Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On Falling Out of Love (with something)

Sometimes I will love something with such a passion that I don't think it will ever die. I will feel as if this is where I am meant to be and my love is just so intense that it's never going to change- how could something so strong, so sure, ever change? When it makes me feel like a dazzling bolt of light amidst moments when I am nothing so much as a swirling storm, made of rain and wet and roiling electricity, the idea of it changing simply isn't a part of the experience.

Because to feel like that- to have something make you feel like that, to find comfort, solace, hope, or love in anything, to be able to hold this thing up and say look at my passion, isn't it startling and beautiful and just perfect?- is one of the most gorgeous things in the world. It is something I yearn for,  even when I have it, and when I find it- when I find it I feel so full of glory it can be hard to stand, hard not to share and hoard and devote myself entirely to it.

Sometimes you can gaze at this thing and say look at my passion, isn't it striking and splendid and not perfect at all, but it is good and it makes me happy and I love it, so it's okay.

I understand that it isn't perfect. Not everything is. But I still love it. It still makes me thrill. And what could possibly be better? How could you get closer to actual magic than something that makes you feel like this?

And then, if it does, you wonder from afar: how could that have changed?
Why would it, when it was so terrific and joyful and lovely and not perfect at all, but as close as and all the more wonderful for that imperfection?

And yet... sometimes it does. It will. It has. I have felt it change. Sometimes there's a reason- the character or artist or person behind the work does something, big or small, and it just manages to shift everything- and sometimes there isn't, and I'll just look one day and feel less attached, see less of what is important to me. And sometimes I wish it didn't turn out that way. Sometimes I wish my passion never faded and that it could be easier to distance the creator from their work or the character from their actions, but not really. I have never wanted to support someone whose actions hurt.

Now and again the love fades for no reason at all and one day it's just gone, and you might retain the fondness, or the memory of what there was, even if it's no longer true. You're left with a way of not forgetting.

Sometimes love for a thing isn't constant, and you can put it aside and return to it and feel everything with full force once more, for as long as you're holding it, and you know that whenever you come back next it'll still be there, waiting, and it's so important but you don't always need to have it by your side to know that. You just need to not forget it- and how could you?

And sometimes... sometimes love doesn't fade. Sometimes you touch something and you know that even when it hasn't lasted every time, it will with this. And it is just as glorious and fantastic and splendid for every moment, and it doesn't negate your love for those other things, it doesn't mean that it's better or more important than any other thing that has become less necessary to your everyday life. It only means- to me, at least- that it's love. It is passion and imperfection and happiness, and it changes everything.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Why is This Night Different From all Other Nights by Lemony Snicket...

Publish date- 2015
Publisher- Egmont.
All the Wrong Questions #4. See my reviews for books 2 and 3.

*Note that this review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series!*

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Everything goes down. Everything. It's all happening on this final night.

What I thought:
I have a long-term love for Lemony Snicket's work, a love for the bitterswet, often miserable nature of it and a never-quelled intrigue into the dark, sorrowfil past (including his relationship with Beatrice, the Baudelaire's mother) that, throughout ASOUE, we get but the smallest tidbits of information on. Snicket knows (or knew) a great number of the adoptive/foster parents and relations of the Baudelaire's, and I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE STORIES.

And here, in All the Wrong Questions, there was a series about Snicket as a child, his journey (as a member of the secret organisation) to Stain'd by the Sea, and the remarkable people he meets in that slowly dying town. I thought, for sure, that at least some of my questions would be answered, in due course.

Now, with the first book, I was a little uncertain because it's so different. Snicket, for the first time, is at the forefront and we're thrust into this new era and it was all fast moving and baffling.
But I grew to love it.
Each book was better than the last, the plot becoming more intense, the level of trust- something Snicket is relatably slow enabling himself to grant or feel- has been sealed, and the conclusion- the answers- it was all here.

Well. That's what I thought.

Unfortunately I realised too late that the things I was waiting for- a sign of Beatrice, more involvement than a single, momentary appearance from other members of the organisation- weren't going to be found here. And, though disappointed, I could have dealt with that, growing attached to characters and the plot and the race to stop this new dastardly villain, if only it hadn't felt as if the series came to a crashing halt in exactly the wrong place. Something happens, something big but also not terribly unexpected, and the reaction- from every single friend Snicket had made- was something I was completely unprepared for.

I was stunned, that things could end in such an abrupt, startling, sad way, that I had given so much time and put so much effort into something, only for the characters I had grown to love to change in behaviour and personality at the last, right when they ought, if I knew them at all, to have been the strongest, the most steadafast, to have proved, basically, that they really understood what danger they were all in, as they had already said they did, and it wouldn't change things. And maybe that isn't fair, since there are plenty of circumstances which change everything and this one, which I will not be spoiling, is big, as I said. But not a single one of them was who I thought, and that hurt. And it confused me.

This book felt different from the rest. Set over the course of a single night, mostly on a train, I end the series not comprehending what made things finish in this way. I feel like I have more questions than ever, and none of my old ones answered, and I really don't like that feeling. There were good points. Character interactions, finishing this four-book plot arc, the mystery of it all and the fresh questions I was met with, and received answers to, but too much was just... too much was not good. Too mcuh was less than I had hoped it would be, and that isn't how I want to feel at the end of a series.

Rating: Hmmmm.
A disappointing end to the series, to say the least. Not the fault of the plot, but by the unexpected, unsupportive reactions of characters who I thought were somehow truer than they were proved to be.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ash by Malinda Lo...

