Number 92: Leviathan

can't tell if that's a boy or girl? That's the idea, bwahaha

can’t tell if that’s a boy or girl? That’s the idea, bwahaha (I have a feeling this joke was way better in my head)

Leviathan is written by Scott Westerfeld, an author that has more than one book on NPR’s top 100 books for teens ever list.  This book is fun and creative and fast paced, also it is part of a trilogy.  It’s an alternate history steam-punk/science fiction version of world war one wherein the allies are Darwinians and use the science of evolution to create animal/machines.

excellent map art, no? Do you see the animals?

excellent map art, no? Do you see the animals?

So, they are living machines instead of just mechanical.  The axis powers use technology and machines, like mech warriors.  All in all pretty cool, but I still feel like this is an average book.  Yeah, it was a fun read and yes it was creative, but  nothing really lingers in my mind.  This is just what I expect out of a book.  It needs to be readable, creative, and have fun characters.  That doesn’t mean it is a top 100 book, it just means it deserves to be published.  This is also a book that I feel is barely teen oriented.  The main characters are 12 years old, but I guess the themes and some of the moments in the novel are meant for an older audience.  So it fits, but just barely.

leviathan art 1 leviathan art 2 leviathan art 3

There is also some great artwork in the book, and I love books with artwork.  Not enough adult/teen books take advantage of great artists, and I feel like it can really add to the story.  They really bring Westerfeld’s descriptions to life.  The illustrations are by artist Keith Thompson.

There are two major problems I have with this book.  The storyline and the blurb on the back of the book.

boy's don't cry mulan movie poster shakespeare in love poster she's the man

First, I’ll start with the storyline.  Some story lines are familiar and whenever someone sees them in a movie or reads them in a book, they know what is going to happen.  Some of these are OK, some are cliché, and some I just don’t like.  The one found in Leviathan falls into the category of “I just don’t like.”  The plot device is that the female character dresses up as a dude to fit in.  Since girls aren’t allowed to serve in the military, she has to fake being a guy in order to do what she is good at.  That’s fine, but the staple of this plot line is that she meets a guy and likes him, but she can’t tell him because the guy thinks that she’s a dude.  The problem comes in when the two characters have cute moments that the reader thinks are romantic and so does the female character, but the guy character just thinks it’s friendly.  Or maybe he doesn’t and he is gay.  Or maybe he’s not gay but he feels himself experiencing emotions that he’s never had before toward another man and now he’s questioning everything.  Not to mention, the setting in the book is the early 20th century, so not only are those feelings unusual to the male lead, but they are basically forbidden by society.  There is a lot of psychological tension going on and it never gets addressed in these types of stories.  It feels awkward and I can never enjoy these plot devices.

Now for the back blurb.

photo 2 (2)

This seems to be a problem with YA books.  On the back blurb it says that Alek and Deryn (the two POV characters) are thrown together aboard the mighty airship Leviathan.  This is very informative and makes me intrigued to read the story…the problem? This doesn’t happen until the end of the book.  It takes all of the tension away from the story.  When I was reading the story I felt everything leading up to them on the ship together as the prologue.  I was waiting for it to start.  As the story moved along I just wondered when the hell they were going to get together on the ship.  The blurb said that they were together, so obviously the story doesn’t really start until they are together (this is how my mind works).  The blurb spoiled nearly all of the thrill this book could have held.  And, they literally aren’t on the ship together until the final couple of chapters. Think about it.  So every time the characters are in danger or the author wants you to think that they are going to give up or something, but that holds no tension for you because the back of the book has already told you what will happen.  Will they survive? Will they get captured? Will they get in trouble and have to be held in a prison cell? No.  They are going to meet up on the Leviathan and fight side by side, just wait until the prologue is over, you’ll see.

As I mentioned, I’m not sure this book belongs on the list.  It is very creative and the world is vivid, brought out further by the artistic skill of Keith Thompson.  But, this is just your typical adventure story with the characters getting into trouble and having to scrap their way out of it.  It was a decent and easy read, but it’s what I think is just an average book. This book meets my standards for something I would sit down and read, but it doesn’t fit into my top books list, but judging by everything else I’ve read on NPR’s list, it definitely fits within NPR’s parameters.

Wife: meh.  If you’re having a slow month with shit else to do, go ahead and pick up this book.

