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The Gunslinger by Stephen King post by Ben Weber

Well here I am again talking about another book I have read and mostly enjoyed. As you read this you may be thinking, “Oh here comes some complicated explanation of a fantasy book that I am never going to read”. Surprising, even myself, this is not the case. I am actually going against my better judgement, and aligning with my Dad’s, and reading a Stephen King book, The Gunslinger to be exact. Anyway now that the creative introduction is finished, I am just going to jump right into the blog post of the first third.

The way that I just am jumping right into the blog post is half of what I am writing about today, King’s intro. Instead of giving detailed background, like most authors do, King gives you just enough information to answer your most prevailing question but not share everything. This helps the story flow and allows the reader not to have to read those long intro sections. (I have been known to skip them on occasion to get to the story). Besides just moving the story along, it also give the reader a yearning to continue reading . The best way to portray this  yearning is a quote by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying, “A Compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievably to its center”. The questions that you still have about the main character Roland or about his quest to capture the mysterious black man always laying traps for Roland will have to wait until King brings them.  At times this frustrates me and makes my fingers itch to wikipedia, I want to read the information as it comes along in the story. Reading it straight through helps with the mystery and the unraveling of the quest letting it play out perfectly.

At first I was wary about reading this novel, because of how the Stephen King books are talked about. This one is not that freaky, and it is more dark humor than horror. Here just so I don’t have to explain this concept is a semi-funny letter from the man in black. It was to Allie (a person that is not important because they die) after he raises a man from the dead, and it goes, “You want to know about Death. I left him a word. That word is NINETEEN. If you say it to him his mind will be opened. He will tell you what lies beyond. He will tell you what he saw. The word is NINETEEN. Knowing will drive you mad. But sooner or later you will ask. You won’t be able to help yourself. Have a nice day!☺”(King 41). Though this is the start of a unforeseen dark turn of Toland having to kill a whole town, it is hilarious how the “have a nice day” and even the smiley face is put in there. I gives a much needed relief from the pressure of the story before hand. This in itself, though King usually writes horror novels, shows he knows how to relieve the stress of a scene.

So don’t be scared and come closer to see this great author at work. Stay away from IT because that is actually a horror novel, but stay with the gunslinger series for it will make you “have a nice day!” It may be a little slow moving at the beginning of the first chapter, but it speeds up with major character development of Roland. I have only read the first chapter on the other hand so what can I say.

(Sorry for the short post the first third was just 74 pages.)

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Mistborn Hero of the Ages part one by Ben Weber

It has been a while since I have posted on the blog, this being because there was no time to type it up. It is not that I have not been reading, but I have just not been writing words. So for the second independent reading book I chose the sequel to the first book I posted about. This new book is Mistborn The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. The book is based on the same characters as the last book, just now there is a ultimate power released and the world is about to end. Yada yada yada stuff like that. With all of this going on the tone of this book should really be dark and depressing. Cough cough like Barton’s posts cough. Though Sanderson does a writing technique that not only lightens the mood, but also gets the reader to laugh. This technique is humor.

As the readers of the blog you may be thinking “How is Sanderson going to slip in humor into a book about the world ending”. Well it is quite easy, because this isn’t your normal everyday chicken crossing the road humor. This is dark and dry humor the type of humor that if you’re not looking for it you’re going to miss the joke. For example, the scenario is the major kingdoms in the land are meeting together to talk about how their people aren’t going to starve. Normally in this situation I would feel very nervous about the outcome this is until this was said, “[Breeze] sat with Allrianne as far away from Cett as the tent would allow. Cett still had a habit of throwing things at Breeze: insults, for the most part, and occasionally knifes.” (Sanderson 106). When I first read this I skipped the fact that this was said. Then, since this was at the top of the page, when I got to the bottom of the page I realized what was said. This broke the tension with what was happening in the scene, but brought to life the funny quirks in the people in the room.

