We are so happy to have our Aussie friend Nomes from Inkcrush
here today to write a guest post for the Year of the Classics. I asked her to write about one of our favorite series of all times, Anne of Green Gables
. She got really into her assignment, randomly sending me factoids about L.M. Montgomery
's life, and she was even sport enough to take a few pictures of her taking her own "Living As Anne" advice.
How To Be Anne of Green Gables
1. Tragic back story is a must. Preferably involving TWINS in some form. Orphanages, child labour and imaginary friends found in the window reflections optional.
Shouldn't have trusted that peddler, Nomes.
2. Lose track of time/run late on errands due to walking around reading and getting swept away by the book you are reading.
3. Dye your hair black. #Never Trust A
Don't walk the roofbeam, Anne!!
4. Find your kindred spirit, and love them so. Activities to share with your bosom friend: three-legged races, jumping on old ladies while they sleep in their beds in the middle of the night. Essential: develop code system of communicating involving blinds, lights and long distances. Writing letters, with paper and pens. City excursions and whispered secrets. A period of (forced, painful, but somehow poetic) estrangement optional.
5. Never (and I mean never ever) back down from a dare. Bonus points: if your whole class (including cute guy) watches you accomplish said dare, fearless and daring, nose in the air.
6. Always let your imagination get carried away with itself. Comes in handy when taking short-cuts through haunted woods.
Nomes/Anne in the haunted woods.
7. Pick a favourite fictional character. Preferably one who has a tragic and/or gothic dramatic storyline. Elaborately re-enact your characters most dramatic scenes. Lady of Shalott FTW. Bonus: endanger your life while doing so, needing the rescue of cute (archenemy) boy.
8. Invite your bosom friend over and watch them binge on, erm, raspberry cordial...
9. Invent a prettier, more fanciful name for yourself. At times, introduce yourself thus. Cordelia works fine. (author’s note: As a child I begged my own family to call me Nancy, which I fancied was a much prettier, somehow more eventful name for a child such as I. Now, to my despair, my family still occasionally revert back to calling my Nancy. Ugh.)
Luckily, Gil will always save you.
10. View the world through romantical whimsy. That pond by the side of the road? The Lake of Shining Waters.
11. Make desserts for your favourite teacher coming for dinner. This, coupled with your day-dreaming disposition, could be a recipe for disaster. Heads up: be on the look out for rats. (a rather romantic end for a rat, to be drowned in pudding...)
12. Regarding apologies. You will need to make a lot of them. Don’t settle for the humble “sorry”. Compose elaborate apologies, adorned with poetically moving statements.
13. Wear puffy sleeves.
They can never be TOO puffy.
Anne & Gilbert
14. Be fiercely, ridiculously competitive and stand-offish with the cutest (oh-so-swoony) boy at school. Despite his charm, gorgeous accent, intelligence, antagonistic playfulness, good nature, general gorgeousness and (obvious to everyone but you) besottedness, you remain aloof. (WHY?! For the love of God!). Please don’t wait until he is on his death bed to have your epiphany that you are MADLY AND CRAZILY IN LOVE WITH THE PERFECTION THAT IS GILBERT BLYTHE. Is there any other fictional boy more swoony? (Authors note: I seem to have gotten carried away...)
15. Most importantly of all, to be Anne Shirley with an E ~ despite everything, all your stuff ups, and good intentions gone awry, you will charm everyone. Not only every citizen of Avonlea, all those prim girls of …. Children, teenagers and adults from the last century will fall in love with you.
Anne Shirley, you are the most delightful of heroines, ever. Anne of Green Gables is not just a classic, it’s a rite of passage.
Thanks for the life advice, Nomes! I'd love to write something longer but I have really important things to do like playing 1,000,000 Draw Something games with you and watching Anne of Green Gables. Ladies and Gentlemen, HAPPY SATURDAY!
The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #1)
Author: E. Lockhart
Narrator: Mandy Siegfried
Publication Date: 2005
Publisher: Listening Library
Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it's unusual, but give her a break—she's had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:
* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* drank her first beer (someone handed it to her)
* got caught by her mom (ag!)
* had a panic attack (scary)
* lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
* failed a math test (she'll make it up)
* hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* and had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the boys'!?!).
But don't worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.Review:
I like this book so much for being a fun, frothy, escape about gossip and boys. But I LOVE this book for transcending all
of those things. When I first read the title: The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver
, I expected that this book would contain a few swoon-worthy boys and that our heroine Ruby would experience some drama-fueled teenage angst trying to decide which one to date. I even jokingly proclaimed myself “Team Noel” within minutes of the starting the book – fully expecting that I would spend the next day or so regressing into teenage girl-hood and gossiping about these characters. Now I feel like a shallow jerk for expecting so little from E. Lockhart, the brilliant woman who brought us Frankie Landau-Banks!
So often, girls are encouraged to “be nice” and get along – to not make waves, to make do with whatever life throws our way, to never give voice to our negative feelings. ”My problem is I can think whatever I think – girl power, solidarity, Gloria Steinem rah rah rah – but I still feel the way I feel. Which is jealous. And pissy about little things.”
Even mild discontent is often viewed as “bitchy” or “whiny.” These expectations are so pervasive and ingrained - we often place them on ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of it – of quashing my anger, jealousy, and hurt beneath a pleasant mask, even as it all multiplies and festers inside. Because that’s what happens when you don’t acknowledge a negative feeling, in my experience: it grows exponentially until it comes out one way or another.
In Ruby’s case, she starts manifesting those feelings in a very physical way: panic attacks. Her parents, who are both clueless and
over-involved, sign her up immediately for therapy. The novel itself is a written account of Ruby’s thoughts about a list that her therapist asks her to create: of all the boys that she’s ever been involved with. But the boys aren’t the real story - it turns out that Ruby’s best friends have stopped speaking to her and she’s become a “leper” at school. The story unfolds organically from one flashback to another with the list and the scenes in the present providing a really nice anchoring framework. It feels fluid but logical at the same time.
I am just so impressed at how much depth this fluffy little story had to offer. Ruby’s struggle to acknowledge and justify her own feelings and to eventually give voice to them is a subtle one. But as someone who has fought that battle, I really felt the weight of it. I’ve been there – so afraid of my own feelings that I couldn’t even acknowledge that they existed. When I was in that place, it felt like voicing those things – giving them a name - would only make them more horrible, more real.
This isn’t a triumphant feel-good story, but a quiet one about one girl’s first small steps toward emotional honesty, with other people but mostly with herself. And E. Lockhart gives us so much more than just Ruby: there’s Kim, who holds her feelings inside until they erupt in vicious outbursts; there are Ruby’s parents, who are engaged in a constant power struggle that they never discuss openly; and there’s even Nora at the end, who seems to want to forget that anything happened.
I’ve already downloaded the next three books and I simply cannot wait to continue. I know from experience that once you’ve given voice to your feelings – once you’ve felt that relief and that realization that the world is in fact not
going to end – it’s almost impossible to go back to holding them in. I can’t wait to see more of Ruby’s journey in these books.Perfect Musical Pairing
Cyndi Lauper - When You Were Mine
Woohoo! I get to match one of my songs
so soon! This is one of my absolute favorites (I've got it on right now and my girls are having a dance party). It was written by Prince and Cyndi Lauper covered it but kept the male/female designations the same. This is my song for Ruby and Kim - because I know that Kim was awful and malicious, but I kind of hope they make it up by the end of the series - after a few cathartic talks, of course.
