Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Group Project: how we feel about LOVE TRIANGLES!

Thanks to Jillian, Rachel, Jessica, Chandler, Amber, Rae, and the Kids/Teen Book Club!

So what is the deal with love triangles? It seems like a good majority of popular YA books have this particular element included somewhere in the plot. Sometimes, like Twilight, the romantic aspects carry the overall story, while in other books, like The Hunger Games, it is just one of several aspects that make up the overall story.
So why such an emphasis on the love triangle element?

While I can’t speak for authors and what goes through their minds when they write this element into their stories, I can ask around and get some opinions from you, fellow readers! With a little help from my friends over at Goodreads’ Kids & Teen Book Club, here are some views about love triangles in YA books, from readers like you!

Jillian acknowledges that love triangle stories offer a “certain level of drama higher than typical romances that are often settled relatively easy.” She says that love triangles offer a sort of escapism from normal relationships (“Some girls who are reading these books likely think, ‘I'd love it if two boys fought over me so passionately!’”), in which the readers are all the more willing to lose themselves in the drama and the indecision.
They also seem to help create tension and foster a connection with the reader, and the drama associated with such emotions (who to choose/who to end up with) could heighten the fun in the reading experience. I for one love to have a connection with the characters I’m reading about. Any author who can not only weave a creative, engaging story but also convince me (if only for a short time) that characters in their book are real, with real feelings and real issues and real desires, is a fine author. And while I haven’t known many girls with two guys vying for them at the same time (and I certainly haven’t known any guy who would pursue a girl who’s already being pursued by someone else, like a good love triangle) I can certainly appreciate their place in the world of fiction, if the story is done right.

That’s a big “If.”

The same popularity that is associated with love triangles also, on the other hand, leads to the tendency of predictable and lukewarm stories, with cardboard characters and soap-opera scenarios.

It seems that there is one triangle in particular that has enchanted readers all over the globe, including the members of our club: Katniss/Gale/Peeta of The Hunger Games trilogy. All throughout the “Love Triangle” topic on our boards, I have heard nothing but praise for Collins’ story, her characters, and her writing style. Chandler echoes the views of many when she asserts that the Katniss/Peeta/Gale story is the best triangle in a YA series. Her reason for favoring this particular triangle? Suspense. “None of us can honestly be 100% certain of who Katniss is going to choose.”

Amber, a devoted Hunger Games fan, does the series (and Collins) a great justice with her excellent post on why exactly The Hunger Games features a love triangle at its greatest:
“Circumstances throw her together with a boy who once helped her in the past -- and Katniss finds that she is in the position to help repay him the favor once and for all. However, she does not know that said boy has loved her -- and, when she finds out, she is very wary because she lives in a world of lies and deceptions. She doesn't know to BELIEVE that the boy's feelings are true. And then there's the matter of her friend back home: she says that she has never felt anything romantic for him and that their relationship is not like that. However, she still wonders if her feelings may sway that way one day -- though she has never thought about that possibility because, remember, no marriage and no kids. So Katniss's emotional turmoil over the two boys is more born from the way she has grown up and the ways she has closed herself off emotionally as a consequence of growing up in that world. Her confusion is not entirely her fault. Katniss is an amateur when it comes to love, and thus she does not often understand her feelings. Thus, because SHE does not always understand her feelings, we the readers are just as conflicted as she is -- because, remember, Katniss's story is 1st person where we experience things as she experiences them.”

Question: I have not read THE HUNGER GAMES series yet, so I cannot agree or disagree, but what do you think about THG’s love triangle? Is it your favorite, too?

Beyond The Hunger Games, the Twilight saga is also a series with a recognizable “love triangle,” and one could strongly argue that part of the overall storyline dealt with the Bella/Jacob/Edward scenario. However, most of those who participated in this topic did not have positive things to say about Twilight’s scenario. Personally, I think it has to do with a matter of predictability. While so much suspense surrounds Katniss and who she belongs with, the Twilight series seemed to imply quite heavily that Bella was to Edward as rainboots are to an umbrella [stupid analogy, I know!]. So in my opinion, Twilight was not a “love triangle” but a “girl and a guy and a 3rd wheel.” And we all know who the “3rd wheel” is: poor, put upon Mr. Black.

“I never once doubted that she wasn’t going to end up with Edward,” Chandler says. “There was really no suspense.” And so why did Mrs. Meyer feel the need to beat us over the head with Bella and her boys? From the way she sets up the story, it’s obvious that Edward is supposed to be “the one.” And Jacob? He’s just there for…well, I don’t really know. He’s a 3rd wheel. And the last 2 books if the series were not very fun to read, at parts, because of the melodrama and the lackluster scenario.

