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May. 3rd, 2011


Reading "Young Adult" fiction recently

Sometimes I go on a binge of "YA" reading. There's all kinds of reasons why I love it -- I'm a sucker for that coming of age stuff, with people figuring out who the heck they are. I love the wide open future possibilities, I love the way people describe various (usually dysfunctional) families, and I am also a sucker for paranormal elements which people put in pretty readily for YA fiction, without it necessarily coming with a truckload of graphic sex which can start to feel like padding in some paranormal books (eg novels that took Laurel K Hamilton as a major influence).

So, the downside of YA series, is that sometimes they too convincingly characterise teenagers and I just want to slap them with something. This may be a sign they are actually writing for their market, and not nostalgic middle aged women. Le sigh.

Sometimes I will take a punt on stuff ... even though it's got one foot in a genre I don't favour. Example -- "romantic" fantasy for teens. Not dissing romance ... I love relationship stuff. But there are some conventions that just don't float my boat.

I pushed my way through Julie Kagawa's "Iron King" because I liked all the fairy tale stuff, and initially found the heroine pretty sympathetic, if a bit "stock character". She started to lose me when she introduce the Twilight-lite love triangle (YAAAAWN), but I persisted because I wanted to see her rescue her little brother. Finishing it off, I gave it a B-, and tried book 2, expecting more of the same.

The sequel sequed straight into Too Stupid To Live Heroine territory. Dude. Having been given excellent reasons to believe the rather tedious handsome fairy prince's reasons for being super mean to the heroine to help her out, the heroine's endless drama, angst, teeth gnashing and flinging herself about that her One Twue Wuv wasn't smooching her meant a swift trip against the wall for the book. Just because Twilight preaches that when abandoned for your Own Good by Mr Sparklypants, you should sink into a major depressive episode, that does not mean all heroines should now check their brains at the door in order to complicate their lives. Where are the books written with Cold Comfort Farm as their model? Do I need to write one?

But I shouldn't blame the book. The problem is that I'm probably trying, with my nostalgia trips, to think like a teenager again. And I'm too damn old and cynical to make the stretch.

There just don't seem to be enough of the books out there that combine just the right levels of silliness to feel like yummy fictional popcorn, without tripping my "GET A CLUE! NO, HERE, HAVE 2, THEY ARE CHEAP!" response. And in the run of the mill book for the teenage girl, I ain't gonna find that often.

Page-turningly addictive teenage fiction that keeps me trying the bad stuff:

Suzanne Collins: Hunger Games trilogy
Megan Whalen Turner: The Thief series
Holly Black: various fairy books, plus White Cat
Kristin Cashore: Graceling, and Fire
Gayle Forman: If I Stay
Rob Thurman: Cal Leandros and Trickster series.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Raised By Wolves
Tamora Pierce: Alanna series, and the Beka Cooper one.
Phillip Pullman: His Dark Materials
Scott Westerfeld: Uglies/Pretties series

*edit* Updating list with stuff that I loved from the comments. Thanks for the reminders on those!

Feel free to add yours to the list so I can be more discerning in my quest for braincandy!

Feb. 23rd, 2011


Christchurch Earthquake

For those concerned, I live in Auckland (which is a long way from Christchurch). The area's full of volcanoes, so if plate tectonics put paid to us, it'll be in boiling lava, most likely.

Flippancy aside, the Christchurch quake has left us all reeling. An American friend compared it to 9/11, and while her intentions were kind, it's a different kind of shock. No one did this to us, it just happened. That makes it (to me) much more bearable. Fate, not malice.

We're waiting to hear how many dead. It's horrible, and it's sad, and there's nothing we can do but wait, and when it's time to send financial or other help, to step up then.

Feb. 7th, 2011


Stuff I did in January

I took part in a women's triathlon in January, which was a ton of fun. Don't know about you, but it's a lot easier to get off my chuff and exercise for heart health and all that good stuff if I have a goal in mind. Other than "look awesome" (which has frankly never been enough to motivate me).

