Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere

I'd like to preface this review by saying something: I HATE dead sister books. And dead best friend books. And any other book where the main point is the character coping with the loss of someone close to them. In my experience, the book becomes a two-hundred page stream of angst. And while I completely, 100% realize that a person in such circumstances in entitled to their share of angst, that doesn't mean I want to read a book about it.

Plus, they're depressing. There is a reason I'm afraid to read Going Bovine, even though Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors.

But, I read three raving reviews of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, so I added it to the pile of books I got from the library.

And before I get down to the detailed review, I'd just like to say that it is truly a gorgeous book. It made me smile as often as it made me cry. It might not have warmed me up to dead sister books, but the fact that there was another plot going on - the main character Lennie's conflicted feelings about new-boy Joe and sister's-boyfriend Toby - really made the weight of her grief bearable for the reader. Or, at least, for me.

Now, as neither dead sisters or boy-crazy teenaged girls are my favorite plots ever, there are really two things that sold this novel for me and made me keep writing. (Well, two and a half if you consider that Joe is wildly adorable.)

One was the writing. The other was Lennie.

Oh my God but this book is beautifully written. I've heard that it was originally a novel in verse, but even though the majority of it is now in prose, its poetic roots really show through, and not just in the many poems that Lennie writes and leaves lying around (it's kind of like you're stumbling around her town discovering her poetry, it's rather neat). With poetry, I feel like you have to be ten times more meticulous about every single word, and I think this whole book was written with that in mind. It's as though this entire book is one long prose poem, even if it isn't written in verse.

I also love it when the title comes into play in a big way in books, and that is clearly the case here. Can't tell you why, though. Spoilers.

Lennie was the second reason I stuck with and liked this book in spite of a plot that would not necessarily have grabbed me. I was left for an hour in a rather large library, so of course I came away with a huge stack of books. I read the first pages of all of them, and when I opened The Sky is Everywhere, it was almost as though Lennie grabbed me by the hand, pulled me into her world, made me a cup of tea and started telling me her story. She is just that realistic. I sympathized with her instantly, and not just because she was in a terrible situation. She was so well rounded - she's a character with many, many layers, and they slowly unfold throughout the novel in a really fantastic and interesting way.

In the end, I'm glad I read this book. It isn't one of the ones I want to reread - actually I will probably avoid rereading it. I don't like crying. But because of Lennie's character I am glad I bent my rule about dead sister books and gave this one a shot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: And We're Walking...

This WiP is giving me a headache.

Well, that's not new. It's going on its fourth year of giving me a headache, really.

I think my problem is that I have too many very distinct plots and no way to mesh them as of yet.

I fully intend to figure this out today and then I will start writing this rewrite in earnest.

In the meantime, have some internal monologue while Rose is being marched off to meet more werewolves.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review: Linger

Greetings, blogsphere! How are you this afternoon? Well, I hope!

So on Tuesday I said that I'd been thinking about doing a Linger review, and here I am doing it. WARNING: I am going to try and keep this as unspoilery as possible, but nevertheless, if you have not yet read the book, read this at your own risk.

I was a little worried about it initially, because I was afraid it would fall into the "second book syndrome" category. You know, where everything seems really forced and it's just so that the author can get on to the really good stuff in the third book. This syndrome is probably best illustrated not in book form, but in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

But Maggie Stiefvater is a brilliant writer, and even though Shiver is a beautiful book with a perfect ending, this picks up and continues brilliantly. It's like a look into what happens during the "happily ever after" in fairy tales - and in this case, it's not so happy. I did think it was a little bit "lead in to the third book"-ish, but not terribly so, and it was not at all annoying. I thought the conflict was clever and believable after what had happened in the first book, and I like how at the beginning, it is clearly stated that "it's never over," which I thought set the tone very well, as the events of Shiver seemed finished but clearly were not.

So, enough about Linger conquering second book syndrome, onto the book itself.

Have I mentioned that I love Grace and Sam? Well, I love Grace and Sam. So, so much. Not only are they both brilliantly characterized (some nice quirks I saw for them this time around were Sam's love of healthy tea and paper cranes, and Grace's desire for a red coffee pot), they fit so well together it is insane. THIS should be the model on which rabid fangirls base their relationships, not on certain sparkly vampires and empty-headed girls. I love the way their relationship carried on after the events of Shiver; it was very natural and believable.

Grace's parents play a much larger role in Linger than they did in Shiver, and I think that their attitude to what is happening makes sense, given their characters. I can't say more about that without giving anything away, so I will move on to the one and only thing that sort of set me on edge while reading this book.

That thing is Cole. He's a new character introduced at the end of Shiver, one of the new wolves brought in by Beck to help strengthen the pack. He is cocky, uncooperative to the nth degree, and suicidal. And, to my mind, he exists in the novel for two reasons only: one is to provide scientific know-how to fuel the plot, and the other is to be the perfect foil for Sam.

The first point irritates me slightly more than the second, because he spends the whole book insisting that he is nothing like his scientist father, and yet it is knowledge from his scientist father that is what counts. Not his own knowledge, and I didn't feel like spouting stuff from Dad made much sense for his character, but it needed to be there in order for the end of the book to happen.

The second point makes sense, really. In the absence of Beck, Sam is in charge of the pack, so Cole certainly challenges his authority. The two characters are really mirror images of each other - they're both even musicians. And Cole's "relationship" with Isabel is the perfect counterpoint to Sam's relationship with Grace, which means a lot in the context of some of the things Grace's mom says about Sam. But while this is really interesting from, say, an English-class-style viewpoint, it didn't really make me care much about his character, and there were several times where I was itching to get back to Grace or Sam's pov, because, have I mentioned I love them?

But, such is the hazard of a multiple pov book - everybody always picks favorites. I know that'll be something I will have to face if Letters to Oliver is ever published *fingers crossed.*

All in all, I thought this was a wonderful book. I raced through it in under four hours (some of that was standing in the bookstore while my mom browsed), and as soon as I finish my stack of library books I want to read it again. Out of five, I think I'd give it 4.5 stars - I still think I liked Shiver better, but it was an excellent book and I loved every second of those four hours I spent reading it.

EDIT: I just discovered that Linger debuted as NUMBER ONE on the NY Times Bestseller List. Congratulations, Maggie, it's a fantastic book and you deserve it!


Sidenote: I have 50 followers now, hurrah!!

Would you guys like to see more book reviews? I have just finished The Sky is Everywhere and I've been thinking about reviewing that as well. I also have Thirteenth Child and I Am the Messenger on my to be read pile. What thinkest thou, blogsphere?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Werewolves are Weird

Point A) Sorry there's been nothing since last Teaser Tuesday. I've been contemplating doing a Linger review, but I will have to see if I can manage that without being spoilery. Do you guys want to see that?

Also, the HPA won!!! HAPPY DANCE TIME!

Point B) So... the bonding moment I have been trying to get for a few days now is still not written yet. Avar and Rose much prefer to argue with each other.

Therefore, here is a bit more arguing.

After their last exchange, a few more werewolves show up and decide it's not a good idea to let Rose march home. Also, they've been walking all day and Rose lost her shoes. Whoops...



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Mindgames

This teaser comes with a message beforehand. Last night, I had planned on writing some more of the next chapter, which would be what I put into this teaser. That will have to wait till next week, however, as I was badgering everyone I could think of to vote for the Harry Potter Alliance to win a contest which gives the winning charity $250,000. HPA is a really worthwhile cause and, as of last night and because of everyone's help, we were unofficially winning by more than 3,000 votes. We won't know the official results till sometime today, but I'll let everyone know. I just wanted to say to everyone on Absolute Write and Facebook that I begged and pleaded to vote yesterday, I really appreciate it and I thank you for never forgetting to be awesome.

And so, without further ado, teaser! To clarify: Avar was hurt by the gryphon that chased them both out of Paris.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Back to Oliver

Is it Tuesday?

Yes, it seems to be.

Well then.

Oliver is a rabbit. Emily can't find him. Cue flashback?



Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing Space!

So, the ever-lovely Tahereh pointed out that The Rejectionist did a post today on writing spaces, and has asked to see where everyone is hard at work writing the next great American novel. And I thought, that's fun, I should do that!

So, here follows a great deal of LARGE photos, because I fail at resizing things. Apologies.

I write in my bedroom (when I go back to school I'll have to do another one of these), which is really quite small but lovely and cozy. I do need to repaint it and get rid of the border we put up when I was 13.

Because writing, as everyone knows, is fueled by caffeine. Mine happens to be tea. This is the mug I drink most of that tea from. It is sitting atop the printout of Letters to Oliver.

My bulletin board, which sits behind my computer and contains reminderly post-it-notes (what would I do without post-it-notes?) and a mini calendar of Paris.

My wonderful laptop. It is named Deep Thought. And has the TARDIS console screen as its desktop.

The bookshelf my Dad and I built to go on top of my bed in the place where the top bunk used to be.

And, of course, your friendly neighborhood writing assistant, a cat. His name is Sandy. This is a two cat family; however, the other cat declined to be photographed.

And that is the place in which I write. And also sleep, and read, and lounge about with friends, and such.

Speaking of writing, I should go do some.