Tag Archives: fiction

A Little Dose of Fiction

Day 21This entry should be going to Wordplay, but it’s not flash fiction because I’ve written this one months ago. Anyway, I’m just really tired today so I can’t go and think of anything deep to write about (I still owe you guys something though). Soo…since NaNoWriMo is almost upon us (still going crazy thinking about it!), and I’ve been meaning to finish this novel soon (gimme time, gimme time!), I thought I’d share a part of my 2008 novel that I am currently finishing/revising. :)

Most of the stuff I wrote in 2008 are still unused in this re-written version…which is like a total bad thing to do when you’re not yet done with your novel, but really, the things I wrote November last year? It sucked. Haha. Then again…this excerpt I’ll share may also suck just as bad so I shouldn’t judge.

Before I cut this entry…I invite you! If you’ve been wanting to write a novel all your life and haven’t…well, this November is just the perfect time to write a novel! :) Everyone’s welcome to join the challenge, so if you have a passion for creative writing, you’re welcome! So…join the National Novel Writing Month! 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel. Crazy? Yes! Fun? DEFINITELY. :)

So here we are…one of the favorite new parts for my 2008 novel. :D Unedited, of course, so excuse the errors. :)

Continue reading A Little Dose of Fiction

Demon (Tosca Lee)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Demon (Tosca Lee) Recently divorced and mired in a meaningless existence, Clay drifts from his drab apartment to his equally lusterless job as an editor for a small Boston press — until the night Lucian finds him and everything changes with the simple words, “I’m going to tell you my story, and you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian’s dark tale of love, ambition and grace — only to discover that the demon’s story has become his own.

And then only one thing matters: learning how the story ends.

What a haunting book. I heard about Tosca Lee from Camy, and after reading about the book on the official website (especially after reading this page) I knew I had to get this book.

Demon: A Memoir gives us a view of the whole Salvation history from another point of view: a demon. It’s kind of creepy at first when you think of it, but like Clay, I got curious. What could a demon know about salvation? What could he possibly tell Clay, and what could Clay possibly gain from all this?

The novel had no frills about it. Clay wasn’t a righteous guy, he wasn’t even religious at all. He’s drifting in his life, finding no meaning until his encounter with Lucian. Tosca draws a very different picture of a demon — not one with an image we know, with horns and bat-like wings, but drawing from the story of the first fall: Lucifer. There were no bargains for the soul for Clay, although it seemed like he almost sold his soul to the devil as he became obsessed with the story.

Lucian was a very interesting character too, taking on a lot of forms of humans because he liked to “test” them out. He started out as a Mediterranean-looking man and then later met Clay as a woman and then a geeky teen — it seemed like he could not get enough of the “clay” people, regardless of age and use of best wrinkle cream. He was also fascinated with humans eating, and made sure Clay was eating almost every time they met. His hurried manner at some parts of the story makes you wonder who exactly is out to get the demon — Lucifer? Another hoard of demons? But why? And why is he talking to Clay in the first place?

Like I said, it’s a way to view the story of our salvation from another side. It almost comes to a point that I felt some sympathy for Lucian and I wished there was something better for him…and in the same way, it made me realize how lucky I was to be created in God’s image and likeness. How infinite my chances are, how much patience God has for me. How forgiving God is for someone like me who commits the same mistake over and over again. It’s…amazing. And humbling.

The ending of the novel is satisfying in a way that it’s not wrapped in neat bows nor it is terribly disturbing. The book reminds us of a choice that everyone has to make in this life. What will you choose?

The Fortune Quilt (Lani Diane Rich)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

The Fortune Quilt (Lani Diane Rich)Carly McKay’s life is going just fine until she produces a television piece on psychic quilt maker Brandywine Seaver and receives a quilt with an enigmatic reading telling her that everything is about to change. And it does. She loses her job and her best friend (who proclaims his unrequited love for her). And her mother, who deserted the family seventeen years ago, returns, sending Carly into a serious tilt.