I've got a friend, Shelley, who's very into exercise. It's her major stress release. So, if she doesn't exercise, she goes a bit nuts... she's well motivated to make the time to exercise. I feel that way if I don't get, say, time to curl up with a good book, or sufficient junky escapist TV series/movies to flit off to for a while.

She got me to sign up for the triathlon, along with a bunch of friends, all of whom dropped out for one reason or another. You know, WEAK excuses like "I broke my arm", and "I have sciatica and my physio says no running or jarring exercise right now". Don't you hate genuine reasons to not do stuff, makes it so much harder to hate on people.

Anyhow. I did it! 300m swim, 7.5km bike and 3km run, so less than the official "sprint" distance. But it was fun enough that I want to do it AGAIN now!

Jul. 14th, 2010


Minor rant: Silver Borne - Mercy Thompson #5

Overall this book was an ok read - a solid B+. I'm not interested in talking about the good stuff, because readers of the series already know it -- nice descriptions of pack dynamics, interesting minor characters, Mercy's lack of obvious crazy, and the sense that she makes pretty smart choices given the paranormal curve balls she's continually being thrown. But, that's the nice stuff. Rant about the annoying bit incoming!

When it comes to characterisation in Urban Fantasy (or Paranormal Romance, or however you want to categorise the Mercy stuff) it can be a tough line to walk between irritatingly messed-up and flawed (ie 'too much baggage' protagonists) and Mary Sue. Read more...Collapse )

Jul. 16th, 2009


Caught up on some of new season of True Blood

...And seeing why so many people prefer the minor characters to the main ones. The double-edged nature of her talent is underplayed, with us often only hearing the voices when she's going to catch a good plot-point(really, would be good to get more of a sense of the intrusiveness of it in her daily life, and how close to crazy crowds make her), while the angst between her and Bill is overplayed. On the other hand, I like the constant reminders that she's dating a fossil.

I'm much more curious about the plot arcs going on for Tara, Sam, Lafayette and the Fangtasia vampires (who are reassuringly bloody and ruthless to balance out Bill's namby pamby mainstreaming ways!).

Really, there's only so much "HOW COULD YOU, BILL! YOU'RE JUST NOT TRYING!" "Oh, Sookie, I'm so tortured... sniffle. Please just go to bed with me and heal my soul with your magic hoohoo...sniffle!" that I can take. A True Blood drinking game, with "drink whenever Sookie whines" would be fatal.

Jul. 15th, 2009


(no subject)

Day 3 of Weightwatchers, and I'm off for a lunchtime walk. Long may the motivation to actually take care of my body last!

Mar. 8th, 2009


Watchmen review - with spoilers

OK. I've never read the original - but went and watched it last night.  Was quite excited about going despite listening to a Kermode review that damned it with faint praise as 'style over substance'.  The grade I will give it is ... B.  There will be spoilers, because I cannot assassinate a movie satisfactorily without them.

Blue dongs and vinyl suits, oh my!Collapse )

Nov. 1st, 2008


Zombies 4 review for Halloween (board game)

We had a couple of friends over for the much-postponed game of Zombies 4: The End (board game). So, while it hadn't been something we MEANT to break open on and christen on Halloween it was strangely appropriate. Basic premise, all the players are lost in the woods, being hunted by zombie doggies. Usually you can move faster than them (they have a movement rate of up to 2 squares, us humans get to roll 1d6). Point of the game is to slay 25 zombie dogs or get to the cabin and cast "The Spell" that ends the game.

So many zombie dogs and other players, so few BULLETS...Collapse )

Aug. 18th, 2008


Meme - Personality with images thing from Hello Quizzy

Humanitarian, eh?

Read more...Collapse )

Aug. 14th, 2008


Hello, Flist, it's me, Fiamme...

I have not fallen off the edge of the Earth, despite appearances. I am still here and:

1) Working full time on the Smokefree project in two hospitals in Auckland
Read more...Collapse )

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