Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith {Book Review}

*This post may contain affiliate links, and if you make a purchase after clicking them, I will receive compensation.*

For the first time in I don't even want to know how long, I have a book review for you! I have been doing a lot less reading lately than I would like, and most of the books I have been reading are advanced readers copies (ARCs), meaning that they have not yet been released, and that I can not yet review them. I want to get into the habit of reviewing them as I finish them and having the reviews go up as they come out, so hopefully there will be more book reviews coming soon.

Plot Summary (from Amazon.com):

Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

My Review:

Stranger was recommended to me by a friend who said it was the best book he'd ever read. While I wouldn't put it quite in that category, it was very good. The characters were well developed and unique. The book has five main characters who alternate narrating chapters (all in third person), and they each manage to have a unique voice. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and it can be easy to forget who some of the minor characters are and how they relate to the story, but overall that wasn't too much of a problem.

The plot is enjoyable. While it is primarily action driven, the action was interesting enough that I did not mind too much. As I know I've said on this blog many times, I'm usually a fan of character driven plot over action driven. The plot kept a good pace, never getting slow enough to be boring, or fast enough to be confusing. There were quite a few subplots, mostly of the romantic variety, and while some of them lost me a bit, the main ones were interesting. There was a good balance between the action driven main plot line, and the romance driven subplots.

The writing is very interesting. While it at first seems to fit pretty well into the easy to read/well-written slot where books like Harry Potter reside, something about it makes me hesitate to put it there. As I read, I never found myself particularly noticing the writing, but it was a slow read, which I also wouldn't have expected. I think that maybe that is because of the density of action and nuance that it is not a super fast read. You do have to pay attention to understand what is going on.

One of the best things about this book is the fictional world it resides in. While we hear very little about the world as a whole (there is very little exposition, which I appreciate), we don't really need to. It's a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, but it still manages to feel unique and fresh, and the important elements of this world aren't at all formulaic.

Who should read this book?

I would recommend this book to young teens and above. The writing and plot might be challenging to grasp for some younger readers, but it is well written and should be engaging to most. There are romantic elements to the story, but there are is nothing that would get probably about a PG rating, and there is no swearing that I can recall. Even violence, while it exists, isn't particularly graphic.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weekend Reviews #29-33 {Massive catch-up}

Here is a monumental catch-up post of what I've been up to lately.

February 16-22

Monday was President's day, so there was no school, and I didn't volunteer at the library. We had Irish dance that night. Tuesday I had ballet, Wednesday I had school and went to park day, and Thursday was mainly a homework day. Friday was school and current affairs class.

February 23-March 1

Monday I had school, volunteered, and went to dance. We began rehearsing for the St. Patrick's day performances. Tuesday I went to the college to register for spring quarter. I am taking Geology 101, and English 102, which is a research paper writing class. Wednesday I went to school, and to a very wet park day. Thursday and Friday were both pretty quiet. Saturday I went to the Children's Literature Conference at Western Washington University, which was amazing. Sunday, I babysat.

March 2-8

On Monday, I went to school, volunteered at the library, and went to two hours of dance.

Tuesday, I had ballet.

Wednesday, I went to school, went to parkday, then packed up and went to Olympia for the night. My mom had an event there she was taking some students of hers to, and it ended up working out that my sister and I needed to go along.

Thursday, I spent most of the day at the TRiO event with my mom, then drove home.

Friday, we had Current Affairs class.

Saturday, I had a YARC meeting, and Sunday I babysat.

March 9-15

Monday I went to school. I had an essay due in English and a research paper due in Psych. I volunteered at the library, and went to dance.

Tuesday, I had ballet.

Wednesday was school and game day (an indoor park day we have once a month in the cold season).

Thursday was mostly just homework and hanging out at home. We went out with my dad in the afternoon.

Friday I had school, then took the bus to a friend's house where we painted banners for the Irish Ceili that was happening that weekend.

Saturday, our Irish Dance group performed at two nursing homes and a restaurant. That night, I babysat.

Sunday, we held an Irish Ceili, which is a big party where traditional style Irish group dances are taught and then attempted. It was a ton of fun.

March 16-21

Monday I had school, volunteered at the library, and went to dance class.

Tuesday, I had ballet.

Wednesday I had school, then went to park day. Several friends of mine who are off at college were home for spring break, so I spent most of the time catching up with them.

Thursday, we went to a trampoline place in town.

Friday I had school, then Current Affairs class. I got my psych research paper back (I am quite pleased with the result), and took the final for that class. I think I did pretty well, but we'll see.

So far today, I haven't done a lot. I've been working a bit on some projects around the house, and getting ready for finals week. I have a portfolio of work due in English, and then I'm done.

Sunday, I will be babysitting, then hanging out with some friends for the afternoon/evening, playing Smash Bros, and watching a movie.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Terry Pratchett: A Man Not Soon Forgotten

Another short post today. You may have heard yesterday of the death of Terry Pratchett. Hearing this news made me really sad, and put me in kind of a funk all day yesterday. But seeing the response on social media has actually been an encouraging experience (rare, I know). People love Terry Pratchett, and the respect that has been shown for him is amazing. The way that his passing was announced was heart-breakingly beautiful to begin with, and then the twitter storm that followed was subtle and respectful. 

This response to his passing has made it seem a little less sad in some ways. Today, I came across this article, written by author Scott Lynch, and it made me tear up a little. I highly recommend reading it, but be warned, it might make you a bit emotional if you are familiar with Terry Pratchett. 
View image on Twitter
This was how his death was announced. If you don't know, his character of Death talks in all caps. 
I also encourage you, if you so wish, to scroll through the Terry Pratchett hashtag on twitter. He wrote so many amazing quotes, so many of which are still very pertinent for him. 

One quote that comes to mind for me is this one: “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” 
― Terry PratchettGoing Postal

Terry Pratchett's name will be spoken for years to come.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hank Green Quotes

I have several blog posts I really, really want to write, including a life update, a summary of a conference I went to, some thoughts from another conference I didn't really go to, but spent time at, and at least one topical post. I don't, however, actually have time to write any of those posts right now. Things are kind of crazy at school, but when things slow down a bit, I will write those posts.

Today, however, I just want to share the excellent tumblr Hank Green Out of Context. You should most definitely read through it. I also want to share a few of my favorites. I love that I actually have know where the majority of these quotes come from. These are all quite recent.

"There were sirens and the cops were there and they took me to the police station and I got arrested, it was really embarrassing. They actually just— they impeached me over the whole thing, they tried, well, they did impeach me, but I didn’t have to actually stop being president, so it was okay. The police weren’t actually that involved, it was mostly Congress."
‒Hank Green

"You sense and feel something different than I do, even if we lick the same kitten."
‒Hank Green (via hankgreenquotes)

"You’re my brother and my wife, what can I say? It’s a little weird but I guess that’s how it works."
‒Hank Green

"Okay, I think that this is an appropriate amount of body hair for Jimmy Carter."
‒Hank Green

Also, someone compiled a list of ten of the best Hank Green quotes, which I also love. These are mostly older.

  1. “That’s way hotter than the last time I was on this fish.”
  2. “Never give your girlfriend a cake with sunglasses. Or a radish.”
  3. "I’m on a Tetris piece. I’m on a gigantic Tetris piece, baby. Without you."
  4. “I firmly believe that I get haircuts in order to save my life”
  5. “You missed the most horrifying thing about the traumatic insemination of bedbugs! How dare you!?”
  6. “This antelope has been replaced by a giant metal rhino. I may need to hump it.”
  7. “Wouldn’t it be awkward if annoyance felt like an orgasm and then your little brother annoyed you?”
  8. “If you ever kill a vampire with your cactus, that’s because of me.”
  9. “The man in the front says I’m a very pretty girl.”
  10. “That was the scariest lamp I’ve ever experienced.”
Hopefully that was at least a little entertaining. Visit the main site linked above for many, many more.