Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (June 27th)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine. We all get together to show each other books we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's can't-wait-to-read-it selection is:

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses
by Ron Koertge
Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy's clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it's like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine's cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After.

So come closer - he wants to whisper in your ear.

This book is definitely a roll of the dice for me. On one hand, I like anything to do with fairy tales. On the other, this looks like the author is planning to fracture them and give them contemporary treatment. That could intrigue me, or it could tick me off. Add to this the fact that I've never actually picked up a book written in free verse before and I think I am safe in saying my thoughts on this certainly won't be boring. I usually try to play it safe, picking things I am confident that I will love. But sometimes risk is necessary to learn more about what will effect us as readers, and I think that this book is worth taking a chance on.

So, what are you looking forward to this week? Link up and I'll do my best to come visit you. :) 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Love It or Leave It?: Antagonists who become heroes / love interests?

As I begin work on the last third of Moon Dance's second draft, I have been thinking a lot about my obsession with characters who move from being an antagonist to a protagonist / hero, and of course of the reverse of this as well. I have always found the theme of redemption incredibly interesting and I know it is something that shapes my work heavily. But as much as I will admit I do write for me (at least as a first audience), I am also very curious what others think about this subject.

How do you feel about antagonists who become heroes or love interests at some point in a series? 

The most appropriate examples I can think of are Aphrodite (with Darius), Rephaim (with Stevie Rae) and Stark (with Zoey) from the House of Night series.

Avish, Kyden and Zakariah are all dealing with this in my series and making sure I set it up properly and that I don't cross a point of no return is very challenging. I always feel a deep sense of moral obligation to write something I would let a teen read if I was a parent. Yet at the same time, I am very aware that what teens are actually reading is often very different then what we might want them to be reading. It makes for some tough calls as an author, especially if part of the goal is to be true to the characters. (Which for me it is.)

Let's break this down:

Avish is the major villain in Moon Dance. Yet I've made it very clear that he ends up with feelings for one of Sara's friends, Cait. In the second book, the primary goal is actually to find a way to bring Cait back to Earth as herself so she can be with Avish. (If she reincarnates she will be someone else.) I have done everything in my power to walk a fine line with him -- he is scary when he is after Kess or Sara (which happen at different times in the book) but I have taken great care to make sure it makes sense that Cait would like him and want to be with him.

My other challenge has been with Kyden. For a good chunk of Moon Dance, his goal is to take care of and eventually pursue Sara. But he waits too long and Kess enters the picture. The things that Kyden is willing to do to regain control of his relationship (in his mind) with Sara can be pretty scary, but I make certain they do not end up together. On the other hand, has him doing things wrong with Sara precluded him being the hero for Isabelle in a future book?

Considering that I have listed evidence to the contrary, it may seem that I am worrying over nothing. Yet I know how up in arms many of us get over characters like Edward (Twilight), Patch (Hush, Hush) or Daniel (Fallen). There is a strong movement within the YA community, a collective thinking that there is something inherently wrong with these characters that could damage the people reading about them. Now, personally I am neutral with regard to this debate. I did not care for these guys, but I certainly would not go so far as to back the suggestion that a fictional character can, in and of itself, effect someone's judgement.

However, it does make for an interesting topic of discussion. Paranormal Romance tends to have many male heroes who are of a dark nature that we would generally not find acceptable if the situation was happening to us in real life. Where does the line get drawn between, "This is fiction" and "This could hurt our children?". Since different people have different reactions, it is something that seems very blurry to me. And as an author, that can make some things very difficult.

So here are my questions to you:

(1) Do you like the idea of characters going from good to bad / bad to good?

(2) If a character has been an antagonist or villain, do you feel that precludes them as being someone's love interest in a series, or do you find the shift in their behavior interesting if it is well done?

(3) With regard to the above questions, do you feel that way 'in general' or does your perspective change if you are comparing adult and YA novels? Why?

(4) On the other hand, do you feel the problem is often that a character like this is a problem because he or she is bad for the character he or she is "interested" in, rather then because of his or her past actions in a series?

