The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan: So. Many. POVs.

the realm of possibilityTitle: The Realm of Possibility

Author: David Levithan

Genre: YA contemporary – verse novel

Length: 210 pages

Published by: Text Publishing Australia

Source: Received for review (thanks, Text!!)

Blurb:

One school. Twenty voices.

Endless possibilities.

There’s the girl who is in love with Holden Caulfield. The boy who wants to be strong who falls for the girl who’s convinced she needs to be weak. The girl who writes love songs for a girl she can’t have. The two boys teetering on the brink of their first anniversary. And everyone in between.

As he did in the highly acclaimed Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan gives us a world of unforgettable voices that readers will want to visit again and again. It’s the realm of possibility open to us all – where love, joy, and the stories we tell will linger.

There are…so many people in this book. Twenty of them, in fact. And since it’s in verse, and it’s only 210 pages, that’s like…

Hang on, let me maths.

That’s like 10 pages per person. Which meant that I did not connect to ANY of the characters.

I like David Levithan. I do.

every day will grayson, will grayson every you, every me

This is the fourth book I’ve read by David Levithan.

I LOVED Every Day.

Really liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Kind of. But that might be because I’m biased towards John Green.

Every You, Every Me was interesting but kind of unmemorable. It had photos, though. That was cool.

So he’s a kind of hit and miss author for me, but in every book I read of his, I really want to experience a book that hit me as much as Every Day did (side note, what’s with two of his books starting with Every?). But apparently verse novels just aren’t for me.

The only other verse novels I’ve read are Run by Tim Sinclair, Tricks by Ellen Hopkins and Perfect, also by Ellen Hopkins. I do not have an inner poet. I am not a fan of poetry. You’d think that I would have stayed away from this book because of that.

BUT I BELIEVED IN DAVID LEVITHAN.

And I still do.

And don’t get me wrong, there were parts in this book I DID like. Some of the writing was so, so beautiful. My favourite POVs were

1) Where there was the girl who wrote everywhere.

and

2) The sisters who were lying in the backyard.

I just really struggled to connect to the story.

Like I didn’t…I didn’t get what the POINT was. Obviously other people did because it has a lot of amazing reviews. But it just wasn’t for me.

I think the best approach with this book is to focus on the writing whether trying to keep track of every character’s story – which is what I tried to do. Because the writing IS really beautiful, and if it was, say, 3 POVs, I could have really loved it. But I don’t do well with multiple POVs in general – I like sticking with maybe one or two characters, and getting to know them.

I think verse is a really interesting format to tell a story through. But in this instance, it just made it even harder to connect to the story. I wasn’t invested in the characters. It was written in a way that seemed like everything was supposed to connect into one larger story, but it just…didn’t. As soon as I’d finished reading one character’s story, I pretty much forgot about it.

Despite all that, David Levithn IS a good writer. You can see that in some of these stories, in some of the lines that I read a few times over because woah, they were awesome. I think this is just the wrong format for the story he was trying to tell, and I just couldn’t connect to it.

But if you like Ellen Hopkins, or beautiful writing, or verse novels, this is definitely a book for you.

 

Rating: 2.5/5 Wonderkitties

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And tell me: have you ever read a novel in verse? What are your thoughts on them?

The Book of Days by K A Barker – wonderfully whimsical

the book of daysTitle: The Book of Days

Author: K. A. Barker

Genre: YA fantasy/some steampunk

Published by: Pan Macmillan

Published on: 1st September 2014

Source: received for review (THANKS Pan Macmillan!!)

Blurb:

Most people believe the best way to forget someone is to throw them down a well. Or lock them in a room with eight keys, or bury them at a crossroad in the thirteenth hour. But they’re wrong. The best way to forget someone is for them never to have existed in the first place.

Madame Marisol’s Unreality House was where you brought people to make that happen.”

When Tuesday wakes from sleep for the first time at sixteen, she opens her eyes to a world filled with wonder – and peril. Left with only a letter from the person she once was, Tuesday sets out to discover her past with the help of her charming and self-serving guide, Quintalion.

