Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Adult Recommendation: Made of Stars

I read Kelley York's Hushed two years ago and liked it a lot, so when a blogger acquaintance of mine reviewed Made of Stars, it reminded me that I'd been planning to read this one too.

I love the way Kelley York writes complicated, nuanced characters and relationships. I loved everything about Chance--his spontaneity and impulsiveness, his compulsive lying tendencies, the way he loved the Jackson family and they loved him back despite everything. I also liked how Hunter, Ashlyn, and Rachael the other characters had very distinct and relatable personalities. Ashlyn's the conflict-resolver, while Hunter is more of an uncertain people-pleaser. Rachael is a bit of a control freak, but I appreciated how she wasn't completely villainized for this, and that Hunter was equally to blame for the failings in their relationship.

The romance was beautifully done, and that's a huge compliment coming from me.

I have mixed feelings about the ending. I loved that it was bittersweet and that it left things a little bit ambiguous. However, I don't know that I would call the ending "satisfying."

Stylistically, my only complaint is that Ashlyn and Hunter's voices sounded identical.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel, and I am most definitely adding Kelley York to my "automatic buy" list.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

WIP Marathon October Update

Last two check-ins: Finished chapters 19-21 and 23. Working on chapter 22. Outlined chapter 24. (word count = 77,928)

Currently: Finished chapters 22 and 24.

Current word count = 84,321

WIP issues this month:

I’m not happy with one of my chapter 22 scenes. The first half of the scene involves a conversation between two of my characters, and it didn’t quite go where I wanted it to go. A conversation that should have been thoughtful and interesting is instead completely weighed down with my character’s self-doubt and uncertainty. It’s boring and disappointing. I was hoping this would be a good scene for character development, but instead it feels like character regression. A few chapters ago, the character was on the fence about a major life decision that affected both her and the world around her. In her previous chapter, she finally made that decision, but in this chapter she’s back on the indecision fence, and it’s slowing down the narrative.

I need to re-write the scene from a different perspective. Instead of “What am I doing here? I feel like a fraud,” it needs to be “Well, I’m here. A lot of people think I don’t belong here, and maybe they’re right, but I’m here for a reason and I need to figure out what that is.” Yes, this character is self-conscious and sometimes naive, but she is also hard-working, intelligent, and curious and I need to show that, too.

Things I learned in writing this month:

1. Training scenes are a necessary evil, but still need to be done well. A training scene should never be just a training scene. They’re a great way for characters to get to know each other. They’re a very good way to introduce and develop mentor figures. These scenes can also be used to introduce worldbuilding details and backstory. If possible, they can also be used to further the plot.

I currently have three characters who are learning to use new types of magic, which means lots of training scenes. I’m trying to make the most of them.

2. It’s good to put brief reminders in your story so that readers don’t forget what happened 10+ chapters ago, especially when you're weaving together 4-5 different plotlines.

3. I’m currently listening to Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, and yesterday I had a thought: imagine if the protagonist were female. The answer: I literally can’t. The main character is a brat who spends about two thirds of the book whining about food, and I could never, ever imagine a neurotypical female teenager acting that way. It’s not even a question of likeability—it’s just something I have trouble picturing. I don’t want to be one of those people who holds female characters to different standards, but there are some biases even I have trouble shaking.

What distracted me this month:

-a very difficult exam
-family in town for a weekend
-making my Halloween costume from scratch
-spent all of yesterday supporting two friends who are training for the World’s Toughest Mudder
-books completed:
     Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (audio) – overrated
     Entangled – decent, but hard to get into
     Made of Stars – liked it a lot (will review soon)
-books started:
     A Plague of Doves (audio) – loved the writing style, but I stopped listening when the second narrator came on
     The Thief (audio) – the characters are distinct and memorable, the worldbuilding is well thought-through, but I have yet to be blown away; also, the protagonist is a dumb, whiny brat, but not without endearing qualities
     The Twistrose Key – beautifully-written middle grade
-still reading:
     Shameless – books that center on a romance just aren’t my thing
-watching: various shows (note: How to Get Away with Murder is awesome and everyone should watch it)

Goal for next month: finish chapters 25-27

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Entangled, by Amy Rose Capetta

Entangled had a lot of cool elements: space, music, entanglement, interesting characters, strong themes of connection.

However, I don't feel like I appreciated this book as much as I should have. I tuned out a lot, and there were some things I had difficulty picturing. This was probably more my fault than the book's, but I wouldn't be able to honestly review this book without pointing that out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

It took a long time for the plot to get going, but afterwards, it was okay. The time loop stuff was cool.

I expected to be much more impressed with this book than I was. It had a very middle-grade feel, and although that isn't a bad thing, this book would probably appeal more to those who appreciate MG more than I do.
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