Saturday, May 28, 2011

I never want to live without stories

Despite the difficulties in my life right now, I keep on reading and want to share a few good books with you. I've put these reviews on Goodreads where I go by Patricia J. O'Brien.

And I've added a great quote about reading and writing at the bottom of this post. Makes me want to shout, YES!

I'd never want to live without stories and storytellers. I can't imagine a life without imagination and wonder and contemplation and adventure and knowledge and the deliciousness of what if.

BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young

Oh. My. I started reading this advance copy weeks ago and put it aside because I had trouble adjusting to the narrative style. I'm so glad I picked it up again and soon found myself completely at ease with the language. I wouldn't want this marvelous story written any other way. I haven't seen a female protagonist this flawed and tough and compelling since Katniss.
It's dystopian in a Mad Max kind of world, and the narrator, Saba, doesn't read or write. Words come out as they sound, and there aren't quotation marks. Still, it's not hard once you get into the cadence. Here's a sample:
Yer young, she says, an strong. A natural-born fighter from the look of it. I knew it right off. You'll be perfect.
Perfect fer what? I says.
She straightens up. Looks at me with her small dark eyes, cold as stones.
Perfect, she says, fer cage fightin.
The little hairs on my arms stand on end. I shiver.
That's right girlie, she says. You better be afeared. Cage fightin's mean. Nasty. An it's big business in Hopetown. You'll do well fer us.
I ain't doing nuthin fer you, I says.
You ain't gotta choice, she says.
You cain't make me do nuthin, I says.
Oh you'll do ezzackly what I tell you, she says

THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Sassy, fun and mysterious. For anyone who's read Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog you know they can be hilarious. Their debut YA has a taste of Veronica Mars to it with a smart, gutsy protagonist, Kate, who won't let herself be intimidated in her quest to find out why her best friend died in a suspicious fire. A list of suspects grows as she discovers that many students and faculty of her private school hide secrets.
Kate is urged on by emails from her dead friend, which make the reader wonder if the story is paranormal or if Kate is being led on by someone. I hate spoilers so I'm not going to sketch out the plot, but I liked the way Laura and Lisa kept adding new suspects and clues. Kate's sidekicks--a nerdy neighbor with a crush on her and a hot bad boy, who may or may not be a suspect--are nicely drawn and, eventually, endearing.

THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman

I've heard some people call The Magicians a Harry Potter for adults, but that doesn't begin to describe this coming-of-age tale, written in a great voice of a nineteen-year-old guy who finds out he's got a talent for magic. Lev Grossman spins a fine fantasy but does it with literary style and a complex company of characters who are smart, sly and flawed. Quentin and his friends at a secret school of magic have extraordinary power, but they're teenagers, complete with insecurities, hormones, jealousy and rash decisions. When they step in it, some really bad things happen. My heart broke near the end of the book, but the actual end returns to a satisfying bit of hope and humor and a measured appreciation of the world and its mysteries.
I stumbled across this great quote by Michelle Obama when she talked to some school girls in England. Full article.
"So I would encourage you all to read, read, read. Just keep reading. And writing is another skill. It's practice. It's practice. The more you write, the better you get. Drafts--our kids are learning the first draft means nothing. You're going to do seven, 10 drafts. That's writing, it's not failure, it's not the teacher not liking you because it's all marked up in red. When you get to be a good writer, you mark your own stuff in red, and you rewrite, and you rewrite, and you rewrite. That's what writing is."


I've got my red pen (actually purple) and I'm going to revise two chapters of my dark fairy tale today. How about you?


Karen Jones Gowen said...

I am with you. I can't imagine life without books. The right book at the right time is what has kept me *semi* sane for a lifetime.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love it! I'm excited to get to that darn rewrite now!!

I loved Liar Society too - lots of fun and great characters!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

(((HUGS))) Trish, as another who is rather overwhelmed by life's onslaught right now (and for the past 6 weeks) I think a hug is in order! Hope things come right for you soon. Will find you on Goodreads and link up there

Judy, South Africa

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Tricia, I tried to find you as Patricia J. O'Brien on Goodreads and keeps on saying no member by that name. Could you please find me under Judy Croome? Ta! :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

KarenG: Yes, it is how I keep sane. Some call it escape, but I think it offers perspective when the book has depth.

Jemi: We all need an upbeat way of tackling revision, right? :)

Judy: Thanks, and hugs back to you! I wonder what I need to do about Goodreads? My profile is under Patricia J. O'Brien. Hmmm. I friended you, so that should come through.

Unknown said...

I love you recommendations and encouragement. Thanks Tricia.

Donna said...

Wonderful. I'm putting The Magician on my list and sending Michelle Obama's quote to a teacher friend.

What a lovely treat when you have time and energy to post these days.

Golden Eagle said...

I'll have to check out this books. :)

Excellent quote!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Laraine & Donna & GoldenEagle: Thank you for enjoying. Makes my day.

Angela Ackerman said...

This is the first I've heard of an of these, but they sound really good. Thanks for mentioning them!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Stephanie Thornton said...

