Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Reviewing Playing with Matches July 17, 2012

Filed under: book reviews — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:50 pm
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Playing with Matches by Brian KatcherPlaying with Matches by Brian Katcher

Another winner by author Brian Katcher, whose male narrators ring so true.  Katcher has dealt with the complexities of relationships as he examines lust and friendship amid dreams and realities.  In this book, while lusting over the cheer-leader he’s adored since elementary, the main character makes friends with the burn victim who has been the butt of jokes and ignored for years.  Of course, just when their relationship amps up, the cheerleader takes an interest at last.  Confusion, hurt, and angst are common ingredients in fiction for teens, just as it is in their real lives.  Katcher handles it all expertly, revealing the sad truth that there are no easy solutions.

It occurs to me, that aside from Diana Gabaldon, I haven’t been this impressed with an author in a long time.  I think I should get in touch with Katcher and see if we can arrange an interview for this blog.  I want to know more about him.

Hey Brian, if you see this, send me a note on shawn (dot) bird (at) ymail (dot) com and let’s set something up!  🙂

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Review- Lost in Spaaaaaaain July 11, 2012

Filed under: book reviews — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:52 am
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Lost in Spain.

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LOST IN SPAIN by John Wilson

Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000.  174 p.

YA historical novel

It is a fast read, so it’s not deep, but it did give me a real sense of the Spanish Civil War that fit with what I experienced and heard when I was in Spain earlier this year. Lots of action to keep you flipping pages. I was stunned when I started reading and discovered the book opened in my small BC town! Not what you expect about a book set in Spain, you can imagine. I was irritated by how Ted refers to his father as Will throughout the book. Why doesn’t he call him dad? or father? It’s so strange, it seemed there should be a reason for it. He calls his mother, Mom, after all. An interesting read that seemed to give a good glimpse at the character of the country and the context for the history.
 

A Brave review July 10, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:32 am
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Fantastic animation (her hair! the water!),  some very funny scenes, very scary bears, kilt humour, and a lovely little tale  makes for a good film in Brave, the latest release from Disney Pixar.  While the plot was a little obvious in parts, and the theme seemed a bit over done, it was quite an enjoyable film.  I’d give it  4/5 stars.  Truly, you should go just to see the groundbreaking hair flowing across the big screen.

Pixar really does a remarkable job of forging new ground in animation.  Throughout the film, I just kept being amazed at protagonist Merida’s hair.  It’s phenomenal, never before seen truly animated hair that it looks like it could have come straight off my friend Angela’s head.  Merida’s hair, like Ange’s, had a life of its own.  Sections behaved in different ways, colour and curls throughout were different so it had real dimension, just like Ange’s.  The hair, more than anything, declared Merida’s tempestuous, independent nature.  When she’s forced to contain it, she feels fake and unnatural.

Here is a very interesting FX guide to the process of creating those amazing locks.

And here are the locks in action.  (As an aside, I also find these three suitors an absolute hoot.  They completely remind me of some grade 9 boys I’ve known!  Particularly the middle one.  You know who you are!)  😀

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I Heart You, You Haunt Me June 1, 2012

Filed under: book reviews,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:14 pm
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My review of I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder, in verse.  Of course.

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A verse novel

is like dessert.

Not double chocolate fudge cake

or creme brulee.

More like

lime jello

or

custard.

You want to love it

because it’s dessert,

but somehow

 it doesn’t quite satisfy.

There’s a lack of depth here.

The message is simple

and the path is straight.

Apparently,

I like more

complexity

in relationships

and characters.

More conflict.

Something

more.

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Lest you think I’m just negative toward all verse novels, here’s my review of Wendy Phillip’s Fishtailing, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Review of Matched by Ally Condie September 27, 2011

Filed under: book reviews,Commentary,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:14 am
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First let me say that I LOVE the cover of this book. I thought it was absolutely fantastic, and although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the symbolism is (I get the green dress- but why the bubble?), I think it is a very powerful image.

