Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Notes From the Amazing Shuswap Writers' Festival

John Pass
 I had the privilege to attend and photograph the Shuswap Writers' Festival in Salmon Arm, BC this last weekend.  The festival is put on by the Shuswap Association of Writers, who, I have to say, did a wonderful, professional job of organizing this festival - it was a jam packed three day extravaganza of writing and reading (and eating)!  This year was different from past years in that there was a lot for readers, not just writers.  Also this year, all of the authors were from BC!  I found it so amazing and inspiring to see the talent and range of writers that we have here in this province. 

Evelyn Lau
As photographer, I was able to poke my head into every workshop and hear a bit from everyone and thought I'd share some of the highlights.

If you have a different kind of book or poem, think outside the box and consider a different kind of publishing, for example chapbooks, pamphlet or postcards.  If you number and sign your work, you add value to it (like art).

Don't tell people you are self publishing - make up a name for a press for yourself and use that.

William Deverell.
If you are facing writer's block, do a ten minute (or even five minute) timed write.  This can be a great way to write a few pages and get the juices flowing without a lot of pressure.  This can be useful to do with characters you are stuck on - just write about them, where they live, what they look like, etc for ten minutes, if only to get to know them better.  None of this need ever end up in your work, but it can get you going and help you know your characters and their reactions and motivations better.  Not sure where to begin?  Look at a photo and do a timed write.
Grant Lawrence

When your character describes anyone or anything else, you characterize the person doing the telling. You can let the objects show the emotions by having your characters describe them.

Writing first thing in the morning, just a few pages of anything, can get you into a "writer's state of mind" for the day.
Nancy Warren

Rejection can be good.  Not all of your work should be published, but all of it is valuable because you learn from it.  On the other hand, being persistent can pay off.

Wendy Phillips
When writing memoir, remember that your memories are yours and you do not have to ask permission to write them, even if others are involved in the story that you are writing.  Their memories are theirs.  However, do try to be sensitive of other people, especially if they are still living.  It is no fun to go out and embarrass people. 

Always assume your reader is at least as smart as you are (ie, you don't have to describe every little detail).

If you are uncomfortable writing something (ie love scenes), it will show.

Micheal Slade
Being angry at something can be a clue to passion and can be a good channel for fiction.  It can also be good to write about what you fear the most, what keeps you awake at night because there will also be lots of emotion there. 

Your hero needs to be able to do something at the end of the book that they could not do at the beginning of the book.  The challenge is how you get there.
Theresa Kishkan

You want your readers to experience your story, not just read it.  Tension is great for this as it creates conflict and suspense.  To increase the tension, add a time pressure (ticking clock).  You can also create tension by letting the reader in on things that the characters do not know.

The most successful authors are the ones who do the lion's share of the work themselves.

Annabel Lyon
There was so much more information than this, but these are things that stuck in my head.  I find this festival hard to sum up because I feel like I got so much out of it just by being there and soaking up the atmosphere.  The best part was definitely the fun and inspiration - I feel a renewed energy and creative flow.  I always love being around people who have a passion for what they do, and I certainly got that this weekend from both the authors and the attendees.  What can be better than spending time with people who are following their dreams?
Deanna Kawatski

Angie Abdou
One of the most important things that I am taking away is that these authors all have a strong interest in something, whether it be their work, studies, travels, people they meet... and they channel these interests into a creative outlet.

All photographs (c) Coreena McBurnie, 2011.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Book Review: The Great Ice Age by Geronimo Stilton

Book:  The Great Ice Age by Geronimo Stilton, Graphic Novel #5, Papercutz, 2010.  Children's fiction, 56 pages.
Source:  Purchased.

My middle child, who is in grade 2, loves graphic novels as well as Geronimo Stilton, so when I saw the new Geronimo Stilton graphic novels, I excitedly bought one for him.  He was thrilled with the book and promptly sat down and read it in about half an hour!

In this story, Geronimo and his friends travel back in time to the Ice Age in 37993BC in search of the Pirate Cats.  The Pirate Cats have mistakenly traveled to the Ice Age, but now that they are there, want to capture the Ice Monster that has been threatening the local Neanderthals and bring it to the future in order to become rich and famous.  Geronimo follow the cats in order to stop them from changing history.

I can certainly see the appeal for young readers, and even reluctant readers.  The story is fast paced and the vocabulary is easier than the traditional Geronimo Stilton books.  There is also the same cheesy Geronimo humour that kids love so much.