No puzzle, no wonder, no magic.

And so it seems that we all agree that love triangles, when done right (a la Hunger Games) offer readers puzzles, wonder, and magic…but it seems that Collins’ engrossing love-story element (which is not at all the only element that makes up The Hunger Games trilogy) is the high-point of love triangles, and most of the rest are rather mediocre. “I can’t say that many love triangles are that engrossing," Amber commented. "Most times, they’re annoying because they’re predictable and TOO dramatic, where they border on melodramatic.”

I don’t think she could have said it better. The reason why I have had negative experiences with love triangles in the past - and why I still have reservations about reading books with prominent love triangle elements – is entirely in the predictability and the oft-melodramatic angst associated with it. When love triangles become cliché, when they become stereotypical, I lose excitement. Nobody likes to read something and think, “Oh, I’ve read this before,” or “Oh, I bet I know where this is going!” And I would argue that most of the time, YA love triangles aren’t really “triangles” at all. To me, a love triangle is very Hunger Games-ish: you have one object of affection (mostly girls, but it could be for boys too) and two love interests who have an equal chance of “winning” (for lack of a better world). Notice the emphasis on EQUAL. Most of the time, I think, you have Jacob Black 3rd wheel characters. You know that Main Character Girl is meant for Love Interest Boy, and yet there’s Another Boy who just gets in the way (Twilight obviously comes to mind, but also poor little Simon from The Mortal Instruments). Another member, Rae, said, “I *hate* the whole Love Triangle thing, since there are generally two people that are obviously perfect for one another and some other guy just thrown in there.”

So where do we go from here? Rachel mentioned an interesting idea about a possible love-triangle conclusion: “I would love it,” she says, “if just for once no one in the triangle ends up with each other. They either end up alone or with someone else.” That would definitely be different!

“I don’t think YA authors are going to turn away from love triangles any time soon,” Jillian says. “I think the trend is going to grow even more rampant.” I don’t really know how I feel about that. I mean, I definitely agree with her, but a love triangle should not be just another scenario that authors can check off their “Must Have” list when crafting a story. It seems that our group is in agreement that a love triangle just for a love triangle’s sake is not fun to read.

But what about you, blog buddies? What do you have to say?

Cover Wars [8]

This week I'm featuring The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale

**those are excellent books, by the way! They're cute, entertaining, and don't take very long to read at all! And unlike a lot of other titles I've reviewed lately, they're pretty common, popular, and easy to find @ bookstores :)

There are currently 4 books in the Bayern series, but I'm only going to do the first three, because the fourth is still going through different covers

Here are the original UK covers:

vs. the US covers:

vs. the new UK covers (these are the ones I have!)

Which do you like best?

Want to participate in Cover Wars? Take your current read (or any other book) and find as many different cover designs as possible!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: SAPPHIQUE

As always, Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB @ Should be Reading.Here's how it works: Grab the current book you're reading- Open up to a random page- share a little "teaser" from somewhere on that page.***Make sure your section is spoiler free!!

This week I'm reading Sapphique, the sequel to Incarceron, and I think I'm enjoying it just a little more! With this book, you've already figured out all the workings of the overall story so you can concentrate more on the plot and on the characters and let your mind relax a little. :)

If you just simply can't wait until 2011 for the US edition, The Book Depository & Amazon UK want to be your best friends!! :)

Here is my teaser, from Sapphique (Incarceron, #2) by Catherine Fisher:

"The Chain-gang waited. It was male, twelve-headed, helmeted, the bodies fused at hand and wrist and hip, linked with umbilical skin-chains from shoulder to shoulder or waist to waist. Keiro had his own firelock out. He levelled it at the centre of the huddled thing. 'No nearer. Keep well away.'"

- Sapphique, pg 127

Monday, March 29, 2010

In My Mailbox [7]

All 3 of the books I got were from a $25 gift card to Amazon from Melissa @ I Swim for Ocean's contest!

  • The Hourglass Door - Lisa Mangum
  • The Maze Runner - James Dashner
  • Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev
  • and all 3 of these authors are on Goodreads! YAY!

Yippy! I cannot wait to read all 3 of these - and from what I see/read, they're pretty popular books among the blogging community, too!