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Literary Television: Parks and Recreation

This post ended up being fairly long.  I have no apology.  The blog should be long since I’m talking about the entire series of a show, consisting of 6 seasons.  It’s like writing about an entire book series, and that simply cannot be done in just 500 words.

So the idea behind this post is that I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting time doing other activities.  So I am going to write about them as though they are pertinent to what this blog is about.  And, it is really.  TV shows are stories, just like books are stories, and this blog is about me dissecting stories and writing my own (I know the focus of this blog seems to be malleable. Wasn’t this blog originally about me reading a top 100 list?).

I used to feel bad about binge watching shows, but then I realized I do the same thing with books or my own writing or a video game.  I get into something and I can’t stop until I finish it or until I get bored.  I used to berate myself for binge watching television.  Because it’s supposed to be bad for you, I guess.   I would feel guilty about it and just feel like shit, yet I couldn’t stop until it was finished.  I’ve decided I was wrong to treat myself in that way.  I should lean into the quirks of my personality.  TV shows are just stories after all.  It is a different form of literature.  Why is it OK for me to do it with a book and not with television?  The answer is that it isn’t fair.

I’m slowly learning to accept myself and not force myself to adhere to some alien expectations that I cannot meet.  I am who I am, and it’s weird how long it is taking to realize this stuff.  Or maybe I’m making excuses for being a shitty person.  See?  I still can’t squelch it.

Literary Television. This will be the name of the new category I will have on the blog.   will analyze television shows (the entirety or at least until I’m current) the same as I do books.  Though they won’t be as often.  I even planned on doing a top 10 movie list.  Not my own, mind you.  But I will watch someone else’s (like WatchMojo’s on youtube) and then talk about how they are wrong…that seems to be what I’ve been doing anyway.  It all started as a way to embrace new stories, but I have a knack of bitching about how stupid I think other people are, and it feels wasteful to ignore that special talent.

Without further ado….the first Literary Television blog….

Parks_and_recreation_title

Parks and Recreation.  The best show in the world that my sister dislikes.  “Terrible” I think was the word she used to describe this wonderful show.  Though she did laugh quite a bit when I forced her to watch an episode.  She claims Amy Poehler is the problem, but I argue that one gets used to and even starts to care about her character.

I watched five and a half seasons of Parks and Recs in under two weeks.

I actually tried this show a while ago.  Back when the first season was just starting, and I thought it sucked. It was nearly identical (in my mind) to The Office.  It was mockumentary, but the mirroring was found within the main character, Leslie Knope.  She had the same personality as Michael Scott from The Office.  She was overly confident and under competent.  She was ditzy and nagging.  And the show was centered on her messing up everything and then embarrassingly trying to fix it (just like Michael in The Office).  That was enough to turn me off the show.

I went back to Parks and Recs for a couple of reasons.  The first is because it has been on for six seasons.  In my mind this means that it had to be good, at least to someone.  It also had actors that I liked.  I like Aziz Ansari’s stand-up.  And despite never seeing the show, I know Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) well, though not personally.  He seems to be everywhere.  And with Guardians of the Galaxy coming out, I found myself getting a man crush on Chris Pratt.  I needed something to distract me for a while, so I gave a random sixth season episode a chance, and I thought it was great.  I watched the next episode just to make sure and it yielded the same results.  I laughed out loud a couple of time in each episode (I should note that I generally don’t laugh out loud, I may grin or snort, but rarely do I LOL).

I promptly went to my Amazon Prime account and began the second season.  I didn’t want to go back to the first season because I had a suspicion that it would put me off the show again.  It turned out to be a great decision.  Only later, after watching the whole of the Parks and Recs catalog, did I go back and watch the first season.  It was only six episodes.  And most of the characters were different.  I noticed this in watching from the second season, but I genuinely thought it was my perception of the characters from five years ago that made me think they were different.  Nope.  The show runners purposefully changed the characters.

Leslie Knope was changed, but in subtle ways.  She is still overly confident and a bit annoying, but now she is overly competent instead of incompetent, and she is underappreciated, which makes her a more sympathetic character.   She went from ditzy to clever, but she still had that fun airy side, but it comes off as more nerdy than buffoon.  She always tries her hardest and always does a tremendous job, the problem is that she is rarely given the credit she deserves.

leslie knope in front of pawnee sign

The character of Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) is a struggle musician, but he was also an asshole.  In the first season, I mean.  In the second season he was more of a puppy.  He says funny things and he’s a dumbass, but he means well.  No longer a prick at all.

The last really big change was with the character of Ron Swanson. After the first season his mustache thickened and he became more distant from responsibility.  In the first season he is willingly going to hearings and running meetings and playing scrabble online.  The second season on drops these qualities.  He hates technology and even buys a typewriter at one point and uses that instead of the computer.  He hates doing anything work related which goes better with his other quirks, like hating the government.  It makes sense since he works for the government, why would he want to try at his job?  He also relies heavily on Leslie’s over-competence.  It gives them a great relationship and one that is more than a “will they, won’t they” which is what the show seemed to be doing in the first season.

ron swanson so many ideas

I’d like to talk about the mockumentary format for a moment.  I like it.  I enjoyed Arrested Development, Modern Family, The Office, and I’m sure there’s another one I’m not thinking of.  The mockumentary format allows the audience to get a candid piece of emotion that they wouldn’t have normally gotten from the character.  For you Office fans, think of Jim’s coy glance at the camera every time Michael said or did something ridiculous.  These moments are great.  They can add depth to a character.

Also, in the mockumentary, the characters actually tell the audience what they are thinking.  This can add tension to an otherwise dull situation and it can also add quite a bit of comedy.  You can also get a candid remark about a situation and get to know what a character was thinking during a scene after the fact.  It is a different type of funny.

Finally (mockumentary finally, not blog finally), the mockumentary style of acting seems more sincere than the run of the mill comedy acting.  On Friends, there was always a level of over acting.  This is seen on all other single camera or multi-camera shows, How I Met Your Mother, for instance.  In a stage comedy where the show is filmed in front of an audience (Big Bang Theory) the actors seem to yell all of their lines.  The formula for the jokes on BBT are also more obvious, which I also think comes with the live audience filming.  To keep the live audience, thus the television audience engaged, the jokes have to be rapid fire, and there always seems to be the same cadence of line, line, joke, on that show.  Everything is to build to a joke, which is usually a sarcastic remark or an “Oh Sheldon,” moment which is eerily reminiscent of Family Matters and Urkel.  The comedy is more “in your face,” whereas with mockumentary it is more subtle.

BBT-Sheldons-Spot

Now I’ll jump off from that point.  The comedy in Parks and Recs is more subtle, but they implement more off-the-wall characters than The Office did.  The Office seemed to only have Michael and Dwight, and everyone else was “normal.”  In Parks and Recs everyone has a certain level of normality, but each character is over the top in their own special way, and just enough to keep the laughs coming.

Something that I noticed with different series when I watch them is that they become stale.  The same jokes are told over and over again (Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock) or an introduction of a new character doesn’t quite work (The Office).  I realize that The Office might not be obvious to everyone.  I’m referring to Michael Scott leaving and then Andy Bernard tried to replace him.  It didn’t work.

Parks and Recs, when they add new characters, they introduce new personalities.  If a person leaves the show, the show runners bring in a fresh outlook on the world, not just a rehashing of the person that is now gone.  And after six seasons the show still is stale free because of that reason.  There are the laughs that come consistently every episode from Ron Swanson and Andy Dwyer, but other characters take turns giving the viewer a laugh.  I enjoy how well rounded the show is.

parks and recs cast

There are quite a few characters that are small roles that reprise every season for just one episode or two.  There are too many great guest stars to list.

The best aspect of the show has to be the writing.  The moments are believable and the situations have a weight to them, and despite the silliness of some of the characters the important moments of the show really have an impact.  The characters are sincere and they are likable.  Some of the stories are even inspiring, like with Andy and April’s relationship (the new Jim and Pam as I like to call it) and Leslie’s political run for city council.

I think it really is a great show and Ron Swanson is one of my favorite characters ever. He’s up there with Jack Donaghy and Barney Stinson.

Anyway, it’s a good show.  I’m not rating these in any way.  I wouldn’t have watched more than one episode if I thought that the show sucked.  It took me two weeks to watch 2,200 minutes of television.  That’s roughly 37 hours.  Man do I manage my time well.  And apparently you do just as well if you’ve managed to read all the way to this line.

Brick out!

