Spoiler Warning

Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Months Book

You have 3 choices and 3 days to decide.

Option #1: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Luce must spend her senior year at reform school after her boyfriend dies in a mysterious fire. She suspects that the dark shadows that have tormented her all her life had something to do with it. When she meets supernaturally gorgeous Daniel, she feels a familiar longing, making her believe they have met before. Although Cam is clearly interested in her, Luce only wants Daniel, who runs both hot and cold. He tries to keep Luce at a distance, telling her that the truth would kill her as it has many times before. The first chapter is gripping and foreshadows the supernatural elements to come. The plot revolves around lovers who find one another, only to lose one another over and over again in a story that spans centuries. Instead of vampires, though, these are fallen angels. Many elements are not resolved, such as the cause of the fire and why angels are at this school. Still, fans of supernatural romance will be lining up for this book despite its flaws, and begging for a sequel.

Option #2: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Option #3: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

You must vote before the sun sets on the third day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not A Complete Piece of Klunk

Storyline: Good

Repetitive Writing: Bad

I don't have particularly high standards when it comes to the writing of the books I read, but The Maze Runner seemed to be a 100 page story that the editors made Mr. Dashner turn into a 400 page book.   To do so he added a paragraph stating his inability to recall his former life every page.  Then he added a paragraph discussing Thomas' "unexplainable desire to be a runner" in every other page or so.  Then numerous paragraphs dispersed throughout explaining how things seemed familiar but he couldn't tell anyone...again & again & again.


That being said,  I liked the book & will be reading the second one.   I'm interested to see where this goes and, with annoying Chuck out of the way and stud Minho still around, I'm thinking it can only get better.   

Official The Maze Runner Discussion: All Hail Google Wave!!

This is an interactive discussion. It's not too late to add your two cents, shuckface!

Who shuckin' farted? Was that you Minho?

So how does an self-respecting, Christian author get around foul, inappropriate language?  Create new, different foul language of course.  Oh shuck it folks, I didn't really mind that much.  Especially since it was the entertainment factor for me.  I think I "lol"ed  at every clunk and shuck in the book.  The insulting part was the fact that the author expected me to believe that in this new world they're in where the kitchen is still the kitchen and a rock is still a rock and a guy is still a guy, crap/poop/shit, or whatever you want to call it, is clunk.  Clunk?  What the shuck? 

Word replacements are fun and I've used many of them in my lifetime since I don't typically curse.  But gosh dang, I may drop an s-bomb if the situation calls for it.  Why an author would make up their own words for curse words, I don't know.  Could be trying to pull a JK Rowling, that genius of writer, (who actually pulled it off), I don't know.  But like I said, I did find it entertaining.  Almost as entertaining as the laugh I got at the last chapter when "Minho farted three times in the last minute."  I think this was a first for me.  I've never read about a character farting before.   I understand Dashner is writing about teenagers for teenagers, but I always believed that fictional characters, despite their age, are elevated people.   Consequently we don't want to read about their stinky farts.   

At the end of book James Dashner credits Krista Marino for "an editing job that defies description."  Ha!  If you ask me Krista Marino missed a thousand possible edits.  They were all over the place from pacing to description to language to plot development, etc, etc.   I couldn't really enjoy this book because of the terrible writing.  Creative Writing 101, show, don't tell.  It's quite possibly the most important thing about writing a good story.  Don't shuckin' tell me about your characters, Dashner, show me.  Suzanne Collins, another genius, has this down to a science.

Dashner could also take a lesson from Collins in pacing.  This was my second biggest complaint.  It seemed the story didn't even begin until the middle to end of the book.  And often information was repeated which slowed the pace.  Sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out and yell, "I know, Dashner, you've already explained that a million times, now get on with it." Since I listened to this book on audio CD the pacing and choppiness were even more distinct.  Not to mention wordiness.  Hello, you could have stated that long paragraph with one simple sentence (another wonderful Collins technique).  The story didn't flow and there were point of view changes that bothered me, especially in the beginning of the book.  It felt as if Dashner wrote the book over a long period of time picking up where he left off but having to familiarize himself with the story again.  Thus, the pacing was slowed and the characters and plot never went anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed listening to the book.  I will most likely read the series.  I still have to figure out what scientist Teresa is named after.  That's been puzzling me.  Great pick Sam! It's time for the discussion so I better go.