Throughout the book, there are little snippets of history explaining various things about the Ice Age, for example, who the Neanderthals were, saber tooth tigers, and what a Neanderthal settlement would have been like.  I found these interesting and just informative enough so as not to slow down the story.  I can imagine that kids would enjoy these bits of knowledge and feel like they learned something, while being entertained with the story.

I asked my son what he thought of the book and he said that his favourite thing is when they find out the truth about the Ice Giant.  Also, for him, graphic novels are just the best kind of books.

Does anyone have any favorite books for this age group?  We are always looking for new things to read.  Or maybe your favourite graphic novel?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Book Review: Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer

BookCleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 304 pages, young adult fiction, historical fiction.
Release Date: 6/7/2011
Source:  ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a fair review.

As a classicist, I jumped at the chance to read Cleopatra Confesses.  I absolutely love this era of history, though my focus has been more Greek and Roman, I find Egypt fascinating too.  It was so much fun to read Carolyn Meyer's account of Cleopatra's early life.

Cleopatra Confesses is a really interesting first person narrative told by Cleopatra herself starting at age ten and going until age twenty-two.  It is the first century BC, an exciting and tumultuous time in history and Cleopatra is at the center of much of it - her father must go into exile, her siblings are plotting against her for the throne, Egypt faces famine over and over, and the Roman Empire and has become the most powerful on Earth.

The time frame the story covers is one that was fairly new to me, Cleopatra as a girl and young woman.  The narrative is intimate, almost diary like, making the reader feel huge sympathy for Cleopatra.  As Carolyn Meyer points out, not much is known about Cleopatra personally, so it is interesting to read this account of what things might have been like for the famous queen in her early days.

The narrative style is quite effective, especially given the title.  Much of the story is told by Cleopatra to an audience who is not familiar with Egyptian culture.  There is very little actual "action" or interaction with other characters in the book, mostly it is Cleopatra and her thoughts.  I was not sure about this at first, but it worked really well.
At times I did feel that the story got repetitive when Cleopatra talked and worried about her sisters being jealous of her and plotting against her.  Cleopatra is very concerned about it and mentions it quite a bit, and, given her position this is understandable, but sometimes it felt like she just kept going on about her sisters when they hadn't actually done anything.

The story is very informative and it is quite clear that Carolyn Meyer did a lot of research.  She managed to convey Egyptian history as well as the action of the story seamlessly - I did not feel like I was getting a lesson in history, but was carried away with the excitement of the story.  Meyer even added sections at the end with resources, web sites, a time line, and Cleopatra in History.  I found these extremely helpful and they rounded out the book for me as I wanted to read what was next for Cleopatra.  I think readers aged 12 and up who enjoy Egyptian history or who want to know more about Cleopatra will really enjoy this book.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Book Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Book:  Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder, Luna Books, 2005. (I read 2006 edition).  Fantasy.  427 pages.
Source:  Library.

After being imprisoned for murder in a society that does not accept self defense or accident as reasons for killing someone, Yelena is offered a choice:  hang or become the Commander's new food taster.  As the Commander's security chief and the leader of the intelligence network of Ixia, Valek undertakes her treacherous training in poisons, tasting and smelling the toxic substances.  To ensure that Yelena doesn't run away, Velek gives her Butterfly Dust, a deadly poison that will kill her if she does not receive her daily dose of antidote.

So begins Yelena's life in the castle, never knowing if her next bite of food will be fatal.  Baxel, whose son she killed, is plotting to kill her, she exhibits magical powers which she must control because all magicians are summarily put to death, and a rebel plots threatens Ixia and the Commander whose food she is required to taste. Through all of this, Yelena must make choices, for her own actions, whether to trust others, and even whether to trust herself.

I loved reading this book and could hardly put it down - it was recommended to me by two different people when I asked about strong female characters.  It is well written and captivating.  Yelena is a strong heroine, even if she doesn't always know it herself, but part of her development in the book is weighing the implications of her choices.  I liked her strength and passion, and even her lack of confidence at times because they seemed so natural and normal.  I really felt her humanity as she constantly weighed the consequences of her choices in impossible situations.

The world that Maria Snyder created was vivid and enjoyable, I really had a sense of it, though the book is written in a straightforward manner and is not flowery at all.  Yelena's life is described matter of factly and she accepts her situation without a lot of sentiment, but she lives in a society without a lot of sentiment.  This is a society that is streamlined and functional, the Commander having overthrown the opulent and excessive King.  For example, people are only trained for the jobs they will perform and wear uniforms to indicate these jobs, people can be reassigned anywhere without choice, and can only travel with permission.

