Tag Archive: book reviews


I have a very good friend who writes about YA literature (as well as other genres) as a regular blogger. As such, I sometimes get lazy and simply think “What she said! That’s what I think.” Sometimes, it’s good to be a cheerleader for those who speak up and say what they feel about a subject–adding a “I completely agree with this” blog seems silly sometimes when people like this are so eloquent about it.

But when I read her blog about some NYTimes book review jerk who downplays an entire genre (YA lit) simply because it is “marketed to children and teens,” I go a little cross-eyed and rethink my stance on not commenting about some of these subjects. Others have already weighed in on his being a rather biased prick about certain books, so I won’t go into all the reasons he’s wrong, but I will say this: whatever you may think of a particular genre, be it YA lit, romance, mystery, memoirs, or whatever it may be, it’s never cool to insult the genre and its readers. Just because it isn’t your cup of tea doesn’t mean you need to insult those who love it.

Now, on to more constructive commentary on this subject. It has always fascinated me that people dismiss entire genres based on (if they’re good readers) a couple of books they’ve read that disappointed them in this genre or (not very good readers) what they’ve heard about that genre. I cringe to admit that I was one of those “I hate romance because the idea of focusing a whole story on love is stupid” readers; same thing happened with mystery.

When I realized that I really had no clue what I was talking about, I started reading books in different genres, just to get a feel for it. Do I like romance novels? Not so much, but now I can safely point to a number of books that I’ve read in the genre, say which ones I liked and didn’t like, and why. I’ve found, on the other hand, that I love mystery novels and I never would have unless I tried a wide range of them.

My point is: you can’t bitch about a genre or a series or a book or an author unless you’ve actually read their stuff. Also take into account that one book may not be indicative of an entire group. So don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, and don’t ruin it for the rest of us who love it.

I’m not saying reviewers or bloggers or critics shouldn’t give an honest evaluation of a work. But seriously? YA lit is for babies who don’t want to grow up? Way to alienate an entire reader base, dude.

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Epenthesis-Episode 013: Believable Characters

Summary: Talking about Murdering Your Darlings, creating believable flaws, and how you can avoid making Mary Sues. I also talk about Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series and how to use unexpected contradictions to surprise the reader.

I’m thinking of writing a text blog tomorrow to give me a little break from podcasting. Or maybe a video blog! Would you guys like to see me making faces while I talk about writing?

 

 

Sorry for the lack of a podcast so far this week, guys! I’ve been pretty busy getting some things organized for work but I did want to make a book recommendation for character exploring and development.

I find that the best advice usually comes from unexpected places. I was doing an acting workshop when it was suggested that we read Audition by Michael Shurtleff to use as a lens for studying our roles. The section on relationships is especially powerful for me, as it helps me better understand how to handle my own characters.

To give you a taste for it, the book suggests that actors (in an audition setting) should move beyond the obvious motivation in a scene. While it may be tempting to make a shy character lower their head, avoid eye contact, play with their hands, and generally avoid human contact, it is a cliche at this point. It doesn’t add to the character and leaves the actor (or writer in this case) much room to go anywhere. The book suggests to dream big, to allow the character to desire opposites at the same time.

There is an example in the book of a meeting between a man and his new stepmother, who is his own age. The director asks for their motivation, and each actor says that they are “discovering” that they are attracted to each other. The director suggests that they push harder, that the characters be madly in love with each other from that very first moment, the reason being that it gives the actor a lot more to work with. And then you have a powerful opposite that is simultaneously true: for the stepson, the desire not to hurt his father outweighs (in the first scene anyway) his desire for his new stepmother; and the stepmother’s reminding herself that she JUST married the man’s father counters her own desire for him.

The powerful opposites make for a far richer performance (and written scene) than an obvious reaction.

It reminds me of a common problem writers have with beginnings. I’ve heard several times that whatever you’ve got written down, you should cut the first three paragraphs and then begin the story there. The first part is useless information. It isn’t a strong beginning. I think this is part of that concept, that two characters are already in love when they meet rather than “discovering” one another.

So that’s one interesting thing I got from the book but there are plenty of other lessons. Definitely check it out, I’m rereading it right now and loving it.

I have been arguing with a friend for the past few days about romance, chemistry, and relationships in writing. In the course of our conversations, I said something that made me think about something that has been obvious to me for a long time.

A relationship is its own character.

I’ve been reading a hell of a lot of books recently: anything written by Josh Lanyon (but especially his Adrien English series), just finished “Matched” by Ally Condie, I’m halfway through “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld, and I recently read “Discord’s Apple” by Carrie Vaughn. A quick plug: Josh Lanyon is m/m (male/male) or LGBT. His books are PHENOMENAL, his character building and world building are AMAZING. Not to mention his storytelling is out of this world. Check out anything by him to see all of the following points illustrated masterfully.

Now, I’m going to address three key points by using the other three books as examples that I found while reading. SPOILER ALERT. I will be half-reviewing, half-discussing these books so don’t read further if you don’t want to know what happens in the books. You have been warned!

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10 Influential Books

I know I just posted my huge Kindle reading list earlier this week (and believe me, that took a lot of doing considering how long it is) and right after, Marissa Meyer posted her top ten (or at least ten) books that influenced her. Pencil_gal responded here and Loki_onyx responded here to Marissa’s question: which are ten books that influenced you?

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Currently Reading

1)   The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Yes, I am still reading this one. I keep getting interesting books and I want to read them right away so I read this between whatever I’m currently reading.

2)   Traitor’s Moon by Lynn Flewelling

I think, if I could only ever read one author for the rest of my life and no one else, it would have to be Lynn Flewelling with her Nightrunner series. It is so good, I can’t even stand it. This is the third book in her series. In a nutshell: her main characters, Seregil and Alec, must journey to Aurenen (Seregil’s birth country) to help Skala in their war against Plenimar. Amazing, brilliant, gripping, I can never stop reading her words. I’m only about a tenth through it and I’m already wishing she had a hundred more books for me to read.

3) The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield

I’m already about two chapters in and it’s rhetoric with a few good points so far. I need to try one of the exercises because thus far, I’m not sure if it will help my specific issues.

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Back from Argentina

Hello everyone. This isn’t a normal update since I just got back from a trip to Argentina to see my family. Just wanted to do a quick run through of what I’ll be posting next. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the end of Lolita, a review of Molly Harper’s the Jane Jameson series (I have since discovered it is called the “Nice Girls Don’t” series), and Metallic Love by Tanith Lee, the sequel to The Silver Metal Lover (which I loved and raved about last week). For writing, I’ve still got to post my take on romance (in fact, I think that’ll be the next post) and some more writerly advice I didn’t include when I was keeping track of Write On Con.

So see you soon in the next post.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Since I can’t seem to stop myself, I’m reading another book now (this will be number 43 for the year, or at least the ones I tracked through my Kindle app on my iPhone) and getting really into it. When I was young, I didn’t think there was anything strange about reading three books a week. In fact, my English teacher in middle school didn’t believe me when I said I read this much. So my school tested me – assigned a number of books and asked me to do a project for them. Not only did I do all of this, I distinctly remember complaining about how easy these books were. They’d given me interested material, certainly, but I was more into classical books (I didn’t know they were classics at the time, I just thought they sounded interesting). In high school, I hated the so-called classics we were forced to read because my teachers would dissect all the good parts, overanalyze and read into every line (and even stuff that wasn’t in the book at all) and then assign stupid projects that only served to make us (the students) hate those books even more. In the end, I managed to get away with not reading the books and simply waiting until someone else in my class started talking and then picking up the thread of conversation from there. I… was really good at being a bad student. Not that anyone noticed since I had a 3.78 GPA in my college prep high school, but that’s not the point. I was really good at faking interest in these books.

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First Post

I’ve just begun a new blog, dear God help me.

As a back-story, I’ve recently gone through some life changing events: relationships, physical health improvement, family improvement, the works. One of the results of some deep introspection was a desire to do something with all the numerous books I own (most which I have read and some I’ve even reread) sitting around my room. I recently moved back home and brought more books than can currently fit on my bookshelves. This led me to think about what to do next.

The answer seemed simple at the time: read all of them and then write about what I thought of them! Well, that’s what I’m going to do. Every Friday night I am going to post a new review for the latest book or book series I have read that week. It’ll be completely filled with spoilers and delve into my issues and grievances with what I read. There will also be a healthy drought of fangirling, not going to lie.

So without further ado, I give you the first book review for this, the first week of my little project:

Insatiable by Meg Cabot.

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