Despite the huge amount of of young adult fiction books we read, all three of us do read across most genres and enjoy adult men, in life and in fiction. This week's topic for Three Heads Are Better Than One (or Two) is our favorite heroes and hunks. There are so many to choose from, but we've each narrowed it down to our favorite two. (Ahem, one or two of us might've cheated a little bit...)
Well, of course the first fictional man that comes to mind for me is Terrible – the “ugly”, violent, and emotionally brave hero of Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts
series. After reading two wonderful interviews this week from Ms. Kane – both here at The Readventurer
and over at Badass Book Reviews
, he is cemented into my heart forever. I love that his feelings for Chess are so visibly strong, but that he has enough self-respect to demand that she treat him fairly. He accepts her, but he also challenges her to be better.
But, since I’ve been going on and on about him for the past few weeks, I thought I’d highlight two of my other favorite adult heroes in this post (see what I did there? I snuck in a third guy! Mwa hahaha).
So, my “first” (shhh) pick of the day will be: Peter Grant from Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant
series (of course it would be named after him – he’s amazing), which begins with Midnight Riot
and continues with Moon Over Soho
and Whispers Under Ground
(releasing May 29th 2012). What’s not to love in a fit young police constable who has a dry/silly sense of humor and uses his burgeoning magic skills to solve crimes? AND is a science nerd? That’s right – one thing that I adore about this series is that Peter uses scientific reasoning to analyze and quantify his own magical abilities, which is pretty unique. He’s also refreshingly young – as his ancient mentor is teaching him Latin and arcane magic, he’s finding ways to introduce technology into the magical world. And of course, he’s susceptible to the wiles of skanky femme fatales (*growls at my competition*) but he also has a very sweet crush on his former partner Leslie (*growls slightly less menacingly at Leslie*). These books make me laugh primarily, but Peter has some depth – as the child of a traditional Sierra Leonean mum and a recovering addict/jazz musician dad, his home life is pretty complicated.
Favorite Quote: ”I’d like to say that I remembered the practice of exchanging hostages from school history classes or from stories of precolonial life in Sierra Leone, but the truth was that it came up while playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was thirteen.”
Rupert Penry Jones as Wentworth
For my second pick, I am going to select a slightly older
gentleman. This guy made his debut in 1818, in the posthumous publication of my favorite novel from the brilliantly clever Jane Austen. Jane Austen gave us some of the greatest fictional super-hunks of all time: Mr. Darcy, John Willoughby, Mr. Knightly…but since I first read this book in college, my heart has belonged to Captain Wentworth. I’m speaking of course, about Persuasion
What I love the most about Captain Wentworth is that he's a mystery for about 95% of the book. In the beginning of Persuasion
, a very young Anne Elliot takes the advice of her snooty relatives and refuses the proposal of Captain Wentworth, who is without fortune. Flash forward to eight years
later and Anne is still unmarried and still living with her obnoxious, frivolous father and older sister. And now Captain Wentworth is back – having made his fortune in the Navy – and seems to be looking for a wife. Anne, who is thoughtful and quiet, suffers as he gives attention to Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove – two young eligible girls in the neighborhood.
Every time I read this book, I feel so much pain and heartbreak on Anne’s behalf. Wentworth is open and friendly with the Musgrove girls, but there’s always that sense that his true feelings
are simmering underneath the surface. He doesn’t give anything away though; he stays hidden almost completely – as Anne goes from frustrated to heartbroken to resigned. And that’s what makes the ending so intense.
When Wentworth finally reveals his true feelings, in one of the greatest love letters of all time and you realize that he must have suffered right along with her for those eight years – it’s powerful. I still get chills when I read the first few lines of his letter:
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant
My favorite male character in a book is Conor Larkin from Trinity
by Leon Uris. He has the unfortunate honor of being part of one of the worst cover regressions in history. Most Irish families in America (or at least Pittsburgh, where I grew up) seem to own a copy of the book from the seventies, when it was first published. It was published as a hardback with a regular-looking cover. I have no problem harassing my friends into reading this version of the book, however, the copies that are most often found in used bookstores are the second two reprint covers. Just shoot me. The first one has a man made of clouds. It is possible,
though still a hard sell,
to ignore him and continue reading. The newest (2006) rerelease has made it impossible for me to get anyone to read this. Now Conor is on the front, looking like some hero from a Wild West novel or a bodice ripper. Whyyyy? All I ever want to do when I look at it is pretend I'm walking into a saloon and then asking the bar patrons, in my horrible imitation of an Irish accent, what time the shootout is.
A Normal Cover.
Trinity is historical fiction and follows two best friends and their families through three generations of Irish turmoil. (I actually know two people who were named for the two friends!) It isn't a happy book--it's just people being beaten down, losing their spirit, retaining their patriotism and the characters are mostly either purely good or totally evil. I think, though, that that is what I loved about Conor Larkin. He's like Mary Poppins--practically perfect in every way. Imagine a ripped farmer. Now imagine that he's well-read, well-spoken, a die-hard patriot, loyal to his friends and family, tough, and romantic. If you like your heroes flawed, he's probably not your man. But if you feel like learning a ton about Irish history and getting lost in 600+ pages of epic drama, then I hope you'll read this and learn why I love Conor Larkin so much. After seeing that the first two reviews on Goodreads are negative, I'll be rereading it this year so I can claim that first review spot and hopefully persuade more people to pick it up. As a bonus, I will get to read about Conor being an amazing specimen of Irish hotness all over again. Caveat: You might need a few tissues at the end of this one.
A recent favorite hero of mine is Hetwith from Taming the Forest King
. Wendy at The Midnight Garden
did a Valentine's themed week and had authors share their favorite romantic scenes from books. Gail Carriger
, author of the Parasol Protectorate
series, named a scene from this book by Claudia Edwards. Edwards packed so much action, romance, and fantasy into what ended up being about 200 pages. Tevra, a fierce military captain, comes to a forest province as viceroy to the King. Her mission is to sort out all the problems in the district. The tension between many of the people and the new military presence is palpable but there is always someone completely supporting Tevra--her second in command, Hetwith. He is unfailingly loyal and it was painful at times seeing Hetwith through Tevra's eyes. Romances where one person only sees the other as their position are often hard to read; the women in love with their brother's best friend, the coworker, the friend from childhood, the subordinate. Taming the Forest King
presents a love triangle that is palatable, which is an absolute rarity. I usually find them repulsive in books. It is humorous to see Hetwith competing against a man who is his complete opposite and to see the two of them, each aware of the other's feelings for Tevra, try to outwit each other for her affection. I read the entire book waiting to get to the sexy scene Carriger referenced as her favorite and it did not let me down. Both Tevra and Hetwith are scarred by battle and by the time they finally get to it, I was about ready to jump into the book and help things along. Plus, I am going to take any chance I might get to potentially wear a chain mail minidress, even if it is an imaginary chance.
I would love to write about positive male role models, real heroes and nice guys in this post, but the reality is, nice guys do not leave lasting impressions on me. (Bad, bad T!) What can I say? In the world of fiction I am drawn to men who are exactly the opposite of what I appreciate in real life. The men I am about to write about are aggressive and violent and head-strong and oh so... memorable.
