____________________________________ On Hiatus ___________________________________

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Sweet Venom and Vanish

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, highlighting upcoming releases that we're impatiently eagerly anticipating. It’s hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, so head on over to check it out and link up your own keenly anticipated reads!

W...W...W... Wednesdays is a meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  To Play along, Just answer the questions below and link your answers back in the comments section of her weekly post!

Release Date: September 6, 2011 (NEXT TUESDAY) (*SQUEEEEEEEEEE*)

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster. 

 Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters. 

 These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Release Date: September 6, 2011 (NEXT TUESDAY) (*SQUEEEEEEEEEE*

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

p.s. for anyone who hasn't read Firelight yet, you can *currently* get the Firelight ebook with bonus material for $1.99!!!!

W…W…W… Wednesdays 

• What are you currently reading?
Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
• What did you recently finish reading?
Clash of Kings by Geroge R.R. Martin
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Famished by Lauren Hammond

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Ok…anyone who knows me, should know that I totally have an author-crush on Tera Lynn Childs.  Seriously, you should know that.

And I am ESPECIALLY excited about SWEET VENOM, Tera’s newest series, a trilogy about triplet descendants of Medusa, which is about to hit shelves next Tuesday, September 6—one week ‘til blastoff!!!! *SQUEEEEEE*

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster. 

 Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters. 

 These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Of course, once you’ve read Sweet Venom, you’re going to want more.  TRUST ME. 

But first, you’re going to need to know what to call it…Which is why Tera Lynn Childs is hosting this super awesome TITLE HUNT for SWEET VENOM 2, and I am SO totally excited and honored to be hosting one of the letters!!!!!

To play, grab my letter and head over to Tera’s blog where she’ll give you all the contest details and links to the other blog hosts!!!

AND not only will you be one of the VERY first people to know the top secret title name of SWEET VENOM 2—but, you also have the chance to win some awesome prizes, because Tera is giving away
5 SIGNED COPIES OF SWEET VENOM *SQUEEEEEEEE* and a $50 bookstore giftcard!!!!!!!!!  #fullofawesome

So….what are you waiting for?!?!!??!!?

Hint:  my letter is


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hunger Games Movie Preview

Ok…hear goes… I haven’t read Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games [insert gasp].  Yet.

I hadn’t heard any of the hype until I started blogging…at first I didn’t pay any attention to it, I had plenty to read at the time…But the hype didn’t go away…It just continued building

Finally, after reading glowing review, after gushing review, I planned to read the books.  But I wanted to try and see if I could get them through the library first.  Wait list=surprise.  Ok, I wasn’t too surprised.  And I tried waiting, but when I get interested in a book, well, I don’t like to wait…And I had finally decided to purchase the books.  I was ready to read them all in one gulp.

And then…

I heard they were making a movie based on The Hunger Games.

[sound of screeching brakes]  Well, if I’ve learned one thing, no matter how awesome and amazing a movie is, I’m 99% guaranteed to be disappointed if I’ve read the book first.  But, the other way ‘round, and I have a capacity to develop an undying love for both.  So why purposely set myself up for disappointment???  And thusly, I backed myself away from the bookshelves, and the library shelves, and my nook-shelves, and have been anxiously twiddling my thumbs ever since.

Now, the movie won't be out until March 23, 2012, but looks like the wait is coming to a close, because last night at the MTV Video Music Awards, they launched the much anticipated preview for the much anticipated Hunger Games movie

Worth the wait?—I can’t wait to find out!!!!!!


20 Questions: Book Blogger Style

So… I just found this awesome bookie-questionnaire over at Leeswammes’ Blog, who got it from Bookworm with a View, who got it from Helen’s Book Blog, who got it from Just Your Typical Book Blog, who got it from a friend on facebook.  Got it?  Good!  ;)  And it looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d give it a try!


