Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Caged Graves

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

I've always been a semi-secret fan of mystery books. Although I don't enjoy mysteries where everyone has been murdered or it's some deep dark mysterious thing where half the characters are either crying or deranged (seriously, those seem to be the only two options). Then there's that one character that knows everything, is not the bad guy, but still won't step forward because they're SCARED. ....pfft. I feel that mystery books for the most part just need to CALM DOWN.

With that in mind, here's an amazon summary, "The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiancĂ© she knows only through letters! Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mother’s. Verity swears she’ll get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in “unhallowed ground” in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

First and foremost, this book really wants to be a romance novel. It is, it's a love triangle, it's the strange sensation of growing up and discovering oneself.

Secondly, it's a mystery. I didn't mind the mystery so much because there were implied supernatural elements to it.

Thirdly, it started to be a combined confusing mix of emotionally fueled actions while flailing about in the mystery.

...I lost myself a little. Let me back up to the summary.

Verity is a 'proper' lady from the city who is very concerned with manners, the proper way of doing things, and what her fiance is truly like as she's only known him from letters. Upon meeting her fiance, she is devastated as he doesn't seem to be like the man from his letters at all and for some strange reason the town keeps whispering about her. She's a little huffy and doesn't know where to go when she meets the young doctor of the town who is kind to her and a bit of a flirt. Then one day as she's strolling through the town, she spots two caged graves outside of the church cemetery. Curiously, she approaches to find one of the graves belongs to her mother and the other to her aunt.

Suddenly, the whispers begin to make sense. Verity never had a real sense of who her mother was but comes across her diaries in the attic and begins to read through them in the hopes of finding out who she was.

Verity also makes more friends than foes making her way through the town, but the mystery of the caged graves goes deep into the heart of the town's beginnings.

Now, for me, the mystery element of the story had a halting sort of appeal to it as there were moments where I found it awesome, and moments where I had to sigh and roll my eyes at it.

However, the romance element of the story kept me going through the portion where I was rolling my eyes. Discovering Verity as a person and how she interacts with the town was wonderful (especially if you enjoy the intricacies of weird manners and etiquette).

Overall, I enjoyed the book.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27: 54,458 words

I think I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I did NaNoWriMo this year on pen & paper.

Yesterday I had filled all 210 pages (front and back) and had been estimating I had 200 words per page and counting the words on the last page I wrote to update my novel writing process on nanowrimo.org. I knew there were pages that I had scribbled out or only wrote half a page on because of a new chapter that I wanted to start on the next page, so I was a little nervous that I hadn't reached 50,000 words.

Today, I typed all of those words up and discovered I had reached 54,458 words.

I'm delightfully surprised.

With this, my nanowrimo experience for 2013 has drawn to a relative close.

I'll finally post about The Caged Graves soon. SORRY I SAY THINGS AND GET DISTRACTED BY LIFE AND WRITING. SOOOOOOOOOOOON.

I'm going to spend this weekend with my family because it's Thanksgiving in the US tomorrow and I will delightfully not be partaking in the atrocity that is known as 'Black Friday shopping'.

Stay safe.

Stay writing.

I'm ready to just read for a bit.

Happy November!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21: 41,849 words

.....I might be putting off reviewing The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni because I got all messed up about Allegiant. 

I'm going to relate that to NaNoWriMo.

As a person who would love to be considered an author, get published, and all of that wealth of accomplishment; I ponder the different perspectives on a story. Not all of them or I would be here forever and November would end before my fingertips would regain sensation.

On one hand there is the author, the one who the story so rightfully belongs to. It was made by them, it is their design, it's whatever it means to them. It could be the fulfillment of their dream, it could be the articulation of a nightmare, it could be trying to share the values they hold so dear, etc. It is undoubtedly the author's story. Through and through.

On the other hand, there are the people who get to read the stories. Who get to laugh, cry, aww, yell, and be involved with the story in whatever way is of their choosing. They are also the ones that determine if it is a good or bad book to them.

With writing NaNoWriMo, I write the story for myself. When it has reached something I want to be published it will be slaughtered, edited, and nitpicked by someone else; and I'll gladly offer it up to the process.

There might be some rage sleeping over the edits, but it'll be done.

It might get published, it probably won't (because usually no one gets published on their first try).

However, I'll write my story.

I'll read others stories and be all emotional at them. I'll determine if they're a good book or a bad book to me. I can't make that decision for other people. I can just share how I reacted to their story.

To lie about that reaction would be atrocious.

To be truthful is wonderful. It sparks discussions. Sometimes arguments. But usually, it leads to a better understanding of the story.

...

That was a nice ramble. I'm out of words for the night. I'm happy to be in the home stretch of the 50,000 mark though. Whew.