I enjoyed this book. On Goodreads there are a lot of angry statements that it’s a rip off of The Giver.  I appreciate the many comparisons to The Giver, but the oft-repeated statement that it’s a copy are unjust. While there are some similarities, I see more in common with Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, or the 1970’s move Logan’s Run. It’s dystopian literature. There are only so many ways to interpret the theme! A few concepts are going to overlap. I don’t hold that against Condie.

I like the protagonist, Cassia. I like her feisty nature and her thoughtful approach. She knows she’s good at things, and she isn’t humble about it. I like the logical development of her awareness and her conscience. I do think the impetuousness is going to cause trouble. It’s inevitable, otherwise there wouldn’t be more books coming, right?

I like Xander. I like the strong security of him. I like his unquestioning devotion. I understand the attraction of Ky, with his mysterious past and strange knowledge, but personally, I would say good-bye, think fondly of him, and stick with the steadfast spirit of devotion that Xander provides willingly. (That’s a Bright picking Jim kind of choice, I realise).   I wouldn’t walk into the trouble that Cassia is going to get into because of Ky. But then, I don’t live in a dystopian novel.

Thankfully.

 

hourglass September 25, 2011

I belong to a YA reading group on Goodreads.com that had Hourglass by  Myra McEntire as its monthly book in August.  I really enjoyed this story of a teen who is fresh out of the psych hospital for hallucinating.  She wasn’t hallucinating though, she was seeing through time bubbles.  I love Emerson the protagonist- she’s sarcastic, feisty, and tortured.  I enjoyed the time travelling component that came up toward the end of the book.

The characters in this book were well crafted and became very real for me. In fact, they became so real that as I read Hourglass, I had a new experience. I kept hearing echoes of my own characters, and I kept thinking how well Grace and Ben would love to hang out with Emerson and Michael. I could see them all taking on the bad dudes together. How cool would it be for Emerson and Michael to go back and visit Grace and Ben in one of their past lives? (There’s a project for some fan-fic writer).

I had never had that experience before, and it was quite fascinating.  Emerson is tougher than Grace, but she shares the same bent for sarcasm and healthy doubt about the male in her world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Very entertaining read, Myra McEntire! Thanks a lot!

 

sorry! September 10, 2011

I just received my first ‘low’ review of Grace Awakening: a 3/5.

I feel so badly!

Not for my ego, because I have no argument with any of the points raised.  No.  I feel badly because this poor reader felt at the end of Book One: Awakening Dreams that she was left hanging in the air.  She was irritated.

Oh dear.  When I read her review, I recognised the feeling only too well. After all, I wrote about it here in the blog just yesterday.

She felt I’d given her The Empire Strikes Back.

Darn.

I wrote Grace Awakening as a single story in one six month period.  When we decided that it would be better as two books, because of the two settings and character groups, the one thing I kept repeating to my editor was, “I don’t want anyone to have that Empire Strikes Back feeling!”  We edited and added to fine tune the story arc with that specific goal in mind.

I feel terrible.  I know I’m getting lots of great reviews from readers who are satisfied with the ending.  They know there is more to come and some mysteries need to remain to connect the series.  I still feel badly to have frustrated someone.  I really do know how that feels.  I hate it!

So if you’re a reader who felt there wasn’t enough resolution for you at the end of Grace Awakening Dreams, I promise you’ll be happier at the end of Grace Awakening Power.  Grace’s loose ends are all tied up there.  We’re going somewhere else for books three and four,so I am not going to torture you for years as you wait for books to come out. ;-P

In the meantime, please accept my apology about your frustration.

George Lucas never gave me an apology, and I’m still ticked off about it.

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PS.

When Lintusen releases the paper version in a few months, we’re going to include both books one and two in an omni-bus.  I am wondering what people think about having both e-books combined as one e-book as well, perhaps offered for 50c less than buying them separately?  That means you’d be able to buy the first for 99c, as you can now.  The second book is being released at $2.99, so both are $3.98. The omnibus of both books would be something like $3.49.  It’d be kind of a 50c reward for people who already know they are going to want both because they’ve heard great things.  What do you think?    If you have an opinion about this idea, leave me a comment!

 

 
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