Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Abundance of Katherines - Book Review Time!

I just finished the book, and it coincides nicely with this week's Road Trip Wednesday!

The best book I read in September.... well, I think it was the only book I read in September. Somehow this month got away from me. (Actually, I know how, but I'm gonna spare you the details. For now. It may come up in a later post, but I'm gonna twist it into a writing-related post.)

So I started this book in the beginning of September, put it down. It actually spent a good week or two half under by bed. Then I picked it back up like, three days ago, and finished the second half.

What book? Why, An Abundance of Katherines of course, by the talented John Green.

Colin Singleton is a prodigy. He also has had 19 girlfriends, all named Katherine. When Katherine XIX dumps him, Colin and his friend Hassan go on a road trip and find themselves in the tiny little town of Gutshot, TN. There, Colin has his first Eureka moment, and begins work on a theorem that will predict the outcome of any relationship. And of course, having 19 relationships to base it off of, it should be easy, right? Apparently not.

This book is relatively good. It's a John Green book, that's for sure. As in, no love-sick teenage girls, (although Colin is a bit lovesick as he misses K-19 for a while.) No paranormal whats-its. Pure realism. Pure, seamless writing. Not much to hate about it. The only downside? Math.

Yes, that's right, there is math in the book. I did tell you Colin spends most of the book working on a theorem right? I did. And he thinks about it a lot. And it shows up a lot, in the form of equations and graphs that actually show up in the pages between passages of plot. Thankfully, John Green is able to make the story take precedence over the math. In fact, you can gloss over the graphs and equations, and the story still makes perfect sense. (And supposedly, the math makes sense too. I'll take his smart friend's word for it.)

There's another quirky thing about this book that makes it great and unique. Throughout the book, there are footnotes included. These are things that might normally be found in parentheses. What I like about them is that they give you a better sense of who Colin is because most of these footnotes include information that only a child prodigy would know, or even think about in certain situations. So it brings you closer to him.

I like this book. I liked Looking For Alaska better, but this was definitely a good book. It would probably fall somewhere in my top ten.

And for the record, I like the other cover better.

22,000 Metaphorical Words

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. How about a picture of 22 books?


I told you all that I keep my books on my piano. Yes, I do have a bookshelf, and yes, it is fully functional. But this thing is right next to my bed -- my bookshelf is on the other side of my room. (Although this reminds me of how when I was a youngin', I had a bed where the headboard was actually a bookshelf. It was rather distracting because as I was trying to fall asleep, I'd reach behind my head and just play with the books.)

So this is my "To Be Read" pile. Technically. There's actually a few more books in my bookshelf that I have yet to read, that I'm looking forward to read, but haven't made it to the piano yet. Most of these books I bought over the summer. 11 of them to be exact. (Whoa! That's actually half!) 1 I won in a contest. And if you'll notice, I do indeed have two copies of Killing Mr. Griffin and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The original print version, and the modern print version. I intend to read them back to back. (I still have to add the updated version of Don't Look Behind You, but I don't really feel like shelling out the cash for it right now.)

To top it off, I've read half of these books. Okay, 8 of them. Not including the "modern" versions of two of them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a dent in my pile of books.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

8 Things You Never Needed to Know about Me

So an internet tag has been going around where the blogger answers eight questions, and then tags eight people to answer the same. I was tagged by Coffey, Tea, And Literary. And since I only have 8 followers, you're all tagged.

Be warned. There's some fangirliness/obsessing in here. (I'm only human.)

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?
Normally I'd say Telekenisis so that I could screw with people and fly, but I think that'd make me lazy. So just the power of flight would be awesome. If I couldn't have that, then I'd choose orbing from Charmed, because that was just pretty cool.


2. Who is your style icon?
Probably My Chemical Romance from a theatrical standpoint. They've dictated a lot of my style, from my love of dark (slimming) colors and red, too even the nicer way of dress. They might be a dirty rock band, but they know how to clean up.