Poison Study also presents some other interesting moral dilemmas, primarily the idea of justice being blind and the circumstances of a crime having no bearing on the punishment.  Like many good fantasies, this one presents questions about humanity and encourages us to look at ourselves.

The story is full of intrigue and plot twists, and even some romance.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, though some of the content is intense and violent.  This is one of those books that blurs the lines between young adult and adult fiction, and there are a couple of scenes in particular that make this book difficult to classify as young adult, though I think that more mature teens as well as adults would both like this book.

There are are two more books in this series, Magic Study and Fire Study.  There also appears to be a couple of short side stories, Assassin Study (Study 1.5), Power Study (Study 2.5), and Ice Study (Study 3.5) to go in between the main novels.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Book Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

BookPossession by Elana Johnson, Simon & Schuster.  Young Adult dystopian fantasy.  414 pages.
Release date:  6/7/11
Source:  ARC from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab - given in return for a fair review.

Vi lives a world where people are divided into Goodies and Baddies.  Goodies have rules:  there is no touching, all skin must be covered up, hats must be worn, and you must plug into thought control recordings every night.  Marriages (matches) are arranged and your job is decided for you.  Vi is determined to think for herself and soon finds herself in trouble, sent to jail to share a cell with the attractive Jag, then banished to the Badlands.

Vi quickly becomes torn between Zenn, her match, friend and confidant for the last five years, and Jag, a Baddie who is egotistical and dangerous.  Vi wants to save both of them, and herself, in a vicious game of control or be controlled by the Thinkers.

My Thoughts:
The concept of the book was intriguing to me - a dystopian future where certain people, Thinkers, attempt to control everyone, purportedly for their own good.  The Thinkers stop the environmental waste, homelessness, terrorism, and other problems in human society.  The price for this is complete compliance and a surrendering of free will.  Unless people are controlled, their selfish motives overrule the common good.  These are the Goodies.  There is an interesting philosophical dilemma here:  do people need to be forced to do good?

The Baddies live free but are constantly fighting against the Thinkers.  However, other than their conflict with the Thinkers, life as a Baddie seems quite good as they are not portrayed as having huge social problems.  Most of the social problems presented are in the past.

There is also an examination of different kinds of love and its nature, for example, between parent and child, friends, siblings and romantic love.

Possession is told from Vi's point of view in first person in what is often a chatty and engaging style, but it can sometimes get annoying.  Vi is quite sarcastic and says "yeah" a lot and this gets tedious rather quickly.  We are also in her head quite a bit as she spends most of her time with Jag so doesn't have a lot of other characters to interact with.

While reading, I found I wanted the world of the book to be more richly created.  The pacing was good in places but slow or repetitive in other places.  Sometimes I felt the story was going in circles.  There is a complicated love triangle, for those who like romance.  For me, the most interesting parts were the explorations of human nature.  As you can probably tell, this book did not win me over, though others are giving it rave reviews.  It looks like one of those books where you have to make up your own mind.

I have heard (but could be wrong) that Possession is the first in a series.

Hint Fiction

Recently I found out about a site called Hint Fiction.  The definition from their site is:
hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story
They ran a contest and even have anthologies of Hint Fiction.  If you go to their site, you can read some examples. I decided to participate, along with other members of my writing group and it was so much fun!  I think I will have to get an anthology because they are addictive to read too.

Here are my entries (titles don't add to word count):

Life Sentence

"Great pie, honey, sure you don't want some?"
"No, I'm full."
He clutches his chest.
She smiles.
Her life sentence is almost over.

I'm Not Sorry

She ripped the necklace off her neck, ready to throw.
It sparkled in the moonlight.
She pushed him over the edge instead.

(c) Coreena McBurnie, 2011.

Any other creative types out there?  I would love to read you Hint Fiction!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Beach Kitty, Weekend Poem Blog Hop

Weekend Poem in Your Blog Hop
Hosted by What She Read.
Post a poem that you find inspiring or that you enjoy, written by someone else or by yourself, then check in at What She Read to find links to poems that others have posted.

Beach Kitty
Sneaking over the rocks,
Blending into the grass,
The four pound lioness
Slinks towards its prey.

