Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaser Tuesday {3}

It's that time of week again :) Yeah, a little less preamble this time, let's get right to it. This is also from Red Herring. Feedback appreciated very muchly! Thanks in advance :)


Thursday 12:04 p.m.

Outside on the street, the cars whizz by us, fast, fast, fast. Outside on the sidewalk, people stride by us purposefully, hurrying, rushing, speeding. Outside the world whirrs on.

Inside the car though, we have a temporary safe haven.

It is quiet, with Cherry sitting in the driver’s seat and me on passenger side, neither one of us talking or daring to break the silence.

Through Cherry’s window, I can see the police station across the street. Uniformed officers stride handsomely in and out of the building. I can’t look any more, and opt to stare blankly out my window instead. My breath leaves fuzzy little blobs of fog on the window. I lift a finger and draw lines through it.

“So...” Cherry begins.

“So...” I echo. I seem to be doing a lot of that these days, dumbly repeating the words of others.

*While you're here, don't forget to enter to win a $60 giftcard to CSN Stores! Contest ends today (June 29th).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Canon A3000 IS Camera Review

The Canon Powershot A3000 IS is a decent point-&-shoot digital camera for the casual snap-shooter on a budget.

Let's start off with the pros. It bears the 'Canon' name (which is pretty much the dominating brand in digital cameras these days). The controls on the back are pretty much straight-forward classic Canon, very easy to use. There's a separate button that turns face detection on and off quickly and conveniently. Scratching won't really be an issue in regards to the body of the camera. The mode dial is located at the top of a tower-like structure dominating the right hand side, rather reminiscent of an DSLR's design. The playback button can be used to turn the camera off and on as well. The smart Auto mode is pretty cool, but most compact digitals offer some variation of it nowadays. It does, however, use optical image stabilization, which is decent. It takes fairly decent photos outdoor (see below for raw example).

Specs-wise, it's a pretty basic camera. 4x optical zoom, 10.0 mega pixels. Basic Canon functions, nothing to get too excited about. Also beware that there's no optical viewfinder. A quick Google search will yield specs stats, so I won't go into too much detail with that.

And now for some of the not so great things. It seems to have trouble shooting indoors, often opting to up the ISO, which then results in noise being fairly noticeable. The pictures in general just don't seem to come out quite as crisp as my old Canon Powershot S400 4.0 megapixel camera. Shutter-lag and shot-to-shot times tend to be on the slow side as well.
So all in all, for the casual snap-shooter, sure, the A3000 will probably suffice. It's plastic, it's simple and it's not particularly compact, but it doesn't cost a whole lot either. If you're planning on shooting a lot indoors or want super-crisp photos, spend the couple extra bucks and maybe get a higher valued model though.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In My Mailbox [38] & An Update

So to start off with, an explanation for my recent absence around the blogosphere. Basically, it's been pretty hectic around here with it being the last month/week of school. A lot of details to take care of. A lot of last times. Graduation/convocation. Formal/prom. Some personal stuff to deal with. But now it's Summer, so whoopie! Hopefully over the next couple of days I'll be able to get all caught up.

Anyway, since the last IMM post, I have received the items pictured above.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger arrived the day after prom, which I discovered happily when I finally trudged home after spending the previous night and most of the day crashing at a friend's place. I won this from April over at Good Books & Good Wine, and it actually arrived a lot faster than I'd expected! It was also sweet that she'd popped in two bookmarks and a business card. Thanks, April!

Getting this made me really excited for a number of reasons. First off, Kody is only 18! The DUFF has been generating tons of great buzz recently. And you know, lurking around the Absolute Write forums and all ;) She also blogs & tweets, if anyone wanted to pop by for a visit.

The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan was a complete surprise. There hasn't been a ton of great YA horror on the market lately, and with a tagline like "number one master of horror"... ;)

So what was in your mailbox this week? Also - while you're here, don't forget to enter to win a $60 CSN Giftcard!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaser Tuesday {2}

It's that time of week again, Teaser Tuesday time! This snippet is once again from Red Herring, a YA contemporary mystery.

I'm kind of excited because I'm in the process of conceptualizing and fleshing out an SNI at the moment, Here Be Humans. It'll be at least a few weeks yet before there's any teasers from that though. But at the moment, it is on deck as the next project.

But anyway, back to this week. Feedback is muchly appreciated! And without further ado:
2:01 a.m.

The liquid is the gilded ochre of donkey piss.

Doesn’t taste much better either.

I vibrate the red plastic cup between my thumb and middle finger, watching the foul substance swirl in conflicting little waves.

Cherry bounces up and down on the bumper of her decade-old red Honda, shaking the car. She lifts her cup at me. “To the last day of freedom.”

I bump mine against hers overdramatically, arm looping in a wide arc. A little bit of the beverage sloshes over the lip of the cup and cascades to the pavement with a splat. “Cheers,” I mock-seriously respond fervently.

In unison we tip our cups back. The foul drink carries the heavy stench of alcohol, sliding abrasively down my throat. The aftertaste will be worse, so I force myself to keep gulping it down as if it were simply grape soda. I finish first and crumple the frail plastic between my fingers.

Cherry’s throat gleams unnaturally pale in the harsh yellow glow of the streetlamp we’re parked under. The smooth column of her jugular undulates as her subtle Adam’s apple bobs with each swallow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Giveaway: $60 CSN Giftcard!

What a great time of year - beautiful Spring weather, Summer break coming up, a timeless feeling of freedom... which means it's the perfect time for a giveaway!