And I went a whole week without buying more books! Well, technically I bought a book last Wednesday, but it doesn't really count because it was for a research paper and it was like $2.50. But this weekend I'm going to my grandparents for Easter and I'll be swinging by Half-Price Books! Some people get lured by bars, others by, I'm lured by Half Price Books :)

If you have read/reviewed any of these books, I'd love to know what you thought of them!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quote of the Week...

Should I keep doing these? What do you all think?

IIF turns 3 months!

Last Sunday, March 21st, was my blog's 3 month birthday!

And I'm just now remembering. :)

I've met so many great blog buddies over these last few months - thank you all for the support and friendship. Blogging is such a wonderful experience because of buddies like you all!

Most of the books I've reviewed have been YA - MG and teen, and most of those have been fantasy, with a few "grownup" books here and there. My TBR pile has grown to colossal proportions thanks to all the great reviews I've read from all of you. That's what I love about the book blog community - the sharing of books and opinions and the sense of community - a community of readers! It's so fulfilling to have a little "escape" from life and that's kind of what this site has become for me: a place to get together with other book lovers and share ideas and inspirations with each other.

Thank you all for visiting IIF and making it such a fun place to be. I literally cannot wait to boot up my computer each morning and see what's going on in with all of you - what you're reading, what you think, etc.

Challenge Update
100+ Reading Challenge

One of the fun things about starting a book blog is being able to participate in such awesome challenges! Right now, as April approaches, I've read through 25% of my 100 goal. I forsee a little slacking off in the immediate future, do to scurvy school...but that's what summer's for!

3-4-5 Reading Challenge

I hosted my first contest a little while ago and thank you to everyone who entered and helped spread the word! Contests are definitely a good way to meet new blog buddies and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet so many new cool bloggers! I'll definitely have another contest in May.

IIF is actually not the first blog I've set up... I actually had 2 more before this one, but they didn't really work out (Have any had '2nd try' experiences with blogs, too?). Maybe it's because this is a book review blog, and I love books, but this time around, blogging is definitely more enjoyable!

So THANK YOU so much, all my blog buddies, for making the blogging experience so fun and worthwhile. I just wanted to let you - ALL OF YOU - know how much you mean to me! I love my blog buddies!

Have a great week (quote will be up soon), and HAPPY READING

Saturday, March 27, 2010

week in review: Lewis kicks my butt & Riordan saves the day

Spring Break is definitely over...

The transition back to school has been tougher than usual, apparently. Now I know that this is a "book review" blog, not an Amelia Needs to Vent blog, but I do want to apologize for the lack of updates and, you know, reviews. I did read a book this week, but it was for class :(

Usually I'm able to juggle my schoolwork and my personal reading, but this week I just couldn't.

Anybody have any good advice about time-management?

I hope this week was just a readjustment and not a foreshadow of things to come. Last week, during glorious spring break, I even managed to start another story! I love writing - now that takes the place of reading, but that somehow seems excusable: if you're not reading a story, you're inventing one!

So this is the book that kicked my butt this week:

I'm in a CS Lewis class at school and we're going through his fictional books and his apologetic books...and there's seriously a Lewis dichotomy. His writing is so simple in The Space Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia, and while I thought Mere Christianity was really easy to follow, this book just really beat me. His writing is certainly not simple here - goodness! So yep, it look me all week to figure out this little book, and I still don't really know what he's talking about. Has anybody else had to read this? In my own little opinion, Mere Christianity is much easier to digest if you want to read Lewis' non-fiction works.

and this is the book that saved my sanity last night:

Percy Jackson is a hero after all!
For my Greco-Roman class I'm doing a presentation on the Underworld and this wonderful story came in handy: Asphodel Fields, Elysium, the Isles of the Blest, Tartarus... add that to PJ's awesomeness: it's educational! Now I have no problem being a Nerd, but I have a feeling that my professor may not be very impressed if I march up to the podium next month armed with the DVD of Disney's Hercules and The Lightning Thief in my hand. I guess Homer is still King of Mythology - bummer. But hey, I guess it's true what my roommate says: "once you get Percywarped, you start seeing the PJ series EVERYWHERE."

Looking ahead:

This is the book that I'm going to start in a little while. I have no idea how far I will get, but I predict that for the rest of the semester I will only be able to handle 1 book a week, or maybe 1 book every 2 weeks - term paper deadlines are screaming at me and I need to read for class.

But I do have some stuff coming up! Hopefully sometime during the week I'll finish Sapphique and post my review - I'm already really excited and can't wait to figure out what in the world happens next after the [fun] madness of Incarceron!! And my book club buddies at Goodreads are helping me with a post on Love Triangles. This will hopefully appear in the next few days and will be more of an exploration on the topic and less 'my opinion' (since I don't really think that went over too well last time, ha!)
Have a great weekened, everybody!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yesterday was TOLKIEN Day!

March 25...which was yesterday...but oh well I'm doing this today!

March 25 is the day associated with the fall of SAURON in Lord of the Rings!!

That's right, padawans! Today is Tolkien Day! This holiday was launched by the Tolkien Society in 2003; the day celebrates the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and their uses in educational and library groups.

And as a fellow "Ringer" (apparently there's a term for people who fan about Lord of the Rings) or "Tolkienite" (haha I like this one!) I had to blog to about my favorite author and his appreciation day!

I was looking on wiki and the extensiveness of Tolkien fandom is really awesome, and incredibly nerdy. There are actual "Tolkienologists" who study Tolkien linguistics and all the histories of the people of Middle Earth. I'll readily admit: that's not me! It was all I could do in school to get through Hebrew and Latin - nevermind Quenya and Sindarin!

So in honor of Tolkien Day (yesterday), I thought I'd talk just a little about this amazing series :)
- The books were published in the 1950s (around the same time as Tolkien's pal Lewis started publishing the Narnia books)

- The books even had an impact on the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. That's right, apparently young people embraced the series and sparked its popularity, and phrases "Frodo Lives!" and "Gandalf for President" became common. Hey, I'm with the hippies: Gandalf would have made an awesome president!

- Anyone like Veggie Tales? Apparently they did a parody of LOTR called Lord of the Beans. OMG!!!! *runs to netflix*

- And of course, the amazing job fellow Ringer Peter Jackson did with the film versions. Thanks, Pete! Those movies are surprisingly faithful to the books, and I actually watched the movies first then went back and read the books...because the books are a little...umm...heavy. :)

- as of now, LOTR is the #1 bestselling series of all time, and ranks after A Tale of Two Cities as the bestselling fiction story, with 150 million copies

Not only did Tolkien write an amazing series full of memorable (and inspiring) characters, but the magnitude of detail in his works is astounding and will probably never be replicated fully. For goodness sake, this man created languages - several of them! His Middle Earth is full of vast cultural exploration and historical facts that further exemplify his brilliance. I'm fangirling out now, I know it, but THIS is the type of author to inspire to.
Now only was Tolkien a great author, he was a great person, and I have read 2 of his biographies to date and was inspired by his personal life: he was a fighter in WWI, an educator, a family man, a religious man... One of my favorite Tolkien stories is not fictional at all - it's the story of his courtship and marriage to Edith Bratt, his wife. Now THAT is a cute story! :)

My favorite LOTR quote:

"War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend." (The Two Towers)

- I have this quote on my bulletin board, and it really helps me when I write a fight/battle scene. I think he hit the nail on the head with this one!

"We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil."

And this, to me, could easily be the Fantasy Writer's Creed:
"Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!"

Yeah! I like realism sometimes, but when I read, I want to escape reality, and so fantasy is my greatest outlet. Thanks, Tolkien!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Troll Blood - Katherine Langrish
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
# of pages: 395 (UK paperback)
Published by: Harper Collins
Recommended for: ALL AGES.

My Thoughts

I am seriously not exaggerating when I say that the Troll Trilogy is one of the greatest series I have ever read – and I’ve read a lot of books. Within the series, readers are given hearty doses of fantasy, folklore, history, and culture of not one but two civilizations: the Vikings of 10th century Norway and the Native Ameri--er, Canadians. It delivered on action, suspense, romance, and a little bit of comedy, too.

The direction of the third (and final) book in the trilogy completely changes directions from the other two; instead of the familiar fells and surrounding areas of Norway, our characters are now part of an expedition to a whole new world (North America, in other words). Apparently, good ol’ Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first European to reach North America – the Vikings made it over about 500 years earlier, and from this piece of history, an amazing story unfolds. Troll Blood reads a little more like a historical fiction story with fantastical elements added in. I may have my terminology all wrong, but it reminds me of an MG “magical realism” story: there’s magic involved, but it’s placed in a very normal context, not overt in tone like some of your other fantasy series books. I found that really refreshing after reading so many overtly magical stories.

Plot: Like I said, this book takes the series in a different direction, and what an exciting story emerged! By removing the characters from their familiar environment, the story that develops has a bit of a suspense edge to it – you truly have no idea what’s going to happen next, because so many elements have changed. There seem to be 3 plots that unfold over the course of the story: Peer, Hilde, and Company’s expedition across the sea and everything that develops with them; the characters in Vinland and their interactions with their visitors; and finally, the emotional and psychological development of the main characters. Peer and Hilde don’t just have a physical journey – they embark on an emotional one, too.
Frequently I found myself marveling at how much action had taken place over the course of the series, beginning with Troll Fell. With each book, the plot got a little darker and a little more involved, which was a really cool progression and one that is no doubt easier said than done. I think it’s so cool how Ms. Langrish was able to progress her story so smoothly without getting too over-the-top or too mature. Books nowadays are either really superficial or have-a-meltdown- serious and thematic. So bravo for giving us great stories that amplify over the course of the series!

Characters: Peer and Hilde change so much from 12 year olds to 16 year olds, and yet they retain the same personalities and characteristics that made me love them in the first place. I love romantic storylines that are done right – and ones that aren’t the main focus of the story. It was so sweet to read about Peer and Hilde struggle with their feelings, but it was very refreshing to have more going on in the story, too. And all of the new characters were very strong and well-thought out. I personally couldn’t help but like Harald, even though he’s totally wicked! Hmm, maybe he’s one of Draco Malfoy’s ancestors? And Astrid, the reluctant wife of a Viking explorer with a few skeletons in her closet, was such an interesting character, too. I thought I had her all figured out, but boy was I wrong!

Ending: I tag on this category for series-enders – it’s a chance for me to hurrah or whine about how a series was wrapped up. I love closure, but too much closure and I think you lose some of the intrigue of the story that you had during your reading experience. I felt like Troll Blood gave me enough closure but also left a window open for me to fantasize a bit! The last few chapters were just incredible – lots of action, lots of excitement, and a few “no way!” outbursts. You just have to read this for yourself!

Final Rating: 5/5. Yeah, it’s that good

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Pendulum of YA: "girls who do things" and boys who don't do anything at all

WARNING: The following post contains opinions about the Twilight series that may seem negative or overly-critical. I would like to proudly proclaim that I am a Twi-fan. I love the series, and so I feel like it's okay for me to wag my finger at it a little, because I'm still a fan! I love the Twilight series, I love Stephenie Meyer... it's all good!

Okay, let's begin:

It seems that YA books nowadays represent a sort of pendulum: they swing in one direction and you see domineering, arrogant/egotistical unhealthy bad boys, and they swing in the other direction and you see…pretty much same type of character, only instead of a boy, it’s a girl. Girls in teen books are either meek and flat, with little to no personality, who enter into unhealthy relationships with boys who push them around (but apparently that’s okay, as long as the guy in question is “hot” and/or some sort of mythological creature), or they are butt-kicking angry chicks who scream independence…which I think has the potential to be just as unhealthy.

Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment: everybody seems to hate Edward Cullen, but what about some of these other “gloriously independent” girls? If Edward is a chauvinist, how are these angry chicks any better?

There’s a difference between “girls who do things” and “girls who are angry bitches.” Sorry, but I had to put that word in! However, the former has lately been overshadowed by the latter.

Like I said in the intro, there seem to be a lot of messages that teen authors are portraying – my blog buddy Choco tackles weirdo “romances” in one of her latest posts, and that got me thinking about one of my pet peeves that I’ve seen a lot of recently: overly-dominant girl characters. This is the 21st century, and it really bothers me when authors try and drag us back to the Dark Ages.

Now, I know that there are some awesome, strong, able-minded girls in fiction that readers can look up to: presently, I’d say the one of the truly strongest characters out there is Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series. Here’s a girl who is smart, a good fighter/no weakling, and not really dependant on anyone… but here’s where she’s special: while she may not need anyone – especially a boy – she seems to want one, and that is normal and healthy. She’s not trying to be an island unto herself; she’s not trying to be “greater than thou.” She is at her strongest when she’s with her friends (Percy in particular). Another good character is Eilonwy from the Chronicles of Prydain, for many of the same reasons. I really do think that the Intermediate-age authors are the ones who best get it right: they are the ones with the most well-rounded “role model” characters and they also seem to be the ones who present the healthiest relationships. Way to go, MG authors!

So I kind of bristle when teen authors get so excited with themselves for writing “butt”-kicking female characters…is it just me, or is that taking a walk down the hypocritical road? Why is it bad for boys to push girls around and for boys to be pillars of strength, but totally alright for girls to treat boys like they don’t matter? That seems a little chauvinistic to me – and that’s a phrase that I find myself using a lot: “female chauvinism.” I don’t want to annoy anyone, but I found darling Katsa in YA’s Most Beloved Novel Graceling to be a complete Female Chauvinist. I’m sorry, but are we seriously saying that someone who is anti-marriage and anti-kids is a positive role model for girls today? Um, forget that: when exactly was Katsa positive about anything? I read that book and all I heard was, “I’m an angry young woman! I’m an angry young woman!” Or how about everybody’s favorite heroine: Tamora Pierce’s Alanna. I must be the stupidest girl in America, but the main character moves from one sex partner to another over the course of the 4 books…and she’s a role model?! Oh, I forgot: she’s brave and she’s a good fighter. Well, wonderful! Is that all that matters?

Now, while I like a rant just as much (or probably more) than the next person, I think they are pretty futile without some sort of suggestion. Yes, I think we have a problem in YA with the constant image of domineering, overbearing male love interests. However, I think we have a problem on the opposite end of the spectrum with “girls who kick too much butt” characters who are screaming independence. I learned this in my Marriage & Family Therapy class, and it’s some of the most beneficial and crucial bits of information I’ve received from my time in college: the goal of a relationship needs to be INTERDEPENDENCY. “Interdependency” means having two mature and complete people who come together to form a relationship based on give and take and working together. Not codependency, Miss Swan. Not independence either, Miss…Everyone. Now, in order to be an interesting story, there still have to be some elements of drama going on, but using this model you don’t have controlling boys OR girls. Yes, everybody likes to harp about domineering boys, and they should! But let’s not forget that it is possible – and just as unhealthy – to have domineering girl characters. If boys aren’t allowed to get away with lack of commitment, girls shouldn’t, either. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a double standard.

So yes, I can see why Edward would be unpopular. I might irritate some blog buddies (hopefully not), but I didn't really think Edward was all that bad. Edward's gonna do what he's gonna do - he thinks he's being protective and whatnot...but he was able to get away with it because Bella's such a moron, she didn't put him in his place! And please: of course Edward has to protect Bella! She's such a klutzy doofus! Okay, but I don't want to get into a Twilight rant. I liked the Twilight saga okay because you had a romance where the characters actually waited until marriage to have sex - what a concept! That's always a safe bet: if you can't write an appropriate love story, just don't put that element in there! Mrs. Meyer, if I ever amount to anything as a published writer, I'm gonna look you up and buy you a cup of coffee! You go, girl! :) I think if Edward was my boyfriend, I wouldn't give a flying burrito if he watched me sleep - long as he didn't wake me up! In fact, I'd probably put him to work doing my homework - he doesn't sleep after all, am I right?! But I'm getting way, way off topic. That happens a lot. Apologies.

So what I would like to see axed:
1) boys who are too overbearing
2) girls who are too overbearing
3) lust-based relationships
4) love triangles. I haven't touched on this, but it's just a pet peeve. Are girls just total losers if they don't have at least 2 guys chasing them? I hope not, or else my self-esteem will take a hit.
5) boys and girls who's main goal in a relationship is to maintain their independence.

But that's just my two cents. Do you have something to add? I hope so - I'll look pretty silly just blogging to myself!

Monday, March 22, 2010

In My Mailbox [6]

Nothing came in my mailbox this week, but I did buy 3 new books!

  • Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer

  • The Iron King - Julie Kagawa

  • Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey

I can't wait to read these! :)

And now I'm going to try really, really hard not to buy any more books for the next three weeks! I've been spending way too much money on books and not enough on school stuff...bad me. So that's the plan, anyway!

Has anybody read these books? If so, what did you think?!

More Random Thoughts, or Why Amelia Needs to Stop Going Off on Tangents

You know how it’s good to “never say never,” and Fievel and Tiger even sing a cute song about it in An American Tail…? Well, sometimes I think it is okay to “say never”: I’m never going to kick a kitten, I’m never going to slap a child, I’m never going to shoot someone, I’m never going to shoplift, I’m never going to stop believing in God, and I’m most likely never going to read George R.R. Martin.

So…okay, we’ve established that. So why is it that I still manage to get so worked up over a silly comment made by an author who will 1) never EVER outsell my favorite author, Mr. JRR Tolkien, and 2) never be read by me?

