Five lessons I learned from what I read in 2011

January 10, 2012 § 4 Comments

I read oodles (the technical term for it) when I was in elementary and middle school, a lot in high school, and not terribly much in college (aside from what I was reading for classes, which took the majority of my reading energy). Fortunately I’m rectifying that error, by reading more than ever these days. The ‘real’ world, with mortgages and bills and full-time jobs isn’t all glamor and glitz, but it’s one major redeeming quality is a total lack of homework. I’ve taken advantage of the extra time in my life (and the fact that my wife who is in grad school still does have homework in the evenings) by reading more this year than in the previous eight years combined.

Since I began writing seriously, the way I read books has changed significantly, for better or worse. I’m more discerning of everything from adverb overuse and cliches to strong and original characters. Most of the books I read « Read the rest of this entry »

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Book Review: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

September 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

There wasn’t much to make me love this book.  Ember is the only city in a world of darkness with no sun, moon, or stars, and the supply of light bulbs (and everything else) is rapidly diminishing.  Twelve-year-olds Doon and Lina don’t believe that Ember could be all there is in the world and they strive to discover the truth and save mankind from the impending darkness.

The biggest problem with the book is that it didn’t make me care about any of the characters.  I didn’t hate the bad guys, and I didn’t care much about the good guys.  Also, the plot has been done before (most notably in The Giver by Lois Lowry, but also in Robert Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky, which I love), and there were some serious plot holes like the fact that no one, in the hundreds of years they’ve lived in darkness, has thought to make a torch or candle to help explore the darkness.  If you skip this one, you won’t be missing much.  That said, I love the attempt and will be curious to see what DuPrau writes after this series is completed.

If you’re wondering what you should read instead, check out the reading recommendations for great reads for middle grade and young adult readers.

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