1. Which book has been on your shelf the longest? 
Well, back home I still have some of my very first favorites—Bread and Jam for Francis and The Three Billy Goats Gruff—I come from a family of avid readers, but weirdly I had trouble remembering anyone actually reading *to* me, when I asked my mom, she said it was because I was very independent and wanted to read by myself, just like them…Hence, my first books were audio books that I read to myself as I turned the pages. *smile*  But out here, my oldest book on the shelves would have to be Alanna:  The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce—I started reading her books in either middle school or high school, and have been rereading them ever since—wherever I go. :)

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next? 
Currently:  A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin
Lastly:  A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin
Nextly: A Feast for Crows, George R.R. Martin (just guessing) ;)

3. What book did everyone like and you hated? 
Thus far, I haven’t been able to get into any Jane Austen books, but most people seem to like her, so I’m not giving up yet…yet…

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t? 
Jane Austen books. ;)

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”  
Hmmm…  I can’t really think of anything—there’s so much I want to read, but I usually pick books up as the whim strikes me; there isn’t anything I’m really “saving.”

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end? 
First page FIRST/Last page LAST.  ALWAYS.  Sometimes I’ll check an appendix, or something, but I NEVER skip ahead...Reading the last page, or skipping ahead, just feels like cheating (myself?).  I will admit that for the second and third Game of Thrones books, I skimmed over the chapter lists at the beginning of the booknormally, I wouldn't consider that cheating, except instead of chapter names, Martin lists his viewpoint characters...I can breath a little easier knowing that if people are still narrating chapters toward the end of the book, that they're still alive...at least for the time being...

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside? 
Sometimes I’ll go back and read them after I’ve finished the book, but usually I skim them.  However, I’d never say they’re a waste—For an author, I imagine getting a book published is like winning their Oscar, or Tony, or Grammy—And this is their chance to give that thank-you speech everyone always has in the back of their head in case they win something amazing, so definitely worth it!

8. Which book character would you switch places with? 
Lately I’ve been in an adventurous mood, feeling very Alanna/Kel-ish from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books…but I also wouldn’t mind being a sassy/smart/quirky/romantic heroine, like Winifred Wolfe’s Meg from Ask Any Girl, or Jean Webster’s Patty from Patty Goes to College and Just Patty.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)? 
I think most books remind me of where I was when I was reading them, and what I was doing…grade school (Ramona, Rent a Third Grader, The Great Brain, Where the Red Fern Grows, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry) middle school (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Sweet Valley, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Thoroughbreds), high school (Sweet Valley, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Tamora Pierce, Jack London, The Yellow WallpaperThe Lottery, Sunset Island), car trips (Papa Married a Mormon), college (Harry Potter, Frankenstein, Dracula, Wuthering Heights, Beowulf, The Monk, Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare, Helen Gurley Brown), summer (Tom Clancy, Robert Jordan, The Black StallionNarnia), a New York subway (Agatha Christie), east coast (Harry  Potter, Agatha Christie, Coffee, Tea, or Me), road trip west (American Gods), camp (Mark Twain, John Muir, Harry PotterTwilight)…

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way. 
...Ok, well, there was a book that was coming out, and I was absolutely dying to read it.  But this was back in April, and the book wasn't (isn't) due to be released until September.  :(   It was one of my favorite authors, and this book promised to top all of her others...Well, it just so happened that this particular author was going to be at a convention very close to where I live (*within driving distance*), and it turned out I was able to attend the very same convention.  *SQUEEEEEEE*  Also, I keep in touch with the author, so we were going to meet up!!!  *SQUEEEEEE*  And she was actually presenting, so I made triple sure that I'd be able to attend her session!!!  Well, the third thing I noticed upon entering the session (besides two of my favorite authors), was a golden halo surrounding a certain as-yet-to-be-released-ARC.  Ok, maybe there wasn't a golden halo, but I swear that book was staring at me during the entire session.  *sigh*

Well, at the end of the session, I officially introduced myself to the two extremely amazing authors...and somewhere along the conversation, I kind of half-jokingly/half-dead-seriously asked my new author bff if she had any plans for a certain ARC.  Well, as it turns out she did.  It was her very only one, and of course the conference was still running a few more days...but like I said, it was her very only one.  *sigh*  I had known it was a long-shot, and I know that authors don't get a ton of ARCs, so aside from a couple *wistful* glances, I don't think I pestered her (too much) after that.  But then...she asked me if I could read it in one night (and retain its pristine condition).  Could I!??!!?!?!?!?  Are you frackin' kidding me??!??!?!?!  This book was a little longer than her previous works, but I am nothing if not an excellent reader, and I accepted immediately, with *extreme* (gushing) gratitude.  Thankfully back at the hotel room, my sister (the luckiest person I know) was occupied with several stashes of books that she had won throughout the day, and did not mind being completely ignored.

Well, I did stay up a *teensy* bit past my bedtime, but the book was SO AMAZING, I couldn't have put it down even if I hadn't been on a deadline.  *sigh*  It just oozed awesomeness.  But I returned, as promised, an immaculate copy.

The very next day, at a very swaggy author meet-and-greet, guess what I found in my swag-bag?  Yep (not the author's copy) but my very own ARC to have and keep forever!!!  And, since said author was there...I asked her to sign it for me, which she totally did, making it super-extra-awesome!!!!

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person? 
A few times, usually something quirky or funny, generally second-hand and rare-ish, something to say “I was thinking of you.”

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
It’s very close between my Tamora Pierce books and my Harry Potter books… I take them both EVERYWHERE....I've had my Tamora Pierce books longer...But I did buy a set of the British version Harry Potter books while visiting Ireland, so they were with me in Ireland and the London airport, and I had to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and fly into Illinois, before driving them home to WI...They've both been to college with me, then to the east coast, and back across the country out to CA...I probably brought Harry with me when I went to the HP Composium in Florida...They've both been with me to camp...but I was rereading Tamora Pierce on my last road trip, which added NV, NM, CO, and UT...I had them all on my Nook, but HP isn't in ebook format *yet*, so HP stayed home...  As you can see, a *very* close call!!!!

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
 As for the hated part, I think only 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 8th grade and Pride and Prejudice in high school.  Jules Verne absolutely put me to sleep no matter how hard I tried to stay awake, and I still haven’t finished Pride and Prejudice.—It’s been over 10 years for both, but I’ve never been tempted to go back. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book? 
lol-Someone’s book report! ;)

15. Used or brand new? 
I’d love to be able to find used ebooks!!! ;)  I’m actually in love with slightly worn, older books… as long as it doesn’t cross into the sticky-mildew area, I prefer old-book smell.  But new-book smell is a close second. :)

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses? 
A little bit, or *A LOT* of both.  I’ve read some of his stuff that was *REALLY GOOD* (Misery/Green Mile) and some that were *just okay* for me (Cell)…But the fact that he’s written the sheer quantity that he has is just absolutely astounding.  I TOTALLY give him mad props for that!

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book? 
I’ve seen *A LOT* of movies and read a lot of books, I enjoy them both, but I almost always <3 the book a little extra... [10 minutes later] It took some thinking… ;)  One of my favorite movies EVER is an Audrey Hepburn/Gary Cooper/Maurice Chevalier film, Love in the Afternoon.  When I saw that it was based on Claude Anet’s book, Ariane, I scoured the internet looking for a copy.  I finally found one, but I’ve never been quite sure it was even the right book, despite having the right title and author... And I never came close to finishing the book…And now that I think about it, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca was only so-so for me, but again, the book seemed different, and I never got into it.  *DING-DING-DING*  But I think the winner would be Mrs. Winterbourne—The movie is a remake and also based on the book, I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich—Both the book and previous movie were very film-noire/gritty crime novels that I couldn’t get into, but I really enjoyed the comedic interpretation of the story via Mrs. Winterbourne.

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid? 
I stopped watching The Legend of the Seeker tv series after reading the books, the show had its quirky/fun parts—But the problem was it was that it was too different from the Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth books…and not different enough—It would have been a fun show on its own—but because it was based off the books, I knew what to expect and was disappointed/frustrated/angry whenever they changed it—Maybe someone will pick it up again, I think it could do very well if it had more of gritty-HBO-fantasy-vibe like they’re doing with George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

19. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question? 
Not exactly...but after reading Tera Lynn Child's Eye Candy, I did have some pretty candylicious dreams for a while...mmmmmm....

20. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take? 
Real people:  My bff from middle/high school, Dana, and my bff from college, Angie.
Author-wise:  Tamora Pierce and Tera Lynn Childs always have great recommendations.
Blogger-wise:  Nafiza from Bibliophilic Monologues always seems to be reviewing either books I love, or books I’m craving.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday 11

Heck yeahs, it's that time again!!!!  Hoppy Friday Everyone!!!  Or Thursday, as the case may be… ;)

For anyone who’s new—Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meet and greet meme hosted by ParaJunkee and Alison Can Read, where she features a blogger of the week, and all us awesome bloggers can hop around, introduce ourselves, and meet each other.

This week Parajunkees’s Featured blogger is 
—so be sure to check her out!!!

And Alison Can Read is featuring:

—make sure to stop and say hi!!!

If you want to join in the fun just hop on over to Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read for Feature and Follow Friday.  Then just add your name to the list and start hopping!

Easy-peasy ;)
Now for the Q and A portion of this weekend:

This week, Parajunkee asks:
Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?


Genies.  For real.  Yes, I know genies usually come out of lamps, not closets.  Now, I totally love to read about all those supernatural creatures and creepers, but there are always so many RULES imposed on how witches and wizards use magic…And vampires and werewolves are always tempted to kill you… And, yes, genies are known to be kind of tricky, but you just gotta know how to work the system.  If something’s coming out of MY closet, I want it to be able to grant wishes; that’s all I’m saying.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

When Patty Went to College

I *LOVE* Jean Webster!!!!  Daddy Long-Legs was such a fun read when I was a kid…and also a few months ago when I decided to reread it!  I think my original copy still lives back home with my parents, but way back when I got my Nook, finding hard-to-find books has become a lot easier.  Finally long-forgotten books that have fallen out of print and into the public domain are being resurrected using modern technology to digitize these treasures—And the best part of all, is that readers can find them and download them for FREE!!!!!  #inlove

Somehow, I think I ended up downloading like five different editions of Daddy Long-Legs, and one version, in particular, had a very pleasant surprise—There was medium-sized introduction to the book, before actually getting into the story.  Generally I skim past introductions and check them out after I’ve finished the book—I like to have a blank slate when I start reading—But even though I was skimming, I still had to page forward in order to get to the first chapter, and that’s when the last page of the introduction caught my eye.  Even though I had occasionally e-searched Jean Webster before (when I discovered back in high school/college there was a sequel, Dear Enemy) , I was stunned to find that she had actually written several more books!!!—And because she wrote them in the early 1900s, I was able to find almost all of them in the public domain and download them.  *GIANT SMILE*

And of course I thought I’d start at the beginning with Jean Webster’s first book, When Patty Went to College.  Published in 1903.  When Patty Went to COLLEGE.

How fantastic is it to stumble upon a series full of independent female characters who are going to college!??!?!  In 1903.  That only served to add to my curiosity.  Nowadays, it’s pretty common for people to go to college and continue their education; it’s become the standard much more often, than not.  But, at least in my mind, it seems like college wouldn’t have been very accessible to the masses—that finishing high school (or not), was enough to find a job and start working, or get married and start a family, if you were a woman.  I think the explanation is in that Jean Webster’s characters seem to come from rather privileged backgrounds.  Patty and her friends attend an all-girl school; it seems as if the intended goal is to turn out educated young women who will make desirable society wives, but there’s no discounting that they are still getting the advantage of an education.  In fact, many of their teachers are female as well!  For me, reading Jean Webster’s books has been like a little glimpse into the past, inlaid with commentary on women’s place in society at the time, like comments about women’s suffrage interlaced in casual conversations.  One part in particular that I find very telling, is how Patty talks about all the visiting ministers seem to be giving the same sermon over and over—apparently weekly chapel services are a school requirement—Patty tells how after four years, she could recite the sermon herself.  Apparently most of the visiting ministers are of the presumption that in attending college, their female audience has discarded its femininity, and must be urged to remember that

reason and science are not the only things that count in the world
—that feeling is, after all, the main factor.

