Monday, April 19, 2010

Daughter of the Flames

Daughter of the Flames, by Zoe Marriott, is a fantasy novel about a girl with a shattered path, lying before her a path of splintered, broken glass.
The book opens on a shrill note of alarm; instantly Marriott transports you into another world that might've existed a very long time ago, not too far away.
Our protagonist faces Hamlet sized conflict with regard to her identity; is she Zira or Zahira? Rua or Sedorne (the two nationalities in the book) and can she pick a side without being a traitor?

I have to be honest, the first eleven chapters didn't hold much for me, they felt sort of like an over-lengthy prologue/intro and kind of cliched. But, after that, the book really takes off! The author took advantage of my favorite element (that being surprise) and not only manages to construct a brilliant fictional universe, but actually makes you look up from the book every so often because you begin to wonder if you really are somehow there.
In all, I enjoyed this, it makes for pretty good reading during a long flight/drive/journey across forbidden land. 3.5/5 stars.

Further Reading:
The authors official website.
Another review of this book.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Heart on Vacation

Heart on Vacation
By Jourdan Cameron

Last Night the strangest thing happened when I went into my bed;
I felt Emily's funeral happen right inside my head.
An odd sensation it was indeed
'twas strange and preposterous I wondered where it could lead.
Within my chest my heart would declare, all of my life so grand an affair.
Whimsically wonderfully brilliant it would bare - the night I was happy and so without care.
So glad and happy from long sad demure, since my little young heart had found it's cure! This night, though, met a strange recommendation;
Quite beating today and don't start on the morrow
Lest I be refilled with such aching sorrow.
Madness, Crazy, Unadulterated Insanity! What kind of sickening treachery to trigger terribly tragic calamity! A sick heart, indeed, why this suggestion? Slow down, stop, permanent vacation? To be halted forevermore? No more haunted, to again deplore? Surely, Surely a better solution at hand, one to over-suffice this weird advice?
I must find, Just must the toxic taproot- the thing talking words so heavy and brute. Watching the clock I seek a solution, certain salvations solution.
Carefully, plotting the stroke of a pen, bright ideas to fruition. Minutes tick by as I seek out the key, Knowing I do need this knowledge
Feeling the strain that arrives free of pain I seek on full elation
I'm pretty sure I can fix my cardiac relation
"You have me wrong and misunderstood, dear sir, you're sadly mistaken."
So said this heart on vacation.
"To stop I shall not, I simply seek relaxation"
Such a small thing, to grant this fine muscle,
Something so long overdue,
A small break it took, a short one I'd take, bracing for worse, peeking up at clear skies storm clouds wouldn't brew.
Simple happiness, little bliss, my dear reader, I bid you farewell's kiss.

I breathed a mega sigh of relief- I finished this poem!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reviewing the Reviewers: Common Sense Media

 If you've been alive during the last, say, 12-14 years, I'll bet you've seen the degradation of the media in general. From movies to television to games to books- yes, even books, media has become dependent on the same old same old, and sells it with borderline pornography and extreme violence, gore, filth, etc.
I'm not a madman who is going to track you down for enjoying any of the above; much as I hate them, I realize that the consumers have been boiled down to little more than swallowing machines. So I don't hate you. But I do hate the (current) producers, who've made a nasty mess of what's supposed to be recreation, and have made it especially hard for you to share fun stuff with your kids. So what's a person (particularly a parent!) supposed to do? Common Sense Media (CSM) says they know just what.
CSM takes most relatively popular books, games, movies, etc., and has one of the staff reviewers write about it with regard to which group of kids it could be safely shared with, and takes a look at a few key aspects, in a addition to value, enjoyability, etc., they also take into account things like messages, violence, sexual content, drug use, etc.

The Good Stuff
In General- Common Sense Media exists to help families find things they can share with their kids and make informed decisions, and tries it's best to point out anything that might offend.

Web 2.0- It has an excellent active userbase and makes good use of interactivity, inviting members to write the own reviews beneath the main, staff one - very good use of the Web 2.0!