Along the way she runs into one-legged mercenaries, flying cities, airships, and a blind assistant librarian. But danger lurks amidst the steam. The leader of the merciless Daybreakers is hunting her, convinced that she killed the only woman he ever loved. Tuesday will need all her wits about her to survive long enough to find out who she is and her connection with the mysterious Book of Days: a book that holds untold power…

 

I wanted to read this book for a few main reasons.

 

1) The cover

I mean, isn’t it just BEAUTIFUL.

2) The blurb

I don’t often read blurbs. But this one was awesome. It sounded very whimsical and different and something I would vastly enjoy.

3) That quote from John Marsden.

“Dazzlingly different.” I mean, of course I’m going to listen to John Marsden.

All this contributed to a DESPERATE need to read this book.

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Aaaand…

Well.

This is going to be a very difficult book to review, because while I LOVED some parts of it, I didn’t like a lot of parts. So let’s start with the good.

 

QUINTALION.

Quintalion was such an awesome character. He reminded me a bit of Jack Sparrow – sorry, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow. He’s described in the blurb as “self-serving,” and it’s true – he has this sort of arrogance and charisma about him, but it’s very funny and not overdone. He’s a really fantastic character and I love how Tuesday can tell his different moods through the sorts of sarcasm he displays. A+++ for Quintalion. (plus, what an awesome name!)

Thank you for being part of this book, Quintalion.

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The way it kind of reminded me of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

That book seriously needs to get a shorter title. But anyway, this book IS “dazzlingly different.”

It’s also wonderfully whimsical, excellently eccentric and uniquely unusual. I absolutely LOVED the beginning of the book. I loved Madame Marisol’s Unreality House and how that was set up. I loved the world that was created. I loved Tuesday and Quintalion and Hester.

Unfortunately, it went a bit downhill after that.

What went wrong?

We had some excellent eccentric-ness for a while, and places that were amazing to read about. But then it became more about running and hiding than actually GETTING anywhere. I wanted to know more about how Tuesday was finding her name!! It all jumbled together and it wasn’t as dazzlingly different once we got past halfway. My interest dwindled and the pacing became quite a lot slower.

So that was unfortunate..

BUT THE BEGINNING.

So I would highly recommend reading the first half and then…maybe stopping there. UNLESS you really love it, in which case you might love the rest of the book!! You never know.

 

Rating: 3/5 Wonderkitties

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AND TELL ME: what’s the weirdest, quirkiest book you’ve ever read? Because I LOVE quirky books and I totally need more books on my TBR…okay, not so much the second part of that sentence.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Gross Sobbing

code name verity

 

Title: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Genre: YA historical (WWII)

Length: 447 pages

Published by: Egmont Press

Source: school library

Blurb:

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

 

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So, ah, this book is sad. It doesn’t start off like that. In fact, the beginning of the book is INCREDIBLY BORING and if it wasn’t for the hordes of bloggers who had recommended that I keep going past the slow parts, I probably would have DNF’d it. Actually, no, that’s a lie since I’m stubborn and can’t DNF books apparently, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. But I highly, highly recommend reading past the slow bits because the rest is just…woah. After about the first hundred pages (a bit less, actually) it starts getting good.

The book itself starts with Verity’s confession to Gestapo about all sorts of things – she’s writing the whole story down.

Basically, Verity is the most incredible character I’ve ever read about in a WWII story.

She has lots of names, but we’re going to call her Verity because duh, that’s what the title says. In her recount, she talks a LOT about Maddie, and these were the boring bits – I did not sign up to read about planes, everyone. But the glimpses of what’s happening to her, the subtly veiled tales of how she is being tortured…they broke my heart. And yet still, in her account, she manages to be one of the most sassy heroines I’ve ever come across. And that’s saying something.

She introduced humour to the  book that was, at the same time, heart-breaking. How you put humour into a book about WWII, I don’t know, but it was done so well and felt real to me the whole time. VERITY felt real. Truthful (haha, get it, because “Verity” means truth? Okay, I’ll stop now).

And then halfway through, we get Maddie’s account. The only way to describe my reaction through this half was: 

WOAH. JUST WOAH.

