30 June, 2011

I Pick Up A Book. The Main Event Mentioned In The Blurb Comes Around 200+ Pages Into The Story.



I don't like waiting around for things to happen in the books I read. There has to be a hook, and then there has to be some event that catapults the main character(s) into the central conflict the story is built on. So that's why I sometimes skip blurbs altogether, if I like the reviews and the cover of a book.

They can take away the tension. If you ask me, a story should pull the reader in blurb or no, and hold them there on its own. But I've read several books whose back cover, inside flap, or summary (depending on the format) has told me all I need to know to guess at least some of the plot--and not only that, I have to sit around waiting for the main character(s) to catch on to what's happening, sometimes so slowly it's painful to watch them stumble about trying to get the hang of the situation.

Of course, it can go in the opposite direction, too. If there's just some dramatic, broad statement on the inside of the cover, that can deter me from reading the book if I think there's a chance it's going to follow an unoriginal plot, or there just simply isn't enough information about the characters and the rest of the story.

Have you ever skipped a blurb? How much do you think they help--or hinder? How much should a blurb give away about the plot and characters, before it says too much?


-----The Golden Eagle

28 June, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (43)

MizB at Should Be Reading hosts this weekly meme. Rules for participating in Teaser Tuesday:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week, my teaser is from Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth. I was intrigued by this book because the author based it on her aunt--and I haven't come across many stories based on Gandhi-era India.


"Nothing will ever change in Jamlee," I said.
   "Remember a few days ago, when Gandhiji started his fast, you didn't think the mill workers would budge, but they did. They gave the workers a raise."

-(page unknown. I forgot to check. :P)

*********

Have a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading? Feel free to leave them in the comments!


-----The Golden Eagle

26 June, 2011

Blogfest Interrupted

Information on this blogfest:



"On Sunday, June 26th, post a 500-1000 word scene of your characters being interrupted - doesn't matter what they're doing, doesn't matter what's interrupting them (end of the world, knock on the door, little voice in their head...), they just need to be interrupted."

My entry:


“Did you hear that?”
   “No,” I snap, frowning at the paper in front of me. Too much ramble, too much diplomacy. I can’t understand those politicians, always trying to make something out of nothing. Can’t they speak straight-like for once?
   “I’m sure I heard something,” he insists.
   “Go away!” I snarl. “I’m trying to do something here!”
   “You’re crabby,” he says, cool as ice water. He stands up and hefts the only weapon in the room.
   “Put that down.”
   “Yes, Commander,” he says, knowing that’ll get to me. I glower at the paper.
   I do hope you understand the nature of my request—
   I manage to read that much before he knocks me to the ground. He shields me as there’s some great explosion outside the building, but I shove him off and snatch the weapon from him.
   “Are you crazy?” I demand.
   “Are you crazy?” he says, glaring. “A just bomb went off! Barely 20 meters away, if I had to guess!”
   “Nothin’ we can do,” I say, sitting down again at the table. “If those dratted alley boys got themselves into trouble, it ain’t our problem, is it?”
   You’re the one who’s so insistent on keeping people safe.”
   “Yeah, but I don’t get myself chased by riot police, now, do I?”
   It’s true. I don’t, but some people don’t have a whip of sense, now, do they?
   Moments later: “I don’t like it here,” he says, like there’s something I’m supposed to do about that.
   I throw down my pen. I thought I had gotten through one of the blasted politician’s lines and he interrupts me again, distractin’ me from my thoughts. “Go away.”
   “And do what?”
   Sigh. He’s always got to have some kind of truth in his words, no matter how short those sentences be. Infuriating when people are like that, ain’t it?
   “Something,” I snap.
   All’s quiet.
   I even get some words down in response to the politician’s letter. I’m quite impressed with myself. Who knew my poor ol’ brain could come up with In response to your courteous letter recently forwarded to us, we have decided . . . er, what we decided.
   Okay. Not totally finished, eh?
   There’s lots of peaceful silence. Until he declares he hears a military convoy approaching.
   “You’re always hearing things,” I say, shrugging. My reply is evaporating as he distracts me.
   “I really do think—“
   “I really do think you should be quiet!”
   “Sorry, Commander.”
   “Don’t call me that!”
   “Yes, C—“
   “Shut up.”
   “Got it.”
   “Didn’t I just say to shut up?” I snarl. He meets me gaze with a demure, open expression, like, How could I possibly be affecting anything here?
   Infuriating. I hate him.
   Just a little.
   But he nods, and we’re at peace again.
   “What’s a fancy, politician word for ‘decline’?”
   “You would know that better than I do.”
   Sigh again. Maybe . . . “We feel your proposal is too hasty?” I suggest.
   “Try ‘abrupt and without the consideration we feel is due for the situation’. It sounds more like a politician phrase.”
   I nod. He’s right, don’t you think?
   “I think I hear that convoy again.”
   “Be quiet.” Note that I don’t say shut—
   “Duck!” he shouts, and I’m thrown to the floor a second time.
   Dang it. I just wanted to finish that letter, and here I am with this irritating boy on top of me, soldiers outside the door, and . . . oh yes, gunshots. Those are gunshots, right?
   “Gunshots,” he whispers, too close to my ear.
   “Shut up.”
   A bullet digs into the wooden walls behind us, and he presses himself harder against me, like that’s going to help stop a bullet. It’s just going to squash me like a bug.
   Honestly.
   “I think they’re gone,” I whisper, after a while.
   I feel him nod. Then he’s off me, and I creak and groan and protest and generally look horrible to make him feel guilty.
   He looks guilty. I feel some satisfaction. I sit down at the table again.
   Aw, to heck with it.
   I write:
   Our answer is no. Please don’t bother us again, okay?
   Not politician speech . . . but hey, it works.
   Right?

