Tuesday, July 31, 2012

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments 2)

I have to resist the urge to run downstairs and get the next book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  City of Ashes was so exciting.  The story was different from the first book.  The characters are growing and changing.  New, interesting, frightening characters are coming into the mix.  There are still mysteries to figure out.  City of Ashes had everything I was looking for and more.

Let me be vaguely spoilery for a minute, so I can talk about what I just finished reading…  

I can’t believe what happened to Simon.  I didn’t see that coming.  I saw Maia coming, but not the other stuff, which makes him even more interesting.  I’m excited to see how his character develops in the next books.

Jace, seriously, I wanted to yell at him to shut up so many times.  I suppose part of reading these books are remember that the characters are teenagers.  Sitting in the restaurant and talking about how he never lets her talk, then not letting her talk is so frustrating.

Also, best cliffhanger of a last line ever.  I’ve read a few series where the end leaves you longing for the book, but none that throws a last punch like that.  That moment, with Madeline and Clary was perfect.

Cassandra Clare has me firmly in her clutches.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Image Use

This image is public domain.
I know I just started it, but I'm not continuing with my Pin of the Week.  It seemed like so much fun and something that I would enjoy doing, but I recently became concerned.  I read a blog post from a writer who was sued for using a photographer's picture.  The photographer sent her a "do not use" notice, so she promptly took the picture down.  This was not good enough for that person and they sued her.  She may be a published writer, but many of us know, that unless you're a select few, Stephen King, Cassandra Clare, Charlaine Harris, etc., you're not making a lot of money.  She was being sued for much more than she had.  She was also just doing what most other bloggers seem to do.  Google search an image and plop in a blog post.  As long as you're not making money from the image, what's the harm, right?  Apparently, though some people (most, it seems) don't mind, there are those that do mind and they might sue.

This got me thinking about all the random pictures and images on my own blogs.  For Loni’s Eye, where I talk about books, movies, babies and life, most of the pictures on my blog seem safe.  There are book covers, movie posters and pictures either I or friends of mine have taken.  I’ve started to go through the blog, but for the most part, I think I'm okay.  (It’s going to take a little while though, since I started blogging in 2006.)  On Loni's Storm, where I talk about my writing, writing articles and other writing/author related subjects, it's a little different.  Many of the posts have no images, but many do, to make it look more interesting (it's one of the first things bloggers learn).  Now, after reading this and a few other similar articles, I'm going to go through the blog thoroughly and either use my own photos or use images from a free source.  I've read about using Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons, but I need to read more about them first.

From what I've read, it seems like getting sued is very rare.  On one blog I read, the blogger wrote about mixed messages.  This person ran a fashion blog.  They were at an event and someone actually told them to just take pictures of their site, even though on the site it says not to lift any images.  I don't think this category of blog could even exist if the bloggers didn't take the pictures off designers' and stores' websites.  It is much easier to critique something (positively or negatively) if there is an image to refer too.  The same sort of thing goes for other types of blogs too (I love/hate this travel destination, I love/hate this restaurant, I love/hate this book).  I think anything that’s an advertisement is okay because, you’re only spreading the word (whether positively or negatively).

You can use the Pinterest logo only
if it links back to their site.
Pinterest has copyright rules too.
Where does that leave sites like Pinterest and Tumblr?  They exist because of photos.  I’m not sure how Tumblr works since I’ve never used that site.  I do have a Pinterest account (which I’m a little addicted to.)  I’ve pinned over a thousand images.  They range from yummy food to fun geekdom.  I have places I want to see and things that make me think.  There’s humour and of course, there are books.  I hope I’m not infringing on anyone’s copyright.  For legal reasons, but also because I would hate to take someone’s work.  So I’m going to go through all my Pins.  All one thousand-plus of them.  It’s going to take a while.

I figure I’m okay if I repin from publishing houses like Random House or Harper Collins.  I also hope I’m okay if I repin from George Takei and Nina Garcia.  Then there are some other people, authors, bloggers, friends and randoms that I follow.  Those are the repins that I’m going to have to look at most closely in the future.  I will also only pin something from sites with “pin it” buttons or if it says that it’s okay to share.

