Monster

Hello all. So I had been meaning to read a book by Walter Dean Myers for a while, but I really wanted to after I saw him at the National Book Festival last year. He was definitely interesting to listen to, and his book sounded equally intriguing. So I got one from the library. The book in question is Monster, the story of teenage Steve Harmon, whose life may be a tad different from yours. He’s in jail.

The book tells the story of how he ended up there, as well as what’s it like for Steve, being on trial for murder and all. For me, it was kind of like Night, by Elie Wiesel, in that it offered an up-close and personal look at what it’s like for a kid going through an awful and striking experience, the kind of look that sort of smacks you in the face and makes you think, “Wow.” Myers really succeeds in making his story seem real, which is one of the best things about it. The book is also written in a unique format. It’s a mash-up of Steve’s journal entries and the script for a movie he’s writing, to help him cope with what he’s going through. At first, I was worried that this would take away from the enjoyment of the book, but it didn’t; it was actually pretty interesting. The plot is gripping, especially since Myers continuously holds off on letting the reader know if Steve is actually guilty or not. The characters are just as well-written and interesting, and Myers definitely manages to make Steve, a suspected criminal, a human being, despite the prosecutor’s assessment of him–that he’s a monster. One of the other things I liked about the book was that it offered a look at life in and relating to the courtroom that was pretty new for me, which only makes the book better. All in all, I would definitely suggest you read Monster. It’s an important book, and it deserves it.

Literary Quote of the Day: “When you’re young, you make mistakes. The big thing that’s different now is that when I was a kid, you could survive your mistakes. We didn’t have guns. Today, kids have access to guns. The same kids that would have been in trouble and gotten a stern talking-to are now going to jail for fifteen or twenty years. Instead of bloody noses there are bodies lying in the street with chalk outlines around them. The values are basically the same, but it’s easier to mess up.” –Walter Dean Myers

Introducing. . .The Bookette!

Hi! So a little while ago I had this idea, and I’m not really sure how to describe it, so I’m just going to show you a quick photo:

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I call this little number a “Bookette.” This one is, of course, a Bookette of the Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank during her time spent in hiding from the Nazis. I guess a Bookette is just a picture relating to a book. Or something like that. (Great, I had an idea and I don’t even know how to freaking define it.) But, yeah, there it is! I’ll probably be posting more of these in the future; it’s just something I thought would be fun. And I apologize; this is my first one, so it’s not all that creative or neat. But anyway. Have a spectacular day!

Literary Quote of the Day: “Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if. . .if only there were no other people in the world.”The Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank.

Author Tidbits: John Green

Yay! It’s the first author tidbit since. . .the last author tidbit! (Which was actually all the John Green!way back in June 2012. Oops.) And today’s subject will be (drumroll, please). . .John Green! Although you probably already knew that, but you have to allow me my drumroll. Anyway.

John Green is the author of several books for teens, one of which was awarded the Printz Award in 2006. He was raised in Florida, but later attended a boarding school in Alabama, which influenced his book Looking for Alaska. Since then, he has written four other books, one of which (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) was a collaboration with fellow author David Levithan. After John graduated college, he began working as student chaplain in a children’s hospital, but later worked for Booklist and also wrote for NPR’s All Things Considered, before becoming a full-time writer. His latest (and awesome) book, The Fault in Our Stars, spent seven weeks on the NY Times Best Seller List, and is one of the best books I, personally, have ever read. But that’s not all of his achievements.

Starting in 2007, John and his younger brother Hank stopped communicating through text and instead started talking through video blogs, with one doing a video one day and the other doing another one the next. For a whole year. After this first year, they continued vlogging, and have since started a community of nerdfighters (before anyone asks–they don’t fight nerds, they are nerds who fight to decrease world suck), who have done several things to make the world a better place, such as starting the Project for Awesome.

John now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Sarah and their son Henry. All in all, I think he’s a pretty awesome writer and a pretty awesome guy all around. Plus, whenever I read one of his books I’m like, “Oh my god, I would never have thought of something like that.” And then I spend this time trying to figure it out because his books just make you think, which, contrary to what the anti-nerdfighters would have you believe, is a good thing. I love what he and Hank do for everyone, and they’re made of awesome. So, yeah, that’s about it. Oh, and one other thing. . .John got to interview President Obama in a Google hangout this week. And President Obama told his not-yet-born second child to not forget to be awesome.

