Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: A Million Suns, by Beth Revis

A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2)A Million Suns by Beth Revis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

What I Liked: Revis brought the atmosphere of inescapable unrest and hostility to life so well that I actually felt claustrophobic. I also really liked that she asked some extremely hard questions about freedom of will, right to rule, democracy versus autocracy...and never really answers them. Honestly (and it's been two months since I read the ARC) I think back on some of the moral crossroads in the story, and...I'm still not sure what the right answers are.

What I Didn't: Forgive my being cryptic here, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers...the, er, "method" in which Amy is fed the clues seems very contrived. I found it to be distracting, because it was so out of place, so out of character. It's honestly what kept my review from being five stars.

One More Thing: I wasn't really sure whether to put this under pros or cons, because part of me loves that she did it because it makes me SO excited for the next book, and part of me wants to grab Revis by the shoulders and shake her and scream WHYYYYYYYYY???????...the book ends on one of the worst cliffhangers I can think of. Right on par with Clare's City of Fallen Angels. For realz. It's killer. You've been warned.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

What I Liked: This book is unlike anything I'm aware of on the market. The world, the twists on mythology...all completely unique. And I have a serious girl-crush on Karou. I want to BE her.

One of the most surprising things I liked about the book, though, were the "human" moments; mainly, the banter between Karou and Zuzanna. Real but zingy--think dialogue on Buffy or Veronica Mars. It endeared me to her, and made her three-dimensional, so by the time the real, honest-to-goodness scat starts hitting the fan, you really, truly care what happens to her.

What I Didn't: I only have one dislike, and it's less of a dislike and more of a concern. In the last quarter of the book, when the storyline moves to flashbacks (sorry for the vagueness, but I try to keep it spoiler-free!) the story loses some focus and starts flailing a bit, which is noticeable after Taylor's tight-as-a-drumskin narrative up to that point. It's a concern, but a minor one, because I'm sorry, but there is no danger of anyone putting the book down at that point.

Overall: All I have to say is, this is the best book I've read since I finished Anna Dressed In Blood back in August. It's been a long, thirsty dry spell...but Smoke and Bone finally broke it.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Harry Potter and the Swedish Language

I’ve wanted to learn Swedish ever since I met my Swedish husband eleven years ago. When I say he’s Swedish, I don’t mean his grandparents emigrated from Sweden, I mean he himself spent the first 24 years of his life in Sweden. He’s more than fluent; it’s his mother language. His parents speak Swedish. His brother speaks Swedish. His friends speak Swedish. I feel left out.

But learning from him just hasn’t worked out all that well, and so it’s been left to me to learn the Nordic tongue. I’ve tried audio tapes, but trouble is, I’m more of a visual learner. And then I stumbled on the perfect solution. Harry Potter.

The Harry Potter books have been translated into pretty much every language in the world, including Swedish, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve probably read some of the books forty or more times. Why not use my fluency in Harry to help me learn Swedish?

I won the HP Swedish books 1-6 in an epic eBay battle, and since then I’ve been battling with myself, trying to find the perfect lesson plan. I’ve abandoned word-by-word translation, and am now just straight reading through, with the English version open beside me and my Swenglish dictionary close at hand.

Let me tell you something. Swedish is a highly annoying language to learn. (I don't want you to think I hate Swedish. I don't. I just find myself challenged by it, and, though I usually don't back down from a challenge, I generally feel compelled to whine about it. :-)) I took Spanish in high school. Spanish was not annoying. It made sense. Even that silly grammatical tic of making all the words be girls or boys (el/la) was okay. Swedish? OMFG. Really.

You know how English has synonyms, where several words all mean the same thing? Swedish has those too, but they also have these things that are the opposite of synonyms. (No, not antonyms, smart ass.) One word, which means many different words. I call these the little fiddly words, and their meaning is dependent on their affiliation with other words and combination with similar fiddly words. For instance, the Swedish word som, depending on its usage, can mean as, in, like, which, that, who or whom. Additionally, the Swedish word can mean at, in connection with, on, of, to, or upon. This is not an uncommon occurrence. All their freaking words have like six meanings which have nothing to do with each other.