Picture by Brickman Colonel Orrock

Picture by Brickman Colonel Orrock

Update #4

There are a lot of topics that I want to cover in this update.  I recently took a break from the blog.  I started a new television series.  I changed my life’s plan, and I came to the conclusion that sometimes failure is okay.  And I’ve also listed those in order of importance.  Ha, I kid, or do I…

Shuu Transformation WIP by deviant art artist ChuuStar (get it? adapting and changing? Metaphored!)

So, let’s see.  Right.  I took a break from not only the blog, but from everything.  I’ve found that I’m really good at stressing myself out, so I sat my ass in front of the TV and had a good ol’ fashioned TV show binge (Amazon Prime not Netflix).  It was a comedy consisting of nearly 5 seasons, and I’ll write more about it in a new category I’m going to start, entitled “Literary Television” or maybe I’ll title it something catching.  Or maybe I won’t.  Actually, does it matter?

spoiler alert!

spoiler alert!

OK.  Next on the list.  I quit graduate school.  This is something I think that I wanted to do since last semester, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit it yet.  As I’ve said before, I enjoyed school because I thought it was helping me improve my writing, but once I discovered it was only a hindrance, my joy of  school plummeted.  I switched to business, which is far from my favorite subject, and doing homework just made me feel sick.  I began to apply to jobs and I got a job offer making 35K a year, so I took it.  It is physical work, something that I enjoy, and it is only 40 hours a week (I say only because there was a potential for jobs with a lot of mandatory overtime), four days a week.  This means that I’ll have a kid-free day in the week where I can write, read, draw, and just fulfill my creativity quota.  This is actually what I wanted all along.  I want a job that doesn’t challenge me mentally.  I want to work out while I’m getting paid and then in my free time I want to be able to write and really enjoy it.

I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  I didn’t realize how angry I was all the time before.  School was just grinding on me, and I was putting expectation on myself that I knew I didn’t really want to meet.  I thought I had to make a lot of money and that I had to finish graduate school or I was a failure, but then I realized that it’s OK to be a failure.

A Failure Fortune by deviant art artist thefailswales

A Failure Fortune by deviant art artist thefailswales

 

How many people actually accomplish every goal they’ve ever set?  I’ve mentioned before that I’m shit at setting goals and this is just another revelation and a chance to grow and learn at setting goals.  It’s OK to fail.  Sure it sucks.  It forces you to rethink plans and to come up with an alternate route.  I discovered that graduate school isn’t for me and also, neither is a corporate job.  As long as I keep pushing I’ll keep discovering my boundaries and limits and fulfill my potential.

Against All Odds by deviant art artist LuigiL

Against All Odds by deviant art artist LuigiL

I’m going to get back to blogging again.  I kind of took a break from reading as well, but don’t worry, I’m way ahead of where I am on the blog.

I’m going to write about movies and TV on the blog because if I learned anything getting my English degree, it’s that all of the teachers in the English department want desperately for film to be in the literary canon so that they can watch TV during class time.  It’s makes sense, but more on that in a different blog.

Feeding BlackHole by deviant art artist Juraji

Feeding BlackHole by deviant art artist Juraji

I would like to once again thank the void.  Thank you for being infinite and for consuming any possibility of potential readers.

Number 93: The House of the Scorpion

at least these medals don't cover the title

at least these medals don’t cover the title

The House of the Scorpion is written by Nancy Farmer.  It seems she is a prolific writer with a propensity for winning awards.  This book, has three separate medals on the cover, one of which is the Newberry Award.  As I’ve mentioned before, awards on a book make me wary of it because I know that I am going to put expectations on it that cannot be met.  I tried not to, but I’m not sure I succeeded.

The story is about Matt, who is the clone of a drug lord, and his purpose in life to grow organs for the drug lord.  Think of The Island.

This book feels like it was written to win awards.  You know what I mean?  Like when award season comes around and all of the movies seem to cover important issues and there is a lot of long silent moments where the actor just stares.  Anyway, that’s what this felt like.

you don't like it in red? try it in blue!

you don’t like it in red? try it in blue!

It has the right amount of creativity and good story telling, but it is just full of tragedy.  A bit too much for my taste.  I do enjoy when the character has to get through a terrible situation, but Matt goes through so much with very little payoff, and the payoff (when it eventually comes) feels as though it is something that he truly doesn’t earn.