Wow.

OK, guess I’m done now. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Literary Quote of the Day: “How improbable is that, Hank? How improbable are we? How strange and how lovely it is to be anything at all.” –John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, among others.

Lucid

Hi! So I was trying to work on an Author Tidbit (since, you know, it might have been a while since the last one. . .), but my biographical-creative-juices-thingy in my head must be holding out on me because I spent too much time reading The Boondocks today instead of cleaning my room. So I decided to just go with the regular ol’ reviewing a book thing, and hopefully the AT should be up soon.

The book today is Lucid, a collaboration between screenwriters Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass. I’ll admit, I had several book-mood-swings while reading this book. For a while I was like “Oh! This is good!” but then I was kind of like “Hmm.” And finally, I finished it. But we’ll get to my verdict in a minute. There are two main characters in this book, Sloane and Maggie. At first glance, a stranger would see no reason why they would be friends, or even know each other; their lifestyles are so different. Maggie is a seventeen-year-old actress in New York; Sloane is your regular old teenager attending high school is Connecticut. But here’s the thing: At night, they dream each others’ lives. Maggie is Sloane. Sloane is Maggie. It’s not exactly a common set-up. But they’re doing fine. Fine. Until the lines between reality and dreams blur. Things are falling apart, kind of like when your TV’s all static-y and every now and then just a glimpse of the actual program makes it through. No one knows who’s real and who’s a fantasy. But one of them has to be.

The book starts out pretty well; the character’s voices are fresh and really well-written. Plus, I just cannot get enough of Maggie’s little sister Jade. I mean, once a  character says, “Let’s blow this fruit stand,” it’s kind of impossible not to love them. The book seemed to lose a bit of that strength as I got to the middle of the story, and one of the reasons for that may have been because the characters many times did not speak as if they were teenagers, which I just found annoying a lot of the time. For one thing, there were a lot of instances where contractions could have been used but weren’t, which to me sounded awkward. Also, I don’t know if a teenager would really say, “I am so blessed to have so and so,” casually, like they do in the book. But things did look up more at the end, and ultimately it was an okay read. But it is young adult, so don’t go getting this for any ten-year-olds.

Literary Quote of the Day: “If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, then let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture.” –Ray Bradbury, author of many works such as Fahrenheit 451 and Something Evil This Way Comes.

P.S. I would just like to note that this piece of writing is great, and also SO TRUE. Wow, that was a longer-than-usual post. How did that happen? You probably shouldn’t get used to it. Have a great day everybody!

A Random Rant About James Patterson

Okay, so a few years ago, a bunch of my friends and I started reading the Maximum Ride series. And I really liked it. I thought the characters were pretty cool, Maximum Ride Coverand so was the plot, and the actual writing was awesome. And usually, now that the final book has been out for a while, I would have already read it. But I didn’t because I forgot everything that happened in the series before and I didn’t get around to it. And now I honestly don’t think I’ll ever read it, because after some research, I’m definitely thinking much less of James Patterson as a writer. Or whatever you want to call him.

James Patterson started out writing his own books, it’s true. But he’s taken to having several co-authors do the writing, while he provides the outlines and such. But here’s the thing–to me that’s not writing. Writing is doing the parts you like–like coming up with ideas–and then actually writing the story, even if maybe you don’t like that as much. That’s what writers do. And the fact that James Patterson is one of the most popular writers today (he holds the record for the most books on the New York Times bestsellers list) just annoys me, because what he does seems to take away from the writing process overall, and take for granted what so many fabulous and not-so-fabulous authors go through daily: The pulling of the hair, the writer’s block, and the great moment when you realize you’ve gotten something just right. THAT’S writing.

Patterson has described what he writes as “commercial fiction.” But that makes books sound all fake and shiny and gives me a bad taste in my mouth. Commercial fiction? What’s wrong with regular fiction? If someone feels they know, please enlighten me.

I also feel that those who write the book, using James Patterson’s guidelines, don’t get a lot of the credit, which is too bad, considering how good the writing can be.

Anyway, basically I’m just saying that I’m pretty letdown by the fact that one of the most popular and richest authors in the world doesn’t seem to really be a full-fledged writer. That’s just disappointing, and the honor ought to go to someone else.

Oh, I nearly forgot! Literary Quote of the Day: “It kills me sometimes, how people die.”  —The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak