Monday, March 17, 2014

Absent Until April

Things are getting down to the wire with classes and my senior project, so I'll be turtling into my anti-social shell until after my thesis defenses. I have two. One for my major, and one for my Honors qualification.

The performance of my project goes up on April 5th, and the defense will be sometime after that. Err, I should probably schedule that. Soon. Unfortunately, my schedule is full of things like that that I should have done yesterday. Until I do all of them and get this thing over with, no more blogging for me! 

I might still publish the odd review on Examiner just to keep my active status -- and I have a big backlog of reviews to get to, anyway -- but more likely I'll hold all that off until April.

Also, I am still beta-reading for two people right now, but I will not have your stuff back to you until mid-April at the earliest. I'm really sorry about that. I'll still be checking email, so you can send me questions related to your MS and I will respond. However, I won't be able to get you the actual documents until later.

In the meantime, you college students can still submit to Outrageous Fortune literary magazine, which I intern for. :) Send me more plays and art!

When I do eventually return, I want to redesign this blog. I'll also be able to tell you a bit more about my senior project after it's done (when I'm not teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown).

Then on to my senior recital, graduation, and the world beyond.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Another Love Triangle? Really?

I'm currently reading in anticipation of April, and it looks like there's going to be another love triangle. Several more love triangles.


http://favim.com/orig/201105/03/Favim.com-32879.jpg
Their reactions, if they'd known then what puberty had in store. (Image credit)
Sigh.

I do like love triangles -- sometimes. Everything in moderation. I've read plenty of books that don't have a love triangle, too. But Eternity had a love triangle, even though the main character tries to pretend it doesn't exist. The Lord of Opium also ended up having one, albeit a very unusual one. I'm also really hesitant to read Throne of Glass  because I know there's a love triangle in that as well, and it plays a central part in the story.

Even Fire and Hemlock had a sort-of love triangle. More like a love Twister. That one was weird.

The love triangles I see most often are:  
  1. Girl torn between obvious right choice and bad boy. The girl usually has some kind of savior complex that makes her fall for the bad boy, hoping she can "fix" him, often later to realize that she needs saving by the "good" boy.
  2. Two men fighting over the same woman, whether or not the woman knows about it or likes either of them. If she does know about the rivalry, she'll usually be turned on and flattered by the conflict (a Bella Swan). Otherwise, she'll try to keep the peace between them (a Hermione). More rarely, the girl has no clue, either because she thinks of both of them as friends or because she's completely in love with one of them (like Em from Eternity).
The Lord of Opium was a rare example of a boy trying to decide between two girls. Even Harry-freakin'-Potter had a type #2 love triangle, albeit one that was mostly in Ron's head. 

Sigh again. 

By no means do I hate any of these books for having love triangles. I think I understand why it's such a popular device. It creates quick and easy conflict and is a way to develop character. It can also elevate the "other woman" or the "best guy friend" character into a more developed, interesting character in their own right. If characters don't have any other issues with each other, introducing romantic conflict is a good way to start a subplot. Love triangles also get fans really involved by rooting for the pairing that they support.

Because of all these things, the love triangle sees a lot of use. In fact, it sees so much use that it's practically a cliche by now. When I run across a love triangle in a book that is not a romance novel, my automatic reaction has become:

"Another love triangle? Really?"

I'll still read the book. Sometimes the love triangle is executed in a fresh, original way that surprises me. Sometimes.

Sigh.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Losing My Mind, One Book at a Time

Whew! Thank you to everyone who recommended some books for me to read and review this coming April. I still have a couple of spaces to fill, and my list has changed a little bit.

I've started, but...this is quite the list. I'll get as far as I can. If nothing else, this has forced me to read a lot more than I normally would be reading right now. Here are some mini-reviews and thoughts, in case I don't have time later.

Have finished:
 
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones: Fairy Tale Retelling/urban fantasy

This one was good, but...weird. In a surreal way. It took me a while to figure out what the ending meant. Also, the undercurrent of pedophilia was icky. Tom is set up as a father figure for Polly from the beginning, but then she has a crush on him, and he turns into a love interest after she's 19. And he says "at least I can ask you now," implying that he's had feelings for this underage girl for years. It wouldn't be so bad except that Tom's real age is never mentioned. Ever. And also the fact that his immortal ex-wife first adopted him when he was a child, eventually marrying him/casting a spell over him...and then he ends up in a relationship with a much younger person...So, it's evil when the Fairy Queen ensnares young boys, but it's OK for the main characters? 

Also, he and Polly start out as pen pals whose fantasy world ends up coming true. Polly wrote in a romance between them in the fanfic of their lives, which ended up coming true. Would he have fallen in love with her if she hadn't done that? She basically did to him what his ex-wife did. The romance in this one is all kinds of fucked up. It's the only thing that kept me from completely loving this otherwise fantastic book.

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer: YA sci-fi/dystopian


The House of the Scorpion (the first book) has been my favorite for years. I love it. The sequel, amazingly, did not ruin it. I really liked the sequel, too, despite the love triangle.

This book is ultimately hopeful, but also heartbreakingly tragic. It will stab you in the heart and then twist the knife a little just to hear you scream. BUT my favorite character didn't die!!! FOR ONCE. I wish some of the old characters got more "page time," but the new ones are great, too.

The Shining by Stephen King

I found this to be overly sentimental crap. Which is odd for a horror story. But the amount of screaming and running away is dwarfed by the amount of time characters spend crying and hugging each other and spouting life lessons and wisdom. It also uses several storytelling tropes that I despise -- but which, I'm happy to say, King seems to have grown out of in his later books.

Have started:
 
Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase: NA sci-fi

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig: YA urban fantasy

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Mind Games by Kiersten White: YA paranormal/sci-fi
      The stream-of-conscious writing makes it really hard for me to concentrate on this one. 

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence: Dark Fantasy 
      Basically a fantasy dystopia. Plot twist -- I bet it's Earth in the future. Or at least alt-Earth.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: YA high fantasy
     I am honestly dreading the love triangle in this one so much that it makes me not want to read on.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back Is "nerd heaven" a genre?

The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand: MG horror
     I am over halfway through this one. It's really good. I like to see angry characters done well.

Despite the facetious title of this post, I'm enjoying all this reading. The point of reading is to lose one's mind/thoughts in a good book, after all. I think we all need a break from reality every now and then.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Wednesday "What's Up?" in a While

Hey, I remember when I used to do these regularly. WUW is hosted by Jaime Morrow.

What I'm reading

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones is everything I hoped it would be. :) I am also reading various academic sources I need for my senior project. Next up on my TBR is, well...this post should explain it. I'm doing the #AtoZChallenge in April, but with book reviews. Which means I have 26 books to read between now and then. I still need some recommendations, so please feel free to drop off a book on that post!

Also, CP's, I swear I have not forgotten you. I am working on your stuff. Very slowly. But it is happening. 

What I'm writing

Contracted got another 1k added to it last week. I have had almost no time to work on my non-college, non-work writing. Part of the problem is that now that there's no immediate threat to my MCs, it's harder to write. Faster-paced sections are always easier. 

The Book is coming along well in re-writes. I am lazily not writing a transition section. I just want this transition and introduction of these characters to be perfect. Because once the MC meets these people, it's like a point of no return. And then I'll have to be really, really mean to him from then onwards. I have a real soft spot for this guy, for some reason. I have never had any problem being absolutely tyrannical towards my other characters, protagonists or not.

Meanwhile, I've done all manner of useful worldbuilding and even outlined a Shiny New Idea for future reference.

What else I'm doing

Not sleeping. I didn't pull an all-nighter. I literally could not sleep on Sunday or Monday night. When I heard the church bells chime 7am and my roommate started getting up and getting ready for class, I was like "f*** it" and got up to go to breakfast. Just in case you're wondering, that's the worst f/ing feeling in the world. It is the WORST. Whenever anyone jokes that they wish they had insomnia because sleep is useless/they could get so much work done, I really just want to send them to sleep. Right then. With an extremely powerful bitch slap.

Anyway, I went to bed around 4:45 this morning and fell asleep around 5 or 5:30. I've had insomnia and delayed sleep phase for years, but usually I have small bouts on occasion, not three f/ing days' worth of mostly-sleepless nights.

What inspires me right now

The play I'm concentrating on for my senior project, 12 Ophelias. It's a really good play. It's just...really good. It's weird and unrealistic, but it's awesome. The language is really beautiful, and the plotting is simple yet genius.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Recommendations Needed!

As I said in my last post, I will be doing the #atozchallenge this April -- with a twist. I will write a book review each day. 

Next step: find 26 books to review, one for each letter of the alphabet.

They have to be books I haven't read yet. Also, examiner.com requires members to publish one article minimum per month to retain active status. I've recently read The Republic of Thieves, Eternity, and something else, the title of which escapes me right now. I'll review those in the months between now and April, as well as books I've read before.

But for April, I need a reading list asap. *cracks knuckles* Here's what I have so far:

Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Double Dead by Chuck Wendig
Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King
Fragments by Dan Wells
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
H
Iscariot by Tosca Lee
Jack 1939 by Francine Matthews
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Night Shift by Stephen King
The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Queen of Attolia by Magen Whalen Turner
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Sebastian Falls by Celeste Holloway
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
U
V
Wool by Hugh Howey
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
Z

That's a lot of letters missing. If anyone has recommendations for books beginning with E, G, H, I, J, K, N, O, Q, R, U, V, or Z, please let me know in the comments. Any genre is fine, really. Most of what I have up there are books that have been on my TBR list for a while, that I'm finally getting around to.

Thanks!