Book Recommendation: Steal the Stars

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.

Reading Recommendation

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!

Rereading

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.

Reading Perceptions

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!

7 Ways to Help Generate More Story Ideas

Hello Fiction Lovers!

I’ve been looking through some of my old writing lately and that got me thinking about I–and others–come up with different story ideas. Of course there is no absolute way to come up with a new idea that you’ll want to write, but trying out these different things can give you a push in the right direction if you’re stuck. They can also just be nice to do as ways to get the muse whispering.

  1. Read (and possibly write) story prompts. Reading other people’s ideas and making them your own can be very fulfilling and open your eyes to things you never would have thought on your own.
  2. Listen to music. If you want to write a story with a certain tone, listen to music with that tone whether it’s calming or rage filled or anything in between. Lyrics can also work like story prompts to help you think of things you wouldn’t have thought of.
  3. Move to some place new. If you always write in a chair move to the floor or try to write standing. If you always write inside take a few hours and spend time in a nearby park. Always write at home? Try writing at a coffee shop.
  4. Read. Reading others’ work can help you spark some ideas of your own (just make sure you don’t plagiarize because that’s pretty uncool). Also, sometimes it can be good to step away from writing just for a bit and relax with a good book.
  5. Have an odd conversation. Ask a friend/family member/significant other/stranger what they would do if they suddenly gained an ability or magic. What if they could become immortal but could only eat oranges and chocolate? How would they react if the floor really did turn into lava?
  6. Try something new. Your characters can probably do all sorts of things you can’t do. I know mine can. You don’t have to take up the art of sword fencing or learn an ancient language, but you could try making a new recipe or trying out a new hobby. Sometimes doing something new can help make your brain make connections between ideas that were missing before.
  7. Describe a scene/character down to the very last detail. Sometimes you just have to get to know your characters/world better in order to have the story revealed to you. This can also just help with character depth and worldbuilding in general.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts–or any other suggestions you might have–in the comments.

Importance of Setting

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Today I thought I’d talk about something that came up in one of my literature classes. We were discussing Winter in the Blood by James Welch. If you’re interested it’s a literary fiction book about a Native American dealing with a feeling of disconnection and his life on a ranch–or so far as I can tell having read the first third of the book. However, in class we spoke about an even smaller section–the opening scene–for the whole 50 minutes. Most of what we talked about had to do with the importance of place, and how the setting and it’s tone that first scene sets up is integral to the story.

I won’t regurgitate what was said in class specifically about the book because I don’t know how many of you are familiar with it, but the essence of what was said applies to any story, I think.

  1. Setting impacts a story and shapes it. (If you want to set a tone of death and despair you aren’t very likely to set the story in a verdant valley full of bunnies, are you?)
  2. It gives insights into the character(s) based on what they notice. (Are they the type of person to know the exact breed of horse with them or are they more interested in the wind and the sounds it’s making? What type of tone do their descriptions evoke?)
  3. Sense of place. (Does the character feel connected to the area around them or do they feel out of place? Separate?)

The setting will impact the characters and how they act as well as how the story plays out. The impact comes as much from logistical things–weather, what’s physically there–as from the tone it sets and other more abstract things that can get attached to it. That’s why it’s important that the reader can picture the setting in their mind instead of just a bunch of white space. Setting grounds a story and gives it a foundation to work from. It can raise the stakes in a fight or otherwise, provide context, give the readers something to connect to, and create interest by giving the characters something to interact with. Setting isn’t just a backdrop, and if you treat as such you’ll be missing out on something that could greatly help your story gain meaning and interest.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a fun week!

 

Book Recommendation

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!