Sunday, October 25, 2009

2 Awesome Books!

Okay, I'm really, really sorry for not writing about any books for weeks! I've been very busy, and the books I have been reading are actually really big and bulky, and I'm reading them at the same time! These two books are The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown (I am very close to finishing this, so a review will soon be in order, I expect) and Planet Simpson, by Chris Turner (This book is incredibly huge! But I love it, because it continues to feed my new obsession over the Simpsons. ^_^)

I have also been quite lucky and honored to be a beta-reader for my good friend, Graham. (I'm sorry to be taking so long, buddy! ~,~) Plus I've been having many thoughts and ideas on the story I will write for NaNoWriMo. (If anyone feels curious about what my ideas are, just comment and show your interest.) As you can see, I've got a lot of stuff on my mind presently.

But today I finished a couple of short, quick books that I really liked, so here is my review of both of them at the same time. First, I read Simpsons Comics Royale, a book that, obviously by the title, had Simpson comics in it. That was really funny. ^_^ Reading comics of the Simpsons is just about as good as watching the show. (My sibs have recently taken to watching short clips of Simpson episodes on Some of them are really hilarious!!!)

Besides the comics, dispersed within the book are page-long insights, commentary, and personal stories by Simpson creator, Matt Groening. (How is the guy's name pronounced? I automatically think it's groaning, but I don't think that's exactly it. =P) Matt sounds like a really fun guy.

I think my favorite comic in the book was "Lisa's Adventures in Wordland," which was a spoof on Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Very funny. I hope to find more Simpson comic books soon. ^_^

The other book I read was one I picked up from the library yesterday, but finished today in only one sitting! It's called Dancing the Dream, by Michael Jackson. Yep. That's right. MICHAEL JACKSON WROTE A BOOK!!! (He actually wrote another book before this one, Moonwalk, which I hope to read very soon, because that book is biographical!) I loved Dancing the Dream! It was a book full of pictures of Michael and poetry that he wrote!!! Oh my god, if he wasn't already a poet in the way he wrote his awesome songs, he has become my favorite writer of poems ever!

Michael has such a way with words in this book. Most of his poems are prose and stories. They don't necessarily rhyme. But whenever he does choose to rhyme, the result is just... beautiful. No other word can do it justice. I love Michael Jackson's poems. It's incredible that I found yet another reason to love him. ^,^ I wish he'd written more.

Actually, I was a little vexed to discover that the copy I read was missing many pages, throughout the book! Where did these pages go? And what was written on them?! I can see that I will someday have to get another copy of this book, so that I can read it in it's entirety.

I would really like to share my favorite poems of his, so you can share in my incredible enthusiasm, but they are a bit too long, and I don't want to just post excerpts, because you simply must read the whole poem for the full effect. So I suppose I can't do anything more than hope that this review has inspired you to look for this book in your local store or library, because if you happen to be a big Michael Jackson fan, like I am, you just HAVE to see the incredible things Michael has to say to us.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

James Dashner Interview!

In honor of yesterday's well-awaited release of James Dashner's "The Maze Runner" (Yay! Now the general public is finally going to get a taste of this awesome book!), I decided to post an unofficial interview that I had with the Dashner Dude himself. ^_^ I am very excited for this!

See, for the past week or so, James had been holding this fun event on the site Random Buzzers, where he got to chat with those fans who asked him questions in a forum. It was really fun, especially for me! So what I've done is copied and pasted all the burning questions that I asked him, as well as his insightful answers. This interview has very minimal edits! One thing I did, though, was actually make my last question my first question instead. I thought it would be more appropriate at the top. ENJOY!

PinkMagenta (the name I adopted on Random Buzzers)[PM]: How many of your characters were based on or influenced by people you know?

James Dashner[JD]: None of my characters are specifically based on anyone, except me sometimes. But I'm sure traits here and there are incorporated.

PM: Here's something I've been wondering: How did Thomas and Teresa get that special ability of theirs? And why is it so important in the greater scheme of things? While it is a very useful ability to have, to be sure, I'm not sure why they need it. And why they're the only ones that can, and all the other boys don't have it.

JD: Ah, very good question. And so excellently clandestine! I'll just say this: it came in very handy when they were doing what they were doing before The Maze Runner begins. I can't say another word!

PM: Thanks, James. I think I'm good with that answer. (Do I have a choice? =P) So I guess I'll steer my questions away from the actual story (for now) and ask you something a little more random. That'll be fun. ^_^ Do you have an alter-ego? If you do, what's his name and how is he different from yourself? I see my alter-ego in the book I'm writing. (Also, I have to ask. Is there any chance you'll someday do a tour in Florida? Ever?)

JD: Hmmm, alter ego? I think mine is the guy who will take all the risks. I'm kind of timid when it comes to stuff like that. I don't think I could do what Thomas does in The Maze Runner. I don't know about Florida, but I can't imagine I don't end up in Atlanta one of these days since that's where I'm from. Fingers crossed! Maybe even Florida, who knows?

PM: Here's another question: What is one of the more creative things you've done to fend off writer's block (if you've ever gotten it)? Any tips from the awesome Dash?

