Saturday, March 27, 2010

In the Wee Hours of the Morning, by which I mean 11, b/c I Like Sleeping In -

I finished Christopher Moore's Bite Me: A Love Story.

I'm a lovely vibrant violet, and have one of the best titles ever.

It's a book that you should read. Granted, I am assuming that you have a sense of humor, enjoy laughing, and are human - but given that I was correct, (as I've already assumed I am), you should read Bite Me.

As I've already stated, it's funny. It's also a wild ride. The plot is entertaining, while keeping the reader in suspense. Yet, one of the best things about it, in my opinion, is its' accessibility.

Bite Me: A Love Story is the third book in a series by the talented Mr. Moore. The first book in the series is entitled Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (and holds a special place in my heart, as it was my introduction to Mr. Moore's writing). The second book is called You Suck: A Love Story. Yet, I feel that while the story is richer and probably more meaningful if you've read the first two books in the series, it is still not necessary to read the first two books first. Bite Me: A Love Story begins with a recap, but a recap told in such a fun, hilarious narrative voice that anyone who doesn't delight in reading it doesn't have a heart (which probably means you are not a human being, and therefore, don't fall under the assumptions with which I began this blog). With the recap, any reader receives enough of the overall story that this book is enjoyable and worth reading.

As all of the titles suggest, these books are vampire stories. Along with the horror elements that are generally necessitated by such subject matter, there are also romantic and sensual elements to all of the stories.

The thing that really makes this book a "must-read," though, is the characterization. Christopher Moore does a great job at creating characters. The reader grows to love and care about them. The characters are realistic - flawed, and as ridiculous as humans often are. The recap that begins the book, for example, is mainly humorous in light of the voice that narrates it. The "voice" is that of a thin goth girl who calls herself "Abby Normal," who yearns to be a vampire, has numerous piercings and tattoos, as well as a liking for gummi bears, though she eats the heads first, and the narration is occurring on her blog. Abby is only one of many characters you need to meet.

Ultimately, the only reason to refrain from reading this novel is for fear of getting too much public attention from guffawing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Expanding My Horizons: Aka, Reading Fiction about Charlotte Bronte

The latest ARC I received is entitled Romancing Miss Bronte, and is written by Juliet Gael. Here's a link to the Barnes & Noble page about this book, and here's the cover:

Romancing Miss Bronte is an historical fiction concerning Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette.

Frankly, I wasn't expecting to like this book, as I'm picky regarding historical fiction and romance novels.

But I did like it. Immensely.

Overall, the story was entertaining, and felt pretty authentic. It's obvious that the author did her homework. Charlotte Bronte went through some tough times - and if you know nothing about Miss Bronte's history, this book is an interesting introduction to them.

Charlotte's other siblings come to life, as well. Emily Bronte, who wrote Wuthering Heights, Anne Bronte, who wrote Agnes Grey, and their brother Branwell, who wasn't particularly famous for his literary works.

My interest was kept throughout the entire novel. At the end of the novel, I felt like I knew more about the Brontes, and I really cared about what happened to the characters.

The title is a bit misleading, however. The title makes this book sound like a romance - and while there is romance in it, that lovey-dovey stuff doesn't come into the picture until the narrative has already progressed fairly far. There is yearning, loss, and many other strong feelings, but love that is felt by both parties takes awhile to evolve. Personally, I like this. If a reader is expecting a predictable romance, however, this book is not one of them.

In summation, Romancing Miss Bronte is a very enjoyable read. Its' sentiments often resemble the Romantic era more than the Victorian, and love is dealt with in various ways, not just the predictable ways in which romance novels often do. Based on my prior knowledge of Charlotte Bronte's life, the book seems to be mostly historically accurate. I read through this book quickly, and I recommend it to anyone who is fond of fiction, who is, in particular, a fan of the Brontes, and/or a fan of romantic or literary fiction.

Romancing Miss Bronte is released April 27, 2010.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm Tired - Rambling Will Ensue

So Frenziers*, with April approaching, preparation is a good idea.

As I stated in my previous post, I haven't written a play in quite some time - junior year of high school, to be exact. Due to this prolonged length of time, I went to Barnes & Noble** once I decided to participate in ScriptFrenzy for a resource book.

I'm currently reading The Playwright's Guidebook: An insightful primer on the art of dramatic writing by Stuart Spencer. I am finding it very helpful and interesting.

I also went to a used bookstore, where I purchased Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" and Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac"***. I have actually never read either of these plays, but am greatly looking forward to it.

What preparations, if any, are YOU doing?

*"Frenziers" is my newly invented term (as of a few minutes ago) for people doing ScriptFrenzy.

**I went to a physical store, not the website.

***I also purchased a copy of Agatha Christie's autobiography, which I had previously somehow not known existed until I laid my eyes on it. Being an avid Christie fan, I was exceedingly excited.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A New Challenge

I began this blog because I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month.

