Monday, August 24, 2009

Theory of a Bored Girl

If you advertise cookies, they will come. Not the cookies, but the people who want them. I wanted a Bibliomation affiliated library card, and now I'm going to get one. For cookies. Yes, cookies.

Now, I'll be able to get my hands on Christine Feehan's Carpathian novels. I've also been given access to another audiobook database which will allow me to listen to Terry Brook's Shannara Series, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. I feel very lucky today.

So, about audio books. I took out Justinian's Flea and the Venetian Betrayal from the library and I didn't bother past the first chapter of either. They probably would have been interesting, but I couldn't stand the voice actors.

I must reiterate how valuable people who can use proper tonalities and inflections actually are to the human race. Let alone, storytelling. What Ever happened to the bardic tradition? What ever happened to telling stories to the kids?

I half want to become a voice actor because I can die in my sleep with more passion and life than these people can tell stories. The sad part is that one of them was an award winning voice actor. *shivers* uuhhhhg. Who is handing out these awards? Illiterate Zombies United of America? The Severed Larynx Society? Are they Financially backed by I Feel Nothing for Anything Incorporated and Monocles R' Us??

Seriously, people have to pay 40 bucks for an audio book. How much would it suck to pay that much money and find that you CAN'T STAND the voice actor? It's so bad that you can't even follow what's going on in the story. If my book ever becomes an audio book, I'm insisting on doing the voice-acting myself or at least helping to select the actor. I'll write it into my contract if I have to. What a way to ruin good literature. Bleck.

Anywho. I've been working on the Blood Heritage series. Slowly but surely. I'm going to have to rewrite some of it. Or just start the story after a certain point beyond where I fumbled as a freshman. It's all getting overhauled as it is. It's just a matter of what I do and do not want to keep...and what genre lines I want to follow. I could definitely make this a romance, but it's such high fantasy that I'm not all that sure. I'll probably stick with fantasy...even with the brothels and call-boys. Yeah, I'm having fun, can you tell?

le sigh. I digress.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Something to sink my Teeth into, Thank God for Neil Gaiman

I was starting to loose hope in all literature. The last few books that I've read have made me feel like a snob. I mean, I'm not even published yet, so who am I to criticize other authors? But I can't help it. I read and things jump out at me, both good and bad, and sometimes it can ruin or make a book for me. I am, by nature, a critical person. If it makes the authors of books I've dumped on feel any better, I'm the same way with myself. You think I'm being critical of you? Imagine how badly I beat myself up.

Anyway, I haven't read a kick ass novel that I had nothing bad to say about since...The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. But hoorah, Neil Gaiman has re-established my conviction in delineating the good from the bad!

In the spirit of my new addiction to audio books I took out Anansi Boys from my library. I obviously knew who Neil Gaiman was prior to reading Anansi Boys. He's famous and you'd have to be living on a rock not to have at least heard his name. I've also seen a few movies based off of his books and I'm a fan of Amanda Palmer, who happens to be his girlfriend. And since I'm following Amanda of Twitter, I also decided to follow Neil. Then I told myself: You're following a famous author on Twitter, but you haven't read anything by him. Maybe we should remedy this, yes?

It took my a day to get through Anansi Boys. I liked it so much that I went and got the only other Neil Gaiman book my library carries: Stardust. And now, I'm officially going to go prowl the rest of Connecticut's libraries until I've heard them all.

Top three things I liked most:

1. The Readers. Lenny Henry, the reader for Anansi Boys, was awesome. He had great accents, read at the right pace, and hate the correct tonalities for each of the characters. Neil read Stardust and what can be better than the writer reader his own work to you? You know exactly how a certain statement was meant to sound. You know exactly where the dramatic pauses are. It's absolutely wonderful and I have no idea why more authors don't read their own books. Perhaps the ability to write doesn't necessarily mean you have an awesome ability to emulate old crones.