(699 words)

***This is the same character in my entry for a writing contest HERE. It's just a scene I've been thinking about for a while, and I've gotten attached to her voice. If you're wondering why there's no name . . . I haven't given her one yet.***


-----The Golden Eagle

25 June, 2011

Tagged Twice And An Award

In the last couple of weeks, both Marsha Sigman at Marsha's Musings and Lynn Kelly at LynNerd Random Acts of Writing tagged me. Thank you so much! :)

Since I already did the tag before, go HERE to read my answers.

I was also awarded by Susan Fields at the blog of the same name.


Thank you, Susan!

And for this one, there are rules: I must list seven random facts about myself.

I'm going to deviate a bit and put in some facts that aren't about me. Because it's easier that way.

1. I don't like summer. Fall is more my season, or spring.

2. I'm in the midst of learning how to build websites. With XHTML and CSS and whatnot. It's quite fun.

3. N. R. Williams needs your help! She's trying to get Amazon to allow her to put up her book for free, and the only way to do that is to send them links of the lower price at Smashwords--which you can do (but I can't, unfortunately, because I don't have an account). Find out more HERE.

4. Have you heard of Pottermore, yet? I'm interested; I'm not so sure how it's supposed to work, but will be keeping my eye on it.



5. According to the OECD's Better Life Index (set up to find out in which country you would live the best life possible based on what's a priority to you) I should move to Canada, Australia, or Sweden, in that order. Which countries do you get? And isn't playing around with the flowers and ranking just plain fun?

6. Um . . . thinking . . . I've recently been reading the source code of sites I come across. It's interesting to see who uses Strict XHTML and who uses Transitional, and who doesn't use the doctype declaration at all.

7. 43 comments on the previous post, last time I checked! Thank you for responding, everyone--I love reading your opinions.

And I'm going to tag anyone who wants to answer the questions, and award anyone who feels like snagging the Irresistibly Sweet Award. You all deserve it!

*I just realized, in a fit of bloggish insight early this morning, that I put the wrong title on this post. Oops. It's changed, now.*


-----The Golden Eagle

23 June, 2011

Do You Speak Your Genre?

Every genre comes with its own kind of specifications.

