Thursday, October 29, 2009

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon


About the Book
On the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--Ai Ling discovers a power welling deep within her. she can reach into other people’s spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams…and that’s just the beginning.

Ai Ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor’s palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. She must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. And then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. Here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.

Recently I wanted to find something different in fantasy. I have been reading lots of fantasy that is kind influenced by fairy tales and European culture. After experiencing Miyazaki's movies, I discovered that tales could be told in such a manner than I had never thought possible. The man really knows how to open your eyes to more than the good vs. evil plot we always see, and that there can be real beauty in the smallest details.

I started writing KIN for this very reason. I wanted to help add into that vein of literature, especially something Asian-influenced. I searched the Internet for more books that would fit into this fold, and I came across Silver Phoenix. From the moment I read about it on Cindy Pon's website, and checked out reviews elsewhere, I knew that I had to have this book. I found out the author would be at Comic Con last July so I did my best to fit it into my schedule to run to meet her and purchase the book in person (which I did). The author is very sweet and willing to listen to a struggling writer obsessed with fantasy.

Silver Phoenix is written as a young adult book, but for a bit warning, it does have some "adult" content. I admired how Pon didn't dumb the sex scenes down and that acted like it does have its place in the world (which it does) and without going over the top. She trusts her readers, and I believe that helps the readers trust the story. It is a necessary discussion for the story for a young woman about ready for marriage and not there for shock value by any means.
After rejecting the marriage, Ai Ling must travel to find her father who should have returned from the Palace o f Fragrant Dreams. Her father is being held captive by Zhong Ye who is an immortal that eats souls so that he may live. He desires Ai Ling because she is the reincarnation of his lost beloved, Silver Phoenix.
The "monsters" in this book are amazing, and I wanted more of them! They were so vivid and added tension to the story since you didn't know when they would decide to make an appearance. I own three Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manuals and am interested to see what type of challenges monsters can create for characters. The monsters helped bring life to the book, as well as to the Ai Ling's dilemma. Her whole world seemed very true to me, and the monsters did as well.
The characters are really strong, I could really feel the connections Ai Ling has to her family and her, Chen Yong and Li Rong. I loved the relationship that she developed with the two brothers as Ai Ling with the sense of ease that she feels with both of them. There is also a romance in the book and it doesn't come without its bumps in the road, but it is well worth the journey (that does continue into the next book Fury of the Phoenix).
I really enjoyed connecting with Ai Ling so much in this book because I felt like I was really on the journey with her, experiencing things as she did such as the different food that she eats. Food is a basic need and Cindy Pon didn't skimp over in delicious details with good reason! It was another way for us to connect not only with Ai Ling, but the setting.
After reading this book, I wanted more! The different fantastical Asian inpired setting, food, a budding romance, a magical ability, and a mystery... I recommend reading Silver Phoenix and running out to buy Fury of the Phoenix which continues on the story of Ai Ling (which I will post a review about).
4 Stars-- Really liked it!
Natasha

Thursday, October 22, 2009

nook

The announcement of Barnes and Noble's e-reader, nook, really had me take a hard look at why I don't have an e-reader yet. I checked out all the specs, and thought really hard about what I would like, and then realized I want one.

I want one badly.

My husband suggested that I check the other e-readers on the market. He is much more sensible than I when it comes to things I want, and I am the same way for him when he is being the same condition. So, I researched for hours about all the different types, specs, upcoming models, and so on. I knew PDFs were a big deal with me. I wanted great navigation. Music players weren't necessary, but would be fun. What did I find in the end?

I still want one badly. Without much hesitation, I put my pre-order in for the device tonight and even picked out a nice case that I can hopefully fit a little notebook in.

See, I want an e-reader to help me edit my stories. With the PDF capability, I am able to upload my novels onto the nook. I can highlight different parts of the text and use the notebook to take notes. I think I am going to do this with the first two drafts of something and then go back to my printing a paper version.