Another example of this is when Elend, Vin’s husband, and Vin are talking about the past and Elend says,”’Oh, come on. You have to admit that you’re unusual Vin. You’re like some strange mixture of a noblewoman, a street urchin, and a cat. Plus, you’ve managed — in our short three years together — to kill not only my god, but my father, my brother, and my fiancee. That’s kind of like a homicidal hat trick.’” (Sanderson 239). This scenario was not in a depressing mode, and was more blatantly obvious, but was still one of Sanderson’s style of jokes. Dan Michtom who is the person who suggested the book series to me showed this to me while I was reading the first book. Even though I did not understand the context I still enjoyed the joke and I’m sure you did too. All of Sanderson’s jokes are relatable, and that is why I think they loosen the mood so easily. Well I mean I hope that no one has killed their husbands god, fiancee, father, and brother, but you get that him telling her that she is a cat and odd is relatable.  In a world where large behemoths and slaughter are on many pages something that is close to home like a hat trick or insults make the world more relatable. When reading you are in a state of enjoyment this enjoyment and transfers over to the novel.

So going after Barton’s blog posts I finally wrote about the depressing parts of a world dieing. Well in my own way. Instead of talking about the depressing topics I talked about how the book dealt with the depressing topics. So far the book is really enjoyable, though long. I am excited to start the second half, and look forward to writing about it, and I have to encourage you once again to read Sanderson book even with its dark humor.

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Mistborn, The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, first half

There is a world where creativity is only an idea, and slavery is commonplace. A place where people can draw special powers from the metals of the earth and where an evil tyrant rules. Well not anymore. After the Lord Ruler was overthrown, the rebellion scrambles to take up rule. This is where our story begins. Before I start, I have to explain some details in order for this to make sense. Allomancy, is the ability to burn metals and gain special powers from them. Each metal has its own special ability. Metals such as tin enhance your senses while metals such as pewter enhance your physical strength. There were twelve known metals; iron, steel, tin, pewter, brass, zinc, copper, bronze, atium, malatium, gold, and electrum. This is enough information to make my analysis understood. If anyone reading this has questions, ask.

Now you may be wondering why I said there were twelve known metals, and if you didn’t you’re looking back now. The reason for me saying this is not just a tense issue, but the reason that the Mistborn series is so great, its surprises. Some books that I have read are very predictable, but with the Well of Ascension this is not the case. In a way the book is similar to a pick your own adventure book. There are so many different ways the book could turn in just a few short pages.Though it is not you who is making the decisions but Brandon Sanderson. He makes you feel that you are opening a gift every page.

One case of this is the reason that I said there were twelve known metals. Vin, the main character, realizes that there are more than just twelve metals. Sadly the reader does not know this until suddenly she accomplishes her task. This new metal allows for many new abilities that she can achieve. Before this point you had no idea that there might have been anymore metals and had accepted the twelve. This is a total surprise and took me off guard. Most people would think that it was the author’s mistake for not mentioning there was a probability of a new metals beforehand. This is not how I see this. Books are great because of their surprises not because of the absence of them. This is just one of many of these exciting plot twists in the Mistborn series. Due to spoilers I do not want to share anymore than I have.

There is another reason that The Well of Ascension and Brandon Sanderson are perfect. This is the changing of character perspective. With a different character every chapter, you get to know as many as eight people by the first half of the second book. Though this may get confusing, once you get into Sanderson’s style switching between characters is a breeze. This also does not allow for boredom to accumulate over one character. Knowing these many people’s thoughts allows the reader to really step into the world of the Final Empire.

So with surprising events and the changing of characters, there is no way to know what is on the next page. Explore this amazing page turner by Brandon Sanders after you read the first book, Mistborn. I can tell you, you won’t be sorry.

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Code Name Verity 11/27/16

Ben Weber         New Rating: 7.5/10

Last post I wrote about this book, a fourth of the way through the novel, and I had nothing but praise. After reading the second fourth I have different opinions. I still think that it is a great book, but there are nit picky items that I am addressing now. These bugged me while reading the first quarter but I did not realise them until now. Though the item that I going to be talking about has positive points there is still some negatives as well. This item is how the author introduces character’s personality or facts creatively in the novel Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. The praise about this topic is that Elizabeth Wein has very creative ways to give the reader an insight into why characters made decisions. The negative side of the creative explanation is that at times the facts, or personalities traits, are very confusingly written. Some of these had to be re-read multiple times before the reader could really understand what is being said.