2. Neil has a great way of putting things. The way he creates metaphor and simile are fresh and flawless. I often found myself liking a character more because he had a different way of looking at the world. A funny way of looking at the world. Neil didn't come off as repetitive and none of his characters seemed dull or reflective of another character. His characters have life. I can close my eyes and see Anansi doing his soft shoe shuffle in the sand. I can see Tristran's strange fairy ear.

3. Anansi Boys was different. It wasn't a coming of age story...or was it? I like when a story can't be blatantly labeled. Stardust was a little more blatant, but I want to compare it to the story I listened to right before it: The Society of S by Susan Hubbard. Both are coming of age stories for halfling teens who must come to terms with what they are and who they want to be. Both are partly otherworldly, both must explore the part of them that is otherworldly, both of these teens also have separated parents. I think Stardust kicks The Society of S's tush. Why? Motive, climax, conclusion, story building, character building. I cared a lot more about Tristran Thorn than I did for Ariella Montero and Ariella was telling her own story and her story was much longer.

I could probably go on forever, comparing Neil Gaiman against the other authors I've been reading lately. But my husband said it best: Neil Gaiman is famous for a reason. Amanda Palmer dates him for a reason. Yes. Clever girl.

Now, I have to ponder another issue.

So far the top three books I've read this year are: The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. These are my winners because, not only are they good stories, but they are good pieces of literature. I didn't read either of these books without at some point stopping and thinking: "Wow, that was a great line" or "What an interesting way of putting it". Nothing I read in these books made me mentally draw back and think: "Did you really have to write that?" Nothing felt repetitive or contrived. The characters, both major and minor, were interesting and engaging. I cared about what happened to them. I cared about the worlds the authors were operating in. There were sold conflicts and resolutions and development and growth. Nothing was stagnant.

My issue is that these are all male writers and their main characters are also male. I find that concerning. Granted I've purposely been trying to read more male writers...but I just finished two novels by females and neither was as wonderful as it could have been.

Small addictions and The Society of S

After finishing Acheron and realizing just how much I've been missing by not having audio books in my life, I'm officially addicted. Of course, every addiction has that financial constraint and, seeing as how I am not yet a New York Times Bestseller, I certainly don't have the cash to feed the need for forty dollar audio books.

However, I do happen to have a library card and a rather sad excuse for a library not too far away from my humble abode by the quarry. After some investigating I came away with The Society of S. I was so very excited for this book because it was a vampire book and promised to have a new and exciting twist on modern vampires. I was not all that impressed.

First of all: The voice actress, Joyce Bean, was very boring. This may or may not have been on purpose. I think the main character, Ariella Montero, is sort of lack-luster herself and perhaps Bean was reflecting that. I just thought she read too fast and lacked the tone and inflection an audio book reader should have, especially for a pre-teen young woman (even if she is a cloistered little thing). It is (perhaps) Bean's fault that I thought the book was kinda 'eh'. You do run the risk of the voice actor completely dropping the characters when you listen to audio books.

I can't say specifically what about The Society of S I didn't like. But let me try and break it down to the little things that bugged me most.

For one, I didn't like Ariella addressing the reader. She'd say something like: "For me, the letter 'S' is blue. Is it that way for you too?" Can't stand that. I feel like it completely derails the plot. On top of that, I despised the journal entry wrap-up at the end. "My life continues to suck, I'm confused about everything, my parent's still aren't together, and I'm a vampire. Oh, and I'm writing all this down so that perhaps someone who gives a shit about vampires can make something of it." Really???

Two: It was too much the coming of age story and none of the conflicts that bring Ariella into her ultimate self get resolved. I think it was the lack of conflict resolution that got me feeling sour about this book. There wasn't really a climax and there wasn't really a solution. The book moves from good to bad to uncertain with all the uncertainties and conflicts having been stacked up inside the book and poorly addressed. I don't want to sound condemning. Although, I'm sure I have. Hubbard does a good job of building the world and the characters and the conflicts and then she does nothing with them. It's like following someone around all day long with the expectation that something amazing is going to happen and then you find that, at the end of the day, nothing happens at all. I followed Ari throughout the book, expecting something half-way interesting to happen to her (because Hubbard keeps stacking the boxes higher and higher and something has got to fall one of these days), but nothing does and I ended the book feeling really disappointed.

