Monday, March 31, 2014

Swimming with Mermen

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
*First novel of a trilogy

"The day Emma meets Galen on the beach is the day her life changes forever. Galen is the prince of the Syrena sent to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. When Emma runs into him-literally, ouch!-their connection is immediate and powerful. Could this be the girl? After several encounters, Galen is convinced Emma is the one. But how can he convince her of her gift? And how can he make his feelings for her disappear? She's the key to his kingdom, she can't be the key to his heart."

Or can she? Oooh. I was first interested in this book because the cover shows someone swimming underwater, and I'm fascinated by the ocean, mermaids, or anything wet since there's so little of it in Amarillo, TX. And let's face it people, readers do judge books by their covers.

I highly enjoyed this book and I have read it twice. Yes, it is cliche in some parts, and for the most part the reader can guess what is going to happen, but Banks crafted an interesting plot and did I mention there are mermaid-like creatures (Syrena) swimming from page to page?

The narrator, aka the main character, is extremely snarky and sarcastic, and I found myself laughing out loud several times (good thing the first time I read this book it was an audio version in my car). Each character in the novel stood apart and possessed at least one slightly entertaining facet.

I had a difficult time imagining the underwater world of the Syrena, and it was a bit too romance-focused for me, but if you want a light, funny read, this book is for you. I give it a 3 out of 5 and suggest it for 15 year olds and up.

What I learned: People can't expect to know everything about a person and what they're thinking/feeling right away; bigger things might be swirling around in someone's soul, making them act in a certain way. Good rulers are those who can sacrifice their own desires for the betterment of their people.  

Warning: There's a major cliffhanger at the end of this novel. Be prepared. (The sequel is out; more on that later).

Anna Bank's blog:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Three Little Pigs, Anyone?

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow by Daniel Nayeri
Genre: Four fictional short stories or novellas; each one a different genre

 Straw House: "In this sizzling Western set on a farm filled with living toys, readers meet a young straw man who must lay his life on the line to defend his master's home, who loves a basil-eyed girl, and who searches for manhood through the fiery confusion of adolescence."

 Wood House: "Is a sci-fi tour de force that plunges into a hideous future not so far away, in which a teenage girl races to save the world from a nano-revolution perpetrated by a mega-corporation under the guise of ReCreation Day."

 Brick House: "Is a hard-boiled detective drama about the wish police in modern New York City. To prevent murder, the special forces of the Imaginary Crimes Unit must unravel and apprehend the secret deadly impulses held by a resentful boy against his parents."

Blow: "This story delivers a Shakespearean love story that brings together two feuding artisan families, narrated by none other than Death himself--a hero who may steal your heart in more ways than one."

My favorite of these stories was probably Brick House (The Wish Police) because I thought the plot was the most intriguing and I cared more for the characters. My second favorite would have to be Straw House (Toy Farm) because Nayeri did such a good job pulling off the whole toy-farm thing, except I was confused about some details of characters and plot that weren't resolved. The narrator of Blow (Doom with a View), which is Death, was pretty snarky and funny, but sometimes I grew annoyed with him because he would go on random tangents. And I wondered why he would know so much about the family and their problems if he had to accompany other dead people to the downstairs.

However, each of these stories was creative, definitely entertaining, and thought-provoking. I enjoyed his similes and vivid comparisons that link the reader to each world Nayeri crafted. He certainly has a gift for story-telling, even if I wasn't wowed by the words I read.

I give this collection of short stories a 3.5 and recommend it for 14 year olds and up.

What I learned: Thoughts can quickly turn into disastrous actions and love is what makes life worth living.

*Fun fact: Did you know Nayeri wrote all of these stories on his IPhone? Yep; it's true. What do you think of such a feat? Or is it even worth mentioning? Personally, my hand would have cramped up to resemble a claw, but that's just me...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New York Adventures

Christy, my sister, and I went to New York last week for a few days to see the sights and I had two internships (which went fairly well). Here are some pictures of the highlights of the trip:

Times Square

Christy and I at Times Square

The deli that was in the movie, When Harry met Sally (or something like that; I haven't seen it)


The Statue of Liberty

Statue of Prometheus at Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Building

Rockefeller Center

Statue of Baldo at Central Park

Central Park

The One-World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower)

9-11 Memorial

The Newsies Broadway Musical

Grand Central Station

A lighthouse on the Hudson near Tarrytown

The Brooklyn Bridge

Overall, my favorite parts of the trip were the Broadway musical, Newsies (the choreography was amazing), seeing and hanging out with my friend, Carlee, in the quaint, picturesque town of Tarrytown, and walking in Central Park. What would you most want to see in New York? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

For Fun

Here's a short poem I wrote a while ago just for fun (be aware, it's bad). It doesn't even have a title...

Who are you to say he's not real,
this fine fellow from my field of dreams? 

He has fears, hopes, desires, 
same as you and me.

He struggles and learns,
has eyes, hair and teeth, 
not to mention a brawny bod. 

Just because I wrote him into existence, 
doesn't mean he doesn't breathe, live. 

He's out there waiting for me, 
this fair fiction fellow of mine. 

Anyone agree with me? Do those male characters just seem so real, perhaps too real, at times? If you're bored or sick of studying, go write a fun, short poem and tell us about it. Or, if you can't write one, then read one. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Blues

I shouldn't feel this way; I've read these books at least three times. So even though I finished the last page in the last book yesterday, why am I still re-living the battles in Harry Potter, contemplating the character's choices, longing for a chocolate frog or cauldron cake, and hoping for the adrenaline rush as I glide with Harry on his broom as he snatches the snitch?
There's something about these books that draw you in and make you feel so part of the world and the characters' lives that when you're spit back out once it's all over, you have left part of yourself inside the story. I think this is the mark of a great story-teller; that they weave so complex and convincing a world that the reader does not want to leave. The reader will continue returning to the world and characters because the people in the book are friends and the story-world is a kind of home-away-from-home. At least, that's why I re-read novels.  

Rowling does an exceptional job of world-building in this series and the characters seem so real, that is is almost painful to step away from Hogwarts and Harry. It is easier, of course, to bring the reader deeply into a series than a stand-alone book, since the author has more time the build the world and develop the characters. But I have been sad to leave stand-alone novels as well, such as Ella Enchanted and The Giver. Learning from these best-selling books and authors, I want to lace my stories with this kind of magic, the kind of magic that lures the reader back for seconds and thirds and teaches them something new each time.  

Have you ever had the book blues? How did you cope? :) 
What books have you not wanted to leave and why? 
How can writers keep readers interested in their books and make sure they return to the story in the future? 

I'm not going to do a review on this series because it would be too long. However, I did a review on the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which is probably my favorite of the series. That and the last one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Needless to say, if you have not read these books, go do so NOW! You won't regret it! 

WARNING: These books may cause blurry eyes, obsessive or addictive reading, a belief in magic and snargaluffs, and the desire to ride a broom through the air.