Just a wild guess

July 21, 2008 at 3:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My guess is that I won’t have today’s discussion of The Host up on time. It *might* happen tomorrow afternoon (Monday afternoon) or later that night. But Tuesday morning is just as likely.

By the way, the “time” of these postings on WordPress is off. I haven’t figured out how to change it to Central time. So while this will probably say that it was posted on Monday, it was posted on Sunday! So ignore the time generally speaking.

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Pondering

July 21, 2008 at 12:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Feedback is *always* welcome. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the group, for the group, and let everyone know where I am.

We’re currently in the middle of The Host. I don’t know if it’s the length or if its the fact that I didn’t just take notes the first time round back in May or what. But this month’s reading is more of a chore than a joy. That *shouldn’t* be the case. I should be happy to talk about the book. After all, I loved it the first time round.

August’s book is ACCIDENTAL TIME MACHINE. And I’ve already got my notes on it! So that one should be fun for me!!! I still get to interact with the group in the comments. But the *hard* part is over for my little brain.

September. What to do about September. I had thought about reading Adoration of Jenna Fox. There was some concern that it was *too* new a book and that it would be harder for folks to get. Not all libraries stay up to date. Many libraries might have waiting lists for such a new (and popular) book. It’s hardback and therefore expensive. I still *want* to read the book. I’m just not convinced that this September is the right time to do so.

Honestly. Dare I say it??? I was thinking of taking the month off.

I’ve been thinking. (Dangerous I know) And here’s where I’m open for feedback. Here’s what I enjoy about the group:

I like choosing books. I like seeing if the books I like and the people I like mesh well together.
I like reading other people’s thoughts on the books.
I like reading the books themselves.

What I don’t necessarily like is the structure. I’m not a hundred percent happy with the structure/format of the group.

I don’t necessarily like having assigned pages for assigned dates.

So I’m considering doing something a bit more open-ended after August. I like the idea of participating at your own speed, setting your own pace.

You can give feedback. I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again now. But I’m considering switching formats. Perhaps going with a Ning group or a Google Site (multiple users/contributors as opposed to just me) or even a google group or yahoo group. Something like that. Maybe.

I just don’t think WordPress can be as flexible as I’d like with a more open-ended process. And I’d like to have the participants able to contribute more as well. More than just a comment. Let them lead a bit more maybe. Start their own conversations. Ask their own questions. A bit more group and a little less me.

So thoughts, anyone?

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Day 6, The Host, Chapters 31-34

July 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day 6: July 18th. Discuss chapters 31-34 (pp. 313-357)
As “homework” to read between 7/18 and 7/21 read 358 – 407 (Chapters 35-39)

Needed

Visiting with Walter. Is it me or did this friendship kind of sneak up on the reader and catch them unawares? If Walter was introduced thoroughly early on, I sure didn’t notice him in the background until he got sick with cancer and started staying with Doc.

That being said, Walter dying of cancer. Cancer sure is ugly up, close, and personal, isn’t it? Wanderer/Melanie is great with him though. Much stronger than maybe they would be individually. This is in some ways like a hospice situation. Only way worse. Hospice is no treatment, no measures to preserve or extend life, but treatment for pain. The goal is to make the patient comfortable and ease him/her out of life gently. There is no getting better. Morphine is what Walter needs and ultimately what he gets.

Ian is there for Wanderer/Melanie.

Brandt. He hasn’t popped up much before. But he was one of the men that came with Kyle and Ian back in the very beginning to kill Wanderer/Melanie. He’s back again. He wants to “secure” the prisoner with rope. Why? They’ve been hearing helicopters and they think that Wanderer has been waiting for the opportunity to “signal” her Seeker. Ian and Doc both seem pretty disgusted with Brandt.

Doc. Tortured soul. Can’t help Walter. Can’t cure him. Can’t even relieve his pain at this point. He wants to help so badly, but he’s helpless in this situation.