Also, the Swedish language is wordy. All those little fiddly words you have to combine precisely to create your meaning? They add up. This becomes evident when you realize the English page 23 corresponds to page 35 in the Swedish edition. However, as an example—

“Now what?” said Aunt Petunia.
“Vad ska vi nu ta oss till?” sade moster Petunia.

Yep. That’s what I’m talking about.

So, maybe the Swedes realized they were using entirely too many words, when one would do. Their solution to this is, when they have a longish phrase, to mash all the words together into one long word. For example, “Keeper of the Keys,” becomes “Nyckelv­­áktaren.” Here’s the problem. Go into the Swedish dictionary and look up nyckelv­­áktaren. You won’t find it. Wanna know why? Because up until now, the word didn’t exist. Of course, any person fluent in Swedish is going to be like, oh, okay…Keeper of the Keys! But an English speaker looking up every other word in their trusty Swenglish dictionary is sweating and panicking going, “I can’t find the word, I can’t find the word, what does it mean????” *shriek!!!!* Not knowing, of course, that if one looks up the word v­­áktare, one will find that the word means guardian. Key-guardian. Duh. Okay, then. Why didn’t you just say so in two words?

So, in summary, the Swedish language often uses six words when two would do, one word when between two and four are needed, and, rather than creating a new word for each possible meaning, uses just the one and leave you to guess what they mean.
           It’s going to be a long road to Half-Blood Prince.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)Synopsis: Our bumbling, meddlesome species finally comes up with a cure for cancer (and just about anything else that plagues us), and ends up dooming humanity. Every person born after the cure was developed dies young; girls at age 20, boys at age 25. Rich men take on multiple wives in an effort to keep the population going, but these wives aren’t willing; they’re kidnapped, bought and sold like the most precious of commodities. Rhine is separated from her twin brother after she’s abducted and married to Linden Ashby. Trapped in the lap of luxury, she plots her escape, despite new friendships with her sister wives, her growing empathy for Linden, and her dangerous feelings for servant boy Gabriel.

What I Liked: Wither hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. Despite the fact that it’s kind of a far-fetched concept, scientifically speaking, DeStefano makes the world completely plausible. Linden’s father, Vaughn, is perfectly creeptastic, and adds the necessary element of danger. And even though the book is set in the future, it has a vaguely steampunky feel. I think this is due to the presence of such advanced science in a sociologically stunted society. The cover art is very Victorian/ubermodern, too, which probably contributed to my perception. Either way, I liked it. It made the atmosphere even creepier.

What I Didn’t: Rhine’s name. Because the story is told in first person, we don’t hear it often enough to get used to it. It’s a very masculine-sounding name, at least to me, and so every time someone said, ‘Rhine,’ I was like, wait, who’s that guy? I found it very distracting. But that’s just me nitpicking.

Rating: Four Cheezits out of five.

Note: The sequel to this (I believe) three-part series, Fever (Chemical Garden Trilogy, the) is set to release on February 21, 2012. I’ve already preordered.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Some news for those of you who know August, my website domain,, will be expiring, and for various reasons I've chosen not to renew it. Bubye, website...bubye.

But fear not, gentle folk--I'm still here. This blog will now be home base and Decon One. Any pertinent info about my current book, Surviving Serendipity, or any upcoming books (I'm still working on it, people--swear!), will be here. I will also no longer be posting to my old blog, If it's worth hearing, you'll find it on this site, or on my Twitter or Tumblr accounts (links can be found to the right.)

I know you've heard this before, but I will be attempting to post at least once a week, so you'll be getting much more regular updates from me.

See you soon!

P.S. For those of you who are curious about my blog title, it's a bastardized snippet of a quote by E.L. Doctorow. He said it about writing a novel, but I think it applies to life as well: "It's like driving a car at night. You can never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."