Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Wrap Up

Happy Leap-Year Day!

This past month has been the first full month of my return to Soon Remembered Tales and I've been busy! For those of who who may have missed out on some posts, here's a general wrap up.

Books Reviewed:

The second book to the young adult Claire de Lune series.

Two different books that center on different aspects of writing both grammatically and getting your creative juices flowing!

A wonderful real to life young adult book about a teen suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.

The fourth installment of the Stefan's Diaries series which is a spin off of The Vampire Diaries series and based off of the plots for the CW TV show.

A check into one of the tourist guides on the market! Hopefully I'll be able to see if it's worth buying when I visit Boston in the future.

Other Posts:
My E-Reader series-

Other News:
My facebook page as a fancy new layout so please check it out and follow!
I have a tumblr for Soon Remembered Tales, something else for you to follow and enjoy some eye-candy of the book variety!

There is also a new posting format for Soon Remembered Tales

  • Mondays
    • Musing Mondays
  • Tuesdays
    • Teaser Tuesdays
  • Wednesdays
    • Regular Post
  • Thursdays
    • Booking Through Thursdays
  • Fridays
    • Regular Post

And a special THANK YOU to all of you who have read and commented this month! My page views went from 30 to nearly 1,000 in 29 days. You are all wonderful, thank you!

The Two E's: E-readers and the Earth

Various arguments for e-readers are that they are great for the environment. You aren't buying a printed book so that's surely saving the destruction of trees and pollution from paper mills, right? Wrong. Well, maybe. For as many positive environmental e-reader arguments there seems to be just as many counterarguments.

Joe Hutsko of the New York Times stated in his article, "Are E-readers Greener Than Books":
"A new study analyzing the Amazon Kindle electronic book reader’s impact on the environment suggests that, on average, the carbon emitted over the life of the device is offset after the first year of use."
Bill Henderson, author of "Books Without Batteries: The Negative Impacts of Technology", takes a more negative position against e-readers. He sums up what it takes to make both forms of reading novels:
"Here's what an e-reader is: a battery-operated slab, about a pound, one-half inch thick, perhaps with an aluminum border, rubberized back, plastic, metal, silicon, a bit of gold, plus rare metals such as columbite-tantalite (Google it) ripped from the earth, often in war-torn Africa. To make one e-reader requires 33 pounds of minerals, plus 79 gallons of water to refine the minerals and produce the battery and printed writing. (...) Here's what it takes to make a book, which, if it is any good, will be shared by many readers and preserved and appreciated in personal, public, and university libraries that survive the gigantic digital book burning: recycled paper, a dash of minerals, and two gallons of water. Batteries not necessary. If trees are harvested, they can be replanted."
Now this is all true, trees can be replanted after harvest however trees take years to grow to a mature enough state to be harvested once more. That, in no way, means that the pollution created from e-readers is entirely okay. I feel that whether the environmental issues caused from books or e-readers are both bad, but in this scenario I feel that we have to favor the 'lesser of evils'.

Bill Henderson fails to mention that printed books have the highest per-unit carbon footprint.

“In 2008, the U.S. book and newspaper industries combined resulted in the harvesting of 125 million trees, not to mention wastewater that was produced or its massive carbon footprint. (...) In the case of a book bought at a bookstore,” Ms. Ritch said, Cleantech’s measurement “takes into account the fossil fuels necessary to deliver to the bookstore and the fact that 25-36 percent of those books are then returned to the publisher, burning more fossil fuels. (...) Right now, e-books are having effectively no positive impact on the environment,” she said, nor will they “unless publishers print fewer books in anticipation of e-book sales.” - The New York Times
It's unfortunate but there are very few books that are made out of recycled paper. Often times if they are it is broadcasted across the cover and amongst the publication information. But it's a rarity. The use of minerals to make an e-reader is quite hefty, I won't lie, and the e-readers have to travel to stores just the same as books do. But for a person who reads, say, 100 books a year... that's an assortment of trees not being cut down for the printing of your book. That's 100 books electronically delivered to one e-reader that was made one time through the creation noted above. For a person who only reads occasionally, well, the e-reader probably has a more costly effect. Why use 33 pounds of minerals and 79 gallons of water for a device that will sit idly until you decide to read once or twice a year? For those readers a printed copy might be the lesser of two evils.

