Monthly Archives: October 2012

Travel Books

I’m back, everyone! I have been painfully busy and haven’t finished a book until now (even though I haven’t *technically* finished this book), I think it’s about time I post SOMETHING. Hopefully November will be a bit less crazy for me (not likely) and I can get back to my usual reading and writing schedule. I’ve missed you all so very much and I’m happy to be back!

Okay, so here’s the thing. I can’t exactly write a traditional Olivia review on this book. Why? Because, as stated above, I haven’t finished. I’ve tried and tried and spent TWO WEEKS on this sucker, but I just can’t bring myself to finish it. So instead of going the traditional route, I’m going to write a bit about the book, where this was lacking, and what I look for in travel books in general.

I love travel books, I really do! (see ‘I Went to France for Bastille Day’) I saw this in the library, and without looking too hard at it, I just got it. I hardly ever get books on a whim like that, but I figured it couldn’t be too bad!

Wrong.

Let’s just talk about the title. It’s eye catching because no one who looks at it has any clue whatsoever what it means! I got a million questions about this book while reading, most of which I fended off with “It’s a travel book about a guy who uses a really old travel guide to go through Europe.” He uses an old book published in the 60’s called ‘Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.” This book is almost like a collection of short stories, one from each city he visited. He set out on this trip to get out of the monotony of his life, find love (okay…), and see all of the worlds most special European landmarks, purposefully looking for the touristy stuff.

At first, it was great. What a great concept, a quick-and-dirty of Europe’s most traveled cities! But the problem is that the narrator is completely unlikable. He is whiny, annoying, and a total armchair traveler. Part of the way through his trip he’s joined by his friend Lee, who is more of an adventurous spirit. Lee drags Doug into crazy situations that aren’t really that crazy, but at least makes the book a *wee* bit more interesting. I got to the chapter where Lee was supposed to leave, and there I couldn’t take it anymore. The thought of Lee leaving, Lee who brought all of the life to the book despite being more obnoxious than Doug, was enough to bring me to finally put the book down.

Heavens, y’all, don’t bother picking this one up. It brought a bit more realism to the overly-glorified picture of cities you get from guide books, but pushed it way too far with exaggerated cynicism.

What I’m looking for next, after I get a nice break with some beloved YA (I finished an ARC of Dualed on Sunday and now I’m reading the sequel to Princess Academy), is a book like this one in concept, but more likeable. A kind, softer, less obnoxious narrator who spends a little more time on the places themselves and less on the old German guys in laderhosen that were very entertaining to watch. (I mean, seriously.)

When I go to YALLFest in Charleston in a few weeks, I’m planning on doing something like this, actually. Except in the form of a vlog. Hopefully I’ll take video clips from my trip and different parts of Charleston and seal them all together with some nice voice over information. I don’t claim to be an expert, but most people have never been to this beautiful city, and I think it would be really cool to watch! Just tossing the idea around, please let me know in the comments if you have suggestions and stuff. I’m thinking about focusing on three main aspects: food, history, and architechture.

Have a lovely week, all! 🙂

Olivia

P.S. if you were worried about me with Hurricane Sandy, rest assured- I’m fine! Most of North Carolina is just getting blustery cold weather! I can’t say the same for most people up North, however. Millions are still without power, and the confirmed death count is now at 30. Please consider donating to the Red Cross to provide relief to the victims! Thank you. (donate here)

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Filed under Nonfiction

Book Review- Ten

I wouldn’t normally read this book. I get terrified very, very easily. At random stuff, at actual scary stuff, it doesn’t matter. I’m a big fat scaredy cat. But I had heard great things about this book, and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t disappointed!

Ten teens. Three days. One killer.

Meg and her best friend Minnie are super excited to go to a party on Henry Island. Only the coolest kids are invited, and it’s going to be the greatest weekend ever- no parents, just fun. But when the rest of the party doesn’t show up, and a storm begins to rage outside, they get nervous. With no connection to the outside world, things start to get downright creepy. A strange DVD in the T.V., and then people start dying off. Meg is racing against the clock to find the killer before they’re all dead. Is it one of the ten kids or someone else? (my apologies for the crappy summary. Here’s Goodreads’ if you’d rather: link)

Creeptacular! It’s just as bone-chilling as it sounds. I really enjoyed how the author managed to make it more than pure frights. It was so much more than a bunch of dead teenagers. They each have a story, and as we find out throughout the book, they each have a reason the killer wants them dead. It was a mystery in addition to all the creeps and thrills. By the end, I had absolutely no idea who the killer was, except that it couldn’t be any of the people who were already dead.
There was a nice romance between Meg and T.J. I was impressed that they were able to focus on each other for even a moment given all of the people dying and whatnot. But while I would normally protest that romance is completely unbelievable in life-or-death situations, I liked it. Meg really needed someone to talk to, because as it progresses, the weekend gets more and more frightening. I would need someone to talk to, too, if all of my friends were dying.

I can see why this novel was pretty hyped up. It was well written, suspenseful, and will fit well in todays teen market. The majority of teens really enjoy stuff that creeps the heck out of them, and even for adults this will do the trick. I love the ending, and I think the entire book was very well thought out. Not to be missed for anyone who loves or is writing a thriller or horror! Or maybe even someone like me, who avoids it like the plague. Great for the reluctant teen reader in your life.

Just make sure not to read it at night.

Olivia

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction

Finding Balance

Something I perpetually struggle with: balance.
How do I balance reading and writing? Schoolwork and blogging? Studying and getting the right amount of sleep?

And the thing on my mind most lately, how do I balance worrying about how my writing is turning out and letting it go completely?

