Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello, Old Friends: Banned Books Week

The Color Purple
The Handmaid's Tale
The House of the Spirits
Go Ask Alice
A Wrinkle in Time

I read these books as a teen (and many others like them), not knowing that they had been challenged by parents and administrators in other schools. My parents might have known, since it was on their bookshelf that I found the first four. They were very much aware of what books had been banned. My step-mother even made it a point to buy banned books.

As aware as my parents made me on their own stance when it came to book banning, they never pushed it on my siblings and me. They knew my sister and I loved books (my brother was more of a comic reader, but hey, it's words, right?), and they let us read pretty much any book of their shelves. Some of which I got bored with and didn't finish (Bonfire of the Vanities? Try Yawnfire. Blerg.), but the first four on the list above were books from their shelves that stayed with me, that have shaped the way I think, the way I feel, and even the way I write.

Books aren't banned simply because they are subversive, or because they speak lies about the world. Good books should make you angry, repulse you, frighten you. Most importantly, they should make you feel empathy for others. Your reaction to the content, as you read it in context, of course, says more about you than it does about the author.

I added A Wrinkle in Time to the list because it had an even greater effect on my desire to write fantasy novels, which started out as a hobby when I was fifteen. And because it's one of those O_o ? bans I just don't understand.

Anyway, I didn't write this post to preach, only to say that if it weren't for the above "bad" books, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. A writer. A lover of beautiful words and haunting imagery. A sci-fi nerd. A feminist. A tolerant, curious person who wants to find out as much as she can about the world, particularly through the magic of books.

What are your favorites?

Monday, September 19, 2011


And the winner of my ARC giveaway of Legend by Marie Lu is Fatal Hellbent..., er Cynthia Lee!

Get me your mailing address and I'll send it out as soon as possible!

Congrats, and let the rebellion begin! ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night...

Believe it or not, that's the first line to a much loved children's classic, and one of my all-time favorites, tired as it sounds. Major karma if you loved it as much as I did. It's amazing what you can do with a supposedly tired idea if you interpret it in a different way...

Which is just in time for this month's Blog Chain. :) 

Last to post was Michelle, and Shaun will post next, but Christine got to choose the topic:

Since we are all writers, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choice.

he topic: A dark and stormy night:

Just as soon as I think it's safe to de-reg and bunk down for the next few hours of starless space, the prox-sensors buzz me back into awareness. Farging asteroid cluster wasn't on my map. Hard to see them in the depths of the black like this. My time card says I've been on too long to handle this sitch, but poor Karla's been twelve-on/six-off for so long, I don't want to disturb the last precious hour she's got left. And I know the protocol like I know the ceiling above my bunk, I've run so many sims. And maybe I want to show corporate that I can handle a little more responsibility.

Maybe I should just wake Karla.

No. I shoot a little more O2 into my reg and prime the manual override. Just like the sim. Of course, in the sim, it's not the lives of thousands of pleasure cruise passengers in stasis for the long haul. A trip that takes us all away from our home planets for the better part of four years. Not that they'll age at all during the voyage to Griphon Eta. Not like Karla and I will. Another reason to let her have her beauty sleep. I snicker to myself--there's no one else to hear me--and file the joke away for the few minutes of contact we'll have next hour.

The nearest asteroid is the size of a cargo loader, easier to see on my O-scope than with my naked eye. Barely have to push the thrusters to maneuver out of its trajectory. There's a tight cluster of them at to my right that move slow as a loader, and I swerve back the way I came to avoid them. Only to come face to face with a faster moving asteroid half the size of the ship. 

There's something wrong. Asteroids never crowd this close together in a field, headed in a similar direction. Why didn't I wake Karla? There's another big one just below me. Instead of heading doggedly in a single trajectory until it hit something else, like a normal meteor, it starts rising up toward my belly. I thrust away, back toward the slow-moving cluster. My O-scope is full of huge asteroids angling toward me. Are they magnetized? Is the ship attracting them? The whole screen fills with red. I can't trust it anymore. I need to use my eyes. I raise the ultra-shield from the view-screen and flick on the flood lights.