(5) Can you think of any examples outside of the House of Night series?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment. :) I know that regardless of what I do my work isn't going to please everyone, but if the problem is the presentation of this, rather then the concept itself, that would be nice to know.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Shopaholic Sundays (4)

Shopaholic Sundays are my opportunity to talk about all the fabulous books I've bought, borrowed or received. It's also where I talk about books releasing this week that I might be interested in buying. I credit my book purchase vlogs as "Stacking the Shelves" which is hosted by Tynga's Book Reviews. As always, feel free to leave a link so I can see what you got this week. Ready to see what's new on my shelves? Click the video! 

Before you say it: I know, my attention to I Write, I Read, I Review has totally sucked this month. My revisions for Moon Dance have gone so far and been so drastic, however, that by this point I'm nearly calling it a re-write. Between that and my grandma, I've been majorly busy and haven't had a lot of time to get stuff read. I know I've said this before, but you really can't blog about books if you're not reading them. Even if you are buying and receiving them. Anyway, hopefully I can get these edits done and finally get a little more time back.

For Review:


I Bought:

So, what did you get this week? Feel free to leave a link and I'll drop by and check it out. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsmen

I've mentioned that Fairy Tales and Fantasy are definitely the name of the game right now, even though I am still writing the last 1/3 of Moon Dance's second draft. So it's probably not surprising that when I had the opportunity to go and see Snow White and the Huntsmen, I jumped at the opportunity. The trailers looked pretty cool and the idea of Snow White actually growing a spine is a pretty intriguing concept. So, are you ready to find out whether I thought Snow should've let the apple do its thing? Read on and find out!

The Plot: 

There were a lot of chances taken in this movie. Little things that really separated it from the traditional version of the tale, or that went into depth on how and why certain things might be the way they are. I particularly liked the way that the Queen's beauty, Snow's beauty and the Queen's magic were all tied together. The Huntsmen's past was also well done, providing the viewer with reasons to sympathize with him even though his character wasn't naturally sympathetic from the get-go and later enriching what was going on with him and Snow.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Snow did actually have to do some difficult stuff -- both placing herself in actual danger and dealing with things emotionally that were not easy. I also liked the fact that the film took the liberties it did with the Dwarves. They were definitely a very different bunch then what Disney will have viewers expecting and they fit the tone of the movie perfectly.

The Characters: 

I have two things I want to say here. The first is that I love how many things were turned on their head in the character department for this film. Snow White in chain mail? A very different ending to the love story? Dwarves with attitude? An evil Queen with a pretty interesting bit of lore behind her magic? In these ways, the film was great and had no trouble holding my interest.

But there was a real and serious problem. I really didn't feel like I connected with these characters, despite how interesting their construction was. Snow White might have worn chain mail, but I didn't find it thrilling or impressive or (really) even believable. Honestly? I thought her finest moment was facing down the troll. The whole idea of there being a love triangle between Snow, her childhood friend, and the Huntsmen was original, but I really didn't feel sparks or see fireworks that had me caring one way or another.

In short: My eyes were amazed. But my heart, the part of me that latches onto a story and runs with it, pulling me in, just wasn't there. Which was really a shame, because I wanted to feel like I was inside the movie, not just looking at it.

The Romance: 

I think that the way things happened with regard to the apple were interesting and unique. But I really didn't feel there was a legitimate lead up to this crucial moment, nor did I feel there was really a solid conclusion. It could just be that the romantic in me wanted a little "more" on both accounts, and I do realize that was not the focus of the film, but I just couldn't get behind it. A crying shame, because the idea itself was original and interesting and could have been great with slightly different execution.

In General:

It probably sounds like I am coming down pretty hard on Snow White and the Huntsmen. But in part, it may be because its a movie and not a book. I don't watch a lot of movies, so I often am left with that feeling of wanting 'more' from them then what they can realistically give me. Did I enjoy the movie? Yes. Should you go and see it? Sure. It has lots of action, beautiful special effects and some great ideas to reinvent a classic tale. I just wish it had dug a little deeper because what they *did* unearth was so great.

Monday, June 11, 2012

You Are What You Eat *or* You Write What You Read...

So, I've been kind of MIA the last couple weeks. I think I mentioned this the last time I posted, but the reason for this is that I have been editing and outlining. I am a strange person. I am not good at reading and writing at the same time. Especially not when I am trying to get my ideas down at the beginning of a project. And no reading makes it very hard to write stuff here at I Write, I Read, I Review. If you're going to blog about books, you really do need to be reading them.