I think that if Hubbard wanted to leave open her options for expanding on Ariella and her situation, then she should have concluded on a more suspenseful note. At least in that manner the reader would be more enthusiastic about picking up another of Hubbard's books. The general feeling at the end of the book was: life's a bitch and then you die. That didn't make me feel really excited to read the next book, if there is one. Quite obviously, I haven't looked. Because I wasn't convinced enough by the first book that this character and her problems are worth my continued interest.

Overall, I give The Society of S three out of five stars. There was some interesting world and character building on Hubbard's part. The pacing and structure were good. The building of suspense and possible conflict were enough to keep me listening to Joyce Bean, but it lacked climax and resolution which ultimately made me loose interest in following the character or the author.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Acheron

Alright, so I bought the audiobook: Acheron, by Sherilynn Kenyon. I was attached to my iPod for three days. I've never read any of the Dark Hunter Series (or a lot of romance), so I'm a bit out of the circle of friends, but I think it's fairly stand alone, quite addictive, and not overly graphic like some romance novels can get.

First, I really enjoyed how this book was laid out. The first part of it is told through journal entries written by Acheron's sister. Then there is a section told through Acheron's eyes. Suddenly, history skips forward 11 thousand years and Acheron is faced with a situation that could reveal the past that the reader has just learned about. I loved how dark and moody it was, (at least in the beginning).

I admittedly preferred the first two sections over the last. It may just be me and my major preference for fantasy, but I find too many ways that urban fantasy can come off as cheesy. Sure, you can connect with it more, but I didn't like the change in tone. It just felt like the story turned from dark and serious to just another cheesy paranormal romance. I know that's Kenyon's market, but I thought some of the scenes in the final section just ruined it.

It made me cringe psychologically when Acheron walked in on Tori, Pam, and Lisa singing Fergalicious. There wasn't anything in the first two sections that made me smile and I was laughing at the stupidity in the final section. I realize this could be a way to show that Acheron has assembled some sort of enjoyable life and it lends gravity to the idea that his sister's journals might ruin that. It's just a personal thing, I guess. I didn't hate section three, it was enjoyable in it's own right. I just preferred sections one and two more.

That, and I noticed a lack of variety in character reactions. It started to sound a little repetitive. I'm not sure if that's just because I listened to it. Perhaps I wouldn't have picked up the addictive use of "cock" if I were reading instead of listening.

Other than that, I really enjoyed Acheron. Acheron is such a dark, moody character and you really get to know what a horrible past he's had and why he wants to keep it a secret. I definitely read the book for him!

Flip Flop

Sometimes I hate when I get bitten by the Muse. I want to work on everything all at once, and of course, that's not possible. I've been working on the Blood Heritage Series, added another forty pages or so...

And I'm starting to brainstorm ways to get around my issues with As Above, So Below. It's more important that I work on this story because it's going to be the sequel to That Which Lies in Darkness and if TWLID gets published, then I'm going to have to have As Above, So Below completed shortly there-after. The book was done, but I've decided to scrap the current layout and overhaul it.

I'm thinking of switching up the plot lines. Amaya's Passion occurs at the end of As Above, So Below and I think that is what is catching the plot lines up. I spent too much time in Pandemonium and Amaya's development and not enough on the surrounding conflicts. So, I'm thinking of making As Above, So Below the third book and moving The Ineffable Word to the forefront. The Ineffable Word deals more with Lilith and Caroline, but I can interchange it with some of the major plot lines in As Above So Below and flesh out the Holy Children and the Letters. I think that's what the readers are really interested in at this point because I didn't work very closely with either in TWLID.

On another note, I'm really enjoying writing about the other Sorocin Holy Children that live in Chesterfield. I think I'm going to make a book of short stories to go along with the series. I've also decided that I now want to call the series The Holier Than Thou Series. That will probably change next Tuesday, but it's what I'm enamored with at the moment.