I read the second half of the book in one sitting, because I COULD NOT LOOK AWAY. And I can’t say too much without spoilers, but let’s just say that oh my goodness Verity I love you so much *hugs Verity*. I kind of suspected some things throughout her account but to hear them from Maddie’s point of view…wow.

The way this novel unravels is really amazing. The friendship, the plot twists/reveals, the RESEARCH. Holy crap, the research. I skimmed through the bibliography at the end and wowzers, Elizabeth Wein deserves many many medals for being so dedicated. And even though she intentionally changed some things to fit with the story, to me it all felt way too real.

I mean, sometimes I’m scared by horror movies. But I am terrified about events that take place in historical fiction – events that could well have happened.

This was what Code Name Verity did. The title of this blog post is a lie – I didn’t cry at this book. I was too stunned, shocked, horrified to cry. What these girls did is incredible, and I SO want to believe that something like this happened. It’s a tale of bravery, friendship and sacrifice.

And I loved it.

My only complaints were 1) The slow start and sometimes dense writing, and 2) I wish there could have been more of Maddie and Verity TOGETHER.

But you should definitely, definitely read this book. Even if you don’t really like historical fiction (I don’t).

My Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties

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Beautiful People: In Which I Interview My Own Character

 

Click the picture to take you to The Notebook Sisters, who co-host this linky. It sounds like so much fun! What happens is, each month there are a set of interview questions for you to ask your characters. One of the questions was my submission (I know, I’m practically famous.)

So let’s do it!

Today I’ll be interviewing my character Alice, from an Alice in Wonderland retelling that I haven’t actually started yet. I’m hoping this will motivate me to do some more brainstorming, because I’m so excited. It’s going to be called Wanderland at the moment, and it involves characters you know and hopefully love (like the Cheshire Cat, the Little Crocodile and the Cheshire Cat) as well as new characters (like the Marmalade Minstrel, Motley Fox, nomadic poppies and Wooden Elizabeth). I am SO SO excited to write this!

1) What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it? 

Her full name is Li Xia Kim. Her Anglicised name is Alice, which her mother chose for her when she was in first grade. Many of my Asian friends in real life have…not old-fashioned Anglicised names, but very traditional, I suppose. She prefers Alice, and so her name usually reads “Alice Kim.”

2) How old are they, and when were they born? 

Alice is fifteen. I’ve no idea when she was born – it doesn’t really matter to the storyline (well…yet). I suppose, contextually, it would make sense to have her from the same time period as the original Alice, but I think it might be more an amalgamation of different time periods.

3) Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!) 

She has long black hair and dark eyes. She’s Chinese and has that awesome straight hair I would kill for. She’s also paraplegic, so she gets around in a wheelchair (which is okay, because it has a pouch at the back for discreet storage of cake).

4) Describe your character’s personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences. 

Airy-fairy. It’s totally one word. I picture Alice as quite laidback, go-with-the-flow. What I love about the original story is that Alice is willing to just GO with it. Alice isn’t a worrier. She gets distracted easily. This is going to prove interesting in Wanderland…

5) What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

Oh goodness, this is a hard question. I’m going to cheat and say one from the animated Alice in Wonderland movie, “In a World of My Own.” Alice likes her own company, but throughout Wanderland she realises she has to trust other people.

Here’s the song.

6) Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character? 

This just gave me an awesome idea. The Seven Sins are definitely going to be people throughout this story. As for Alice, I’m not quite sure. I think maybe greed? She wants to experience everything in Wanderland, but gets frustrated at how complex and difficult it is to get ANYWHERE. Yep, let’s say greed.

7) If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be? 

Definitely air. Like I said before, she’s an airy-fairy, completely scatter-brained sometimes. Definitely a Hufflepuff. But there are definitely elements of the others in her, as well. She can get pretty defensive when she wants to be.

8) What is their favourite word? 

Either chimerical (imaginary or fanciful), dwale (to wander about deliriously) or mangaia (the road-like reflection of the moon on the water). What’s your favourite of these?

9) Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.) 

Isn’t this an awesome question? (of course it is, I thought of it…I think) Now I have to think of an answer. Hmm. Okay, I think she’d say her brother Charlie. In this journey, she’s WITH her brother the whole time, but it takes a while for them to connect like they used to. They’ve lost the easy childhood bond they used to have.

10) What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

Sights: injured animals, because Charlie wants to be a vet and can’t help looking after them.

Sounds: a screeching violin…Alice is never going to forget those few months where Charlie tried (and failed) to learn.

Smells: burnt cake. Charlie’s an awful cook.

And what iffffff there’s a place where all these memories are held? That would be pretty cool.

So there you have it! That’s a bit about my Alice. If you have any other questions about the story or the characters, feel free to ask in comments 🙂

And remember…

More Than This by Patrick Ness: Mind Equals Blown

Title:more than this More Than This

Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA thriller/sci-fi/dystopian/I don’t even know how to categorise this book

Length: 480 pages

Published by: Walker Books

Source: received for review (THANKS, WALKER BOOKS, I LOVE YOU)

Blurb: 

“Books are often described as ‘mind-blowing’ but this is one of the few books in which, while reading it, I have exclaimed aloud, ‘Oh. My. God.’ on multiple occasions … Just read it.” 
John Green

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.

Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

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Yeah, so um, if you haven’t already figured out, this book KIND OF blew my mind. So let’s start with plot, because that’s the most memorable part of this book.

It’s very hard to categorise this type of book into a genre. It crosses into several genres, and that’s really exciting to me. For some reason. There are elements of sci-fi, dystopia and thriller, and lots of philosophy, and…yeah, it’s lots of things. It’s very difficult to say much about the plot, because most of what I can say would be spoilers. Throughout the book, different parts of the story unfold, and at some points my mouth was literally gaping open. This dude sure knows how to create tension.

But at the same time, it did have quite a slow pace at the beginning. I mean, this is a rather large book – it’s like 500 pages, guys. The beginning took a long time to start getting exciting. There was a significant amount of description, speculation and Seth’s loneliness. That’s why, in the end, I took a star off.

CHARACTERS, THOUGH. So we have:

Seth. Seth is our main character. He beats himself up a lot. I feel pretty sorry for him. All that stuff with his brother is HEAVY. I’m not saying anymore, though. My lips are sealed.

Thomasz. Unfortunately my brain is stupid and kept pronouncing his name as “Tom-arse.” Which is not quite right. He’s so funny! He’s a lot younger than the others, and frankly adorable. Also he’s Polish and that’s quite cool.

Regina. Now she is awesome. I’m pretty sure the book could have been from her perspective just as easily as Seth, because she just jumps off the page, she’s so well-written. She’s got attitood, guys. And she gives Seth the tough love he really needs.

Gudmund. So he’s from the “real world,” before Seth died. I mean, real world is debatable, but just…let’s go with that. Seth is gay, and Gudmund was his boyfriend.

YAY DIVERSITY. I’ve been banging on about diversity for ages (I’m sure you’re sick of me hearing about it). This checks the awesome boxes because a) it’s a fantastic read and b) it doesn’t focus purely on their diversities.

There was also a nice realistic element to this story. We got to see glimpses and flashbacks to Seth’s life, and the friendships/family relationships/romantic relationships there. Reading about Seth’s brother Owen was so sad.

The POV was different to what I normally read. It’s in third person, which is usual, but present tense. I’ve read a couple of those books that I absolutely HATED, because it seems to distance the reader. But in this, the writing style managed to give the story an air of mystery and a literary feel.

Also, JOHN GREEN recommended it, okay? THIS GUY:

And he said “just read it.” So I did. (he has great recommendations, by the way)

Oh oh oh I also forgot to mention that this books wins the award for “Most Amount of Times the Title Is Used in the Actual Book.” They said “more than this” quite a lot. I’m impressed with such a versatile title.

Overall, this is a powerful, philosophical read, with incredible writing and diverse characters. How does it end? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties

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Top Ten Tuesday: books for your beach bag

00dc8-toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week there’s a different Top Ten list. It’s a great way to find and connect with other awesome bloggers.

A quick note: here in The Land Down Under (aka Australia) we’ve traded a pretty warm-ish autumn for winter. It is getting COLD.