Happy writing!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Allegiant

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I reviewed the first two books in this trilogy:
You can read Divergent's review HERE (Disclaimer: this review was really bad because I didn't know what I was doing. I still don't know what I'm doing HUR HUR but at least I'm consistently not knowing now....HURRRNNN.)
You can read Insurgent's review HERE

For those of you who are lazy clickers, I was like YEAHHHH about Divergent, I got a little meh about Insurgent, but nevertheless I enjoyed the book overall and had hope for Allegiant. 

EDIT (12/10/13): My friend Brittany over at Summerland Sushi posted about Allegiant in a more...fair light. Check it out HERE.

...then I started reading Allegiant and got very woeful when it started to switch perspectives between Tris and Four (Tobias) which always makes me leery of an author who suddenly changes narrative style in the LAST BOOK OF THEIR SERIES/TRILOGY WHATEVER.

...do you know what that means? USUALLY it means that the main character, who is USUALLY first person perspective will either DIE, BE UNCONSCIOUS FOR CRITICAL PLOT, or be in a REALLY GROSS situation that no one wants the first person perspective of and therefore different person switch. ....CAN WE SAY LAZY WRITING??? CAN WE SAY....COP OUT????

 
SHAMELESS COP ANYONE???
Let me put the new robocop right here to emphasize the cop out.

Cop-copcop-cop-cop out. UNH.

....I'm trying to emphasize the cop out to ensure I stick with the plan of concentrating on ASPECTS of the book that DROVE ME BONKERS.

BONKERS.

AUGH.

I've been putting this review off for a reason. MUCH RAGE SLEEP.

....an amazon summary to get me off the rambling.

"What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent." Amazon link of hubris

...So that summary was WEAK. Did it tell you anything about the book? No? Was it because it relied on the first two books to continue the wonder until you actually embarked on the pages of the book and discovered how atrocious the contents were? EHHHH???

...

Okay, after several deep breaths, a summary.

This will contain MANY spoilers about Divergent and Insurgent, and probably Allegiant. I'm going to warn you after I cross the 30% mark of the book. Read no further if you want any of these books to remain unspoiled.

I'm also going to headlong rush through the summary of the book because whatever.

The first 30% of the book is basically Tris and Tobias, with their 'lovable' band of Dauntless members and others from last book are like, "WHY ARE WE TRYING TO FIX THIS PLACE, LET'S GO OUTSIDE THE WALL, I'M SUDDENLY CONSUMED WITH INSATIABLE NEED TO EXPLORE, A WHOLE NEW WORLDDDDDDDDDDD". They basically begin to ignore everything that happens between Tobias' parents who are leading the factionless vs the allegiant just enough to figure out how to get out of the city. They basically just GO.

Because....

I really want to use more photos. HOW.
That really seemed to be Veronica Roth's attitude while writing the book.

BECAUSE LESS THAN 30% OF THE WAY THROUGH, SHE REVEALS THAT ALL OF THIS IS JUST A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT TO GET GENETICS FIXED.

...WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

There's no apocalypse or zombie outbreak or anything....cool. Anything action filled. Anything that really does anything.

BUTTTTTTT

It could be a commentary on society where we all lust for is action and adventure but it brings us to a very broken world where we're constantly in a cycle seeking to escape because any happiness we achieve is just momentary.

....doubtful.

I just don't think they were going for something that deep.

NOW, let's just jump to spoiler land because usually I write a blog post the day I finish reading the book. ...I'm pretty sure it's been a couple of weeks at this point.

FINISH THIS.

SPOILER LAND FOR EVERYONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

The serums. Let's start there. The serums that were special and belonged to every faction were simply designed as a sort of checks and balances system for the factions to remain separate yet equal. However, the Erudite's were always working on their serum to make it more potent, harder, better, faster, stronger....I might have been listening to Daft Punk lately. ANYWAYS. The special scientists who set up these experiments to get genetically pure people once more have more serums to control the experiments and it's just gross. It's just gross. I said it, gross. Devaluing human lives and their experiences because they couldn't handle another 'impurity war' but they still screwed up the country by ignoring those who were outside of the experiments. They keep causing the corruption by not treating humans as equals.

URGH.

Okay, I rambled.

Aspect....how about Tris becoming a rather forgettable character? That pretty much sucked. It also sucked to read 'Tris' and 'Tobias' who seemed to have the same narrative voice but the only way I could figure out who was narrating was by the context clues of their concerns (because I barely read chapter titles for various reasons). Tris and Tobias were never close to being the same person to me, yet that's what they became by the end of the book.

The book really lost a lot of it's gravity of seriousness for me when it turned out to be genetics. Seriously. When you look at someone and say, 'Hey they've got a predisposition for violence, IGNORE THE LESSER BEING' that REALLY irks me especially when nothing is really done or addressed about it besides killing more people. Because that solves problems.

