Friday, June 28, 2013

Quick Update

I've been busy writing -- I'm, like, less than 10k from finishing this draft and feel I should be able to finish before the end of the month -- so I haven't been thinking too much on blog posts. So, here's a collection of what I've been paying attention to this week.

The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordin)
Yes, this is the third time I've read it. But in my defense, it's been a couple of years since the last re-read, and I couldn't find anything else I wanted. I've been so picky as to my list as of late.

Pinterest (
I think I've added like, twenty pins to my fantasy board. And random fandom board. And Landscapes, fun(ny), and reflections... I really shouldn't spend so long on this website.

"The Voice" (Celtic Woman)
This is a really beautiful song. Sort of medieval-y, a soprano voice singing of the voice of nature (or God, or any number of metaphysical forces).

A music group -- Christian alternative rock from the early 2000s. (Or perhaps just alternative. I'm fuzzy on my music genres.) Some of my favorite songs include: "Rock What You Got", "Alive", "Hey Hey", and "Cross That Line".

There's a lot more, but for now... Have a blessed Friday and weekend!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Letters to Life: On the Topic of Romance

Dear readers, writers, publishers, agents, editors, etc --
(or, To Whom it May Concern)

I walked into my local Barnes&Noble the other day, and I walked out without buying any books.

Do you know what that means to me? It means that I can't find anything that would interest me. It means that the YA section I normally browse is chock full of nothing-that-would-interest-me. It means that that open-mindedness that I've had since kindergarten finally starts to crumble.

To be fair, it's not a one-time thing. My world didn't rock off its hinges just from one unfruitful trip to the  bookstore. Rather, it's a culmination of years of trips to several different libraries and two different B&Ns that ended with a general sense of disappointment.

And what am I disappointed about? I apologize for not stating it first, but here it is: there feels to be too much romance in YA, and I feel shunted out of my favorite (and technical) age group.

Romance is good for people. The world's better with love and love stories, I truly believe it is. But it's slowly eating away at my beliefs. I am not a romance person; I don't like reading other people's hormones, and as I've never wanted a boyfriend or girlfriend, I don't really want to read about other people's desire to have one. I mean, I already knew I was different from other people; I read books to escape it. And when I can't turn to new books for new escapes, then I'm sad and frustrated and I leave bookstores with nothing in hand.

"Owl" be watching for more fantasy without romance!
( A pic of the owl outside our home) 
Aren't there people out there who want something different? The YA paranormal romance section of my local B&N takes up a decent amount more space than the YA fantasy/adventure section, and the fantasy also comes with romance. And that's the B&N that stands as its own store, and not my other "local" B&N, which is in a mall half an hour's drive from my home.

Is it too much to ask to come up with books where the female protagonist is not there to fall in love? That instead of finding a guy, the girl can save the world, and then live happy ever after on her own? Or even just more guys saving the world. Because, you know, love kinda has to come second to something like that.

YA and Adult, I know, "have" to have sex or love. Teenagers are exploring their first times and all that, and adults are basically teenagers who're allowed to get drunk and party, except they also have to pay for it at an eight-hour-a-day jobs, and adults' love lives don't just stop after their first attempt.

But... love isn't everything. It isn't life. We don't need to only write about the first time we kissed, or fell in love, or had sex. Can't we write about the first time we found out our parents lied about Santa Claus? Or the first time we truly felt like our own person, and not the person our parents wanted us to be? Or the first time we told our parents that we aren't the person they wanted us to be? Kinda like Middle Grade, except with themes of being ourselves and not of finding out what we like and our place in society.

It's come to my attention, also, that a lot of people associate romance with "women's" writing, and that that's driving male readers off. All those frilly romantic "girly" covers, something boys wouldn't want to be caught dead with... well, not just boys. Me, too. I think the only time someone catches me reading anything related to romance is if the romance isn't mentioned in the back-cover summary, or if it's a LGBTQ novel. Not that I'm making a comment on boys and reading and the interplay of feminism; that's a whole 'nother post. But it's kind of interesting to note that some other people have this opinion of romanticizing and driving-off-readers, too.  

Now, I'm a writer, you guys. I understand the need to let your characters tell the story, to write what you want and not what some crazy teenager on the Internet tells you to. And as a reader, I know the tendency to not judge a book by its cover romance. And, yes, perhaps I may just sit in a corner and write the fantastical, romance-free books I want to read, and they'll reach those people that agree with me.

But... you guys, not everyone wants to read romance, all the time. A lot of writers like to write romance, and a lot of romance gets published. But it should be at that point where romance is a section of the bookstore, and not all, "Romance" and "YA Paranormal Romance" and "YA Fiction" (which, often enough, ends up being teenage romance set in regular world mode). It should be a romance section, maybe one YA romance section, and then fantasy/adventure, and then mystery or paranormal or whatever else we want. Not several subgenres of romance, and one section of YA fantasy/adventure. And don't get me started on the combined sci-fi/fantasy adult section.