The lights glint on what at first looks to my eye like ice or some exposed metallic ore. But the cluster sparkles all over, loader-sized balls of diamond. With what look like... tails? The closest one to me rolls, the flood lights almost blinding as they reflect off its shining surface. Until I see eyes looking back at me. Eyes like emeralds, the size of human skulls, over a scaly snout. There are a dozen of them, smaller versions of the ship-sized not-asteroids filling my O-scope screen. In my ten years piloting stasis-cruisers, I've never seen anything like them, but there's only one thing they can be. 


I should have woken Karla. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review of LEGEND by Marie Lu

LEGEND, by Marie Lu, get four out of five pentacles.

I was worried when I first started this book. Worried that the dystopian world wouldn't be convincingly built. Worried that the dual first person narrative wouldn't allow for enough characterization of both pov characters. Hell, I was worried I wouldn't be able to read the gold font the ARC used for Day's narration.

But I needn't have been. LEGEND was not only a fun adventure, but I could see the world clearly and more or less comprehend out how it got that way, which matters a lot to me for suspension of disbelief.

Most importantly, unlike some books that employ alternating first person povs, I was never unsure of whose head I was in, gold font or no. Though June and Day are very similar in their characterization, it was revealed to us in very different ways. Both characters, June in particular, grow and change through the book, which always helps me empathize with a character.

While I don't think LEGEND will be the next Hunger Games, I think it will satisfy fans of that series, and Divergent. Day is a hero worthy of every girl's affection (Day is his awesome street rebel name, of course), and June is a tough yet fragile heroine whose flaws only make her more likable.

So here's the real question:

If you were an outlaw from the Republic, what would your outlaw name be? Enter it below until Saturday the 17th to win an ARC copy of LEGEND! (US only at this time, sorry, Jade!) Winner will be drawn randomly and announced Monday the 19th.

You don't have to follow or tweet, just play along. Hmm, I'm going to need some time to think of a good handle (I just accidentally type "hzndle" and thought about keeping it. Time for some strong breakfast tea).

Good luck!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blog for a Dog—Because their paws don't fit on the keys.

Earlier I was trolling through the blogs I follow and saw this post on Books at Midnight.

I've always loved dogs. Especially old, mean, ornery, cantankerous ones. And they seem to love me back (because I'm quiet and move slowly and smell like food, I'm sure) My husband loves them even more than I do. Our dog is a 15 year old terrier/chihuahua mix, and she's about as cantankerous as it gets. Though you'd never get my husband to admit that. He's blind to her many, many, many faults. In our house, the dog is treated like a human who just happens to eat off the floor and have the ability to lick her own butt.

So. You can imagine how eager I was to share my love for dogs via a blog post—particluarly senior dogs—and at the same time do something to help dogs in need. Well, so can you! Sign up and post the information below in a post on your blog (along with a bit about your own love for dogs, if you like), and Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of dogfood to shelter animals. Only a few more days to participate! Check out the details below:

The following info is copied from Books at Midnight:

Pedigree is resurrecting is insanely successful Write a Post, Help a Dog program. In 2010, 391 bloggers wrote about the program and with each post, Pedigree donated 20 pounds of its Healthy Longevity dog food to shelter animals. In all, 7,820 pounds of food was donated to two shelters renowned for their care of senior dogs: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and Castaway Critters in Harrisburg, Pa.

How you can help in 2011

Simply spread the word about Write a Post, Help a Dog 2011 and once again Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of food for each blogger's post. Here's all you need to include in your post:

  • The Write a Post, Help a Dog program is aimed at raising awareness and food for the more than four million dogs that wind up in shelters and breed rescues each year.
  • For each blog post mentioning the Pedigree Foundation from now until midnight ET on September 3, Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of its new dry Pedigree recipe food for dogs -- its best recipe ever -- to a shelter, because every dog deserves leading nutrition. 
  • The Pedigree Foundation -- a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization is committed to helping dogs by providing grants to shelters and rescues and encouraging dog adoption. This year the Foundation has already raised more than $376,570 against its goal of $1.5 million to carry out its work to fund grants that not only help shelters operate, but to further shelter innovations.
The Pedigree Foundation depends on charitable contributions from individuals to carry out its mission to help dogs find loving homes. In addition to writing a blog post, here's how you can help:

Then, link up to the Blog Hop, hosted by the Pedigree BlogPaws bloggers to help spread the word about Write a Post, Help a Dog.