Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Z is for Zombie


Is it just me or has Zombie fiction become a 'thing' recently? With the Walking Dead in it's various incarnations (TV show, comic, game) being hot topic, it seems that I'm seeing zombies absolutely everywhere.

But I've also been seeing them cropping up in books too. We had the rather bizarre Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that retold the classic romantic epic as if the world was being terrorised by the undead. I've also been seeing the Newsflesh Trilogy popping up in a lot of book bloggers. World War Z was also a novel.

And then of course we have Warm Bodies. A very jarring account of a Zombies regression back into human form because of the love he experiences towards the female protagonist. Overall, it's a good, short book. But there is a resounding feeling of unease throughout it as you never feel quite okay with the fact that, you know, he's dead. Or at least, was dead.

Surely, Zombies belong on the screen (big and small) not in books? The terror from the animated corpses and the fast paced action of trying to survive life in a post-apocalyptic zombie world is a dish that's better served up in a visual respect?

The only book about Zombies that I've read is Warm Bodies, and I imagine that it's unique as it's written from the POV of the Zombie.

Do you think Zombies books work as novels? Or are the better left up to the screen?

Sarah x

p.s. I can't believe I made the month! *dies* Oh no wait, I don't have time for dying. Final Uni exams in 3 weeks. EEP. * resurrects* Wait... does that mean I'm a zombie now?

Y is for YA

Argh, can't believe I missed the penultimate day!

But yes, Young Adult fiction. I'd say that even though I recently turned 21, 80% of my bookshelf is still teenage fiction. Why I hear you cry?

Because it's gooooood.

Its an assumption (proved wrong, obviously, by the sheer amount of young adult and middle grade books that are published every year and the amount of those books that are turned into movies) that younger people are much more difficult to coax into reading. For this reason, I think YA books work harder at keeping your attention. The drama is bigger, the characters are more colourful. And, because teenagers are hotheaded and famed for poor decision making, it usually leads to very interesting problems and conflicts. The romances are often also quick and intense because of all those raging hormones.

My dad used to be an avid reader, but due to ongoing health problems he has little enthusiasm for anything except the television. I insisted that he read the Hunger Games before the movie came out last Autumn and he had the entire series read in under a month, which for him was amazing. Mum also had it read in no-time at all.

Since then, Dad and Mum have both been picking out titles from my bookshelf.

Why do you think YA is such a stomping success, for all age groups, in the last decade or so?

Sarah x

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X is for Xenophobia

I've already seen this once before in my dashboard, so it's obviously a popular topic to tackle with X in the A-Z.

Out of all the books you've read, how many had white girls in pretty dresses, or a white family looking distraught, or a white guy brooding on the front cover? Quite a few. Someone did a graph of all the nationalities of people on the cover of YA books a while back. I can't remember the exact figure, but the landslide was in favour of white people.

When the Hunger Games trailer was released, and people saw that Rue was being played by a girl of colour (even though this fact is stated in the book) there was an uproar on twitter, started by one girl who had stated something along the lines that she didn't feel any sympathy for Rue's character because "she wasn't white".

The problem comes from many angles, with both readers and writers tending to suffer (even subconsciously!) from a touch of xenophobia.

But what's the solution? Is it to put characters of different nationalities into your book, stating the colour of their skin in big bold type so that the readers know for sure that you're not being xenophobic?

Short answer: I don't know. Long answer: I still don't know.

Is there even a solution to be had? Some writers write about what they know, about places like the one that they live in. I live in a rural area of Ireland. Even at my University in the capital of Belfast, I would say that fewer than 5% of the students are NOT caucasian. The most ethnically diverse place for me is my television screen. Does this mean that I have a duty to make sure I deliberately put people of different ethnicities into my stories?

I still don't know. It's a sensitive issue, and I would love to hear your opinions.

Sarah x

W is for Western

To start off, I'm not very well read in terms of Westerns. I've seen a few. The usual John Wayne ones that show on a Sunday afternoons on those satellite channels that no one knows they actually subscribed to. Firefly, is a sort of Sci-Fi Western. But not much in terms of books.

I read Redeeming Love which is a retelling of a story from the book of Hosea in the Bible. However, its set in the California Gold Rush and has that very rustic Western feel.

There is also Rumours, the second book in the Luxe Series briefly has two of the characters out West.