Science Fiction is based in the future, Fantasy is based on made-up worlds, Historical Fiction is based on (you guessed it) history, and so on. But most genres also have their own slang and usage to go along with their characters, setting, and plot.

For example, say you pick up a Fantasy book. It saves writing and the reader's time if you just assume the person holding the book understands what it means to scry, or what a mage is, and there are often four elementals.

In Science Fiction, using terms like hyperspace, intergalactic, interstellar, star system, and so on is among the everyday. Starship? Let's get the jump drives fired up, Captain!

And there's the more specialized slang, one of the main ones I can think of being the slew of gaming terms, particularly 1337: j00 KN0W wH@ i m34n?*



Plus, some books are written in tweets and IM and email. In thos cases its eesy to rn into speleing errors and abbrs., wich can b hard 2 read, after a while.





It isn't necessary to use those kinds of terms, of course; I've read several books that used little slang, and pulled it off just fine. However--especially with SF/F and other books set in other worlds--it seems almost inevitable you're going to be using some kind of genre-specific language.

It can go the other way, too. Some books I've read just use word after word after word that I would have to sit around and stare at for a while to get their meaning. Sometimes it's fun to decipher a lot of leetspeak, or puzzle through BRB and LOL and TTYL, but if I just want to sit back, relax, and read, they can get on the nerves.

What about you? Do you use slang, and words with their own specific usage, in your writing? If so, what kind? Do you like it when authors use slang, or does it just get in the way?

*Okay, I cheated. I used this 1337 Translator. I'm not a gamer.


-----The Golden Eagle

21 June, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (42)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading--rules are as follows:


  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg. This book is taking me forever to get through, for some reason.


"We just found--he came walking right into the dome--you won't believe this, Dr. Athor--"
   "Slow down, child. What happened? Who came walking in?"
   There were sounds of a scuffle in the hall, and a sharp clang.
-p. 169

*********

Got a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Happy Summer everyone!




-----The Golden Eagle

19 June, 2011

I Think That Hiatus Was Long Enough, Don't You?

I know, I know, I missed a blogfest.

I was supposed to write an entry for the It's the Muse-ic Writing Blogfest yesterday, June 18, but didn't. I remembered last week, then forgot about it, then remembered but didn't have time to type up anything resembling suitable. My apologies--I made an obligation and failed to meet it.



*********

You may have also noticed I haven't blogged since Thursday. I still have to reply to your comments from Tuesday, and haven't commented anywhere in three days.

Er, I suppose it's obvious I have some catching up to do, don't I?

Good thing I'm pretty sure I'll have time tomorrow, now that the tests are over and recital is done and things are pretty much back to normal.

As for that, my dance recital yesterday went well, and I FINISHED ALL MY TESTS TODAY.

*woot*

No, I didn't fail any of them. Which I was afraid I might. In fact, I'm pretty happy with my scores.

*********

I was also tagged and awarded, (thank you! You bloggers are awesome) and I'll acknowledge those later.

*********

And finally, Happy Father's Day!



To all the dads in the world: have a great day!


-----The Golden Eagle

16 June, 2011

How Much Do Online Reviews Mean To You?

Nowadays, practically everything is reviewed. Books. Movies. Food. Services. You name it. Along with that, of course, are the sites that put those reviews up on the Internet. Reviews come in all different kinds--basic, word-free star ratings, long paragraphs, essay-long rambles, rants, and so forth.

Some are by popular, well-known companies or people who have either done something in relation to what they're reviewing; and some of them are by random people who decided to share their opinions.

On the whole, how much do you think those opinions are worth?

For example, I was looking up a movie I saw last week* on (the? Do you put a "the" before the acronym?) IMDb (Internet Movie Database). I wanted to know what other people thought of it, since my mom and I ended up discussing it for a while afterwards.


Most of the reviews were glowing, such as "A milestone of revelation" and "PERFECTION! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT." and "A masterpiece filmed, edited and directed by geniuses". A few other reviews, on the other hand, said such things as "manipulative, racist, simple-minded, self-congratulating" and "a glorified roll of stock footage" and "Pretentious drivel." (Links to reviews.)