This story really begins on Friday. I was straightening my hair (as anyone with curly hair knows, this is no joke) and wanted something to do while I worked away. I don’t know how many of you know about Ted Talks, but basically they are 20 minute long educational lectures. Except they are very, very interesting. On a whim, I searched for Ted Talks on writing and clicked on one by Elizabeth Gilbert. Some of y’all that have been here since this blog began might remember my review of Eat, Pray, Love by her. I hated it. But as it turns out, she is a charasmatic public speaker and has some really interesting points to bring up in this particular talk. Here‘s the talk. I highly recommend you watch it, even if you aren’t a writer or creative-oriented person.

If you don’t have time, Elizabeth basically talks about writing and creativity. Why is it that writers in particular have a history of being mentally unstable? So many writers in history were undone by their gifts. Why is this? Why do writers feel so much crushing pressure that sometimes they will put writing away forever? What is it about creative people that gives us that reputation?

Elizabeth looks back in history to the Ancient Greece and Rome, where some of history’s greatest philosophers, artists, and writers came from. Back then, the view of the arts was much different. People believed that everyone creative had a genius, who lived in their studio wherever they worked and helped them with their work. They were separate from the human, and it was very freeing to be creative during this time period. If you failed, it wasn’t entirely your fault. If you succeeded, it wasn’t entirely your doing, either. And then along came the Renaissance, which was the beginning of people calling a person a genius instead of having a genius. That was the beginning of the end, you could say. After that, it was even harder than it would be in the first place to be creative. Being called a genius puts an enormous amount of pressure on a single person.

The point is, balance is hard to achieve. We have to remember that, as writers, it’s completely normal for us to doubt ourselves and feel like we’ll never find the words for the story that’s in our heads. We all feel this way, the paranoia of having characters’ entire existence in your hands and wanting to do justice to their story. You aren’t alone in this. Just try to let it out of your hands.

Try thinking about each writer as a pen. (haha nice analogy, right?) A pen has extraordinary possibilities, you can write or draw almost anything with it. But only so much ink can flow out of the tiny nib at a time. You can press down on paper really hard, but that isn’t going to make the ink flow any faster.

As Elizabeth suggests, let us celebrate those who have the guts to write, paint, draw, sculpt, film, and every other thing of beauty. It takes as much determination as it does talent to be successful creatively. And let’s remember that success is self-defined: no one can tell you that you aren’t successful if you’ve passed your own goals.

Fight that voice in your head that says you aren’t good enough. Kick and scratch and whatever you do, don’t give up. If you need to trunk one project or a dozen, that’s ok. But don’t ever stop completely.

In the beautiful words of Tahereh Mafi:

“we write every day, we fight every day, we think and scheme and dream a little dream every day. manuscripts pile up in the kitchen sink, run-on sentences dangle around our necks. we plant purple prose in our gardens and snip the adverbs only to thread them in our hair. we write with no guarantees, no certainties, no promises of what might come and we do it anyway. this is who we are.”

Olivia

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Filed under writing

Book Review- Crewel

So, this book was AMAZING. WITH ALL CAPS LOCK. I’m in shock. I was lucky enough to win it in a signed ARC off of Twitter, and I also have signed matching bookmarks. Matchy matchy! So cool. I’m very lucky.  (as always with bigger ARC’s, I’m sticking to the GR summary)

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Sounds unebelievable. Y’all know I’m always wary of books that are too hyped, because nothing kills your love of books like reading a book where you expect it to be great and it stinks. (Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I’m talking to you) This book wasn’t what I expected, it was BETTER.

First, lets talk about the writing style. Gosh, do I love Gennifer’s way with words! This is such a delicate story; a genius idea and great world building, but without the breathtaking and poetic writing style, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressed. It could have been one of those novels you love the idea for, but the excecution was terrible. But it wasn’t, and thank goodness for that! Right from the start, I was hooked by the gorgeous prose. And after a couple pages, the plot captured me, and the rest is history.

The world buiding is eeriely believable. With such a specific topic, it would have been easy to do something characteristic of James Patterson and forget the details you wrote earlier, thus making the reader very, very lost. I was absolutely glued to this book for all of yesterday and didn’t give up until I finished.

I love how this book has me thinking about weaving. I can almost see the weave of that walls around me (not really, I wish). Made me really thing about the scarf I’m crocheting, and what if I was using a thunderstorm for yarn instead, or the gold time thread, or water, or a person. People have threads, too. It especially reminds me of a yarn I’m crocheting that scarf with right now. It’s called The Wedding Job from Nerd Girl Yarns. (I think they should rename it Crewel, but…)

The romance is great. There is a sort of love triangle, but not in the usual tear-your-heart-apart-everyone-ends-up-sad way. The realistic kind, I wouldn’t be surpised if it happened in real life. The boy Adelice eventually chose was the one I (and a lot of other people too, I think) was rooting for from the beginning. The other boy isn’t too torn up about it. Whenever they were together, I got this silly smile on my face, because as terrible as the situation is, they were still really adorable.

The whole plotline is tangled up, and the way it unravels is truly awe-inspiring. The ending is very…. whoa. There were way more sci-fi and thriller elements in it than I expected, but I was not disappointed! The way the end was worded was a little bit hard to understand, but once I understood what had happened I couldn’t find the words to talk about it. I can’t…. she totally surprised me. The second book isn’t even officially OUT yet and I’m already dying for it!

Crewel releases October 16th, and you can pre-order it here! Recommended to everyone. Really great book. And if you would like to try it first, the first 5 chapters are available free on Kindle!(Link)

Hope everyone liked the review! 🙂

Olivia

P.S. Have y’all seen my new header? I love it! It was designed by my friend @alliebbooks. I’ll be adding contact info for her on my bio soon.

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Filed under ARC, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance