Monday, July 9, 2012

Musically Monday

I planned to write a review today, but then other things happened. And right now I have a character walking past a dark alley where someone waits to kidnap her, so, yeah. I can't keep them waiting.

Instead, I thought I'd pop in and share a little of the music I've been listening to lately. Before I begin, a disclaimer: Being a writer comes with costs. Specifically, my characters have their own music likes and dislikes, which occasionally conflict with my natural taste. I listen to it anyway.

So, the music.

Pressing Flowers - The Civil Wars

I discovered The Civil Wars through Safe and Sound, the song they did with Taylor Swift for The Hunger Games. I love what I've seen of their music so far. It's haunting and strange -- perfect for one of the characters I'm going to be working with soon.

In Deep - Shere

Yeah, discovered this song through Disney's Prom. And I love it, especially the chorus. The laid-back feel of the entire song just makes me happy. And, of course, it suits a character perfectly. In this case, a character I've abandoned in the middle of emotional trauma, but he'll forgive me someday, right?

Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson

A friend showed this to me today (hi, Lisa!) and all I can say is ... I wish I'd had this song a year ago. It would have been very good friends with my NaNo novel. Well, I've found it now, and I shall use it for editing.

Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepson

Um, don't ask. No, seriously. Don't.

So, that's it for my Monday, but what about yours? What makes it musical? Share in the comments whilst I rescue the poor girl stranded in that alleyway.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Few Reviews

Hi, blog. I'm sorry I've been neglecting you, blog. Want some books to keep you company, blog?

Oh, blog. I know you so well. Here are a few books I've been reading lately. (With mild spoilers, so don't say I didn't warn you!)

* * *

1. CINDER, by Marissa Meyer

How Amazon describes it:

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

How I describe it: 

Oh-my-gracious-toes, this book is amazing. I read the first five chapters (available FREE on Amazon here!) and immediately bought the whole Kindle book. It was so worth it. So, so worth it.

I love Cinder. I love her sarcasm and her refusal to lie down and take abuse. She made me laugh out loud and she also made me cry, particularly when ... well, if you read the book you'll know. I loved the author's sly references to the original fairy tale ('rotting pumpkin' color, anyone?) and I loved the way she made it her own.

I've heard people complaining that the story was a bit predictable, but it's a FAIRY-TALE RETELLING. I don't expect to be surprised when Cinder goes to the ball after all. I was surprised by what happened there. Personally, I'd rather a story be predictable than impossible to follow, and CINDER struck the perfect balance.

My favorite scene? Oh, it's impossible to pick. How about her first scene in the hospital? I loved that scene. She is going to die, and she is at her snarkiest. Plus the cyborg stuff. Yeah, I loved the cyborg stuff.

I rate this book a rich, chocolate cheesecake that fills you up after one bite but leaves you wanting more. Plus Asian food. Because, did I mention, it's SET IN FUTURISTIC ASIA. (!!!)

CONTENT WARNINGS: Really nothing to worry about. A couple mild swear words, mention of ovaries (Cinder's were left intact during her operation), joking mention of a sex change. I'd give this book to a twelve-year-old, easy.

P.S. The cover for the sequel, SCARLET, was revealed just yesterday. All I can say is, I WANT THIS BOOK! I want it desperately. I have entered every ARC contest I can find. You should too. If you win, send me the book and I will love you forever.

2. THE SELECTION, by Kiera Cass

How Amazon describes it:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

How I describe it:

For-the-love-of-blue, THAT COVER!!! It's so ... blue. And shiny. And PRETTY.

Ahem. On to the book.

I enjoyed this book tremenjusly. There was an abundance of pretty dresses and delicious food, and there was a surprising amount of real weight to the book. America is feisty and not afraid to show it. Maxon is ineffably endearing. I will definitely be buying this book, and it won't just be so that I can stare at the cover and drool EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I do, however, have a few problems with it. Or, rather, one problem. His name is Aspen.

Oh, Aspen. What can I say about Aspen? Aspen is America's boyfriend. Aspen is passionate and aggressive and proud. I could forgive him all these things if his relationship with America was different, but as it is ... argh. I kept wishing someone would deport him to New Asia.

Also, their kissing scenes were ... not the sort that I read. Some people are fine with that kind of making out in a book. I am not. Fortunately, they were rather isolated incidents, so I just skipped a few pages whenever they started kissing and got on with the story. (Once I buy the book I'll just black out those parts and read forever in comfort. Hey, maybe I could black out the rest of the Aspen scenes too! Oh, pleasant fantasy ...)

On the other hand, the scene where America and Maxon kiss? That was my favorite of the book. He. Is. So. Adorable.

CONTENT WARNINGS: America/Aspen kissing scenes, obviously. Mild swearing. That's all I can think of at the moment. My twelve year old sister will be reading the snogless version.

I rate this book a bag of swirly cotton candy. (Blue, of course.)

3. THE FALSE PRINCE, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

How Amazon describes it:

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

How I describe it:

My little sister found this book at Chapters and liked the first page so much she got it from the library. Being me, I got my hands on it and read it before she could get past chapter one. My verdict?

Sage. Sage, Sage, Sage. He is INCORRIGIBLE. He steals everything in sight. He sasses the man his life depends on. And he attacks a man for throwing a book at a girl.

While I was reading this book, I just kept thinking, I love this boy. This boy is insane. And I do. And he is.

It isn't a perfect book. There were a few burrs that caught me along the way. But they were all minor enough that I did a happy dance when I finished and found out there was a sequel. I did not do a happy dance when NOBODY boiled the antagonist in acid. I did not like him. But I will survive.

Favorite scene? Sage in the dungeon. I cried. And I loved him, even though I wanted to shake him.

CONTENT WARNINGS: Was there anything in this book? I can't remember. Possible mild swearing?

I rate this book a bag of peanut M&M's. Because I like M&M's. And Sage is a nut.


So, that's it for today! I'll be back pretty soon with another book review or three. Until then, what have you been reading, and what would you rate it? Tell me in the comments?