Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Big Fat Manifesto" by Susan Vaught

Jamie Carcaterra isn't obese. She's not chubby, chunky or "hormonally challenged", either (whatever that means), as she will loudly correct you in her new column "Fat Girl Manifesto" in The Wire, her school newspaper. Jamie is, as she insists, fat, and she's quite happy that way, thank you very much. She has two best friends, Nono and Freddie, and a great boyfriend, Burke, to boot. She's Evillene in the school play The Wiz. Everything's fine and dandy in Jamie Land. And she will gladly tell you this while also bashing down some myths and assumptions that "normal" people make about her and her fellows in the aforementioned column.
But, as it turns out, not everything is cheerful in Burke Land. He's tired of being fat, tired of not fitting into toilet stalls and airplane seats and having seven X's on his clothing tags. He's desperate, and he's getting bariatric surgery. The surgery that staples off part of your stomach. The surgery that some people don't come out of.
In the middle of all this, "Fat Girl Manifesto" is attracting the media, Burke – while he doesn't die – changes, and Jamie starts to realize that she doesn't know who she is anymore.
Big Fat Manifesto is a great book. Vaught handles her delicate subject with amazingly deft skills, and out of the darkness has come a work of art. If I could figure out how to paste pictures into my posts, I'd put one of that little movie guy jumping out of his seat.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

The time: A few years in the future. The place: San Francisco. What's happening: Terrorists.
Meet Marcus, your average high school hacker. His hobbies include hacking, ARGing with his friends Darryl, Vanessa and Jolu, and inventing ways to annoy his high school... until one day, when he skips school to go play computer games with his friends and the Bay Bridge blows up. Suddenly the Bay Area is in total chaos. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured or missing, and millions mourn. And Marcus and his friends? Well, they're missing, too....
Now the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) comes into the picture, as Marcus & co. are grabbed on the street, tied up and tossed into a truck to be carted to a secret prison. The four are separated, and questioned every day. Finally, after day after day of mistreatment, bare cells and cruel overseers, Marcus, Van and Jolu are released. Darryl is gone, and when the weary threesome troop home, the bay has changed. DHS officers patrol every corner. The BART system is a disaster. Cars are pulled over at random. It seems the DHS's new motto is "Everyone is the Enemy, so Treat All as the Enemy".
Marcus refuses to tolerate this new order. He starts up a new, untraceable system: Xnet. He wreaks havoc with the DHS's electronics, turning the innocent into the enemy and screwing with their files.
But they're going to catch up with him somehow...
Little Brother is an amazing book – there's no dull parts, no faulty characters, and a totally believable plot. Doctorow even manages to add a little romance into the mix! MUST READ! As Scott Westerfeld so aptly puts it, "A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion."
Note: not suggested for younger kids (e.g., for 12 and up, not to restrict by age [I'm reading high school stuff myself] but there are several... suggestive scenes.) : )

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Watership Down"... second only to Twilight in my book

Down, down, to Watership Down. When Fiver warns Hazel of an unnamed danger coming to their warren, Hazel knows that it's not just his overly-jumpy nature that his younger brother is voicing. So when the leader of their warren refuses to act, Hazel takes matters into his own hands – or rather, paws. They're rabbits, in case you didn't know. But species makes no difference in this... I can't find a word, so I'll leave a list at the end of this post. Back to the book:
Hazel and a rag-tag group of rabbits set off to the place that Fiver tells them of, a new home on Watership Down.
The group encounters many dangers – some, such as the elil (predators), and some, less obvious. And when at last they find Watership Down, Hazel realizes: they have no does. No females, no kits, no warren. So they gather together, and plan a raid on the most dangerous warren they have ever seen...
This is book has shocked me out of my obsession with newer books and introduced me to classics. For that, I will be forever grateful. AND it's an... a... I give up trying to describe it. See list of adjectives below.
Presenting the list of adjectives one might use to describe Watership Down... in alphabetic order!!
amazing – astonishing – astounding – awe-inspiring – beyond belief – breathtaking – brilliant – dazzling – extraordinary – humbling (especially to us aspiring writers) – incredible – luminous – magnificent – marvelous – spectacular – wonderful.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A few poems

This is a poem by my friend – I think it's great, but I'm not sure I understand all of it... though in poetry, isn't that the point?
Wind blows;
Melancholy wind,
Where do you go?
Who do you see,
Why do you flow?

