Monday, August 26, 2013

Elric of Melinbone by Michael Moorcock

This is the perfect example of what I do not like about sci-fi/fantasy books until quite recently.

Elric of Melnibone is a series of books that are short and to the point. Normally, I would say kudo's to the author for that. There is no time that is wasted on prose that are unnecessary and the story that is told is clear and concise. The problem here is that Moorcock seems to have cut everything out to the point where it's not enjoyable even in the slightest. The dialogue is fake and forced, the prose are bland and overall, the story is lacking any sort of captivating imagination.

Now, I'm not sure this is Moorcock's fault. Yes, he wrote the novel but it seems to me that up until recently, most sci-fi/fantasy novels just had this quality. There was something about the writing that always seems either very dry or over the top to the point where you can't become immersed because its so ridiculous. These aren't necessarily bad stories but they are stories that are best told orally as opposed to read.

While this book is a short read, it took me an inordinate amount of time to get into it. While the main character has the advantage of being morally gray, it is never a theme that seems to be fully explored. The world feels very two dimensional as well and the characters that are coming into contact with the main storyline fall into peril during one page and then are suddenly saved two pages later. This quick and choppy style detracts from what could be a good story. The author seems to just be rushing through a series of events while peppering his work with dialogue that could be written for daytime soaps.

Troy and this random puppet, in fact, has better dialogue than this book... and they're not even saying anything!

I realize too that there are a lot of readers out there that enjoy this style of writing. I know a lot of readers that enjoy this style of writing and the friend that recommended this book is definitely one of them. For me, however, there is nothing to this. There isn't talent or passion. There is simply a telling of a very linear story that you could find anywhere. Imagination is lacking here and it is instead something to just pass the time. These are the stories that I feel don't stick with you and they are not the kinds of stories I want to be spending my time on.

What I don't understand is the fact that this series is actually popular.  It's a movie, references to these characters are made in different novels, tv shows and comics... but I can barely read the 180 pages that are provided to me.  Is there something I'm missing? If you are seeing or reading something that I'm missing, please tell me because I'm confused by this popularity.

Overall, if you are a person that can't seem to get through larger novels and want to read something in the course of an afternoon, I would actually recommend this. If you are someone who likes to dive into your stories and wants something rich and full of life, skip this. It is not a story that is going to offer you much more than a coma induced state of boredom most of the time.

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Also, here's a look at what else I'm reading at the moment. Follow the links here

and here
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Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I have some mixed feelings about this novel. I spent the first half of it struggling to keep my eyes open and the second half of it fairly impressed with how everything was coming together. When it comes down to it, I think that I enjoy the mechanics of this book, and maybe even the story itself, but its not something I would normally read.

Jellicoe Road is a hard book to summarize without giving away what truly makes it interesting. What I can tell you is that it is about a girl who was orphaned very young, trying to find her mother. The beginning was a bit confusing to me because I was a uncertain where the main character was staying and if the “territory wars” they continued to talk about was something to pass the time at the camp like environment she seemed to be inhabiting, or if they were actual territory wars. Although, that could all be on me because like I said, I didn't actually get into this novel until I was half way through.  Half the novel felt more like a chore or one of those books that teachers make you read in high school because it's supposed to be amazing but you struggle to see why from the moment you open it.

The most enjoyable part of Marchetta's storytelling is held within the story itself. Yes, there is a story within the story in this novel and every time we moved into the more linear storyline, I found myself wanting to go back to the stories about boys in trees and teens who loved each other in loyal and honest ways. In fact, I think that the story of those souls, overshadowed the rest of the tale. When bit parts are more interesting than your main character, you have a problem as an author. I fell in love with the characters that the girl was learning about and I too wanted to know more about them. The main character of Taylor though was one that I was bored with from page one. Again, this is more of a personal preference than a critique on the book but the substance that Taylor had was nothing compared to some of the other characters in this book. Not to mention that Taylor fell flat on the page and was more akin to that carbon copy type of character that we see through most teen novels.

As a whole, Jellicoe Road is worth a read. I plan on keeping my copy and giving it another go sometime in the future because I do believe that this book is a decent distraction from our reality. While it is not the best that I've read, the author intertwines the past and the present in very neat twists that make me appreciate what she was trying to do with this novel. Marchetta had a very definite goal in her storytelling and she was able to convey it in a clear manor. That's not something that I see often with teen novels. Lately, a lot of teen novels have been taking notes from Hollywood and are trying to distract you from the gaping holes within the plot with pretty faces and witty dialogue.

Overall, Jellicoe Road is a solid three star book. If you are looking for a mystery novel then this is the one that I would point to. It is reminiscent of a good summer read and this is definitely a novel to sit on the beach or around a campfire at night and indulge in. 

Make sure to follow me on facebook and Google + and for more reviews of what I'm reading this month (and the last since I haven't been able to read much lately) go here

and here
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

August Book Reads

Last months choice of books have left me not really enjoying reading that much. Granted, I've been busier than usual so I haven't had a lot of time but the stories that I am working through currently aren't ones that you can sink into. I'm having one of those sensations where I am aware of what I am doing. That's usually how I set apart good books from the truly amazing. If you are aware that you are reading about a character and that you are sitting in your living room or bed, reading something someone else has written, something is wrong. The same with movies. These are vessels of escape. They are emotional time bombs. I want to be taken away when I read. Unfortunately, the stories that I am wading through at the moment, don't have that quality and have left me not wanting to read. I haven't picked up any other books either because I didn't want to get distracted.

Today I decided that was stupid.

This months book choices aren't very long but they hopefully will allow some progress and get me back into reading once more.

Elric of Melinbone by Michael Moorcock

One of my nerd friends gave this to me to read. It's a short little read and, according to him, is one of those books that is just meant to get someone into reading if they aren't a book person. The concept though is supposed to be good. From what I can gather from it, the main character doesn't really seem like a decent guy either so I'm a bit intrigued over that fact. My only fear of this novel is that it was printed in the 70's. I have this thing about science fiction that is older than the past decade. There's something about the way those authors wrote that bothers me. They do it in such a way that is not exactly over the top, but it is not natural. There's a distinct lack of flow from them. This doesn't make them bad writers, or even make the story bad, but it doesn't feel like it's a world that is secretly lurking in the shadows, which is how I prefer my fiction.

Review Now Up:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

A love story between a kidnapped girl and her kidnapper? Uh.... alright.

This is another novel that was given to me by a friend. But, unlike the previous one, this one was given to me by someone who does not like to read. She is a girl who enjoys tales, but it takes a lot for her to get into a book. Stolen, however, she finished within a week. That to me says there was something about it that was special in order to captivate her and that has got me curious. I like this girls taste in most things so I'm curious to see what this book contains. I don't think I would have picked it up otherwise.

Like I said, this month is a short read list mostly because I would like to continue trudging away on my previous months list. I'm half way through John Dies at the End (which, I would like to add, is a complete WTF novel) and Jellicoe Road. They just take a bit more time than most novels do.

Review Now Up:

If you have any book suggestions, leave a comment. Also, remember to like me on Facebook and Google +
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pinterest Madness

Coffee Body Love

Let's face it. If you manage to figure out what Pinterest is all about, you've probably fallen into the time sucking cult of that site and find yourself looking at “pretty pictures” when you should be doing something more productive like cleaning your house. Granted, you've also probably tried to tell yourself that looking at pictures of environmentally friendly ways to clean your house counts and productivity but you've probably also never made said items. If you're like me, you've discovered board after board of 'how to get fit' or 'healthy meals' or 'home friendly cleaning products' and you've tried to figure out how someone can pin hundreds of these things and expect to actually do them. Now, my boards don't really consist of these things (I have a little cooking bored but that's about it) but today, when I was perusing the Pinterest cult, I was a bit overwhelmed. After all, how the hell are we supposed to know if these things work? I mean, when a picture tells me I can loose ten pounds in just a month by doing a certain list of exercises, it seems way too good to be true. No, I prefer to spend my time clicking on pictures of Misha Collins and John Barrowman doing the tango.

But, out of sheer boredom today, I did decide to try a Pinterest pin. I must admit that the only reason I tried it probably had to do with the fact that coffee was the main ingredient. This said experiment is a full on body scrub. Using coffee grounds, sugar, olive oil and vitamin E, this scrub is said to fight cellulite (I know I don't have it but one day I will!) and get rid of dry skin. Like I said, coffee was involved. It was too tempting not to give it a try.

I luckily had all the main ingredients in my kitchen and so I whipped it up in a bowl and got in the shower. I used standard white sugar (though you can use brown), olive oil and some Folgers Coffee grounds because rubbing that coffee on your body is about the only thing that brand of coffee is good for. I did substitute the vitamin E capsules for actual vitamin E oil that I got from Trader Joes.

I scrubbed the entire contents of this all over my body, rinsed it off, and then lightly washed the remaining bit of it with my own body wash just in case there was sugar or grounds still lingering. The end result? Silky smooth skin and the ever present scent of coffee.

I'm serious. This for some reason works. My hands and arms haven't felt this good since the start of summer. No matter how much sunscreen I use, or how many times I put on an organic moisturizer that is said to keep your body moisturized for the entire day, my skin rejects it. I either feel greasy or feel as if I am having to reapply every few hours. And I know, I know. Certain store bought brands have agents in them that will dry out your skin to make you keep using them and bla bla bla. I know this. I'm aware of this, and I don't buy those products. I just have a tendency of getting dull looking skin way to easily. So far, however, this coffee scrub has worked wonders. I'm completely pleased with it. So pleased in fact, that my previous bad mood has somehow turned into something much nicer. I'm going to say that has to do with the lingering scent of coffee, though. I don't think this body scrub is an endorphin scrub for anyone but coffee obsessed souls like me.

Have I mentioned how much I love coffee.

The downside? You need to have a good shower drain. You are washing away ¼ cups of coffee and ¼ cups of sugar down that drain. Make sure you either have draino on hand, or you have a high pressured shower. Also, if you're like me and live in a place where sugar ants come crawling out of the woodwork to feast on the slightest drop of sweetness, make sure to rinse well.

Anyway, my first Pinterest try out was a success. Definitely give it a go. Here is the original blog that goes into detail how to make it and also gives a lemon scrub if you are not a coffee fan like me. Go give her some love.

If anyone has anything else that they've wanted to try that they've found on Pinterest, but doesn't have the time for the experiment, send it my way. Happy Pinning everyone. Don't forget to like me on Facebook or follow me on Google plus.

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