I want to walk in B&N without being overwhelmed by the desire to cry, because my means of escape has now been taken over by the reason I feel different. I want more diverse books published, with more diverse themes than "love conquers all". More than love triangles, or teenagers struggling to save the world and their true love at the same time.

I'm not saying to quit publishing romance, or quit displaying them. I don't want to stop you from writing romance if you really want to write it. I can't tell you not to read the stuff. And truly, it's my opinion that it's being "taken over" by romance -- I'm not a scientist, and I admit, I avoid the adult section oftentimes, so I'm not always varied in my opinions. Maybe I'm wrong. But, guys? Can we at least talk about it? Think about it? Mention it, discuss it, try to make at least this one reader here feel a little less intimidated?

I wrote this post because this blog is for sharing my opinions, and there it is. Is it so much to ask to just read these words, and think about it? When a fellow reader feels alienated, isn't that enough to talk about it? Let me know your kind, thoughtful answers.

Sincerely written by,
JDM -- an avid reader, an aspiring writer, and a shy asexual 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Follow Friday #50

[This is going to be my last FF post. *sniff*sniff* I've thought about it for several weeks now, and decided that since fifty is such a nice round number, I'll stop here. I want to focus less of finding new readers and more on entertaining the ones I have.]

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q: Activity! Share your favorite literary quote.

Meep! I have so many. Like seriously... SO MANY.

Here are some of my favorites:

"You are dust, her eyes said. You are dirt. You are nothing. Why do you bother surviving? Why are you still alive?
I am the dust in your eyes was the answer in Hathin's look. I am the dirt that will bury you. I am the nothingness waiting to open up under your feet. And I can hold on longer than you can."
~Frances Hardinge, The Lost Conspiracy

"There are places that are truly dark in the world, Ven, but this place here is not one of them. It's not really dark here -- it's just night."
~Elizabeth haydon, the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme: The Floating Island

"You can burn the paper,
but you cannot burn what it contains;
I carry it within my heart."
~Ibn Hazm (Spain; 994-1064 AD)

"When she came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything."
~Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

How about you? What are your favorite quotes? Have a blessed Friday and weekend!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Follow Friday #49

[Meep! School is over! Summer vacation!! ;D]

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q: Activity: Spine Poetry. Create a line of poetry with your book spines (take a picture). Not feeling creative? Tell us about your favorite poem.

My webcam isn't the best. And neither are my photography skills. So, here are the books and my line of poetry:

Beautiful Creatures Marked,
The Throne of Fire Chosen."

[Cinder (Marissa Meyer), Beautiful Creatures (Garcia/Stohl), Marked and Chosen (Cast and Cast, The House of Night series), and The Throne of Fire (Riordan, the Kane Chronicles book 2).]

I don't really know what my own poem means, but it sounds really cool. It sounds like something out of Narnia. "People judged to be too beautiful are sent to the Throne of Fire, a sort of electrical chair except instead of killing you with electricity, it enlightens you and brings you to life by setting fire to you..." Or something like that. It sounds like an idea for a novel... Hmm...

(And, just because... Can you see the tops of the spines of the books below them? Can you guess which books they are? Okay, I'll tell you. In no particular order, there are Levine's Ella Enchanted, Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and Goodman's Eona.)

As for my favorite poem... William Blake's "The Tyger." No contest.

"Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

Symmetry is pronounced "sihm-ih-try". Gotta say something for poetic license.

There are a whole six stanzas in the poem; I'm too lazy to copy the whole thing, only what I know from memory, so feel free to look the rest of it up. In fact, here, I googled it for you.

How about you? What's your favorite poem? What does my poem mean to you? What sort of poem can you create with the spines of your books? Have a blessed Friday and weekend!

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's Monday! Ugh.

So, I've been reading a series, and I don't really have a book review ready for you. :(

It's the 39 Clues, in case you were wondering. I read the first four a long time ago and now I'm picking it back up again, because putting down a series that I actually like is so frustrating. I couldn't find the fifth and sixth several years ago -- or maybe a couple years ago -- and had to put the books down. But now I found 11 of them at the library! Meep!

But the point is, I don't have a book review. Because Mondays are difficult like that. Well, actually the only thing I've done today is go to school for two hours to take an exam in Hon. Spanish 3, and then I came home and took a nap on my couch. But taking naps are hard work! Especially getting up again, and your head gets all woozy because you just took an hour's nap when really, you only meant to rest your eyes for a minute...