Convinced it’s the quilt’s fault, Carly races down to the small artists’ community of Bilby, Arizona, to confront its maker, and ends up renting a cabin from her. Carly even starts to enjoy her reimagined life, until her old life comes calling. Now Carly has to decide what parts of each world she wants to patchwork in…and how much she’s willing to leave to fate.

I’ve been curious with Lani Diane Rich’s work ever since I learned that she wrote her first novel during NaNoWriMo, so when I finally got a chance to read one of her books, I grabbed it immediately. Look at that cute cover. :P

The Fortune Quilt starts with Carly’s sister’s wedding and with Carly, her younger sister Five and her dad making bets at who will be disturbing Ella’s wedding because of a dream that Five had. Turns out the disturbance was meant for Carly, from her ex Seth, and she was saved by Ella’s ex Will. Then we meet Carly’s best friend Chris, and the quilt maker Brandywine, and now we have the cast of characters complete. You just know something is going to happen right after all that normalcy.

And so it happens. Carly receives a quilt from Brandywine that apparently contains her fortune which Carly scoffs at, and then her world turns upside down. What’s a girl to do then? She runs away, not to any Vegas hotels (which is too far) but back to Brandywine, and into another cast of wacky characters in the town of Bilby.

In a way this book reminds me of The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella but with less spaz from the protagonist. There was the same tone of running away from the old life and finding a new one as the character is in the new place. However, Carly is a focused and smart woman who got her life turned upside down by forces that she couldn’t understand, while Samantha in The Undomestic Goddess got to where she was because she was too workaholic. And again, Samantha just feels a bit more of an airhead than Carly was.

The other characters in The Fortune Quilt were also hilarious — from the gay couple with their daughter, Brandy, Janessa, the grumpy man who always buys charcoal from the art store and sexy Will, who becomes Carly’s love interest in the story (you can tell from the first chapter).

This is a very fun read. It had just the right combination of humor and seriousness, and it’s a good way to get myself into Lani Diane Rich’s works. :) I’m definitely reading the other ones she has. :P

Geek High (Piper Banks)

Rating: [rate 3.0]

Geek High (Piper Banks)At this school, everyone’s a geek. And Miranda Bloom still can’t fit in…

Miranda is a math genius with divorced parents, an evil stepmother, and no boyfriend in sight. She can’t even fit in with the other geeks at the Nottingham Independent School for high-IQ students, because they actually have useful talents. Miranda, on the other hand, is known as “The Human Calculator,” which doesn’t amount to much when people have, you know, their own calculators.

Then Miranda gets stuck planning the school’s Snowflake Gala. And as she struggles to find a date and drum up some school spirit at Nottingham-aka “Geek High”-she finds that who you are means more than where you fit in.

I found this book and picked it up because I thought the cover was cute and the premise was interesting. I like geek books, and I was still on my young adult novel mode, so this seemed perfect.

I don’t know if it’s because I just finished reading Robin Palmer’s Cindy Ella recently shortly after I read this, but this one read a lot like that. I liked the story, I liked the characters and the entire thing, but there wasn’t really anything new about it, at least for me. The usual cast of characters were there: Miranda and her two sidekicks/best friends, her evil stepmother (who seems really evil), her stepsister who eventually becomes her friend, the guy she likes, the guy she ends up liking and the huge problem that is set on her because she tries to be different from what everyone expects her to be. It just feels a bit too formulaic and similar with what I’ve read a few books back.

Maybe it’s my own prejudices, but for now this book is just an okay book. Nothing too stellar, just one of those nice young adult books to read. Maybe when I get a copy of the sequel I’ll change my mind.

Story of a Girl (Sara Zarr)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Story of a Girl by Sara ZarrWhen she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother’s best friend – Deanna Lambert’s teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of “school slut,” she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, The Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

Sara Zarr is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. :) Just like Sweethearts, I thought this book would be all about angst. In a way, there is teenage angst, but it wasn’t all about that.

Deanna Lambert feels trapped about her past. Being in a small town and labeled as a teenage slut is something that she would carry for a long time. She felt as if she belonged to no one except for her older brother, who has a family of his own. The story goes around those facts in Deanna’s life, including her slight jealousy with her two best friends who are in a relationship.