The e-readers, when given up for newer, fancier version of the device, could lead to more waste. This is a large problem with so many electronic devices taking up space in garbage dumps through out the world. But there are steps to eliminate this additional waste.
"A UK-based start-up WEEE Systems has ambitious plans to tackle the growing issue of e-waste. They recently revealed that they are in the process of developing a prototype plant capable of providing closed-loop recycling services to leading electronics manufacturers." - Akhila Vijayaraghavan "WEEE Systems Works Towards a Closed-Loop E-Waste Recycling System"
There are an assortment of stores in the US that offer free recycling for electronics (e-readers included!) so that they may be disposed of appropriately. So not all is lost. Even if e-readers are tossed aside in favor of something else, they can still be taken care of appropriately just as a books pages being recycled.

While I used to work in various bookstores (and things could have changed since I left, but this is an observation developed from circa 2008-2010) newspapers and magazines that had expired would have the covers ripped from them and thrown away. Often times books that were unneeded would be tossed in a trash bin. They were left as useless items collecting dust. I feel that overall we need to start respecting the environment more and handle the making and disposal of e-readers and books in a different way.

Both items have different impacts to the environment. It literally is a decision of the lesser evil if you are looking at this with an environmental mindset. But I feel it all depends on how often you read and how your reading device (whether it be electronic or a printed copy) is handled. Both creations are here and likely to stay, what we can do now is take the necessary steps to ensure that they have the smallest impact on the environment.

Interested in more e-book ranting/loving?

Check these posts out:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - February 28th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"His cloak fell back from his shoulders and he felt the cold wind cutting into him from the sea, but because of the crying of the babies and because he was the King he did not draw the cloak around himself. It was a strange, exalted, and terrible thing to be the King." 
I Am Mordred by Nancy Springer

Monday, February 27, 2012

Musing Mondays - February 27th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...

• Do you read books that are part of a series?
• Do you collect all the books in the series before starting? What if the series is brand new, and the only book that’s been published so far is Book one? As subsequent books in the series are published, do you go back and re-read the preceding books?

My Reply:
I love to read books in a series. If this blog is any indication I do it a lot and I'd say that series' cover about half of my reading list. I usually buy the books as I go along because there have been times where I get tired of a series; the author does unspeakable things to the characters, their writing style changes, or I simply lose interest. While in High School I bought nearly all of the Anita Blake series only to later find out that my interest began to dry up for the series halfway through. I was left with all of these books that I didn't want to read (I later gave them to a family friend). The only time I'll go back and re-read the books in a series is if (1) it has been years since the last book was published and I need a refresher or (2) I just really love the books that much and can't get enough of them.

In the end, the series' that I decide to read are because I can't get enough of the storyline or characters. Often if I love a book I am left feeling let down when the book ends. What happened to my favorite characters? I don't want to let go! Give me more! And when there is a series of books I don't have to let go.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Curl Up With A Good... E-Reader?

“I personally don’t like e-readers. I like to actually hold the physical book in my hand. Perhaps it's just the nerd in me, but when I read a book, I commit fully to it (even if I don't really like it). For some reason kindles etc. seem much more impersonal. My mom has one that I have used and I have the app on my phone. I've read whole books on both and I still prefer the hard copy." - Nicole D.

When I first purchased my e-reader I felt much the same. It felt odd to hold this tiny device and only press a button in order to turn a page. It was odd not to have my cat trying to lay on it and it was weird that after a month of using my kindle near constantly I needed to charge it.

I never had to do that with a book.

For quite a while I was on the fence with my e-reader. I was worried I would end up regretting the purchase and discover that books were obviously better. See, I went for months considering if buying an e-reader was worth it. During those months I kept an eye on how much I spent on books and how much I would have saved if I had an e-reader. The difference in cost was extremely noticeable. But to regret the e-reader purchase would have been a tough thing because of the money I had invested in the device. But then I started to get used to it and quickly fell in love.

One of the pluses?

Free. Classics.

I was trying to get a lot of classic literature to read but for a Mass Market it cost me anywhere from $4-6 per book. With my e-reader I had those books for free. Yes, yes, I could have gone to a library and gotten the books for free there as well. But I wouldn’t be able to keep the books or take my sweet time reading them. For me, personally, I need to take my time with these books and not have a schedule where I have to renew them. Their easy access made it even easier for me to get my hands on them. According to the World-Herald News Service, E-readers are helping teens become more interested in books. “...Another advantage of e-books is that students can continue to use smartphones, Kindles and other e-readers to check out electronic books over the summer. As a result, the high school library can be used by students 12 months a year, not just during the nine months that classes are in session.”

