Posts tagged young adult fantasy

Book catch-up!

I’m way behind in chonicling my books, and I’m not going to be giving a full review for all twelve that I’ve missed thus far, but I’ll certainly tell you about a couple of them.

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

I really wanted to like this—I loved The Looking Glass Wars, and Beddor’s spin on the hows and whys Charles Dodgson was “wrong” about what Wonderland is really like.  The sequel though… I just didn’t enjoy it.  Beddor seems all-too taken with his own villains, and he enjoyed writing their scenes much more than I enjoyed reading them.  I found them to be a fairly sickening bunch, not even the type that are particularly enjoyable to hate, just plain vile.  They also seemed to occupy more than half of the novel, so the glimpses of the heroes that I really did enjoy… well they were still wonderful, but just not enough to counteract the bad taste the baddies were constantly leaving in my mouth.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

Another disappointment.  I really didn’t know what to expect going into this novel—I came by the series at a big discount sale and decided to try it, and while it was a fairly quick read… I just didn’t enjoy it much.  The faerie world was evocative and somewhat seducing, but the human world the main character was a part of… well that seemed almost as much fantasy as the other.  Her human friends came off as bad caricatures of 90s punks, and while I know that kids can be pretty hard-boiled about some things, I just didn’t buy it.  Also there are just some things played into here that do not appeal to me.  One of the main characters is obviously on a path towards… well, something that I don’t particularly care to see.  I may finish the series, since I already bought it, but it doesn’t come highly recommended from me.

Emma by Jane Austen

I’ve already mentioned that this one was a struggle for me this go around.  I don’t think it’s the book’s fault, I’m just not in a place in my life at the moment to have much patience with Miss Woodhouse.  Which is odd, because before reading this, I would have told you that it was (because it really is) one of my favorite Austen novels.  I’m starting to wonder, though, if I could enjoy it again.  The first time you read Emma is fabulous, because you follow along with her thoughts and (if you haven’t seen the film adaptations or paid too much attention to them) you more or less think like she does, expect her to be right about things, and then you’re taken by surprise by how things turn out, just as she is.  The second time is always fun, too, because then you can pinpoint all the things she’s missing as she misses them.  The third time, though… it just didn’t seem quite as fun.  I knew all the steps a bit too well.  I did love Jane Fairfax more than I have previously.  I wish, though, that I hadn’t watched both the films (Gwyneth and Kate) right before starting this.  Maybe that was a factor.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Just delicious.  I really can’t remember half of these books, so reading them again, a little older and able to appreciate more than just Gilbert Blythe (though I do still appreciate him quite a bit) is really a lovely experience.  I wound up copying down half the things Miss Lavender said to write them up in my quote book.  People don’t talk like this anymore… they can’t even really get away with it in fiction, which is a little unfortunate.

Lexi James and the Council of Girlfriends by Melissa Jacobs

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this.  The first third of it seemed mind-numbing chick-lit, with far too much detail about what every single character was wearing every single time they showed up on the scene… but it had a sweet, heartwarming, and nicely empowering ending.  Good stuff.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audio, read by Jim Dale)

I had never listened to Harry Potter on audio—I very much like hearing the actors’ voices in my head when I read voices—but my brother and I were setting off on a long roadtrip, and he wanted to freshen up his memory of the fifth book before seeing the sixth movie, and it was a lot of fun to listen to in the car.  I still prefer reading the books on my own, but as a group activity, the books on tape are lots of fun.

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Magnum

Sadly another disappointment.  This is being hailed all over as being “better than Twilight,” but I’m afraid that is just ridiculous.  I really wish I could say it was better than Twilight, because it’d be nice to see a college-bound multi-tasking, smart, responsible girl knock down Bella Swan and all her willingness to basically give up her life before she hits the age of twenty.  But while we keep being told that the main character is this fantastic, special, smart, strong girl… we really don’t see it at all.  I have some more nit-picky opinions about this novel concerning understudies and legendary artists and whatnot… but they’re a bit spoilery, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So yes, my reading of late has sadly not been of the most inspiring type, but I’m very much enjoying what I’m reading at the moment.  I’m continuing with Anne, of course, in Anne of the Island, and I’ve moved from Jane Austen to Jane Eyre, a revisitation to what really probably is my favorite book of all time… though Persuasion likes to vie for position.  I’ve also started (finally, finally) to read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, which all my friends rave about, because I’d really like to finish it before I see the film.  And while I’m only a couple of chapters in, it really is delicious.  Every line.

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Soundtrack to a life story.

soundtrack

If you’ve ever talked to me about writing, then you know that I’m a big advocate of the story soundtrack.  It’s one of the first things I do when I’m trying to get my head into a story, developing the characters and the world.  Some songs are so tied to stories and characters in my head that I can’t listen to them without being momentarily transported into a certain scene, or feeling that a character has.

You get a little dependent on these soundtracks, so, when you transfer to a new computer and suddenly your playlists don’t work anymore… well, things get a little messy.  And guess where I am.

So at the moment I’m trying to reconstruct the soundtrack to my main project at the moment, a sort of Young Adult fairytale fantasy.  A soundtrack that had nearly a hundred songs on it.

But on the positive side of things, this is giving me the chance to not only re-evaluate the music I’ve selected for this novel (a lot of Badly Drawn Boy, Nickel Creek, Feist, stuff that brings open countrysides and beautiful expanses to mind), meaning I get to throw out the duds that didn’t really fit the story, the ones I’ve left on out of laziness, but it also means I get to add some fresh new things into the mix, new stuff, like Vienna Teng, who I’ve recently fallen completely in love with.

This song, in particular, just crystallizes everything my main character is.

Vienna Teng, “The Tower” (or listen to it at last.fm)

I need not to need
I’ve always been the tower
But now I feel like I’m the flower trying to bloom in snow

*******

I love that last line above especially, because I think that’s just where my character is.  She’s very used to having to be strong and seperate, but when major events and uncovered secrets change everything for her, she not only has to learn how to depend on others, but she really steps into her own for the first time, definitely “trying to bloom,” because there’s that yearning there, too.  Just a perfect song.

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