Maybe it’s because his view is something I seem to see a lot of these days. Why do authors hate good-and-evil stories? I don’t understand! I think the best stories out there – speaking in terms of fantasy – are the ones that follow the Hero’s Journey model, ones that traditionally have good-and-evil themes on an epic scale.

According to the Encyclopedia of Fantasy, characteristics of “heroic fantasy” include a scenario where the protagonist is reluctant to be a champion and is of low or humble origin, and frequently has royal ancestors or parents but does not know it. Through events usually beyond his control, he is thrust into positions of great responsibility where his mettle is tested in a number of spiritual and physical challenges. Although it shares many of the basic themes of Sword and Sorcery the term 'Heroic fantasy' is often used to avoid the garish overtones of the former. In my previous post, I mentioned that Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain are my favorite series, and one of the many reasons why is because of the themes that Alexander so effortlessly and poignantly weaves into his stories. Yes, his characters are flawed and dynamic, but more importantly they’re inspiring. Sure, everyone wants characters they can relate too, but don’t you want characters you can look up too, also? I sure do. Like I mentioned before, JRR Tolkien’s epic Middle Earth stories not only exemplify “heroic fantasy,” they also helped to boost a revival in the popularity of the subgenre. Frodo Baggins is certainly not a perfect character. He’s flawed – a little on the ignorant side, as a Hobbit he’s not really supposed to be one of the more ‘important’ species of Middle Earth, and as the story progresses, he even falls prey to the power of the Ring. But he’s still good. Does that make sense?

Now, though, new fantasy authors are apparently changing the trend. I’m all for shaking things up and everything, but I can’t help but wonder if all changes in literature are necessary and beneficial. Many new fantasy authors are trying to shed the traditional concept of heroes and even of good and evil (I’m taking bits of this from wiki too). Now, thanks to the like of Jacqueline Carey and George R.R. Martin (my dad has dubbed the latter the ‘Anti-Tolkien’), there is a blurring between ‘heroes’ and ‘villains.’

There was one quote that Martin made in particular that sparked this post…and now I look like such a doofus because I can’t find it to post on here (I’m writing in class right now). But why the blurring? Why does everything have to be so dadgum ambiguous? You know I have a tendency to be a little “over-the-top” I guess, but I find authors’ desire to blur good and evil and introduce ideas of relativism to be a little on the disturbing side. And besides, that’s not very “epic.” Most epic stories need some sort of grand struggle… I think you can tell that I’m a champion of heroic fantasy and its themes. There’s a grandness about them, there’s something inspirational as well as thought-provoking. It’s something I try to emulate when I write. But then again, I believe in right and wrong, and I like “good” protagonists and “bad” villains. Now please hear me – this is not an invitation for cardboard characters or blasé fairytale retellings (have you ever noticed that fairytales are very…like…there’s not a lot to them) but then again, there is nothing, nothing blasé about Tolkien’s works. If there was any power in wishful thinking, then I would wish for a return to the styles of Lloyd Alexander, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien: fantasy stories with heart.

I have to go, but I just wanted to toss yet some more thoughts out into the great blogosphere!

glimpse of my bookshelves

My bookshelves!

Most of my history books

Mythology/fantasy anthologies


Quote of the Week :)

"Innocence dwells with wisdom, but never with ignorance."
- William Blake
This quote is for all the 'eternal children' out there! I don't know the key to happiness or anything, but I like to think it has a little to do with keeping an inner childlike quality - in imagination, in compassion, in creativity, in excitement, in love.
Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So I had a pretty good week! Spring Break was much-needed but not quite long enough!

I did manage to get 3 of my 4 books read, so that was good. Walked on the beach, went to Sea World (my fave place here in San Diego), endured one set of tennis with my dad who told me after every point how out of shape I am, and helped my brother try and figure out where he's going to go to school next year - Pepperdine or Point Loma?

My first contest ended last Tuesday, and congrats again to Jillian and thank-you to everyone who entered! My next contest will be in MAY :)

Because of the really busy week, I kind of got behind on my blogging schedule... *sad face*
I only did 2 entries of Author Appreciation Week so I might fudge a little on the dates and continue with a few more entries into this current week...

Books Read
Troll Fell
Troll Mill
Troll Blood

Books Reviewed

My Posts
Author Appreciation: I and II
Teaser Tuesday: Troll Mill
WIYW [2]

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Where In Your World [2]

WIYW started out as a random post about a month ago but I think I might try and mememize this if it works out.