While there is a lot of opportunity to explore different books the e-reader may come short in other areas.

"What I don't like is the prospect of re-buying some of my childhood favorites that aren't offered for free. There's also the fact that, at least for the kindle, the selection can be limited; there are several books I'd love to read on it, but they aren't available for kindle. At least one series in the latter category is from a publishing company which has since closed down, so the likelihood of it being published for kindle is zilch." - Cassandra C 
"What I do miss from real books (aside from the feel/weight/sound of a 'real' book) is the layout/font type/cover art, and other production qualities that you simply don't get with a digital version. I can't imagine something like House of Leaves in a digital format...many books gain personality through the paper type, the sort of font used, and what is in the header/footer of each page (decorative symbols, lines, etc). I think that this is probably something that will grow with time in digital formats..." - Ash, author of the horror blog The Way to a Woman's Heart Is Through Her Ribcage

I personally still would rather buy a paper copy of books that have colored photos/graphics and maps in them as I find it easier to flip to a map in a book than on my e-reader. But... that’s my own preference. Despite the loss of some things with an e-reader, some devices provide more options and therefore give the reader a better experience.

"I never thought I'd want an e-reader...I'm kind of old school, I still buy CDs and vinyl, and I always just liked the tactile quality of a book. But after I got a kindle last Christmas I couldn't put it down. For months I took it everywhere with me, I've purchased more ebooks in the last year than I've bought actual books in the last several years. I found that I finished books faster, reading at least twice as many books as I ordinarily would. I still read regular books, I still like holding a book and the sound of the pages turning, but with the kindle it's just more don't have to worry about breaking the binding or deal with the errant page that just won't stay put... I also tend to read a lot of large books, and it's a lot nicer to read a 600 page novel on my kindle, which weighs the same no matter how many books it's holding, and a lot less strain on my wrists." - Heather L.

As someone who writes and types regularly I can agree that not having to hold up a heavy book definitely is less stressful on my wrists and I suspect it is what caused me to read Little Women so quickly - the fact that I didn’t have to reserve my reading time to being at home certainly pushed my reading speed.

Dodai Stewart wrote, "The mere presence of books implies knowing, worldliness, intellect, romance, possibility. Beauty and the we all know, the pivotal movement -- when you know their love is real -- is when the Beast gives Belle a glorious library full of books." With so many books being available on e-readers bookshelves certainly aren’t as needed and by default (for those who care and take notice) people won’t be able to marvel at all the books you have read and own.

(Disney's Beauty and the Beast)

This is a good thing for those who don’t have much space to work with. I myself had run out of room for books and couldn’t fit another bookcase into my room, I also couldn’t afford one. With the idea that I was (still am) hoping to move I had to face the possibility of leaving my books behind. Thank goodness I have my kindle because I can bring my books with me. However, it is easy to believe that books (and book shelves) are going the way of records and rotary phones. Bookcases have a certain artistic appeal, they can even have themes. I don’t believe such an idea will cease to exist just beacause someone’s shelves may be in a device. If a person takes such care into putting books on display and making themes I don’t believe they will be easily convinced to stop simply because of the existence of e-readers.

If I really love a book I may have the printed and digital formats of that book. The printed edition stays on the bookshelves I have (some even have a theme!) and I don’t intend on getting rid of them even if I have an e-reader.

With not buying as many printed books anymore I certainly have more space and less to get rid of (selling or giving away) when I decide to depart with some books. Which brings to mind: which is greener? E-books or printed books?

Interested in more e-book ranting/loving?

Check these posts out:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - February 21st

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"He'd always known lycanthropy was perceived by many historically as a mental illness in which you imagined you were a wolf and behaved like one; or some kind of demonic shape-shifting in which you did indeed become a wolf until someone shot you with a silver bullet and your lupine body changed back to form as you died, maybe with a placid expression on your face, and an old gypsy woman pronounced that you would now have rest. As for the movies, well, he'd seen a good many of them--an embarrassing number, in fact."
- The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Monday, February 20, 2012