The characters of the story feel real, and as a reader I felt that I am actually inside Picasso’s pizza or Jason’s house or the basement where Darren and Stacy and April lives. I felt bad for Deanna when people keep on labeling her as a slut and when her father wouldn’t even defend her, and instead is ashamed of her. I liked Lee, Deanna’s other best friend and Jason’s girlfriend, even if she shows up only a few times in the story, and Michael, Deanna’s gay boss who was one of the people who seemed to truly care for her.

I think other than this being a “story of a girl”, it’s also a story about forgiveness, of how one’s past definitely does not define your future, or even your present. Sara Zarr shows the reality that forgiveness is not easy. It may come in quick for some people while for others it takes years. Others need to hear an apology while others need not.

I got this book as an ebook, actually and it’s short so it would fit even the smallest memory stick or iPod or whatever readin/storage device you may have. But because I really liked this one, I will definitely buy a printed copy of this book. :)

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn & David Levithan)

Rating: [rate 2.5]

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David LevithanIt all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City — and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be—and where the next great band is playing.

I picked this up out of pure curioisity, because a friend was excited to watch a movie of the book. It seemed interesting, and I’ve liked he said/she said books ever since Flipped.

Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist has both good and bad parts. On the story side, it is very, very charming. I honestly loved Nick’s line, “Can you be my girlfriend for five minutes?” at the first chapter — I thought it was very cute, even if it’s not my ideal. I love how I can see through what was happening in both of the protagonists’ heads and how the entire story happens in just one night. I can actually imagine the parties and clubs and the places they went to. Norah is a very interesting albeit kind of neurotic girl character, and I think she’s quite relatable for liking Nick but knowing that he’s still hung up over his ex. I found Norah’s voice stronger over Nick’s, but maybe that’s just because I am a female so I can relate to her better.

The story deals a lot with broken hearts and hang ups and getting to know someone and deciding if he/she is worth it. Nick and Norah’s chemistry was believable, and I can feel the attraction between the two of them all throughout the book. There was hardly any other character in the book, save for Tris who appeared only up to the half of the book. I found myself rooting for Nick and Norah until the end, and the ending left me wondering what would happen to their next date.

For the bad part…well, the book was littered with so many cuss words that my head ached after a few pages of reading and I had to put it down. There was one paragraph with f*ck written in every sentence. I know that some kids talk like that, but I kind of wished that it was toned down in the book, because a brain can only handle so much of those words.

I’m curious about the movie, though. I think Michael Cera makes a cute Nick. ;)

Sweethearts (Sara Zarr)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Sweethearts by Sara ZarrAs children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another’s only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she’s lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she’s popular, happy, and dating, everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be—but she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

At first I thought this was going to be another YA novel with high school problems between new friends and an old friend showing up, an image to protect and a happily-ever-after in the end, but as I read through the novel, it wasn’t anything like that. It was set in a high school, and there were new friends versus the old one, but oh, there was so much more things into the story that when I initially expected.

First off, Jennifer/Jenna was bullied back in elementary because of her speech problem and her weight. In the midst of all these, she found a friend in Cameron Quick, who was as much as a loner as she is. They had a lot of good times together, except for her ninth birthday at Cameron’s house, which continues to haunt her even as she grew up. Then Cameron disappears and everyone told her that he was dead. It was then Jennifer decided that her old self would be buried with Cameron, and she emerges as Jenna. Then Cameron returns and Jenna is forced to face her past, face her present and finally own up to who she really was and how important Cameron is to her.

The book has a haunting feeling, like there was a past that they all couldn’t run away from. Some of the characters were annoying (example Ethan, Jenna’s boyfriend), but they felt like real people as the story goes on. The conflict that Jenna goes through inside felt real and raw, and I wanted so much for her to choose Cameron and for them to conquer their past. There was just the right amount of angst in the book, and it’s not even the shallow angst but the kind that stems from a troubled past.