That’s a lot of pictures to go through.  Two blogs and Pinterest.

If anyone has any thoughts on the matter, I’d like to know.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Magician’s Nephew

WARNING:  If you haven’t read any of the other Narnia books, especially The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe you might want to skip the middle of the review.  Those few points are going to be spoilerific.

The Magician’s Nephew is the first/sixth book in the The Chronicles of Narnia series.  It was written by C.S. Lewis sixth, but it is what we now call a “prequel”.  Once all seven books were published, Lewis requested that they be re-ordered according to the Narnian timeline, putting The Magician’s Nephew before The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It was the author’s request and it was complied with.  If you want to know the order of the books in which they were published, you have to look it up.

I like that I read The Magician’s Nephew sixth.  I liked all the discoveries I made and “gasp” moments when the events connected more and more with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the other books.  They were fun, happy moments of discovery.  So, while I respect anyone’s choice to read them in the Narnian order, I really enjoyed (so far, since I have one more book to go) the experience of reading them in publication order.

Okay, so here are the spoilers!

The birth of Narnia!  Wow.

We get to see where The White Queen comes from!!!!  Ahh!  The moment when I realized that was fantastic.  I suspected almost immediately after Digory and Polly met Jadis, but it was so good to get that final confirmation.

Digory is the professor that the Pevensies in during the war!  That’s so awesome!

The wardrobe!  Wood from Narnia!  Amazing.

No more spoilers.

All these moments made me so happy and so excited, that I couldn’t contain them.  These are the reasons that I’m glad I read the books in publication order.

There is one more thing I have to mention.  This is probably one of the only Narnia books I’ve read that I don’t have any complaints about the girl.  In the first book especially, I felt like the girls weren’t “as good” as the boys.  Yes, Lucy had a pivotal role in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but Susan was marginalized.  Even though she is second oldest, she wasn’t to fight in the battles.  War wasn’t for women.  Each time Lewis made those sorts of comments, it made me cringe.  Maybe his feelings towards the role of women changed in the years between his first book and the sixth.  

In The Magician’s Nephew it is Digory that is influenced by emotion (over his dying mother).  Digory gets angry, pushy and hurts Polly.  The bad decisions (from the two children) are his.  Polly is the one who thinks things through.  She tries to stop Digory and she helps him.  Polly is more logical and less emotional than her male friend.  It made me so happy.

What are you waiting for?  If you haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia start now.  If you have read it, then you know what I’m talking about.  These are great books and The Magician’s Nephew reminded me of what I love the series.  The Last Battle is the last book I have left.  I’ve drawn out the series for long enough, I think.  I’ll be reading The Last Battle soon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Select Poems

"It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?'" (lines 1-4)

I recently read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I was feeling the need for something classic.  I've also been feeling lately that I've been neglecting my poetry needs.  I read the Kindle edition of Rime of The Ancient Mariner, which comes with "selected poems" and a very lengthy introduction.

A quick note on "Introductions", the ones with the capital "I".  I don't often like them.  I find them mostly at the beginning of classics. Sometimes they are utterly boring.  The ones that aren't boring sometimes give away the plot!  It makes me mad.  After learning my lessons, I've started skimming “Introductions,” then after the book (or poems in this case), I go back and read the parts I’m actually interested in. Sometimes they do offer an insight into the story, sometimes I'm bored to tears and I just skip it again.  The Introduction to this collections various poems were good (though not necessary).  I found they did help, but I recommend reading the specific poem discussions after you've read the actual poem instead of before.

I read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner first about 11 or 12 years ago.  I remember really liking it.  As with a lot of poetry at the time, I found The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to be a story told in verse.  It's all about the Ancient Mariner and the curse he has brought down upon himself and his crew by killing the lucky Albatross.  It's a ghost/paranormal/angels & demons sort of story.  It would probably make a very scary movie (if done right).  It has one of my favourite lines of all time:

"Like one, that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turn’d round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread." (lines 446-451)

It gives me chills. Coleridge could certainly turn a phrase. If you like giving yourself the creeps and you like poetry, then The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is for you.