Stopping here,
Hiding there
Silver tabby coat
Camouflaged in the rocks
And shadows.

There it is
Paw searching.

A small red shore crab
Hides under a rock.

Our beach kitty, Isis, on Hornby Island, BC.

(c) Coreena McBurnie, 2010.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Book Review: Draugr by Arthur G. Slade

Book:  Draugr (Northern Frights #1) by Arthur G. Slade, Orca Book Publishers, 1997.  Middle school, young adult  horror.  171 pages.
Source:  Library.

Arthur G. Slade will present at the Shushwap Writers' Festival this May.

Fourteen year old Sarah, her twin brother Micheal and their cousin Angie go to visit their grandfather in Gimli, Manitoba for the summer.  They come prepared for a quiet vacation in the rural community and their grandfather's scary stories based on Icelandic mythology; however all of this changes when the stories start to come true and a draugr, a man who comes back from the dead, comes after them and their grandfather.

I found Draugr to be a quick read that will probably appeal to young readers (I would think middle school and the young side of young adult or those who like shorter books) who like a plot driven story with lots of excitement and supernatural elements.  The story was fast paced and interesting and I especially liked the Icelandic mythology element.  Each chapter ends on a tense note or a cliff hanger, which kept me reading "just one more chapter" in order to see what happens next.

One of my favorite things about the book is the character Sarah and how she has to learn to trust herself and the fact that she is strong in order to save her grandfather.  She initially sees herself as scared and on the weak side, but when push comes to shove, she learns about herself and what she is capable of.

Slade consistently uses slang such as "shoulda" and "wanna" in his dialogue.  I know this is dialogue and he is trying to be realistic, but it is one of those things that jump out at me, stop the flow of the book, and take away from my reading.  There are also quite a few sentence fragments, which are probably meant to increase the tension and pace of the book.

Overall, this is an interesting, faced paced book that I am sure children will enjoy, especially if they like to be a bit scared and enjoy supernatural book.

Also in the Northern Frights series:
The Haunting of Drang Island
The Loki Wolf

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friday 56 (2) & Book Beginnings (2)

Hi everyone, Here are the Friday meme's I am participating in this week.
The first is Friday 56, sponsored by Freeda's Voice.

Here are the rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in Linky at Freeda's Voice .

It's that simple.

My book Is Draugr a middle school/YA novel by Arthur G. Slade:

Grandpa knocked on the door then poked his head in.  "Lock this tonight, will you? And if you hear anything... whatever it is... don't leave this room."  He paused.  "Goodnight."


 The next one is Book Beginnings sponsored by A Few More Pages.

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

I will use Draugr again for this one:

Grandpa was going to murder us.
Not with an axe.  Not with a shovel.  But with words.
"Sarah sit down," Grandpa said softly to me.  "I haven't even started my story."

When I read this, I thought it would be a creepy story but with a sense of humour.  This school is aimed (I think) at middle school and the younger side of YA, so I thought this was a catchy way to start the novel and get kid hooked.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Book Review: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Book:  Patient Zero (Joe Ledger #1) by Jonathan Maberry, St. Martin's Press, 2009.  Zombie, thriller, suspense novel.  421 pages.
Source: library.

Wow, what a book - full of excitement, zombies, intrigue, fighting, betrayals, twists and turns!  And all of this done with a very human element.

Joe Ledger is a tough as they come, highly skilled cop who finds himself having to kill the same terrorist twice in one week.  This leads him to join the Department of Military Science, an ultra secret government agency designed to deal with a new breed of biological weapons, weapons which effectively turn people into zombies and threaten the whole of humanity.  Joe Ledger and his comrades need to stop the outbreak as well as find out who is doing this - is it a terrorist plot?  And, if so, who could be organized and skilled enough to pull this off?

I have to say that I am not one for gory novels, so I was not anxious to read this novel at first; however, I read Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin not long ago (see review here), and felt compelled to read more books by him.  For those who like vivid, descriptive zombie attacks and action scenes, you won't be disappointed.  This novel is very macho, tough talking, and moves along quickly with lots of intrigue.  There is scientific and military conspiracies, post 9/11 terrorist plots, super secret government organizations, romance, and so much tension that the book is hard to put down.  Joe Ledger is beyond tough - you can feel the testosterone oozing out of every pore of this guy.