Klunk yeah!

I shankin' love made up words. Klunk yeah!

As far as the actual book, The Maze Runner, goes, I enjoyed it very much.

The main reason why is... klunk happened. And by that, I mean stuff happened. A lot of stuff. It never stopped, never slowed, new revelations and conflicts and action just kept coming. I liked Tommy's willingness to take action. This made me like Tommy. This made for a nice pace.

On the negative side, I felt like the writing was sub-par. Some of the characters were like cardboard versions of real people. I didn't feel Tommy's pain when Chuck died. Just didn't feel the connection between the two shankers. Don't feel much between Tom and Teressa either, but maybe that develops more in book two? Things were often overstated as well, as if the author didn't trust us to "get it." He would show a scene, and then have the main character tell us what we just saw. I dunno, that's just a personal peeve of mine.

That said, I still liked the book very much, and can't wait to read the rest of series. I heard the second book is even better, true?

Thanks for the pick, Sam! See you klunk heads at the discussion!

PS. Click HERE to get to the google wave discussion if you're lost.

--Jespy's hasty review of The Maze Runner

What the shank?

I didn't like this book.  I thought the idea and concept was AWESOME.  I thought the author's creativity and enthusiasm shine.  You can tell this author is really into his writing.... like.....in his mind.  I just wish that translated onto the pages for me.  I felt like it lacked something.  How many times can he say that Thomas is drawn to the maze and can't remember anything?  I WANTED to connect with the characters, I really did.  But I wasn't sad when any one of them died.  Not.  At.  All. 

That being said, the idea is genius.  It's worthy of a series and after I finish the other book I've got I'll be trying out round 2 (which is why I skipped that spoiler above).  And now that Markie tells us it's success was due to HG?!!!!!  Say no more.

Running Through a Maze

Believe it or not, I not only started the book, but I finished it as well. For reals. I actually liked it and can't wait for the second book. Funny Markie should mention the link to Hunger Games, cuz that's what it reminded me a bit of.
There were times when the writing bugged me, but I'd just skip a few paragraphs and then it'd be all good. I enjoyed the characters, but wasn't completely attached to them. When Chuck died and Thomas cried like he lost his brother, I just thought, "They'd only known each other a week right?" I was sad, but no actual tear was shed.
I am hoping that since Gally turned out to be alive that maybe Chuck or Alby will show up along the way too. I loved the ending with the letter from WICKED.
I'll elaborate more during the dicush, but for now, I gotta go watch House with Dwight.

I didn't finish the book...

But in my defense, Wolfe flooded the upstairs AND downstairs of my house with poop water and it has been crazy ever since. I could have read the book in the beginning of the month before the flooding, but that is not my style. I did read the beginning of the book and it is a little slow moving but I see the potential. I will pop by the discussion to say hi and and such but won't stay because I don't want any spoilers. Sorry, Sammy!

Loved It!!!

I seriously can't find anything bad to say about this book, except for the sad fates of Chuck and Alby, but there is no way that there wasn't going to be at least one fatality in their situation. It was so cool how they managed to organize everything (even if it seemed unrealistic). I loved how they had different jobs set up and their own slang. The never ending mysteries of the maze made me need to keep reading to finally figure out what was going on. I was pretty shocked at the twist at the end when Chuck got stabbed to save Thomas (I even got a little teary). It was hard for me to except the fact that Chuck and Alby were gone because I really loved their characters. But, that didn't change the fact that I really love this book. With mystery, grievers, action, and twists whats not to like about it.

Book 2 Spoiler Alert!!!!

Book 2 was amazing for me too. I think I liked it more than the first book. The shanks hiding out in the desert were really creepy. Again plenty of Action and new questions to leave you wondering. I still can't figure out what is going on; how Thomas managed to get through the scorch alive, what the shank is going on with Teresa, and what WICKED is really after, but I have full faith that James Dashner will answer all my questions in the last book and leave me with a good ending (he better).