But other than that I'm fairly limited. Although I enjoy the premise, it doesn't seem to go anywhere. It's very much a rinse and repeat. Look for a new start out west, have a long hard journey to get there, maybe battle a few Native American Indians along the way, bobs your Uncle, you have yourself a Western.

But I suppose that's the same with every genre after a while. I mean, European historical tends to get a bit samey after a while too. I guess it's just how you make your story different that will set you apart from the soup of your competitors.

If I was to ever tackle the Western genre (never say never) I think I might mash it up with something else. But not sci-fi. That's Firefly territory, and Firefly fans are quite... protective of their fandom. I should know, I am one.

Have you read many Western books?

Sarah x

Friday, 26 April 2013

V is for Vampires

Alternative title: What happens when the market gets so saturated that you really don't give a crap anymore.

This is going to be brief to avoid me going into full scale rant mode.

I used to really enjoy vampire fiction. There was something dark, sexy, alluring about the immortality and the blood and... perhaps this is just my teenage goth self coming back out of the closet, but I really did enjoy it. I loved the movies too. (Also, your parents look at you real weird when you're 14 and obsessed with 30 something actors playing centuries old vampires. I think at one point they were expecting me to come with a hairy biker in his late 20's as a boyfriend. Imagine their surprise when I came home with a minister's son 6 months younger than me. But that's another story.)

Then a certain franchise came along and both the YA and adult book market were so full of vampires that it was a miracle there were any humans left for them to feed on.

But maybe it's a case of when you eat too much of something, and you can't look at that food again for several months, until you suddenly get a craving again? Perhaps one day I'll go back to vampire fiction and enjoy it for what it was, a good old fashioned dirty secret.

Did you get a vampire OD when the whole Twilight thing blew up, or can you still read about them without wanting to throw the book out the window Silver Linings Playbook style?

Sarah x

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U is for Undercover

Spy fiction! Detective fiction! Mystery fiction! Conveniently all under one roof.

When I was in High school (Friendly non-US reminder that UK 'high school' runs from age 11 to 18!) I used to love the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz, though I only read the first few, when I moved into other YA books, I kind of forgot all about him after a while. In my never ending list of books I have to read, I must try and remember where I'd gotten to, and what books I still have left to read because I think the series is finished now (according to the ever reliable Wikipedia!)

As I've mentioned before, I'm a great lover of radio drama and the BBC have dramatised most of Agatha Christie books, such as Miss Marple stories and Hercule Poirot stories. I adore them and despite having heard most of them numerous times, I can never get the culprit. I really admire detective and mystery writers and their ability to hide the truth from their authors until the 'final reveal', while leaving hints throughout the story.
Before they divorced, my uncle and his wife used to write Murder Mystery evenings (where you go around and ask the different characters questions, trying to piece the mystery together for yourself) and much to my annoyance I could never guess the murderer correctly!

Kathy Reichs (the author of the Temperance Brennan series that the TV show BONES is based off) has started writing a YA series called Virals based on Temperance's niece. It's a detective/mystery with a hint of paranormal series with Tory and her friends solving various mysteries around their town/city. It's very good, although it's clear that it's been sometime since Kathy was a teenager. However, the third in the series 'Code' appears to be co-authored by her son Brendan Reichs so maybe he's been drafted in to help with the young part!

Do you like sleuthing your way through detective novels too? Have you ever gotten the murder right, for the right reasons?

Sarah x

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T is for Thriller

*Michael Jackson plays in the background*

Thriller. All things that go bump in the night, and tension that's pulled so tight it might actually split you in two.

I think Stephen King can safely be regarded as the King (ha!) of the thriller genre. I've been wanting to read Carrie now for ages, but the two libraries that I use (the one nearest my home, and the one nearest my university house) never seem to have it! Next time I have a book haul, I can almost guarantee that it will get bought. It definitely has to be read before the movie re-boot with Chloe Grace Moretz comes out later this year!

I can remember from my early reading days that I had a lot of the Goosebumps books. Middle Grade horror, I'm sure those a bit older than me will remember them too! I really liked them, though I can't remember ever being scared by them.

Having said that, I do remember a few nights ago that I had a dream there was a 'Ring' esque girl sitting in the corner of my room, and when I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I couldn't look at that corner of my room. So maybe I do get scared some of the time.

My thriller reads could definitely do with some beefing up. Can you recommend any good thrillers?