Honestly, I could go on a whole tangent about this band from their writing, to their theatrics, to their style, and their music. I'll save that for a later post so that you'll know what you're getting into, and so that I can organize it so that it's interesting.


3. What is your favorite quote?
"Writers are the only adults who get to spend all day in their pajamas playing with their imaginary friends." by, I forget who.

I actually have a whole list of favorite quotes, but they're all in reference to either MCR, Back to the Future, or Supernatural.

Oh, there's also this good one: "Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum viditur. -- whatever is said in Latin sounds profound."


4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
When I was told I write with a style very similar to Sylvia Plath. I was floating on that for days.


5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?
Now surely you know the answer to this. Currently it's Kaizers Orchestra. But it's been hopping between that and MCR because they just released half of a new single (yes, half of one single song.) and it's got a lot of energy to it.

Actually, there's two other things constantly playing. I've got a loop of rain falling for when I need to calm down, and I'm also working on aquiring the Supernatural Soundtrack. (I'm a sucker for soundtrack music. I also have the soundtracks to all the X-Men movies, and to the first Transformers movie.)


6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Night, night, night, night, night. Ironically, I'm too jittery at night to write, but I can't keep my eyes open in the morning. (Slightly related note... caffeine has no effect on me.)


7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs. Dogs will always be there for you no matter what.


8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
My blog name actually started out from my gmail account. When I was a junior in high school, my German teacher needed us to make gmail accounts so we could make power point presentations and send them to her. I couldn't think of a name, and I wanted something unique. I wanted something to do with writing, and then for the second name... all I could think about was (roll your eyes now) how [the lead singer of a certain band] just had a daughter and her name was Bandit. (Seriously, what is it with famous people when they name their children. It's cute and all, but still.) Thus "writingbandit."

"B-b-but... you're Writer Renegade." Yes, that's right. When I decided to make a blog, I got paranoid. I thought "if I use 'bandit' in the name, will that mean that I steal from people?" I thought it would mean people would think I plagiarized everything. Then Renegade by Styx started playing on my computer and I was like... "got it!"

TL;DR version of it, I wanted to be something/someone different, and I couldn't get the song out of my head. It's also the name of my alter ego.

--

Okay, that's it for now. I tagged you, but you might not do this. If you do, leave the link in a comment for me to see.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Craziness... Here's Why:

Okay, so I might have been going just a little bit crazy for the past few days. Here's why:
  • the new season of Supernatural starts in 11 days.
  • My Chemical Romance (my favorite band ever... sorry if that offends you) is stirring up some serious shiz on the internet. A new album is on the horizon, and they're telling us nothing but cryptic messages. Fun. (Only half-sarcasm.)
  • I've discovered Kaizers Orchestra, and they are now my second favorite band. (Because who doesn't love the Norwegians?)
  • and Lois Duncan's new books are finally being released!
Holy shiz! I've been waiting for this for months! I randomly checked her website one day and she said she was rewriting and re-releasing several of her more popular YA suspense books. If you've been following my blog long enough, you'll already know how much I love her books and style of writing. (Some people don't like her. That's okay. To each his own, but I love her.)

So the first chunk of new editions is being released right now. The first two: Killing Mr. Griffin and I Know What You Did Last Summer (the book was better than the movie, and the two are very different.) I have already ordered from amazon. The third won't be released until October. I just think this is so cool. Here's why:

A lot of Lois Duncan's books were written a very long time ago. Like, generations ago. For example, Killing Mr. Griffin was first published in 1978. I Know What You Did Last Summer was published in 1973. One of my favorites, Ransom, was first published in... 1966! Okay, now you might be rolling your eyes. After all... A Clockwork Orange cane out in '62. The Great Gatsby was published in '22. But Gatsby was deliberately set in the 20's, was it not? And even Clockwork was set to be kind of a futuristic novel. Lois Duncan's novels here... they're "modern." They're supposed to "reflect the current age" if you will. And if you read them now, they clearly do not.