With all of the creativity and writing skill that Farmer shows in this book, I found myself bored with most of it. There were some shining moments that really held me within the story, but those would fizzle out and the story would linger in one spot for a very long time.  It lost my interest easily.

here we find the sequel...I will not be reading it

here we find the sequel…I will not be reading it

Also, for how many different characters there were, none of them really interested me.  Actually, I will say that two of them, Tam Lin, the body guard, and the drug lord, seemed to be the most interesting to me and the most realistic.  No one else seemed to react appropriately and every scene seemed to have someone screaming, someone crying, or someone being abused in some way (usually Matt).

The reason I think this book was written to win awards is because of the amount and the depth of the tragedies that Matt faces.  It wasn’t entertaining to read.  It just made me sad.  One great thing that Farmer does is she cleverly takes on the question of nature vs. nurture.  Since, Matt is the clone of Matteo Alacran, the drug lord, the reader sees that Matteo didn’t have to turn out the way that he did.  Since Matt had people in his life that loved him, he turned out a better person, but he still did have that dark side to him.  This is saying that how we are born plays a role in what person we become, but how we are raised also plays a role and maybe a more significant one.  I feel it was a clever way to bring up this question.  The end also looks at the perils of a communist society, and it kind of came out of nowhere, and I hated the feeling of helplessness that Matt constantly felt, especially during the communism scenes.

words

words

All and all, I see why this book would be on this list.  It has a sad story which eventually ends in triumph.  It has a large cast of characters, though inevitably, for me, uninteresting.  Actually, now that I think about it, I didn’t find any of the dialogue between the characters interesting (anyone notice how often I’ve used the word interesting?).  Nothing stood out.  That is most likely just my opinion of the characters though.  It is a decent science fiction with a throwback feel, and the questions of morality are pertinent for today’s generation, but could also be transferred to other generations.  I see why this should be a good book, but I was just bored reading it.  If anything, I see why it is toward the bottom of the list.

cloning article by deviant art artist girl-anachronism

cloning article by deviant art artist girl-anachronism

Wife: I’d say no. It’s not upbeat enough.

Number 94: Charmed Life

Just a cat chillin'

Just a cat chillin’

Well, I read book one of the Chrestomanci Chronicles: Charmed Life, written by Diana Wynne Jones.  I was excited for this book as I’m excited to read the other books that she has on this list (Howl’s Moving Castle), and after reading this one I can say that I still am.

This book is written well and I found myself getting lost in the writing and the story.  With that being said I didn’t really like it.  I didn’t like the characters.  They are whiny and cruel, mostly all of them.  Except, the main character whom doesn’t stand up for himself or say anything out of turn.

Another thing that bothered me, and this is one of those plot devices that always bug me, is that a large majority of the plot, I’d say 95% of the plot and tension, is due to characters not telling each other things. This is rarely done well.  I always feel as though there is no reason to keep the secrets that are being kept.  In this book, for instance, Cat, the main character, is kept in the dark the whole book and he in turn keeps his handlers in the dark about what he is doing, and the whole time I’m thinking “why don’t they just tell each other?!” And my curiosity is never quite satiated until the end when everyone explains their motives.  It was wrapped up nicely and I did get the answers I wanted, but it was too little too late.  I just prefer a different type of tension in my narrative.

Chrestomanci and His Dragon by deviantart artist the carli

Chrestomanci and His Dragon by deviantart artist the carli

Also, other complaints have to do with the hokey magic system, but some people like fanciful magic with no rules or real consistency, just not me.

One other problem, and I know you want to read another problem, is the cover, the blurb on the cover, and the synopsis on the back of the book.  They are all terrible.  Number one, the cover is terrible.  It makes me think it is a book about a cat, which it is not.  The main characters name is Cat, but he is not a cat.  If I had to pick a book based on its cover, I would never have chosen this book.

This cat looks angry

This cat looks angry

Now for the blurb…”Mad about Harry? Try Diana.” What does it mean? At first I wasn’t sure what it could mean because the original novel was written in 1977, but this is a reprint from 2001.  So then that made me think that it was talking about Harry Potter, and maybe there hadn’t been a Harry Potter in a couple of years?  Or were people upset with how the last Harry Potter book ended?  It’s a fantasy having to do with wizards so it makes sense.  I guess.  But, why would the blurb reference a fictional character and then say to replace that fictional character with a very real author?  So that makes me think that Harry is an author…but I know zero authors named Harry.  No real footing there.  Then I thought of Princess Diana and Prince Harry, because the author is British, but that doesn’t make since.  What do they have to do with a fantasy novel?   So, not the best blurb…it’s confusing and doesn’t really sell me the book.