Sarah x

Monday, 22 April 2013

S is for Science Fiction

LOVE science fiction. I have grown up with it being a part of my daily life. My mum, you see, is a 'trekkie' i.e. she is a big fan of Star Trek in all its various forms. She also watched a lot of the other Sci-Fi programs of the 90's and 00's such as Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis etc, etc, etc.

I'm also an avid listener of BBC radio 4/4extra which is where all the BBC drama radio shows are broadcast and there are a lot shows on there (okay, mostly repeats from the 80's and 90's but that stuff is still gold) My absolute favourite was Earthsearch by James Follett. It had a sequel and a spin off called Mindwarp and I have them all on CD for my continued listening pleasure.

For being such a lover of sci-fi, I haven't really dabbled much in the 'classics' of the scifi genre, like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, 2001: A space odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. It's one of my biggest regret, one that I hope to remedy, but I'm loving the Sci-Fi that's coming out at the moment, especially Beth Revis' Across the Universe series!

As for writing. I would love to attempt a Sci-Fi story, but I think I need to hone my world building skills on something closer to home before I can attempt that!, a website devoted to all things worth talking about in entertainment have a book section, and an accompanying podcast 'Book Hype' said that Sci-Fi was one of the big trends to watch for in YA for 2013-2014 and I can't wait to see what gems it throws up!

Does Sci-Fi entrance you, or would you rather read about something a bit less fantastical?

Sarah x

Sunday, 21 April 2013

R is for Religious

I've read a few Religious fiction books in my time, and like all genres, you have the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I like to read Christian fiction occasionally as I find them very thought provoking. It also find that it can sometimes be very spiritually fulfilling.

Probably the most interesting that I have read was The Shack by William P. Young. It was a self-published book in 2007 that was picked up by mainstream publishers and became a hit. Well, as much as any religious themed book can become a hit in the mainstream!

It's a very different book, where the main character meets three different manifestations of God as three different people and spends a week with them in a shack learning how to deal with traumatic events from his past.

I've also enjoyed some of the books by Francine Rivers, who writes Historical Christian fiction.

Then you have the bad. I'm not going to name any names, but I've read some that are very preachy and that I personally feel are written to guilt trip you in some way.

To use a very crude expression; you catch more flies with honey than with honey than vinegar. Just saying that makes me cringe a little, but I think it makes my point. Bashing people over the head with something is about the safest way to ensure they'll put up a wall against it.

Religion is a choice (albeit one that I've chosen to make) and telling people how to live their life, even though the medium of fiction, just doesn't sit easy with me.

For me to enjoy this genre, it has to be very carefully done.

So, my feelings over Religious fiction is a very mixed bag. Do you have any opinions, or do you tend to stay away from sensitive areas like this?

Sarah x

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Q is for Questions Left Unanswered


Questions left unanswered. It's a bit of a long stretch but what I really mean is cliffhangers. I have a very love/hate relationship with cliffhangers.

I LOVE writing them and watching as chaos erupts around me.

However, I hate being on the reading end when a bomb drops and you know theres no way you're sleeping tonight because you just have to finish the whole book after that.

They're the real spice of the book, they keep you going from one chapter to the next.

But at the same time, I don't like having everything wrapped up in a neat little bow either. Take Mockingjay for example. [Spoilers ahead if you don't know the ending of the 3rd book]
Mockingjay had possibly the worst ending I could have ever imagined. We got about 3 pages of what life was like after the events of The Hunger Games. Characters were mentioned once and forgotten about it felt very rushed and I think this is one occassion where it might have been best not to have answered every question. Or if you were, to have it a bit less rushed!

What's your opinion on cliffhangers or authors leaving questions unanswered?

Sarah x

p.s. I'm going to leave you with a picture of my favourite Q

I just want to pinch his adorable sassy cheeks!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P is for Paranormal

It's difficult - for me at least - to be able to draw a solid line separating Fantasy and Paranormal. But regardless, I love them both. But I'm 99% sure Paranormal has to do with fantasy creatures but in a contemporary setting? Let's go with that.

I was in my mid-late teens when the paranormal craze swept through YA like a hurricane. And yes, I did read all the Twilight books. I know this is going to sound painfully hipster of me, but I totally read Twilight before it was cool. And in true hipster fashion, the more popular it got, the less I liked it. It was a pleasant, unchallenging read. It was the first series that I ever re-read, only to be matched so far by my re-reading of the Hunger Games trilogy. (This summer I plan to re-read Harry Potter, and the Artimis Fowl books but that's another topic!)

