Reviewed: “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth

InsurgentThe benefit to waiting until a series of books is all released, and then shelling out the cash for a matching hardcover set, is that one doesn’t need to wait impatiently for the next book to be released. I did that with JK Rowling and it wasn’t fun. So I was smart and didn’t jump on the Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins series until all the books were released. Veronica Roth’s trilogy is my first matching set, though, and I’m happy about this.

Very much worth the extra money they no doubt charged me to get the books in a flimsy cardboard box.

So as soon as I finished DIVERGENT, I dove headfirst and happily into book #2 – INSURGENT.

The title is a tad misleading because Tris and Four don’t willingly become actual insurgents until very late in the book, and even then they aren’t the ones who come up the realization that it’s what they are. But hey, I get the “ooh, no one has made her titles rhyme yet” theory of book naming and money-making.

In INSURGENT, I got to find out more about what makes Tris and Four tick. And I do think the book, and now the series, are as much about Four as they are about Tris even though she’s still the narrator and the eyes of the story. It’s in part because he gives her a new way of looking at things and she makes him become things he never trusted himself to be … all things and reasons that would be serious plot spoilers if I told you about them here, so I won’t. You’re welcome.

A thing I really liked about the book was the expanded looks at the other factions aside from Dauntless and Abnegation, and even at the factionless – which is a faction onto itself, if you think about it. And you do think about it.

I realized too that I very much like the gritty nature of the world Roth created. It’s too easy to compare YA series to one another so I’ll make this comparison – everything was sparkly (literally) and perfect in Meyer’s world and even in Panem, there was the fancy and wealthy Capitol. In Roth’s world, which doesn’t have a name (at least in the minds of the characters), things are dark and gritty. Another comparison I can make is the 99% vs. the 1% debate that’s going on in the media. Tris’ city is what the 99% would be if the 1% in our society threw their hands in the air and said “screw it” – something they may be doing.

But book reviews shouldn’t be political so let me get back on track.

The fact is that I read INSURGENT faster than I read the first book. It has a broader scope but it’s still focused on the people guiding me through the world. It never strays from that. I feel like I’m traveling with them, not just listening to them tell me what they see. It’s the way a book should be.

Book Tagging #1

I’ve done book tags here on this blog before. You know, the ones where you ask X number of blogs you follow to do the same tags? Well, my lovely friend Alix emailed me a themed book tag that she worked up and filled out so I’m posting my answers to her tag here.

Read it, if you like, and leave comments about what I answered and what I should have answered and what I should read to answer better. Better yet, please do copy this onto your own blog and answer the tags yourself. (Leave a link in the comments so I can see how you compare to me!).

It’s fun, I promise!

Playing With Your Emotions

Book that makes you happy: The Agnes Browne Trilogy by Brendan O’Carroll

I’m interpreting ‘happy’ to mean laughing, smiling happy… not just satisfying. And these three books made me happy. Even though they deal with serious issues of death and illness, Agnes Browne still makes me laugh. She’s a traditional Irish lady with an often accidentally dirty sense of humor. The books make me happy even more because my grandparents borrowed them from me and loved them and my grandmother even told her cancer doctor about the scene where Agnes and her friend Marion debate whether or not they’ve ever had “organisms” while in bed with their husbands!

Book that makes you sad: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

You know those books that make you cry so hard you can’t see the pages? This is that book and so much more. It’s more sad because it’s so real, even though it’s fiction. You just know that thousands upon thousands of people went through what Stephen and all the other soldiers in the story actually went through in the trenches of World War I.

Book that makes you angry: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I wanted to love this book and for 900 pages I did. Then there were another 40 or so pages and I hated it. Lisbeth deserved so much more than the crap-tacular ending she got in the first book in the series. Blomkvist was pretty much a pompous idiot but he treated her alright. But after building Lisbeth to be a dark, tortured soul who relies on no own but herself, having her skip happily into the sunset was just wrong.

Book that makes you nostalgic: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

My fifth grade teacher read this to us and I can officially call it the second series I was addicted too. I made my sister and my cousin read the book and watch the movie, after my teacher showed us the movie. They didn’t like it as much as me but… I still reread the books.

Book that makes you scared: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Yes, these books are futuristic, post-apocalyptic fiction but… it could be real! Think about it. Monster storms washing away coastlines. Check. Famines and droughts across wide swatches of the earth. Check. Super rich people trying desperately to consolidate power and keep anyone in the 99% from getting any power. Check. Warring hotspots all over the world. Check. Threats of nuclear war. Check! Long story short… so scary.

Book that makes you surprised: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

I entered a Goodreads giveaway for this book having only seen anything about it in passing. I just wanted to win a free book. And I did. I am still surprised by how much I love a book about an old man in the Pacific Northwest who wants nothing more than to do right by the people he cares about.