These kids do not have cell phones. They do not have caller ID. They do not have the internet. They lack information at their fingertips, and digital cameras, and they call their parents "mother" and "father." (Quite formal to our ears.)

And now Lois Duncan is rewriting them to fit the millennium. I think this is awesome, if not for a love of the author, but to see how she adapts them. I want to compare them and see what is gained and what is lost by modifying the stories. Honestly, I'm usually one to say "the original was way better than the remake!" or "you can't change it from what it's supposed to be!" But this is exciting. And of course, I couldn't resist that ever-growing urge to add to my bookshelf. (Have I mentioned that in the past three days, I've bought 8 books? And one of them was on impulse. ...Is there a book addiction support group anywhere? The ABBA? Addicted to Buying Books Anonymous...)

Now I don't think that I can end this post without a quick once-or-twice-over of that top list. And it will include pictures and graphics. Please forgive me. I need to spaz every now and then, and midnight seems like the perfect time. (And for the sake of the title...) Here's why:


Supernatural
Sam is mysteriously out of Hell, and Dean has been living the past year, not as a hunter, but as a husband and a dad. He's tucked his shirt in! (*gasp*) and worse of all, he keeps the Impala under a tarp!
Drive on Metallicar! drive on...

Kaizers Orchestra own a part of me now. Maybe it's just my fascination with other languages. Or maybe it's my fascination with fun, bouncy songs that have lyrics that don't fit the mood.


And as for MCR and their crazy shenanigans? All I have to say is... forget team Edward or team Jacob. I am team Dr. Death Defying.


...and because leather jackets are cool.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Book that took a Year to Read

In that, I'm referring to The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Yes, it took me a year... more or less. I picked up this book from the library in the beginning of August, 2009. I read through two and a half chapters before band camp started, so I returned the book, and hadn't gotten back to it.

Then one day this summer, I was going through a little shopping spree on Amazon, and what do you know, I realized I had an opportunity to read the book again if I bought it really cheap. (Because if I got it from the library again, I wouldn't finish it... again.)

I didn't get back into the book until literally a year later.

So now here's what I have to say about it.

Phew!

If I can sum it up in one words it is "phew!" It's definitely not like anything I've ever read before. It's not bad, but it's not as gripping as I thought it would be. For all the praise it's gotten, I thought I'd get more interested in it. The beginning I liked, but the middle bored me. I didn't get into it again until the end, but that might have been just because I was reaching the finish line on the book.

I will praise the book though. The fact that it follows Holden Caulfield's stream of consciousness is interesting. It threw me a few times, but it was different. However, I kind of wanted to punch the kid in the face. He annoyed me.

With that, I do think it's worth a read. It's something you don't see anywhere, so from the perspective of a writer and a reader, it will help expand what you know about prose. (Somehow I feel like everyone around me has already read this book.)

And another thing... after reading it for a little while, I get the sudden urge to talk and curse like him. It's amazing what immersing yourself in a different text can do to your personality. Don't worry, I'm quickly coming out of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Duff! - Contest

Now, I'm not an avid follower of The Duff. Although almost every blog I follow is. (No, this is not a book review.) But, this book, The Duff (by Kody Keplinger) was just released, after a long and grueling anticipation.

The Duff -- The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Sounds like my life story, right? Ha!
In all seriousness, this kind of book normally would not appeal to me. There's a person on the cover, even worse... it's a close up. But the book kept popping up everywhere... including the "obnoxious" cover. (Don't get me wrong, I'm just joking around. At least this girl isn't all... ethreal.)

So I looked at the premise:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

El gasp! I feel like I might read another story that I could relate to! (A rarity in the current publishing world.) (In my opinion... after all, I'm rather picky.)