But I do genuinely like the paranormal. I think it stems from a love of all things a bit not quite right. By that I mean I was obsessed with ghosts. I used to watch all those bad late night ghost hunting TV shows and go to old houses and take photographs to look for 'unexplained' shadows.

I also loved some of the vampire movies that were out when I was younger. Interview with a vampire and Queen of the damned, two adaptations of Anne Rice - though I've never read her original books.

Stuart Townsend as Lestat in Queen of the Damned. I mean, just LOOK at him.
This movie is partially to blame for my goth phase... 
Holding my hands up, I also watch a lot of the TV series that were the result of the 00's Paranormal boom such as The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle (sob) and Teen Wolf.

There's an inescapable whiff of cheese that follows around paranormal and I know some people just can't hack it at all. But I like it for all it's cheesy goodness. But, like cheese, you can't have too much or it'll give you indigestion.

Paranormal, a good romp, or a sad fad?

Sarah x

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

O is for Old Books

I mean classical. The classics. Yes this is another cheat but this is the 3rd week and blogging every day is beginning to take a strain on me!

To be quite honest, I really struggle with classical literature. The first ever classical book that I managed to actually get through was Wuthering Heights, and that was only because it was the first thing I read on my Kindle and I was still hopped up on "OH SHINY!" (On a side note that book is possibly the most messed up and depressing thing I've ever read!)

People always seem to romanticize classic books like they were some sort of divine gift sent down to us and no-one can ever criticize them because that would be literary blasphemy. But I'm just going to come out and say it. I don't really like classic books.

There I said it. By all means, go fetch your pitchforks and torches and lead me to the gallows but that's just how I feel.

Maybe its because I'm too lazy to struggle through all the flowery text and gothic descriptions but all the interaction seems to be very drawn out to the point where nothing much actually happens.

Maybe its an age thing but someone losing their social status because their aunt twice removed didn't say the right thing to the 24th in line to the British throne doesn't really fill me with a sense of peril.

For some strange reason though, I love the TV and movie adaptations of the classics. I just wish that the costumes and the tension and emotions that are conveyed through the adaptations could match up the original source material. Perhaps it's because I'm of a different generation, and I eat up screenwriters cliches more than Hansel and Gretel eat sweets in the witch's house.

The exception to this is Pride and Prejudice. I mentioned earlier in the 'Love' post that Darcy and Lizzie are one of my favourite fictional couples. However, it took multiple attempts to read it throughout my adolescence, several TV and movie adaptations and a Youtube series before I actually completed the book without wanting to throw it across the room. And if that's the sort of effort I have to put in to enjoying every classical work of fiction then sorry but;

Have I just committed a heinous crime against fiction? Or does anyone else get bored with the 'classics'?

Sarah x

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N is for New Adult

Speaking of trends in literature... wait, we weren't? Well there are only so many ways to start a blog post!

I'm in a bit of a strange mood today so forgive me if I ramble or don't make much.

This is going to sound very strange but, although I haven't actually read any books that have 'officially' been dubbed 'New Adult' I am in full support of it. I don't think it's a gimmick at all.

The reason why I like YA so much is it seems to be written at a faster pace than books geared at adults. Perhaps this is because the 'typical' teenager has to be coaxed into reading, and needs placated with lots of things happening. Before my dad went into

I think I was a fan of the idea of New Adult even before it was a thing. I had always thought, "Wouldn't it be great if there was YA but with a bit more... oomph?" It also affected my writing a bit. Characters weren't 16 or 17 but 18 or 19 and going through different things in their lives, irrespective of whether it was fantasy or contemporary.

Lo and behold, NA is now a thing. Granted it's still kind of underground, and I think most NA books are self published but I can definitely see it catching on. I just need to start reading some of these books. WHERE'S MY KINDLE?

What do you think about the New Adult category? Have you read (or written!) a NA book?

Sarah x

Monday, 15 April 2013

M is for Magical Realism

This is something that I personally have not had a lot of contact with in my reading. Oddly enough, the one and only time I read a story with magical realism in it was not for English, but Spanish: Like Water For Chocolate (Como Agua Para Chocolate)

I read it for Spanish class, as we had to study a novel of Spanish origin. We got both the book in both Spanish and English.