Ambushed

Talk about tense. This chapter had me at the edge of my seat. How bout you? I don’t know about you but what do you think of Wanderer/Melanie’s rescue attempt? Would you, could you help your enemy survive at the cost of your own life both now and in the future?

Doubted

Ian. Of course it was Ian! He rescues her. And he saves his brother as well. But Wanderer/Melanie is his first priority. He knows. Ian knows his brother is scum. He knows Wanderer/Melanie is lying to try to protect Kyle. “Your definition of human is not the same as mine. To you, it means something…negative. To me, it’s a compliment–and by my definition, you are and he isn’t. Not after this.”

Wanderer/Melanie of course doesn’t think negatively of humans any more.

One of the reasons I like this book is that it does address the question what does it mean to be human. In this case, to be human is to be decent, to be compassionate, to treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Buried

Wanderer/Melanie is still recuperating. She was severely beaten after all. Walter’s still dying…and does in fact die…and is buried. Hence the title. One of the soul’s secrets is out. Motherhood. Wanderer has the potential to be a mother. But being a mother means sacrificing your life. Each cell in your body becomes a new soul.

So any thoughts on this section? Are you liking it? Not liking it? Is the plot moving fast enough for you now?
Who do you like better–Melanie or Wanderer? Jared or Ian?

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Day 5, The Host, Chapters 25-30

July 17, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day 5: July 16th. Discuss chapters 25-30 (pp. 244-312)
As “homework” to read between 7/16 and 7/18 read 313-357 (Chapters 31-34)

Compelled

She joins in with the community. She’s beginning to feel a bit more at ease with the others. Of course she’s not super-comfortable. She doesn’t think she belongs necessarily. But some of the tension has eased certainly. And now it’s more than just Jamie and Jeb and Ian that are welcoming and accepting.

Returned

She begins “teaching” the others about her kind, about the Souls, about the various planets she’s been on. The different hosts her kind have taken.

The men return. The ones who had been out scavenging for food and supplies. They are NOT happy to see Wanderer/Melanie outside of her prison cell. Not happy to see everyone so smiling, so relaxed, so at ease with an alien in their midst. They just don’t get it how a few weeks could make their friends, their family, their neighbors so changed in how they view the situation. Have they lost their minds? How could they forget that she’s not like them. She’s alien. She’s different. She’s THE enemy. Kyle is upset. But Jared is equally upset. He almost decides right then and there that she MUST be killed. Luckily, Jeb and Jamie are able to talk him out of it. But talk about tense!!!

Undecided

Wanderer/Melanie returns (in a way) to her prison. But now her prison is storage. So she’s not quite back where she began out. The internal debate begins with Wanderer/Melanie as to if it’s better for Jamie for her to fight to stay alive, or if he really is better off without her. Her death would be the end of Melanie after all. Yet she can’t give Melanie back her body. They’re a package deal. And Jamie seems to be fine with that. And most of the others don’t know Melanie is even there. (Jeb does I think.)

Jared is once again a jerk. How could he treat Jamie like that? And we’re supposed to like him?

Unenlightened

Wanderer/Melanie finds reassurance with Jamie and has a nice chat with Ian. Jared is still a jerk.

The big “secret” going on has something to do with Doc. She’s not quite sure what it is. But the reader can put two and two together and guess that it might have something to do with experimentation on souls/hosts. (After all, Wanderer was threatened with becoming an experiment and now Doc is locked away busy in work and the others are all hush hush.)

Betrayed

And this is where it gets tricky tricky. Jared “tests” Wanderer/Melanie by kissing her. What is that supposed to prove exactly? If Melanie is not in there then he’s kissing “the enemy” and if she’s in there what is the proper way to show that it is her responding to his kiss? Melanie responds with anger. She punches him. The scene is very violent. And no one is really happy. Jared. Melanie. Wanderer are all angsty here.