Who's Harry?

Who’s Harry?

So, just to cover what I’ve said, terrible cover art and confusing blurb.  So far, I wouldn’t go anywhere near this book.

OK…maybe it is about Harry Potter http://www.usnews.com/usnews/culture/articles/991129/archive_003252.htm

Now for the synopsis on the back of the book.  It gives away the plot of the story, “schemes that could destroy all the worlds of Chrestomanci.”  You don’t even know that there is a scheme for anything until about ¾ of the way through the book. And you don’t know about the alternate worlds until at least halfway through it.  Also, Christopher is never mentioned in the first book.  So, this is just another case of me waiting through the book for it to get started and when I look up the book is already done and it finally fulfilled what the synopsis read.  I imagine a good synopsis covers the feel or theme of the book, but pretty much just tells the reader the hook of the story.  But, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Well, that's the entire book.  Next!

Well, that’s the entire book. Next!

Well, it’s make or break time.  I think that this was a good book.  I enjoyed the writing and despite everything I disliked about it, the story went along smoothly.  The author allows the reader to get comfortable within the narrative.  But, when it comes down to it, I just didn’t like it much.  I hate to say that, since this is a readable book and those don’t come around too often on this list, but I really didn’t not like it; though, perhaps there is a place for it on this list.

Wife: Nuh uh. I won’t be reading the rest of the series…

Update #3

I hate school.

There…I’ve said it.

I truly hate it.

When I went back to school four years ago I was convinced that I was going to be a better person.  I wanted to be a different person.  A person that made a goal and accomplished that goal.  A person that enjoyed accomplishing the goal, and I thought that I had done that.  I didn’t procrastinate.  I studied and got good grades.  I struggled with calculus (back in the day when I wanted to be a CS major), despite it being five years since I had any algebra…The point is that I was persistent and I kept pushing myself.

pencil vs camera 66 by deviant artist benheine (get it? me trying to be something I'm not? metaphored!)

pencil vs camera 66 by deviant artist benheine
(get it? me trying to be something I’m not? metaphored!)

But, the thing that I think kept me going was the fact that I wanted to be a writer and I was convinced that school would get me to where I wanted to go.  The truth is that school didn’t do much for my writing.  The couple creative writing classes I took were full of students that really didn’t care about writing.  It felt like I was the only one reading other’s work and giving heart felt criticism.  Most of the time my own stuff wasn’t read (based on the little participation during seminars) and the participation that was there was usually unhelpful.  I don’t mean to bash them.  I was mostly just unsatisfied.

And then the other classes were just filler.  I was forced to read what I didn’t want and I had to stumble onto different revelations when it came to my writing.  I am grateful for those revelations, but it’s hard not to think that I would have come across them if I hadn’t gone to school.  You see, before I began school, I was writing a lot and I had a hunger for it.  I was reading fiction like crazy and also books on writing and the rest of the time I was writing.

the library by deviant artist xetobyte

the library by deviant artist xetobyte

I was forced to stop that when school began, because I had to concentrate on what they wanted me to do.  I’m the type of person that has trouble giving a shit about something that I’m not enthralled with at the time.  I would have learned so much more if my thirst for knowledge was quenched on my own instead of with school.  I feel like I just wasted my time, and worst of all, I fooled myself into thinking I was a different person.

I only thought that I was changed, and I’ve just recently learned that I was only a good student because of my drive to want to be an author.  It was that goal that was keeping me going, and it is a testament to how bad I wanted to be an author that I even graduated at all.

I couldn’t stand English Graduate school and I think it was because I was getting burnt out because I was trying to write my own stuff while doing everything else, and I wasn’t getting to read what I wanted and I got to the point where I thought everything I wrote and turned in had to be brilliant.  So, you can imagine the stress.

Now I’m in Business school, going for my MBA, and I’m learning that I’m still the same person I was before I started school.  I’m procrastinating and I just don’t give a shit.  I know I’m making a better decision, overall, for my future and my family, but damn it, does it have to be so boring? So bland?  I want to read good books and write about them.  I want to write good books and still have money to support my family.

dream of flying by deviant artist elentori

dream of flying by deviant artist elentori

I want everything to be stress free…but therein lies my problem.  I have never been realistic, with anything.  When reality hits me, I shift and juke and try to hide my ignorance somewhere else where reality is still unknown to me.  The older I get the more depressing everything gets.