For those of you who may not know magical realism is where strange and 'magical' things happen without explanation or reaction. They are things that are perceived as completely normal, without even magic being mentioned once. I'll give you an example:

Tita, the main character of the book is the youngest of three sisters. Her lover Pedro, marries her sister Rosaura because he wanted to be close to Tita, but couldn't marry Tita because the youngest sister in a Mexican family at that time cannot marry but instead must look after her parents and family. Rosaura and Pedro have a child, Roberto, but Rosaura cannot breastfeed him. Seeing her nephew in such distress, Tita discovers that she can breastfeed him even though she has never been pregnant. This is all perceived as completely normal.

Magical realism takes a while to get used to. When you read it for the first time, it assaults the logic portion of your brain and you just have to put your head down and trudge on through. It makes for a very interesting, unusual, and refreshing read.

It's something that I must look more into. A change of scenery in my reading habits as it were.

Have you ever read or watched anything with magical realism in it?

Sarah x

Saturday, 13 April 2013

L is for Love

Romance. *sighs dramatically*

I'm so predictable when it comes to choosing the books that I read, and what I enjoy writing. It's almost a guarantee that there will be some kind of romantic relationship involved. And it's not difficult to see why. Love/Romance is a theme that transcends through fiction of all genres and of all ages categories to the point where it's actually difficult to find something without some resemblance of romance or love, even if its only minor characters.

I decided to list a few of my favourite literary romantic pairings from over the years.

1. Jack and Aliena from Ken Folletts Pillars of the Earth.

When you read the books, this pairing kind of comes out of left field because of the age gap. But it's such a real, human love that they share and I just love reading - actually, it's the audiobook I have so it's technically listening - about their story over and over.

2. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice

It may have taken three attempts and a youtube adaption to actually read and enjoy Pride and Prejudice. The first time I tried to read it, I couldn't finish it at all, but I was quite young. The second time I finished it but didn't enjoy it. The third time I adored it. For some reason, the subtle back and forth between them was lost on me for the first two readings. Just goes to show that some things in life require perseverance!

3. Peeta and Katniss from the Hunger Games trilogy

These two characters were put through hell in the Hunger Games trilogy so its by no means an ideal love that they share but I think that they can give each other the best type of love that is possible and I think in any and all situations, that is the best anyone can ever hope for. Although the ending of Mockingjay was more of a damp squib than a firework, their connection resonates with me in a way that I can't quite put my finger on.

Do you have a favourite fictional couple? Have you ever read or written anything that had absolutely no love or romance between any of the characters?

Sarah x

Friday, 12 April 2013

K is for Kid's Fiction

I'm going to talk to you about Children's fiction for a bit! Not a lot, because I've not read anything younger than YA since I graduated from Middle Grade at about 14.

My favourite books to read as a kid, to be read to me by my mother, or by myself was Animal Ark. The Animal Ark series, of which there were many books, was about the daughter of a vet and her adventures in helping and rescuing sick/injured/in trouble animals. I wanted to be a vet until I was about 11 and these books probably had something to do with that.

From what I can remember, I adored these books. I also had the audiobooks of them on cassette tape and would listen to them at night as I drifted off to sleep. 

I think it takes a special art to write childrens books. You need to know at what level to write at to keep them amused as well as expand their minds. It's something that I don't think I could do and I admire those who can! 

What were your favourite books as a child? 

Sarah x

Thursday, 11 April 2013

J is for Jokes

I really mean humorous fiction but I already had a H and didn't have a J. We all have to make special allowances during the A-Z.

Yes, humour. For me I don't seek out the funny books. They're mostly just happy accidents. Or small funny snippets inside other more drama focused stories.

I usually spend my time in the romance, paranormal and fantasy sections of bookstores. Contemporary is something that I don't usually read, though I have made a few exceptions. John Green's books are one example. Those can't be called humourous books, but I've definitely come across some laugh out loud moments. Also, I do remember laughing at a few times at Anna and the French Kiss.

I've been told (by my mother, so its no big deal) that the humour I try to weave into my books works quite well. Here's a little fanfiction exert that she liked.
Tamina screeched with rage and kicked a mound of sand at him. She turned on her heels and stormed off into the darkness.
"Where are you going?" he called after her as he brushed sand off himself with an irritated flick of his hand.
"To find a stick," she yelled back.
"What for? We've plenty of firewood to do the night!"
"So I can beat you with it!
You be the judge. It's not as funny as I remember it, but maybe thats because it was a long time ago.