I'm not on track right now. I decided that instead, I'll give you a couple songs I've listened to this week:

Teir Abhaile Riu (Celtic Woman)
This, right here, is an epic song. Some of it's in Irish Gaelic, but it's really pretty and kind fast paced. It's about going to Galway (a city in Ireland) and dancing with sailors.
[Note: Irish sounds really cool even when you don't know what they're saying. Or maybe especially; depending on the setting and context.]

Mama's Broken Heart (Miranda Lambert)
This is a tough-girl song, a country song. It's defiant and snarky. It's about going through a break-up and when your Mama tells you to pull yourself together, even while you're falling apart. (Not that I would know anything about break-ups. But songs like these are good substitutes for missing experience.)

How about you? Got any music you listen to? I'd love to hear it! Have a blessed Monday (if there is any such thing!)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Follow Friday #48

[Yay! I only have to go to school two days next week, and then I'm out for the summer! :D)

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q: Have you broken up with a series? If so, which one and why?

There've been plenty of series over the years that I've just neglected. There's Beautiful Creatures (Garcia/Stohl), which I only read the first of. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series (you, know, The Golden Compass?), which I got halfway through the second one. I read the first and maybe part of the second of Redwall (Brian Jaques).

There are plenty more, and not always because they didn't interest me. The ones I just mentioned were because I moved on to other books and I just never got around to picking up the next book. Some series, like Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom (I got up to book 5), it's because I never found the next book. (I still hold out hope for that series -- I think one of my local libraries has the sixth. I just have to find a copy of the 3rd so I can re-read the series!)

But really, I try to finish series. Sometimes I don't around to it, for various reasons.

How about you? Do you ever break up with a series, and if so, which ones? Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

Welcome to the tyrannical city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime.
Goldie Roth has lived in Jewel all her life. Like every child in the city, she wears a silver guardchain and is forced to obey the dreaded Blessed Guardians. She has never done anything by herself and won't be allowed out on the streets unchained until Separation Day. 
When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie, who has always been both impatient and bold, runs away, risking not only her own life but also the lives of those she left behind. In the chaos that follows, she is lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she meets the boy Toadspit and discovers terrible secrets.Only the cunning mind of a thief can understand the museum's strange, shifting rooms. Fortunately, Goldie has a talent for thieving. 
Which is just as well, because the leader of the Blessed Guardians has his own plans for the museum -- plans that threaten the lives of everyone Goldie loves. And it will take a daring thief to stop him...
Museum of Thieves is a thrilling tale of destiny and danger, and of a courageous girl who has never been allowed to grow up -- until now.

~Print copy (library), 312 pages
Published: 2010 by Delacorte Press

[First of all, Happy June! I didn't get a chance to say that on the 1st day of the month, this past Saturday -- SATs suck. But anyways, brilliant yellowy month of sunshine and summer vacation! Yay! And, as a side note, I find it hilarious that my computer doesn't seem to think "Toadspit" is an actual word.]

Anyways, back to the book.

There are good things to this book. For one thing, it really marks how clearly Goldie has changed over the book, without hitting you over the head with it. For example, in the beginning of the novel, right after she runs away, she shivers in a boat all day and tries not to (and fails in trying not to) cry.

But then, near the middle-ish of the book (I don't like spoiling the endings), she faces a Brizzlehound, a huge black dog thought to be extinct but legendary for tearing humans to pieces, and she doesn't cry. She thinks of saving herself. (She didn't need to. But that's a long story -- about 312 pages worth. Read the book.)

Then, of course, in the end, she's got to be even braver and all that jazz. But it's really interesting, seeing how this coddled child is given a chance to be bold and takes it.

Also, the thought of adults chaining children to them, "to keep them from getting lost", is a horrifying idea. I like horrifying ideas. (You know, when they're confined within the pages of a book.)

Also, MUSEUM OF THIEVES. What could be more horrifying and fascinating at the same time? Especially one that shifts. Creepy mansion/museum/school type places that have weird or shifting rooms is a favorite trope of mine.

What didn't I like? Well, the author is a little ellipse-happy. I've never come across a book that's ellipse-happy, but here you go. (Ellipses are those "...." that come at the end of something, in case you didn't know.) Umm... The enemy -- the Blessed Guardians' leader, the Fugleman -- was a pretty cut-and-paste villain, but I don't really hate him. Well, cut and paste in that he seemed pretty obviously evil and charming, like most villains are, instead of the gray-matter villains that are more plausible. But he wasn't, like, a moron who monologued his plan to everyone he met. He was decently intelligent.

(Is monologued a word? My computer says NO!, but I kinda think it is. And if not, then I just made up a new word to rival Shakespeare's *cough*liberal*cough* use of new language.)

But anyways, that's about it. Overall, it was a good novel. I liked it. A couple minor things I didn't like, but it's worth a read, especially to people who like MG like this one. I give it four stars.