HOWEVER, that could be a commentary that not everything that's serious that happens has to have a reasonable beginning for weird solutions/outcomes.

OR, it could try to be hinting to seek your own meaning in life.

I don't know.

I can't really find the abstract concept here. With what the book does it seems to really want to express some underlying meaning for the whole story across all three books, yet if it can't be deciphered, was it there to begin with?

There's the obvious BE BRAVE that's been slammed into our faces across all three books (Hello, DAUNTLESS) but I want to believe that's not all there is.

I want to believe there's some hidden gem of great truth trying to be conveyed but it's taking A LOT OF WORK TO DISTILL IT BECAUSE THERE'S SO MUCH CRAP IN THE WAY.

If someone who has read the book can point me in the right direction with some passage references, that would be awesome.

Until then, I fall into rage sleeps contemplating this book.

Oy. VEY.

....

Just, I'm glad I stuck with it so I at least know how it ended, but it doesn't make me happy.

So.

Happy reading.


Disclaimer: All my reviews are written honestly with little filtration. I do not accept money in exchange for review purposes. Images and synopsis of the books have been borrowed and remain copyright to its rightful owners. Media images have been borrowed and remain copyright to their rightful owners.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 15: 33,181 words

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Alright, I had to get it out of my system.

I will not leave this computer until I just spit out what I think about Allegiant, and The Caged Graves. 

Edit: It took me too long to write up Allegiant, I'll save The Caged Graves for soon later. :D

...it's going to be a long sit. I'll probably schedule them for this weekend.

Sorry for being obnoxious. Sigh. ....kind of.

So nanowrimo is going well for me because I was sick on day 11 & 12 so I churned out a lot of words. It was good. SO GOOD.

I do have to remind myself that the action is NICE but it is more necessary to see the entire picture. I know I rushed through something when in my notes I have things scribbled like "THIS HAS TO BE AT LEAST EIGHT PAGES. SHOW EVERYTHING. DO ITTTTTTTTTT" with lots of underlining....and see it only took me three pages to write....yeah....sometimes I just don't think it's vital to know the color everyone's hair and their last name or that they're missing some fingers. Sometimes I just want to write the escape. Pssh.

Then again, I have to cut myself slack because it is a headlong rush through the month of November to hit 50,000 words. ...but it doesn't hurt to spend more pages fleshing out details (details that are many, delicious words) which create an easier story to edit in the long run.

YEEEEEP.

Also, if you take a gander at my blog post about Dear Life, You Suck found HERE, you'll see a nice comment left by the author of said book.

Did that make my day and have me dancing like the happiest thing ever? YES.

...yeah, being enthusiastic is pretty fun.

Uh, uh, I get to writing all of my thoughts on Allegiant. BE PREPARED.

Happy writing!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10: 19,672 words

Sometimes, November just get chaotically busy and the days start slipping by with words scrawled all over.

I'm still figuring out what I want to say about Allegiant. The post is started but it remains dormant as I keep getting upset and walking away. ...so it's coming, it's just annoying.

I'm waiting to review The Caged Graves (which was good) until I finish Allegiant.

...for anyone following my nanowrimo.org profile, you might have noticed I took the last couple of days off.

I totally did.

I'm not stressed about it because:
-I wrote more today
-I'm still ahead of where I 'should' be
-I had a great weekend celebrating a best friend's birthday ( I saw Thor 2, it was better than the first one) which to me, is more important than writing a story that I can come back to on a less time-sensitive basis
-I still have so much plot to get through
-I spent some free moments to figure out what to do with a particular character that's been a bit nagging to the story and where this book will end and where the next book will begin
-I ate some lemon cookies from Trader Joe's (THEY WERE DELICIOUS)

...I just try not to worry about things but instead work on the perceived problem. Or start doing some preventative measures to prevent the problem from occurring again.

Yep.

...

Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 5: 11,418 words

Humble Bundle is having sale to buy Batman: Arkham Asylum (Game of the Year edition) and Batman: Arkham City (Game of the Year) and some other games that are fun. Disclaimer: THEY'RE FOR PC TO PLAY THROUGH STEAM.

...I gave them money now...so I can play them in December...after NaNoWriMo is over. ...yes....

That is the plan at least.

...

So word count.

I'm currently at 11,418 words. For those of you playing along at nanowrimo.org, you should probably be around 8,333 words.

I'm one of those annoying monster writers that just bull rushes through the writing in the beginning so I'm done before November ends.

I'm also one of those people who feels excessively accomplished by being a little bit ahead of the curve.

ALSO. MATH IS DELICIOUS.

11,418/50,000 is approximately 1/5 of the way done. WHOOO. In roughly 600 words, I'll be 1/4 of the way done.

DELICIOUS.

...it's just exciting for me. I like equations when it comes to figuring out how much is left of a whole of a story.

