Saturday, January 21, 2012

One Word Labels in YA and Life

So one of my biggest pet peeves in YA has become a focus on popularity. Which turns out to be really annoying, because TONS of books are about popularity, and I guess understandably because a lot of the lives of teens are focused around popularity (although not mine, which is why it bugs me). It's not just popularity, though, that bugs me in YA. It's also the labels, of maybe one word that can define a person or character in a YA book. "Jock", "nerd", whatever.

The thing is, characters aren't just one word. They CAN'T be just one word. Why? Well, because people aren't just one word. Humans are complex and crazy and twisted and amazing and their ideas change and morph and their personalities change depending on the situation or their age or a whole bunch of other things. They are so, so complex. And yeah, I know how hard it is to capture that complexity in writing. But it's definitely not impossible. I've seen it done.

Another issue with labeling is that once you label someone with a word, let's say, I don't know, Mean or something, then that becomes all of what you think of them. You only use that one word for that person, and in your mind, that person becomes that word. She or he IS the word you've given them.  This then hinders you from seeing other sides of their personality and makeup that break through your one word label.
I know I definitely do this with characters, too. I have this image of a character in my head. "Okay, so this character, he's going to be... Quirky Guy." And then everything he does has to fit into that label I've given him. Which, yes, does help to keep you on track sometimes. But at other times, why not let a character break out of the one word mold you've formed for them?

This doesn't apply solely to people and characters, either. I think I also tend to label books with one word sometimes. I'll finish a book and based on that closing impression, I'll go, "okay, that book was good" or "that was awful". And then forever after that, I think of that book as good or bad. Even if I know there was good parts where I really did get into the characters, or bad parts where I really just wanted to leave the book and never come back. Like people, books are complex and they can't really be summed up in one word.

People, characters, books - all are complex, much too complex, to be stuck with one word to describe them.

So, basically... yay for me, because I like to use lots of words! Haha. :)


And... with all that being said... actually this has nothing to do with this post, but methinks I am going to take a blogging break for a month or so. I don't know, I might post if I have an idea or something but for now I'll be gone for a month. Basically the only reason I wanted to let you know is because that means I won't do a Teen Scene Link Roundup for February.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When Being Articulate On Paper Just Isn't Enough...

Me: (trying to explain at how I fail at using bookmarks) ...and my bookmark was right there on the table beside me and when I got to the page I wanted to be-

Bro: You make goals for yourself for how many pages you read in a sitting?

Me: No, I just meant, like, when I got to the page I did when I finished my chocolate milk. Um, I mean... like, when I was finished with it... (trying to explain)

Bro: And you call yourself an author.

Me: Hey, I never call myself articulate out loud.

Bro: So... are you articulate in loud then?

Me: Wow... you are such an intelligent conversationalist.

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Enlightening Interview With A Magic Eight Ball and A Petpet

I'm in grade 12, which means I'm almost done school, which means I have to spend a long time sitting and pondering life decisions like, What do I want to do next year? What should I take in university? and other equally annoying questions that I don't feel like answering.

I also find that there are a lot of questions to be asked that just don't have concrete answers. There's so many questions where you have to think so much, and weigh the options, consider every angle, and so forth. It takes a lot of work and a lot of brain muscle.

Then there's those questions that frequently raise intense discussion throughout the book blogging world, that have answers with so many different sides it gets hard to keep track.

So I've decided instead of going through that whole brain-numbing process of answering hard questions, I will just enter my questions into an online Magic Eight Ball and it will give me all the answers I need. What could make life easier?

Is it OK if what I write doesn't necessarily line up with my beliefs?

Magic Eight Ball: Very doubtful.

Should published authors do book reviews, either negative or positive?

Magic Eight Ball: Signs point to yes.

Is the YA genre going downhill in today's society?

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

Should teens be published?

Magic Eight Ball: Outlook not so good.

Should all YA books with sex, drugs, and violence be banned from the earth?

Magic Eight Ball: Without a doubt.

Are teens and kids capable of picking out books that are suitable to their needs?

Magic Eight Ball: Better not to tell you now.

