During a random indie author (internet) cruise, I came across this post on David Estes’ author site. It’s a great piece on character voices, how hard it can be to get them right and also – for people to sound different. A little ‘Writing 101′ gift for any of you authors out there working on this lovely Tuesday lunchtime :)
After loving Cinder and Scarlett, I was very excited for book number three. The wider story in the series (war and strife between Earth and Lunar) really gains pace in Cress, in the aftermath of the events at the end of Scarlett.
I loved the character of Cress – Lunar shell and superhacker, left on a satellite between Earth and the moon, working directly for Queen Lavinia. She was a great addition to the team around Cinder and a nice contrast to the existing female protagonists (this is definitely a series with plenty of female characters to admire, although each is quite different).
It was also nice to see a bit more of Thorne in this book, after he’d established himself in Scarlett, he really came into his own in this one. The ending of Cress leaves us with a nice cliffhanger for the next in the series: everything is building towards a big climax, with great characters on all sides waiting to move forwards. I’m looking forward to the next release – this is turning out to be one of the best YA series I’ve come across in a long while.
Well, I finally got the time to knuckle down to some reading for fun in the last few weeks and it has started really well: I just finished Tony Talbot’s great new book Medusa. This is the second book of Tony’s I’ve read and I was not disappointed.
We meet Lissa Two – captain of a strange ship with some interesting technical skills – in an apparently post-apocalyptic world of water. Giant ‘seasteads’ form the main areas of civilisation and Lissa uses her ship – Connie – and the particular powers she has, to salvage items for sale in the underground souks in her own seastead home. A random meeting with a man thrown from a strange flying machine; the mysterious disappearance of an apparently strong seastead and Lissa’s own questions about Connie provide the ingredients for a fast-paced, cocktail of adventure.
I really like Tony’s writing style, he has a real way with words (helpful if you’re a writer, I know!) But what I mean, what really stands out in this book for me, was his ability to create a world you felt completely transported to: there is beautiful description throughout the book, whilst he walks his characters through the fast-paced plot, leaving you the feeling that you could reach out and touch the world Lissa inhabits. Now and again, I would find myself noticing something, not because it jarred, but because it just flowed so naturally. Unfortunately, some of the best examples I highlighted would need spoilers to explain – so I’d say you have to check it to know what I mean.
Medusa is one of those books you get sucked into quickly and struggle to find a place to pause, when reading – you just want to know ‘what next’ the whole time. Especially once Lissa’s questions start taking her down interesting paths, it gets even harder to stop: I read the second half of the book in one day. And it was worth it! :)
Overall, I’m going 4.5* for Medusa, I thought the characters, pace and writing in the book was even better than Eight Mile Island, the main reason it gets the same rating is because I loved the way EMI sucker punched me in it’s concluding chapters. I didn’t get quite the same left-field shock as I did with that one, but overall, I would say I enjoyed Medusa more and if you’re thinking of trying one of Tony’s books, this is the one I’d recommend.
Recommended for: fans of dystopian YA / post-apocalyptic world settings; I think people who liked the relationships in Angelfall would enjoy this, as well as Hunger Games / Blood Red Road fans looking for something with a feisty female protagonist in an unusual setting.
Erm…well, no…not exactly
But I did smile to myself when a friend sent me this link yesterday – everything seemed a little familiar…
In my mind, Space Station Hope was of the ‘spinning wheel’ variety (look it up on Wikipedia, they have some great images). On Hope the inner part of the circle forms the ‘ground’ drawing you down, just as gravity does on Earth; with the mirrored ceiling/sky being on the outside edge of the circle (if you believe what you’re told – not everyone does, you know?)
The idea with this type of space station is, that at a given size, the rotating wheel generates a gravitational field, similar to Earth allowing you to walk, instead of float around. The design is only mentioned a couple of times in the first two books: when Cassie gets out of the Family Quarter and genuinely sees the outside view of the stars for the first time through the crystal ceiling of the ‘wheel’ structure; Balik also mentions it in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it moment’ in RMT, when he talks about his calculations on the size of the station having to be so much larger than they are told it is, for the formulas generating a gravitational field to work. The conflict between the calculation showing the station having to be much larger than they are told, with the information that the Family Quarter is the biggest of the three inhabited zones, is one of Balik’s big clues that all is not well in the state of Hope :)
What do you think about this – we will end up living in space in the next 100 years?
You may have noticed that my 30-day challenge ended abruptly towards the end of March. I’d been doing pretty well and managed to post most days once I got into the swing of things, but then one day passed, and then another – now here we are, nearly thirty days later and I’ve not finished the full challenge – there are a grand total of ten topics I’ve not posted on. They are all topics that I struggled to come up with an answer for and so after surprising myself with some answers on the earlier days, I’ve really found myself stumped with these (and odd couple are ones that are quite similar to other days in the challenge as well, so all I could come up with were duplicates of those).
Overall, I really enjoyed doing the parts of the challenge I managed. When you spend your free time (which is limited to begin with) balancing your personal writing with reading for enjoyment, it doesn’t leave much space for blogging on the reading you’ve enjoyed…for once it was nice to think about books completely as a reader, putting the writer in a corner with a cup of tea. I’ve also read three books in the last few weeks, which tells me that going through the challenge gave me back a bit of my reading mojo.
If you’re at all interested in the topics I didn’t cover, you can check them out below, with my shorthand answers…
DAY 2. - Favorite side character – This is probably Hermione, there weren’t many characters that jumped right out at me when I tried to come up with something for this post.
DAY 9. - Most overrated book – I wasn’t sure I could answer this, as I haven’t actually read the whole book when I’ve not enjoyed them (e.g. Catch 22, Fifty Shades – although the first could probably do with a second try). Other ‘overrated’ books I’ve covered elsewhere, such as Catcher in the Rye and Ulysses. I suppose Lady Chatterly’s Lover might fit into this category – I was expecting something really fantastic and maybe even romantic when I read it. By the end of it, my overwhelming feeling was…meh (Although – I still find it difficult when I meet anyone called John Thomas).
DAY 10. - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving – This was a tough one for me. I suppose maybe The Kite Runner was one I was unsure of when I started it, but only very loosely. In general if I think I won’t like something, I don’t bother reading it.
DAY 15. - A character who you can relate to the most – I find relating to characters hard. I might pick out odd bits and pieces, but a whole character that feels like me in lots of ways…I’m not so sure. If anything, it would be the characters I’ve written myself, because they must have some parts of me in them.
DAY 19. - A favourite author – we’d covered lots of authors I love in different posts in the challenge already: Khaled Hosseini, J K Rowling, Roald Dahl, Michael Crichton…don’t you always find it really hard to pick one author whenever you’re asked these questions?
DAY 20. - Favorite childhood book – This would be the Matilda answer for me probably, which I’d already covered on another post. I had a dog-eared copy of Beatrix Potter’s Two Bad Mice, which I read over and over again – it was one of the only Potter books I had, whereas now, you can get them all cheaply and easily, that you wouldn’t necessarily go over and over the same book. There was a Joan Aitken book which sticks out in my memory, that I remember reading and then scouring the library for over and over again, but never finding it after that first time – but that would be a ‘favourite’ more for my memory of me wanting to read it again, rather than remembering what the story was about. In the end, my answer would be: “anything by Roald Dahl,” especially Charlie, George and the revolting rhymes.
DAY 22. - Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise – Maybe I don’t read enough to come across the same thing over and over again. Love triangles have been ‘popular’ of late, but as I’ve only read a few of the series containing them, it’s not been too bad. Negative b/g relationships have also run through quite a few YA series I’ve come across – not particularly worried about those either, not enough to ruin the book at any rate. My pet hate tends to be illogical decisions and unrealistic behaviour (usually from bland heroines) – The Goddess Test was one that I didn’t enjoy for these reasons. (Review here).
DAY 25. - The most surprising plot twist or ending – maybe The Good German, I remember that making me go ‘ooh’ at the end, when everything came out. Or the one in Mocking Jay which made me cry, I definitely was not expecting that (it must be the closet romantic in me that hoped for a happy ever after, following Peeta’s resuce).
DAY 29. - A book you hated – I’d already covered the ones I really don’t like in other posts, but to be able to talk about ‘hating’ a book…I’m not sure I feel that strongly about anything I’ve read. I don’t like reviews where people go on about being ‘tortured’ by a book – we’re not forced to read anything, if it’s not for you, close it up and move on, it’s not like there’s nothing else to read.
DAY 30. - Book you couldn’t put down – The Hunger Games would fit this: I remember staying up until a ridiculous hour to get through to the end. There was also Easy, by Tamara Webber, which I read in a single sitting, a rare thing for me these days – it was a straight-forward, engaging book with great characters and a fast-paced plot. The last HP book – Deathly Hallows – was another I read non-stop for a couple of days – cooking whilst trying to read a big, heavy hardback is not to be recommended (if you’re a muggle).
Oh, Charlaine, why did you have to do this? It would have been nice to see Sookie, Eric and co. disappear off into the sunset, really not long after the ‘vampire conference’ disaster at the hotel, I suppose. I think it was somewhere around Book 9 I really began to lose interest in reading the series – I’ve actually enjoyed the TV adaptation better in some ways, as they blend the plots from the books together faster, so they have more pace (the books can sometimes be slow) and you get much better character development in the TV series, as you’re not stuck with a single character point of view – let’s face it, after a while Sookie sucks, and not in a cool vampire way.
The things I liked best about the Sookie Stackhouse books were the setting and the original view of bringing vampires out into the world: I loved synthetic blood and people trying to get their hands on vampire blood for themselves (reversing the tradition), the idea of trying to integrate another species into society and all of the issues it creates. At the beginning it was quite interesting.
Dead Reckoning destroyed any hope I had for the series – I rated it 2*, following a steady decline from 4* to 3*. Here’s my review – short and (not so) sweet:
“I really enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse books and read most of the series back-to-back having received the 10 book set for Christmas. By book 9 / 10 I was beginning to lose my appetite for them a little: the characters stopped doing some of the more significant things they had early in the series and it felt like there wasn’t much for them to do now. If that was the case with Book 10 – this was so much worse. I was just disappointed with the bland plot, slightly boring characters and was glad to be finished at the end. Pam was probably the only redeeming feature, and she was a shadow of her former self. I think Sookie is done :( “
Once great characters were sucked dry (not literally, if they had been it might have bucked things up a bit) and formed a bland cast in a plot that rambled from one mediocre situation to another. I’ve just seen now that a further two books have been released since I read this one, but I can honestly say, I’ve finished with the books. It’s a shame that good books get dragged out longer than they should; although I still like Sookie’s world and the TV series, just knowing the naff stuff that came after leaves a bit of a shadow over them.
There are a few I could have chosen for this – after all, who doesn’t have things that they just enjoy – without them being intellectual or worthy or even universally liked. You already know I enjoyed Twilight when I first read it, and I’ve read it several times since and still like it – I’m (pretty) sure it’s not a crime :)
There are books I’ve read in the past, that I appreciate for their artistry or the authors skill, but didn’t necessarily enjoy – and they’ve often won the big awards like Pulitzers and Nobel prizes – I make the effort to read them, but I don’t close the book at the end with a big grin on my face. Does that mean they’re not a good book? Or does simply enjoying a book make it less worthy…?
I suppose for a long time, I had a ‘guilty pleasure’ author – he was my go-to author when I bought books at the airport to read on holiday, and I always enjoyed his writing, no matter what the subject matter: Michael Crichton. I’ve spent days beside the pool or cramped up on an endless plane journey lost in worlds of dinosaur theme parks, hi-tech time travel, big business sex scandals and conspiracy theory plane crashes. One of the most interesting things in his books was always the research – he normally listed the journals, textbooks, professors and universities at the back of each book who had helped him to understand the theories and science that he fictionalised in his books.
One of my biggest guilty pleasure books – that comes to mind – is The Da Vinci Code. It is one of those books that you notice the cheesy dialogue and convenient romantic relationships as you read (very James Bond-esque a la Roger Moore) – but you don’t care, because you’re caught up in the plot and are more interested in that, rather than whether Robert Langdon is throwing out cheddar-filled chat-up lines. As book, I prefer Angels and Demons and in general, it feels less cheesy and a little more gritty – with various unpleasant deaths. On that basis – although I prefer the other, I don’t think it fits the ‘guilty pleasure’ category, as well as Da Vinci does. When you notice the cheese and just don’t care, surely that is the bit you feel guilty about? :)