Good That

As always, I love to get lost in a story and I thought Mazerunner was pretty cool. It felt a little - off that all of those poor boys spent that much time in the darn maze without a single anything until Thomas showed up. What the klunk were they doing that whole time? Also amazing that they were mature enough to have such a functioning society without any real adults anywhere. Teenage boys, man. Perhaps just the perception that someone was watching, delivering necessary items, more people or whatever was enough to keep them in line. Anyway......I liked the idea. Kind of Truman-esq and all. I loved that they had their own cuss words. It was fun, like rabbit speak. I found my heart pounding at certain moments, like when Thomas went all tharn in the maze, in the vines. Yikes! At others I was kind of wishing it would move along already. It seemed like Thomas kept thinking the same things over and over and over again. Ok...we got it. He can't remember. Now let's move on already.

The second book - uh, have you people read the second book? Should I say anything about it or just give you a spoiler warning? Spoiler warning given.

I enjoyed the second book too. Some parts seemed to kind of drag on and on and on. That lightening was nasty business and I hated that it seemingly took for ev er. But darn it all if it isn't another book ending with another non-ending and now we have to wait how long for the third to come out? I'll read it.

Bottom line, I enjoyed it. Not the top of my list but an entertaining few days and then another entertaining few days when I read the second. Good that.

Markie's Shanktastic Maze Runner Review

First of all, I just have to say how proud I am to have another one of our book selections come from a BYU graduate, and one of my neighbors. Well, not a next-door neighbor, but he lives somewhere around here. And he is like, everywhere. He is constantly making appearances at local bookstores, libraries, campuses, etc. along with other local YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi Authors like Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, and Brandon Sanderson. It's kinda cool. I recently attended a Brandon Mull book signing in the BYU bookstore where I purchased every single Fablehaven book in hardcover, and had him sign them... along with posters, and bookmarks for the series. I still haven't decided if I'm going to keep the collection, or sell it on e-bay (and then buy the paperbacks or Kindle editions so I can actually read them).

A little story about James Dashner...
One of my student employees was taking a writing class here at BYU taught by Brandon Sanderson (who is HUGE right now because of his being chosen by the widow of the late Robert Jordan to finish the epic "Wheel of Time" series; and having just released the second to the last book in that ginormous series, and is now making millions of dollars, but still teaching at BYU, 'cause that's just the way he rolls) and one of the guest speakers in his class was non other than James Dashner.

He told me that JD told the class that he had pitched his Maze Runner series for years with little to no interest - being turned down by one publisher after another. He had just about given up on hope when a little book called The Hunger Games became a huge sensation and suddenly publishers, who wouldn't give him the time of day before, were calling him up and flying him all over, wining & dining him, and making him all kinds of incredible offers. I thought you might be interested to hear that the Maze Runner owes its success to The Hunger Games.

Now, how did I like the book? I liked it. Can't say I loved it, but it was interesting and well developed. I think how I ultimately feel about it will entirely depend on the outcome of the final book - whether the author answers all the questions or will it be another "Lost" kinda series (all questions, no answers); and will there be any redemption in the end for all the suffering and loss - or will Thomas and Teresa be another permanently damaged pity couple. At my current spot (about 2/3 of the way through the second book) I am highly engrossed. I think it's getting better and better - more intense, more interesting... but it's also getting harder and harder to imagine how this can all possible end well.

I like the whole zombie angle the story has taken, but that also brings to mind another Zombie book we read that started out very interesting and promising and ended up ticking the heck out of me. But for now, I will keep hope alive, and pray those WICKED shuck faces get the klunk beat out of them; and that T&T can build a flare-free life together when it's all over. For now I think this was a great pick, and I can't wait to read the rest. Thanks Sammy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

maze runner discussion

Sorry it took me so buggin long to post this. I was crazy busy with Halloween this weekend. Anyways the discussion will be on Monday Nov. 8th at 8pm pacific 9pm Mountain. I can't wait!!!!!!