The books I’m going to recommend will hopefully warm you up a bit. I wasn’t quite sure of the kind of books I should include, so I’ve gone with light, fluffy and adorable.

 how to keep a boy from kissing you the truth about forever anna and the french kiss

1) How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington

The title says it all. This is a super-cute, adorable read.

2) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Or anything else by Sarah Dessen. She writes FANTASTIC contemporary YA and I need to re-read some.

3) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

You don’t have to read this at summer. If you haven’t read it, just read it any time, anywhere. If you have, RE-read it any time, anywhere.

on the fence my life next dooooor thirteen little blue envelopes

4) On the Fence by Kasie West

I love this book so much. Read it.

5) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This one as well! It’s so adorable and has some great twists.

6) 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Or anything by Maureen Johnson. This is a really interesting travel read.

the princess diaries the intern for blog angus, thongs...

7) The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

One of my favourite contemporary YA series of all time (and the first one I read!)

8) The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer

Hilarious, and written by an Aussie. You should definitely read it.

9) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

This is also hilarious. You might have seen the movie (the book’s better).

So there you have it! Those are my top nine beachy reads. Which is a synonym for “cute, funny and/or fluffy. Probably all of the above.” And, you know, I have awesome taste, so you should check them all out. Link me to your TTT in comments! I’d love to know which awesome beachy reads I’m missing out on.

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

Title: the minnowThe Minnow

Author: Diana Sweeney

Genre: YA contemporary

Length: 256 pages

Published by: Text Publishing

Published on: 28th May 2014

Source: received from Text Publishing in exchange for review (thanks, Text!)

Blurb: 

Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it’s time to move out—Tom is pregnant with Bill’s baby.

Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings.

And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow.

The Minnow is a moving and powerful coming of age story with a whimsical element that belies the heartbreaking truth of grief and loss. Tom is a character you will never forget.

Like all before me, I love this cover SO SO much. In the paperback version (you can’t really see just from the image) some of the images on the front are silver and shiny. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to read it. The others were that 1) it won the Text Prize in 2013,  2) it sounded amazing and 3) Text’s books have never disappointed me.

And I’m glad to say that I was not disappointed.

Ways to describe The Minnow: beautiful writing. Breathtaking imagery. Questions of reality. Counting sheep. An unusual protagonist. Past and present. And, of course, the Minnow.

So Tom is our protagonist. It’s a nickname – her real name is Holly, but I won’t tell you why she’s called Tom. Not that it’s a spoiler, but you can read for yourself why she’s called that. And I love Tom. She’s a character you wouldn’t see in any other YA book. She talks to fish (and they talk back). She talks to some of her dead relatives, especially her Papa. She talks to her unborn baby, whom she calls the Minnow. This created a sense of magic, I suppose, and is one of the most unique forms of storytelling I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

A lot of it was just so calming. 

Not that the story was calming, exactly. There was a lot of heartache and sadness and confusion. I mean, Tom’s a fifteen-year-old girl who’s pregnant – that’s not the easiest thing to go through. But the way the story was told, the slow pace, the heavy use of water-based imagery made for a really lovely read.

I should explain the counting sheep thing. I mentioned it before in how I would describe The Minnow. It was just a short section, but for some reason I really loved it. You know how counting sheep is supposed to make you fall asleep? This books describes an alternative version. Not sure why I’m devoting a whole paragraph to it, but that’s just one of the many examples of things that are re-imagined, the versions of reality that are recrafted to create this utterly incredible debut.

It made me want to be a better writer. In one of my first drafts, the main character has a pet spider who she talks to. It’s contemporary YA, and that’s the only non-realistic thing in it. I kind of thought that wasn’t allowed. But this book breaks all the rules, and I’d love to experiment with surrealism, which I’ve encountered often in drama but rarely in YA contemporary.

Then there’s the Minnow! I mean, the book is named after the Minnow. She is Tom’s unborn baby. Tom talks to the Minnow, and she talks back, and it’s generally just adorable and different. Throughout the book, there’s no explanation about why/how/if Tom is actually talking to dead people and fish, but that just adds to the mystery and whimsy. Don’t overthink it! Just go with the flow. 

It was a little confusing at some points, and I think some things could have done with more explanation. It’s a difficult balance when you write a novel this unique, because if you explain TOO much, it loses that incredible writing quality. But I think even a tiny bit more explanation, or even transition into the past/present, would have helped.