Barrons Books and Baubles
My first inclination is to write about Mr. Darcy, but as I have already done so just last week
, I am going to move on to the other two list toppers.
The person who hooked me up with this favorite hunky is Kat of Cuddlebuggery
. I will be forever grateful to her for introducing me to Fever
books and Jericho Barrons. Do not get me wrong, I understand perfectly well how problematic Barrons' character is.
Misogyny and violence are not foreign concepts to me. But then, he must be the sexiest man I have ever come across in fiction (forget real life, such men do not exist in reality!) I love how ruthless, unapologetic, charismatic, mysterious, smart and loyal he is. Plus, he owns A BOOK STORE! What can be better than spending the day roaming around Barrons Books and Baubles
, reading rare books by the fire. And then after the closing hours... (I obviously mean flying the Hunters and saving the world from evil fae ;o)Now, to the most important part of this post.
How does Jericho look? Quoting Karen Marie Moning (via Mac' thoughts): He studies me with his predator's gaze, assessing me from head to toe. I studied him back. He didn't just occupy space; he saturated it. The room had been full of books before, now it was full of him. About thirty, six foot two or three, he had dark hair, golden skin, and dark eyes. His features were strong, chiseled. I couldn’t pinpoint his nationality any more than I could his accent; some kind of European crossed with Old World Mediterranean or maybe an ancestor with dark Gypsy blood. He wore an elegant , dark gray Italian suit, a crisp white shirt, and a muted patterned tie. He wasn't handsome. That was too calm a word. He was intensely masculine. He was sexual. He attracted. There was an omnipresent carnality about him, in his dark eyes, in his full mouth, in the way he stood. He was the kind of man I wouldn't flirt with in a million years.Rawr! According to Moning, this translates into this real man.
Well, I disagree and thus will not be sullying this page with his image. This, on the other hand, I am feeling:
Jericho Barrons. Um, I can work with that
The second man I have invested in A LOT of time, statistically and emotionally, over the years is Rhett Butler of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind
I personally have never liked Glark Gable as Rhett, he has funny ears. Oh well...
While I like Rhett for his sly wit, frankness, sex appeal and sharp mind, I would say my strongest affiliation to him is through his pain.
You know how we keep reading stories about bad boys being "reformed" by good women? Well, Gone with the Wind is kind of the opposite of that. What happens when a bad man (even with all his good qualities, it is clear that Rhett is not a gentleman and has his own demons to battle) falls for an equally bad woman? How about, they fight with each other for the upper hand, try to pull one over on each other, try to manipulate one another, mistrust and are blinded by misconceptions.
Reading Gone with the Wind has always been (since I was probably 13) and still is a very emotional experience for me, because witnessing a disintegration of someone's marriage, even of people who are not, strictly speaking, deserving of happiness, is heartbreaking. And Rhett... it pains me just to remember him, this one time a fine, self-assured, proud man, be crashed and ruined by his relationship with Scarlett and his own mistakes.
There is something very tragic, in my eyes, about stories of missed opportunities and lost chances. Chances at love, happiness, fulfilling lives. Gone with the Wind is one of those stories. Even though I realize how controversial in many ways this novel is considered to be these days, it is still one of the most influential books in my life. And, by extension, Rhett is one the most influential fictional characters.
Perhaps we should've named this post "Our Favorite Heroes & Hunks: Part One" because I am certain that the moment we hit 'publish' we'll think of a few more we could've/should've included. Ah well, I suppose it might just be part one of a series. Who are your favorite literary heroes? What criteria do you value most?
We are absolutely thrilled today to have Stacia Kane
join us here at The Readventurer. Catie has been a huge fan of the Downside Ghosts series - featuring the complicated dark heroes Chess and Terrible - for a few years and Tatiana is a recent fan. It won't be long before we pressure Flannery into reading them too!
To help celebrate the release of Sacrificial Magic
(available today!), the fourth book in the Downside Ghosts series and the best yet according to Catie, we asked Stacia Kane a few questions about Chess, Terrible, and what she's got coming up for us next.
Stick around afterward for a giveaway! The Readventurers: The first three books were released back to back in 2010. Sacrificial Magic comes out in March, and Chasing Magic comes out in June. Is there a sixth book on the way?
There will be a sixth book from HarperVoyager, yes. Beyond that I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Do you like releasing them so close together? It’s nice for us, but it has to be stressful for you!
Actually, yes and no. It is really stressful, but it’s nice to have everyone get so excited and get so much of the story at once. I’d prefer a longer time period between books, personally; of course, it’s not something that’s even discussed with me, it’s entirely the decision of my publishers.
Downside is a place filled with violence, starvation, and many other frightening things, but seeing it through Chess’ eyes makes it feel like home. Would you like to visit? Go to a show at Trickster’s?
Oh, totally! I’ve been in places a lot like it, but it would be especially cool to be there, I think. I’m not sure if the idea appeals because of the place itself or the idea of being in a place I actually invented, but I definitely want to go there.
Chess and Terrible love to listen to classic rock and punk from the 70’s and 80’s. Would you welcome the ghost apocalypse if it meant that your favorite music would live on forever?
Hahahaha! I’d much rather it live forever without the ghost apocalypse. I think as much as I love the music, I’d feel kind of shitty saying it’s more important than millions of lives. In fact, none of the music I mention was produced after 1997, because that’s when Haunted Week happened. Not that good music stopped being made, but odds are that at least some if not most of the bands active at that time were killed, and since so many industries shrunk and the punk community is so small—relatively speaking—anyway, I didn’t want to assume anyone survived. Which is kind of bad, assuming my favorite bands are dead, but it wouldn’t be realistic otherwise, would it? Eighty percent of the world’s populations died and governments fell and a new totalitarian one took over, but all the good bands are still putting out great music? I kinda don’t think so.
In other interviews, I’ve read that while writing Unholy Ghosts, you initially didn’t plan on Terrible as a love interest for Chess. Once you realized that they had chemistry, did you go back and revise his character at all? Did you feel any pressure (internal or external) to make him more appealing and less frightening initially?
Well, I hadn’t planned him as a love interest per se but I had planned for them to become very close; I knew from the first scene at Bump’s place that her perception of him was going to change and that as she was nicer he was going to open up to her a bit more, which would change her perception further, and so on. So I definitely planned for them to have a real connection, I just didn’t expect their chemistry to be SO strong, and I didn’t expect that I would love him as much as I did.
But no, I didn’t revise anything, and I didn’t want to change anything about him or the way he was introduced. Honestly, the whole “point”—if there is a point—is that what we see isn’t always who people really are, and that it’s who they are inside that counts. I wanted Chess to slowly get to know him and realize who he really is, and I wanted the reader to get to experience that exact same “unveiling" along with her.
And I never wanted, and still don’t ever want, to try to downplay or hide the negative aspects of his character, either. It was important to me that Chess be a little afraid of him at first and that she be kind of a bitch to him. It was important that in UNHOLY MAGIC we see him actually doing his job: not beating people up because they threatened Chess, but just because they owe Bump money and it’s Terrible’s job to collect that money by whatever means necessary. It’s important to me that he not be made out as some kind of poor sweetheart forced by his size to hurt people and that he cries inside when he does it. He doesn’t. He enjoys what he does; he doesn’t really care very much about the people he hurts, in general (although being around Chess has changed that to the point that by UM he didn’t want her to see him do it; it’s not that he doesn’t want to do it anymore, just that that it’s a side of himself he wishes she wasn’t as aware of and doesn’t want her to witness). Just like Chess has some serious flaws and is a damaged person, so is Terrible.
