Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Magic and Virgins - Part Two of Two

Rampant, Diana Peterfreund.

Let me preface this by saying that I had no intention of loving this book. I had wanted to read it because it sounded interesting, despite the fact that it goes against everything I have ever believed. But I was going to wait for the paperback because didn't think the hardcover price would be worth it, blah, blah, blah. But. I've made an effort to attend more book signings and saw that the author was going to be at a nearby bookstore at a convenient time. This never happens. They're always horribly timed (for me). So I headed over just planning to sit in the back and watch. But there weren't many people there. Which was terrible. Because the author was adorable and brought cookies for everyone. But my guilt got the best of me and I purchased the book. After her reading and Q&A I had her sign it. Where I'm pretty sure I'm not making up the fact that I told her I've "pretty much" been stalking her. This is because she belonged to a group of young adult authors who got together this past spring and stayed in a castle for a week doing writer-type things and whatnot and I stalked all of them (via blog and Twitter) and am afraid that she ended up taking it more as a "I want a lock of your hair please" as opposed to "I think you're pretty awesome". I just want to clear that up for all of those who were not actually present. I definitely meant it in an "awesome" way.

So. Anyway. The book. The book is about killer unicorns. See? Interesting, right? So while I thought it sounded intriguing, I was a little offended as I was one of those girls who was always into unicorns. Probably to an unhealthy extent. I collected them. I had a nightlight, stuffed animals, various glass decorations, a t-shirt, a music box, pictures, etc.* I even used to tell my family that I would change the color of the stoplights with my "Unicorn Power", and I would bow my head as though pointing my horn at the light and whisper "change" under my breath. I think maybe one time in all of my efforts the light change coincided with my whisper and was enough to satisfy my belief in my powers.

That being said, I am a firm believer in the idea that everyone is entitled to her own opinion and we should always hear both sides of an argument, and if this woman wanted to hate unicorns than so be it. I started the book last week after I finished The Magicians. The book is about killer unicorns and unicorn hunters. (Actually, it's more about the hunters, but I'm finding it more fun to say "killer unicorns" than I thought I would.) The unicorns have been gone for a while, but they are staging a comeback. The only people who can hunt these unicorns are female, virgin descendants of Alexander the Great. I know. "What the crap?" right? That's what I thought. But as the story goes on, it's really woven beautifully into this myth that Alexander the Great could calm the wild beast (the biggest unicorn to roam the planet), and only his descendants can kill them.

There are varying degrees of unicorn, from small and goat-like to mammoth. The seek out the hunters and the hunters can feel them before they arrive. Like some magical power. If a unicorn horn (that's where the poison is) stabs a hunter, the hunter will heal quickly. But if the person stabbed is not a hunter (either not a virgin, male, or not a descendant of Alexander the Great), the person will die a horrible, painful death. The unicorns are not easy to kill, either. All injuries heal over before the next is even inflicted. They have to be extremely precise about their methods. There are serious injuries and doubts about all of this as the book progresses. There are also human villains and a boy that I kind of want as my very own. (Meaning - he's hot and he speaks Italian.)

I could not put this book down. I was up until almost 6am Sunday morning, having stayed up all night, to read this book. I can't remember the last time I stayed up all night to finish reading a book. So would I recommend it? Absolutely. No hesitation. It's awesome.

Magic and Virgins - Part One of Two

Magical Virgins? Perhaps.....

Two reviews today! Because I am that awesome.

First - The Magicians, Lev Grossman

I finished this book last weekend while staying up 'til all hours of the night with an ice pack on my face that did nothing to calm an infected ear. To take my mind off of things, I thought I'd go to Brakebills school with the magicians.

And it worked. For the most part. As I had previously assumed, I did not claim this book to be a favorite. It was interesting. There was a lot about what it means to get everything you really want and whether or not it makes any difference in the end. So, in the end, was this book worth it? Eh. I felt like it could have been chopped in half and had the same impact. Maybe even more of an impact. It was long and there were characters that seemed completely unnecessary. Magic learned that probably was used later, but it was never really clear as to what way. He really worked in every single fantasy book I could think of and it was fun to see them in a modern, more adult setting. Would I recommend this book? I think so. It's certainly not for everyone. And I felt that in an effort to make it appeal to adults there were some themes that seemed completely irrelevant to the plot. Also, there is an absurd amount of nudity. These kids are always taking off their clothes...

Which is a major contrast to my next book:

(See next post)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wrapped Up in Books

I swear I have been reading. But I have also been writing and will, as of this weekend, have a full and completed manuscript. It has evolved from random scraps of dialogue and character sketches into a full-blown story. And I'm super excited. It will need a lot of tweaking and editing, some filling in of various gaps, but this is all stuff I can work on as I go along with my critique group. A book. A real book. That I wrote! And even if it never sees the light of day, I am still pretty proud of myself. (Not to say that I don't want it to see the light of day. I most definitely do. But I'll try to remain realistic.)

In the meantime, I have been occupying myself with bits and pieces of multiple books. Like Bram Stoker's Dracula. Reading along with the "Infinite Summer" crew again, though I'll admit I'm a good bit behind. At this point I feel that I want to shake Jonathan Harker. When one finds himself imprisoned in a dark and scary castle, one doesn't think "Oh...how strange." One freaks out and tries to escape. I'm just saying. Though I have to say I laughed out loud when Count Dracula smashed the last mirror after grabbing Jonathan by the throat and Jonathan's reaction was, "Now how will I shave?"

Also in the "on-line book club" category, I started Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. I'm much further behind there than in Dracula, but it's not for lack of interest. What I've read so far has been fascinating and it reads like a dream. I can't say I've caught on to a single strand of plot thus far (if there even is one), but the words themselves are enjoyable. That being said, it's a difficult book to pick up for just a few pages each night. I will get through it though.

Third on the list I have The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I read one single glowing review of this book and immediately purchased it. Sometimes I'm spontaneous like that. I can't say I would have picked it up were I just looking on my own. It's about a magic school and it incorporates elements of all of your favorite fantasy novels but it's not for kids. I don't think I'll put it down and claim it to be one of the best books I've read, but I'm definitely enjoying it more than I thought I would and as it's easy to read and doesn't take much thought, I find that it's getting a bit more of my attention than the others.

Finally, since my grandparents are moving from their house into a condo, my grandfather is at a point of having to get rid of all of those books he's been hoarding. Having visited him this past weekend I found myself the lucky recipient of two boxes full of books on historical events and theology (from his years as a Minister). I dove into Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. I'm not much past the biography section, but I am fascinated by this man and his life. He stood up for what he believed despite persecution and imprisonment. His words are simple but meaningful; not clouded in philosophy the way G.K. Chesterton books are (though I love, love, love Chesterton). I'm looking forward to being inspired.

More thoughtful reviews as I finish. I feel as though I've been reading nothing these days.