Sunday, June 28, 2009

Monthly GRaB Update and REVIEWS

I've read a kajillion books in June but I really want to get the blog redesign finished.  So, I will not be choosing a GRaB winner for June, but then I will choose two for July.  Stay tuned - there are some really excellent titles to come!

AMUSING MONDAYS: In Advance

Well, in case you missed the news last week, I was punished by McKoala (long story) and forced to write 5000 words by Sunday evening.  As you'll see from the post date, tonight is Sunday evening.

Here are my wordcounts for the past week:


MONDAY - ZERO


TUESDAY - ZERO


WEDNESDAY - ZERO


THURSDAY - ZERO


FRIDAY  - ZERO


SATURDAY  - 1449


Leaving one day in which to write 3551 words.  As you can see, I wrote nothing over a five day period.  Could I possibly write 3551 words in one day?  Actually, one afternoon, since Sunday is a work day for me?  Is Rosey up against the McKoala Claws of Doom?  Did I misjudge and fatally procrastinate?


NO!   I ACTUALLY MADE THE 3551 (okay, 3713) words this afternoon!  And none of them were "watermelon"!

5000 WORDS IN A WEEK!


Now, were they good words? Not necessarily. But I've never written a book in my life, and I figured the birthing process this first time would be slow and painful. I write sermons pretty quickly, now, ten years after seminary, so I think it will get easier. In the meantime, I have a story unfolding that I didn't quite expect, and I'm pleased with that, at least.

I hope the process has amused you, especially Mr. Betty Nagel who pointed out I was spending an awful lot of time commenting on blogs. That was the first time I realized maybe I should get myself in gear.  Thanks, B.

I am fawningly indebted to McKoala for being mean. I truly felt the pressure to live up to her expectations (and avoid JJdeGoblin's toenail peelers) and think this whole group-accountability thing is an excellent idea.

Stay tuned this week - I have fifteen (yep, 15) reviews to write by the end of the month.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pete's Birthday - Take 2

Because....you can never have too much birthday.  And because, Sarah's right, I'm totally stalking Pete (I want an acknowledgement in his first book..ha!)

Happy Birthday, Pete!

May your day be filled with all your favorite things. 
(I didn't have a picture of Maria.)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES by Zoë Marriott

Daughter of the Flames Daughter of the Flames
by Zoë Marriott

February 10th 2008 by Walker Books Ltd
Paperback, 268 pages
1406308617 (isbn13: 9781406308617)

rating: 4 of 5 stars


From Booklist

Marriott’s first novel (The Swan Kingdom, 2008) was inspired by a fairy tale; this second fantasy creates its own world with a complex history of civil war, racial struggles, and religious beliefs. Fifteen-year-old Zira, raised by the Ruan people, bears facial scars and buried memories of her true heritage—she is the hidden heir to the kingdom of Sedorne, ruled by her despotic uncle Abheron. Being half Ruan herself, she represents the possibility of a union between the indigenous Ruan and the occupying Sedorne. When Abheron sends his troops to destroy her home, Zira learns the truth about her identity and sees a glimmer of hope to overthrow Abheron through marriage with a Sedorne lord. Readers of Tamora Pierce will happily immerse themselves in a character not unlike Alanna: a headstrong, feisty teen who glories in physical combat and longs for (and finds) a true soul mate. Marriott’s writing is smooth and compelling; lush descriptions are balanced with plenty of fast-paced battles. A satisfying read for fantasy lovers, with rich backstory, lavish costumes, and a happy ending. Grades 7-11. --Debbie Carton

I finished Daughter of the Flames with a smug sense of justification. When I read Marriott's debut novel, The Swan Kingdom, I predicted her second novel would be remarkable. And, indeed, Daughter of the Flames is an amazing leap from an author who has really stepped up her game. The writing moves quickly, the originality of the story stays fresh throughout, and, above all, Marriott's done some first-rate world-building. Addressing my biggest pet peeve, Marriott does especially well at creating two religions which must co-exist, and she keeps the theologies of these systems consistent. (Yay!!)