And like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the book doesn’t have the typical happy ending. It was sad, but poignant, and the ending certainly illustrated that love and friendship between two people can survive the distance and time and can change a person in more ways than one. :)

I finish this review off with my favorite quote in the book:

Because love, love is never finished. It circles and circles, the memories out of order and not always complete.

The Book of Luke (Jenny O'Connell)

Rating: [rate 2.0]

The Book of Luke (Jenny O'Connell)Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to Be Nice — but lately being nice hasn’t done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily’s senior year. Only Emily’s first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What’s a nice girl to do?

Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he’s staying behind in Chicago “to tie up loose ends,” and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice.

She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don’ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They’ll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys — an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls.

But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston — the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email — Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.

(Spoilers in the review)

I was curious about this book because Amazon recommended it to me while I was checking out Sarah Dessen books on the website. I’ve been on the lookout for YA fiction for a while now and this seemed quite interesting so I picked it up.

The premise is quite interesting: Super nice girl Emily’s life is torn apart when she learns that she has to move back to Boston in the middle of her senior year in Chicago. She’s “super nice” because she’s supposed to be, being the daughter of the etiquette queen. When things go all wrong for her, she decides she’s done being nice.

Emily and her friends take the hottest guy in school, Luke, who is also a jerk who broke up with Emily’s friend Josie through email, as their guinea pig for their school time capsule contribution, which is a list of do’s and don’ts for guys. After that, things went downhill: obviously Emily would fall for Luke as she tests their theories on him, and he would find out about all of it. I’m surprised I managed to read it all until the end, which frankly, was getting a lot boring.

The Emily character was interesting at first, but somewhere along the way she became flat and uninteresting. She decided not to be nice because being nice didn’t make things work out for her, yes, but I kind of expected her to be more mature and all, being an intelligent high school senior running for valedictorian and wanting to go into Brown. Somehow being un-nice wasn’t for “revenge” on her family isn’t that believable. Luke was a bit more interesting than she is, because he had this weird vibe all throughout the book. Josie and Lucy were the stereotype friends, and honestly, there were too little interesting characters in the background. Oh, and the sex in the story didn’t really help the plot, except to probably make things worse for Emily and Josie in the end.

It would have been in an interesting book, but it fell short on the character and plot development factor. I’d have to agree with what one reviewer said, though. Despite the characters being slightly flat, the scenes between Luke and Emily were well-written. I just kind of wish there was something more about their characters.

Privileged (Zoey Dean)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Yale graduate Megan Smith has big plans for a career in journalism and even bigger debt: $75,000 in college loans. She grabs a job at a trashy tabloid, gets fired (small wonder: nothing can make her care which celebrity just got a nose job), and then gets an offer she just can’t refuse.

Seventeen-year-old identical twins Rose and Sage Baker are Palm Beach heiresses best known for their massive fortunes and penchant for flashing the paparazzi. Their grandmother offers to pay off Megan’s loans if she can tutor the girls and get them into Duke. But the twins aren’t about to bend their celebutante schedules to learn algebra. Megan quickly discovers that she has to know her Pucci from her Prada to reach these students. If she can look the part, maybe — just maybe — she can teach them something. What Megan could never imagine is what the whole experience was about to teach her…

So I wanted this book because I watch the TV show based on this one. It’s really more out of curiosity that I asked for this last Christmas, so I kind of had low expectations on this one.

Let me just say: it is so different from the TV show. Let me list it down (and I’ll try not to write as many spoilers as I can):