I don't really like these answers. I think I'll try another approach. When I was ten, I would spend all of my time on Neopets doing who knows what (that's also how I learned how to do some HTML coding which I have now forgotten most of) and you could ask your Petpet questions. I still have my account, so I will log in there for the first time in a hundred years and consult my Petpets.

Well. That's encouraging.

 I don't know what to say to that...
Well... that was... interesting.

Um, you know what? On second thought, I'll do my decision-making and question-answering the old-fashioned way...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review of All The Books I Read In 2011

Well, since another year is over I thought I'd do a sort of overview of all the books I read in 2011. I read 120 books in 2011. Some of them were bad, some of them were awesome, some of them were OK. Some of them met expectations, a bunch of them didn't, a bunch of them absolutely surpassed all my expectations. I'm going to put some of the books I read into categories. I'm hoping to review some of the books I read last year over the course of this year, and of course keep reading books.

...And maybe this is just an excuse to talk about books. I'm like my sister, who if you get her started talking about movies, she will NOT stop. I'm the same, except with books. :D

The Absolute BEST Books I Read in 2011

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - Best book of all time!! I cannot say enough times how awesome this book is, and how much I think you should read it. I reviewed it here, with links of where you can get it. Please, please read it!!

The D.U.F.F. by Kody Keplinger - Honestly I had really low expectations of this book, I have no idea why, but it blew me out of the water. So much better than I thought, and it was so realistic and blew every annoying stereotype that I always see in YA out of the water.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - After reading a bunch of books because of hype and being terribly disappointed, I was nervous to read this book. Would it live up to the gianormous mounds of hype circulating it? YES. SO MUCH YES.

King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner - This book... I am so in awe of Megan Whalen Turner's writing skill. If you want to be a writer, you have to read this book. This woman knows how to write!! Although you have to read the first two in the series, The Thief and Queen of Attolia, in order to get the entire effect, I think. I definitely have more to say on this book, though.

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - Another beautifully spun contemporary novel by Melina Marchetta... the characters in her books are so awesome, and the stories... this book was so unique and awesome. :) I can't wait to read it again!

Obviously, I read more awesome books this year, but these are just some of the most awesome.

Books I Want to Buy

I use the library SO much, but there are just some of those books that I know I will read a million and one times over again if I own them.

Harry Potter - I finished Harry Potter in January of 2011 (I borrowed pretty much every book from my best friend) but I have to own them, because they are pretty much the perfect books to reread with all the awesome characters in there.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen - I've already this book twice, loved it both times. It's such a cute story.

The Half-Life of Planets by Brendan Halpin and Emily Franklin - I love romance books with alternating perspectives, and I could read them over and over again. :)

The D.U.F.F. by Kody Keplinger - It was so good and interesting and awesome, I must read it again!

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - Books with awesome characters you just have to read a million times over again.

Books I Bought in 2011

I'm usually really hesitant about buying books before I read them, but this year I bought more books then I usually do.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis - I bought this book at Chapters with a gift card I got. I'd seen it online and I'd been following Beth Revis's blog for a bit, and I thought the summary sounded interesting enough. It was OK but I found I didn't get attached to the characters as much as I'd have liked to.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - There was tons of hype and excitement online around this one. My friend had also bought it and said it was good. I ordered it off Amazon, although for all the excitement I was a little disappointed. My mom also read it, and both of us agreed that the main character was the most bland, stereotypical character in every possible way.

Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin - I told you, I like cute romances and I know I'll read them over again. I saw it online somewhere and then ordered it on Amazon.

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler - I bought this book because a) cute romance, and b) I'd read Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, also by the same authors, and I absolutely loved it.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - I completely fell in love with the cover of this book. The way the summary was written definitely attracted my attention as well. I have to say this book was so disappointing. Also, after reading the book, I don't like the cover as much because it has pretty much nothing to do with the book.

Books I Read For A Second (Or Third) Time in 2011

I reread books when I love them, or if I run out of good books from the library and then I go through my shelves of books I own and pick out my favourites to read again.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I reread Deathly Hallows because I wanted to reread Harry Potter like, as soon as I finished it, and I hadn't returned Deathly Hallows to my friend yet. I also reread Half-Blood Prince because that one was one of my favourites. :)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman - I reread this book because it's AWESOME, and because I have it.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - Because I love this book. I read it 3 times this year.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I read Mockingjay a long time after I finished Catching Fire, so I kind of forgot what happened beforehand. I read this after reading just some OK books, and reading these I was reminded what awesome books are supposed to be like.

The Princess Diaries II and III by Meg Cabot - There are things in these books that should make me not like them, but I love them anyway. I read II because I have it, and III because it's my favourite.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin - I'd read this twice before. I read it again because we own it. It was worse the third time around. I think I'm done rereading this book.

I also reread Dream Factory, and Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance because I have them and I like cute romances.

2011 Releases

I had to look up all the books I read last year on Goodreads, because I honestly had no idea which books were 2011 releases. Do people really just care to read the newest releases? I think that's crazy... you miss out on so many good books that way.

Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard - So unique, and I loved that it focused pretty much completely on friendship. It's such a different book than any other YA book I don't really know what to think of it.
My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison - I just saw this on a shelf in the library and picked it up because I thought the cover was fun. I reviewed it here.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman - I'd read If I Stay because my mom bought it for me, and it was OK so I thought I'd try this companion novel. I liked this one better.

The Worst Books of 2011

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody - This was just a completely stereotypical, run of the mill YA book. Which is probably why I don't really remember much of it.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - Shallow, annoying characters. After this I didn't feel like reading another book by Lauren Oliver, no matter the hype around her and her books.

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta - After falling in love with Jellicoe Road (and then Saving Francesca), this book was awful. The main character was so annoying and I hate annoying MCs. Fortunately, I read other books of Melina Marchetta's before I read this one. I guess she proves that you do get better as you write more. :) Fine, maybe I'll give Lauren Oliver another chance... haha.

Alice in Charge by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - I used to love the Alice books when I was younger. I hated this book. It was terrible.

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz - After seeing some things about the Alex Rider series, I thought I would try it out. This book was absolutely, completely, utterly boring, typical, and something a five year old would write. Someone told me it gets better, but I just can't bring myself to try another Alex Rider book.

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin - I picked this up because I saw it online somewhere, and I liked the cover. Unfortunately, I am completely done with YA books about popularity. DONE!!!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - After all the hype (and the beautiful cover), I was disappointed. Also, the latter part of the book turned all weird really unexpectedly and I completely didn't believe any of it (also I have a really hard time suspending my disbelief to read any paranormal stuff, so that may be part of the problem). I was also very disappointed that there is supposedly sequel - in my opinion, completely unnecessary. I did like the relationship between Mara and her brother, though.

Well! That's just a quick(ish) overview on some of the books I read in 2011. I love talking about books!!!

What awesome books did you read in 2011? Terrible books? 2011 releases? Books you would read again? Books you want to buy?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Teen Scene Link Roundup

Happy New Year, everyone!


Today I am going to post my first teen scene link roundup.... where I post links to things like teens' opinions on books and stuff. These are all the posts I found in December that I think might help you! Keep in mind that most of these posts are opinion posts, so the opinions in each post might differ from teen to teen.

Update: I fixed all the links... a bunch of them were cut off before. Sorry about that!

Teen Opinions

Teen Riley Redgate gives you a teen's perspective on romance in YA.

Canadian Yahong Chi shares her favourite kind of book endings.

YA Confidential interviews 4 teens at once. Here's part one and part two of that interview.

Teens' Favourite Books of 2011

Teen Lyla Lee's favourite books of 2011.

Teen Becca C's favourite books of 2011.

YA Confidential gets their teen spies and analysts to talk about their favourite books of 2011.

I know it's kind of sparse right now, but I'm hoping you guys will help me and tell me some teens to follow, or if there's a blog/website that frequently has teen-related features. If you want more information about my teen scene link roundups, go here and if you have any other questions, just ask or e-mail me!


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