The weakness in Daughter of the Flames is in the almost ulterior motive Marriott has to validate Zira with a man. The third wave feminist in me wants to celebrate a male-female equally empowered relationship. And I'm all for romance. But Zira marries at Sorin's insistence for political and convenience reasons, in an act that seems remove the possibility of her own agency and choice. Then, Sorin fades, more or less, into suggesting that it's only his backing her that makes Zira powerful.

Still, this is a fantastic, fun, amazing story. Anyone who likes YA, fantasy, or both, should read this book, if not buy it. It would be a great gift for a female graduating high school or going off to college, or for Mr. I-finished-a-Manuscript.



Steph Su reviews Daughter of the Flames and interviews Zoë herself!!

THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE: A NOVEL by Shannon Hale

The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel 
by Shannon Hale

June 9th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA
Hardcover, 352 pages
159691288X (isbn13: 9781596912885)

rating: 3 of 5 stars


"Becky was seven months pregnant when she met Felix Callahan."

As you can tell from the title and the jacket flap, Becky Jack is a 34-yr-old mother of (almost) four when she meets Felix Callahan (think Hugh Jackman, only British). By the time they've shared elevator and limo rides, both of them know they have a bond. Not romantic. Not sexual. Months and years later and millions of phone call-minutes later, they agree that they're more than best friends but less than spouses.

My first inclination was to give this book four stars. It's captivating and funny. I adore Shannon Hale (Austenland, Book of a Thousand Days.) And I am grateful she accomplished what I'd long wanted: to see When Harry Met Sally disproven. Men and women can be friends, and sometimes very close friends (without their relationships being a threat to their spouses.) The Actor and the Housewife is worth reading if only because everyone needs to rethink what constitutes "intimacy" and "friendship."

However, there's much of The Actor and the Housewife that left a poor aftertaste. "Housewife?" Could we fuel the stay-at-home v. working moms fight any more? Yes, I'm a stay-at-home mom with a part-time job and a career on hold. So perhaps it's only my own feathers that get ruffled at the implausibility that Becky bakes pies every week, keeps her house relatively clean, manages her four children, still adores have sex with her husband and manages to write - on the first try - a screenplay that's snatched up by a major Hollywood studio (the setting for her meeting with Felix.)

Becky's not only a housewife, she's a Mormon housewife, and there are definite religious overtones to the book. (See this recent article about three Mormon authors: Hale, Jessica Day George, and Mette Ivie Harrison). Don't misunderstand: Hale doesn't preach. (Let's be clear about that! Hale doesn't preach.)

What she does do, however, is base the friendship of Felix and Becky on Becky's belief that "God meant it to happen." The reader has to believe Becky, because there's nothing else to connect these two. We never hear about a shared love of books or movies; they're two entirely different people, religiously. politically and socioeconomically. But if the reader is not a Mormon, or a person who believes in God (see Mormons & Christianity), or who believes God "works" in the way Becky does, then the reader is left wondering....what the heck holds these two together?

Check this book out at the library, read it at the beach, laugh your ass off. Then return it and remember - it's only a story.

    Steph Su and Jena give The Actor & The Housewife 5 Stars, Melissa liked it, too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

FLOWERS FOR ELVIS by Julia Schuster

Flowers For Elvis Flowers For Elvis
by Julia Schuster

April 1st 2009 by Bell Bridge Books
Paperback, 248 pages
0982175612 (isbn13: 9780982175613)

rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley on January 8, 1935 in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi."

----------------------------------

"I came into this world and left it on the same day."

Set against the backdrop of the 1960s South, Flowers for Elvis tells the story of fraternal twin girls. One of the babies, Olivia, dies immediately after being born. Meanwhile, her sister continues to be raised as the twin sister of her cousin, born three days later. Olivia's spirit, however, lingers, observing with a wry fondness the twists and turns of her sister's turbulent life.

Though Schuster's Catholic tendencies (which tend to be traditional, somewhat conservative, but not fundamentalist) are obvious, she uses them honestly in her perception of Olivia's story, rather than a tool with which to preach to the audience. Because the first chapters are about Olivia's birth and death and encounter with the Mother Superior who buries her, I worried a little about getting through the rest of the book. I stumbled, a bit, over Olivia's brief encounters with God and the capitalized pronoun "He," since that doesn't reflect my own theology nor a common use in progressive churches. I'm not sure whether Schuster's trying to capture the time period of the modernist church or just mirroring her own beliefs (she's a religion teacher in Memphis, TN.)

