Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Book Reviews

I confess. Three out of five of my kids don’t like to read. Well, one is iffy, but I am constantly looking for books to tempt OB. With that thought in mind, I picked up THE TIME WARP TRIO by Jon Scieszka. I loved it. It’s Joe’s birthday and he’s hanging out with his two best friends when one of them finds a present Joe forgot to open. It’s from Joe’s uncle, the magician. It’s only a book but a strange book. One of the boys opens it to a page displaying a picture of a knight on horseback and when another says he’d like to see one of those in person; all three of them find themselves face to face with the very irritated knight in the picture. It has just the right amount of preteen boy humor (meaning flatulence and snot) but not so much that mom was grossed out, although quite frankly it takes a lot to gross me out any more. It’s only 54 pages so it’s not big enough to elicit the groan a large book inspires. Really, if you have a boy, or know someone who does, give this book a try.

I also just finished reading two Robin McKinley books. First off, I love Robin McKinley. Her book, SUNSHINE, is in my opinion the best vampire book out there. In fact, I recently borrowed it from the library so SO could read it. He has never read any fantasy but mine. Can you believe it? I still have a hard time getting my head around it. But he finally agreed to let me introduce him and I thought SUNSHINE would be a good start. He read half of it and started critiquing her technique. (She handles first person with a panache and style that I could only dream about.) I next handed him STARDUST by Gaiman but I haven’t asked if he even cracked it. Back to the review.

DRAGONHAVEN, like SUNSHINE, is written in first person but I think she uses the technique less effectively. I wanted to love it, I tried to love it. I only just managed to finish it. The pace is somewhat erratic, speeding up to a good clip then slowing down until I turned the page at random and read a future chapter. There’s a manic feel to it. Granted, the narrator is supposed to be remembering things that are difficult to remember and a certain amount of agitation is expected but I think it was overdone. Like most McKinley books, the plot is excellent. I’ll call it an alternate reality urban fantasy (I don’t know what she  calls it) where dragons have lived among us since the  beginning of time but have  been for the most part hidden. But now they are facing extinction and a group of scientists in a little reserve in America are fighting to save them. The son of the director, and the narrator, finds a badly wounded mother dragon who has just given birth and a dead poacher. As he gets ready to leave, he sees that one of the baby dragons is still alive. He sticks the little thing under his shirt to keep it warm and heads home. Of course this opens a huge can of worms but you’ll have to read the book.

As I said, the plot is engaging, but for me, it fell just short of the high expectation that I have for one of McKinley’s books. 

The second book is also Robin McKinley and its one of her earlier ones: THE SPINDLES END. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, but I like her version better. She spins (No pun intended) such a detailed world that as a writer, sometimes I stop reading and just give her a moment of stunned respect. That said, the novel is dense. Too dense to read for an extended period of time and so it took me longer to finish than it normally would. Her characterization should be studied in writing schools across the land.

Next on deck, besides the many ‘how to write/publish/edit a synopsis/query/novel books, is MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews. It came highly recommended. I’ll let you know what I think.


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I began to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday with conflicted feelings. I’m eager read it, no I can’t put it down, but it’s the last book so I want the experience to last.

Some of you may know, I haven’t always been a fan of Rowling. Not because I didn’t like her writing, I hadn’t read any… it’s rather stupid actually. Way back when (right after Sorcerer’s Stone) I was involved with a writing group and just developing my style (that’s a nice way of saying I was just learning the craft of writing, not just putting words on paper) One of my reviewers praised my work and said it reminded him very much of JK Rowling. I didn’t know who that was, something that would change in a few months but at that time, I wanted a distinct voice and as stupid as it sounds, I shunned her books.

Well, years later (as in last October) curiosity and a greater confidence caused me to borrow Sorcerer’s Stone from a friend. I read the first and thought, well, okay, not bad. Read the second, then third still thinking this is good but… By the fourth she’d converted me. I put down Goblet of Fire and sent many good thoughts Rowling’s way. She’d hit it out of the writing ballpark and in an odd way, I was proud of her.

When I held Deathly Hallows in my hands at the library it was with a sense of excitement mixed with doom. I know that after I read it, it’s  over, no more and I’m going to miss Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione and the rest. I’ll miss the world Rowling created. She succeeded in bringing that world here, into mine. For characters to become that real…. that IS magic. It’s the magic of writing, the magic that keeps me sitting in front of the computer of sending queries and smiling through rejections. There is a moment when the characters you created become more than you created them to be.  As a writer, I can say, ‘Ilythra wouldn’t do that,’ with authority. Not because I don’t want her to, but because I know her. It’s almost as though, somewhere in the writing process, they take a breath and although it sounds a bit insane, they almost become real, no I”m trying to protect myself from sounding insane. They do become real. To be able to transfer that, to gift it to another person, the reader, so that the character becomes real to them….. that’s what it’s all for. That’s magic.

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