I am particularly glad to say that my friend Laura Corlew's fiance just returned from a tour of duty and they are still in love and engaged and getting married in June!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Follies of a Youth by Misti Beem Jenkins

I wrote a short story for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It writing contest back in January. My story can be found at http://www.pemberley.com/bin/fic/fic.cgi; it is #14. I really enjoyed writing my story and thought it was quite good. The English classes at Overton were encouraged to read the short stories and vote for their top 3. Of course, many of them came and told me they voted for me! I had the best compliment from John Robinson when he told me that it was the best short story he's ever read and he now wanted to read Jane Austen.
The competition ended on March 1. I came in 12th in the popularity portion of the contest and missed moving on to the talent round by 2 positions. I am very sad because apparently only one vote from Overton counted because our computers are all on the same network.
After several email exchanges with a representative of the competition, I ended yesterday morning in tears at her rudeness and relief that I didn't win becuase it would have meant dealing with her even more.
I have been encouraged by several friends to make my story into a book. I'll see what the summer holds.
My favorite part of this whole process was when the non-Austen fans asked me to write about what happens to Anne and Captain Wentworth. (If you don't know, please read Jane Austen's Persuasion.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe

I requested this book from the NPL after Gene and I went to see The Eagle (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034389) on our last "Date Saturday." When I went to the movie, I had no idea it was based on a book. I left the movie wanting to read it.
I enjoyed the book, but the 1950s writing was a bit odd. In the last few decades, authors have come a long way with developing character among groups often thought to lack character (ex. Native Americans, Egyptians, Ancient Romans). In this novel, the old attitude that Ancient Romans were a bit heartless still comes across. Yes, Marcus and Esca have a friendship, but its depth is never explained. The romance element is hard to buy as well.
Speaking of the romance element, I am really surprised that it was left out of the movie. I would have thought that Hollywood would have looked for a way to place a beautiful woman in a guys' movie.