Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book 9/15, "Off the Shelf" Challenge

Book Cover Photo courtesy of
The ninth book I read for the "Off the Shelf" Challenge was Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk.  This book has been sitting on my shelf for a long, long time.  I saw Fight Club in theaters when it came out in 1999, and soon after, I purchased the book that it was based on.  I loved the movie, and enjoyed the book as well, and so a few years later, when I saw Lullaby on the shelf, I bought it as well.  But I didn't read very much back then, and when I actually tried to read it I just couldn't get into it.

Then a few years later I tried reading it again, but I still couldn't get into it.  I tried reading it just a couple years ago, but I was either pregnant at the time, or had just had my son, and so the fact that there are a lot of babies dying in the book made me put it down again.

So the other day, when I realized I only had 4 1/2 months to read 7 more books for this challenge, I remembered this book was sitting on the shelf.  I had just re-watched Fight Club for a post I wrote over at (Top 5 David Fincher Movies), and I thought, "Yeah, I should finally read that."

So the beginning was hard, because, like I said before, several babies die in the first part of the book.  Now, it's not graphic but it's still hard to read when you're a parent, especially a parent of a young child.  Here's a little background about the book before I go any further:  Carl Streator is a journalist who has been assigned a story about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), but while investigating, he notices that most of the crime scenes include a book open to the same page.  On the page is an African culling song, a lullaby that was traditionally read to the terminally ill, in hopes that they would die a peaceful death.  So Streator goes hunting for all the books, along with a few other odd-ball characters, trying to destroy them all before the lullaby kills too many people.  The problem is, he's got the lullaby in his head, and is inadvertantly killing people, simply by thinking the words to himself.

So the plot line, I think, is pretty cool.  A lullaby that, said aloud (or even thought), can kill?  And luckily the dead babies only appear at the beginning and at the very end, so once I got in the meat of the book I really enjoyed it. However, a lot of creepy stuff happens here and there, and the end is pretty messed up.  I wish that some of the gross stuff had been left out, because I really don't think the story needed most of it.  Although, I guess it wouldn't be Chuck Palahniuk without it.

Another thing I noticed when reading the book, is that there is a very strong voice throughout.  Palahniuk's phrasing of sentences, his informal style, is such that, if I were to open one of his books without knowing the author, I would realize it was his work right from the beginning.  I mean, that could be a good or a bad thing.  He's got his own style, which sets him apart from others. But unfortunately, it could limit his writing.  If all of his books sound the same, if they have the same voice, then that voice becomes Palahniuk's voice, not the voice of his characters.  Which means that either all his characters end up sounding the same, or the voice sounds weird on certain characters.  Does this make any sense?  It makes sense to me, but it's hard for me to articulate. 

I'm really glad I finally got through this book.  I mean, it's been sitting on my shelf for at least 6 years.  But overall, I have to give this a 3/5, a medium ranking.  While some of the story is great, I really didn't like certain parts.  I would reccomend this book to others, but only to people who have read and loved other books by Chuck Palahniuk.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pottermore, Glow, Writing, and More...

Wow, how long has it been since I've written a post?  The beginning of June?  Jeez.  Well, we've been pretty busy over at, so writing on my own blog which really has no major theme has fallen by the wayside...

So, what has been happening?  Well, if you've been under a rock you've missed the whole awesomeness that is Pottermore!  Basically it's an interactive website that allows Harry Potter fans (like me!) to explore the books and material in a new way.  Highlights:  you get to be sorted into a Hogwarts house and get a wand, both of which J.K. Rowling created the processes herself!  Now I'll finally get to officially see if I'm a Hufflepuff like I think I am...

So Pottermore opens to all in October, but recently there was this thing called The Magical Quill challenge, where fans could solve clues to gain early access to the site.  I was one of the lucky few to gain this early access (as were several of my friends)!  Now we just have to wait until we get our Welcome email that will let us know that we can go ahead and get onto the site.  Man, I try to be a very patient person, but it's proving to be quite hard waiting for that email!

I've also been doing A LOT of reading.  So far this year I've read 45 books!  Granted, 17 of those were Sweet Valley High books, which are only around 150 pages each.  But some of the other books have been pretty hefty!  My original goal was to read 35 books this year, and I reached that number in May!  Woohoo!  Unfortunately, my other reading goal was to complete the 2011 Off the Shelf Challenge by reading 15 books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while, waiting to be read.  So far I've only read 8 for that challenge.  But I still have 4 1/2 months to reach that goal!

Photo copyright St. Martin's Press
I'm super excited about one of the books I read recently.  It's called Glow, by Amy Kathleen Ryan.  I received an ARC through a giveaway on Goodreads, and the book will be released in late September.  Glow is a young adult novel set in the future, where two spaceships are on course to "New Earth," where they hope to preserve the human race.  The story revolves around two teenagers, Waverly and Kieran, who are poised to be the next leaders of their ship, the Empyrean.  But when the inhabitants of their sister ship, the New Horizon, invade the Empyrean and kidnap some of the children, the ships' course changes and an impending battle thrusts Waverly and Kieran into those leadership roles earlier than they expected.

Here's my review from Goodreads:  

WOW! I LOVED this book! There is so much action and suspense throughout the whole novel that it was really hard for me to put it down, so I only stopped reading when I absolutely had to!  
The characters are very complex; just when you think you have a character figured out, Amy Kathleen Ryan throws a wrench in your theory. I really found myself liking a lot of the characters, and even having sympathy for the antagonists.  
There are a lot of themes going on in this book, the obvious ones being one's duty to their community, and morality vs. faith or lack thereof. The religion aspect gets a bit heavy near the end of the book, but I think Ryan did a good job with showing the advantages and disadvantages of both organized religion and atheism/agnosticism.  
The only problem I really had with the book is that it's not even published yet, and the ending is left wide open for sequels, which means fans will most likely have a LONG time to wait for the second book in the series.  

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA books, especially those who also love Science Fiction!

Also, I just (finally!) started editing my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel.  I'm really excited about this book and I hope to have this 2nd draft ready for beta readers within the next few months.  But I really have no idea how long it will take me to get this draft done...

Other than that I've been taking care of my nearly two-year-old son and working hard on Reviews in 5.  The site has been live for about 4 1/2 months now, and so far it's going great!  Please visit the site and be sure to "like" us on Facebook!  

That's all for now.  Hopefully my next post won't be two months from now!