I also want to use the nook for research. I have some books that are out of print and hard to come by that I found online somewhere in PDF format. Now I can use the reader to gain access to them, as well as read free e-books that no longer have a copyright on them (like Jane Austen books).

I don't know how I am going to get through until the end of November/beginning of December for this device. What a great reward for doing National Novel Writing Month, right?

Links

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The World of Sweet Valley

I am writing all of this since there was an announcement of the new Sweet Valley High movie with Diablo Cody as the writer. She said she will base it in the 80's and that she was a fan of the series. I'm really, really interested in seeing the casting and hope that it does a better job than the TV series, and what story plot would she do? There are so many!

I don't know if I really know my first moment that I discovered Sweet Valley High. I am thinking it was in the elementary school library where I started to read Sweet Valley Twins. I sometimes think Sweet Valley High was in there, but the covers to me always had girls in skimpy clothes on them. Maybe even lingerie. I have no idea why I would think those type of books would be in our elementary library and not the high school one (I went K-12 in the same school with connecting buildings). I do remember my mother buying me a ton of the Sweet Valley High books, probably in middle school. They were on sale at the local Benjamin Frankline before it closed. I was hooked from the beginning and started buying them on a monthly basis. I lived in a small town between three "big towns" (around 1500 people in population). There was only one store in those towns that I could buy those books. First, it was Benjamin Franklin and then it closed. Then a new drug store White Drug opened and I bought them there. We would go to Langdon once a month for haircuts and other errands. I would try to go or talk my parents or brothers into picking them up for me. I remember distinctly sometimes waiting for my parents to come home late at night to see if they had the latest books.

I would also raid the libraries or wait for our trip to Grand Forks a few times a year. There was no internet then so I read some of the books over and over again. I am very careful with books, but they all had clear signs of how much I loved them on the corners, spines, and covers.

I don't know why I love those books so much. I think they were just an escape from the world around me, like most books. Their problems were sometimes out of the ordinary, but I felt some connection and enjoyed the imaginations of some of the stories. I read all of the different series, even when a few new ones came out while I was in college. I am really curious about these characters. Will Elizabeth and Todd finally stay together and marry? What kind of Jessica really settle with? Who will remain friends? Will the psycho Margo have a cousin that tries to kill the twins in the future or the crazy lady that tried to steal their mom's face have a daughter who wants to steal one of the twins' face? Those are stretches, but really, those are stretches of stretchy story plots. How can you not be entertained?

-------------
I think about my being a teenager in the summertime. We had a hammock, the kind on a wire frame, that I would put halfway into the sun to tan my legs. I would read my Sweet Valley books in it while my cats played in the grass, and sometimes one would sit on my stomach. It is hard not to relax just thinking about it.
-------------


Articles about the movie news:
Links to Check Out:

Natasha

P.S. The covers featured are three of the books that I remember distinctly reading. There are many more, but the post would end up being far too long. If you are curious, comment or e-mail me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Different View

The feeling was psychic, passing through, electric
My palm against your fingers, pressing needles through my wrist
Hearts meet, though we didn't speak of those things
Falling, falling without knowing

Light as feather, lifting up together
But a heavy ache and focus blames circles in our heads
Eyes meet, though we didn't see what would be
Falling, falling without knowing

-"Falling Without Knowing", Tilly and the Wall

Sitting in my new home, glancing at the balcony to my side. I have my desk all set up in my bedroom upstairs, ready and set to start writing. I wrote a sketch of a poem this week. I have some work to do on it, but it is one small step.

Updates

*Painting can take a long time to do. We completed the bedroom and living room "on time" and didn't die of exhaustion when we had to move the next day. We chose two different colors than we expected, a dark blue for the bedroom and a light (almost baby blue) for the living room. Both look amazing, but still have some touch-ups to do.

*Most of the unpacking is completed. Just waiting for our new bed frame and then we can arrange the bedroom and hang up pictures. My desk will remain, and the view. We will do some cleaning at our apartment, and I will be relieved when we finally don't have to look back.