E-Readers - Love them or hate them

Love them or hate them; readers know about e-readers and e-books (unless, of course, you’re living under a rock). Of course, if you’re reading this you’re likely on the web and the likelihood of you knowing about e-readers is probably a lot greater. But ah, the internet. Where everyone can come and go as they please, littering the web with their defined (or not so defined) opinions of whatever strikes their fancy. A place where people can make doodles to back up their opinions or just type away in a blog post about what they really think and publish it to the world. A lot of people use the internet as a platform to address important issues with the government, healthcare, general things that could potentially affect the lives of many. It can also be used for fun; whether you're watching YouTube videos or are getting notifications to partake in the latest planned flash mob. Or, and this is something that I am guilty of, the internet can be used to brainlessly pass time and give you an excuse to not do the things you need to do. Tumblr? Pinterest? I'm looking at you. Do you know how many hours I waste on both sites? And it's through these hours of looking at post after post that I caught something interesting on Tumblr: e-reader hatred.

E-readers have been a popular debate topic in the publishing world since their arrival. There are some really interesting points made on the internet, whether written for newspapers or on blogs such; and then there is the brainless type of hatred that I’ve come across on different sites. And when I say hatred, I mean hatred.

(source unknown because it's been going around Tumblr for months with no credits)

I've found other statements such as:
"Kindles are stupid"
"People who buy kindles, regardless of reasoning: kill me"
"I hate Kindles and anything else of that kind"
"Kindles are WORTHLESS I love reading BOOKS"

Plus various posts of people blaming Kindles directly (specifically, it seems that Nooks and iPads aren't getting quite the same attention, but I am grouping them in with Kindles for this entry) for specific store closings.

Not all commentary is like this. There are some statements that balance general dislike to uncertainty of e-readers and with much less cursing and usage of the caps lock key. Some opinions consider the use of the device, or some readers may own books and e-readers, and their opinions tend to sink into my mind a little more:
"It makes me sad to see people on kindles and e-books, because they are not the same as an actual book."

Obviously there are a number of people who adore their e-readers or else e-readers wouldn't be selling so well. Some have taken on reading from e-readers and nothing else, while others still prefer the use of a printed book. 

I asked my facebook followers to provide me with their opinion of e-readers and had an overwhelming response. I felt that love or hate e-readers, everyone had great points. But how could I present these opinions in a good light? Aside from taking a stand against "the haters" of e-readers whom seem to personally attack e-reader supporters, I couldn't show everyone else's opinions without sharing some of my own. So read on and see what some book lover's had to say (with a sprinkling of my own thoughts through out!).

"I love my kindle, easy to read on the subway in nyc," - Charlie

"I like e-readers to a point. I think they are incredibly practical when on the go or when the bookstores are closed. However, I still prefer an actual book to my kindle. I mean you just can't curl up with a good pdf... it's not the same." - Cathy

All in all, there is a rainbow of opinions out there about e-readers and people are welcome to those opinions. But what bother's me most is the first mentioned comments. The comments from people who proclaim that reading on an e-reader makes the reader 'lazy', that e-readers are entirely to blame for the death of publishing or bookstores, and that a person reading from an e-reader is no longer a "real" book worm because they are lacking the book.

Three years ago I wrote a post titled The Great Debate about e-readers. Kindles had just been released to the world and I was against them with every part of my being. I cringe at my opinion from that point in time because I feel that I was so blind to the truth of e-readers. 

So what do I think of the Kindle? I think it's appropriate for some people and would be worth the expense. But I like my hard covered, mass market, paperback books just fine. I like having towering bookshelves that I can decorate with photo frames and the books I read.
- The Great Debate

At least I wasn’t too judgmental. But I made that judgment based off of what little information I had. So what is up with e-readers? Is owning an e-reader by default a way to make you "lazy"? Are you not a “real” book worm since you aren’t reading from a printed book? Are they the apocalypse of publishing? What about waste management of e-readers vs. printed books? And did the Kindle really kill Borders?

There are so many ways to branch off on the topic of e-readers and I’m going to take advantage of that. Hopefully the next few posts I make will be insightful and not just turn into the typical opinionated rambling of an online blogger. But I suppose we’ll see! 

Interested in more e-book ranting/loving?

Check these posts out:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Insight Guides: Boston City Guide

I love the concept of traveling. Taking a break from my somewhat boring life and adventuring to somewhere new (or not so new), just to spend a few hours, days or weeks in a new location. Pretending to partake in that lifestyle of that location even though I'm a foreigner to it. I have huge dreams of traveling to different cities and countries, seeing all that I can. Really, if I was offered a job by the Travel Channel to just go from place to place and experience new things I would do it.

I've never been able to afford to travel much. All of my vacations have been to visit family aside from one trip to see a friend and one trip with friends to Myrtle Beach. I'm in my mid-twenties and I want to I have so many wonderful friends who are scattered around the country and I want to visit them all but I also want to go to their cities and experience their homes.

Boston is my next travel destination. My mother has visited Boston before as have some other family members and I hear endlessly good things about the city. Even if I'm a Yankees fan - I want to see Boston. I want to see the architecture and history. I want to travel around and nerd out over everything that's there.

But I also want to go up with the knowledge of what is in that city and what there is to see. I don't want to come home going, "Oh my gosh, I could have visited --- but I didn't because I didn't know it was there!"

Sure, I can go online and look up tourism sites about what to do and see, but I want to have the book on hand because while I'm in Boston I won't have a computer and I don't want to always rely on my phone. I wanted something that I could keep and refer back to, maybe mark off stuff that did go and see while in the city for future reference if I were to go back.

That brought me to a local bookstore where I purchased Insight Guides Boston City Guide. "Know the city like a local" it says. Well, I doubt that will be true exactly but it is yet to be seen. The book itself is really lovely; filled with colored photos and detailed maps. Everything is sectioned off to different parts of Boston and there is a lot of tips for the museum goers, the outdoorsmen, shopping, and food. A restaurant guide with information on how expensive the food is plus other information that would be good for people who are going to visit (hotels, tips on the subway system, etc).

Plus, I learned a few more things about Boston. Like the fact that the streets were made based off of cow herding routes so it's crazy intense driving through the city. (Something I will not be doing while I'm there).

My copy is currently filled with post it's of places I want to try and visit while I'm in Boston. My poor friend whom I am going to visit will be dragged all over the city while I geek out over museums, history, art, culture, and the food (oh the food!). Thus far I feel that this book is really informative and I'm excited for my trip! I would say to travelers to check it out, see if it helps you get a grip on what you'll be facing when you go to your new destination. Once I visit Boston (in May, so long as nothing comes up) I'll hopefully report back on how beneficial the book really is. Then, my next trip will be to San Francisco and I'm going to buy a different travel guide. We'll see how good that one is and if it holds up when I go on my actual trip - whenever that may be!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - February 14th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Girls paraded bargain-store fashions, their bleached hair and bedroom eyes hiding the fear that they weren't good enough. Soon the cold would force them inside, so they clutched at lost summer."

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #4

Why do I keep reading the Stefan's Diaries series?

Is it complete dependency of The Vampire Diaries fandom? Is it my need to stay faithful? The books, to be honest, aren't that great. They're very simply written and typically I grab them with the idea that I can read them quickly and effortlessly while at work or just juggling my hectic schedule. But I discovered, while reading this book, that I was dragging through it. I wasn't invested in the book and only cared about what was going on with Damon and a random girl: both of which aren't in the book the entire time.

I actually took a break from the book while I went on vacation. Not because I was on vacation (I actually brought vacation reads with me while I was out and about) but because I didn't want to take my Kindle with me (I was worried I'd lose it with all the hecticness of flying for the first time by myself and trying to navigate an airport solo). And for a lesser reason, but a reason none the less, because I felt that it was sort of boring and I didn't really want to spend what precious reading time I had while on vacation sitting and reading a book that I didn't completely love.

So I left it behind and picked it up when I returned home. Typically when I do this I struggle to get back into the book because I have to remember the long list of characters and events that I left behind, I have to literally push myself back into that world. Or I feel the need to reread all that I had already read so that I feel more cozy with the book and as if I made up for the time I missed.

Not with this book. I hopped right in and barely spent a second wondering where I left off. Everyone was there in the slow progress that it was. I'm starting to agree more and more with Damon that Stefan is utterly boring when he only feeds off of animals. The first two books were interesting to see how the brothers were made into vampires (the CW way!) and how they spent their first couple of years, but now that Stefan is all Good and Vegetarian it's a bore.

The only exciting scenes in the book was when other vampires came into play and things were happening. What kills me is that while I was mindlessly going from page to page the ending was quite good. It left unanswered questions and the few characters that were interesting hanging on a thread. You don't know what's going to happen to them and you'll have to buy the next book to find out.

Maybe that's why I keep reading these books: the first 75% of the book is horribly boring while the last 25% is interesting and leaves you hanging so you just have to get the next book to find out what happens. And then the process is repeated.