In the collection were several other poems by Coleridge.  I'm not going to talk about all of them, just a quick blurb on two.  The first is, Kubla Khan.  If I didn't mention it, I'd be remiss.  Kubla Khan is full of vision and everything you can imagine during an Opium trip.  It's a beautiful poem that will continue to endure the test of time and fascinate generations of scholars.

One of my favourites (I liked it better than Kubla Khan), is Christabel.  It's another creepy story.  It's lovely and again, full of supernatural elements.  It is also unfinished, though it has a conclusion.  Coleridge wrote that he considered it unfinished.  What else did he need to say though?  You should not pick up strange women after praying in the woods at night.  Why would you pray in the woods at night?  Crazy nobles.  

After reading these poems, I've come to realize how much I enjoy poetry that tells tales. I’m also reminded of how much I enjoyed studying the Romantic era during school.  I think I’ll be looking up one of my favourite Romantic poets (and Coleridge’s friend), William Wordsworth.  If you’re hesitant about reading poetry, I think something like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a nice place to start.  It’s easy to follow what is happening and though it’s a “long” poem, you can easily read it in one sitting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knights Rises was awesome!  It might be my favourite of the three Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman movies.  This final film was a fantastic end onto the trilogy.  I thought all the actors were wonderful.  There was depth, change and surprises.  Certain things I predicted or foresaw as the story played out, but not in a bad way.  Other things were unexpected.

My hubby and I were surprised to see that the movie was rated PG.  We expected a PG-13 rating.  For a few minutes, I think we were concerned that a PG rating would mean the movie would somehow lack something.  It did.  Blood.  People got shot and stabbed (a lot), but there were never any bloody pools beneath the bodies.  You never saw exactly where the bullet holes were.  A gun was fired and someone fell.  That’s it.  I don’t think it took away from the story-telling though.  I didn’t even realize it until the movie was over.  I suppose by doing that (among other things I’m unaware of) they were able to keep the film PG.  Still, I’m not sure I’d take a five-year-old to see this movie.

There is so much I wish I could talk about, but it would spoil the movie.  I have to say that I loved the ending.  It was an end full of possibility.  It was an end I didn’t quite expect.  I know it isn’t exactly comic book accurate, but I think it stayed true to the version of Batman that Nolan and Bale created.

Side note:  If anyone wants to make spoiler filled comments below, I’d happily talk about anything in the movie.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pin Of The Week!

Here’s my Pin ofthe Week!!!

I give you Renting A Glass Igloo In Finland!  I pinned it from someone else’s board, but the original site is actually The Wall Street Journal.  I didn’t know that when I picked the pin… not that it would have made a difference, I guess.  I just looked at the image and thought, I want to do that!!  I want to spend the night in a glass igloo under the Northern Lights.

Happy Pinning!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Forty Stories, Free!!

A while ago, I started reading the site, Fifty-Two Stories.  Each week they (Cal Morgan) would post a new short story.  Well, some time ago, this stopped happening.  To make up for it, Cal Morgan and Harper Perennial put together Forty Stories.  It is a collection of short stories from various authors.  It was on their site (and still is) as a free PDF download.  As of yesterday, it is available for Kindle, iBooks and other retailers that I don’t use.  There’s an article about it on The Atlantic Wire.  

I think I might start reading a short story a week again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Divergent (Divergent #1)

I devoured Divergent.  That’s right.  DEVOURED.  I haven’t read a book that quickly since The Hunger Games.  I feel a little late to the party.  I was a bit wary going into Veronica Roth’s Divergent, though I think my expectations were high.  I heard all the buzz; I’m always a little hesitant with books that have a lot of hype.  Then a friend, who has very similar reading tastes to mine, gave this book five stars on Goodreads.  In a comment for that rating, she called it better than cheese.  She loves cheese!  Without doubt, that was what really made me want to read it.