Probably my favourite thing about Patient Zero is that it is more than a zombie book - there is a very human element.  Joe Ledger and his friends don't just kill zombies, we see the full impact on them as people who do what they know is right even though they know it will leave a mark on them, contaminating them forever.  One of Joe's friends is Rudy, a psychiatrist, and this allows Joe to talk and be vulnerable in the wake of what he has to do.  There is a great dichotomy set up here and this really made the book for me.

The story is told in an interesting way, alternating between the first person narrative of Joe and the third person narrative of some of the other characters.  This even alternated from the present time to the past at times to fill in the details of how the situation developed.  I think this was done effectively, though it did jar me occasionally to go from third person to first person.

It is obvious that the author did a lot of research as all of the science described sounded plausible, as do the  descriptions of terrorist cells and how they work, as well as how the American and British governments have reacted to terrorism. I enjoyed suspending reality so that zombies could be real in a present day scenario rather than in a dystopian future.

The next in the series is Dragon Factory, and the third, The King of Plagues, has recently been released.  I am anxious to read them to see what is next for Joe Ledger.

Teaser Tuesday (4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • 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!

My teaser this week is Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry.  

"But I shot her through the face without hesitation.
Dear God, what does that say about who and what I am?"
(p. 237)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Spring Blog Carnival Winner

The winner of my Spring Blog Carnival Contest is: 
Ezra @ chasingwinds.tumblr.com!!!

Congratulations Ezra.  You win a book (or books) of your choice up to a $20 CDN value from The Book Depository.
I will email you shortly to confirm your prize.

The winner was chosen using Random.org.

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by my blog and entered my Spring Blog Carnival contest.  I was overwhelmed with the number of entries and kind comments. 

Thank you also to the bloggers who hosted and put together this Carnival Hop Contest.  It was so much fun to participate in.
They are:

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Book Review: Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Book:  Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, HarperCollins, 2006.  335 pages.
Source:  Purchased.

Water For Elephants is the story of Jacob Jankowski, now an elderly man, either 90 or 93, he is not sure, who is looking back at his time in the Benzini Brothers Circus during the Great Depression.  His parents have both been killed, he is penniless, and can't face his final exams at Cornell University where he is studying to be a vet.

Jacob finds himself jumping on a train, which happens to belong to the circus, and gets hired on as the vet.  He finds that he loves the circus animals and stays on for their sake and for the sake of having a job at a time when hobos and tent cities are common.  He also finds that he has feelings for the beautiful Marlena, star of the equestrian show, but she is married to the simultaneously charismatic and cruel August.  Jacob lives the circus life, traveling by rail, tearing down and setting up the circus day after day.  He is a misfit trying to fit in among the misfits. 

The book alternates back and forth between modern day Jacob and his life in the nursing home, expounding on how he is treated as less than a full person because he is old and between his life at the carnival, where again people are treated as less than human because there is a depression and money is tight and the show with its animals are more valuable than individual people.

It is obvious that Sara Gruen has done her research without being over the top - the setting feels natural, not forced or like she is giving a history lesson and the photos at the beginning of each chapter are a nice touch.

The characters are well developed.  I found that I really felt for them and that I could understand the pecking order in which they are stuck and the desperation of the depression.  The evolution of August and the unveiling of his cruelty was amazing.  And then there is Jacob, he is forced to grow and figure out what kind of person he wants to be, what he is willing to do and what he stands for.  I also felt that Gruen's description of life in a nursing home were eerily real.  Probably the least developed character is Marlena.

The language in the book is incredibly rich, in fact, I stopped to savor several passages before moving on for their tantalizing description.  I loved the back and forth between present day Jacob and young Jacob and felt it was handled well.  In fact, some of the funniest moments are the elderly Jacob in the nursing home.  Here is an example of a fun passage that also has some great description:
"So what's on the menu tonight?" I grumble as I'm steered into the dining room.  "Porridge?  Mushy peas? Pablum?  Oh, let me guess, it's tapioca isn't it?  Is it tapioca? Or are we calling it rice pudding tonight?"
"Oh, Mr. Jankowski, you are a card," the nurse says flatly.  She doesn't need to answer, and she knows it.  This being Friday, we're having the usual nutritious but uninteresting combination of meat loaf, creamed corn, reconstituted mashed potatoes, and gravy that may have been waved over a piece of beef at some point in its life.  And they wonder why I lose weight.
I loved this book - it has an interesting and well developed setting, beautiful language and captivating story and I would highly recommend it to others.