For me one of the biggest revealing moments for him as a character—outside of anything romantic - was in UM when he and Chess were discussing the ghosts of murdered people, and he says something like “Right, it doesn’t matter how hard you hit, it never goes away for real.” Which I just think says so much about him and how he sees the world. Chess uses drugs to mask her pain, but he uses violence.
I have a good picture in my mind of what Terrible looks like, but I’ve struggled to think of a real person who fits his description. Is there a real-life person that you were thinking of when you described Terrible, or is he purely from your imagination?
He’s purely from my imagination. I never actually use celebrities or whatever as “models” for my characters’s appearances; I prefer to leave it kind of vague and let the reader fill it in (the exception is that Chess really does resemble Bettie Page; not exactly, but she has the same sort of face shape and pert nose, and of course the hair). I will say, though, that after I write them I do sometimes see people who remind me of them or who I think could resemble them. NOT look exactly like them at all, but have similar qualities. Like for Terrible I think of actors like Javier Bardem or Jason Momoa or Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Again, it’s not that they look just like him, at all, just that they have similar qualities or attributes.
"...for Terrible I think of actors like Javier Bardem or Jason Momoa or Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Again, it’s not that they look just like him, at all, just that they have similar qualities or attributes."
One parallel that I see between Chess and Terrible is that they’re both highly loyal to their employers, even though their jobs sometimes conflict with their own values. Chess doesn’t question the Church’s harsh punishments or treatment of the poor, and Terrible lets himself be seen as a mindless thug. Is that something that you thought about?
It is, yes! Another layer of understanding between them, another similarity and way they would understand certain things about each other/each others’ outlooks without needing to discuss it or be told. But remember, Terrible does actually see himself as a mindless thug, or at least, he doesn’t think he deserves to be seen as more. He’s been treated like that all his life, so he basically just believes it.
[Gah! That response broke my heart!]
Will Chess ever question the Church’s methods or will she forever see it as the only place that she ever felt safe?
Hmm. I’m not entirely sure. It really kind of depends on for how long the series goes on. But even if she does question it she’ll still see it as the place that “rescued” her, even if she discovers it’s not as benevolent and positive and always-right as she’s thought. I think even now she’s got some awareness of that. It’s just that this issue is kind of black-and-white to her, as some things are with all of us: the Church saved her, so the Church deserves her loyalty, and that’s that. Even as she’s uncomfortable with many things about it—even though she doesn’t acknowledge that discomfort—she still thinks it deserves her loyalty. But don’t forget, when loyalty to the Church and its teachings came up against saving Terrible’s life, the Church lost without even a second thought. And we’ll see in SACRIFICIAL and CHASING MAGIC more of the concept of Chess realizing that if she’s ever forced to make a choice the Church will lose.
"...I think in order to really be fully fleshed-out, characters have to have blind spots. There have to be things they just don’t want to see or acknowledge, things they protect
I think everyone has certain issues or people or things where they just have blind spots. People are inconsistent, it’s in our nature. And as Benjamin Franklin said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Which I love, and which I think is true, because someone who treats every situation exactly the same and doesn’t see any nuances isn’t really someone who engages in much critical thought or even is very empathetic. So I think in order to really be fully fleshed out, characters have to have blind spots. There have to be things they just don’t want to see or acknowledge, things they protect themselves from.
But honestly, I don’t know for sure what will happen with Chess and the Church. I have a few ideas in mind and don’t know which one will win, or if there’ll be a new one, or even, of course, if I’ll get to write those final books. So we’ll see.
One thing I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of is Chess wrangling with uptight, opinionated people. Do you love writing those scenes as much as I love reading them?
Hahaha, yes! I admit I have a lot of fun with those.
Chess has such a negative view of herself, which is understandable given her past. But I feel like occasionally, she’ll have little moments of clarity – like when she feels brave after Terrible labels her so, or when she decides not to go back to Lex, even when she’s alone and it would be the easy thing to do, or when she recites Church law with perfect memory and conviction. Will there be more of these moments for Chess? Is she going to start to see herself more clearly (even just a little bit)?
I think so, yes. One thing that makes Chess so fun to write, and what—for me at least—kind of saves her from being too depressing or whatever, is her belief in her own abilities as a witch. She’s always known she’s good at her job and she takes pride in that, and it’s really nice to write those moments; it’s nice to see her acknowledging her own skills at something. Sometimes I wonder if the reason she’s able to do that is because she started doing it after she left all those awful “homes” and people and situations behind, so no one ever actually told her she wasn’t good at being a witch, if you know what I mean. And she worked very hard for that; when her classmates were out having fun she was studying and pushing herself because she was afraid she’d lose her scholarship (and readers will hopefully get the chance to see some of that).
So she was that way from the beginning, had that strength from the beginning, but now I think as she lets more and more people into her life—people who aren’t affiliated with the Church—she’s starting to find some good things there, too. Certainly, and I hope this isn’t really a spoiler, we’ll see her own confidence starting to grow a bit as her relationship with Terrible strengthens. We’ll see it grow as she realizes that there are people who actually like her for her; even Lex, who she viewed as just using-each-other-for-sex, is still around now that the sex has stopped, which makes her wonder just how only-sex that relationship was.
So basically, yes. She’s letting more people into her life and realizing that not only do those people enjoy her company but she actually enjoys theirs; she’s very slowly moving away from the extremely solitary life she lived before to one where she interacts with other people, and that’s kind of breaking the shell she keeps between herself and the rest of the world and opening her up, so to speak. But it is a very, very slow process. You don’t undo a lifetime of conditioning and belief and behavior in a couple of months; you don’t stop hating yourself suddenly just because you find love. You know? It may help some, it may be a bit of a Band-Aid, but it’s not a cure.
"You don’t undo a lifetime of conditioning and belief and behavior in a couple of
months; you don’t stop hating yourself suddenly just because you find love. You
know? It may help some, it may be a bit of a Band-Aid, but it’s not a cure."
I really appreciate that you’ve never made Chess’ drug use into something exciting or glorified. It feels like a constant, nagging presence in the story – something that she can never forget, even when she’s battling ghosts or kissing Terrible. Do you sometimes want to forget about it? Do you ever feel confined by it, while you’re writing?
Yes and no! I love the structure it gives me/the stories; I love that it’s something always there. And sometimes it helps keep me grounded in the world and in Chess’s head. On occasion I do wish I didn’t have to write it again, but at the same time, it is who she is. And just like I can’t ignore any other part of her character or anyone else’s character, I can’t ignore that one either.
As a reader, I am torn between wanting Chess to become sober and healthy, and not wanting that at all because it would be unrealistic for her to do so. Do you struggle with that?
Oh, totally, yes. It’s very difficult for me to imagine a sober Chess; I honestly have a hard time even thinking how I would write a sober Chess! But I’m also aware that she’s growing as a character and as a person, and that she has to do that, and I think to make her grow in every other way but leave her there in that one way just wouldn’t work very well.
I think it’s safe to say that she’ll keep growing, and it’s an issue that will have to be addressed. Anything beyond that would be a spoiler, though.