So, that’s how I’m doing now.  I go to school and do homework.  I read books and think about a time when I was a better father.  Wow, this got bleak.  Oh well, I know you won’t judge me.

A Flying Tree by deviant artist vladstudio

A Flying Tree by deviant artist vladstudio

As always, thank you, nobody, for reading this.  I think it helps.

Number 95: This Lullaby

the heart looks cut out by a 1st grader, no?

the heart looks cut out by a 1st grader, no?

This was a good book.  Let me start with that, because it feels like I don’t very often…how about a little something about the author.  Sarah Dessen is a creative writing teacher for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  This makes me feel warm inside because so often I think of creative writing teachers as being those that teach because they can’t do.  Now, I realize that plenty of college instructors and professors have notable publications and incredible writing abilities, but it is nice to see a teacher doing so well in the publishing world.  I’ve noticed my own teachers working themselves nonstop, and they are brilliant in their own right, and it would be nice if they saw this sort of success.  Sarah Dessen has several other books, all of which look to be YA romances, and there are also a few that are on NPR’s list.  So, you’ll be seeing this author again.

I think I'm catching a heart theme here

I think I’m catching a heart theme here

Now onto the story…as I said, I liked it.  It was fun and cute and the characters are memorable.  I, of course, know nothing about what it would like being a partying, serial-dating teenage girl, but Dessen makes the idea of it relatable, and I did relate to Remy, the main character.  Not with every aspect of her character, but her cynical views.  I have a completely different view of love than Remy, but Dessen made Remy’s views and qualms toward love believable and I was able to enjoy Remy’s journey and transformation.

yup.  definitely a theme.

yup. definitely a theme.

There were plenty of surprises within the story, and even a few within the main plot, though I have to say that it is just a straight up romance novel for teens.  Dessen also sprinkles in some surprising characters and seems to give every relationship the attention it needs to seem real.  The relationship between the band is especially good.  They bicker like brothers, and each one of them seemed to have their own unique quirk which never took away from the story.  The idea of the Lullaby is clever.  “This Lullaby” is a song that was written for Remy by her father the day that she was born.  She never met her father and he died of a heart attack when she was young (don’t worry this is found out within the first couple pages).  The lullaby, though Remy claims to hate it, actually works to sooth her and eventually works in favor of her accepting love.

the guitar is throwing up!

the guitar is throwing up!

The writing is readable.   Don’t worry, that’s a compliment.   I found myself getting lost pages at a time and wondering how long I’d been reading since I looked up.  It was easy to fall into the flow of the story.  But, at times, the story did seem to drift and served only to make a situation feel more real, than it did to serve the plot, if that makes sense.  For example, characters will continue conversations or say hello and give introductions in believable ways and talk about normal everyday things, which serves in creating round characters and making it realistic, but doesn’t necessarily serve the plot (though I guess one could argue that the whole plot of a romance novel is will they or wont they, so pretty much everything in between is just fluff).  This is fine most of the time, but there were a few instances I was tempted to jump to the next page.

Even though it was a good book, I’m not sure it should be on the top 100 list. I wasn’t blown away or anything.  The book didn’t make me think about love in a different way, but maybe it would make a teen think about love differently.  Being the veteran with love that I am, nothing could possibly surprise me, ahem…  The book was good though.  Highly readable.  Good story telling by the author.  Good writing.  Good characters.  Good.  Good.  Good.  But, should that be grounds for making it on a top 100 EVER list?  I mean, that should be criteria for a publishable book, right?  I do know that I can’t make the judgment right after reading the novel of whether or not it belongs on the list.  I have to wait and see if the novel lingers in my mind.  I have to see if images or situations or anything else sticks with me and makes me think.  My first reaction is to say no, it doesn’t belong, but it should be a book read by someone that wants to read a love story.  It does have a lot to say about love and the author gives several different views of it, but it doesn’t make me question my own view of love…  So, I guess the real question here is, should my basis for a top 100 EVER teen books list really be based on whether or not it is actually readable?

Huffah? deviantart artist spectart28

Huffah? deviantart artist spectart28

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