I'm roughly a day ahead of where I should be, which means I'm just eating November up by larger fractions.

...don't worry, I do not include (much) math in my stories. Only when it's appropriate.

But the number of plot twists is directly related to the number of times there are food scenes in my story.

...maybe I'll tell that correlation in a later post.

...probably not.

DELICIOUS EQUATIONS.

Book reading status: Allegiant is finished, I'm just super upset with it and making my way through The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni (which is pretty good so far; I'm 3/8 of the way through...MATH).

So hopefully after a book I can blog about Allegiant while being able to take the whole series picture into account. ...it might not be pretty. We'll see.

Happy writing!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 2: 4,107 words

Day 2

I've reached 4,107 words so far. I'm going to keep chugging because I'm falling in love with my Gargoyle story. It's wonderful. I'll probably write some more tonight but this feels like a good start to NaNoWriMo.

I'm also in the midst of reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth but it's slow going because I'm sleep-rage upset with both Tris and Tobias. More on that when I post about it.

I'm just a little under the weather, I'm hoping it doesn't turn into a full blown illness but we'll see.

Fingers crossed it doesn't. Bleh.

...hmm....I think that's all I have for now. I got new speakers? They serve their purpose nicely.

Happy writing!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dear Life, You Suck

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden

Disclaimer: There is some crude language (like swear words, drugs, and more graphic imagery) in this book. If that deters you, well you have been warned.

This book was HILARIOUS. I kept laughing out loud at it...in weird places because READING WAITS FOR NO ONE. ...I'm looking at you waiting rooms. ...hehehe.

ANYWAYS.

An amazon summary so I can settle down a bit, "“The shrinkadinks think I have a screw loose. Ain’t playing with a full deck. Whacked-out wiring. Missing marbles.” Irreverent, foulmouthed seventeen-year-old Cricket is the oldest ward in a Catholic boys’ home in Maine—and his life sucks. With prospects for the future that range from professional fighter to professional drug dealer, he seems doomed to a life of “criminal rapscallinity.” In fact, things look so bleak that Cricket can’t help but wonder if his best option is one final cliff dive into the great unknown. But then Wynona Bidaban steps into his world, and Cricket slowly realizes that maybe, just maybe, life doesn’t totally suck." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I would like to take a moment to summarize this book.

Cricket grew up in Boston where the environment makes your skin pretty thick. I'm reminded of people who take about everyone looks at life through a different window; imagine Cricket's window is jagged glass.

Every shard has it's own cut to make and he's just go to figure out the angle.

Rough stuff.

Cricket resides in a Catholic boy's home (which he fondly refers to as 'Prison' as it was converted from a manor to a prison to a Catholic boy's home) where he and the Little Ones (younger orphans) live with some pretty wicked nuns (I mean in the strict yet awesome sense). He's got a mean scar on his face that stretches from his eyebrow to the bottom of his cheek in an x fashion.

Cricket treats the world as some big kind of joke. There are things he takes seriously like defending the Little Ones. Who get picked on a lot due to their age, second hand clothes, and probably because they're orphans. ...which means that Cricket gets into a lot of fights as he always standing up for the bullied.

Then Wynona Bidaban steps up and starts helping him to mend his window a bit at a time.

...I'm going to derail from the summary and talk about the book title.

Now when books nab their book titles from one little line in the book or a character just happens to say something that has the book title in their sentence, I GROAN. I roll my eyes, deeply sigh, and question my further exploits in finishing the book.

This book definitely has it's title worked into the book.

BUT THAT'S OKAY.

BECAUSE IT TOTALLY FITS.

So Cricket has this teacher that pulls a fast one on his class and challenges them to write a letter to someone that they have a beef with; the letter will never be sent. He aptly writes, "Dear Life, You SUCK! I want out. See you on the flipside. Sincerely, Cricket" (Blagden, page 42, Dear Life, You Suck). But it keeps coming back. It keeps playing into the story. It was pretty beautiful in a horribly unobtrusive way.

Something else I just liked about Cricket's character is that he loved accents and playing with sounds, words, etc.; like a storyteller. It was fun to see that level of imagination just sprawl across the pages in a hilarious manner. AGAIN, some of his language is downright rude, offensive, etc but that only seemed to heighten what was going on around him. Like his defense mechanism was to build a wall of crap that we could see through, but he had to slowly see through it as well.

IT WAS AWESOME.

I just, I had to share.

It just seemed like such a good capture of a rougher version of life that isn't often portrayed in books.

Yeah, it was graphic, but in a refreshing way. Cricket toned it down when it was necessary and amped it when it was overly appropriate to.

He did come on a bit strong at first, but it worked.

Just, well done Scott Blagden. I tip my metaphorical, literary top hat to you.

Happy reading!