One of the things that I love the most about Sacrificial Magic is that I think it’s a great example of a romance, post-happily-ever-after (if that can even be applied to Terrible and Chess). The insecurities that they both have seem very realistic and I think that you’ve really shown that it’s harder to actually be with someone than it is to initially get together.
Thank you! I try really hard to show that, to show that just because you love someone doesn’t mean all the issues and/or problems just instantly go away; well, just like I said two answers ago. Love can help heal wounds but it isn’t a cure-all. And if your characters are strong enough and real enough it should be obvious where those conflicts and issues will come from.
Does it make you nervous at all to have so many of us out here so highly invested in what happens to Terrible and Chess? Is there anything we could do to ensure that neither one of them dies? We’re not above bribery or extravagant gifts. Just so you know.
Ha! There’s an answer here I so wish I could give, but it’s a huge spoiler for CHASING MAGIC.
Can you give us any hints about what’s coming up next? Do you have any new projects that you’re working on?
I’m working on a YA project I’m pretty excited about; it’s another alternate-history-dystopian type story, with a historical setting rather than present day. It’s got demons and magical machines and Fae and diseases and poverty and wealth, and is really fun to write so far. So I’m hopeful about that. But of course whether or not it will sell is another story.
Thank you so much for joining us today! Happy release day!
Thanks again for having me!
We read quite a few interviews while putting together these questions, and we were all impressed by how much thought and effort Stacia Kane always puts into her answers, including the ones that she was so gracious to send us. It's clear that she has a very clear picture of who her characters are and where they're going. Stacia Kane can be found on her blog
, and goodreads
And now, because we love
being shameless pushers of great books, we are giving away one book of your choice from The Downside Ghosts series. If you haven't started these yet, Unholy Ghosts is a great introduction. If you've read the first one or two but just haven't picked up the others, they only get better and better so what are you waiting for? And, if you've been dying to get your hands on Sacrificial Magic for months - it's here! Giveaway ends Tuesday April 3rd. Open internationally.
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Publication Date: 4/24/12
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.
From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.
When I look back at Unraveling
, the first word that comes to mind is "calculated."
I read a fair number of commercial genre fiction and I am quite used to certain themes, plots and character archetypes being recycled over and over and over and over. It does not bother me, in general. But Unraveling
was the first book that made me think, while reading it, that it had been written off of a checklist of what is currently "in" and sells well in YA market. I do not even have energy (nor a desire) to harp on how much of this novel is tediously familiar. Just a few notes:
- Opening: the hero saves the heroine from dying.
- Romance: 50% instalove (see #1)/ 50% I-have-loved-you-forever. Escalates to I-can't-leave-without-you in a matter of 2-3 weeks.
- The heroine is "strong" - smart, good student, knows how stand up for herself, family caretaker, family problems, dark traumatic incident in her past of sexual nature.
- The hero is "good" - sensitive, caring, saves the heroine on multiple occasions, with floppy hair he is constantly running his hands through, crooked smile, with dark secret, fixes motorcycles, hides his smarts under a stoner persona.
- School: a class that is conveniently designed for the hero and the heroine to banter on a very intimate level, encouraged by the teacher.
- Other stock characters: stoners, slutty mean girls, stupid jocks, the heroine's best male friend (possibly gay? unclear).
- Sleeping chastely in the same bed? Yes.
etc., etc,...Is it really that hard for writers to break away
from the same old, same old? Or is this what publishers are deliberately and actively seeking out? Something that fits the mold? There are a few saving graces, however, that barely keep Unraveling from the 1-star abyss, in my case, and, apparently, elevate this book to the level of a favorite, for other readers.First, it appears the author of the novel went out of her way to make sure to put all positive qualities into her characters and situations. There is no promoting of unhealthy relationships, abusive behavior, doormatedness and so on.
The main characters even give small lectures along the way on the matters of dating, dangers of motorcycle riding, drunk driving, honorable way of hacking into the school records, etc. Second, while I was not at any point enamored with the characters, I still thought the book was a very brisk read.
The writing has a sense of urgency to it. The chapters are very short and represent a countdown to a very important, possibly life-threatening event. So you just tear through these pages, like there is no tomorrow.Third, this novel starts out as a paranormal (after all, the hero magically brings the heroine back from death), but eventually turns into a science fiction story (SF is on the rise, people!, that is why it is in this book, I am betting)
. Several very positive reviews of Unraveling
I have read call this SF bend unique, and readers seem to like it a lot. But
I beg to differ here. Maybe because I do read a lot of SF and I have very recently read another (much better) YA SF with the same ideas (I will not name it so that I do not spoil the surprise), but I cannot seriously call Unraveling
a good SF novel. There is hardly any science in Unraveling
, the SF "hook" goes generally undeveloped. As for how much science there is actually in this book, I would say close to zero. You can expect nothing more, if the characters in this novel say: "I've spent hours going over it in my head. I was wrong when I told A. no one else knows the science. Both B. and C. know the science..."
(identities concealed to avoid spoilers). So that is the extent of scientific knowledge in Unraveling
. There are no specifics, just that elusive "science" that characters "know" and "do."Readers less jaded and less demanding are likely
to enjoy Unraveling
more. The book's pace is snappy and the story itself packs all the "right" elements. But there is just no originality in it, no life in its characters, no true inspiration behind it. An aggregate of bluntly "popular" pieces carefully put together. 2.5/5 stars
If there is really such a thing as a book twin," Emily is definitely mine. Hers are reviews I always check out first before reading any book that I am unsure about. You can compare our reviews of the same book and more often than not they are virtually identical. Awfully convenient to have someone with the same reading tastes as your friend, believe me.
I am very happy that Emily agreed to write something for us today, and why am I not surprised she chose one of the all time favorites of mine?
When I was asked to write a post about classics for The Readventurer, I pretended for all of ten seconds to contemplate which unlucky author would have me drooling over their masterpieces. But I think there has only ever been one that fully spoke to me on a personal level that probably wouldn't even make sense to most people. Emily Bronte is the reason I read, the reason I found out just how big an impact a book can have on a person. I was eleven years old and it took me a month to finish Wuthering Heights
- and it was perhaps the most emotional month of my life. I've needed to write something about the middle Bronte sister and her novel for a long, long time; something that I didn't have to write for an assignment and something that wasn't quite a review, I thank the ladies at The Readventurer for giving me the opportunity to do just that.
My love for Emily extends beyond a love of her writing, I can't deny that it probably has something to do with our shared names and the fact we both come from small towns in Yorkshire. Anyone who visits Haworth - the small picturesque village where the Brontes lived - and sees the tiny bedroom in which Emily would write and then takes a walk a little further out onto the moors that feature so often in her work, anyone who does that cannot fail to imagine how the world of Wuthering Heights
took shape in Emily's mind, it's hard not to think you can see Cathy and Heathcliff wandering along that breezy wilderness in the world of their own that they'd always needed to be free.
is a book of mysteries: where did Heathcliff come from? Did Lockwood have a dream or see a ghost? Even down to that strange isolated world that forms the backdrop of the novel... and I think Emily Bronte is one of the greatest mysteries of all. How did a woman who never had a lover, who died at thirty after refusing to see a doctor... how could she write such a powerful and tragic tale of love? What secrets did she hold that could have inspired such raw emotion? It's these questions which have led me to sit on a stone bench in the middle of Haworth, surrounded by the village's creepily large cat population, and ponder the life of this remarkable woman.