Well, now that I have started to get the ideas down for my new project (the overall thing being called Tales of Ellithica) it's time to start reading books in related genres so I can get a feel for what is out there. Because I definitely don't want to be repeating anyone. So, what are there in a nutshell?

Fantasy based fairy tale retellings.

So, that means there are three types of books that could be of use to me. (1) Fantasy novels. (traditional, not urban)... Which is why I have Graceling up there. (2) Fairy Tale Retellings. Regardless of their genre connection, reading these is really important because I don't want to rehash what's out there. (3) Historical novels. I don't read a lot of history related stuff, but paying attention to that will be important here because I already know the world I am working on for my series is not modern. One thing I do have here that I can check out a.s.a.p. is Grave Mercy.

These books will make a decent starting point, but I got some money to go shopping on Amazon and I figure it should go toward getting stuff related to what I'm doing, since that should mean I'll read it. I am looking for suggestions of what might be a good choice. I have reviewed a couple fairy tale retellings (Beastly and Sisters Red) but I don't really think I have read and reviewed any historical stuff, fantasy or otherwise.

Here are a few books that have my attention: (Click the GoodReads links for full details)


Do you have any suggestions I have missed? I'd love to know, so feel free to share. :) 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: Introduction

Well, well... Normally this week would be dedicated to following everything related to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), but since BEA seems like it's a pretty big deal for book bloggers, and I haven't been gaming nearly as much, it's getting the backseat. Anyway, it seems like there is something to do each day for this, and today's topic is an introduction. So, wanna know a little more about me? Or maybe you just want an update since I talked about any of the things here last? New reader or old, I hope something here is of interest...

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Hi there! My name is Kathy Ann and I have blogging for about a year now. (June 8th). My blog started as a place to talk about my writing and grew into a place where I talk about what I'm reading, too. The reason I got so into blogging is that by talking about what I am reading, I can pause between writing projects to spend more time keeping up to date in the genre I love (YA in general, but usually leaning toward romance) without losing my edge as a writer. I think someone writing fiction should read and write every day, or at least try to. (Not always easy!)

2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I'm currently between books, which can be overwhelming. I am not the kind of person who can follow a list well with reading or writing -- don't let that "What I'm Reading" thing fool you. It lies! I need to want to read a book if I'm going to give it a real chance and be honest about it. I think I might either go with A Stiff Kiss by Avery Olive (which is on my list over there) or Thumped by Megan McCafferty. 've really been looking forward to both.

As for a book that I've read this year and totally loved? I have two picks here, because I loved them for totally different reasons. Those would be The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (which I gave my Kat's Meow award) and The Selection by Kiera Cass, which I picked for my June Book of the Month.

3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

Well, I mentioned video games. I'm sure a few of you know that one, though. I've also mentioned writing. My first novel, Moon Dance, should be out by the end of the year.

Something no one knows about me and writing, though, is that I am currently in the midst of planning a fantasy series called Realms of Ellithica which is going to blend fantasy with fairy tales -- either my own takes on ones I like, or completely original stories I've wanted to tell for a long time. Working on edits for Moon Dance, and designing the world for Realms of Ellithica is what is eating up so much time right now.

4. What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

When I actually do the darn thing (I was sick this weekend) I love doing my Shopaholic Sunday posts, especially since it means I get to do video, find out about new books coming out and discuss them and generally talk about (another of my big passions...) shopping. (And, of course, books!)

5. Where do you see your blog in five years?

Hopefully still around and doing the same thing I try to do with it right now: give fair and honest opinions on the books that I read, talk a little about my writing and generally have a good time. Five years from now I do hope that I master being a little more organized and that my writing has taken off enough that I Write, I Read, I Review gets a few more viewers. But for the most part I am pretty happy with the way my blog is -- I can be as focused or relaxed as I need to be to balance reading, blogging and writing and I'm finally at a point where I don't think those reading hate me when one thing gets ahead of another. (I use to really stress over that.)

Anyway, if you are taking part in this and have an introduction that you'd like me to look at, feel free to link up in the comments. Have a great day! (And I will try to have something for you guys soon. I know I've been very MIA around here!) 

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