A First for Harry Potter

This Monday, J.K. Rowling and her publishers finally released the Harry Potter series as eBooks.  It’s been a long time coming for HP fans everywhere, and the question is, “Why now?”

I can understand why Rowling didn’t want to release them earlier.  She’s famously protective of her series, and putting them out as eBooks could have given way to piracy issues.  Even so, it’s great that she’s decided to go through with it.

It occurs to me that she and her publishers most likely wanted to have the eBooks out before Pottermore is released to the public in April (you’re going to love it, guys).  It only makes sense, then, to do it a week or two before the release.

So now they’re out there.  The eBooks are among us, and now you can download Harry Potter on your Kindle/Nook/iPad/et cetera anytime you like.  (Go here for the Web site where you can buy them.)  This, of course, opens up another kind of discussion: was Rowling right to withhold the possibility of eBooks for all these years?  Should she have released them online as soon as technology allowed it?  And what does this mean for other authors?  Should we all be just as cautious when considering online publication?

I, for one, respect her decision not to publish her books online until now.  In today’s world of piracy and copyright infringement, you really can’t be too careful (not that I’m in any way an expert on the matter).  And although it means fans had to buy the more expensive paper copies, as far as I’ve seen the majority of people didn’t really care.

Now, sure, Rowling could afford to do this because of the immense popularity of her books.  I’m certain for other authors the story is different.  But what do you think, readers?  Should eBooks be made available immediately with every book that comes out?  Or should the author be able to decide and possibly keep eBooks from happening?

In related news, OH MY GOODNESS J.K. ROWLING IS WRITING A NEW BOOK!!!  Not another Harry book, which is just fine with me (I’m not a fan of series running more than their due course), and it’s for adults this time, but OH MY GOODNESS CAPS LOCK DOES NOT FULLY EXPRESS MY FANGIRLY JOY!!!  I can’t even imagine what it will be about.  It will, in all likelihood, be something completely and wonderfully different than anything we’ve seen from her before.  I’m definitely going to be watching for more news of this.  Who’s with me?

Happy reading.

Earthquakes and Experience

A short while ago, an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale rocked the state of Virginia and could be felt 200 miles away.  Being on the East Coast, I’m one of those who felt it- not that I realized it at the time.  This is a traumatic experience for most of us living here, as earthquakes, to us, are things to be heard about, things that happen in far-off places like Japan and California.  Not here, certainly.  They are never here.

Today, though, that belief was squished between tectonic plates.  Although it was not at all prominent enough to cause damage in my area, this event got me thinking about how much our personal experiences shape our writing.  In an earlier post I mentioned that what happens in our own lives, what we know, does not necessarily have to dictate what we can write about.  I still hold to that theory.  However, when describing something that occurs in real life, I believe that firsthand knowledge can go a long way towards making scenes and settings believable.

For example, I live in an area that usually is safe from natural disasters, except perhaps the occasional storm.  Therefore, putting disasters into my writing would not be very plausible, as I have no idea how it feels to be in one.  Now, of course, I could MAYBE write about earthquakes, but as I was not in the middle of it that’s still unlikely.

It’s not completely required to have this firsthand knowledge, but I think it just helps everything a lot more than if you were never in a certain setting or event.  This is why even fantasy writers put so much of their own lives into creating their worlds.  Christopher Paolini based his Alagaesian mountain landscapes off of his home state of Montana.  Suzanne Collins could write so fluently about war because of her family’s dealings in the military, and she was brought up discussing the effects of it.  It’s no surprise that the authors who do pull from their own lives tend to write more vivid and “real” worlds, at least in my opinion.

Very Alagaesia-ish. Which I guess is the point.

That’s it, I suppose.  My advice to you is try writing your settings based on places you’ve been personally, or things you’ve witnessed.  Maybe you’ll like how it turns out.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone in the middle of that earthquake.  I hope they’re all okay.

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

Lionsgate has announced that the first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games will be shown during the VMA’s this SUNDAY!  It’s our first look at actual footage, guys!  And it’s arriving a whole lot sooner than I expected.  I can feel my fangirl anticipation growing.  More on this will DEFINITELY be coming later!

And I thought the STILLS were exciting.

Happy reading!

On Subjects And Other News

Firstly the news, because the Subjects just make me angry.  I don’t want to be angry while giving news.  Because this particular news is especially newsy.

