Wednesday, June 11, 2008

But I *didn't* get hit by any cars.

I read this while I waited for the bus. I read this on the bus. I read this here. I read this there. I read while walking through the streets of downtown Seattle. I narrowly missed two sign posts while reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

I didn't want to stop reading. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Jenna Fox. I wanted to know what happened to Jenna Fox.

Jenna was in a coma for 18 months. When she wakes up she doesn't remember anything - or anyone. Not what happened to her. Not her parents. Not her grandmother. Soon little pieces of her memory start coming back, slowly, and with their return she begins to realize that the isolated world of Jenna Fox is not what it seems. As she slowly unravels what happened to her - and the implications of what was done to her - she finds that maybe it would have been better if she had never woken up from that coma at all.

It is topical. It is believable. It is stirring. It is, I think, sophisticated. It is what makes science fiction science fiction. And even with it being science fiction, I would have NO PROBLEM giving this to kids who don't like science fiction (or kids who didn't like sci-fi until Westerfeld came around) (or adults. Speaking of, Mom, did I put this on your Required Summer Reading List? Consider it added.). Mary Pearson goes beyond the generics of the genre and makes it relevant to today's world, today's emotions, and today's audience of younger readers.

I'm really into the parallel structure tonight, aren't I? *shrug* I'm tired. I can't put muster any energy for more creative writing. You'll live.

I'm not a scientist, but I am an avid NPR listener (that's the same, right?), and while Pearson's science is not something possible now or in the imminent future, it is definitely on the horizon. There is so much going on in medical technology and bioethics right now that the situations and dilemmas of the book are entirely plausible. Specifically, I'm reminded of this story.

It's an easy choice for book groups. Lots to discuss, and fun to read. I can't wait to talk to someone about it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tally for 48 Hour Book Challenge

I managed to read:

Breakfast at Bloomingdale's
by Kristen Kemp
304 pages
4 hours

by Laura Kasischke
272 pages
3 1/4 hours

by Gary D. Schmidt
304 pages
5 1/2 hours

Big Fat Manifesto
by Susan Vaught
320 pages
4 1/2 hours

Shooting the Moon
by Frances O'Roark Dowell
176 pages
1 1/2 hours

So, that's:
5 books
1,376 pages
18 hours 45 minutes (roughly rounded)

Holy crap. I thought I was slacking the whole time.

My approach to what books I picked? Accumulate a wide variety over the week. Put them all on the same shelf and pick the one at that moment I most want to read based upon the current mood - and time frame.

Favorite of the bunch? Surprisingly the youngest one - Shooting the Moon. I really, really liked that. Reviews later. Probably.

Check out MotherReader for the whole rundown.

PS - dude. Two Michigan writers on this list - Kasischke and Schmidt. Neither have websites that I can discover. What's up with that?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I want to use it as a manual to do illegal things...

It's been a while since I've read any science fiction. Actually, calling Cory Doctorow's Little Brother science fiction might not be accurate. On one hand, it's set in the very near future; on the other, the world he creates is entirely recognizable - the tweaks he made are small and plausible. It's merely an advancement of today's technology perpetrated in the name of a good techno-thriller.

I'm going to be honest here. I didn't know who Cory Doctorow was. Colleen and Dawn were all excited about the book, and they said his name with a slightly awed familiarity so that I had to pretend to know who they were talking about, nod and say "yeah" knowingly. But it sounded interesting, so I thought I'd give it a go (and now you know how to spot my lies).

Basically, in the wake of a massive terrorist attack, Homeland Security swoops down into an already security-conscience San Francisco and starts abusing their power, treating citizens (especially teens) as suspects. Marcus Yarrow, your average, everyday computer genius teen, having been kidnapped by the government, tortured, and let go, has sworn that he will fight Big Brother and return freedom to his city. More or less. Mostly he's just pissed that he got tortured, and that no one knows where his buddy is.

It's quiet references to current injustices of our government are a sad reminder of how few steps away we are from exactly the environment Doctorow portrays. When Marcus is in custody, effectively "disappeared," I can't help but think of the guys in Guantanamo Bay. Unjustly held, without enough evidence, subjected to policies made especially for the trampling of rights. How long before those policies jump the 90 miles? That's part of what Doctorow is exploring in this novel; how willing people are to adopt artifices of security just to feel safer - regardless of whether they actually ARE safer (yes, go ahead, quote Ben Franklin, I know you want to).

But there I go with my raging lefty politics...

I'm clearly anti-authoritarian enough to find kinship in the pages of Little Brother, but what impresses me most is that all of the politics and musings on liberty and freedom are in a immensely entertaining and readable book. The questions raised are ones we all should be asking ourselves - and if we are lucky - the younger generations ARE asking them (I'm reminded of the teen who told me the other day that Google was evil and taking over our lives and privacy). BUT that there was no whiff of didacticism to be found. I've also learned a great deal about technology, and have investigated some of what was mentioned.

It's made me second guess getting this, I'll tell you that. I'm not going to now. I'm totally creeped out by the idea after reading Little Brother.

I stayed up WAY too late reading it. I hadn't done that in a long time (well, if you don't count this, but I'll get to that one.) And if all of that still doesn't make you believe me that it's worth your time? As Leila pointed out - it's available free. Give it a few pages. You'll be hooked by "sucking chest wound." It's The Gospel According to Larry meets Scott Westerfeld.

You can also see him read from his book while on tour for it. Sadly, I missed his visit to Seattle in order to go visit Kyle, and, um, read the book. Had I read the book BEFORE he'd been in town I probably would have ditched the boyfriend to see Doctorow at Secret Garden. Sorry Kyle.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Third Annual!

Ok, I've been so far under the rocks these last several months (can you tell I've emerged by all this crazy posting?), that I'd MISSED Mother Reader's announcement of (and all references to) the Third Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I did pretty good last year, but this year I've got a WLA/CAYAS meeting all of Saturday. There's no way to work around that, so I'll just have to include it in the tally. Perhaps I can read through the boring parts. No, I should probably network. Sigh.

Either way, I may come in dead last, but I'm in.
Maybe my box from Random will come with shiny new things! oo! Or my hold of Schmidt's Trouble! OR Big Fat Manifesto! OR Northlander OR Feathered! ooo - and I have Justina's North of Beautiful! I wish I wasn't #6 waiting for Princess Ben. That would be a quick, fun one...
I'm a little excited.
Oh, wait. I just remembered. I don't have internet...I have to walk to the cafe...crap. Oh well.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Couple Things:

So bff Sarah sent me the link to the cover. What do you guys think? It kinda freaks me out. Very ominous. But, if I'm honest? It just makes me think of the first Harry Potter. I think any larger-than-life chess will now always have that connotation for me. Interesting that the pawn is the red/bloody one, and the queen is white. Does that mean Bella is the Queen? The one that matters most? heh. Of course it does.

But she is so not going to be turned into a vampire.

(I'm prepared to eat my words, but I don't think she'll turn.)

No matter what issues there are with the series, I'm DYING to know what makes her so special that Eddie can't hear her thoughts, Alice can't see her future, and why the creepy Italian vamps find her so interesting.


Colleen Mondor has started another... project. View it as an answer to Reader Girlz: Guys Lit Wire. It's live today, and will have posts connecting teen boys with books 5+ days a week. She's assembled a LARGE panel of posters, digging up many of the very rare males for an authentic voice for teen lit for guys. It's worth checking out.

I'm technically involved, but I haven't done anything more than a random email or two. I'm more of a swing poster there. I'll do little tidbits when I feel like it (that's my kind of arrangement, btw. No Deadlines!).
Sarah Stevenson (aka a.fortis at Finding Wonderland) has pretty much done all of the site - including the graphic you see above. Pretty dang awesome.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

For some inexplicable reason...My hair.

Ok, this marks a *cough* historic event. I've never placed any pictures of me on this blog... Now there will be, well, a handful of them in this post... For those of you who were curious about what I was going to do with my hair. Which, should be relatively few of you. After tonight, I promise I'll leave personal stuff out of the blog for a while. I've read quite a few really good books lately, and I really want to share them with you all. Soon.

Here's how I started off this morning, well after walking through the weirdly chilly and windy streets of Seattle. Nothing at all wrong with my hair. It's just been the same way for too long. I'd normally never allow such a double-chin focused picture to be seen in public, but I love that t-shirt. I bought it for Kyle (for Valentine's Day), but he didn't get it - he does not understand how Candy Corn Cannibalism is hilarious. He thinks broccoli might be funny though. So, I reclaimed it. And wear it proudly. How many of you agree that it's a funny tee? Seriously, maybe if we all disagree, he'll see the light. *nods*

Mid-process. Turns out the Henna I had fun with last summer was still in my hair, and is apparently very difficult to get out. She needed to bleach the hair if there was to be any hope of getting some dimension. Or something. Clearly, I'm a little concerned - as I've no desire to be blond. In. Any. Way.
And, there we are. In my bathroom. All self-portraits should happen in the bathroom, yes? That's my Christmas cactus in the background, there. It's a good plant. It even blooms occasionally. It's a little hard to tell what my hair looks like here, but it's bright red on dark red. I really wasn't comfortable with the idea of a bob. I don't want anyone to think that I like Katie Holmes OR V Beckham. So I'll stick to my vaguely rocker-chic thing I've now got going (I'm so not a rocker chick, so we'll see how this goes...). It's got a lot of layers. Which you really can't tell here. But there are. Really. I swear.