For the past week I've been reading the Troll Trilogy, which is set in Viking Norway, so I have some pictures from the Scandinavia region that might match the setting in the story!

Fjords are Fjun!

This remind me of the fells:

I can just see this forest teaming with trolls!

Can you find any pictures that might match the setting in the book your reading? It doesn't matter if it's high fantasy or realistic fiction - anyone can play along! It can be any book, too!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Fifteen-year-old Peer Ulfsson is haunted by his past. Forced to live with his evil uncles under the eerie shadows of Troll Fell, he nearly fell prey to their plan to sell children to the trolls. Now Peer lives with his friend Hilde's family, but can he ever truly belong? And will Hilde ever share his deeper feelings?
One rainy night, Peer watches in shock as his neighbor Kersten pushes her baby daughter into his arms and then disappears into the sea. Rumor says that Kersten is a seal woman who has returned to her ocean home, and the millpond witch, Granny Green-teeth, seems intent on taking the "seal baby." Peer also discovers that the mill, abandoned when his uncles joined the troll kingdom, is running again -- all on its own?
With angry trolls, mysterious seal people, a mischievous house spirit, and three unusual babies in the mix, Peer and Hilde have their hands full and more! Katherine Langrish returns to the magical world of her acclaimed debut, troll fell, in this second story set in an extraordinary land by the sea filled with Viking legends and lore.

Whew, Troll Mill really picks up on adventure and excitement! I think I might actually like it a teeny bit more than Troll Fell. In this continuing story, 3 years have passed and Peer and Hilde and now (dum dum dum!) teenagers! Once again, a very engaging read. It seems like this story is a little more serious than its predecessor: older characters, a little more mature storyline... all add together to make a very strong second installment.
In addition to the two MCs, Peer and Hilde, Troll Mill offers a rich ensemble cast of very detailed and well-crafted characters while blending the historical flair of Viking Scandinavia with creatures of Norse folklore. How many books have you read about with trolls *and* selkies? You'll definitely want to check out this series!
Can’t wait to see what happens to everybody in the final installment.

Final Rating: 5/5. Yes, I know, 4.7 is a random number, but I liked this book a little more than Troll Fell, so I wanted to boost its rating a little. This series is highly recommended

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughts on Writing - Blasts from the Past

So in addition to a nice, relaxing spring break, I've been brainstorming a lot on new story ideas. Both of my manuscripts from a few years ago are High Fantasy, so I'm tinkering around with other ideas. The trend seems to be Urban Fantasy and Contemporary Fantasy. Honestly, I need a break from all these New-York based fantasies! One of the things I liked about the Twilight series was just the change in setting - choosing Random, Rural America was very impressive; I hear that Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver also has a rural setting...

I'm a history buff, and for the last few years I've had to take various American history classes, which have rekindled an interest not only in our country's history but also in the changes in cultures over the last few decades. I think it might be fun to blend fantasy elements with a bit of the past - does that sound like something you girls would read?

Here’s my idea:
- A “contemporary fantasy” that’s set…in the past! Apparently, historical fantasies only go up until the 20th century; anything set in the 20th century and beyond, including the decades of the 20th century, is considered “contemporary.” Huh, I didn’t know that!
Some authors are doing this, including Libba Bray, who’s newest series (apparently) has fantasy elements and will be set in the ‘20s - oohhh those flappers!

- I don’t want to spill much on the plot, but right now I’m thinking of either setting my story in the 1950s or the early 1960s
- I’m kind of going back and forth between the two: I like the 1950s better overall, but I like the fashion of the early 1960s (and a lot of that such fashion is making a comeback nowadays!)


Is it just me, or do those styles look extremely similar? I guess not everybody in the 60s were hippies!

Anybody have an opinion? Which decade do you like better for a story setting - 50s or 60s?

Cover Wars!

I got a little off-schedule, so I'm bumping Cover Wars up to today!

This week I'm featuring the American-UK Troll Trilogy (since I'm reading them!) and a new trilogy I just discovered - the Moon trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Here are the American covers:

vs. the original UK covers for the Troll books:

I prefer the UK covers better, and those are the ones we have!

And the Moon American covers:

vs the UK covers:

- This World We Live In will be released in the UK 3 May 2010

Which do you like best?

I had some issues with the Mr. Linky from last week, so if you want to participate in Cover Wars, just drop your link and I'll check it out! :) I'd love it if you used my poster, too!

Blog designed by Dreamy Blog Designs using Joifa Designs Birght Night and Cozy kit