But historical value and novelty aside, When Patty Went to College was a fabulously fun read!  The story revolves around Patty, finishing her final year of college, and her life full of playful shenanigans.  Patty is one of those characters that has a way of wrapping her friends around her finger, and before they know it their up to their necks in another of Patty’s I-Love-Lucy-esque schemes.  And it wasn’t long before I was just as enamored with her, myself!  From the very first chapter, I was in love with her bold, confident attitude, and charming way of getting others to see things from her perspective.  I’m pretty sure my jaw actually dropped a couple of times in amazement.  And when I burst out laughing at one of Patty’s outrageous moves, I ended up having to read the whole scene out to my sister, wherein we both erupted into hysterics—Seriously, we were bordering on asthma attacks.

And after that scene, I had to start at the beginning, and whenever we ran errands I would read aloud.  It was just such a fun read, (and because reading older books makes me use old-fashioned words), I have to say, it was a pure delight.  :)

I think my only critique is that the book seemed to end a bit abruptly, and especially with an ebook, I didn’t see it coming—I know both my sister and I were sorry to see it come to an end.  Thank goodness Ms. Webster left us a few others to share!!!!! :D

(\__/) p.s. counts towards the 2011 Ebook *and* the Show Me the Free Challenges!!! :D

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire book 2)


[SPOILER ALERT:  A CLASH OF KINGS is the second book of George R.R. Martin’s frackin’ EPIC A Song of Ice and Fire series, so if you haven’t read A Game of Thrones, or watched the HBO series, or you HAVE watched the HBO series, but are waiting for the second season to tell you what happens next…well, I’m just warning you…I try not to be spoilery, but I have a feeling that this review probably can’t help it.  Yeah, it’s pretty spoilery.]

[Also, a note to readers—I would recommend reading the Appendixes in the books before starting the books—They aren’t necessary, but they do give a good history and background of who’s who, without being spoilery.]

Do you know how nice it is to be in possession of a 4-book ebundle????  Super nice.  Because not only did I not have to worry about a store being open in the middle of the night when I NEEDED to know if Arya makes it to safety; if Sansa will survive in the Lannister’s clutches; will Jon find his uncle Benjen, will the Dothrakis flock back to Daenerys and unleash their wrath against the Seven Kingdoms???  Not to mention Robb is King in the North!?!??!  What??!?!?  And —*rolls eyes*—Joffrey is *King* at Kings Landing…And what about Joffrey’s absentee “uncles” Stannis and Renly—Will they take back the throne???  Can Tyrion control Joffrey and Cersei in Kings Landing, or will he just be the next in a very unlucky streak of Hands (advisor) to the king???  And will Arya ever find her direwolf again???  Oh…and Bran and Rickon, and Catelyn, etc…  But back to the magic of having a 4-book ebundle and not only not having to wait for the next book, or even have to walk the distance to my bookshelf to grab it, but the other *teensy weensy* little bit of awesomeness that means I don’t have to figure out the logistics of carry around, holding, or propping up  a 3, 483 page book.  Or even a miniscule (by comparison) 850 page book.  *sigh* There are definitely some perks to reading ebooks.

A couple changes from A Game of Thrones, A Game of Thrones was seen from the viewpoints of Arya (Stark), Bran (Stark), Catelyn (Stark), Daenerys, Eddard(Stark), Jon (Snow/*Stark*), Sansa (Stark), and Tyrion.  It was interesting to see how detailed George R.R. Martin is in creating his characters, as can be seen at the beginning of the book with all the characters (except Daenerys)  living or arriving at Winterfell…and then see what a genius stroke it was as the Stark family is suddenly split apart in different directions—First Ned, Arya, and Sansa to the Castle at Kings Landing, and Jon and Tyrion to The Wall, while Catelyn and Bran remain at Winterfell.  Then Catelyn is forced to leave Winterfell, and Tyrion leaves the wall…  And as characters travel back and forth, their viewpoints shed more light on certain situations, Martin deftly showing us where to look and then taking it away.

In A Clash of Kings, the viewpoints are widened evermore, as Bran remains at Winterfell, Catelyn follows Rob to war, Tyrion and Sansa reside at Kings Landing, while Arya makes her escape, and Jon ventures beyond The Wall, Daenerys, her dragons, and her Dothrakis making their ways across Dothraki lands and the Free Cities.  Sadly Ned did not make it past book 1, and so we no longer see his viewpoint, however Martin has added two more—Theon Greyjoy, former ward/hostage of Eddard Stark, whom Robb sends as an envoy back to his father’s—Balon Greyjoy’s—Islands.  *oops*  And we also meet Davos, a smuggler-come-knight who follows *King* Stannis’s march on the throne.