So this book actually looks good. I'd like to read it. And what better way to read it than in a free copy of the book, that I could only win in the contest being held here: clicky!

No, I haven't won. Yes, I'd like to. Who doesn't like free books?
(On a related note, thank you to Dianne Salerni, for my new book from you!)

Enter the contest, don't... I'm just here to inform you. I'd rather you don't, so I could win more easily. If not, I'll probably buy the book anyway. I have an addiction to buying books. -- (currently I'm trying to keep myself from buying The Great Gatsby, Thirteen Reasons Why, Artichoke's Heart, The Replacements, The Haunting of Hill House, Gives Me Hope, Will Grayson Will Grayson, the modern versions of Lois Duncan's books, and even X-Men and Philosophy. -- Heehee, I'm a freak.)

So... that's that. Contest, I've led you there. Books, I must add to bookshelf. New blog post coming soon. Bag of candy corn empty. Must finish reading The Catcher in the Rye. Goodnight.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Book

So, with the first of September, and another flip of the calendar page, it's time for me to contemplate the books I've read in August. ...Not many. I think I read two and a half books because I am absolutely lazy.

Band Geek Love, Artichoke's Heart, Catcher in the Rye. In that order, meaning I'm still in the middle of Catcher in the Rye. (By the way, this is my second attempt at reading it in over a year.)

Which book is the winner and gets to be deemed "The Best Book I Read in August?"

Artichoke's Heart, by Suzanne Supplee.

Honestly, this was a great book. The first few paragraphs were hard to get into, despite how easy it was to follow. I think it would have to be because the main character is southern, and while she doesn't speak with a visible dialect, she has a few verbal mannerisms about her that prove she's not from the Northeast. There is also just a way about her, her family, and her surroundings that just give it away without being too much, which I have to applaud. People always say that in writing, if you're going to place someone somewhere like that, you have to be careful not to overdo it. Suzanne Supplee did not.

Now you might be wondering what this book is about? Artichokes? Hearts? Who? What? Artichoke is actually a cruel nickname for the main character - Rosemary Goode. She's a fat girl. It's Christmas, and she's hit her all time low -- or high rather, on the scale. (And no, this isn't some "average" girl complaining that she's "fat." This girl is. She weighs over 200 pounds and wears pants larger than me.) (And no, I'm not going to divulge my weight on this blog.) Anyway, she was given this nickname by the cruel girls at school -- The Bluebirds -- when she wore a green puffy coat to school one day, years earlier.

Rosemary has no friends except for Mr. Hershey, Mr. Reese's, and Mr. Snicker's. She is ridiculed for her weight by her peers, her mother, her thinks-she-knows-everything aunt, and even the old ladies at her her mother's hair salon. Every time she thinks about being thin, or exercising, or having no desire to pig out, she indulges in chocolate.

Then one day, everything changes. And with a few bumps and bruises along the way, Rosemary realizes a few things... that I would have said here... but I didn't want to give anything away.

Here's what I like about this book.
  • The Southern-ness -- Like I said before, these things are just kind of sprinkled in, and aren't overwhelming. So it's much easier to understand than something like The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin. (If I never have to go near that book again, it'll be too soon.)
  • The issues of being FAT -- Speaking from experience, I've struggled with weight problems for most of my life. Ups, downs, it's there. And there are never really any books that really deal with something like this in a realistic way. Now I can't say I've been friendless because of my weight, but I'm also from a different place. This book deals with weight like it should.
  • The style -- it's light, it's funny, and it's easy to follow. You get to know Rosemary, and you feel for her. You feel like you're friends.
  • The ending -- no spoilers here. I just have to say I liked it. And it was a happy ending. (Shocker for me, I know!)
This book deals with weight, friendship, romance, single parents, annoying aunts, cancer, therapy, and chocolate. But it's very good. I picked it up from the library, but I plan to add it to my bookshelf soon. It's inspirational. I'd read it again, and I'll recommend it to anyone.