What I thought was really brilliant about how Wien expanded the character’s personalities is shown in the quote on page 116 and 117. I am not going to write out the full quote. It is a page in a half and no one wants to read that, but I will give the gist of what the quote is saying. Maddie just landed in Deeside and she is choosing between the cold office room floor to sleep on, or taking a train to somewhere where there is actually a place to sleep. The problem is she does not know where to go, or even if there is a place to sleep anywhere nearby.  She still chooses to take the train. Later when Maddie gets to the train station and asks the ticket master when the next train leaves the station. The ticket master just hands her a ticket instead of asking her if she wanted to go on that train or not. Maddie does not turn down the ticket, and she just goes with it.  These two simple decisions really paint a picture to how Maddie’s mind works. Maddie instead of taking the cold floor she knows is there Maddie takes a risk for something better that could have turned out worse. This shows the Maddie has a risk taking personality. Also Maddie can go with the flow showing yet another aspect of her personality through a simple scene. This allows the reader to spend more time in the action of the writing and with what is actually happening then just reading about how a character thinks. This makes me very excited because I usually do not like reading about what goes on in another person’s mind.

I know this next example is really not showing the personality of Queenie fully, but there is a reason that it is here. The example is here because it shows that sometimes when Wein tries to be creative it does not work out as planned. I am the first one to say that I like reading graphs. They make sense and they present a bunch of information about the topic in one space. Wein uses these in her writing from time to time and for me it usually helps me understand what is going on. The only problem is when Wein switches between chart and writing every few lines or so. This make the reader have to look back over and over again to get the real gist of what is trying to be said. I know some people are fine with the switching back and forth but it really bugs me. When I am reading a book I want to move on and see what comes next and for me the flow of reading stops when I have to look back. The point that this happens is on page 152. For people that do not have the book the writing goes from a chart saying destinations and dates of Queenie going on missions with Maddie, then to Queenie explaining that the weather was terrible and Maddie was grounded, to one line of charts with the way of return from the mission as “Who Cares?”, and finally two more mission flights in paragraph form. I get that this was supposed to help the reader see all the flights together and to show how Queenie at this point in capture is really scatterbrained, but this bugged me even if there was a reason. Just put it all in chart form or paragraph form for heaven’s sake; it would make it a whole lot easier to read.

I know that I am the only one that this bugged, but I wanted to show what I saw in the novel and how creative Wein can be. So what I am trying to say throughout this whole piece is that Wein is very creative when she introduces topic or personalities, though sometimes it does not work and makes the novel even more confusing. I look forward to reading your comments on the book as well.

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Code Name Verity Discussion

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Ben Weber

Rating 9/10

Code Name Verity at the beginning of the independent reading project, was not my first choice. John had suggested that we read this book because it was recommended to him. It turns out that now, 83 pages in, I am thoroughly enjoying this book to the full extent. There are so many great parts to this book that I was having trouble coming up with the one item to write about. There is the great main character, the setting, and the intertwining backstory, and I did not know which one to choose. Then it hit me. Why not write about all of these ideas at once so I did. Without further ado, my thoughts and ideas about Elizabeth Wein’s unusual writing style.

Elizabeth Wein’s writing style is very mysterious for you never know where the story will go next. She also makes the book very realistic and relatable. I believe this is true, because she has great characters, such as Queenie. The author created these characters and did what many authors do, she pretend to be a character while writing the book. This allows for the book to feel realistic and you are able to relate to the characters. One of the biggest way this is shown is how Queenie gets side tracked. She will be talking about British hangers and then suddenly start talking about how the guards were treating her. This is how my writing is when it is not edited, and helped me relate to Queenie even though there is a 76 year difference.

What someone may have already picked up is that this book is a letter, written by Queenie, telling the Nazis all she knows about the British Army. The story is written from her friend Maddie’s point of view and she herself is in third person. This can be proven when a German officer says, “‘Do you not recognize her in these pages?’ von Linden prompted. ‘Ah, perhaps not; she flatters herself with competence and bravery that you have never witnessed. She is the young woman called Queenie, the wireless operator who takes down the Luftwaffe aircraft’” (58). This would make the story a letter of the author’s author’s friend in third person. If I just made your brain hurt I am sorry, but this is the way the book is written. This makes the book very intriguing to read as there are many mistakes. If it had been written in the author’s perspective, these mistakes would not have happened.

Lastly there is how Wien has Queenie organize her letter. Instead of talking about British Generals and other facts of the British Army, as many would have done, she talks about the background on how she ended up in Germany. Her story starts before the beginning of WW II. This lets the reader learn about how life was in the 1930’s. Even though this would seem awkward for a person to do at this time, the background was needed. Wien did this to transport the reader back to that day and age. Once the reader is through 20 – 30 pages, and they had a full understanding of the situation at hand, she starts with the facts about the British army. This is the same way with everything in the book that contributes to Elizabeth Wein’s unusual writing style. It is a little confusing at first, but everything is there for a reason. This is the main reason that I enjoy Code Name Verity so much, the unusual writing style. It is something new and it does not take away from the novel in any way, making the novel even more relatable.

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Incarceron by Catherine Fisher Rating: 9/10 By: Ben Weber

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Rating: 9/10

By: Ben Weber

Incarceron, a living prison. This prison was made a long time ago and all of the major villains of the time were locked away never to be seen again. This is until Finn came along. Finn can not remember his childhood but knows he is from the outside world which is a futuristic medieval times. Hope of escape was non-existent to Finn and his friends until they found a crystal key. This key was not one of a kind but a duplicate. This duplicate was found by a baroness in the outside world named Claudia. Claudia’s “father” was the keeper of Incarceron and wanted his legacy to live on so Claudia was forced to marry for a second time (the first one ending in her fiance’s death). Finn and Claudia have to work together by speaking through the keys to help Finn escape. Though once he escapes he must help Claudia get out of her arranged marriage.

The parts I found most interesting were that the time period was a futuristic medieval times. This was possible due to the technology they had at the time. This technology allowed the people of the world to live in any time period they wanted. They chose to live in the medieval times. At first I did not know why they would want to live in this time, because it was so terrible. Then I thought about it and realized that they chose this time, because now the people that wanted to rule could be kings and queens. It is also interesting how Catherine Fisher wrote the book in dual perspective. Meaning every other chapter she would switch characters. This allows the reader to enjoy two separate stories that are tied together in the end. The only problem that I had with her style is that her main characters were larger than life. They never seemed to fatigue or falter in their want to escape. When everyone is telling you there is no outside I can’t believe they did not lose faith. Maybe it is because I have never wanted something that badly but I am not so sure.

Catherine Fisher uses many metaphors throughout the book. What with the living prison and talking keys how could you not. Her writing style is very suspenseful in the fact that you never know what is coming next. I mean, there may be a clue or two hidden in there somewhere, but never a major revelation. She is also very descriptive whenever Finn and his friends enter a new room of the prison I feel as though I am actually there and when there was rust dust in the air I swear I tasted it. Though this detail was never to much at one point like other books (Cough Cough Lord of the Rings Cough).

The type of audience that would like this book is anyone that likes to read. I know that sounds cliche but it is true. Incarceron has a little bit of everything for every reader. There is fantasy in the setting of being is a technologized medieval world as well as in the fact that there is a living prison. There is the mystery of who is really who. Is The Warden actually Claudia’s father or is it all just and act, and who really is Jormanric. There is also a twist for murder mystery lovers but I am not going to give anything away. In the outside world there is many science references that people that like to read about the real world my enjoy. The only people I might not satisfy is people who are into reading history so there is nothing here for you sorry. “I want to continue reading whenever I had to put it down” says a reader (Me).

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