Safety- Most sensitive information is private, and you can't see the profiles of younger members. Users can post avatars but these are entirely optional.

Stickiness- This website does, in fact, keep me coming back, partly because their newsletter often contains stuff that I'm just thinking about (i.e. A couple days after I had heard of Chatroulette - and before its short lived media firestorm broke out that led to it's becoming full of perverts, I received wind of it from CSM) and I'm swept back also because sometimes I'm a little suspicious about new stuff that keeps coming out, so I'd like to have some idea of what I might be headed into and whether or not I'd like to have a part in it. I also return just so that I can post reviews and know that I helped somebody make an informed decision- that means alot to me.

What to Watch Out For
Neutrality- I've noticed that in a couple places, it seems we haven't been exactly given 'the straight dope' as it were. For example, look at Cougar Town on CSM, and compare it to their review of Halo 2.
As you may note on the latter, they were much more prepared to give it a 'harder' review because of what it seems to be on the surface, another hyperviolent gore loaded game. While I noted some complaints about the M-Rating (and, looking at gameplay video I'm afraid I agree- this game should have been rated T as there are various other, gorier, more vicious games with the Teen rating- but that's another story) because of 'how it would look', CSM has sacrificed a balanced viewpoint for what's supposed to be it's premise, and on more than one occasion!

Sensationalism- Sometimes with their articles they seem to make a 'mountain of a molehill' as it were, for example their article on 3D movies had the tagline:

Can 3-D Movies Be Harmful? Don't go lightly into that 3-D movie. What you need to know about 3-D.

Later in the article:

Beside the fact it makes scary things scarier (think of a monster jumping out at your child), 3-D also can make kids a bit queasy.

I think this is something that definitely needs fixing! I'd consider that taking advantage of peoples worries, and while it's for the best, it certainly isn't the way to go about running a website of this nature.

Questionable Adult Morals- This one goes right in hand with the above two, and is often related. For example, look at the reviews for Rebelution, and compare the adults to the children. As you can see the (much!) younger reviewers, in this case, have recognized just how terrible the album was and acted accordingly. But you can also see the adult reviews have lower standards in this one case.

Precision- I  found, unfortunately, that this website can be a little bit broad at times- for example, if violence is a concern in, say, the next SMB game, which is quite cartoonish, but there, and let's say every parent says the violence is there but that this game is also appropriate for a 4 year old, on the little 'at a glance' sidebar, it'll say that 100% of parents would consider the game too violent without taking into consideration the magnitude.

The Bottom Line
If you'd like to help and receive help when it comes to finding good media for your family (or yourself, for that matter, if you're sick of crud that's supposed to be entertainment) you've definitely come to the right place. But be forewarned that there's occasional bias, so it's important to keep your wits about you and remember that sometimes things are exaggerated for the sake of driving in traffic, and sometimes it helps to listen to what the kids have to say. In short; use Common Sense while using this website.

Next review is on Tetris Friends,  a great web based game!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

This Post Comes With a Free Movie (REALLY!)

As part of our celebration, I thought I'd share a movie I thought was very special; it's called Steal This Film. You are allowed to download as you'd like, burn it for friends, etc.

Download link:
(You'll need µTorrent or a similar Bittorent client to download it.)

Apologies for the shortness of this post, but I'm suffering time constraints.

Stay with me,

Jourdan Cameron

Monday, April 05, 2010

Who are you?!

As part of our first anniversary celebration, I thought I'd give you a peek into my life, so here goes; my name is Jourdan Cameron, I'm 15 years, 10 months, and 13 days old at the time I compose this sentence, I live in Connecticut and I enjoy aquariums, writing, open source technology, playing the piano, and photography.
My favorite genre of music, is symphonic metal and my favorite band in that genre would have to be Nightwish, though I love all styles of music! I also love open source tech as I mentioned earlier, and I'm eagerly following the Open Pandora project.