And there was one that actually made me laugh a bit:

"When, atop snow-dusted mountain, you countenance the day's burning embers unfurling like crimson ribbons beneath a churning sky-scape of blushing clouds, doesn't it just make you want to... buy a car with optional four-wheel steering and an eight-speed automatic transmission?" (Credit.)

(Ha!)

As you can see, the style and attitude of these reviews varies greatly. That's the whole point of reviewing things, no? So people can find out if what other people said strikes any chords with them. But how much time, energy, and effort are you supposed to spend reading through dozens, hundreds, even thousands of reviews for a single thing?

Another factor is: I don't know the reviewers. They're random people, and while some of the reviews are very well-written and helpful, I don't know anything about the reviewer. At least when I read something by a blogger, I know (in a broad sense, anyway) what they like, and in relation to the thing being reviewed.


I don't mean to sound hypocritical in my skepticism on how much reviews are worth--yes, I write book and movie reviews (and I'd be willing to write reviews for other stuff, but hey, it's not like people are flocking to my doorstep). However, I rarely review things off of my blog, and as I mentioned above, I consider blogs to be a different matter. There's more than a profile behind a blogger, especially if you've been reading their posts for a while.

I can also understand wanting other people to review what you've done. I know I'd want people reviewing my book on a site, because that means it's getting attention.

It's just the volume of the reviews in the world, especially for relatively popular products. There are a gazillion of them. Most of the time, I just glance at the star-rating, the blurb or advertising attached to the object in question, and skim a few of the reviews at the top of the page.


How much stock to you put in online reviews, on any subject? Do you read online reviews, and if so, which ones and by who?


How many reviews of something do you have read, before you decide whether to check it out or not? What kind of reviews do you most often look at--written reviews, video reviews, star reviews? Do you write reviews?

(*The movie, in case you're wondering, is Baraka.)


-----The Golden Eagle

14 June, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (41)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB.

Rules:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

(This isn't the cover on the library book I have at the moment. But I couldn't find the right one, and paper man is the same.)

The books lay like great mounds of fishes left to dry. The men danced and slipped and fell over them. Titles glittered their golden eyes, falling, gone.
-p. 37

**********

Have a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading? Feel free to leave them in the comments!


-----The Golden Eagle

13 June, 2011

If You Don't See Me As Much As Usual This Week, Here Is Why:


I will be doing this 15 (yes, 15! I counted them) times this week. And I'm hoping not to get results such as:


Plus:


Which naturally leads to:


(It doesn't feel like the end of the year! Shouldn't there be . . . you know . . . two more months or something?)

Anyway. So, busy times, bloggers! I'll be in the blogosphere, but probably not as much as usual.

Have a great week!


-----The Golden Eagle

09 June, 2011

Do You Have To Like The Plot To Enjoy A Book?

In the past two weeks I posted "Do You Have To Like The Main Character To Enjoy A Book?" and "Do You Have To Like The Setting To Enjoy A Book?" and now we come to the third and final question.

Which is about plot.


I consider plot to be the No. 1 most important thing when it comes to a book, in any genre, above both character and setting. It is the glue that holds things together: characters must do things to drive the story, or things must happen to them that cause them to act. Both must be realistic, or at the very least possible.

Some plots are complex, with several storylines that all intertwine and affect each other. Other plots are more like adventure stories, where the small group of characters try to overcome obstacles as they either literally or figuratively travel from A to B.

Some plots cover a long stretch of time, even hundreds of years, while others cover less than a single day. Other plots go back in time, weaving in things that happened before the beginning of story.

Some plots focus on the characters. Other plots focus more on the story itself, and what happens to those characters.


And so on. There are also major plot issues that come up again and again--holes, loose ends, deus ex machina endings, (I utterly despise it when things get resolved just because the story had been set up in a way for it to be an ugly situation otherwise) twists for shock factor, repetitiveness, stories that have been told many times before, etc.