I seem to find characters being 'sassy' very humourous. I just love Tyrions lines in the Game Of Thrones series. Peter Dinklage just delivers them perfectly. Also, after watching the Beautiful Creatures movie I really liked the back and forth between Lena and Ethan, but as I began to read the book I found that it was missing/wasn't as strong and was disappointed.

Do you seek out the humour, or is it a happy accident when you come across a story that weaves it in amongst other stuff?

Sarah x

I is for Informative

(After doing this for nearly 2 weeks, you would think that forgetting to blog would be something that I wouldn't do. It's the 10th of April somewhere in the world still...)

Okay, so this isn't really a genre, but you have to make little adjustments in the A-Z challenge every now and again.

I'm talking about Information books, or non-fiction books. (I already had something else for N!)

My mum is addicted to Audible, and I enjoy listening to books before bed and I have recently acquired Bill Bryson's A Short History Of Nearly Everything. I'm quite looking forward to it as I haven't been reading a lot of non-fiction recently and my mum highly recommends it.

I used to read a lot of non-fiction as a child. I was obsessed with Animals, The Solar System and Ancient Egypt. Granted they were all pretty basic books but I devoured them none the less. I was never very popular child (I was a pretentious brat, even I wouldn't have been friends with me pre-age 11.) but if ever there was a general knowledge quiz for fun at anything I was a hot commodity knowing things like the Bat is the only flying mammal.

But as school became more intense at sort of High School level, I must have subconsciously thought that I didn't need any more factual information to cram into my head. But you can never have too much knowledge in your head, so perhaps it's time to make a change and make myself a promise to read a handful of non-fiction books every year!

What are your non-fiction reading habits like?

Sarah x

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H is for Historical

Whoops, this is a bit late but I got an iPhone today and most of the day has been taken up with:

Anyway! Yes, I love Historical fiction. I am a big fan of Phillipa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick. I'm also partial to Ken Follet's historical works (Pillars of the Earth, World without End, Winter of the world) though only in audiobook format because man those books are huge! I have had some fiction set in Ancient Egypt languishing on my shelves for a few years by Wilbur Smith. Maybe this summer is the summer I'll get around to reading them finally!

From a writing point of view though, my opinion on historical fiction is a bit less positive. As you can probably tell by this 10pm post, I'm quite lazy. Fact checking has never and will probably never be a strength of mine. I'll stick to Fantasy and paranormal where I can make up my own rules and no-one can tell me otherwise!

Do you like historical fiction, or do you prefer to live in the present? 

Sarah x

Monday, 8 April 2013

G is for Graphic Novels

I literally didn't have a G until a few seconds ago. I was looking through the genres section on Goodreads and saw it and thought HA! YES!

I've had very little experience of graphic novels. I read a few when I was in school because our library had just started to stock manga and graphic novels and they were very easy to read over a lunch break if none of my friends were sharing the same lunch hour. Honestly, I can't remember most of them but some of the artwork blows my mind.

I do however, follow one online graphic novel called The Dreamer.

Here is the synopsis from the website:
Beatrice "Bea" Whaley seems to have it all; the seventeen year old high school senior is beautiful, wealthy and the star performer of the drama club. And with her uncle’s connections to Broadway theater, the future looks bright ahead of her. Little does she know that her future might actually be brighter behind her...
Bea begins having vivid dreams about a brave and handsome soldier named Alan Warren--a member of an elite group known as Knowlton’s Rangers that served during the Revolutionary War. Prone to keeping her head in the clouds, Bea welcomes her nightly adventures in 1776; filled with danger and romance they give her much to muse about the next day. But it is not long before Beatrice questions whether her dreams are simply dreams or something more. Each night they pick up exactly where the last one ended. And the senses--the smell of musket shots and cannons, the screams of soldiers in agony, and that kiss--are all far more real than any dream she can remember.
I just adore this series and once a week update is never enough. To practice my Spanish when I was still in school, I attempted to translate the comic but never got farther than a few pages.

I've been tempted to start reading The Walking Dead graphic novels because I've really enjoyed the TV show and I've also played the game.

Have you read many Graphic Novels? What do you think of them? Have you any that you could recommend?

Sarah x

Saturday, 6 April 2013

F is for Fantasy

I love fantasy. If you're looking for a post with a bit more substance, this is not the post you're looking for.

There's not much I can say about it, which works out well because I have an amazingly busy day ahead of me and I don't have much time to blog (it's my own fault for not preparing this earlier! This morning I helped my friend make her wedding invitations and now I'm away to help my mum set up for my birthday party later tonight. Phew!)

You can make up your own rules in Fantasy. You have to be careful about world building, because it's very easy to leave gaping holes. However, no-one can reprimand you for doing anything 'against the rules' because you're making up your own rule book!

That's why I don't think I could ever write a historical fiction. Even contemporary can be troublesome for me sometimes as I feel like I'm always on google checking to see if this is right, or if this is a thing. I recently did a fanfiction and you wouldn't believe how long it took to check how long it would take to get from London to Switzerland via train because one character had a fear of flying!

My favourite fantasy series at the moment has to be Game of Thrones. However, I've heard the phrase 'sweeping epic' applied to this fantasy series and, boy, they're not lying. I enjoy the TV show because 1) it's amazing 2) it's mostly filmed in my country!

I also enjoy the books, but I can only ever read one every 6 months. There are so many characters and theres so much going on that my brain can only handle so many Ser's and so many locations in one sitting. Otherwise I'd be caught up by now!

Fantasy is also that genre that can be crossed into from almost any other genre. Like, Sci-fi fantasy such as Star Wars. And then there are contemporary fantasies  though it's tempting to call those paranormal fiction.

Like me, do you find wading through the endless amount of characters in some fantasy stories hard? What do you think about fantasy in general? Yay, or nay?

Sarah x

Friday, 5 April 2013

E is for Erotica (But a PG-13 post!)

I don't think I have many young readers. But I kept this post PG-13 anyway...

Last summer I went on holiday with the girls that I lived with. I brought three books with me and had them all read a few days into the holiday. So we decided to swap around the books that we'd brought. However, the one that I ended up with, as you can probably guess, was Fifty Shades of Grey.

Last summer this book just exploded onto the market. Everyone was reading it. On the plane, on the bus, by the pool. It was crazy. I knew what was in the book because when my friend was reading it, she would read us passages aloud when it got to a particularly "interesting" bit.

Now I'm quite partial to a good innuendo, I have my mother to thank for that. I'm in no way 'prude' but this book just had me curling my toes... and not in a good way.

Here are some gifs summing up my facial expressions.

As I got further through the book, I just ended up skipping over those bits because they just became boring and gratuitous. I never finished it, despite a few people who have read the whole series telling me that the writing/story gets better in the second two books, it had lost it's appeal and I was in no way interested in reading a single page more.

Now there seems to be a whole lot of erotic novels that have been springing up (pun absolutely intended) in book stores but Fifty Shades has completely turned me off venturing any further into the Erotica genre.

Have you read the series, and if so, what did you think? Was 50 Shades just a bad part of Erotica pool to dip my toes in?

Sarah x

Thursday, 4 April 2013

D is for Dystopian

It's such a buzz word right now.

After the success of The Hunger Games, everyone and their dog seemed to suddenly be writing about a future world that had a totalitarian government in place.

I've read a few, and will defend the Hunger Games against it's harshest critics but... surely we've all had enough of Dystopian at this point? Right?

It just seems that, when reading some of the fallout from this dystopian boom that we've been having one thing is clear to me. The 'evil' 'corrupt' government systems are usually one dimensional. Maybe that is because most of the boom of Dystopian novels seem to be series that are still incomplete and they may be saving more of the political background to the later books. However, there are some where I feel that the author gets a bit lazy and the government is totalitarian, because it can be. It's a bit reminiscent of an old silent film baddie tying the girl to the train tracks, or one of the classic James Bond villains  Mostly they seemed to be that way "because of reasons."  If I was to have conversation with these books, it would go something like this.

"Government is Evil!"
"Yeah, but why?"
"... because this is a dystopian novel. EVIL AND CRUEL."
"Surely there must be-"

Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me being picky? What's the best Dystopian that you've read out of the recent boom?

Sarah x

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

C is for Coming of Age (And IWSG)

Isn't it funny the way things work out. I had planned a while ago that I would tackle the topic of stories about coming of age in the A-Z challenge, forgetting that C would fall on the 3rd of April.

Which is today. Which is my 21st Birthday.

Reading Young Adult books, as I do, the topic of crossing over that line between being young and becoming an adult is something that I come across a lot. I would argue, however, that it's a bit hit and miss. It's thrown around wildly in the blurbs on the back of books, sometimes unnecessarily. Someone who I think covers that 'stuck in the middle of teenager/adult line' is John Green. However, it's in the trilogy/series books that I find sometimes the growth is lacking. Authors get caught up in 'How many books can I squeeze out of this story' rather than focusing on the characters that everyone fell in love with in the 1st book. This happened for me in the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray. I enjoyed the first two, but the final one was so indecisive and full of pointless story that I almost couldn't finish it. And some of the characters seemed to regress back into petty children rather than progress into the young women they seemed to be becoming in the earlier books.

What's the best coming of age story that you've read?

Now, onto my insecure writers support group post! Very appropriate post this week:

My age is something that, when it comes to writing, is something that I'm both secure and insecure about. If that makes sense. 

I'm 21. Most people on the YA scene are late 20's to 40's so on one hand I have plenty of time. I also probably need to live a bit more. Experience life. Experience crappy underpaid jobs and ungrateful bosses. That's my logical, optimistic answer.

The pessimistic side of my brain likes to remind me that there are lots of people my age and younger who have written full length novels, some of whom have been published and I get really jealous. I feel like, if they can do it, why can't I? And for those who are successful younger than me, I wonder if I've wasted the time I've had so far? You never have as much free time as you do when you're young. Have I wasted my opportunity on games and bad TV?

I'm graduating in the summer with no word yet on whether or not I've gotten onto the teaching course for September. If not I'll have to go and start the arduous process of finding a job while I re-apply to teaching courses for 2014. I've already had to move back home for financial reasons. I'm not sure what I want. Is teaching just something that I'm trying to get into because I know that I'll have a lot more holidays than your average person for writing? And if I really wanted to be a writer wouldn't I have a bit more to show for it by now than a handful of started novels and a few badly written fan fictions? 

I feel like I'm in limbo. And I guess that's exactly how every coming of age story starts. 

I guess I may be of age. But my coming of age story just hasn't started yet.

Sarah x

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B is for Biography

Still haven't found my list, but I remembered what B was!

Biographies, or (Auto)Biographies. I'm cheating a little here but we'll just gloss over that.

My experience of Biographies, auto or otherwise is fairly limited. I do have a biography of Johnny Depp that was bought for me that I've never read, only flicked through for the pictures. I have, however, read the (Auto)Biography of english comedian Michael MacIntyre. It was a christmas present one year and I found it extremely interesting. He's a face that anyone who enjoys comedy here in the UK will recognise. However, it took him nearly 4 years and £40,000 of debt before he made his break. This guy is HILARIOUS, so it's very hard to imagine that there was ever a point where he wasn't getting recognised for his work. If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's don't give up on what you love.

But that's the only book about someone's backstory that I've ever read. With Wikipedia and the internet in general, if you want to find out something about someone, it's just a matter of a few clicks away. I don't make a point of reading biographies, but maybe it's something that I should look into. I spend far too much time in story worlds that are completely made up, maybe I should remind myself occasionally that real life can be just as interesting too.

Have you read any auto/biographies recently? Can you recommend me any that I have to read?

Sarah x

Monday, 1 April 2013

A is for Adventure.

Yes, I'm doing the A-Z blog thing. Yes, I'm an idiot for signing up. Yes, I did lose the list of all the topics that I had planned to talk about. BRILLIANT START SARAH!

I've gotten off to a bit of a false start. I know I should have been prepared for this but April 1st kind of crept up on me and caught me unawares. 

The idea that I had for the A-Z was to give my (brief) opinion on various themes and genres of books. Today is A, so I'm starting with ADVENTURE!

Yes Bilbo, like that. 

For my first post I'm going to get all philosophical and start by saying that I think ALL stories are technically adventures.  Some are the more obvious sort taken by our little Hobbit friend. But even the stories that don't scream ADVENTURE at you, are still likely to be. They may not be dragon slaying, mountain reclaiming sort of adventures, but are adventures nonetheless. Even if the protagonist isn't physically going anywhere, they're more than likely having a personal/spiritual journey of some sort. Rarely are people the same at the end of a book or series as they are at the beginning. 

I really admire those who tackle stories where the 'adventure' is internal and therefore done through much more subtle means. 

Do you agree? Are ALL stories technically adventures? 

Now I'm off to try and remember what I had planned for B-Z. Wish me luck!

Sarah x