Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Scarlet Pimpernel... I just don't get it.

Well, I totally reverted back to high school this week. I started to read the Scarlet Pimpernel, got about 130 pages in and then gave up and rented the movie. HAHAHA I guess I'll just never be "classically" minded. I tried, I really, really tried. But I just could not get in to it.

And I don't even really understand what makes this book a "classic." I mean, yeah, the language is old and British sounding, but who's to say that makes it "better?" It sounds different, and I guess some people like that, but I just don't know what's so special about it beyond that. I still had the same old problems with the story that I have with the current new releases I read.

The pacing in this book killed me. We spent the first 40 or so pages being introduced to this inn keeper guy and his daughter and all the regular visitors. Their characters, the location and even relationships were set up. They had personalities, a romance was sort of introduced. 40 pages invested in this just to learn that none of them were the main characters or even relevant to the story. After those first 40 pages they're not even in the rest of the story. So yeah, that should have been about 40 lines to set up a scene and get to the real story. In fact, I was 130 pages in before I quit reading and I still wasn't sure who the main character even was. My husband had to tell me.

Then I had that frustrating problem where there was an exciting story being hinted at and for some reason I was being shown really boring scenes and then told about these exciting adventures through some other character. Lame. It was frustrating.

Anyway, not to knock all the classics, but I really honestly just don't get it. Not my thing. But I'm still glad I gave it a shot because now I know. I really truly know that those kinds of books are just not my style. It'd been so long since I'd tried to read one that I wondered if I'd only hated them because I was a lazy rebellious high school student at the time. Well, not the case. Maybe if we'd read interesting books in high school I might have been a better student. They need variety! I vote The Hunger Games be let in to the "classics" and integrated into school curriculum. Who's with me?

ps. My husband is rolling his eyes at me as I post this. He is very much a fan of the classics and thinks I'm lame.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Um, first of all, being sick SUCKS. Sorry, just had to get that off my chest because I'm miserable right now. But what better way to fight off the flu with an AWESOME book?

The book is: Across The Universe by Beth Revis
I rated it: 5 out of 5 stars! (Woot!)
The Goodreads summary is: Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

My Overall Thoughts: Across The Universe = LOVE. As in, I LOVE this book. This is a dystopian sci-fi murder mystery romance. How freaking cool is that? The only thing it was missing is superpowers lol. This book has something for every reader. Mystery. Intrigue. Creativity. Drama. Thought-provoking conflict. Romance(That isn't overly abundant and cheesetastick like some writers do. *cough* ME *cough*).

I loved the main characters and felt the POV's switching really made the book. But I also loved all the secondary characters too. Great villain. He wasn't entirely black and white and I pitied him and could even understand why he did the things he did. Love it when that happens!

I was sucked in from page one and never once got frustrated with the plot or pacing. I was never bored or felt the need to skim anything and also never felt like I didn't get enough from the writing. I was never frustrated by all the secrets and lies, just fascinated. And I was literally kept guessing until the very end. I did NOT see that coming. (Not the who--I had that figured out, but the surprise after the who... vague I know, but I don't want to give anything away. Once you've read it you'll understand.) I was thinking it was something else and I was wrong. AWESOME! 

The only thing that could almost be a complaint, and it's not really a complaint, but I was left a little wanting  in the romance. Just a tiny bit. (Which means most people won't have this problem as I like a LOT of romance) But then, more romance could have changed the tone of the story and I wouldn't want to do that at all. 

And finally, last but not least.... because you know I have to say it.... Drum roll please.... This is a stand alone novel! YAY!!!!!! (please excuse my horrid use of caps and excessive exclamation marks, but I was just so excited.)  There could easily be follow up novels written. It'd be very easy to create more story on this ship with these characters, (and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some planned) but as it is, those books do not have to be written. The story that this book told is complete. It was such a breath of relief. 

Anyway, I would recommend this book to most people. And I'd go so far as to say that even if you don't think you like sci-fi, you should give this book a chance. I'd bet you'd still like it.

Congrats to Beth Revis! Brilliant debut!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (My first read of 2011)

Okay, so I'm a little late with my first book review of the year, but there were birthday parties and the flu involved and blah blah, you don't want my excuses. Better late than never right? And I've already read book two, so that review should come shortly too.

The Book Is: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.
I Rated It: 3 out of 5 Stars
The Summary From Goodreads is: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. 

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next. 

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth. 