Divergent was exactly what I needed.  It folded me into the world of Beatrice and the factions.  I forgot everything around me and all I wanted to know was what was going to happen next.  I know it gets compared to The Hunger Games a lot and there are similarities.  Female lead.  A segregated population (Districts/Factions).  Violence.  A teenager being asked to kill people.  But these are different worlds.  Unlike other dystopian novels I’ve read, I can’t actually see our world becoming like the world in Divergent.  However, these characters never leave the city.  I wonder what the rest of the world is like.  I hope to find out in the next books.

Another difference I really liked:  NO LOVE TRIANGLE.  Roth could have easily put one in.  There was almost the set-up for one, but Tris was focused.  Her entire world was about passing the initiation.  When she did let herself feel things, she only had eyes for one man.  Because of their backgrounds, their relationship seemed so natural.  The conflict in Tris’s life involved staying with her family, doing the right thing, and degrees of violence (should I shoot him in the head or the foot?).  There was never a struggle about which guy should she coose.  Tris was great.  So was Four.  He’s not what I’ve come to expect from a male lead.  I like being met with the unexpected.

I don’t feel like I need to go on.  A lot has been said on Divergent already.  I’ll read Insurgent soon, just not right away.  I have a lot to do over the next few days and if the sequel is anything like the first book, I don’t want to be consumed again.  I’m itching to read it though.  I almost picked it up and cracked it open when Divergent was finished.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pin Of The Week!

I joined Pinterest a little while ago.  Maybe it’s just a fad, maybe it’s here to stay.  Right now, I’m addicted.  There are so many beautiful, hilarious, amazing pictures being pinned (many of them on my own boards ), that I want to share them.  I’ve decided to choose my “favourite” Pin of the Week and showcase it on my blog.

Now, I say “favourite” because it is sincerely difficult to choose.  Mostly I picked the Pin that called out to me.

This week I give you the Surreal Forest of Romania.  I pinned it from someone else’s board, but the original site is Colossal Art and Design

Happy Pinning!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Opening Night Of The Dead …and a brief comment about ebooks.

I just finished reading Opening Night of the Dead by Blake M. Petit.  Before I get into the book, which was kindly sent to me by the author for an honest review, I want to say something about the way in which I read it.  Opening Night of the Dead was the first novel I have entirely read on my Kindle App.  I found it a different experience than reading an actual book.  I've read other things with my different reading apps, but they were either read concurrently with the hard copy or not fiction.  I find reading on a tablet (my iPad) distracting, yet oddly convenient.  If I suddenly wondered about something, whether in the actual story or just my mind wandering, I had the quick ability to stop and look it up.  Does it speak to the quality of the story?  Maybe.  But I also had this problem when I read Dracula (iBook and real book at the same time).  Yet, I found it convenient.  I could just pull it out and read it where ever I was; it’s so portable!  I could grab a quick page while cooking or in the car.  If I was watching television and there was a boring part on, I could just whip out my iPad without getting up to get an actual book (or sometimes not getting up at all and flipping channels; this speaks to my lazy side).  In the end, I still like reading actual books better.

Opening Night of the Dead was a fun foray in to zombie fiction.  There was a lot of action and some interesting characters.  There were, in fact, a lot of characters.   Which is fine, but I found having back story on so many of them made the beginning of the story a little slow for me.  For the first part of the book, I kept itching for it to get to the good stuff.  Part of what slowed me down was the formatting of the book.  There were odd breaks in the middle of paragraphs and dialogue.  It was a bit annoying in the dialogue, pulling me out of the story, because I couldn't always tell who was speaking until I re-read it.  I received the "reviewers copy" of the book, so maybe (hopefully) this isn't an issue with the actual Kindle version or with the print copy.  Bad formatting/typesetting with a book always bothers me.

The first two characters who really appealed to me were Tim and Casey.  I liked their back story, every piece of information about them; I enjoyed it when these dead/undead cops were the focus.  Even in a book that’s all about zombies, I want good characters.  I want them to accomplish something.  I want them to learn and grow, like the other main group, Max, Brie and Marissa.  I liked Josh too, once I realized why I was getting so much information on him.  