If you enjoy characters over plot, talking to animals and beautiful writing, you should definitely give it a go.

Comparison books: 

bird crystal chan girl saves boy

Bird by Crystal Chan and Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe – both Text books, both unique and incredibly well-written.

Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties

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Writing Diverse Characters

Many of my friends and family live diverse lives. Yeah, I have the cis-gendered, heterosexual, white and able friends/family, but also those of different backgrounds, sexualities, gender identities, ethnicities and abilities/disabilities. So my writing reflects that. Here are some examples.

In The Daisy List, the main character’s mum suffers from cancer. Her best friend Kevin is half-Taiwanese, and her friend Niff has African heritage.

In The Ballerina Painting/ Blind Spot, there are two main characters. William is blind, and white. Ashley is deaf, and Indian. One of their friends (I can’t even remember her name!) is a lesbian.

In Wanderland, the story I’m plotting right now (the name might change), Alice is Asian and is paraplegic, meaning she gets around in a wheelchair.

I’m not listing these things so I seem all noble or anything (although that’s true as well).

Most of the time, these characters occur to me as they are – I don’t change them just so that they can be more diverse.

I totally understand that writers are afraid of writing diverse characters. Afraid of offending particular groups, or not getting it right, or portraying it incorrectly. But I’ve always thought of my characters not as a product of their “diversities” but as, first and foremost, people.

My characters aren’t just deaf or blind or Indian or gay or paraplegic or sick or Taiwanese or fighting depression. They’re also complete people who live with these things, who deal with these things – often, they’re not a huge part of who they are. I mean, being white is not something I think about every day. It just is.

I have the luxury of not being a published writer. I can write what I want without fear of offending everyone. I know that’s a real pressure on published writers.

But as readers, we have a certain power. Readers are just as diverse as writers. If authors get something wrong in a book, we can speak out and say hey, this isn’t right. We don’t need to condemn writers for getting things wrong, because at the very least, they’re paving the way for more diverse characters in the future.

And it helps to research as well – not just to look things up on the internet, but talk to people similar to who you want to represent in your stories. That helps with authenticity. Hazel Grace was inspired by Esther Earl, but Hazel is her own character.

We are not our labels. Diverse people are just people.

And if we write them that way, that will shine out. We might get things wrong – I’m sure I’ve got things wrong even in this post, which I’m really nervous about. But if we can help correct and expand knowledge, then that will show in YA fiction. Hopefully.

Writers! Do you write diverse characters? How do you do this sensitively?

 

Skyscraper Syndrome: When Books Disappoint

Fun fact. My favourite word is skyscraper. I mean, when you really think about it, the word is so poetic.Today I’m going to talk about Skyscraper Syndrome, which is something I completely made up.

You know when someone recommends a book to you, or it’s really popular, and you’re just SO EXCITED TO READ IT?

And then you read it, and you try to like it, but it just…disappoints you?

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The logic behind naming it “Skyscraper Syndrome” is that the idea of this book is built up in your mind, and people just keep building on it, until it’s so tall that NO book is going to be able to live up to that expectation. Which I think is sad, because maybe you would have liked it otherwise.

Sometimes, our favourite books are the ones nobody has ever heard of – we’re surprised they’re good, because we haven’t heard of them before, and because of that, we end up liking them even more.

Bear in the Big Blue House

(side note: does anyone remember this show? I used to love it! Welcome, welcome, welcome to the big blue house…)

Here are some examples of books where I fell into the trap of Skyscraper Syndrome:

1) Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

*wails* I’m so sorry, everyone! I tried to love it, I really did.

2) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I read the first…four, I think? And I liked them a little, but to be honest, only because I felt like I had to.

3) This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

So many people love this author! I didn’t really enjoy this book at all.

4) If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Don’t get me wrong – I really did like this book. But I read reviews of how people were sobbing, how it changed their lives…I just feel like I missed something.

But here’s the thing: these books are by no means bad. Often, it’s more a reflection of the reader, not the writer. I mean, writers put a lot of effort into writing. I would know. I’m not even published and it takes a lot of effort.