The good news is, things markedly improve once the awkward introductions have been made. I marked the page in this book where my interest was finally captured. Page 38. It takes Schuster, a fellow former Louisville-ian, that long to get into an otherwise strange and charming tale. Willard and Genevieve, Anna Beth and Louisa evoke the Practical Magic sisters or the women from Fried Green Tomatoes. They are strong, flawed characters, loving and willful and impatient and wise.

By the end of Flowers for Elvis, I was captivated by this story. It helps that there's a twist I didn't expect - it's hard to surprise me - and an ending that might be one of the most perfect (in that same strange, charming way) endings I've ever read.

If you're an Elvis fan, you should just buy this book. Every chapter is headed with an Elvis reference, and while the King never makes an appearance, Genevieve does regard him as her patron saint and ultimate Love Interest. If you're not an Elvis fan, you should still pick up a copy of this book. It's an excellent summer read, and, trust me, once you finish, you're going to want to pass it on so you can discuss it with your sister or mum or friend or book group.



Similar to:



Fannie Flagg

Barbara Kingsolver

Billie Letts



Many thanks to Bell Bridge Books for a review copy of this title.


View all my reviews.

NO AMUSEMENT TODAY

If you're new to In Search of Giants, you might not know that the one feature I manage weekly is "Amusing Monday" - attempts at light-hearted week-beginning-ness.  Alas, you will need to wait another week to revel in a brand-new Amusing Monday post.  There will be no amusement today.

 
For, you see, I have been punished.   By the Queen of Punishment herself, McKoala.  I seriously am going to try not to enjoy it too much.  You know me and whips.  Wait, you don't?  Um....moving on.
Here is the first part of my punishment:
Dear All

I have failed the Mighty Koala. I said I would write 5000 words in a day. I didn't. Now she has generously offered me the opportunity to redeem myself by meeting that total in a week. She is all kindness and loving. I will post my start date here so that you can all follow my progress. And she says there had better be progress, or else...

Aerin
(The red is meant to represent the blood I will shed over the next seven days.)
So, my faithful and encouraging followers, I begin today, June 22, and march diligently toward Sunday June 28, at which time I will have completed an additional 5000 words.  And in case you think the Koala is being too easy on me, keep in mind that prior to last weekend, my daily wordcount averaged 112.
Also, be on the lookout for JJdeGoblin.  She's pulling people's toenails and I don't think she's going to care whose feet she gets.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

YA Book Carnival

I just wanted to remind you all that the YA Book Carnival starts tomorrow June 21 and will run through June 27th! You can find all the information about the YA Book Carnival at Shooting Stars Mag.

Check back on Tuesday, June 23rd for my Carnival Contest!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Random Disney Quote Answers

 
1. "Okay, why does she even have that lever?"
 The Emperor's New Groove



2. "You were just playing with that over-dressed, self-absorbed Prince Achmad, weren't you?"
Aladdin



3. "That can't be good for the table."
Howl's Moving Castle



4. "'Tis the heart of a pig you hold in your hand."
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves



5.  "If this is torture, chain me to the wall."
Oliver and Company



6. "My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!" 
UP



7. "I don't believe in giving animals ridiculous names. I call him Cosmic Creepers, because that's the name he came with."
Bedknobs and Broomsticks



8. "Well, there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep."
Beauty and the Beast



9. "Rule One: No mineral or vegetable, only animals. Rule Two: No make-believe things like, ooh, pink dragons and stuff. Now, Rule Three: No disappearing."
 The Sword in the Stone



10. "So gimme some fin.  Noggin. Dude."
Finding Nemo


Have a magical weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

RANDOM DISNEY QUOTE TIME!

 
this is not a contest, it's all in good sport, so don't cheat - just have fun!
Answers might come from any movie under the Disney umbrella:
  Miyazaki, Pixar, Miramax, Walt Disney Studios

What movies are these quotes from?
1. "Okay, why does she even have that lever?"


2. "You were just playing with that over-dressed, self-absorbed Prince Achmad, weren't you?"



3. "That can't be good for the table."



4. "'Tis the heart of a pig you hold in your hand."



5.  "If this is torture, chain me to the wall."


6. "My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!"


7. "I don't believe in giving animals ridiculous names. I call him Cosmic Creepers, because that's the name he came with."


8. "Well, there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep."



9. "Rule One: No mineral or vegetable, only animals. Rule Two: No make-believe things like, ooh, pink dragons and stuff. Now, Rule Three: No disappearing."


10. "So gimme some fin.  Noggin. Dude."

answers will be posted tomorrow!

On Your Mark, Get Set....

Just when I thought I would shrivel up and die from withdrawal, Jason has announced the eleventh Clarity of Night Short Fiction contest.

The next contest is entitled In Vino Veritas (you expect lawyers to throw Latin around, don't you?) and opens on July 8, 2009. Yes, that's right. You have several weeks to prepare a 250-word flash fiction piece inspired by this picture:


Winning a CoN contest is like catching the bouquet at a wedding. It's practically a guarantee you'll be the next agented/published bride, or, er, author. My goal this contest is to keep my place in the Clarity of Night Forties Club, which is made up of all of us who pay Jason $40.00 who score at least a 40/45 possible points.

I am particularly thankful that Jason chose to post common issues that cause people points. Read it!

Not only do I expect all of my RCWC participants to enter (as always, you get your full 1000 points for the month if you enter a 250-word story); I would like your help in pressuring encouraging the Co-Dictator of the Universe to enter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Convalescent Catching Up

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (hey, why don't you?), you might not know that I have strep.  Again.  Second time in four weeks.  The Bug had it twice within a month, too, and Mr. Aerin had it worst of all, but only once.  The Bear's the only one who hadn't had strep, but Mr. Aerin dragged him to the pediatrician anyway.  Said the doctor: "Fastest positive I've ever seen."  In other words, the Bear has had strep for at least a month.  His heart is okay, thank goodness, but not only do I feel like crap, I feel like a crappy mom.

Mommies don't get a break (even when their spouses think they're giving the sick wifeys a break, they're still letting dishes pile up and kids jump into bed with the sleeping sicky).  Still, I think the worst part of being sick is that my brain gets fuzzy.  I can't read because reading gives me a headache; I can't write because the muse tends to get her uber-bitch on.

So.  I'm trying to catch up, which means pointing out to you some places and people I think you might like.  Or, as bethie (I nicknamed her bethie, poor thing) would say, linkspam!

  • Inkygirl, aka Debbie Ridpath Ohi, has been running a fantastic series of posts about authors and their histories with rejection.  Dr. Seuss was rejected 27 times before his first book was picked up; John Grisham was rejected 28 times before selling his first novel; Louis L'amour received over 200 rejections before his first sale.


Finally (and I have said this before) if you have not made the acquaintance of Loren and b., you really must do so.  These guys are hilarious, intelligent, insightful, talented, and sort of frighteningly complementary to one another.    They're like the little brothers I never had - wait, I do have little brothers - okay, they're the brothers I never had that it was okay for me to crush on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How I Review, or, A Conversation with My Self

From the cover of The New Yorker Magazine, Nov. 6, 2006


Malinda Lo recently wrote about inadvertently finding a review of ASH and realizing she probably couldn't write reviews anymore.  I started thinking to myself about the way I write reviews.

"Self," I thought, "what is it that we do when we review books?"

"Well, Aerin," she replied.  "We try to figure out who's going to buy them."

"True, true."  I pondered a bit.  "More like a puzzle than a critique process, isn't it?"

"It really is.  Matching the book into the perfect buyer-shape hole.  I mean, you tell me all the time that any author has to work really hard to get published.."

"...despite our little issues with SM, who we tend to think is a show-off," I muttered.

"She does have a right to be."

"Fine.  So, when we're reviewing, we're gauging our enjoyment of a book, and trying to determine, based on past experience, people we know, etc., who would be the most appreciative audience."

"Did you just say et cetera to me?"

I ignored my Self and continued.  "And, of course, if glaring inconsistencies or plot devices, poor grammar or language use interrupted our enjoyment of said title, we will probably mention these things."

"You know, people who contact you to review their books will probably want to know how you work. You should write a post."

"Hmm.  Point taken, Self.  You are a very wise woman."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Amusing Mondays: wrongcards.com

I found the site wrongcards.com when I was looking for an inappropriately flirtatious card for....well, you know who you are.  (And if you aren't Janey...uh, sure, I'm flirting with you, too.)  The tagline for this site is e-cards that are wrong for every occasion.

Here are some of my favorites:

For Father's Day


In the event of Zombies

 
Innappropriately Flirtatious for Janey

For a New Baby

 
In the Workplace

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quatern: Pete's Punishment

I failed my birthday word count challenge, and Pete wrote:
My "punishment" for you is to write a poem of at least six lines and no more than 40 lines that describes the feeling of coming >this< close to a stretch goal but falling just short at the deadline.
Neither Pete or Janey was as harsh on me as McK is going to be, so I'm still in an okay place with my lack of word count. Perhaps I will rewrite the poem after I've received the sharp end of the Koala Klaws.

I chose to write a poem in the pattern of a Quatern, which, according to Shadow Poetry,
is a sixteen line French form composed of four quatrains. It is similar to the Kyrielle
and the Retourne. It has a refrain that is in a different place in each quatrain. The first line of stanza one is the second line of stanza two, third line of stanza three, and fourth line of stanza four. A quatern has eight syllables per line. It does not have to be iambic or follow a set rhyme scheme.

line 1
line 2
line 3
line 4

line 5
line 6 (line 1)
line 7
line 8

line 9
line 10
line 11 (line 1)
line 12

line 13
line 14
line 15
line 16 (line 1)
Example #1:
True Love, Redefined

One day she hopes true love to find,
One soul, one mind, two hearts entwined;
Somewhere out there’s the perfect guy,
For Youth has set her standards high.

He must be rich, handsome, refined,
One day she hopes true love to find;
Yet no one seems to measure up
And disappointment fills her cup.

The years go by, her nights grow long,
Her aging voice sings sorrow’s song.
One day she hopes true love to find,
Her definition redefined;

Simply a plain and faithful friend
To see her to life’s journey’s end;
For though her face with age be lined,
One day she hopes true love to find.

Copyright © 2003 Linda Newman

Example #2:
The Master's Feet

Those who sat at the Master’s feet,
Brothers who fished in waters deep,
Threw down their nets and followed Him,
Forsaking all to fish for men.

The crowds pressed ‘round to hear Him speak,
Those who sat at the Master’s feet,
Those who he said would be a light,
For others lost in dark of night.

In the upper room hands were rung,
When told a traitor was among,
Those who sat at the Master’s feet,
With emblems of Himself to eat.

The Master’s mother held her breath,
When savage men cried for his death,
And vainly struggled to defeat,
Those who sat at the Master’s feet.

Copyright © 2006 James Dupy

Example #3:
Life’s Pulse - The Gypsies’ Song

As dark-haired beauties celebrate
while moving round the fire light,
their slender swirling hips gyrate,
and on they dance, into the night.

The flames dance too, beneath the moon.
As dark-haired beauties celebrate,
their fathers clap or play a tune
the merry clan perpetuate!

Then each young man takes hold a mate
he’s chosen in the ring of fire.
As dark-haired beauties celebrate,
their flashing eyes ignite desire.

The mothers sit and smile.  They know
the music will not soon abate.
Life’s pulse is found by camp fire’s glow
as dark-haired beauties celebrate. 
 
Copyright © 2006 Andrea Dietrich

All right, so I know you've been waiting with bated breath. Without further ado (or cliches), here is my original poem.

Wild Words

The words themselves run high and wild,
seeking to be corralled and tamed.
This adverb is a willful child;
that noun’s impatient to be named.

By sunrise we must reach our home.
The words themselves run high and wild.
A question mark is bound to roam.
The “being” verbs have formed a pile.

Even the sun is not beguiled
as she dips closer to her bed.
The words themselves run high and wild,
resist the stories in my head.

Despite the claws, the whips, the threat,
my heart is calm, frustration’s mild.
I watch the beauty as I let
the words themselves run high and wild.

Janey's Second Punishment Task

I failed my birthday word count challenge, and Jane set forth two punishment tasks for me. 

I've completed the first.  Incidentally, if anyone was wondering about what text I used to format the watermelons, it was this one.

The second task is to finish adding the 743 actual words to my WIP.  I am happy to report that I have done so, thereby accomplishing my 5000 word count goal.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Number of the Day

1. My birthday was yesterday, June 12.

 

2. I turned 33 years old.

3. I'm slightly bitter I couldn't be at Club 33 for my 33rd birthday.  But only slightly.

e="font-size: small;">4. The flower for my birthday month is a rose.

5. The gem for my birthday month is a pearl.
6. I was born at 5:25 PM, CST.


7. - 12. I received as presents:
  • a photo book of my kidlings
  •  tickets to Celtic Woman (look at the very bottom)
  • a full pound of Kilwin's salted dark chocolate covered caramels
  • a Starbucks GC
  • a clothing GC
  • and my mommy is getting me an iPhone on Monday
13. Birthdays, to  me, are akin to Valentine's Day - I don't like them because they feel so high-pressure.

14. Getting older no longer bothers me.  I'm aging well (ish).

15.  When I was looking for an image for "hate birthdays," I found the site wrongcards.com, with this image that I'm tempted to send to...well, you know who you are.

16. I always say I don't believe in astrology, but the traits associated with being a Gemini do describe me, many days.

17. According to the Chinese Zodiac (or our American appropriation of it), I was born in the Year of the Fire Dragon.

18. Speaking of numbers, I am 2 1/2 years older than my sister, 9 and 11 years older, respectively than my little brothers; 7 years younger than Mr. Aerin, and 21 years younger than my mother.

19. I've always found it a little depressing that I share my birthday with Anne Frank and former president George Bush, Sr.  But I think it's very cool I share my birthday with Meredith Brooks (!), Ally Sheedy and Frances O'Connor.

20. I'm not at my healthiest, this birthday.  I've been neglecting my workouts, and it shows, both in my physical self and my mental well-being.  Next year, my plan is to look like this:

 
21.-23.  I am grateful for:
  • my blogosphere buddies 
(and especially the one who overlaps with my Posse)
  • my right-size house
  • my sweet, snuggly kittens



24. I now have a Facebook user name!

25. I was given time to write for my birthday (ie, my mother watched my kidlings.)
26.  I set a goal of 5000 words in a roughly 18-hour period.

27. I asked McKoala to punish me if I didn't succeed.

28. I named Janey and Pete as back-up punishers.

29. I wrote 4247 of the 5000 words in the time allotted.

30.  Janey's first punishment was to write the word "watermelon" 743 times.  I used this task to study the rhythm of words, paragraphs, etc.  Can anyone tell what passage I used to format the watermelons?  I'll send you a copy of it if you can.

31. Her second "punishment" is that I get the 743 words written by Monday.

32. I will report on my McK and Pete punishment tasks as they are assigned & completed.

33. My new goal is to join Pete in having a query-ready MS by the end of the year.




Janey's First Punishment Task

Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon; watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.  Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.
“ Watermelon watermelon watermelon,” watermelon watermelon.
“Watermelon watermelon?”
“Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.”
“Watermelon!”
 “Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon,” watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.
Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.  Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon, watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon. Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon, watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.
Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.  Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon.  Watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon watermelon-watermelon watermelon.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

STARFINDER by John Marco

Starfinder: Book One of the Skylords Starfinder: Book One of the Skylords
by John Marco

May 5th 2009 by DAW Hardcover
Hardcover, 326 pages
0756405513 (isbn13: 9780756405519)

rating: 5 of 5 stars




Moth was flying his kite near the aerodrome when he heard the dragonfly crash.
Young Moth had grown up in Calio, the mountain city, dreaming of becoming a Skynight, one of the elite pilots who flew the fragile, beautiful, newfangled flying machines called dragonflies. To the north of Calio stretched the Reach, looking like a sea of fog that never ended. Flat and peaceful, the mists of the Reach flowed all the way to the horizon, and Calio loomed over this vast forbidding expanse like a sentinel standing guard.

There were numerous tall tales about the lands beyond the Reach, and Moth heard the wildest of them from Leroux. Leroux, had once been one of the legendary Eldrin Knights, had taken guardianship of the ten-year-old when Moth's mother died. At first, Moth had been expecially fascinated by Leroux's stories of the Skylords, but at the grown-up age of thirteen, Moth was becoming increasingly skeptical about the existence of these mysterious, powerful and frightening beings from beyond the Reach.

When Leroux died, Moth was faced with an impossible task: to protect Lady Esme, Leroux's pet kestrel. And protecting Lady Esme meant venturing into the forbidden Reach with his best friend Fiona, to find dragons, battle Skylords, and discover the secret hidden within the kestrel herself.

It would be easy for me to ambiguously rave about Starfinder. As I said before, I loved it. But I know that others found it lacking, so I thought I would specify what I loved, so that you can judge whether you might use the same criteria as I.

1. It's intelligent.
The tone of the book doesn't condescend to readers. The narrative might be a little slow for someone only interested in action, but the metaphors and literary elements are delightful for those who choose to identify them. The language is lyrical but not flowery, with lots of good SAT words sprinkled throughout, in only appropriate places.

2. It's original....but familiar.

The Hindenberg meets Fantasyland? Heck, yeah. I never expected, plot-wise, what would happen next. The characters were complex enough to keep me guessing. And the Reach itself is a magical land created wholly by Marco, rather than lifted from the idea of some other one.

While the plot and characters are original, Starfinder, for me, had the feel of so many of my favorite worlds and authors and characters: Narnia, Neverland, Naussica of the Valley of the Wind, Anne McCaffrey, Lewis Carroll, Howl's Moving Castle, Xena - to name a few. In other words, this story felt very comfortable, both exciting and familiar, and that added to its charm.

3. It's got heart.
Marco is careful not to reduce any of the conflicts in Starfinder to dualisms. There are many shades of grey, and the reader is given a chance to think about what his or her own response might be even as Moth or Fiona make theirs. There's a great deal of affection - parental love, friendship - without romance playing much of a role in this book (other than, for example, a husband-wife who are obviously fond of each other.) Whatever the emotions, Marco elicits them organically, without resorting to cliches for loss or joy or anger or exhilaration.

Starfinder would make a great present for boys around ages 12 to 14 who like to read, or for reluctant boy readers ages 12 to 18. I wouldn't buy this for a girl unless I knew she was open to the strong female characters and didn't expect mushy romance. But everyone - everyone - should at least check it out from the library.

Starfinder book tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours.

RANDOM DISNEY QUOTE #5

 
this is not a contest, it's all in good sport, so don't cheat - just have fun!
What is this quote from?
"You find the fun and *snap*
the job's a game."

RANDOM DISNEY QUOTE #4

this is not a contest, it's all in good sport, so don't cheat - just have fun!
What is this quote from?
"I still think what I thunk before.  
I'm going to get those wands."

RANDOM DISNEY QUOTE #3

 
this is not a contest, it's all in good sport, so don't cheat - just have fun!
What is this quote from?
"I like that! Do you know I do? Hiss, put it on my luggage."

RANDOM DISNEY QUOTE #2

 
this is not a contest, it's all in good sport, so don't cheat - just have fun!
What is this quote from?
"I hate kids. They're barely human."

RANDOM DISNEY QUOTE TIME #1

 
this is not a contest, it's all in good sport, so don't cheat - just have fun!
What is this quote from?
"Indoor plumbing.  It's gonna be big."

Summer Construction

 
In the spirit of J.C. Montgomery and beth revis, I'm trying to redesign the ol' blog a little bit.  Things may be a little slow around here because of it, and also because my Muse has returned from winter hibernation and I am writing (or wishing to be writing) constantly.
Don't rush off!  There's still plenty of fun to be had at "In Search of Giants!"
SUMMER EVENTS

and more!
Add me to your reader, follow me on Twitter, but don't miss these events. 
Just be patient with the flying dust.

.

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