One of the other things that compelled me to read this book is that Sara Gruen started to write is as part of National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  I love NaNoWriMo and have participated myself twice and was happy to see that a novelist could participate and write such a successful novel.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Friday 56 (1) & Book Beginnings (1)

Hi, I am trying some new memes this week.
The first is Friday 56, sponsored by Freeda's Voice.

Here are the rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in Linky at Freeda's Voice .

It's that simple.

My book is Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberrry.

"I'm self-aware enough to know that I have a somewhat fractured personality."


 The next one is Book Beginnings sponsored by A Few More Pages.

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

I am going to use Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry again:

"When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world.
And there is nothing wrong with my skills."

My impressions of these lines are that this is a tough, macho kind of book.  The book is marketed as a thriller and science based horror book, and I think these first lines set the tone really well.  They are quite intriguing, setting me up for an exciting book.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Cleaning the Kitchen

I have been having so much fun with my blog and doing book reviews that I have not posted any of my own work for awhile.  I thought I'd post a poem that I wrote on bad poetry day.

Cleaning the Kitchen

The trouble with cleaning the kitchen
Is that it always gets dirty again.
The dishes are endless,
The doors are streaked,
Let's not even discuss the sink.

The freezer has fossils from decades ago,
And what is that in the cupboard?
Did I really think that I would eat that?

The oven, well...
I though self cleaning meant just that, how wrong!
The floor, it's for walking, isn’t it?
Who would want to eat off it anyway?

The last time I started to clean the kitchen,
I thought it might be easier to repaint.

(c) Coreena McBurnie, 2010.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • 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!   

My book this week is Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen.

"Sometimes I think that if I had to choose between an ear of corn or making love to a woman, I'd choose the corn.  Not that I wouldn't love to have a final roll in the hay - I am a many yet, and some things never die - but the thought of those sweet kernels bursting between my teeth sure sets my mouth to watering."
(p. 8)

I've just started this book, but the language and writing is incredible, can't wait to read more.

While you are here, feel free to check out my contest for a book of your choice in the Spring Blog Carnival.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Book Review: Fire by Kristin Cashmore

Book:  Fire (The Seven Kingdoms #2), by Kristin Cashmore, Dial Books, 2009.  461 pages.  Young Adult fantasy.
Source:  Library

Fire is the Companion to Graceling (see my review here), a kind of prequel, but also a stand alone book.  The book takes place in the Dells, a place where monsters live.  They are like regular creatures, but have vibrant colours and are more intuitive and aggressive.  Fire is the last human monster, she is young, irresistibly beautiful, has fiery hair, and can get into the minds of others to influence them or sense what they are thinking. 

The Dells are in a precarious position, with the kingdoms to the North and South both wanting to invade them.  One day Prince Brigan asks her to go to King City to help them.  She knows that they want to use her power for themselves, to give themselves an advantage against their enemies.  Fire, however, is unwilling to use her power, especially against unwilling people. 

In amongst all of this, Fire is learning about herself, what it means to be a monster, her love and friendship for Archer, who she has known since she was a toddler, and her feelings for the attractive Prince Brigan.

My Thoughts:
I had so much fun reading this book!  I love how Kristin Cahmore vividly creates rich worlds and characters, then I love watching how the characters develop, how they grow into themselves.  Fire is different from Graceling - where Katsa of Graceling has physical dominance over everyone and is kind of like a superhero, Fire has mental dominance and is a little more subdued.  This makes these books quite different from one another - I appreciated both the quieter pace of Fire as well as the faster, more explosive pace of Graceling.

Fire is a compelling heroine, who develops and grows a great deal in this book.  She has strengths and weaknesses, and she is not always sure which is which.  She has to come to terms with who she is, who her father was and learn how to be comfortable with herself.  This is where her strength lies, when she can figure this out.  Despite the fact that she is a monster, she is very human in her worries, relationships and concerns.

The other characters and political intrigue of Fire kept me quite interested.  I am finding it hard to say too much about this book without giving the story away. Maybe I just need to say that for me this story was largely about the relationships Fire has with others and how these grow and change, how as we grow up we see others as fallible when we thought they were not and how we can learn from all of this. Palace life and war seemed to be a way to delve into these relationships.

There were times when the story dragged a little, but overall, I loved the book and read it very quickly. I am looking forward to the third in this series, Bitterblue, when it is released. 

By the way, I am always on the lookout for good books with strong female characters.  If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment.

Here is the YouTube book trailer: