Hello Fiction Lovers!
This week I thought it would be interesting to tell you about an audio book that I just finished listening to recently: Steal the Stars. This book is different from books I would normally pick up because it’s sci-fi and includes aliens. I like sci-fi books, but I’m much more likely to read a fantasy book. However, I’m very glad that I decided to give Steal the Stars a try because it was a wonderful, well-written story and it had an ending that I wasn’t expecting, but also felt much more satisfying than the ending I expected. The reason I decided to give it a try was that along with including an alien and a crashed UFO it also includes forbidden love and a heist–both of which are plots that I love to read about.
It was also interesting to listen to, because instead of the standard one or two readers you normally would get for an audio book, they used a whole cast. It was really more of an audio play than an audio book, and they did a good job of making it more immersive by using some sound effects and playing with distance. If a character was supposed to be across the room they really did sound farther away (but the difference was never enough that you had to mess with the volume a lot, if that’s something that annoys you). Another thing to mention is that even though there is a full cast of characters with different voices you won’t have trouble remembering who is who. All the actors did a good job making their character distinctive. There is also an actual book, I believe, that you can buy and read, but I haven’t read it so I’m not sure how it compares to the audio book.
All in all, I would definitely recommend that you listen to/read Steal the Stars even if it has an element that you normally wouldn’t be interested in. You can find it on Audible and Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.
I hope you all have a wonderful week and please let me know if you have any questions! Also if you have listened to/read Steal the Stars feel free to post your thoughts in the comments, but please no spoilers.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
Today I thought I’d recommend a book I reread recently: Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. This book has been one of my favorites for a long time and every once in a while I’ll take the time to read it–and its sequel–again. Doing so is always worth it.
Trickster’s Choice is about a young woman, Aly, who wants to become a spy in the field but her parents won’t allow it because of how dangerous that work is. However, Aly ends up getting captured by pirates and sold into slavery. From there she is recruited by a god and must use her wits and the spy skills she was taught from a young age to protect a family and help a rebellion.
The book has a good romance that isn’t rushed, interesting magical creatures, complex characters, and is paced well. I enjoyed it when I discovered it in middle school and I still enjoy it now in college so I believe that it can appeal to a wide range of ages. You don’t have to read Tamora Pierce’s other books to understand Trickster’s Choice or its sequel, but doing so can give you a greater appreciation and understanding of Aly’s parents and the family’s connection to several other characters that get mentioned. Her other books are also enjoyable to read as well, and if you like Trickster’s Choice I would highly recommend that you read them if you haven’t done so already. If you have then I would recommend that you read them again for pleasure’s sake.
If you’ve read Trickster’s Choice feel free to post your thoughts on it down in the comments (but no spoilers please). Also please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So lately I’ve been thinking about reading some of the books on my shelf again and made me realize how little I’ve reread books in the past few years. I used to be better about rereading books, but now I tend only to reread my top five or so books and even then I’ll skip to my favorite scenes in the book. I guess my perspective switched from wanting to immerse myself in the world again and delighting in finding out what I missed the first time to feeling like I already remember everything that happened in a book I already read and craving something new. Has that happened to you at all? I am starting to find a balance between reading old books and finding new ones, I think, and enjoying both experiences. I’ve learned that if I listen to a book I’ve already read on Audible I won’t skip through it and that experiencing the book in a different way helps me pick out the things I didn’t remember or realize from the first time I read it. It’s helping me realize that I really don’t remember a lot of what happened in the books I read years and that reading them again can be like reading them for the first time–with just a tad more insight into what might happen.
I’ve also started rereading more books because when I get in the mood for a certain type of book (romantic fantasy, for example) the same books that I’ve already read pop up, and it can be difficult to find new ones even though I know that thousands of books get published every year. Do you have difficulty finding new books as well? Also, if you have any recommendations I’d appreciate it if you put them in the comments. It would be interesting to see your favorites and what you all are reading. I’ve been listening to the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher on Audible and it’s been pleasantly surprising to see how much I didn’t remember and fun to try to make connections based off of what I did remember.
In short, I guess, is that I would recommend rereading some books along with reading new ones. It’s fun to rediscover what made you love a book/series in the first place and to realize that sometimes your memories of a book don’t actually do it justice.
Thank you all for reading this post and I hope you have a great week! Again, please let me know if you have any recommendations for books to read in the comments or feel free to post your own thoughts on rereading books. Also, please let me know if you have any questions about writing or fiction books.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So lately I’ve been thinking about all the different ways we can read and experience books now. I have physical copies of books, three different reading apps (Kindle, Nook, and iBooks) and I listen to books on Audible. For Kindle I can either read the books on my phone or the reading tablet that I was given as a present. Considering all the different ways I can access and experience books now, it got me wondering if those ways affect my reading or my perception of the books I’m reading.
I know that for the apps many of the books I have on them come from the free or 99 cent books I find on BookBub. Because of that I tend to think of those books as more superficial; I don’t expect them to be as well written as the books that I invest in getting a physical copy of. Many of the books I also get from BookBub are romances and the predictability of many of the books’ story arcs also lend to that impression, I believe. I still enjoy them, but I also tend to pick them because the books I just have on the apps I tend to view as lighter reads, where I don’t have to put as much effort in as reader to understand the book’s world and story. I also get books on the apps because of the convenience of it, and sometimes I will get a more fantasy heavy book or one I’ve been looking forward to on there so that I can read it right away and those I’ll read on the tablet instead of on my phone. However, I’m more likely to get a book on Audible for those reasons because I have more time to listen to a book lately than to actually sit down and read one. I also enjoy what a narrator’s voice and inflections can do to add to the experience of reading, though there are times when I’ll prefer to read the book with only my own take on the words. Using Audible also helps stop me from skipping forward in book when I can barely stand not knowing what happens at the end/how everything gets resolved or if the characters I’m shipping get together. It makes me experience the book as a whole and I am grateful for that because that also helps improve my appreciation of the books.
I do have a goal of getting a physical copy of every book I enjoyed reading and creating my own library, whether or not I already have those books on Audible or one of the apps. Sometimes I need the weight of a book and the feel of actual pages to ground me in the fact that I’m reading an actual book, and I’d like to have that experience with all the books I’ve read and enjoyed. I do still tend to refer to physical copies of books as actual books and I think that’s why I also tend to view the books I have on the Apps–other than Audible–as fluffier books even thought I know they are all actual books in their own right.
Have you noticed if your perception changes depending on how you read books? Let me know down in the comments or if you have any questions. I hope you all have a fun reading filled week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
This weekend I was organizing all the books I bought over the years–which made me realize all the books I still want to get in print–and came across some my old favorites. Now I’m planning on revisiting all of the interesting characters and stories they contain over the next few months. I thought I’d share what they are with you as well in case you were looking for something good to read.
The first recommendation is Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series that gives the foundation for many of her other books. It’s about a girl, Alanna, who wants to be knight and has to pretend to be a boy to achieve that goal. I liked watching her grow up as well as the magic and battles that take place throughout the series. Pierce is very good at writing heroines and I would also recommend the other series she’s written.
The next recommendation goes to Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s the first in a lovely quartet composed of romance, danger, unique magic and monsters, and realistic characters. I believe it’s one of the more distinctive fantasy series I’ve read, in that it did have it’s own distinctive monsters and magic that tied in well together and made sense for the world. It doesn’t rely on preconceived expectations but draws the reader in under it’s own power. It is also one of the best fantasy romances I’ve read to date.
The third recommendation is Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. He also creates a unique world where heroes are reborn as gods and magic is governed by color and Breath. The story involves a reluctant marriage, fear of war, living gods, and a sentient blade. Truth be told, the cover was the thing that first drew me to the book and what really made me want to read it. The cover’s simple but beautiful, and depicts the reluctant bride (so if you’re like me, you can picture her as more than a vague impression hair, hands, and body outline).
Those are the main books I really want to re-read now and I hope you’ll enjoy them as well. Feel free to post in the comments books you would like to re-read and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
First, I would like to apologize for not getting this posted yesterday, but I didn’t have access to the internet, unfortunately. As for this week’s topic I thought I’d talk about the relationship between science and magic I’ve noticed in fantasy books.
Often, it seems that science is almost omitted from fantasy with only the inclusion of medieval technology or during the few times more advanced scientific understanding is included it’s at odds with magic. I believe that this comes from a belief that magic and science can’t coexist, and I think that belief comes from the stigma we’ve experienced in our world. The social norm seems to rise up science and eschew magic as we use more and more technology. But in fantasy things don’t have to be the same as it is in our world.
I think it would be interesting to see more fantasy books where science and magic work together or where science is a variation of magic (and vice versa). They don’t have be separated, but could help explain each other or be viewed as the same thing.
I’ve been taking an astronomy class and it’s been interesting to see the change in how people used to view the sky and stars as a different place, but now we understand that the stars are like the sun and everything is pretty much made from stardust. There’s something magical about that isn’t there? And there’s plenty science still doesn’t know such as how the universe began or what dark matter actually is, and perhaps in using the two together magic could explain those things. New scientific discoveries and using more technology doesn’t have to mean the end of magic, it just means that maybe we can understand magic in a new way as well.
Of course, if you just want to use magic or science or some new process that’s fine too. I’ve done so myself and it can be interesting and create worlds very different from our own. But perhaps when magic and science do come up in a work together they don’t always have to be at odds. I think it would be a fun thing to explore.
Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great week! Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So this past week I’ve come across the idea that there are no new stories and everything that is being written is some variation on a story that’s already been told once again. I will admit that I believe this to be true in that certain types of stories are going to have similar elements–the hero’s journey, for example–but I also have a couple of issues with it.