What I think I love most about Wuthering Heights
- and especially what I loved most about it when I was eleven - is that it is a book of outsiders. Growing up I was always an outsider, a little nerdy and weird, more concerned with reading and learning than participating in whatever games the other kids were playing. It was only natural that I would find something of myself in a novel where nothing quite fits in with the regular world. The dark, foreboding house on the moors is, itself, an outsider, away from civilisation and normality. Heathcliff spent his life an outsider, it was a curse that even wealth and love couldn't cure him of. For me, Wuthering Heights
was always about an isolated place and an isolated man, and it was this I could understand, even at eleven years old.
I feel like I must say something in defense of Heathcliff, it's true anyway that one cannot write about Wuthering Heights
without having something to say about Heathcliff. But as someone who feels strongly about feminism and has written extensively about feminism and sexism in literature, I want to talk about the "bad boy". Most of my reviewer friends are exhausted with novels that glorify control-freaks and violent boyfriends, in a world where books like Hush, Hush
are bestsellers you simply cannot ignore the dangers of the "bad boy" stereotype.
And it's no secret that Heathcliff - despite all his violent, abusive, insane ways - has been romanticised, I think because a lot of women just want someone to love them as passionately as Heathcliff loved Cathy. Having men like these in the movies doesn't really help the situation:
But I think this is a mistake. People got it wrong or the media changed it or... something. For Emily Bronte, Heathcliff wasn't a bad boy in the sexual sense. For me, Heathcliff was never a bad boy. For Charlotte Bronte, he most certainly wasn't:
"Whether it is right or advisable to create a character like Heathcliff, I do not know."
But Heathcliff is actually a victim of abuse, he's the outsider I mentioned before, the one who doesn't know how to be anything other than evil with anyone other than Cathy because she is the only form of love he's known. Heathcliff is a tragic character, not unlike Othello or Macbeth; he is a man who was doomed to fail at life because of his lack of self-worth, because of his surety that he could not possibly be loved. This story isn't about finding forgiveness for Heathcliff, but I do believe it's about achieving a certain level of understanding. And perhaps the suggestion that even the most evil and violent characters deserve some peace and love in the end - as that is what I believe Emily Bronte gave Heathcliff through his death. I say so often in my reviews that I don't really care for romances, but that's not strictly true. A romance story can fill/steal/break your heart if it's done right, but it so seldom is. Emily Bronte, a woman who remained single to the day she died, seems to know more about telling a love story - a sad, heartbreaking love story - than all today's authors put together.
I'm a weird person and I love the darkness and beautiful sadness of Emily Bronte's masterpiece. I've never known a book where the mood is so very present in everything from the landscape to the character descriptions. This is my favourite book of all time and I don't think any modern author has it in them to change that. I'm going to end this post with a short list of a few of my other favourite classics. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
Another gorgeous Bronte novel with a love story, but mostly about a woman trying to find her place in the world. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
A fantastic story about social class, snobbery and how the real gentlemen are not always who you were expecting. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
The true dystopian classic about how totalitarian regimes can take away even the freedom of your mind. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
The disturbing but incredibly well-written tale of a man's perverted obsession. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Okay, so maybe not quite a classic - yet. But this is a well-crafted feminist dystopian nightmare, a definite classic of the future.
Thank you so much Flannery, Tatiana and Catie for having me, it's been fantastic to be part of the classics love!
_____________________________________________________Thank you, Emily, for visiting us and talking so passionately about a book that is loved by all of us. I especially agree with your points about Heathcliff. I am the type of reader who falls easily for moody and brooding, but I was never romantically attracted to Heathcliff. Hareton and Cathy's is the love story I am personally much more attached to. You can check out Emily's wonderful reviews on Goodreads and on her pretty blog - The Book Geek.
Life Is But a Dream
Author: Brian James
Publication Date: 3/27/12
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Blurb(GR): Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.
One of the many things that fascinate me about mental disorders is the thought that some of these symptoms that we’ve labeled and classified as illnesses might not be illnesses at all. For most of the twentieth century, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. “Schizophrenia” appears in cultures around the globe, but its manifestations tend to differ from one culture to another – as do the cultural attitudes surrounding it. Our “normal” perception of the world is really just a hallucination created by the brain in response to environmental stimulae, so is it really so strange when someone’s perception is slightly different than the norm? Pondering all of these things was what kept me the most engaged with this book.
Sabrina’s point of view is a very ambitious one to take on – that of a schizophrenic girl. I am in no way qualified to tell you whether this is a realistic portrayal, but I was really impressed. The writing is beautifully descriptive without feeling gratuitous and further than that I think that for a man, the author did an amazing job of writing a realistic teenage girl. I was especially moved by Sabrina’s attitude toward her illness. She’s experienced some form of hallucination since early childhood, so it feels comforting and normal to her. She doesn’t feel right without her hallucinations. And my heart broke a little bit when her parents – who used to be so encouraging of her imaginative games – began to disapprove.
“My dad smiles and pulls me so close my shoulder bumps into his ribs and I have to cross my legs to catch my balance. –You know, Sabrina, sometimes I wish you could stay a kid forever– he says. –Promise something? Even when you do get older and grow up, stay this perfect for me.– My eyes light up and I smile. –Sure thing, Dad– I tell him. –I promise.–“
As you can probably tell from that passage, there are a few interesting quirks to the writing. There are no quotation marks: all dialogue is shown in italics and separated by dashes. Also, the narrative skips back and forth abruptly in time with almost nothing to indicate that it’s happening. Flashbacks and
the main story are told in present tense. All of that may seem annoying, but I have to say that while I was reading this, none of it bothered me. I think that the abrupt shifts in time are confusing and unsettling, but they illustrate Sabrina’s mental state perfectly.
So here's the source of my disappointment: all pondering aside, I guess in the end I do
believe that schizophrenia is a mental illness, and that hallucinating your way through the world is quite a bit more dangerous than it is beautiful. I thought that the author and I were on the same page about that for most of this book. When the love interest Alec was introduced – so full of angry convictions – I was fascinated by the idea that Sabrina’s view of him was incorrect. She's so wrapped up in her visions of his glowing eyes and familiar shape and the future that she imagines they've already had together. When you read just his words – his plain words – without any of her extra perceptions, he seems antagonistic and foolish – maybe even a little dangerous. She seems to miss out on who he really is – a confused, violent young man. Or so I assumed, and that assumption fueled a lot of my interest in this book.
And then I got to the ending. (I swear – I should just have that engraved on my tombstone. It would work on so many levels! Okay, maybe just two levels.) The ending is just incredibly unrealistic, in my opinion. Alec proves himself to be everything Sabrina thought he was, even appearing magically at exactly the right time – just as her hallucinations told her he would. Sabrina achieves near perfect lucidity just in time to regret her actions, and of course they all learn a very important lesson.
Blah blah blah. I guess I wanted the consequences to be more real, and I didn't want to see Sabrina realize so quickly and easily that she needed help. And I don’t think that schizophrenic hallucinations are likely to lead a person to her soul mate.