Any-who, I was just checking out Scott Westerfeld’s blog today for the first time in a while (no offense, Mr. Westerfeld.  Huge fan.  Really.) and I noticed an interesting tidbit:

The Uglies movie is officially underway.  Well, at least it has a producer, and a company to produce it.  The same people who made Captain America and The Social Network.

The press release is a lot of official jargon that little ol’ me can’t possibly hope to get through, but that’s the big stuff I pulled from it.  As always, you can view the blog in question in the sidebar under AUTHOR’S BLOGS.

Mr. Westerfeld is an exceptional writer.  I’m slowly making my way through all of his books.  At least the YA ones.  I’ve read Uglies, of course, and all the sequels, and I’m just now finishing up The Last Days, which is a sequel to Peeps, which is about vampires.

But they’re not really vampires.  Because Mr. Westerfeld has a great way of making everything just different enough to be COMPLETELY AWESOME.

Just look at his latest trilogy, two books of which are already out (and both of which I own):

Well, that’s enough fangirling for one day, don’t you agree, reader?  Yes?  Okay.  On with the angry.

Warning: Rant Ahead!

I’ve been reading a book called Subject Seven for a while now, and if you remember I had to force myself to stay away from it a couple of weeks ago.  That was because I had only read the first few pages.

Basically, the entire premise of the book is that there was a group of genetically altered human experiments who undergo a certain Jekyll/Hyde sort of transformation when given a trigger phrase.  On the Jekyll side, they’re just everyday teens, but on the Hyde side they’re destructive supersoldiers with an attitude.

Sound good?  I thought so.  Which is why I bought it in the first place.  But, alas, I was sadly mistaken.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book, and I’m about ready to put it down now.  Those who know me will be shocked when they read this, I’m sure.  I’m someone who always HAS to finish books, and you can count on one hand how many books I haven’t liked in my ENTIRE LIFE.  But this little piece is just the worst bit of writing I’ve ever seen.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me go through and list the things I’ve noticed that went wrong in this book, at least in my opinion.  Spoiler Warning!

  1.  The Premise.  Okay, so we find out that the people who created these experiments tested the babies and found them to be normal.  So, logically, they thought they had failed.  That’s when they put the “normal” babies up for adoption, leading to the whole rediscovery, ohmygosh-I’m-a-genetic-freak bit.  But this has more holes than Swiss cheese that’s been used for target practice!  Wasn’t the whole point of the Jekyll side of the kids to make sure they seemed normal?  Then they could sneak into a government building for a tour or whatever, transform, do their job and then be teens again before they were caught.  SO OF COURSE THE BABIES SEEM NORMAL.  THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO DO.  The scientists couldn’ t have at least waited a little bit for them to mature?
  2. The Pacing.  I’m over two hundred pages in, and the Jekylls have only just found out what they are.  This book is only about 320 pages.  I realize there is a sequel coming out at some point (at least a quick Google search told me so), but really.  We don’t need this much teen angst as five kids try to handle their blackouts and nine different levels of crazy.  I mean, it’s totally fine at first, but after a while it just seems like the author got stuck.
  3. The Style.  I’m sorry, James A. Moore, if he ever happens to read this, but I despise the writing style.  It’s just awful.  First of all, he repeats things way too much.  I mean, I get it.  The one dude is a geek.  The other one has issues.  There’s no need to just say it outright every time it comes up.  If you need to continue with the description, at least have it mentioned in dialogue, or show it in a character’s movements.  There are other ways.  Also, it just reads really plainly.  I don’t think I can pin that down, but just the whole overall style makes me want to put it down.  Also?  WHERE IS THE EMOTION?!
  4. The Characterizations.  Oh my goodness, the characters.  Maybe I’m just not getting it, but the characters were just not at all believable.  I don’t think I can say it all in one bullet.  So I’m putting in multiple for this one:
  • Most of them are cliches.  Plain and simple.  There’s the geek who can’t talk to people, the hot cheerleader, the tough soldier.  Like I said in number three, not enough emotion or really flesh at all.  These characters are flat and one-dimensional.
  • There is one character who actually has more than one emotion or overarching feel in the book, and that’s the antagonist.  Or at least I think she’s the antagonist.  Of course, nothing’s really clear at this point.  Over two hundred pages in.
  • Anyway, the antagonist.  She has a more complex character, but the complexity is confusing.  She has such a mix of completely opposite traits that it starts to look like multiple personality.  On one hand, she is a loving wife and mother.  On the other, she’s the one who KILLS BABIES AFTER SHE’S DONE EXPERIMENTING ON THEM.  It could work, but here it’s just done in the worst way.
  • So, during this entire book the teens are having blackouts and being tested.  They’re being accused of murdering and drug-using, and they’re scared and helpless and angry at the world in general.  They are reduced to visiting abandoned warehouses (which, when inside, is really just an office building) and going into cars with strangers just to find out what the heck is going on.  But, of course, all they ever seem to notice or think about is how cute/hot/sexy the rest of them are.  Why?  Because they’re teenagers, and apparently no matter how bad the situation, that’s just how teenagers work.  UM, NOT TRUE.
  • Descriptions: almost nil.  Most of the kids are described as “dark haired.”  Even the blond ones get darker hair when they become their Hyde selves.  What up with the dark hair?!  Other than that and naming most eye colors, I haven’t noticed any physical traits that would help me visualize.  The single exception to this is when one girl is shown to have “Asian” looking eyes, inevitably leading to the boy noticing to think about how darn CUTE that makes her look.
  • A boy whom I judge to be no older than his early teens actually says this line: “I am my mother’s son.”  I don’t know about you, but I know exactly ZERO boys who would say that, no matter how strictly they were brought up.  Reading that just irked me.

Exhibit A

That’s all I can think of at the moment.  Even though this book annoys me SO MUCH and seems to exist only for the action, I think I’m going to have to finish it.  That’s just the kind of person I am.

And, yes, I know I’m completely bashing this book, but I honestly cannot think of anything good to say about it.  I’m sorry if you’ve read it and liked it, really, but I just don’t.

Just one thing, though:  What’s “dark haired” supposed to mean?!  Is it brown or black?!  They’re not the same, you know!

Happy reading.

R.I.P. Borders

Well, I’m a bit late getting to this particular piece of news, but it’s been rocking the literary world, so I guess I’ll chime in.  Borders is out of business.  Closing.  Done.  Congratulations, Barnes and Noble, you now have a monopoly in my area.  It’s either you or Amazon now.  And I don’t like shopping online for my books.

This means I can no longer buy a book and then go get some Cold Stone, because that’s a Borders in that plaza.  Darn.

Mmm...Cold Stone...

But what does this mean for the book industry in general?  Well, it means that a) Borders is terrible at doing business.  They only came out with an e-reader last year, far behind anyone else.  Also b) it scares me just a little.  Because, yes, most people know that Borders is not the best place to shop at.  But it was still a bookstore, right?  It still got business from me.  So does this mean other places will start going too?  Will Barnes and Noble also go bankrupt?  Will I have NOWHERE to browse anymore???

Not necessarily.  I think the book industry, and the practice of actual STORES for books, is far from over.  You can’t browse books online.  You can’t find that long-neglected novel online, the one that’s terrific but doesn’t get much publicity.  The Internet is just not a good replacement for the actual store, for finding that one book that is really good but just never got much publicity.  Bookstores are a place of discovery, a place to just be surrounded by hundreds of novels, and to me, that’s one of the best places in the world to be.  You can’t get that sort of experience from your home computer.

So, while we lament the loss of many a good store, we don’t have to mourn the death of the book quite yet.  There are still plenty of stores out there, still plenty of books being published in print.  I know people are saying that this incident is a picture of what is to come, but really that’s just silly.  You can’t say music is going to disappear because a singer falls out of the spotlight.

Yes, we have e-readers now.  Yes, we can order our books on the Internet.  But people still like to actually go into a store and be surrounded by bright covers and the smell of paper and coffee.

This isn’t the end of that.  It’s just the end of Borders.

You will be missed.

It’s Raining Men!

Entertainment Weekly, which I am coming to regard as the number one Hollywood news source for the Hunger Games, just released their next cover image.

At last. It has arrived.

It’s Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne.

Also known as Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

You can find the article and a picture of the cover here.  I am definitely going to get myself a copy on Friday.

This movie is going to be amazing.

This is not the EW cover. But it's pretty awesome.

Some people have been saying they don’t think Josh Hutcherson’s hair looks blond enough.  I think it’s believable, at least.  Anyway, I’m just glad there will be a film Peeta in the first place, I don’t really care what he looks like.  Well, as long as it’s not his natural DARK brown/black color.

They both look spectacular.  I didn’t think my anticipation could get any higher.  I was just proven wrong.

What do you guys think about the cover?

Happy reading!