Category Archives: Science Fiction

May the Fourth Be With You

And other bad or questionable, but entirely quotable, Star Wars dialog …

Today is National Star Wars day, and the pundits are out in full force (no joke intended). The movie series is one of the all-time greats – clean, funny, and eminently quotable. Some of the lines have taken a permanent place in the nation’s collective vocabulary, and they’re oddly applicable to most situations. Here are some of the best (and worst). Read and learn. (Hover at the bottom of each picture for my comments.)

Even Master Yoda recognized the superiority of Mr. Darcy. The Force was definitely with Colin Firth in the role.

Unravel Me, Shatter Me series, Book 2

Robin’s Reviews

I have enjoyed reading the Shatter Me books, but reading to review is a different animal altogether than is reading for enjoyment. I’ve already told you that I don’t really notice little bad words. Only the big, bad ones make an impression on me. However, since I’m recommending the books to you, I am looking at it in a new way.

shatter-me

In other words, these books have language that I consider to be level 2: I don’t use the words myself, and if they were spoken in my presence, I would definitely notice. The worst profanity in our language is not used in this series. With that said, it is realistic language for soldiers and others in a post-apocalyptic world. In fact, the language would be much worse.

The physical aspect of a relationship goes a bit farther in this book than it did in the first, but there is less of it. Again, body parts are not named. There is not the constant internal dialog of Juliette emoting about being touched, and there is no indication of a completion of any sexual act.

Oddly enough, the abundant violence doesn’t bother me. I expect it in this type of novel. To be truthful, even in movies, violence doesn’t offend me in the same way as explicit sex does. That’s not to say that I like violence. I can handle people being shot, but I can’t watch them being mutilated.

Warner is more fully developed in Unravel Me, and I began to understand why he does the things he does. When I realized the why, I began to like him. The author does a very good job of changing the reader’s mind, of making a despicable character more human.

I am enjoying the second reading of the series much more than I did the first time through.

5 stars

 

 

Robin’s Reviews

Shatter Me Series, Book 1

shatter-me-new-eye-co1a459Having told JSI readers last week that I was reading the Shatter Me series by author Tahereh Mafi, I felt compelled to review the books for you. I may even make reviewing a regular part of my blogging. With that in mind, my reviews will reflect the way I like to be reviewed myself, knowing what the reviewer liked and what she could have done without. In addition, I will avoid reviewing books in the JAFF genre unless I can comfortably give the author 5 stars.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I began reading the series, but this wasn’t it. Consequently, my first thoughts of Shatter Me, Book 1, were rather negative. The writing is sometimes difficult to read, because it’s nearly all stream of consciousness from the heroine’s point of view, and she’s a mess. But she’s a really hot mess, according to every man who looks at her. She wouldn’t know since she hasn’t looked in a mirror in three years.

Our protagonists, Juliette and Adam, are not normal. I expected that, knowing that the books were Dystopian Young Adult.

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Tris, Peeta, and Gail (The Hunger Games)  are the most pedestrian of all the DYA heroes I’ve read. Their abnormalities lie in their strength of character, physical abilities, and compassion. In short, they are very believable. I read the books around four times.

Edward and Bella are both supernatural. Edward is a vampire. (I hope I didn’t spoil The Twilight Saga for you. Is there anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard that Edward is a vampire?) He can read minds. Bella is a shield. I read the series at least ten times. (The books are YA, but not Dystopian.)

twilight-saga

Divergent features Tris, who is divergent – a mixture of all the factions, and Four, who appears to be the same, but really isn’t. I never quite grasped why, for he embodied all of them, but for the plot to work, Tris had to be the only true divergent one on the planet. Hence, poor Four, who has already suffered enough, loses his divergent status. I read the books three or four times. Are you sensing a trend? divergent-series

Shatter Me opens with Juliette in an asylum.  She has a supernatural gift (think Rogue in X Men), and she is traumatized beyond endurance. Adam (Bella in The Twilight Saga) is placed in the cell with her. She has had no human contact in more than three years. She can’t touch anyone without killing them, so she’s reverted to a nearly feral state. The books are all from her point of view. Once I understood her difficulties, I was more impressed with the author’s writing. It works for Juliette, though it grated on my English teacher’s nerves. Another thing I didn’t care for, Juliette whined constantly. I began to lose all sympathy for her.