Thomas Jefferson said, "I cannot live without books." I agree!

Michelle Obama's quote is a good one--I need to show that to my students!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Angela: They are three entirely different books--one YA dark dystopian; one light YA mystery and one adult fantasy. But all good reads.

Stephanie: Oooo, yay!

Jade said...

I've read Liar Society (awesome!) and the other two sound great. Will definitely check them out.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Spot on!! I actually love the editing, rewriting part of the process. If I was banished to some remote outpost (island)and limited to one backpack, I would fill it with books, paper and pencils and survive, at least mentally. Good luck with your project. You will surely succeed.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Oh...and thanks for the Michelle plug. I love her.

Liza said...

Thank you for the reviews and LOVE the quote.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*waves at Jade* Wasn't the Liar Society fun? The other two are darker.

Yvonne: I like your island choice. I think that would suit me, too. :)

Liza: Your welcome. I'm so pleased to have stumbled upon that quote. It's perfect.

LynNerdKelley said...

Nothing like escaping with a great book. All three of these sound good to me. Thanks for sharing. I hadn't heard of any of them either. Take care.

LynNerdKelley said...

P.S. I don't know why, but I love cage fighting, so I'd probably read Blood Red Road first!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lynn: Well, my dear, if you love cage fighting, you'll find it in Blood Red Road. Have fun reading!

Christina Lee said...

I can see getting tripped up on the language! Loved LS and definitely want to read Magicians!!

B Kaur said...

Oh what a BRILLIANT quote! The Magicians looks really good.

Laurel Garver said...

I'm also intrigued by The Magicians--"insecurities, hormones, jealousy, rash decisions." Sounds like some emotionally combustible stuff!

And I love the quote about drafts and revisions. It's not failure--it's what being a good writer entails. What a wonderful encouragement!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Christina: Yeah, I stumbled a bit. ;) Oh, I hope you like The Magicians.

BK: Hi and welcome! Brilliant, that's the word.

Laurel: It's combustible, for sure. :)

Lydia Kang said...

Good luck with your revisions!

I'm going to try to catch up with blogging. Though I need to be outlining...

Anonymous said...

I don't have the first one, but I own the second and third books listed. Perhaps I'll finally break them open this summer.

I can't imagine life without books, and reading great ones inspire me to write.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lydia: It is so hard to keep up with it all--but I wouldn't trade any of it. ;)

Medeia: I get so much inspiration from reading, and I love studying how other writers craft a story.

Sarah Laurence said...

I love these book review posts! You get to the heart of the story with good hooks. That’s the first I’ve heard of Blood Red Road and The Magicians. The Liar Society is getting a lot of buzz. I’ve run across Laura and Lisa via blogging and they are funny.

I just sent off my WIP to my agent, but I won’t hear back for ages. She’s just gone on vacation and is returning the day I leave for my long vacation. Then again, it’s probably better to have a long break before I respond to her feedback. I’m exhausted.

Good luck with your revisions!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sarah: How exciting that you've sent off the WIP, but the wait sounds excruciating. Sending lots of good wishes your way!

Robyn Campbell said...

Pat, I agree. Read, read, read! Life without storytellers would be no life at all!

So grab that purple pen and go to fixin'. Because you are a storyteller and your stories must be read. :-)

trump said...

writing contest......My blog Amish Stories is having its first ever contest this week. The First prize winner will win 2 tickets to tour the farm where the 1985 move "Witness" staring Harrison Ford and Kelly Mcgillis was made in Strasburg,Pa . This farm is now Amish owned, and the family has given permission for folks to tour their farm. This may be the last time anyone will be able to walk and see the same things that Harrison Ford and the other actors saw during the making of "Witness". The Witness tour should last about 2.5 hours. In addition to the Witness farm tour tickets, 1st prize winner will also receive 2 tickets for Jacobs choice. There will also be a 2nd place prize, which will be 2 tickets for the Amish Homestead. Please go to My blog for contest details, and more information on the prizes. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon county.

Sherrie Petersen said...

The language in Blood Red Road reminds me of The Knife of Never Letting Go. It jarred me at first, but once I got into it I couldn't stop until I'd read the whole trilogy!

Really must read the Lev Grossman. It's on my shelf somewhere, probably next to Liar Society...too many books, too little time!!

Phoenix said...

Haha, my aunt is a private English tutor who teaches kids how to write essays, and she stocks up on purple pens because the red ink freaks her kids out. I thought she was the only one who did that!

Great reviews - I love Veronica Mars so I might check out "The Liar Society" but I will for sure check out "The Magicians," which sounds fantastic! Thanks for posting these, Tricia. I'm sorry things are tough right now but I'm hoping that stories that take you far, far away from your troubles will help you get some peace and quiet occasionally.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sherrie: Oh, I'll have to check out 'Knife' --what a great title.

Tracy: Ha! Get out the purple pens.

Thanks, EVERYBODY, again. I'm pulling it together.

judith McAllister said...

Figured it out

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Judy: Hi! Glad you figured it out.