Abbreviated

Wanderer/Melanie must have passed some sort of test. Now Jared is beginning to believe that Melanie is still alive. Melanie is too angry, too hurt, too betrayed (by whom???) to show herself. She’s left Wanderer for the moment.

More teaching.

Walter. Visiting him, her dying friend. Wanderer seems more human than ever.

So what do you think? Liking it? Loving it? Can’t put it down? Don’t want to pick it up? Too predictable? Just right? Satisfying? What do you think of Jared? Of Kyle? Can you see where they are coming from? Or are you on the side of Jeb, of Jamie, of Ian? Do you think it is the stories themselves that are working this magic on the community? Or is it the storyteller? Is there something about Wanderer that is just likable?

Share your thoughts!

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Gem X

July 17, 2008 at 5:53 pm | Posted in 2008, brothers and/or sisters, dystopia, YA Science Fiction, YA Thriller | 1 Comment


Singer, Nicky. 2008. Gem X.

What kind of book is Gem X? According to the jacket, it is a “gripping futuristic thriller” about the consequences of genetic engineering. Gem X is the story of three teens primarily. Maxo Strang is an Enhanced human. He’s got the wealth, the privilege, physically and materially he has everything going for him. Gala and Stretch are brother and sister. Both dreggies. Naturals. Their genes are still “clean.” And their clean genes are really the only things they have going for them. For it is these genes which they can sale to the Enhanced scientists for money. The Dreggies–all of them–are poverty stricken, prone to disease, lacking in proper food and water and medical care. Their lives are dismal–at least on the surface. They live in broken down buildings and often lack water and electricity.

Why do the Enhanced need ‘clean genes.’ Well, their bodies and minds sometimes develop flaws. Clean genes are needed to fix certain problems. These scientists are far from perfect though they like to play god with the human body. Natural “meshing” is not allowed. Touching is not allowed. Everything is done ‘virtually’ when it comes to dating. And genetic matches must be approved by others (not sure if it’s just the parents who get a vote or if the government/scientists must approve as well.) But the whole process is very cold and distant compared to what it should be.

Our story begins when Maxo discovers that he has a crack on his face. This combined with the revelation that all Gem X’ers are developing cracks (or wrinkles) on their faces. Something is wrong–desperately and dangerously wrong!

These stories connect–as you can imagine–and I suppose you could easily classify it as a thriller. It’s always moving.

The premise of this one was interesting. I can’t deny that. But at the same time, it failed, in a way, to work for me. While hypothetically interesting, I just didn’t seem to connect with the characters. I didn’t feel their angst, their pain, their confusion. Part of this could have been intentional. The Enhanced humans are supposedly free from being “bogged down” by emotional drama and whatnot. They’re very cold and calculating. Very me-me-me oriented. Maxo’s parents, especially his mother, is very cold, frigid, and just a horrible person. She has no heart and no depth. Maxo’s father is slightly more human. He does seem to care, but for the most part he has been too blinded to really realize how much he is lacking in the fatherhood department. There are other human characters, human adult characters, that just seem odd and out of place in this text. I was never quite sure what to make of them.

Singer has created a world that is very chaotic. A world that is complex. A world that has its own organization, its own vocabulary, its own status quo. The readers never really get an orientation to its history, its politics, its society, its science. And because of that it is a world that could be a bit too confusing to readers. I can’t and won’t speak for everyone. But I know there were elements that confused me.

Other reviews: Roselle, Sellers Library Teens,

© Becky Laney of Becky’s Book Reviews

Good news, bad news…

July 17, 2008 at 3:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I had a GREAT day catching up with some old friends I hadn’t seen in month! I met one of my baby reviewers, SnuggleBug, for the first time 🙂 And I spent the time with other friends and family as well. The bad news? I didn’t get a chance to read THE HOST and post about it. And I am way way too tired to think about doing it tonight. (It’s 10:35 PM. Typically this time doesn’t find me exhausted. I’m a night owl after all. But today I got up by 8AM and I’ve been busy, busy, busy all day long. No reading time. No blogging time. No email time. So it was great to hang out with real people. And I loved it. I can’t regret having a day off now and then. I’ll try to have it up tomorrow. But it may just have to be a Friday thing. I might do two posts on Friday. Or not.