Book that makes you disappointed: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

This book spends 500 pages building up to a battle of pure good vs. pure evil. The battle never happens. Why? Because Stephenie Meyer couldn’t kill someone she might want to use in a story later. She should have left the battle out entirely. Because a long, drawn out conversation and everyone happily running off to have sex does not a happy, satisfying end make.

Book that makes you distressed: A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

Not a lot of happy, uplifting stuff happened during World War II. Facts are facts. It isn’t that stuff that we hear about. But Russell’s book is about that. It’s about a group of people fighting with everything they have to do know more than simply survive. And they should get to. But it’s real because they don’t all get to. The deaths in the book are poetic and beautiful as much as they are heartbreaking and distressing… even the fifth time through the book.

Book that makes you confused: most books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz

My mind just does not work like their minds do. It’s a shame because if I could write like them I’d be rolling money. I’ve finished two King books… Under the Dome and 11/22/63… and am still confused by 11/22/63. The other King books I’ve started… I quit them all because I got too confused.

Book that makes you grateful: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Little House on the Prairie: I love to read because of Little House. I remember being little and sitting on the couch with my mom while she read the Little House books to me. Those books made me want to learn to read. So I did. Haven’t looked back since.

Twilight: Make fun of Twilight all you will but there are awesome people who love those books, people who I would not know if I wasn’t entirely and hopelessly addicted to Twilight and the fandom it’s created.

Reviewed: “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” by Stephenie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree TannerI like/love/whatever the Twilight saga. Make of that what you will.

But I didn’t own The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner so I bought it. I’d read it before when it was available online for a month, or something, and I liked it but I never thought it was worth the money since it is so short. But I had a movie marathon last week so I bought it.

It is good. Surprisingly good.

After four books of mostly sappy romance interspersed with a few pages of drama, it was nice to see the Stephenie Meyer can indeed write… VAMPIRES.

Bree is a newborn vampire, you see. She’s what Bella would have been if Bella weren’t so gosh-darn perfect. But Bree’s got a head on her shoulders and she’s not at all buying the load of crap Riley and the never named Victoria are trying to feed her. Neither is her friend, Diego. Poor Diego.

I was surprised how much I liked Bree because I absolutely hate her in the movie version of Eclipse. No offense to Jodelle Ferland, of course. But I was rooting for Bree and I really found myself getting into her perspective, maybe even more than I get into Bella’s.

The most surprising thing about this short book?

That some of the Cullens (Jasper, Carlisle, and Esme at least) have so much more personality from Bree’s perspective than they ever do from Bella’s.

It’s true.

We get to see Jasper controlling a normal(ish) newborn, and how much he cares about his family – a family that Bella never really sees him as a part of. We get to see the true lengths of Carlisle’s compassion. And we get to see Esme as the mother hen who will take in anyone, even at a risk to herself.

That was missing from the four Twilight books.

It’s so odd that it was here.

Reviewed: “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer

TwilightThis isn’t the first time I’ve read Twilight, and I’m not saying how many times I have. What I will say is that reading it this time reminded me why I fell in love with Twilight in the first place.

The reason it doesn’t get five stars is because the ending, the “conflict,” seems so ridiculously contrived simply to have conflict and there isn’t any reason for it to be there. The only reason Victoria, James, and Laurent seem to exist is to give the Saga another couple books. The original, this book, was fine without them.

The most irksome part is that Stephenie Meyer doesn’t even follow through on the explanation she gives for Victoria’s later logic in who to seek vengeance against for James’ death; she goes after Bella to take away Edward’s mate, just as Edward took hers. Only Edward didn’t kill James; Jasper and Emmett did. Even Edward says so. So book #2 should be about Victoria trying to kill Alice and Rosalie, if you think of it logically.

But, as I said, I remember why I fell in love with the story in the first place and logic was not one of the reasons. After all, it’s a story about sparkly vampires falling for clumsy teenage girls who have werewolves for best friends.

Who needs logic?

(This was my review on my Goodreads page, copied and pasted. If you’re on Goodreads, please go ahead and add me as a friend if you like.)

Writing Entry #1: What I’m Writing

I’ve recently taken the plunge and, after much needless delay, started writing a book.

This is big. Very big.

I’ve thought about it before, but something always stopped me. Mostly, I think I tried to define what I’d write before I started writing. I was over-thinking things. I wanted to pick the perfect character names, the ideal location, and a faultless plot all before I typed the first word.

I had preconceived ideas about what it was acceptable for me to write and what I shouldn’t write. I wanted to write something on the level of Mark Twain or Jane Austen. Chick lit and Hallmark movie type stories just didn’t seem the same to me, not quite as worthy.

After much thought, I’ve scrapped those stereotypes. I’m never going to be Twain, Austen, or someone like that. Well, maybe not never. I wouldn’t protest if someone compared me to them, of course. Authors like Danielle Steel, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Stephenie Meyer have made millions of dollars writing what’s in their minds, even if it isn’t critically acclaimed.

I can do that.

I have a story in my mind and I’m going to write it. Nothing will stop me.