Well, if A Game of Thrones was EPIC (and it WAS!!!), then A Clash of Kings was TITANIC.  And by Titanic, I mean grand sweeping movie (story)—won lots of pretty Oscars…but the boat still sank.  And when I say the boat sank, I’m not talking about the story, which was AMAZING and had me racing page after page, even after I was 1,643 pages in!!!  *hmmm*—Ok, this is probably a really awkward comparison, but it makes sense in my head, so I’m going to go with it…  Titanic=grand sweeping story.  A Clash of Kings=grand sweeping story.  Titanic=boat sinks.  A Clash of Kings=everyone gets royally screwed and some boats actually sink.  The big difference is that when I went to see Titanic, I wasn’t surprised that the boat sank.  While I was reading A Clash of Kings, I expected SOMEBODY to come out ahead.—There were mini cliffhangers all over the place, Martin taking you from one battle to another, to battles of wills and minds vs. battles of swords and might and even sorcery—I had no idea which way it was going to go, and I know this is a pretty long series, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting the outcomes I was *hoping* for, but I never expected heros and villains and shady-gray characters alike to all get their a$$e$ hand to them…by each other.  And in that respect, I guess that’s just war.  There were ups and downs for everyone throughout the book, but everyone got their icebergs handed to them at the end.

And after all that…I probably should have been disappointed, but honestly it just made me want the next book that much more.  *A Storm of Swords*


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Island of the Blue Dolphins Field Trip

Rediscovering Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins in the middle of a discount book store, I had no idea I would soon be embarking on my own little journey…By an eerie coincidence, the store where I rediscovered Karana’s story was a mere two hours drive from the real-life Karana’s final resting place at the Santa Barbara Mission, and I decided to visit.

The Santa Barbara Mission could not have been more picturesque; with its mountain backdrop and proximity to the ocean, it is certainly surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty.  I was surprised to discover that unlike some others of California’s missions, which remain only as monuments to California’s history, the Santa Barbara Mission is still a working mission with a congregation, and holds regular mass.  The mission is a beautiful building, with a walking tour that showcases its scenic gardens and fountains, old living quarters, cemetery, chapel, and historic artifacts preserved from the missions earlier days.  Its cemetery is also the burial site of Juana Maria, or The Lone Woman of San Nicholas.

Island of the Blue Dolphins tells the story of Karana, a Native American girl living on a secluded island, when she is accidently abandoned as her people are leaving the island.  When Karana’s people leave, she has no choice but to make do on her own and survive the best she can, and until someone comes back for her.  Karana makes weapons and shelter; hunts, fishes, and forages; and learns to survive on her island, for the next EIGHTEEN YEARS. BY. HERSELF.

The scenes that rang with excitement and adventure reading the story as a child were tinged with heartache and loss rereading it as an adult—Especially remembering that Karana’s story was inspired by real life events.  Scott O’Dell’s depiction of Karana was pieced together from reports of Juana Maria, and the few artifacts brought back with her—tools made of bone and stone, and a skirt made from cormorant feathers.  Having visited this area myself, I can really appreciate all the details that O’Dell infused in Island of the Blue Dolphins.—One part in particular resonated with me.  When I first moved to the area, I could see what looked like oil rigs, far out against the horizon.  Later, while visiting a local beach, I found myself unsuccessfully trying to navigate gummy blobs of tar as they washed ashore.  I blamed my sticky, black-stained feet on the product of oil-drilling…until I read a passage in Island of the Blue Dolphins, where Karana talks about how her people [gather black pitch along the shore, using it to fill in the planks of their canoes].