If you’re going crazy wanting to talk about today’s chapters then you can comment on this post and jump start the conversation.

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Day Four, The Host, Chapters 19-24

July 14, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Day 4: July 14th. Discuss chapters 19-24 (pp. 181-243)
As “homework” to read between 7/14 and 7/16 read 244- 312 (Chapter 25-30)

Abandoned

I don’t know about you but I am not liking Jared. I *know* that he has every reason in the world to be angry and distrustful of Wanderer/Melanie…but I just don’t like him. While I can see why he would hate her so much. I just can’t like a man who wants to beat up and torture a woman. Especially a woman who doesn’t deserve it. Of course he doesn’t know she doesn’t deserve it but still. Ian grew a lot in my books by doing his part in protecting Wanderer/Melanie. He seems more human now, and Jared less.

Jared is going away. (Yes!) Of course Melanie’s upset. But it turns out to be a good thing.

Freed

With Jared gone, Jeb has the power and authority to change things. The first thing he does really is give Wanderer/Melanie some freedom. He sees that she is more of a guest than a prisoner. He sees to her needs. He treats her as a human and not a parasite. After such poor I-could-be-killed-any-minute treatment, the kindness is a shock to her. She doesn’t know quite what to make of it.

Named

Wanda? Really? The best he could do for a nickname?

In this chapter Wanderer gets a voice. She begins to talk to Jeb and to Jamie and to a certain extent Ian is part of her inner circle as well. Not as much as Jamie obviously. But he’s one of the few on her side. One of the few that are helping to keep her safe.

Wanderer begins to talk about the other planets and the other hosts she’s known. It’s an interesting subject for Jamie and Jeb. And one that they think the others will enjoy as well.

Cracked

The stories continue. Wanderer/Melanie gets more comfortable in her surroundings. She’s part of the community–on the fringes at least–she’s been shown the caves, the rooms. She knows her way around a bit now. She’s helping with the work a bit too. 

Confessed

Melanie is outed. Wanderer can’t help but revealing to Jamie that Melanie is still alive and well and fighting. Jamie isn’t repulsed by Wanderer anymore. And Melanie has made peace with her as well.

Tolerated

Wanderer/Melanie takes a bath. Jeb’s plot is obvious to get the others used to seeing her.

So what are you thinking so far? Of Ian? Of Jeb? Of Melanie? Of Wanderer? Of Jamie? Of Doc? Do you think it is possible for these humans to ever accept “Wanda” into the community? Do you think they should? Has Wanderer proven herself trustworthy? What do you think Jamie and Jeb see that the others can’t? Do you like or hate Wanderer’s new nickname/name? Are you finding the story exciting or boring or a bit of both at times? Are you happy you picked this one up? Or are you wishing you’d never signed up for this mess of a book?

Just be honest and share all!

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Stephenie Meyer

July 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Courtesy of Kristin Connor at Barnes & Noble

Interesting article…

July 11, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Here’s an article that mentions briefly that there will be sequels to The Host. Who knew??? Was I out of the loop on this one??? Or is this news to everyone else too???

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Day 3, The Host, Chapters 13-18

July 11, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Day 3: July 11th. Discuss chapters 13-18 (pp. 118-180)
As “homework” to read between 7/11 and 7/14 read 181 – 243 (Chapters 19-24)

It is this section, in my opinion, where the action really starts. Here where readers are most likely to become “hooked” (if they haven’t already). Did this section change your mind at all about the book? I know a *few* of you weren’t hooked yet by day one and two. Were indifferent to the book really…not seeing what ‘the fuss’ was all about.