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And then there are the books where I’m so glad Skyscraper Syndrome didn’t affect me negatively. Books like:

– The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

– Harry Potter by J K Rowling

– The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

– Splintered and Unhinged by A G Howard

All of these books could have induced the dreaded Skyscraper Syndrome. They are all hyped to the point of ridiculousness. I’m not sure why it occurs, or which books it affects most. Maybe it’s to do with your mood at the time, or the movement of the planets. Maybe the genre or pet peeves. There are a million possibilities.

I don’t really think there’s a way around it, because people are always going to be recommending books for me, and for the most part, people’s suggestions are great.

Does Skyscraper Syndrome affect you? 

What Happened This Week: Stacking the Shelves and Reading Wishlists

What’s happened recently, you ask?

1) I shared my reading wishlist for YA books. Link is at the end of this post. Anyway, based on that wishlist, I established that my perfect book would be:

A quirky retelling of multiple fairytales, where the main character is a mermaid with Asian heritage, who switches her tail for legs and discovers a land full of fairytale characters and stories. She would have a large family who cares about her, and who she cares about. There would be no love interest. Her hobbies would be knitting and collecting odd socks/shoes (because she has legs! Socks and shoes would be so interesting to her!). It would be funny, because I wanted a laugh-out-loud speculative fiction book. It would have a variety of weird settings, like an abandoned theme park, a painting, a snow globe, a jungle, underwater and in the clouds. Also, the book would have beautiful illustrations.

Would you read my perfect book? 🙂

2) I attended a drama excursion, where my drama teacher actually performed in a play! It was so good. She played three or four different roles, and each had a different kind of American accent. Now THAT is talent!

3) I made a group on Goodreads called YA bloggers celebrating diverse books. You should totally join! In a couple of weeks, I’m devoting seven days to talking about diverse books. So look out for that!

4) I filmed my entry for the book bloggers tag (I was tagged by Jaz from Fiction in Fiction in Fiction, and Jeann from Happy Indulgence). I have to edit it and stuff, but hopefully that will be up soon!

And now it’s onto Stacking the Shelves (AKA my favourite book meme ever)

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Stacking the Shelves is a book meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

FOR REVIEW

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Rebel by Amy Tintera – I actually lent my copy of the first book, Reboot. I haven’t read it yet, so I’ll have to track it down! This looks really great.

Every Word by Ellie Marney – I’ve actually already finished this one, and it is ah-may-zing. I’m part of the blog tour so you’ll hear about it shortly!

Thanks to Allen and Unwin for both of these ❤

LIBRARY

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Stolen by Lucy Christopher – this looks really interesting

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – judging by the explosion on Twitter when I asked if I should read this next (YES YES YES was unanimous) I am extremely excited for this book.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson – Peter Pan retelling!! Yes please! Someone else I know just wrote one of these… 😉 Plus, it’s a beautiful cover.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – I’ve heard a lot about this

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – and this one too!

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I’ve never anything of hers. I figure it’s time to start!

BOUGHT

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This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl – I’ve already read this, and reviewed it. You should read it right now.

Usually I do a Stacking the Shelves once every two weeks, but I’ve got so many awesome books lately! I’m expecting some books for review this week as well, so who knows? I might make this a weekly thing. Or maybe just a whenever-I-get-new-books thing.

BOOKS READ SINCE LAST WEEK

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(and, just saying, you guys HAVE to read Every Word when it comes out. It’s like YA Sherlock. As in the TV show. But swoonier).

CURRENTLY READING

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I might actually have finished this by the time this post goes up. Anyway, it’s pretty good so far. A bit slow, but good.

READING NEXT

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VERY excited for this. I hope it doesn’t disappoint!

GIF OF THE WEEK

LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS!!!!

POSTS THIS WEEK

Monday: I reviewed the gorgeous How To Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington

Tuesday: books I almost put down but didn’t, for better or worse

Wednesday: Teens Can Write Too blog chain – my reading wishlist!

Thursdayreview of The Last Shot by Michael Adams (DAT ENDING!!)

Friday: review of This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl…just read it, okay?

And that’s all for this week! What’s happening with you?