So. How important is plot to you? Do you think it is more or less important than characters or setting?

What kind of plot do you prefer? Do you like complex stories, with lots of characters? Do you prefer stories that focus on the characters, or ones that are driven by the plot itself? What are plot issues that really bother you in a story?


-----The Golden Eagle
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08 June, 2011

Girl, On The Run: A Story


They say to take the alleyways when you need to get away. You know them, but the soldiers don’t, that’s the idea.
   Trouble is, I’m not one of those scrawny kids I see every day when I pass this junkyard. I don’t know the streets as well as I have to, to ditch the soldier chasing me, but I’ve got to get out. I’ve got to find a way to hide.
   I stop. There’s a corner ahead of me, and the gravel beneath my feet has turned to damp dirt. Think there’s someone around that corner? Think a soldier’s just waiting to pounce, satisfaction written across his face as his quarry stumbles straight into his hand? My heart beats faster, by breath comes quick, but my brain is still in a quandary.
   Nothing to do about it now. He’ll have heard my heart thumping like a piston by now, even though I hadn’t moved.
   I power out of the corner, gasping, sure I’m going to be shot the second I set foot into the wider alley.
   No one. Just a fat rat in the corner.
   I’m scaring myself silly.
   Silly. Haha.
   Shut up, I tell myself. No time for jokes, even if you still remember the days when they could be told without getting a beating.
   More turns in the junkyard. The pound of the soldier’s feet seems to come from all directions, echoing off this metal wall, thudding against the wall nearby, behind me, in front of me, even clambering across the top of the rusted scaffolding I pass.
   My face is red and burning. My legs are about to collapse under me, and my knee gives out as I take a corner too sharply.
   I slam against the wall, skull crashing into its hard, cold surface.
   The pounding footsteps stop.
   He’s heard me.
   I bite my lip to hold in the scream of fear. I stand up, brush the dirt off my clothes, and dash into a dark, abandoned building. Inside, there are barrels. There is old furniture. There are old, discarded cans of something that smells like gas. I step forward and my foot crunches something, but I don’t look down to find out what.
   “Come on, now,” the soldier says. “I might go easy on you if you come out.”
   I’m just sure he’s got his gun out and is ready to shoot me if come within view. That’s the easy way, isn’t it?
   “You haven’t committed a crime yet. Just come out, and we’ll get this sorted.”
   He sounds so rational, don’t he?
   Rational, reasonable, logical. Like there’s justice behind him, when everyone knows the soldiers and their commanders are the corrupt ones who don’t give a hoot who gets hurt, so long as they have their money and power and control.
   I ignore him. I march toward the back row of barrels and look at the rim. It’s up to my shoulders.
   I can’t get in one of those without making the whole row tumble.
   “You’re in here, aren’t you, boy?”
   Boy. Another haha. I’m no boy. Might look like one, but they always judge people on appearances only.
   “You can’t hid in here, you know. I might even flick on the light.”
   I panic.
   There’s no light. I know this. There’s no electricity. But he might have a flashlight, see?
   “But who needs a light when I can just look with my own two eyes, eh, boy? And you won’t know where I am until I’ve got you in my grasp.”
   Gun sights, you mean.
   But I don’t respond.
   Instead, I wait.
   He marches toward me, loud and clear, and my hands jump around of their own accord, brushing on another, fretting like an old woman’s. I try to think, but his footsteps are the only thing in my head. The thing carrying my capture and death toward me.
   “I won’t hurt you if you come out, boy.”
   I laugh.
   Out loud.
   Oops.
   “Are you laughing, boy? Have you gone crazy? Because if you have, it makes my job easier.”
   Yeah. No red tape to shoot a loony.
   “I ain’t crazy!” I shout, adding a drawl to my words to make it sound like I’m one of those kids from up in the North, where, they say, bears are their friends and the coyotes guard their camps.
   “I can see you, you know.”
   He steps close to the line of barrels, and I finally get a glimpse of the soldier. He’s youngish, a little roguish, his smile friendly-ish.
   But I know better.
   I lurch against the row of barrels and they go tumbling down on his head, all that metal coming down on one person.
   Can’t leave them conscious for long, can it?
   I run along with a rolling barrel, both of us, it seems, heading for the exit. Only I make it farther out the door, and then I’m pelting around corners, careless in my abandon, grinning like the loony he thought I was.
   I have escaped.

**********

This story is an entry in Icewolf's writing contest. It isn't actually part of a WIP or a current project; just something I wrote up today because of a dream I had.

What do you think?

And have dreams ever caused you to write something?


-----The Golden Eagle

07 June, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (40) + 500 Posts!

Yes, this my 500TH POST!

Just wanted to mention that, and to thank all of you for reading those posts. :)

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Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading! This is a fun weekly meme, and the rules are simple:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from The Queen of Water by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango. I find it amazing that it's based on a true story.


Later in the afternoon, before the Doctorita gets home from school, I sneak a book off the shelf and stare at the words, waiting to see what other people see, waiting for some meaning to pop out from the ink, rubbing my eyes and blinking and moving them in and out of focus. What do everyone else's eyes have that mine don't?
-p. 83

*********

Have a teaser, or thoughts on the book you're reading? Feel free to share them in the comments!

(Also: I'll try to get around to your blogs and finish the list for "It's All Fun and Games Blogfest" today, but I might not be able to.)


-----The Golden Eagle

06 June, 2011

It's All Fun And Games Blogfest!

Yes, today is the It's All Fun and Games Blogfest hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh!


The idea? Post three of your favorite games, whatever they may be--no restrictions.

My three:

1. Mancala


This is the standard sort of board, although there are versions where four people can play. The theory (in case you've never heard of it before) is to "capture" as many of those little pieces as possible by moving them around the board; there are several different ways you can play, by moving clockwise, counterclockwise, allowing people to take pieces when they land in an empty pit, etc.

I love it, for some reason--and I have a lot of fun memories of playing mancala before and during dance recitals. (50+ kids, one dressing room, two hours 'till your number, what else is there?)

If you want to play against a computer, go HERE.

2. Scrabble


Hard, sometimes (especially when the vowel monster hits and gives you what feels like all the "E"s in the bag) but a lot of fun. Objective: get as many points as you can on a 15x15 square board using randomly-chosen letters in a bag of 100. There are varying ways of playing this one, too; 7-letter, 9-letter, (the way my mom and I usually do), with score limits, etc.

3. Tetris


Because it's fun to eliminate as many lines as possible, and I thought I should include something electronic. Goal for this game is to arrange tetrominoes (the shapes you see) so that they make up solid lines across, which disappear as they join up.

Also, Tetris has been proved to improve cognitive brain functions, such as "movement, critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing". No, really.

To play online, go HERE.

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So, what are some of your favorite games?


-----The Golden Eagle
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05 June, 2011

Book Review: Stardust



Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Spike Books
Genre: Fantasy/Adult
Page Count: 235
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Cover Rating:

Inside flap:
In the sleepy English countryside, at the dawn of the Victorian Era, life moves at its leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall, so named for an imposing stone barrier that divides the village from an adjacent meadow. Armed sentries guard the sole gap in this wall, in order to keep the curious from wandering through. Only once every nine years do they relax their vigil, when a market fair unlike any other comes to the meadow.
   Here in Wall, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to beautiful Victoria Forester. But Victoria is cold and distant--as distant, in fact, as the star she and Tristran see fall from the sky on a crip October evening. For the coveted prize of Victoria's hand, Tristran vows to retrieve the fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the ancient wall, and propels him into a world that is strange beyond imagining.
   But Tristran is not the only one seeking the heavenly jewel. There are those for whom it promises youth and beauty, the key to the kingdom, and the rejuvenation of dark, dormant magics. And a lad compelled by love will have to keep his wits about him to succeed and survive in this secret place where fallen stars come in many guises--and where quests have a way of branching off in unexpected directions, even turning back upon themselves in space and time.

My expectations: High. I love books by Neil Gaiman.