The first is that when people mention this, in my experience, it’s typically with a tone of “why bother?” when it comes to writing. After all, if everything has already been written why bother writing more? But just because two or more things have the same foundation doesn’t mean they will look anything alike by the time the construction is finished. Let’s use the example of two identical rooms and only one thing is changed: the paint. One room is painted blood red and the other a bright pink. The paint might be shades of the same color but a visitor is going to have a different experience/expectations depending on what room they enter, and all just because the color of the paint changed. Stories work the same way; they might start with the same foundation–a story prompt or a genre–but based on the different variations they use, however slight, they can be very different by the end and thus give a different experience/expectations to the reader. Writing is worth bothering because of those variations and the entertainment they can give to both reader and writer.
The second issue is the extreme distillation of a story that one needs to employ to encompass them as broadly as the basic plots do. Rags to Riches, Comedy, Tragedy, Voyage and Return are the names of some of those plots. But those aren’t stories, not really. They’re ideas, ideas so broad and vague that there’s barely anything to them and that doesn’t make a story. Even the idea that they are called “plots” drives the point home. Plots aren’t stories but rather the foundations they are built upon. Stories are made up of characters and their decisions, the writer’s voice and style, the emotional journey they–hopefully–take the reader on, and a hundred other little things that people use and play with to make their stories unique. Another way to think about it, to go back to the earlier example, is that plots are the functional parts of the house–the walls, windows, doors, sinks, etc.–that help the people do what they need to do and stories are the lives of the people who live in that house and the personal touches they add to it. It’s why we can read so many books of a farmer boy becoming a king or a person going on a journey or people falling in love and still want more. Those were the plots and we wanted to see what the new story would bring, what variation we never expected would happen.
So there might not be new plots, but there are definitely new stories being written and read every day.
I hope this made sense and feel free to post your own thoughts on this topic in the comments or let me know if you have any questions. I’d be interested in what you all think about this prevalent idea in writing.
Take two characters from two of your favorite books and have them have a conversation. It could be anything from them meeting in an inn and talking about their adventures to bickering about the best way to make rabbit stew in a cooking competition.
Have fun with it and if you wish to share anything this prompt generates feel free to do so in the comments.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
Lately, I’ve been reading the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey (whose interesting books I would recommend by the way) and her writing and characters have reminded me that characters–like real-life people–can have conflicting emotions. Sometimes when I’m writing I’m so focused on what the character is supposed to feel or how they are going to react that I find I forget that they can conflicting emotions. Having conflicting emotions can make them feel more like actual people and tie in other parts of the story to the scene you’re writing. No scene or dialogue is in a vacuum which means the emotions driving that scene or dialogue can’t be located in one either. People feel lots of different things at once about different things and more than likely they will feel those things at the same time.
Having conflicting emotions can also help with character development and motivation. It can help the reader know what is more important to the character based on what they are having conflicting feels about and what emotion they end up acting upon. A character who really wants a book but won’t go get it because they are afraid of the adult standing near it, and a character who really wants a book but doesn’t get it because they are worried about their financial situation are two very different people. The result is the same, but emotional impact and knowledge of the character is very different. Also, if the reader is told the character wants a book but doesn’t end up getting one without another emotional reason as to why the scene feels unfinished, lackluster, or confusing.
You don’t have to use conflicting emotions all the time but making use of them can make your story feel more cohesive and flow better. It can also break up the monotony of a character only being driven by one emotion–something that becomes unrealistic quickly and that becomes boring. Conflicting emotions can also point to internal vs external conflicts and pressures in the story.
I hope this post helped and let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to post your thoughts or anything you think I missed in the comments. I hope you all have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
Many people I know–as do I–love animals and benefit from the companionship a pet offers. The moments when the cat actually deigns to use your lap as a pillow, or the dog greets you with such enthusiasm that you think you must of been gone for ten years instead of ten minutes, really help make the day go from bad to good or from good to perfect. Knowing this, it makes the distinct lack of pets in fiction disappointing. They can add so much to the story and yet often writers don’t spare the words to add them in. Pets can help the characters by giving them support, providing them with motivation to keep going and comfort when things are bad, and being just enough of a lovable nuisance to keep things interesting. Pets aren’t perfect, just like people, but that’s just what makes them more fun.
The great thing about having pets in fiction is that they don’t have to be a dog or a cat or a fish as well. A wizard could have a dragon or a nightmare as a pet, a warrior could have their trusty stead (which could be a horse as easily as it could be a camel or rhino), a cyborg could have a sentient animal-like robot or a monkey. Truly, your imagination is the limit. The pets in question wouldn’t have to been actual animals from here on Earth unless the story takes place on Earth as we know it (and even then you could come up with an explanation about how having a fictional creature for a pet would work for that story).
This isn’t to say that every story needs to have a pet added to it. There are some stories were having a pet involved would be out of place and not good for the characters or the pet, but having pets added to at least a few stories could help them along.
So just as there are many pets looking for adoption in the real world, I’m sure there are more than a few looking for their life long companions in fiction. I wish you luck with finding the perfect one for your story!
Feel free to post any examples of great pets you’ve read in fiction down in the comments and let me know if you have any questions. I hope you all have a great week!