Scott O’Dell’s Karana was actually based on a woman known to the missionaries as Juana Maria, or The Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island—San Nicholas being one of the more remote of the Channel Islands, a group of islands off the coast of southern California.  Because she was unable to communicate more than signs, she was never able to share who she really was and tell her own story, a lot of what happened on that island still seems to be a mystery, but from what I’ve read and saw, it seems that San Nicholas was a rich habitat for sea otters, and the price of sea otter skins drew hunters to the island.  During one of the hunting trips, it appears that there was a great massacre, decimating most of the native inhabitants.  Not long after, the remaining inhabitants either decided or were persuaded to leave the island.

In Scott O’Dell’s book, Karana notices her brother is missing, jumps ship, and goes to bring him back.  In real life, it is believed that Juana Maria actually went back for her son.  But in either case, the ship was faced with rough weather and left before the girl could make it back to the ship.  In real life, half-hearted rescue attempts were made, and before long, Juana Maria was all but forgotten.  It took eighteen years before a local fur trapper scouting the islands finally rescued Juana Maria.

When she was brought to the Santa Barbara Mission, Juana Maria was only able to communicate through signs—She unable to understand any of the various Native Americans living there, nor any of them able to understand her.  Juana Maria lived alone on San Nicholas between 1835 and 1853—She was believed to have been around 40 or 50 when she was rescued—which would have put her in her 20s or 30s when she was abandoned.  Sadly, upon her return, Juana Maria contracted dysentery and died within two months of having been “rescued.”  The Lone Woman of San Nicholas was christened “Juana Maria” on her deathbed, and buried at the Santa Barbara Mission.

Walking through the stone hallways, gazing at the lush gardens, I couldn’t stop myself from being angry for Juana Maria.  People KNEW she was there.  They were SO close.  And they just left her there for EIGHTEEN YEARS?!?!?!!?  Granted, technology of the 1800s was a little more perilous, than today’s.  They couldn’t have sent a helicopter or a ferry for her back then.  It might have taken days or weeks instead of hours, but SOMEONE could have gone back for her.  SOMEONE should have gone back for her. *sigh*  I’m glad I went to visit…but like the book, the mission was bittersweet for me—a tropical paradise, tinged with the sadness of an needless tragedy. 


Monday, August 22, 2011

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins is one of those books that I read back in grade school or middle school.  I think we may have actually read it for a class, because I remember watching a movie version in class, which was usually a treat for after we’d read the book…and I vaguely remember some discussion on the book.  Or I could totally be making that up.  But Island of the Blue Dolphins was definitely one of those books that really stuck with me.

So when I saw it on the shelf over at the Dollar bookstore, I snapped it up!  And if rereading it counted towards the Read Me Baby, 1 More Time challenge—Bonus!!!!

It’s been a loooooong time since I've read or reread Island of the Blue Dolphins.  I had vague memories of a survival-esque adventure—a girl alone on an island; hunting, finding food, making a shelter.  And another hazy memory of the book being based on a true story, which always seems to make any story seem that much richer and intense, because it could really have happened.

Island of the Blue Dolphins tells the story of Karana, a Native American girl, living on an island off the coast of California in the 1800s.  When Karana and her people are leaving the island, Karana realizes her brother Ramo isn’t with them—He’s still on the island.  Karana asks everyone to wait while she goes back for Ramo; then she jumps ship, swimming back to shore to find him.  But there is a storm, and the ships, unable to wait, leave without Karana and her brother Ramo.

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a thin book and a quick read, but I think this story was much harder to read as an adult.  Karana, for the most part is very upbeat and determined to persevere despite all her misfortunes and obstacles.  My younger self was much more interested in the sense of adventure and the idea of having a deserted island all to yourself.  And while my current self enjoyed reading about all her techniques for protecting herself against wild dogs, for fixing a canoe, for making weapons, making clothes, hunting, and just surviving—I also couldn’t keep the thought of this being based on a true story out of my head as I was reading it.  As a reader, that one little tidbit made the story lean toward starkness and bleakness—everything Karana did was life or death, and it sometimes cut very close.  But above all, I couldn’t help being ANGRY for Karana—Her people LEFT. HER. BEHIND. and NO ONE CAME BACK FOR HER?!!??!?!?!!?  I still get so frustrated and sad for Karana, thinking about all the struggles she went through.  *sigh*

I would definitely recommend Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins for anyone who likes a Cast Away/The Blue Lagoon/Robinson Crusoe story.