Now, a new challenge has presented itself: ScriptFrenzy. Writing a 100 page script in the month of April.

YOU should sign up, too. There are some helpful tips on the page, and we've got a week and a half for plotting purposes.

I, personally, have not written a play in a long time. I think it's going to be fun. Especially since I'm fond of dialogue.

If you're participating, let me know in the comments! Also, relate your username, so we can be ScriptFrenzy writing buddies.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Review: White Cat

I didn't win her "con"-test, but I managed to snag my hands on a copy of Holly Black's White Cat, anyway. Here's the cover, and a link to the Barnes & Noble webpage whereby you can pre-order a copy (and you should).

White Cat is the first book in a series called "The Curse Workers." In this series, Black is creating an alternate world, in which some people have special abilities that are exciting and terrifying to those who do not have such abilities. Thus, they are referred to as "Curse Workers."

Black has such a way with words. If you haven't read one of her books, then you may not realize this, and I suggest remedying the situation immediately. She has also written a trilogy of interrelated YA books: Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside. (Amazing.) She wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles, working with her friend and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi - a fantastic series meant to be a good read, while still being more reader friendly, so that people aren't overwhelmed.

Black tends to write fantasy works, but she is able to make them believable. You read Tithe, and suddenly, the fairy world doesn't seem that far away. I read White Cat, and personally thought "Wouldn't it be cool if everyone wore gloves?" (See, you have no idea what I'm talking about - but you CAN know, if you purchase the book.)

The action moves smoothly, the characters aren't all perfect, aren't all stereotypes, and cause the reader to feel for them.

I cannot rave enough about this book. I highly suggest reading it, and I know I'm looking forward to the sequel Red Glove.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Mystery Book I Didn't Much Like

So...that ARC I bragged about on Twitter? Took me forever to read. It's not even an "Advanced" copy anymore, since it's been available for purchase since February 23. Here's the cover, and a link to purchase the book from Barnes & Noble:

Why did this book take me a long time to read? It didn't hold my interest.

It's historical fiction, using as its' protagonist detective the actual "renegade monk and excommunicate Giordano Bruno." It takes place at Oxford University. Giordano Bruno goes there with his pal, poet Sir Philip Sidney (whose poetry I rather adore, really...if you haven't heard of Sidney, you should read some of his work), to engage in argument with the Rector (the dude in charge) about whether or not the universe is heliocentric. On this trip, the university "fellows" (basically, guys who have been around for awhile and have some power) begin dying. Bruno, apparently some great philanthropist, looks into the murders, and discovers Oxfordian secrets.

Heresy fell into a problem that I have with a lot of historical fiction - in trying to sound "authentic" and "old" it came across as "fake" and "boring." The dialogue, and the tone of narration throughout the book was very off-putting. I realize that it's hard to write historical fiction that sounds authentic - but if you're going to try to make it sound authentic, then you need to read a lot of primary sources from that time period, and have someone you trust, also familiar with primary sources, read it over, in order to appease fickle readers such as myself.

But really? This is FICTION. If I wanted to read "authentic" sixteenth century writing, I would literally read authentic sixteenth century writing. I personally felt that a more modern tone of voice would have made this book much more enjoyable.

Worse than the off-putting tone, however, was the characterization. I did not care about these characters. Any of them. I didn't care about the protagonist Giordano Bruno.

Do you ever watch horror movies, and want to yell at the person who is entering someone else's house? It's like: "Yeah, I know you're curious, but that's RUDE. Don't go in there unless you're invited, asshole!"

That's how I felt reading this book. I was like: "Why are you investigating these murders?" I really got the impression that Mr. Bruno was a nosy jerk who thought he had the right to know everything about everything because he wanted to. Um, no.

I did not care about the person who ended up being a murderer.

I did not care about the people who were murdered. I mean, murder is wrong, but I just didn't feel like I knew these people.

I certainly did NOT care about Bruno's love interest. She struck me as an annoying slut. I couldn't comprehend why he cared about her so much. Oh, wait. Yes I could. B/c she has tits. Congratulations, Bruno. Your taste in women rivals that of Hugh Hefner.

Perhaps worse than the poor characterization and off-putting tone of narration, however, was the plot. Mostly b/c there wasn't one.

Okay, okay, that's too harsh. There was a plot. It was just strung out so much that in the lengthy course of time it took me to read the book, I wasn't really following it that well. It kind of felt all over the place.

The book has all of this talk about how persecution and torture about beliefs that aren't going to harm anybody is WRONG (thus the title: Heresy). Frankly, when the book was wrapped up, I didn't much care. I was just glad not to be tortured any longer.

I'm sorry, S.J. Parris. I feel like you had some interesting ideas, and really good intentions. I just don't feel like they were carried out very well.