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Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters

ReThe Journal of Curious Letters (The 13th Reality)

The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner starts off almost Harry Potter style, i.e. far from where the main action will take place and with an intriguing hook. I downloaded the first few pages of The Journal of Curious Letters onto my Kindle for iPod to preview it. The first chapter instantly intrigued me, so when it came time to order my next batch of books from Amazon thanks to my Swagbucks giftcards, The Journal of Curious Letters made the list.

The first installment of Dashner's series follows the adventures of Atticus (Tick) Higginbottom as he attempts to decipher a series of clues from a mysterious author known only as "M.G." As Tick takes the plunge and decides to follow the clues to an unknown but allegedly courageous fate, disaster and danger follow him. With his father helping him on, The Journal of Curious Letters culminates in a daring mission and the feeling that many adventures will come!

First off, The Journal of Curious Letters is written in a witty style that I love. Dashner uses language well, although some of it is a little overdone--he too frequently uses phrases like "as if he'd just revealed a mystery recipe stolen from the Keebler elves." Still, he writes smoothly and the narrative flows well, for the most part.

Tick is an easily loved character. A sensible kid, self-ascribed nerd--and happy with it. He's got a great home life, which is always nice to read about in a good fantasy. Tick takes the bullying at his school with patience, but learns through the book that he doesn't have to take it and it doesn't mean fighting back. I throughly enjoyed watching Tick grow stronger and more confident. To my relief, Tick is a 13 year old, who acts and behaves like a 13 year old.

Dashner includes a whole cast of characters who are fascinating and very intriguing. Mothball (an abnormally tall, skinny woman from the 4th reality) and Rutger (an abnormally short, fat little man from the 11th reality) are very entertaining.

I adore the tidbit about Master George's command center being in the Bermuda Triangle! Maybe you can get there by sailing through the Rick Riordan's Sea of Monsters, and it's probably within visiting distance of Brandon Mull's "Shoreless Isle" from Fablehaven! (I am seriously considering remapping my heroine Finna's home to the Bermuda Triangle--seems like all the good fantasies allude to it! :)

Some criticisms:
Dashner uses far to many points of view for my taste. Though meant to give more 'camera angles' to the story, it often jolts and disrupts the narrative.
As mentioned above, the similes--though sometimes hilarious--are used too often, as is Mothball's Yoda-like speaking style.
Tick sometimes remains in the dark too long about concepts that the readers have already easily worked out. Mothball and Rutger often inadvertently reveal half-sentences about the meaning of the clues and the realities, which the reader understands quickly, but somehow leave Tick as simply confused. Since Tick is supposedly bordering on genius, this plot hiccup sometimes makes him a little less believable. In addition, although Tick's teacher unknowingly points Tick in the exactly right direction with discussions on Quantum Physics in his middle school class that should have cleared up Mothball and Rutger's half-spoken hints about the Realities, it still takes him the entire book to work out, and in the end Master George still has to explain to Tick most of what the readers have already worked out.

Overall, Dashner's The Journal of Curious Letters is an entertaining book--probably best for kids around 9-15, but still enjoyable for everyone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Deb tells me I've won an award. It's called:

I actually call this tagging. :) But I'll play along because Deb rocks and helps me out a lot when I come to her whining with a writing dilemma. And I sincerely appreciate that she follows my blog and believes in me as a writer. Thanks, Deb! (check out her blog at http://debraerfert.blogspot.com/)

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass the award to several bloggers that you think deserve it.
4. Lastly, contact all the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

Seven Things about Ranee` Clark:
1. I have two adorable boys, ages nearly 5 and 2 1/2 respectively. I know I'm lucky because most women at this stage of motherhood don't have time to write, but my boys are amazing. They love to play together--most the time, and when all is fairly quiet in the Clark household, I get to sit down and work at my writing during the day. And there is that wonderful time of day in our house called 'rest time,' two hours that I get to devote totally to writing. Ahhhh.
2. I love, adore, obsess over Jane Austen. I own every major motion picture made of her books (except Mansfield Park). I own all her published works, and even some of the unpublished works. I have a wonderful biography of her called "Becoming Jane Austen," and the movie based on that biography. Though the movie is highly unlikely, I still like "Becoming Jane," and my sister hates it because Jane Austen doesn't end up with James McAvoy...excuse me, Tom Lefroy. I'll admit, that's pretty disappointing for a girl--but she loves "P.S., I Love You," which I can't stand. (When is it EVER okay for Gerard Butler to die in the first thirty minutes of a movie!!) I hate that I'm not allowed to write like Austen--long, complicated yet very witty sentences; a lot of was, a lot of description--if I ever want to be published.
3. I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelors in History. I love history. It is really just a lot of dry people who don't know how to tell the really great stories their talking about--but there is a LOT of inspiration there. I love to learn about World War II, the Resistance and Europe. I hate American West History and Wyoming History--which my husband informs me is really kind of stupid since I live in the American West and in Wyoming. Hmm. Sorry. :) I want to go back to school soon, but I'm torn whether to get a degree in English or a Masters in History--because I'd love to teach it.
4. My husband and I both plan on me being a best-selling author in the near future. We've made all the plans and even picked out some of the actors for the movie. I'm really leaning toward the kid who played Percy Jackson in the "Lighting Thief" as my hero, Liam Monroe. I think he'd be perfect. My husband is looking forward to quitting his job, and I'm looking forward to having a big office with a huge corner desk.
5. I am the oldest of eight children. My mom is amazing and really awesome. I actually love spending time with my brothers and sisters, contrary to my opinion prior to graduating from high school. My sisters (which include the amazing girls that married my brothers) are my best friends and I miss them terribly. When I'm a best-selling author and the movie is a blockbuster, I'm going to buy a ranch in Northern Wyoming and build houses for my whole family so we can be together all the time. :)
6. I like to sew. I've been saving up for a serger and once I get a few more gift certificates to Amazon through Swagbucks, I'm going to buy one! I'm very excited, especially since I found dollar-a-bolt fabric on my last trip to Walmart! I learned to sew from my handy mother--who sewed all my prom dresses and my AMAZING wedding dress, which we designed together. She's a wonder and she can do amazing things with a sewing machine.
7. According to my morning schedule, I'm supposed to be exercising right now--wait, actually, I think I should be on to cleaning the living room and kitchen by now--but of course, I'm not. I'm blogging. And after I'm done blogging I'll probably do three or four more things instead of exercising--or cleaning--and then I'll look up and it will be time to go get A.J. from school. :)

To the Bloggers I think should get the Versatile Blogger Award:
(I'll admit it, I don't follow a lot of blogs, and especially since I moved and got behind on my writing projects and other things, I haven't read very many blogs at all. So here are my favorite writing and regular blogs.)

Kristin Baker P. (I'm not even going to try to spell her last name, and since her author's name is Kristin Baker, it's no problem--although I really think she should use her last name because it's not one anyone is likely to forget, though searching for it on Amazon or in the library could be sorta difficult...) ANYWAY-Kristin a member of my ANWA chapter and we connected right away. Check out her blog at http://kristinbaker.blogspot.com

Joyce DiPastena has a lot of blogs with a lot of interesting things to look at. I like Quill to Quill because I love it when I can learn more about a character I've particularly loved!

Kristin Sanders married one of my favorite people in the world and then became one of my favorite people in the world. I LOVE to read her blog, because although she usually posts only a few sentences, she always has WONDERFUL insights to life! http://dksanders.blogspot.com/

Congratulations Guys! ;)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Missing Deadlines

...Well, not that I have any yet! But I set out as a professional blogger to try and update my writer's blog once a week. And isn't it common for dramatic, high-maintenance writers to consistently miss deadlines...? Don't worry! I have a lot of excuses as to why I haven't blogged for several weeks!
1) My husband got a new job and we moved. I spent two and a half weeks packing a four bedroom house and then another week unpacking and stuffing a four-bedroom house into a three bedroom house with no closet space...
2) I pushed blogging aside to catch up on my real writing work: editing, which I'm getting sick of. Hmmm. (No worries. NanoWrimo is right around the corner, which is a wonderful excuse to quit doing anything productive and write nonsense and garbage for thirty days--so long as you get 50k!)
3) Mockingjay.
But I will try and do better.

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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