JD: Creative ways to fight writer's block? My absolute best solution: watch a movie. If you don't have time for that, just write something really stupid. Force yourself. Your brain will jar loose, I promise!

PM: ^_^ Ha! I like the idea of writing something stupid... Why should one always write a perfectly formed sentence? =P Here's a new question: When you're writing material for your books (13th Reality, Maze or whatever), what percentage do you write in a computer as compared to in a notebook or something? Like, do you solely do your work on a keyboard, or do you have a bunch of notebooks full of ideas and brainstorms and things?

JD: Almost everything I do is on the laptop. I do have a notebook to jot down notes and brainstorms when the mood strikes me, but all of my actual draft writing takes place on the computer. What about you?

PM: Huh, I figured you largely used a computer. Me? When I first had the idea for my book, I filled whole notebooks with a ton of ideas for characters and what happened to them, and then I wrote the actual draft on my computer. Haven't gotten much farther than the beginning dozen chapters, though. My story has kept evolving over the years. I rarely ever use a notebook anymore. Come to think of it, it's probably been months since I've worked on my story file. I keep it online, so I can write from any computer.

*Thank you so much for answering all my questions so wonderfully!

**JD: Magenta, you're so nice to me. I really appreciate it.

*PM: Aww, stop it! ^_^ *blush*
That's all, folks! I hope you enjoyed my first ever author interview! (Thanks a ton, James! ^_^ You're the best.) I had lots of fun being a part of this, and I hope this particular post makes way for some big changes on this blog. (Dun duhn DUH!)

* I actually didn't say that stuff, I just added it.
** James really did say this, but not in this particular place. I took it out of context. But isn't that so nice!? ^_~

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo

Remember when I wrote about reading the first chapter of The Magician's Elephant in Borders a couple posts back? Well, I got it from the library a while ago, and today I picked it up and read the whole thing in one whole day! In this case, the book being such a quick read went in its favor. I love the author, Kate DiCamillo's writing style, and this book was another one of her sweet and simple masterpieces for the young at heart.

The story is told from the view of many characters, all interrelated to each other in the end, but it's about a boy who goes to a fortune teller one day and asks if his sister is alive. The teller says she does indeed live, and that he will be led to her by, of all things, an elephant. Now, this is quite a silly idea, because no one in his village there has ever encountered such a creature, and besides, what does an elephant have to do with finding his sister? Mysterious, no?...

Well soon after that, a magician in town is performing a show, and instead of conjuring up a bouquet of flowers, he instead makes a great big elephant suddenly, and unexpectedly, crash through the ceiling and into the room! Now that's real magic! And the magician doesn't even know how he did it! Well, not really. But the details are for you to read later.

The way the characters were written was probably my favorite part of the book. Each character gets a clearly written history, and you get a wonderful view of their hopes and dreams, and what is nearest and dearest to their hearts. Even the elephant gets her point of view told in the story. And like I said before, all of these characters are connected, and eventually they all meet each other and come to the same conclusion that this is a small and magic world that we live in. Even when things are at their darkest and bleakest, impossible things can happen. Like an elephant appearing out of thin air!

This book is highly, highly recommended. The pictures inside are good too, and illustrate the story's mood and events perfectly, in my opinion. Imagine how quickly it will take you to read and take something special away from this book.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Guinea Pig Diaries, by A. J. Jacobs

Okay, this book was really funny, a great read. I first heard about this book while watching The Colbert Report, where Stephen actually interviewed the author. I've read this guy's other two books in the past (not this year or on this blog, but in the past), so I knew I would enjoy this new book.

Basically, it's a book full of short, but true stories about this guy who likes doing weird experiments with his life. His previous books were about experiments he'd devoted about an entire year to, such as The Know-It-All, where he attempts (and actually succeeds!) to read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, from A to Z, and The Year of Living Biblically, in which he spends an entire year doing his best to follow every single rule that is outlined in the bible (Old and New Testament!). Anyway, this book that I've just finished is about much smaller, but equally life-changing experiments that he spends, on average, about a month on.

All of A. J.'s stories are very interesting and, to me, really funny! From being radically honest all the time, to outsourcing his life to India. From trying to be the most rational person ever, to doing every little thing his wife tells him to do. From following George Washington's 110 rules of "Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation" to the T, to going on a dating service website and pretending to be the opposite sex! There are a couple other experiments he does, but I'll leave you to find out what they are, so you can read this book too.

I thought these stories were quite eye-opening and great fun to read about. The author has a humorous and smart writing style, and it's amazing when you think that these are actually true stories! I mean, this guy actually performed these experiments, and they changed his life, for real! I like those kind of weird but true stories. Especially if they're written particularly well. Pick it up and tell me what you think of it!

I really appreciate any comments you want to post on my reviews. Before my last post, the one about Angels and Demons, I didn't get any comments at all for several posts in a row! I'm really fond of comments, as I'm sure all book bloggers are. So if you feel to, please go back a little, read my other reviews, and if you are so moved, drop me a comment. I'll really appreciate it. ^_^