*It snowed. Not too unexpected here in North Dakota. Here we plan our Halloween costumes around snow suits. Some trees seemed to freak out and dropped their leaves overnight, which was a fun sight to see.

*We love our new home and I think it will really help move me forward into my goals in my life. Our neighborhood was just one of 10 Great Neighborhoods in America by the American Planning Association. Not too shabby, eh?

Things to share

I really wish that I could have better blog entries at this time, but I thought I would post some fun things until I can get my act together.

*Check out the latest blog at Comic of Revelation. Tomorrow will have an adorable video you shouldn't miss! If you haven't read the first issue of the comic, why now? Get started!

*I really liked the wedding episode of The Office. *spoilers* At the beginning of the episode, I had an idea what would happen and I was totally right. How did I know? I did it. My husband and I wanted to get married on January 2nd, but it fell on a Monday. We had a lot of discussion and decided to marry on that day, and then do the big she-bang on January 7th, the following Saturday. So, with this group of guests, it was obvious they would marry before the ceremony. The same thing happened to Marshall and Lily on How I Met Your Mother. Seriously, do the cutest couples have alike minds? Guess so! I just know that I wanted that perfect moment, and when that second wedding came along, it didn't matter. We were married and it was wonderful. One last fun thing to say about it is I will be wearing a shorter version of the bridesmaid dress in dark brown next weekend.

*I made my first batch of miso soup today and we loved it. I nabbed the recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I totally recommend this website. It has great vegetarian and vegan recipes. The pictures are also amazing!

Natasha

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Closing Time

My husband and I close on our new home tomorrow. We have pretty much everything ready to go out the door on Saturday. Tomorrow we paint our living room and master bedroom. Right now we have colors chosen from Lowe's, Air Kiss for the living room (a light blue) and Twinkle Night (see the walls below). We shall see if we like them when we go pick up the paint tonight.

We did the walkthrough last night and I couldn't be any more excited as we walked through the empty space trying to imagine where things will go or change. We have a four day weekend to move and start putting things away.

Here's a few links to check out while I am away:

How can I NOT mention this? I read every series of Sweet Valley (not saying all the books, though). Seriously. This will have its own post sometime in the future since I can't do it justice at this time. Who will play the Jessica and Elizabeth?

Blog post by my favorite author, Juliet Marillier. She has some other great blog posts on fantasy, as well. Her latest book Heart's Blood comes out in November 3rd in the US.

Inspired by an episode of NewsRadio, my husband took the first issue of his comic and redid the dialogue by translating it into Japanese and then back into English. If you haven't read the comic, now is the time to catch up. Chapter 2 starts up again in a few weeks and Joey's blog entries are pretty entertaining.

Comes out tomorrow and we are taking a break from the chaos of moving and painting to see it. We will wear our matching shirts we earned at Comic Con by having them tattoo (airbrush) our arms.

My favorite Seattle radio show (which I podcast, or "time bandit" as we put it) was canceled a few weeks ago. Super saddened, I didn't know what to do. I was lost without Luke Burbank (the host), Jen Andrews (longtime producer), and Sean DeTore (Japan's #1 mixer). Well, they are now exclusively a podcast! You can listen (and watch!) the podcast at 12noon or download it later on the website, ITunes, and Zune. So, check it out! It talks about pop culture, great interviews, and everything in between. If you are confused by lingo, browse the website. Become a 10! Rawr!

i09 is something I now check regularly. I love some of the article that they have that involve the latest in science fiction and fantasy. This article talks about the latest teenage love story, Shiver-- with a werewolf as the leading man. I have this on my list to read. I'm not a huge Twilight fan, but I am willing to give this new series a chance. Also, see the article on Little Women and Werewolves listed on the side.

Looking at these links, there are two in there that reveal what the "secret" project that my husband and I are going to continue working on in preparation for Core Con in April 2010. Any guesses?


Natasha