Also, I need to say that there is a good bit of touching and sensuality in Shatter Me, though body parts aren’t named, and they are constantly interrupted before they can do very much physically. They never get past touching, much to Juliette’s frustration. Her inner dialog is quite loud about what she’s experiencing, but not specific. To me, that isn’t erotica, and it didn’t offend me, but it might offend you. I can understand how a person who could never touch anyone in her entire seventeen years without killing them could be carried away if she finally finds an unusually handsome, well-built, kind young man (eighteen years old) who can touch her and not die. Juliette is starving for physical contact.

All of the main good guy characters have supernatural gifts, and I could identify nearly all of them from X Men, The Fantastic Four, and The Avengers.

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The first book in the series, Shatter Me, deals with Juliette’s discovery of more ways to use her gift and revelations about the other supernatural characters. Mafi sets up the next two books, setting the stage for us to hate the antagonist, Warner (another aspect of Rogue in X Men), and The Reestablishment. Every good DYA features an evil government which must be battled. The Reestablishment serves quite nicely.

If you think I didn’t like Shatter Me, think again. I’m rereading the series. If I weren’t caught up in the story, I wouldn’t reread it. Now that I’m reading it with a better understanding of the characters, I’m enjoying it more.

Any book that gets a reread from me deserves 5 stars.

Come back next week for a review of Unravel Me, the second book in the series.

 

What are you reading now?

I’ve posted about the books of my childhood, the books of my teen years, and the books which influenced me. Obviously, I love books!

You do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

So tell me: What are you reading right now?

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My daughter Melanie gave me a set of books for Mother’s Day last year, but real life was keeping me too busy to read anything not on my phone. I read while I wait in doctors’ offices or lines, and I don’t want to carry around paperbacks.

I saw them on a side table yesterday and decided that I’d like to know why these books had captivated her enough that she would spend the money to buy them (in paperback!) and mail them to me.

So far, I have to agree with her. They’re attention-grabbing time sinks. The writing style is different, but I like it. The characters are interesting – not just rewrites of Katniss and Peeta, Bella and Edward, or Tris and Four. Great covers, too!

shatter-me

It’s Dystopian Young Adult, so if that isn’t your “thing,” skip on by. Remember, I’m the reader who loved the Divergent series, The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Saga. Like those books, this is a series. She gave me the next two as well: Unravel Me and Ignite Me.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if these grab my attention and hold it or not. I’m not worried about whether or not there are erotic scenes, because my daughter would not read or recommend books that portray graphic sex. Romance? Yes, she would like that.

So, what are you reading now? We at Jane Started It want to know.

 

Tell Me What You Really Think

Sincerely Yours  Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours
Robin Helm

Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews posted her thoughtful four-star review of Sincerely Yours yesterday. Her review was a good one, in that she presented her likes and dislikes in a very fair manner. It’s wonderful to me that she likes more than she dislikes about the book. Thank you, Meredith!

I don’t expect everyone to like everything about my books. In fact, I would be surprised if they did. I know that my books can be controversial. All of them have a religious component and a paranormal element. The Yours by Design series (Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours) features a time-switch between Regency Darcy and modern Darcy.

I was particularly interested in the comments. More people were concerned about the religious aspect than about the time switch. Accidentally Yours (the first book) is much more “Christian” than are the other two books (Sincerely Yours and Forever Yours) in the series. I established modern Will’s Christianity in the the first book, so I felt no need to beat it to death in the other two books. Modern Will’s grandmother was dying. Losing his last family member caused him to lean heavily upon his faith. He was in despair. People of faith respond to such gut-wrenching agony in one of two ways: they will either draw closer to God or they’ll turn from Him entirely. Will reacted in the first way – he sought God. When he switched places in time with Regency Darcy, Will was in a place where everything was unfamiliar to him. Again, he sought the comfort of the only thing in his life that was stable and real at that point – his faith.