CSN Stores have an absolutely amazing selection of items stocked in their stores - over 200 of them! One can literally spend hours perusing the awesome choices of almost anything imaginable. From sturdy bookshelves to breathtaking lights to fun toys, CSN has you covered.

Personally, I really like this Icicle Floor Lamp - doesn't it look so chic?

Recently, the generous people over at CSN offered me the opportunity to either host a giveaway or do a review of one of their items. So a giveaway it is! Just think - a $60 gift certificate to these amazing stores could be yours.

Firstly, the fine print: contest is open to the U.S. & Canada (international fees may apply for certain products). Shipping charges may be applicable on some items. Contest ends June 29th. So how does one go about entering for a chance to win?

+1 Comment with an e-mail address
+2 Pop by the CSN Lighting store and comment with your favourite!
+5 Follower
+1 Twitter followers (@lucidconspiracy)
+1 For each link to this contest (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc.) (leave URL)

ETA: Compile entries in one comment, thanks :)
If you've already done it in multiple, don't worry about it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reviews: If I Stay & Wintergirls

First, a brief explanation. A lot of my reviews tend to be on the longer side, and as such take a while and a fair amount of thought to write. And after having set a sort of standard with longer reviews, it feels like it would be weird to have them suddenly interspersed with much shorter ones. But the fact of the matter is, some books are simply able to be reviewed much more succinctly. That and some days longer reviews just feel so daunting, especially when there's a backlog and a ton of other stuff to do.

As such, some books - usually those with less things to say about, or those shorter in length, or those read not specifically for the purpose of reviewing - will be reviewed in compilations. Books specifically for review will continue to receive full-length reviews in the format of "[Book Title] Review" while mini-reviews
1 will carry the title formatting of "Reviews: [Book Title] & [Book Title]". Feel free to comment below with any feedback on this!

And now, to kick things off:
If I Stay - Gayle Forman
April 9th, 2009 Dutton

Gayle Forman's If I Stay is a heartbreaking musing on life and death, the in between, and the decision to go one way or the other. As a story, Forman has accomplished some really remarkable things with it. For one thing, the whole course of it takes place within a very short period of time, but through flashbacks we get a sense of all of the characters. The emotions are very raw and the characterization is very intense. The relationships between characters are portrayed very dynamically.

Personally, I'm not particularly fond of the reasons for Mia's final decision; it felt a little abrupt and easy and sort of brought down the whole book a little. 3 It's undeniable though that Forman's got a great way with words.

With beautiful writing, great descriptions and a unique story-telling style, Forman's If I Stay is an gorgeously heartbreaking story.

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
March 19th, 2009 Viking

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the big-shot names in YA today, which sets Wintergirls up with high expectations - it definitely does not disappoint. Halse Anderson is known for tackling difficult and controversial issues pertinent to today's youth. Wintergirls deals with eating disorders - but it such away that makes the deadly disease come alive. It's almost like it was personified as another character or something, which was really remarkable to see.

There's also something about the writing: the diction choice, the phrasing, the metaphors... it's so unique, so specifically branded as 'Laurie Halse Anderson'. There are so many passages of sheer beauty:
"The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tabacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds" (Halse Anderson 15)4.
How beautiful is that? Wow, just breathtaking. Alas, I didn't connect with the characters (particularly Lia) as much as I would've liked. There's something about Wintergirls though, something that just stays with you. Hours after you finish reading it, the words continue to play out in your head, the scenarios repeat themselves, and your mind just continues to contemplate the story.

Memorable and riveting, Wintergirls is a breathtaking story about an all-too-real issue plaguing today's youth. Laurie Halse Anderson has created a vividly real story that unfortunately plays out in real life all too often.

1 Awhile ago I do recall seeing a feature/meme about mini-reviews, but there were a bunch of restrictions (i.e. word count-wise) that didn't really fit what I wanted to do.
2 Book titles link to the Goodreads pages for summaries, etc.
3 I also seem to recall reading a description about spiderwebs being fragile (can't find the exact location now) which was a little jarring, as spider webs are supposed to be one of the strongest substances out there...
4 Halse Anderson, Laurie. Wintergirls. New York: Speak, 2009.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Teaser Tuesday {1}

So there's been this weekly meme floating around the AW forums & the blogosphere, Teaser Tuesday, where one shares snippets of a WIP or a SNI for feedback.

I've been meaning to hop aboard this bandwagon for awhile now, but what school and night class and other activities, hadn't gotten around to it. But today -that changes!

This is from
Red Herring, a YA contemporary mystery. Feedback is appreciated very muchly ;)

Cherry settles into the driver’s seat and pops the key in the ignition. The ancient engine roars to life, crackling the previously quiet night like a whip. She turns to me, her eyes dancing with life. “Let’s have a little fun.”

I reach over and fumble around in the dark for the radio knob, cranking up the volume. I can feel the vibrations of the music’s bass line thrashing through me. Beauty. “Aw, yeah!” I holler.

She guns the accelerator and we shoot forward down the street. I lose all sensation of time and place as we zoom forward, fast. Cherry’s hand is groping the air beside me, and then she clutches the neck of the bottle, taking it from me. She tries to bring it up to her lips, misses, and then finally tips it back, sloshing some down her shirt front.

Suddenly I notice the temperature. It’s stifling in the car. I roll down my window.

Cherry laughs, then lobs the bottle out my window, nearly catching my face with it in the process. I mumble out a muffled exclamation of indignation. She simply lets out a whoop of exhilaration in response.

Because that’s exactly how this feels: exhilarating.

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