Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey.



WHAT I'M READING

My brother just read all of the Game of Thrones books, and I like reading books my brother has read because it's fun to discuss them with him because it's a way to get him to talk to me. SO right now I'm reading Game of Thrones. I'm only on like page 100 of the first book, and I'm fairly confused but it's interesting enough so far. I'll hold out any real thoughts until I finish, though.

WHAT I'M WRITING

I am actually writing right now! I haven't really done a lot of writing this year. I was just really frustrated that I wasn't getting anywhere, and how terrible all of my ideas for fixing my draft were. But I pushed all that aside and just told myself the only thing to do to get better was to write, so that is what I'm doing. I only have about 4,000 words of my newest draft but I think that's okay, and I've been working on it every day for the past few days, so that's a start.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

I just finished rereading The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, and it was amaaazing. I can't wait to read them again and find even more hidden treasures. MWT is a genius, and her amazing writing is definitely inspiring to me. Stories in general are inspiring.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Working. What else is new? But tomorrow is my last day at my retail job, so I'm looking forward to that!

What about you? What's up?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

3 Things My Favourite Authors Taught Me

THINGS have been happening. So many things. Here's some:

  • I half finished my A to Z Book Review Challenge, although I only ended up doing half the challenge. Yes, I suck, but I like to think that I'll still read the rest of the books on that list... eventually. And I've made a kind of goal to myself to do more book reviews of books I like here, even though I suck at reviewing.
  • The best part of the A to Z Book Review challenge was reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, and then I read The Dream Thieves, reread both of them immediately, and then I read The Scorpio Races as well. Maggie Stiefvater has quickly shot up to being one of my favourite authors.
  • I turned twenty! May 3 was my twentieth birthday, so now I have said goodbye to teenagerdom forever. I really should get rid of the "teenager" part of my blog header now, I guess. (Also now I can no longer claim to be a teen consultant for YA authors, ha.) I have mixed feelings about this getting old thing.
  • For my birthday, I got the remaining books in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner (Queen of Attolia, King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings). I've read through all of them and am falling in love with all of them all over again. I'm on A Conspiracy of Kings now, which is fun because I don't remember anything that happened in the fourth book.
  • I also quit my part time retail job, and am starting to work at a daycare for the summer in June, which I'm really excited about.
So part of the reason I failed at the A to Z Book Review Challenge is because I got distracted by my favourite books. I reread Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta and then of course that meant I had to reread The Piper's Son, and I definitely couldn't miss Jellicoe Road. Now I'm rereading the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I LOVE rereading, especially when the authors are such clever, intelligent writers. You discover so many things you missed the first time. There was one thing in particular in Jellicoe Road that I realized and it blew me away (and that was like, my fifth reread).

While I'm in the midst of wallowing in MWT's awesomeness, I thought I'd share just a few things my favourite authors have taught me about writing (my favourite authors currently being Melina Marchetta, Megan Whalen Turner and Maggie Stiefvater).

Source (and cover concept art)


1. CHARACTERS. The biggest thing I've learned is that characters need backstories. They need fully fleshed out backgrounds and lives of their own, even if only glimpses of that appear in the book. This makes every character important and intriguing, like Jimmy in Saving Francesca.

2. You as a writer must be willing to push your characters to the limit. You can't hesitate from putting them in the worst possible situations. MWT taught me this lesson so much. She puts her characters through so much, and her books turn out better for it. Looking at my own book draft, I realize how lame I am at pushing my characters to the very edge.

3. There is a lot that can go on behind the scenes, but there is also a lot that can just be said outright by the author and it still works. This works really well in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Boys when describing her characters. It's perfectly all right to just describe an aspect of a character in a line, and it doesn't diminish their complexity or intrigue at all.

One of my life goals at the moment is basically just to get people to read Melina Marchetta, Megan Whalen Turner, and Maggie Stiefvater.

So go do that. ;)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

S is for Small Damages by Beth Kephart

This was another book about an American in a different country - this time, in Spain. Kenzie got pregnant, and her mother ships her off to a friend's in Spain to avoid further embarrassment and to keep Kenzie's pregnancy and baby a secret.



The writing is beautiful in this book, and that's definitely it's strength. The setting was lovely, and the book made me feel cozy and warm. Sometimes it felt kind of stifling being in Kenzie's head all the time, but it made sense because of her situation and her location - way out in the no man's land of Spain.

I loved the beautiful simplicity of the story and the relationships. I loved Kenzie's relationship with her hostess, Estela, and despite all their bickering how you can read so much love and respect between them behind that. I especially loved how the book was written as Kenzie addressing her baby. It speaks a lot about how she feels about all of this. Plus it's super sweet.

It was definitely a slower book, and not earth shattering anyway, but that was okay. Actually, the cover of the book definitely accurately portrays the contents.

If you love beautiful writing about warm settings, and a small cast of characters, then this is the book for you.

You can check it out here on Goodreads and the author's website here.

Also... this is the end of all of the reviews that I did for the A to Z challenge, and also it's supposed to end in April (oops). For now I am going to stop, but perhaps I will fill in the rest of the letters at a later point in time. In a few days I'll have a wrap up post and then I think I need to chat about some other things that have gone on in the online book world in the past month or so! Later. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

R is for The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

(I'm finishing up my A to Z Book Reviews - I only have R and S written and then I'm done... and I know it's not April anymore...oops.)

How many times have I seen Maggie Stiefvater books recommended? Well, a lot, to the point where it is not even an option anymore NOT to read a book of hers. However, I could never quite bring myself to read her books on werewolves unfortunately since I'm not huge into paranormal. But a Melina Marchetta fan recommended The Raven Cycle, so of course I had to read it. :)

The Raven Boys is basically about this girl, Blue, who is the daughter of a for-real psychic. She lives in a house with a bunch of relatives, all of whom are also psychic. In fact, she's the only one in her family NOT psychic, however she is an amplifier for her family's psychic abilities.

On the other side of the story is a group of four boys, Gansey, Noah, Adam and Ronan who go to a school for rich boys and thus invoke hatred from everyone in their small community for being rich. They are involved with this crazy scheme that their group ringleader, Gansey, is obsessed with that involves waking up a long dead or sleeping king and getting a favour from him.

Of course, the boys and Blue's lives get intertwined and things get interesting from there.

As I said, I'm not huge into the paranormal and I'm not really one for psychic stuff. It makes it a lot harder for me to get into the story. However, for The Raven Boys I did my best to push that aside and let the story prove itself to me. It did.

The plot didn't really pick up until the last handful of chapters, but that was completely okay because the majority of the book was spent on the characters. If you've followed me anywhere online, you know that if there are good characters in a book, it is very easy for me to fall in love. I loved the characters in this book. Blue, Gansey, Noah, Adam and Ronan were each complex and unique characters. They were almost real people more than characters, actually.

I also loved the development of the relationships between the characters. I love how Blue slowly gets to know "her raven boys", and at the same time I got to know the boys (and Blue) as well. The third person POV switching definitely helped with that. So effective. I love alternative POVs, especially when the POVs are on either side of the story.

So the characters were definitely the best part, and that makes the book pretty good in my eyes. However, I did end up being immersed into the psychic magic stuff by the end. I loved how I kind of got swept up with Gansey's obsession just like the rest of the boys and Blue were. I'm really curious to see where this all goes, and I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with these awesome characters.

(Also I read the sequel, The Dream Thieves, and it was amazing! I hate that the third book doesn't come out until October.)

Check out The Raven Boys on Goodreads and Amazon.
Check out Maggie Stiefvater at her website and on Twitter.

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