However, if you love happy endings and you’d like to read a very well written book from the point of view of a schizophrenic person, I think this would be a great choice. For this old skeptic, it was just okay.Perfect Musical Pairing
Cate Le Bon - Greta
This is one sad, sad case where a you tube video of the song that I chose does not exist (reviewer problems). And there's no way that I'm picking a different song, because this one is just perfection. Luckily I found it on her myspace page - so click the link above to listen. Cate Le Bon creates eerily beautiful, almost unsettling music. These lyrics are so perfect:"In the morning
The universe shines
From under her skin
The delicate pattern
Of places she's been
Her baby days
Coiled up inside her
Like ribbons all tied"
| || |
Book vs. Movie
The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Directed by: Gary Ross
Okay, so I read the entire book for the third or fourth time and finished (literally) right before the trailers began. A few quick notes about the theater: We got there at 8:45 for a midnight showing and got to sit in our theater seats for that entire time. JACKPOT! There were a bunch of people dressed up as Katniss, tributes, or Capitol dwellers. (I only had on my mockingjay pin.) When they showed a trailer for the new Twilight movie and for the Snow White movie with Kristen Stewart, people booed...and I smiled at their booing. (In pride!) I was so giddily excited to see what Lionsgate and Gary Ross had in store for me and every other Hunger Games fan out there. First off, some advice to all fans of the series: DO NOT READ THE BOOK AGAIN RIGHT BEFORE YOU SEE THIS MOVIE. Do you hear me? Don't do it. You'll regret it if you do.
Okay, as I continue on I am going to assume that whoever is reading this blog post has already read the entire book series. In terms of the movie, I'm not sure how someone who hasn't seen it yet would feel. I mean, you already know the entire plot from the book so I'm really not spoiling anything. The way I see it is this: You will be entertained by the movie, it is a pretty good movie all around, but there are a lot of differences from the book and I will lay them out for you. You've been warned.
A little too "with it"?
The movie opens in a similar fashion as the book, only there are a few text prompts that explain what the Hunger Games are before anything actually happens. Katniss is consoling Prim after she has a nightmare, which doesn't happen in the book--Prim has moved to their mother's bed before she wakes up. Mrs. Everdeen was much more put together in the movie than I would've liked her to be. The audience doesn't know that she works with medicines and this information is deleted from the entirety of the movie so Katniss never makes any references to knowledge of first aid or healing and Rue never helps Katniss with herbs for her tracker jacker stings. I loved the scene between Rue and Katniss in the book when they swap remedies and split supplies but it doesn't exist in the movie; instead, the two of them just eat together and then basically set up the firewood for their sabotage plans. The scene when Rue dies was still very moving but the film did little to develop a relationship between Rue and Katniss.
Gale and Katniss' relationship in the movie stays pretty true to the book and it was a highlight for me overall. The beginning scene with the two of them hunting creates a realistic belief by the audience that these two characters have a history. The dialogue between the two stays true to the book and we get the feeling of Gale's underlying distrust of the system. Additionally, we get to see Gale watching the Games once or twice during the movie and that is something we don't ever see in the book: any glimpse of what he might be feeling as he sees Peeta and Katniss together.
Effie, Haymitch, and Katniss watching the scores come in.
Another highlight from start to finish is Effie Trinket. Elizabeth Banks does a wonderful job in character and even when she had lines that didn't appear in the book, she provided comic relief--comic relief that I'd hoped would come from Haymitch but... not so much. I was disappointed that Haymitch doesn't even appear until the tributes are already on the train--there was no falling off the stage or drunkenness or vomiting. He's coherent throughout and I thought that was a letdown.
The biggest difference in the film is the mockingjay pin. *sigh* In the book, Katniss receives the pin from Madge, a friend from District 12. She wears it not knowing its significance until she and Rue have a discussion in the arena. In the movie, Madge doesn't exist. Katniss finds the pin in the Hob, gives it to Prim to "protect her at the Reaping", Prim gives it back to Katniss, and then there is never a discussion with Rue. Oh, and Katniss wears the pin on her dress at the very end of the movie as a sign of her rebellion, which never happened in the book. I was such a fan of the way the pin was introduced in the book--not so much in the movie.
Cinna and Katniss.
On a side note, I didn't mind that Cinna gave her the mockingjay pin as a sort of "secret" between the two of them. I was one of those people who complained about Lenny Kravitz' casting as Cinna but I'll eat crow on this one because he really could do no wrong. I was surprised as how much I liked him in that part.
The movie does capture the general feeling of the games and it doesn't skimp out on a lot of the violence. There are definitely a few deaths I was surprised to see included, but at the same time a lot of the deaths are just skipped over. (e.g. Katniss doesn't battle anyone for the backpack) After the initial battle at the cornucopia, 12 die instead of 11. WHY? Thresh is killed by the muttations instead of Cato. WHY? I guess just to move the story along but these little changes could've just used one dialogue line and stayed true to the book. (edit: It might be unclear how Thresh dies in the book. The scene near the end was changed, however, because in the book Cato comes frantically running past Peeta and Katniss and Peeta is limping as they all run together to the cornucopia. This would've been an even more adrenaline-filled scene if it'd stayed true to the book.)
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Throughout the Games, we are shown how the gamemakers create and edit the arena and I have to say, that was quite interesting. It was something we never got to experience in the book and it added to the movie. Because readers know what is coming in books two and three, the filmmakers added a few details into the film to give hints at where the series is going. After Katniss gives her salute to Rue, we see riots in District 11. We see a few conversations between President Snow and Seneca Crane about the purpose of the games and containing the tiny bit of hope created by them. I understand why these scenes were included but I wish there was a way to include them without taking out scenes I wish were retained. And so it goes. I think a much more successful way to incorporate the underlying tension in the districts would've been to include the Avox in the movie and flashback while Katniss explains to Peeta where she recognized her from. That happens in the book but the Avox, who has several scenes with Katniss in the book, is absent from the film.
Other scenes that are absent or changed in the movie:
- Katniss never receives bread from Rue's district
- Katniss never receives sleep potion or gives it to Peeta
- They never receive a feast basket when they are starving. (also, they are never starving)
- There is never a dried-up stream or torrential rain
- Peeta never really appears all that sick. At the end of the games, he just hops down off the cornucopia and he and Katniss look/act rather healthy. There is no mention of either requiring any hospitalization, no metal leg or cane.
- Katniss' dress for the interview has ZERO jewels on it. And she twirls in her dress to create flames in what is probably the cheesiest scene in the movie.
- Peeta throws a heavy object in training to prove to the Careers that he is no one to be scoffed at
- Rue steals a knife from a Career during the training period.
- Katniss doesn't have flames painted on her nails. (easy fix)
- The muttations at the end are just CGI dogs and not combinations of the tributes and wolves. This made me sad.
- Katniss is never visibly thirsty. She finds water right away and doesn't have to wander around trying to find it. She stays basically healthy throughout the entire Games except for her tracker jacker stings and her leg burn.
- After Peeta professes his crush on Katniss during the interview, she doesn't injure his hands.
- After Katniss wakes up from hallucinating from her stings, Rue is there explaining that Katniss had been asleep for days and that she'd been changing her camouflage.