I am happy to say I wasn't disappointed.

About the book: Some books are plot-based, some books are character-driven, some books have a beautiful setting. But there are fewer books out there that are just, simply, a really good story that you want to hear over and over again. This happens to be one of them. Stardust is a well-written novel with a great set of characters, lots of adventure, and good amount of romance, too. It's rather fairy-tale-ish, with people romping about trying to find falling stars in a the English countryside for love and youth and power, but it's wonderfully told.


  • Plot:

Great pacing, a good number of twists throughout, and the adventure just carries you along. The ending is excellent--it was one of my favorite parts of the book, tying things up well but into something not exactly perfect, either.


  • Characters:

Tristran was sweet. He's young, he's innocent, and his motives are purely for love. He's nice to the people he meets, means well, and tries to do his best. How much sweeter can you get?

Yvaine was feisty, independent, and a great female character. I loved her spunk.

Tertius, Secundus, and Septimus, and their brothers (alive and dead) were excellent antagonists. Dark, evil, cunning; it was easy to rally on the side of the protagonist against them.


  • Setting/Elements:

The world in Stardust would have to be one of the places I'd want to visit. It's magical, a blend of this world and the world of Faerie--but not the cold, sinister sort of setting a lot of Faerie books seem to present these days. It's a realistic mix of good and bad.

Other: Language, sex.

I wish my library had the movie, because I really want to see how they did it, but they don't. (Have any of you seen it? Is it good?)

Do I recommend this book? Yes!


-----The Golden Eagle

02 June, 2011

Do You Have To Like The Setting To Enjoy A Book?

Relating to last week's post "Do You Have To Like The Main Character To Enjoy A Book?", this time I'm asking about setting.

(An example of a setting I want to live in. Now. SOURCE)

For me, Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith would be a good example of setting. I really liked the main character. Smith's writing style just drew me straight into the scene, right with the character, so I couldn't help but run with him, laugh with him, fight off the bad guys and struggle to survive.

But. The setting was not only sad and cruel, but there were so many times where I felt like closing the book on the violence and gore. It was the setting that really stopped me from fully enjoying it. The detail was there, the description was there, the execution was good--it was the general idea I didn't like. It's happened before, where I liked the characters, thought the plot was solid, but didn't enjoy the setting.

For another kind of example, there's J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He describes it in so much detail it's amazing--the world is amazing. In the volume I have in front of me, with all three books, there are 7 appendices and 4 indexes for all kinds of things, relating to the world of LOTR. History, language, calendar methods, alphabets, you name it, it's there. Now that's dedication to a story. (I have to say, though, I've never actually read those 110+ pages systematically. Just referred to them when I had to. I'm not that geek. ;)


Which brings me to another aspect to setting. How detailed must it be? Some series are based on a single world alone, with stories taking up different parts of the world's history, even causing one thing to happen in a future book or vice versa. The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett all takes place in--you guessed it--Discworld, for example, with a total of 38 books, according to Wikipedia. And there are many other examples of a series taking place in the same world: Tamora Pierce (Tortall), Kristin Cashore (Seven Kingdoms), Isaac Asimov (Foundation), etc.

So, do you have to like the setting to enjoy a book? How much detail must there be for you to fully see the setting in your mind's eye, and have you ever come across a book with too much detail? Can you think of any examples of a book that you would have liked more with a better setting?


-----The Golden Eagle

01 June, 2011

Yes, This Is A Cell Phone Ad. Yes, That Is A Wooden Ball Rolling Down A Xylophone. Yes, It Is A Very Cool Rube Goldberg Machine.



Because I won't be around to blog today, I leave you with this video. Believe me, it's worth the watch--can you imagine laying down all those supports for the wooden ramp, not to mention the actual strips that make up the notes? Can you imagine how many times they must have run that ball down the slope just to test it out and see if it works? How they managed to get all that wood right, with the precise length and angle so the ball doesn't go falling off the edge?

Amazing.

Enjoy your day, everyone!

-----The Golden Eagle