Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In which I review, compare and contrast The Hunger Games and City of Bones, and probably give away major plot points

I am a reader. I devour books, and by "devour" I mean I can get through a 500 page book in a matter of hours. If it's good, I mean. If it's not, why would I do that to myself?

My (literary) drug of choice is mostly Young Adult Lit, and usually I explain this by saying that it's cleaner than adult fiction while also being more creative. This holds true when you look even more closely at my library history and see how much fantasy/ science fiction I read.

Recently I read two new series based on the gushing by various Twitterers I follow. The first was The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire.

I borrowed The Hunger Games from the library, then, out of sheer desperation (and the fact that to borrow Catching Fire, I would have to wait for the forty-four library patrons ahead of me to read and finish it), I bought Catching Fire.

I don't buy books. It's a waste of money and shelf space. I only buy books that I plan on rereading or want to have in my collection or that I'd like to have available to my family in the years to come. Actually, the handful of times that I've bought a book without reading it first can probably be counted on one hand, and at least half of those fingers turned out to be horrible books that I quickly donated to the library or Goodwill, probably with an exclamation similar to "Yuck! Get it out of my house!"

However, with Catching Fire, I was desperate. I needed to know what was going to happen next, and I reeeeeeally didn't want to wait three months to do so. I justified the purchase by telling myself that if the book was not worth keeping (and buying The Hunger Games to keep it company), I would donate it. No biggie.

Oh, it was worth it; I've since purchased The Hunger Games, and I'm dying to preorder Mockingjay (out in August). *Fingers crossed that it won't suck*

The second series -- The Mortal Instruments -- has three books released: City of Bones (book 1), City of Ashes (book 2), and City of Glass (book 3), and I hear rumors that there will be a fourth. I will not be buying these books.

It's been driving me crazy: why I liked The Hunger Games and Catching Fire enough to buy them but not The Mortal Instruments books. They were both entertaining, both action-packed, both sort of romantic and sort of strong girl protagonists. So what's the difference?

For one, though The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian society amid governmental interference and wildly unrealistic genetic experimentation, it's believable. You can believe that Katniss lives in this world. You believe that she's hardened by her life despite the fact she's sixteen, and you believe she will kill whomever she must to survive... if she has to. You believe Peeta is good, mostly because we also see that he too will do what he must to survive; his goodness is tempered with humanity.

It's taken me at least a week of mulling to realize that Clary and Jace of The Mortal Instruments bugged me because they're caricatures. I have no trouble diving into a premise of super demon killers, et cetera; that's not the problem. It's the fact that they're melodramatic. Dramatic I can swallow. Fantastical I can swallow. Melodramatic makes me cringe and gag.

Okay, so the character's bugged me. I read many books and even enjoy some with annoying characters. However, it's more difficult to get past the annoying characters when I see the first plot twist halfway through the first book and the second twist at least a chapter before I was meant to, and a third twist (meant for the 3rd book) somewhere in the 2nd book. That's annoying.

Also, you can't have a story about tragic lovers without something to keep them apart. Usually, that something is some kind of immature communication breakdown. For Clary and Jace, it's incest.

Give me a minute to get around the skeeviness the very idea of this still gives me.

Okay, I'm good.

How in the world am I supposed to feel sympathetic toward the star-crossed lovers? How in the name of all that's holy am I supposed to root for them? Because that's what you're supposed to do. Even if it ends tragically (hello, Romeo & Juliet), I'm supposed to want them to triumph! And I didn't. I was torn. She loves him; he loves her. But, ew. Ugh. No.

Now, having complained and ranted, I will say that the books are absolutely readable. You have a weekend and need a good demon-fighting trilogy to occupy yourself? Definitely borrow them from the library. I will even attest that you will not ultimately be skeeved out. But remember that I warned you about the melodrama and (at this moment) about the point of view jumping randomly from primary characters to secondary characters for no foreseeable reason, or the fact that there are scenes that will seem out of character and make you not trust what you're reading. It's okay. Go with it. It's only fiction.

On the other hand, I definitely recommend The Hunger Games books. They're not literary masterpieces, but the books are solid YA reading. I, for one, cannot wait to see where Mockingjay is going to take us.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Dear Machine -- or, that sound you just heard was me squeeing

Remember when I mentioned Sixpence? Remember when I mentioned squeeing like a fangirl at the mere mention of this mysterious EP? Remember when I vowed to marry Matt Slocum in an alternate life? No? Oh... right. Nevermind.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Mothers Swear He's Normal

This is my firstborn.

...and his little brother. But mostly my firstborn.

He makes this face a lot when I turn the camera on him.


(Random kid at park. And my firstborn. And that goofy smile.)

Seriously, kid?

Ooh, one that isn't that expression.
Hi, babe. Nice hair.

Hey, I love you.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Like, legendary... and stuff

 Phil Keaggy is, as the kids say these days, epic.

I don't have a lot to add to this, certainly don't have a lot to say in general, if the two week lapse in posting didn't make that apparent. The Punk household is doing its thing. Homeschooling is actually good. Asher is a chahead but he's super cute so we forgive him.

Overall, though, I've come to a place where I don't think my mental meanderings and livelihoods are all that interesting. I'm doing my thing. I'm writing. I'm raising my kids. I'm learning new things and failing a lot (that's kind of my thing, failing & learning), but there's nothing really to tell the world at large.

My life is good. Simple. We're happy.

I ask for nothing more than that. Today.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How My Childhood Sounds From Here

Bryan and I talk about our childhoods a lot, and we've determined a few differences between how we grew up: 1) he watched a lot more television than I did, and 2) I listened to a lot more music.

I remember many mornings coming out to our living room where my father would be sitting in front of the stereo, recording our vinyl records onto tape because that's what you did. How would we listen to our music in the car otherwise?

I could go on a looooooong walk down memory lane about all the music my parents listened to, but this week I was reminded of a few specific musicians that I'd rather share. There aren't any stories to go along with the music, because so much of it was simply there, all the time. I took it for granted, and that almost makes it all the more precious when I rediscover it.

In the above video, the host mentions the song "My Tribute." I, of course, clicked related videos and listened to Andrae Crouch sing "My Tribute," thrilled because I knew this song. It's another staple of my early childhood! However, something was off. I knew it as sung by a female... and I couldn't figure out who.

Somehow, in the throes of a wild YouTube goose chase, I figured it out:

And finally, few musicians have had the impact that Keith Green has had, not only on me, but on at least three generations of Christians. He's been gone for nearly thirty years, and he's still missed.

My favorite Keith Green song and probably a fairly significant reason that I love the piano:

This has nothing to do with anything, but the crackle of a record player still fills me with a sense of comfort. Does anyone else get that?