So how did I come to writing? It, well… I'm not entirely sure. I suppose it started with my mother prodding me to keep a journal, though I thought it a waste of time, I hadn't much choice but write it anyway.
Later, I wrote (or more accurately typed) my own diary on my computer. This continued for a few years. I also started with a couple blogs.
About a year or two later I was on vacation with a (very) old laptop that came from a dumpster. I still have the big, gray thing, it works (but slowly!) and I started writing a story. My mom came across it and her mouth fell; she didn't think I could write like that. She was used to a couple sentences, i.e. 'the sky is blue and I'm sick of writing. The end.'
Fast forward a couple years to my language arts class. Things go well (I wind up, at the end of the year, with a GPA of 4.0 in that class, and a lowest grade of A-) and the teacher informs me that she's extremely proud of my progress. I decide that it would be very cool to share my work with the world, and around the springtime I think a blog is the way to do it. Thus, this blog was born, and I now love to write.

Stay tuned, there's more coming!

Jourdan Cameron

Sunday, April 04, 2010

1st Anniverary!

April 4th, 2009... If I could go back to that day... Oh yes! I can! With the magic of archives...

That day, I decided I would start my blog, and chose what it would be for:

Welcome to I Read This!, a blog all about things I, Jourdan Cameron, read.
I'm here so I can keep track, and also to tell you what I thought about certain books, and maybe you'll want to read them too!
So come along with me on a well-read journey! Not only will I cover the classics, I will also read more modern books, as well as books that could be considered (in a word) middle-aged.

I was, at the time, 14! Now, I am 15.87 (courtesy of Wolfram Alpha) years old,  and I've decided for this week to post mostly about myself, the author. Perhaps you might want a little background info on me. Perhaps not. Nonetheless, I'll give you a little peek into my world, my influences, and show you a couple things I've been simply dying to.
So, to get started, I leave a link to my Youtube channels, and

Thank you for reading,

Jourdan Cameron

P.S. Next post comes with something awesome! Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Website Review: Guvera

I see you there! Looking around suspiciously. I know, you're reading a book blog. Why a website review? Well, sometimes I'll reach a website that interests me (and possibly you too!) very, very, much, and it thus deserves a review. What do I have for you? Right now, it's Guvera. Not the revolutionary, but the music website.

It's premise is to give you what you want- free music- and what the artists/their overlords (Overlords? Did I say that? I mean't record companies, sorry for the mix-up) want, that being to get paid. So how does this happen if you're downloading the music free? Guvera aims ads at you- but not just any ads.
As an added bonus we have removed the very concept of "Disruptive Advertising" and replaced it with "Engagement Advertising".
What that means to you and me is we have removed the white noise of irrelevant crap being thrown at us - and now we only see brands that are actually speaking to us, as opposed to everyone seeing everything.
So their point is to show you ads that actually regard products that interest you. This way, there's a greater chance the advertiser is going to receive a customer. Everybody's happy.

Guvera's advertising is based off your interests, which, when you enter them, seem to go too deep or are too shallow. For example, under favorite gadgets, options range from Airplane/Helicopter to Cigar Cutter to Computer to Guitar. These are relatively forgivable, however, as the website is still in Beta.

In short: I seriously recommend you keep an eye on this one, it's seriously a brilliant idea. If you like free music, this website is definitely for you.

I have an important announcement to make: this blog is no longer about reviews, but in light of recent events it's now going to be about the life cycle of the squirell. How did I reach that, you ask? Well not too long ago, I was working on a stone walkway when a squirrel ran through the trees above me, and inspired me, with it's agility, and nimbleness. When I got home I was pretty sore, so I just sat back, and started thinking 'wow, how does the squirell do it'? Thus, I've decided to study their life cycle, inner workings and social lives in order to gain a proper understanding of them and maybe even innovate new technologies from their amazing designs. Perhaps I could even start posting recipies for all sorts of soups, stews, cake, etc., that involve squirell meat and get into the farming side of things. What you're looking at right now is a poorly constructed joke for the month of April, so please disregard the whole squirrel farming thing. Seriously.