Girl cries;
Empty girl,
Where do you sleep?
Who do you love,
Why do you keep?

Wind asks;
Curious wind,
I sleep in my darkness,
I love no true thing,
I keep as the sky falls, the breeze laughs, the sun weeps.

Girl answers;
Loneliest girl,
I go across world-breaks,
I see your life end,
I flow as the clouds sigh, your broken heart mends.

Hmm... sad, yet sweet. Bittersweet, I guess, or melancholy. I love those words – such a nice ring to them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yet another vampire book... but this time, spelled with a "y"

Marked is a strange book not in the way it's written, but how. Drumroll, please: written by a mother-daughter. P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast.  Strange, no? I would never write a book with my mom. No offense to her, but she doesn't know my characters. Of course, I can see how that would be useful, but... nuh-uh.
To the summary: The book starts with: "Just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse, I saw the dead guy standing by my locker." A few pages later, Zoey is a vampyre... sort of. She is a fledgling, marked with an outline of the crescent-moon sign of the goddess Nyx, and must go to vampyre boarding school to learn (duh) and to undergo the Change from human to full-on blood-sucking night-worshipping vampyre. The perks: she gets to be gorgeous (it comes with the Change), away from her evil parents, and have super cool teachers. The downside: she might not survive the Change.
But that's not enough, is it? Because hours after the aforementioned "dead guy" turns her into a fledgling vampyre, as Zoey runs to see her grandmother, she falls, and in a dream meets Nyx, who tells her she is destined for great things, etc, and does something wonky to her Mark: normally, as a fledgling, her Mark would be simply an outline for the next few years. After chatting with the goddess, it's fully filled in. But that's not the end of the strange happenings. Zoey is, as said above, destined for great things...
A pretty good book; a bit explicit with the descriptions... I'd suggest it for older kids. Besides that, the character is a bit annoying at times, but likable in most ways. Unfortunately pour moi, I can't seem to get my hands on the second one...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ancient Troy Rules!!

So. Someone has alerted me (or rather, reminded [I'm talking about you, Erin]) that I have not told you one of my most coveted secrets... actually, it's not so much a secret anymore as a delicate subject. Not delicate, really, though – I just get embarrassed when someone brings it up...
I'm writing a book. Well, I've already written two – I'm working on the third. It's a trilogy. My name isn't really Cassandra, as I believe I have mentioned; that's my main character's name. No, I am not delusional, I do not believe I am my main character (she's a goddess of chaos and enjoys scorching people to death. I... don't) but it's an awesome name with a lot of history. You know Cassandra, one of the many princesses of Troy? The one that saw visions of the future but no one believed her? That one. She was awesome. I love her.
Anywho... yeah. There. You know. I've posted it on the web. Yay.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My obsession, as you can probably tell...

I'm sure all of you have seen my last post, which ultimately gives away my obsession with Twilight, etc. Also The Host, or... erm... anything to do with Stephenie Meyer. Unfortunately, I'm not going to even be here when Breaking Dawn comes out – I'm going to be at a camp-type thingy. Oh, the tragedy! The moment I've been waiting for for six months, delayed because of a trip! Grrr.... (grinds teeth in frustration). How like the universe to thrust this upon me...
Anywho, I'll be posting some more book reviews tomorrow/later today. But, hey, it's summer! I'm not going to spend all my time cooped up at the computer. Amazingly, it's not too cold here. Woo!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I return. Yay.

I would call it Paradise, but even Eden would get boring after a while. I would call it Heaven, but no one is dead. I would call it home, but home is a place where you are already defined. So I'll have to call it Farview. – Cassandra.
Well, I'm home from sleepaway camp. Ah, the cool breeze from the bay caresses my sun-burnt skin. However, I am already camp-sick. Civilization seems so... enclosed after two weeks in the open hills and riding horses, etc...
More book reviews to follow, though for now I'll satisfy myself with surfing the net.
I wonder how many wildfires are going in poor, burnt-up California now? It's so smokey...