Darn it, despite that this book nearly bored me to tears I know I'll buy the next one because I want to know what happens next. Good one, CW writers, that's a way to get very sleepy readers buying your books!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Kind of a Funny Story

I've heard a steady, low rumbling of decency for this book. It seems that the approval has been hushed and that's either because of the subject matter of this book or maybe it's not as popular amongst the readers and book-loving friends of mine. But here's the deal: It's a great book. It can be a little uncomfortable if you are sensitive to the subject matter but it also can be thought provoking, funny, and enlightening.

So enough of the vague commentary from me. It's Kind of a Funny Story is about depression. Well, there is a lot more to the book than just the big D but that's the issue. The main character suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts. He takes the initiative to try and save himself and ends up temporarily in a psychiatric ward.

Knowing many people who have suffered from depression and at times facing the ordeal myself (but not to such an extreme) I feel that Ned Vizzini broached the topic in a wonderful way. It seems that depression is a taboo subject just as suicide is. People are afraid to discuss it or admit that it's real. Really, any mental illness or disorder is something people shy away from. But Vizzini adds humor, not to the point of being offensive, and gives the reader a clear depiction of what it's like to be in the main character's shoes and feeling as low as he feels. The book is enjoyable rather than uncomfortable and yet you still are left thinking and considering that there are so many people (and teens) who suffer from an assortment of issues. It helps that Vizzini has experience in this area himself and gives more life to his writing and feels more honest.

The book is classified as a YA book which usually throws up a red flag for some readers. They wrinkle their nose at the idea of reading a YA book, categorizing it with Twilight and novels blabbering about first true loves. In general, YA books have a stigma for not being very well written and to be honest, most YA books aren't well written. But there are the few that stand out. The few that should not be shunned because they are labeled YA and are decently written. They have a mind and a story and fluidity and creativity that other YA books lack. This book is one of those books. One of those YA books that adults should read as well as teens. It's that powerful, that moving, that eye opening, and yes - that amusing.

Life sucks and it's hard to live. Vizzini is honest about that. But it's all about finding the things that make life worth living and worth pushing past the sucky parts. I've seen a lot of books about teen suicide and yes, that should be highlighted, but it should also be shown that low, that point where you feel there is no return, and then the slow struggle to standing up straight again and facing the world head on. I feel it leaves a good message: a lot of people face this kind of hardship but it doesn't necessarily make you any less important. But with help and support you can gather yourself and live again and life is worth living.

The book ends on a positive note but it isn't sappy. The entire book, I feel, is well done. Have I seen the movie based off this book? No. I'm not entirely sure I want to because so much of this book happens in the main character's mind and I feel like I could miss some of the more important points. Not to say that the movie lacks the important points, obviously I don't know since I haven't seen it. But I have a clear attachment to this book and I don't want it mared by the movie. It's really worth the read, whether you or someone you know has experienced depression or not.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - February 7th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Just then did the lid of the coffin swing open, and its tenant--a young woman whose wild hair and flaming eyes made her look like an angel of vengeance--sat up with all signs of consternation. The mere sight of her was enough to make the bandit drop his knife in horror and turn completely ashen."

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writing Tools & Writing Prompts

I've mentioned it before that I (at least formerly) am a writer. I don't know how I had the time to maintain the schedule I did while in High School. Classes, after school activities, dancing, reading a ton of books, college research and application, hanging out with friends, and then somewhere during all of that I wrote like a demon. I have so many manuscripts - all of which I would not let see the light of day as an adult - and I was constantly writing short stories, poems, longer "novels" and the likes. Now I work a full time job, I don't have "after school activities" and I can barely keep up with the activities I do have. When did my life suddenly not have enough hours in a day?

Well, I wanted to become a better writer and I wanted to actually write. As soon as I went to college I fell into the longest writers block of my life. I wanted to be like the father in I Capture the Castle and get locked away and be forced to write. But I needed help. I was still struggling to create plots and story lines off the top of my head and I wanted to write better than I did when I was 16.

I picked up Writing Tools: 50 Essential Writing Strategies for Every Writer. The book is a quick read and very much an instruction manual. It details points to be made and literally writing strategies. Some of the strategies were things I already knew just from school while other points I recognized from reading and writing on my own. But overall, it was a great refresher for writing and a book I will very well refer to in the future. For those who are trying to brush up on what they learned in school or are interested in eye opening tips of how writers write or to be a more structured writer this is a great book to pick up and to go back to. Plus, I think the cover is cute.