- The sponsor gifts are delivered with a little noise, in a metal case with actual notes from Haymitch. (this change made sense to me)
I wish that there was a little more development for the Peeta/Katniss love story. As it is in the movie, it kind of moves straight from him professing his love at the interview to their one heartfelt conversation the night before the Games to Katniss caring for him. She never tells him the story about Prim's goat and they don't really talk about anything of substance in the cave. The entire Games feels like it is about 5 days when it is supposed to be two weeks. That's what I was missing--I wanted it to feel a bit less hurried and to actually see the tributes in pain, hungry, and thirsty. And I wanted to see Peeta near death and Katniss nurse him back to health over time. In the book, I felt like Katniss was conflicted about her feelings but in the movie, I just never felt like she liked him all that much.
The movie ends at a similar point that the book does but continuing the discussion on Katniss and Peeta, I was missing his realization that it was all faked, or at least a good portion of it was. In the book, Haymitch prepares Katniss for the post-Games interview and tells her that he doesn't need to do so for Peeta because "he's already there." Peeta only finds out Katniss' jumbled feelings after that. The movie ends with Peeta still being clueless and Katniss making eye contact with Gale back in District 12. And with President Snow looking generally evil and plotting. And with Seneca Crane being locked in a room with poisonous berries.
Using our new ratings system, I'd give the new Hunger Games movie:
| || |
"You pleased me some of the time."
(From The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and directed by Kevin Reynolds in 2002)
It was okay. We would probably watch it again if it were on in the middle of the day. But we'd be reading at the same time.
This is actually probably somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. I think I would've enjoyed the film more if I hadn't read the book directly beforehand. The glaring omission of several of my favorite characters (mostly Madge and the Avox) and the character inconsistencies of Mrs. Everdeen and Haymitch nagged at me. I wanted to see more of the Capitol and all the inventions, and I was missing a lot of relationship development. I will be going to see it once or twice more in theaters with members of my family and I can't wait to hear what they think. What did YOU think? Did you catch something I missed? Did you love it? Let's discuss in the comments!
A couple of weeks ago I did a post on my favorite podcasts
. Although that post did not particularly take off, I am still determined to turn at least some book-minded people in that direction.
The new podcast I recently discovered and want to talk briefly about today is Sara Zarr
's new podcasting venture This Creative Life
I am a massive Sara Zarr fan, so it is no wonder I am interested in her blog and, basically, everything she has to say. But this is not the only reason why I am attracted to This Creative Life
so much. Although I have no writing aspirations whatsoever, the writing, creative process itself has always been fascinating to me. I have come across authors who can churn out books in a matter of weeks and some, like Sara Zarr herself, spend years polishing one slight book. Why is the process of writing so different for different people? Why do those who feel like it is an extremely strenuous and daunting process still want to continue on writing? Sara's podcast is dedicated exactly to this topic - how do different authors approach their writing, how the deal with bumps along the writing road, how they handle the lack of inspiration, etc.
There are only 2 episodes out so far in This Creative Life
, a podcast which Sara intends to be a bi-weekly feature.
The first one is a conversation with Tara Altebrando
. Apparently, Zarr and Altebrando are working on a joint project (I did not know that!).You can download their conversation here:
This Creative Life - Episode 1 - Tara Altebrando
The second episode is even more interesting. Did you know that Stephanie Perkins
had a bit of a creative black hole experience while writing Lola and the Boy Next Door
? It was so serious that she had to push back publication of her 3rd book a year.
You can download their conversation here:This Creative Life - Episode 2 - Stephanie Perkins
If you are interested in creative live of authors at least a little bit, I highly recommend this podcast.
You can subscribe to the podcast's feed HERE
(although this link works in a glitchy way for me), or just download the episodes into your iTunes via the links above.
Author: Susanne Dunlap
Publication Date: 2/28/12
Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.
Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history Review:The Académie
reimagines a history where James Monroe
’s daughter Eliza went to the same school at the same time as Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Caroline, and his stepdaughter (Josephine’s daughter) Hortense de Beauharnais
. The school was run by Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan, who was mistress to the bedchamber of Marie Antoinette. In actuality, there wasn’t a time that all three girls were in attendance together so the author fabricated Eliza’s presence at the school in 1799 to create a plausible timeline and then ran with it. I read and enjoyed Dunlap’s recent work, In the Shadow of the Lamp
, which told a tale of a young woman who joins Florence Nightingale
’s nursing corps during the Crimean War, so I was excited to jump into another time period with her and fall into the story. Her writing is engaging and she created a scenario where I actually enjoyed multiple narrators. The book is told from the point of view of Eliza Monroe, Hortense, and a third young woman, Madeleine, who though she comes from a very different background and situation becomes entwined with the other two (and Caroline Bonaparte) later in the story.
Each character was unlikeable in her own way, yet the author made me look forward to hearing from them when it was their turn to narrate. I thought Eliza was naïve and a bit of a try-hard (“The new manner of government gives titles and positions to those who actually deserve them. It will be easy to stand out in that sort of crowd.”), Hortense was a pushover, and Caroline was a huge… well, I’m sure you can figure out what word I want to write here. Multiple narrators rarely work well for me but I quite enjoyed the catty conversations and subtle jabs between the young women, particularly when I knew I would get to hear from the other participants at some later point. Also, I think it is realistic that each girl thought she was the only one who truly had a grasp of what was going on in their social circles and constantly wondered what the others were thinking.
While I did enjoy the multiple main characters, I wish an entire book was concentrated on Madeleine’s character. She felt removed from the three girls at the boarding school yet I found her story to be the most compelling. A young girl, relegated to servitude by and for her mother and who lives her entire life in the theater. A girl whose mother finds her to be competition, on the stage and in matters of male company. I almost pictured Madeleine as a Sara Crewe
-type character, making the best of a situation which she knew she could rise above. I will not give away the ending of her particular story but I found it to be such an awful end to the only primary character whose story was entirely fabricated. The author writes in an afterword about taking liberties with the time period and particular character’s traits. I mentioned in a discussion with another Goodreads reviewer (Michelle
, who wrote a wonderful review here
) that the fact that the author did this did not bother me until the last portion of the novel. History provides us with pinpoints for all the lives of these characters—Dunlap couldn’t (with any credibility) leave the characters in some obscure life paths that were completely untruthful. They each more or less end up where they actually did in history. So why make Eliza Monroe out to be some abolitionist when there is no historical record to back it up?
The plotline of the book has a lot to do with young romance, trying to find a partner of equal familial standing and wealth, and the general antics of high-school aged girls. For about the first half of the book, I wasn’t sure who was going to end up with whom in the story as feelings were flying all over the place. A piece of me wants to say that the romantic elements of the story were unrealistic but I know marriage was much more an issue of practicality during that time period. I suppose I just enjoy reading about relationships based on love rather than convenience and social standing. When I think about it overall, I am so happy I read this while I was in a good mood. Otherwise, it would’ve driven me up a wall that people were traveling so quickly by carriage and that everyone seemingly gets away with every hijink they get up to. How convenient!
We learn so much of our history in a vacuum. While I was reading The Académie
, I kept wondering how many historical world events I could match up with the corresponding American president/s. I memorized the presidents in order from an Animaniacs song when I was a kid, but honestly I was surprised to learn that James Monroe’s daughter went to the same school as Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister and stepdaughter, even if they were a few years apart. I guess that’s one argument for reading historical fiction (and nonfiction even more so)—now I will never forget. Jeopardy, here I come!
I recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind multiple narrators or authors taking historical liberties. If you can get over those things, there's a lot of fun to be had with these characters in this portion of history. I'll definitely continue reading Dunlap's historical fiction.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a review copy.