It amuses me that so many readers prefer the jerk Darcy (who grows into a good guy) to the spiritual Darcy, but it shouldn’t. After all, I see that in real life on a daily basis.

I’m thinking of two high-profile men I know who have the same job. One is a criminal, though he has never been convicted of anything since charges against him are always dropped. He has raped, stolen, cheated, been obscene in public, and destroyed private property, but people idolize him because he gives them what they want. He has received national, prestigious awards. The other man is a Christian. He works hard, goes to church, does good works, stays humble, and pleases God rather than all men. Guess which one is more popular? Michel Jackson meme

I’m not at all upset by the controversy my books create. People are talking about them, and to me, that’s a good thing. At least I’m not being ignored.

I think I’ll make my next Darcy a Christian politician. Hand me that popcorn.

The Flintstones and Giant Squids

September 30 has never seemed to be very important to me. I live in the south, and though fall officially begins September 23, we don’t notice it for at least another month. September is more like a northern summer here.

Since September 30 seems to be a particularly blah day, I decided to see if anything important had ever happened on that date. If you’re interested, History Orb has a huge list, most of which are events I’d rather forget.

However, there were a few September 30 happenings that illustrate just how much life has changed in the past 168 years
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1846 – Anesthetic ether was used for 1st time by American dentist Dr. William Morton who extracted a tooth.
1939 – A college football game was televised for the first time. (Fordham vs Waynesburg at NYC)
1950 – Radio’s “Grand Ole Opry” was broadcast on TV.
1960 – The Flintstones premieres (first prime time animation show)
1962 – KCRL TV channel 4 in Reno, NV (NBC) begins broadcasting
1988 – IBM announces shipment of 3 millionth PS/2 personal computer.
1993 – MS Dos 6.2 was released.
1994 – Space shuttle STS-68 (Endeavour 7), launches into orbit
2004 – The first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken 600 miles south of Tokyo.

I’m most thankful for that first one. I would never have any dental work done without anesthetic, so Dr. William Morton has my undying gratitude.

The item which caught my fancy the most was the last one. A live giant squid was photographed for the first time.

The first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken 600 miles south of Tokyo on September 30, 2004.

The first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken 600 miles south of Tokyo on September 30, 2004.

That, of course, was followed fewer than ten years later by a live giant squid sighting hoax in California.

January 9, 2014 - the giant squid hoax in California by The Lightly Braised Turnip

January 9, 2014 – the giant squid hoax in California by The Lightly Braised Turnip

If we can be so easily fooled by a photoshopped picture, what else might we be missing?

Next, I’m going to hear that the Flintstones were never the modern Stone Age family from the town of Bedrock.

I really do believe in Area 51 and the Roswell UFO incident. Something is out there.

I can’t take much more reality. That’s why I write fiction.

My Fatal Mistake – The Mortal Instruments

I have made a terrible mistake. I started reading The Mortal Instruments series, and I can’t put it down.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments
by Cassandra Clare

This fantasy world of Downworlders (werewolves, vampires, demons, warlocks, and fairies), Shadowhunters (human demon killers), and mundanes (regular humans) has captured my imagination. I am almost as fascinated with this series as I was with The Twilight Saga. Warning: this series is not as conservative as The Twilight Saga. It’s more liberal in philosophy and theology.Mortal Instruments movie The series has been endorsed by Stephanie Meyer, and to my satisfaction, Clare is a better writer than is Meyer. Meyer excels in storytelling, but her writing style is too modern for the English teacher in me. Clare doesn’t write narrative in fragments; she saves that for dialog.

Sadly, I already had too many distractions interfering with my concentration in writing, and this isn’t helping me right now. I just have to finish reading, and I’ll be fine. At one book a day, I should be through on Wednesday. I’m practically inhaling them.

I really liked the first movie, The Mortal Instruments City of Bones, and I’m glad to hear that the second movie in the series has resumed production and should be out next year.