  • Megan. Megan in the TV show is more uptight and more self-righteous than Megan in the book. She’s still smart, yes, but the Megan in the book seemed to care more for her money first than for the girls, whereas the TV show Megan took her responsibility seriously immediately (whoa, so many -ly’s!). I’m not so sure which Megan I like better though (and frankly, she gets on my nerves a lot of times).
  • Rose and Sage. The Rose on TV seems kinder, and the Sage on TV is less wild. The twins in the book were a bit out of control from the start. And honestly, I felt like I didn’t see them that much in the book — not to many things about their school or their progress, except in the end.
  • Lily. This is like, the most different one ever. Lily in the TV show is obnoxious and wild and she doesn’t have a good job. In the book, however, Lily is the nice sister, so nice that Megan kind of dislikes her but has no reason to, and she’s a well-known actress and model.
  • Megan’s family. Megan had a very dysfunctional family in the TV show, while this one…it’s almost normal.
  • Will. Will in the book is rich, and is close friends with the twins, but in the TV show they’re not. I find the Will in the TV show more charming though.  (Brian Hallisay! ♥ )
  • Charlie. There’s no charming best friend Charlie in the novel! Instead, there’s Charma, who I didn’t really notice until she said something. Er. The loss of Charlie is saddening. I like Charlie, the best friend who’s always been there and always been in love with Megan.
  • Laurel. Laurel was still as intimidating, but I kind of felt that she was younger in the novel than on TV.
  • Marco. I think he’s the only consistent guy from the TV show and the novel.
  • Megan is not from Palm Beach but is originally from somewhere else (I can’t remember where exactly, but I’m sure it’s not vegas), so there’s not much family stuff in the novel.
  • Megan has another boyfriend at the start of the novel, who is rich, and whose parents don’t approve of her.

It’s not really disappointing as I think that the TV show and the novel are quite different and it shouldn’t really be followed that way. It’s not really a “clean” book as there’s sex and a lot of cussing and mean tricks done to Megan as well as a lot of lies, but it’s quite entertaining. Nothing too spectacular, but if you’re curious about the TV show, then you’d probably enjoy this one too.

Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer)

Rating: [rate 2]

Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer) When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs.

So the series ends. I’ve read and reviewed the past three books and I can say that they grew to be one of my favorite and most recommended series for this year. Although I’m not as big of a fan as other people I know, I liked the books. I liked the characters (most of them, anyway), and I was very, very curious at how Stephenie would end the series.

(WARNING: Minor spoilers in the next few paragraphs)

Breaking Dawn was…interesting. There were a lot of unexpected moments, but there were also a lot of expected moments. I didn’t exactly like it that much, mostly because it seemed to have lost the conflict that was shown in the first three novels. The only palpable conflict I got there was Jacob’s when he was agonizing over Bella’s safety and humanity…but the rest of the “conflicts” were put into neat little packages that didn’t sit well with me. It’s just too…perfect. Where’s the danger? Where’s the tension between the tribes? Seriously, the blurb at the back of the book did NOT fit the novel at all.

In some ways the book was entertaining, but I felt that it totally deviated from what the first three books were about. It’s both fast and slow, and everything fell into place too perfectly that it’s not relatable anymore. One may identify with Jacob’s agony at losing Bella, but even that was watered down too. Bella became even more clingy and selfish, in my opinion, and Edward…well, to be honest, I hardly felt him. It was all, “Bella, Bella, Bella.” No wonder Bella turned to be a bit self-centered, yes? Oh, she hated hurting everyone, yes, but she still ends up doing so because of her fixation on Edward.

Saving graces of the book? I loved the Jacob parts, but the real winners in the book for me were Emmett and Seth. I loved all of Emmett’s lines (I can actually imagine Kellan Lutz being Emmett in the book now) and Seth’s childlike attitude and eagerness to help his friends and be of service to the pack (kind of like reminds me of an over-excited dog who takes pet supplements). Oh, and in a way, I was amused with the Romanian vampires who showed up, and the new vampires are interesting, but they were too many introduced at a short span of time, and it feels to convenient that they’re all “at peace” with each other.

So, all in all, although I was quite amused with some parts of the book, I really didn’t like it as much as I thought it would. It’s just…too much. Harry Potter did have a happy ending, but it took a lot of hardships (and death) before he got there. Harry managed to mature even more in the 700+ pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I was hoping Bella would do the same thing within the 700+ pages of Breaking Dawn, but…no. Oh well.

If you’re a Twilight fan, you might still want to read this, but if you’re not a huge fan, I’d suggest you stop at Eclipse. The ending of Eclipse seems much more satisfying than Breaking Dawn‘s. Plus I wouldn’t recommend this book for any of the young girls given its content.

More comments under the cut, but be warned, these are major spoilers.

Continue reading Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer)