Friday, June 22, 2012

"Big Brother is Watching"

I finished my first classic on my own!  Sure I have read other classics: To Kill a Mocking Bird, Wurthering Heights, The Great Gasby, and The Grapes of Wrath to name a few.  However, this is the first time I actually picked up a classic and read it cover to cover without being required, and I must say that it was well worth it.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of those books that is right up my ally, and I probably should have read it years ago.  It takes place in a futuristic dystopian society where all hell has broken loose, complete with a romance and an overpowering government.  All these aspects combined create a book that should have my name stamped on its cover.  That being said it did take me a while to finish the book.  First of all I probably did not choose the best time to begin the book.  I ordered it on whim during the middle of my second semester at college.  Bad idea.  College just is not the time to get any major reading done.  With all the friends, parties, and let's not forget the studying, reading gets placed on the back burner.  Needless to say I read Nineteen Eighty-Four sporadically. 

Once I got home for summer, though, I was able to focus a little more and reread parts that I had skimmed.  But everyone knows that May is the month when new books coming flying onto the shelves, and many of these books were highly anticipated sequels (Ahem...Bitterblue and Divergent).  Once again my lovely copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four got thrown onto the shelf for a few more weeks. Just the other night I saw it laying there looking sadly unfinished and I remembered why I began reading the book in the first place. 

Now as reviews go I cannot say that Nineteen Eighty Four leaves a happy feeling in your stomach.  It is more like a sick sensation of impending doom.  Later you find out that, contrary to many modern dystopian novels, the protagonist really doesn't win.  He is stifled by his government and you can only hope that somewhere in that world there is someone else who will bring change and the fog will lift.  

I liked this though.  Happy endings are all over the place, I mean they are nice (fluffy even), but it was refreshing to see something new and real.  The end leaves you hanging in space as you reread the final words and try to pick the meaning out of them.  Does the protagonist really fall prey to those he has been so desperately fighting?  Well, that is for you to decide.  

All I know is that I wish I had read the whole book in one sitting.  I will be rereading this in the near future to get some of the parts I missed or forgot.  Also I hope to get through a few more classics before the summer is over.  I believe it is really important and helpful to developing your own writing.  (And let's not forget that I have a crazy obsession with analyzing writing, but that I will discuss in another post).  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I finished Insurgent a few days ago and I must say that I loved it!   This will not be a complete review but I definitely think that anyone who loves dystopian novels would love this book.  Overall it is fast paced and intense that has plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading and wanting more.

I thought the character development throughout the books was amazing.  Roth kept building on the characters original personalities so that we got to know them even better.  I especially liked getting to know Tobias, or Four.  He fleshed out more in my mind and I love him even more than I did before, if that is even possible.  I also must say that the relationship between Tris and Tobias is perfect.  It is not one of those picture perfect relationship but one filled with realistic hurtles which the characters must overcome.  

All in all, Insurgent has become one of my favorite books for 2012.  I felt myself holding my breath throughout its entirety and feeling every emotion that shook the characters.  This book is a must read in my opinion.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bitterblue Review

Well here is my first real post that might have some relevance to you. Hope it helps any of you thinking about reading this book.

Bitterblue is a YA novel written by Kristen Cashore that takes place in the same world as her first two novels Graceling and Fire.  I can tell you that I have anticipated the release of Bitterblue ever since Cashore debuted her first novel Graceling.  I absolutely loved Graceling and have gone back to reread it a couple of times now.

I found many parts interesting and enjoyable.  First, the characters that I knew and loved were back and interacting with the young queen, which was exciting! I loved that we got to see their growth and what they were doing.  The character of Giddon was also introduced more fully and I liked him.  The growth seen in Bitterblue herself was also refreshing.

 Last time we saw her she was a little girl and in Bitterblue she is a young woman trying to straighten out the flaws within her kingdom.  These flaws turned out to be one of the most interesting parts of the story.  The book also has more dark and captivating mystery than either Fire or Graceling.

I must also say something to the unexpected ease in which Cashore overcomes sexuality and tough issues.  Her societies have overcome issues which our own society continues to battle.  I love the way she mixes these modern ideals with the old society.  It sends an important message to the reader which every work needs.

This being said, for me Bitterblue was a slow read.  There was even a point when I put down the book for a week or two and read something else.  I got bogged down in the puzzles and politics in the book.  In comparison, Graceling was very fast pace.  The characters were always moving, fighting, saving each other.  It was a whirlwind of emotion that ended only when you hit the back cover.  Katsa herself, was a supercharged character that you could hardly keep up with.  I think I was expecting the same from Bitterblue and was not satisfied.

The final aspect to the book that disappointed me, was the relationship between Bitterblue and Saf.  I think my problems with their relationship lie in the way Saf's character changes. He was intriguing, mysterious, and spunky and left me wanting to know him better during the first half of the book.  Then I feel he deviates from his character becoming somewhat soft and flat.  Finally, his story is left so unresolved there is a feeling that he was a last thought.  This is really too bad because Cashore's other characters are so strong in their personalities and he had that potential.

At this point I realized I liked Bitterblue's relationships with many of the other characters better.  I thought her relationship with Giddon was much more substantial and even her relationship with Katsa, though briefly shown, was charming.  In the end I enjoyed the relationships of Katsa and Po over that of Bitterblue and Saf.

All in all, it can be said that Bitterblue was not my favorite book but that does not mean I regret taking the time to read it.  I think I expected more and was underwhelmed.  However, Cashore stays true to her style and her main characters which I applaud.  She also places a message that applies outside her book, which shows that she is not just a story teller but an activist.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hello and Welcome to My Mind

Hello my name is Caitlin and I am a student, reader, and amateur writer.  I call both the breezy coast of Maine and the equally breezy shores of the fingerlakes home.  As of now I am staying busy studying biology and english (a funny combination, I know), writing, and reading.  Most of my writing consists of random moments and short stories as well as a few poorly written poems.   I hope to one day pen a novel but right now my attention span is about the width of a teaspoon.

When I am not writing or studying I am usually reading or spending time playing the piano.  Most of what I read can be found in the YA section in any bookstore but as an English student I do enjoy the classics.  In the recent years I have fully embraced the dystopian novel craze including The Hunger Games and Divergent.  Other favorites of mine will always include The Harry Potter series and Narnia which demonstrates my love of high fantasy.  This summer it is my goal to dig into the Game of Thrones series.  I have already been sucked into the HBO series and can't wait to begin.  Maybe one day I will post a full summer reading list.

Anyway, I hope that this blog allows me to get it together and actually write, whether it be stories or my opinions.  I am one of those people who constantly thinks about writing something but never actually gets around to doing it.  Procrastination is my Mount Everest and the internet my crutch.