Another book which I've been using and I will hands down always suggest to people who may have writers block or might be looking into writing in a broader sense of what they usually write is The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life. Not only does this book have another really cute cover and adorable tiny illustrations along the margins but it is really and truly eye opening and I refuse to accept it as anything other than that. For each calendar day (even leap year!) you are given a writing prompt and they certainly vary in size; a poem, a journal entry, to a short story so it's best to make sure you have the time set aside to write. There is a helpful paragraph that kicks off your daily prompt followed by a "For Further Reflection" piece. After this the daily writing prompt is listed. As an example, today's prompt is to open a dictionary of quotations (of which I do not own, so I will head to the internet), choose a quote at random and use it as a springboard for a short story. There is a second part to the prompt to take it a step further and typically, if I am faced with a multiple part prompt I will do what I can depending on how much time I have for the day to write.

Some of the prompts have left me blinking and confused, "How will I write that?" but then I give it a go because, really, it's not like anyone has to see this and it's okay to be really rough with your private writing. The only judge is yourself unless you present it to others. But as I would write out the prompt I'd be left with a sense of satisfaction, "I never thought I could write that. It's definitely not the best writing in the world but... I did it."

This book has been a tremendous help to me and has gotten me writing again. I've actually come up with short story ideas due to these plots and I feel it's helping me grow as a writer. I even just enjoy reading the different plots and seeing what they offer from day to day. Keep in mind, some of the prompts are huge projects and I definitely don't know if I'll ever have the time to complete them, and there is no one telling you to follow the days in order or to do a prompt every day. I do hope to one day go back and redo each of the prompts, maybe every year (if I have the time) and see how my answers change and have grown (if they've grown). But all in all, this is a fantastic book that is really creative and very helpful. So, if you are suffering from the seemingly unending writers block or feel you are stuck in a creative rut of writing the same type of thing over and over, check this book out!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Claire de Lune: Nocturne

The second book of the Claire de Lune tales (you can read about the first book here) presents Claire a short while after the first book was completed. This second book is once more easy to get into. It's not horribly hard to follow and I feel that someone could pick this book up and read it without having read the first book in the series. Keep in mind that I have this need to read books in order so to say that takes a lot of strength on my part!

Claire, our lovely werewolf girl, is still trying to find a way to balance her new life and the life of a teenage girl. There is a reason as to why most of the werewolves stay away from normal humans and only use men to reproduce. She's left with the weight of needing to be initiated into the pack or being seen as an incomplete wolf (one who is unable to perform the most "normal" tasks as a wolf) but her relationship with her boyfriend and best friend is faltering steadily.

I enjoyed the changes between Claire and her best friend. If you were to face such a change in your life that you have to keep completely secret from your best friend of years... wouldn't your best friend notice the change? Would they question what is happening to you? Of course! And that just leads to more stress for Claire. Not to mention that her best friend (Emily) is making friends with another girl (Amy) who seems to know what Claire's secret is.

Why not throw in the stress and drama of Claire's seemingly fragile relationship with her boyfriend Matthew (who gets all the cookies in the world for dealing with his werewolf girlfriend with more grace than I think I would be able to) and you have a typical teen drama with a hairy problem. I honestly found the dramatics of the werewolf pack to be more interesting than her teen life troubles but maybe it's because her teen problems are so typical. Not that it is a bad thing necessarily, but it was something I wasn't willing to read about during the time I read this book. I must give credit where credit is due though: Matthew is taken by his girlfriend, surely, but he is still weary and a little stressed over what his girlfriend is. He isn't just throwing himself blindly into this supernatural relationship and confessing undying love. He's a teenager who is a little freaked out about the situation but trying to keep his cool.

The book isn't very heavy in the mystery or scenes that leave you breathless or on the edge of your seat. So if you are looking for something that is suspenseful, this is not the book for you. It's a very easy book and somewhat typical for the high school setting but it is still enjoyable to read if you are looking for something that is simple and relaxing. Something to read in a course of a day between books or while traveling. While it may not be the best writing I still intend on continuing with the series. It's best (in my opinion) to read different books and keep variety in my life and I feel it allows me to better compare one book to others. I keep hearing that there will be another book although I haven't found anything about it. If there is another book, I'll probably read it. It's great to read during my breaks at work!