Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

As I was purchasing books for my daughter for Christmas, I noticed a lot of hyp for Catherine Fisher's new novel Sapphique. I sounded intriguing. But I figured I'd better read the first book in the series before I delved into it, so I purchased Incarceron.

Incarceron takes place in a far future world where the privialged few have reverted back to Victorian-type living and the rif-raff and rejects of society have all been taken care of so life will be grand. These less desireables have be placed in a large self-sustaining prison that is supposed to provide them with an almost paradisical environment and give them everything they need. But life in the fake Victorian setting is anything but grand, and life within Incarceron is far from paradise. Claudia lives on the outside, destined for an undesirable arranged marraige. She feels her true husband to be, and the real prince has been wrongfully locked up in Incarceron. Quin lives on the inside. He feels he belongs on the outside and begins a quest to find a way out, something no one has accomplished, except for the legendary Sapphique.

The story was very difficult to get in to. If I hadn't purchased the book, I'm afraid I would have given up at page 100 and never finished it. True, it is a fantasy and had need of a fair amount of world building, but it shouldn't take me until page 150  to put the pieces together and make sense of the setting and characters. Perhaps an excess of literary descriptions slowed down the process for me. But I had to admit, once I waded through the flowery descriptions and cemented the characters and settings in my mind, I really began to enjoy the story. After page 200, I couldn't put the book down. I will most likely read the next in the series, Sapphique. But I'll wait for it to become available in my local library.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amazon's Breakthrough Noval contest

Tomorrow at 12:01, (10:01 my time), entries will be accepted for the Amazon Breakthrough Noval Award contest. I plan on entering my YA novel Literary Loom. I was just wondering how many of my writing friends are planning on entering as well? I didn't plan on entering this contest until just last Friday. I got thinking, my manuscript is basically finished, it just needs a few last rubs of polish. Why not give it a try? What do I have to lose? If any of you have a finished manusript, and you are not currently published--this is for newbies only--then you might want to give this contest a try. If you happen to place in any of the rounds of elimination, it could be another notch to put on your reseme. If you don't place, you're not out anything, as the cost is $0.00. Here's the link:  .
Just for the heck of it, I'm going to post my 300 word pitch for my readers to see. If any of you who are entering would like to share your 300 word pitch, I would love to read it and allow my followers the same privailage.

Josh Sawyer is not only stuck with a dad who tells him how to live his life, he is stuck in a new high school with a weird girl named Ester for his partner in a historical literature assignment.

Desperate to ace the assignment, Josh agrees to let Ester’s brilliant, but batty uncle help them. Josh and Ester experience book travel with the help of Uncle Reuben’s literary loom. Josh rides alongside Joan of Arc and her army in an unparalleled virtual reality reading adventure and begins to believe in Ester, her uncle, and himself.

Josh aces the assignment and is invited to join debate team, which he thinks will be the solution to all his problems. He soon discovers debate drags him into the throes of even greater problems. The coach, Mr. Pierce, is not only manipulative, but dictates Josh’s beliefs and has an intense resentment toward Ester. Josh stands up to Pierce. Pierce takes disciplinary action in the form of a huge outside-of-school debate—a debate on the existence of God.

Once again Josh recruits the help of the literary loom. He experiences the lives of William Tyndale and George Washington and pieces together a picture of how God’s hand played a role in the freedom of America. Josh goes on to win the debate match against all odds. Pierce is left bitter and revengeful, determined to destroy Josh and the Loom.

Meanwhile, Ester puts together the pieces of a mystery, and frees herself from the ridicule of others. Josh puts together the pieces of history, and learns that he really is free to make his own choices.

Literary Loom is geared to teen readers, but would appeal to any reader with a love of history and a passion for freedom.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Version of Red Robin's Baja Turkey Club

If you are looking for a quick, easy meal and you are a fan of Red Robin's Baja Turkey Club sandwich, you will want to try this recipe. I've been pleasing my family for years with this sandwich, so I thought it would be a good thing to share for this month's Mid Month Make-something Madness.

To prepare Baja sauce, add to a small bowl and mix well:
2 TBS mayonaise
2 TBS taco sauce (you can use the packets you get from any mexican fast food place)
1 tsp chili powder
(This makes enought sauce to make about 3 sandwiches).

Spread Baja sauce on each side of two pieces of bread. Add thinly sliced
pepper jack cheese to each of these pieces of bread on top of the Baja
sauce. Add a thick layer of thinly sliced deli turkey and one whole green
chile (from a can) that has been sliced open. Put the two pieces of bread
together and butter the outside of each slice and cook on a griddle the
same as you would a grilled cheese sandwich.
(P.S. These sandwiches look and taste better than my picture.
I'm not a food photographer by any means).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Review: Matched, by Ally Condie

Here is another local author that is going to go places. Ally Condie did an awesome job of drawing me into her new novel, Matched, not only effortless (on my part), but with a story line that falls in place with Hunger Games and Maze Runner as a must read in dystopic YA. I love a book that I introduces me to a different world and pulls me into a character's head without feeling confused. I also love books with invisible writing; ones that are well written and don't distract me by prompting my internal editor to reach for a red pen. Matched is one of those books. Thank you, Ally.
Cassia lives in a future time where everyone's choices seem to be made for them by the government, including one's choice of a spouse. Frustration, fear, and appreciation of my own freedoms, were some of the emtions Matched evoked as I read its pages. Cassia starts out not wanting to do anything contrary to the Society, for that is the way to be safe, to keep life easy. But as she starts to fall in love with someone other than her match, and discovers the beauty of poetry that is not sanctioned by the Society, Cassie's life becomes complicated and I as a reader can't help cheering and urging to break free from the shackles of that incipent Society she lives in.
I would easily recommend this book to young readers and old alike.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review: The Limit

I purchased Kristen Landon's The Limit as my first e-book for my new NookColor I received for Christmas.

Matt is a thirteen year old math wiz who lives in a future society where family debt is managed by the government. When families go over their limit, a child is taken from them and put into a work house where that child helps work off the family's debt. Usually they don't take kids as young as Matt, but things are changing. Matt is taken. He discovers the work house is more like a prison and is lied to about many things, including his ability to contact his parents.

The book was classified as dystopic. I guess technically it could fit there. But it didn't have that dark feel I've come to expect in a dystopic novel. It was more like a mystery where the kids at the workhouse uncover the corrupt dealings of their own particular workhouse. If they had not been the victims of a corrupt workhouse, then life would have been fine--other workhouses were painted as a good thing. That is why it probably didn't feel dystopic.

I found the plot predictable and simple. The writing was heavy with gerunds. I reminded myself as I read, that it was, after all, a middle grade book. I did however, find myself enjoying the storyline and had a desire to keep reading. That is a good thing.

I can comfortably recommend it to kids 8 to 12. They would not be as critical as I, and it does have a story I feel would appeal to kids.