The action was great.  Petit knows how to write about a zombie being shot in the head.  It made it easy to get into the flow of the book.  Once the zombies started roaming and the escaping needed to happen, it got very exciting.  Petit made the mobs of people and the guards realistic.  There were the selfish ones, the ones who denied they were bit and became a danger and there were the ones who did the right thing.

I also liked the clues that Petit kept dropping throughout the novel.  The characters kept talking about the “Curtain”.  Tim and Casey had been dead long enough that they didn’t know what that was.  When they learned about it, so did the reader.  That’s why there was an “expert” on the movie set.  It wasn’t just a B.S. expert; it was an actual zombie hunter.  

I also hated Marissa for most of the novel.  It was only at the end that I actually liked her, but she was necessary.  She was supposed to have that sort of attitude to make the conclusion the way it was.  I actually wondered for a minute if Max was going to end up with Marissa.  Kind of awful, but kind of right too.

For a lot of the story, the women didn’t seem to be doing much.  Max saved them, then the zombie hunter, then Tim and Casey.  As a woman, for a while I was wondering if these ladies were in the story just to fight with each other.  They never swung a bat or shot a gun.  Was it because the men just happened to be the ones with the weapons?  Did it just fit with their characters?  One was a make-up artist and the other was a gossip reporter.  In the end though, they used their brains and their skills.  Brie actually used make-up and Marissa used her website.  They had world-saving ideas.  How do I feel about the idea that the men were brawny and the women were brainy?  I don’t know.  Once the women became more active in their own survival, I started enjoying the story even more.

Opening Night of the Dead was a fun, entertaining and quick read.  The ending also invites the possibility of some kind of sequel.  It is a good book for any zombie fiction fan.  

(One final comment on Opening Night of the Dead: Why isn’t this book on Goodreads?  The author is, along with all his other books.  But not this one?  It was released on June 20th!  I know I only joined Goodreads a few months ago, but I really like the updating of my status and posting reviews there, but alas, no Goodreads this time.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Quick Question...

What should I read next?

Divergent, by Veronica Roth
City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare
The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis
The Thousand Orcs, by R.A. Salvatore

All genre. Only one "grown-up" book. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)

I just finished devouring City of Bones.  Cassandra Clare’s first book in her The Mortal Instruments series was addictive.  City of Bones gave me just the distraction I needed.  It was easy to get lost in the world of Clary, Jace and the Shadowhunters.
(Some vague spoilers.) 

At first, I thought the book was going to be predictable.  I saw the love triangle/square coming.  I figured out who Clary’s real father was as soon as his name was mentioned.  I knew what Hodge was going to do.  This was all in the first third to half of the book.  The writing was still engaging and I was enjoying the novel, I just had most of it worked out in my head.

There were some things I didn’t predict.  I kept trying to figure out Jace’s parental situation, thinking, no way is Clare going to do THAT.  I didn’t guess about Alec either.  I actually really liked that part of the story.  It was refreshing and unique in the Young Adult novels I’ve read.  The second half of the book really took the story above my expectations.

Unlike most people I’ve talked to, the book cover of City of Bones threw me off.  I’m not a huge fan of naked body parts on book covers.  It seems cheesy to me.  It had all this glowy stuff around who I assume is Jace.  Plus all the hype around the book and people just swooning and the quote on the cover, all served to make me want to skip The Mortal Instruments series.  I finally decided it was worth my time when a friend described it to me as a sort of cross between Buffy and Harry Potter.  Well, what could be better?  It’s true (though the writing styles are widely different).  There are demon hunters and regular humans who don’t see the magical world around them.

I kind of hope the comments get some spoilers because I want to know what people think of the whole Jace/Clary thing.  I’m thinking something changes in the next book, right?  Wait, I don’t want to know.

I’m glad that I have The Mortal Instruments too provide me with escape at a time when I need it.  It was an exciting fun book and it thankfully lived up to the hype, going farther than my expectations.