My Overall thoughts: In a word? Fun. Who doesn't love kids with superpowers and aliens trying to take over the world? I am a total sci-fi nerd and loved the subject of this book. I was actually intrigued by the title alone and the brief summary completely sold me. As soon as I saw it I knew I'd have to read it, that's how much I loved the concept. And in that respect, the book did not disappoint. The plot was so creative and fun and done very well. I loved the pacing of the book and the story structure. I loved watching John come into his powers and loved learning about the alien races and his history. I also loved the suspense element of this book. That's what kept me turning page after page and made me not want to put it down until I knew how it ended.

The thing that kept me from absolutely loving this book was the writing itself. It was very streamline with not really much voice or personality. It made everything feel sort of blan, characters included. The characters all seem very one dimensional. As a book this was a little disappointing, but what that means, is that I can really look forward to the movie now. To me the book read like a glorified screenplay which means I doubt I'll be disappointed in the upcoming film. With such a strong plot and awesome action sequences it should be a lot of fun, and with these characters, the actors will have a lot of room to develop them without having to meet a ton of expectation. Like say the way Rob Pattinson had to live up to Edward Cullen or whoever plays Katniss will have to live up to Suzanne Collins's legacy. For the characters in I Am Number Four, that shouldn't be as difficult and should make watching the movie enjoyable. 

I recommend reading this book if you're looking for a quick, fun, read and love superpowers! And I'll let you know my thoughts on the movie vs. the book after I've seen it. The movie releases February 18th and I'm making some of my friends read the book so that they'll go see the movie with me. Here's the trailer in case you're wondering, And I'm very curious to see how Alex Pettyfer does since so many people have said he'd make the perfect Peeta. (lol I'm a natural skeptic and I worry that no one will be good enough to be Katniss and Peeta. Hopefully I can be proved wrong.)

What do you think? Peeta? Not Peeta? 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bring on the new year... and the resolutions!

Happy New Year!
(Here's one for the grandmas.)
The Oram Family January 1, 2011
Kelly, Josh, Matthew(3 1/2mos.), Jackie(6-in 5 days.), Josh jr.(7)

Some people rag on New Year Resolutions. *cough* Josh *cough* But some of us aren't as naturally organized, and motivated, and self disciplined as my husband and need to have specific goals set. I, the queen of procrastination, also need the looming deadline, so I'm all about resolutions. 

2010 was a fairly big year for me. I took my first trip to Europe, published a book, and had a baby. Busy, busy, busy. And it all flew by in a blink. 

2011 should be a relatively calm year but with two main events. (Assuming I manage not to have any more babies!) First I turn the big 30 in March, and then I will celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary in September. (Hmm... I wonder if I can talk my husband into taking me on a cruise. I've never done that.)

Anyway, in anticipation of this relative calm I'm expecting, I'm going to set myself some time consuming goals this year.

1. Lose the weight.
This is completely unoriginal and unexciting, I know, but seeing as how I had that baby last year it's also completely necessary. I plan to lose at least 15 pounds. I figure a half a pound for every year I am old sounds reasonable. It should also put me comfortably back into the majority of the clothes hanging in my closet. Ideally 25 pounds would be best because that would put me back in my skinniest skinny jeans, but we'll see. I'll start with something a little less daunting.

2. Get in shape.
Again, I'm going with unoriginal, but I don't just want to lose the weight, I'd like to get healthier in general, so I'm making the goal to work out as well. A bunch of the ladies from my church have a great exercise program that they do 5 days a week. I've been going one of these five days and am thinking I'll join the full program this year. And who knows, since they're all marathon runners, maybe I'll even be adventurous and run a 5k. (for the record this would probably kill me, so no promises.) 

3. Read a book or two.
A week that is. Last year I averaged about two books a week. This year I'd like to read a book a week. But I am going to set a specific goal that I branch out and read at least one non YA book a month and one of the books I read this year must be a classic. I'd also like to set a goal to review each book I read this year on my blog. I love reading book blogs and while I know I don't have the time it takes to keep up with starting a book blog, I do love sharing my thoughts on the books I read, so I'll be posting those here.

4. Write a book or two.
As I just completed a manuscript, I really don't want to let myself "take a break" now that I'm done. When I did that last time it took me a year to really start writing again. So, this year's writing goal is to finish my current work in progress, which has about seven chapters to go, and then start and complete a first draft of something completely new by the end of the year. With my busy schedule, this should take some effort, but should still be completely doable. 

5. Find an agent.
Though I can't really set this as a goal because it's not one hundred percent in my control, I'd like to have an agent by the end of the year as well. I didn't seek representation with my first book and really wish I had. So right now I'm cleaning up my next completed manuscript and compiling a list of agents I'd like to contact. Exciting times! We'll have to see how that goes, but hopefully someone will be brave and take me on. And hopefully it won't take me to the end of the year to find someone. 

Well, that's it. And that's enough for one year, wouldn't you say? Wish me luck!