Sentenced

Wanderer/Melanie is found/lost/and found again. Uncle Jeb was kind enough to leave her with a canteen of water. But she wakes up to find herself alone. In this narrative section, Meyer begins using “we/our” for really the first time. I certainly didn’t notice her using it earlier in the book. The bond between Wanderer and Melanie is really beginning to cement. They’re beginning to think of themselves as one now. As wanting and needing the same things now.

Uncle Jeb returns with a bunch of men (okay I think the number is eight). They’re all armed and wanting to kill. The argument doesn’t seem to be if they’ll kill her but when they’ll kill her. Jeb is for waiting. The others seem to want it done now. A few want her to become the doctor’s plaything–an experiment.

Mention of a secret that Wanderer is keeping from Melanie.

They take her back to the underground caves where they live.

Disputed

Wanderer/Melanie sees Jared. Wanderer loses control of her body there for a few minutes. Melanie can’t seem to grasp the concept of how much the humans hate her now that she’s been compromised. They, the humans, don’t realize that Melanie is still there, still alive, still very much active.

The debate as to what to do with it goes on. Notice how the alien is an “it.”

Guarded

Wanderer/Melanie is a prisoner of this group of rebels resisting the aliens, the Souls. Jared is her guard most of the time. But she still sees Jeb now and then.

Her life is in danger. A few men (Kyle, Ian, and someone else I believe) do try to kill her despite Jared’s “guarding” her and “fighting” to protect her. She wants in the fight. She doesn’t want Jared to be hurt because of her. She wants to protect him. He can’t grasp that. The situation is not looking good until Jeb intervenes. Kyle has a broken nose now (I think it’s broken). And Melanie is very bruised up by this point.

Assigned

Wanderer/Melanie’s future is placed into the hands of Jared. She is his to do what he will with. He can give the order to have her killed. He can give her to Doc. Or he can decide to let her live. Her fate is in his hands. And he’s not that happy with that decision. But Jeb is the boss.

In this chapter and the next one, she’s led to the rooms of the cave system where she can take care of personal business–the latrine area and the bathing area.

Visited

The most important bit of this chapter is that Wanderer/Melanie gets reunited with Jamie. He finally learns that she’s alive and being held prisoner. He wants to speak with her. She’s ecstatic to see him alive. But she knows that her being there is causing him some pain too. She doesn’t quite know how to let him know Melanie is still there. She knows or thinks she knows that the others would never believe her.

Bored

She’s still being guarded. She’s doing a lot of thinking. She learns that there have been Souls out looking for her. In particular she learns that the Seeker–her Seeker–has been out and about trying to track her down. She’s not going to give up easily. The others have stopped. But she’s still trying to find her. She overhears a conversation between Ian and Jared. Ian is the one who realizes that Wanderer is frightened and scared.

The two want answers from her. This is the first time she’s really been asked to talk.

But we don’t get to go there just yet.

So what do you think of it so far? Is it getting better? Moving faster? What do you think of this underground community? Of Uncle Jeb? Of Jared? Of Ian and Kyle? Does the humans reactions surprise you at all? Think about it. The person you love, the person you know is right there in front of you. But and it’s a big but. They’re now ALIEN. Now OTHER. Now the ENEMY. Could you accept that the person you loved was really gone from that body? Would you be able to kill them? Melanie thinks that if the situations were reversed–if she was still safe, still human, and if it had been Jared or Jamie captured that she would never be able to see them as the enemy, never be able to kill them. Do you think that’s true? I have a feeling she’d definitely never be able to hurt Jamie. He’s like a son to her.

Melanie now realizes that Wanderer has feelings for Jared. That her love/desire for him is different from her own. Melanie can’t quite understand–and I must admit I’m a bit confused too–how a “worm” or “insect” can fall in love with a human. How a species so different, so very other, could have feelings for a human.

Melanie also gives Wanderer her first compliment.

Are you finding the book interesting?

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