Publish date- 2009
Publisher- Little, Brown Books for Children.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
When Ash's mother dies, she loses a brightness and a spark that had alway been present and loving in her life, and it is only the tales of the fairy kingdom that sustain her as her father begins to drift. A fairy kingdom that, people whisper, her mother was a part of. A fairy kingdom Ash wants nothing more than to find.

What I thought:
I had absolutely no idea what my experience with Ash would be like. I very briefly gave it a try many years ago, and after that- despite the factors that drew me to it (including a gorgeousssss cover)- I never felt my interest revive, not until two of my favourite and most trusted bloggers, Chiara and Glaiza, read it, and came away with rather different thoughts.
So I decided to give it another go, hardly believing I would finish it after my own intial difficulty all that time ago.

And it was so very gorgeous.

Perhaps there is a singular something about books that delve into the fairy world that leave me entranced. Perhaps I am actually a changeling, since each glimpse into that magical world- from growing up with Rodda, to discovering Valente and Gaiman, and now Lo- leave me with the greatest sense that I have found my home (it's the one word I tend to use without fail in all my reviews for Valente's fairyland).
In Ash, we only get glimpses into that fairyland, but those glimpses utterly enchanted me: grand gatherings in the woods; beautiful, untraceable music; magic softly sparking off every living thing; promises made and prices settled upon. There is always a danger to fairyland, and Lo subtly weaved that into Ash with perfection. Her vision of the worlds (human and fairy) and the way they intermingled was so beautifully done, and whilst this is, most certainly, a slow moving novel, the intrigue and beauty of it being revealed alongside the well known tale of Cinderaella, I uncharacteristically didn't take issue with that factor. The slow moving quality only made me love it more, because it felt just perfect.

Apart from the section of the novel devoted to fairyland, one of my favourite elements was the romance. The prince does appear, briefly, but it is the King's Huntress and a truly lovely fairly Prince that capture Ash's heart. Often I've seen Ash called a lesbian retelling, but I read it as a bisexual retelling and I don't know why, when there is attraction on both sides, I had to go looking to see other people talk write/talk/discuss it as that. It was the one thing I found myself perplexed, maybe even a little frustrated by, because there is attraction and there is, I believe, love between Ash and both the Huntress and the fairy prince. It was gorgeous, realistic, perfect, the relationships built up over time and with such a honest quality weaved into them, and I fell for everyone.

Ash is a brave, scared, subtle character and she was just perfection as the protagonist of this story, and while I would have liked to see a little more of the Huntress, what I did see was someone who is sweet and confident and wishful. I liked her immediately and I liked how much Ash liked her. The fairy prince, too, was devilish and utterly charming, and so very dangerous for it. I didn't want to trust him, but I did- and I liked almost every moment.

Rating: Big explosion MIND BLOWN
This is a novel I finished and then had that sense of not knowing what to do with myself. It read beautifully for me and I throughly enjoyed all the characters, the way the plot deviated from the source, and the slow burning romance and walks through the forest where you didn't know whether Ash would be alright or not.
It was a triumph.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A source of inspiraton: shifting boughs.

On one side of my room, there is a dresser.

On the other, six windows.

If I look to the left or to the right, I see one thing that has remained- grown- in inspiration, ever since I was little.


They shift in the breeze, fragile and utterly distracting, and their movement, their closeness, it never ceases to amaze or mystify me.

Trees play an occasionally massive role in my writing. With each novel I've written, there will be a forest, a cluster, trees both good and bad (I like to question more than just the role of villains and heroes, you know; what, I ask you, about the villainous trees?), dead and alive, in the shadows and with the sun shining over their boughs and making everyone take note.

I don't think  know of a novel I've written where at least two scenes didn't play out in the presence of trees, and I simultaneously wonder why that is, why they captivate me so, and hope it never changes. The scenes I set in forests- in, above, below, or around trees- those are some of the most magical for me to write, and are definitely some of my favourites to read.

Maybe trees such a big part of who I am, of how I think and feel and want, that they can't help but find their way into my stories. Maybe they have entranced me for too many years to ignore, and maybe one day I'll write a short story or novel all about a tree and it won't even begin to quench me.

All I know is, they are possibly my greatest form of inspiration. And I never want that to stop.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Legend by Marie Lu...

Publish date- 2011.
Publisher- Penguin (Razorbill)


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
June, the prodigy of the Republic is after Day, the swiftest, greatest, and most frustrating criminal the republic faces, an unknown who triumphs every time. It isn't personal. Not until Day, this faceless mastermind who steals from hospitals and has never hurt anyone, not really, kills her brother.
Then it becomes very personal.

What I thought:
It was around the time I started blogging that I read my first dystopian novel. The Giver. About... a year, maybe two later- assumedly with The Hunger Games becoming a franchise- I read Matched and that started what *could* be called a binge of dystopia reads that carried me through nearly a whole year. My heart was broken, I met and fell in love with some of my all time favourite characters, and it was topped off with The Hunger Games, which I read the summer before the first film came out.

Since then... I've stopped enjoying, even stopped trying, other dystopias, because there were a great many disappointments, a great many half-reads that felt like all the others. The Maze Runner and Divergent were two exemptions, although I only enjoyed the first book in each series, and then... well, I fell for fantasy, the preferred genre of my childhood, and that sustained me.

Legend is, I *think*, the first dystopia I've read in years. And yes, the above is all to get to this point.
Not convinced I would fall for this well loved novel, despite truly enjoying some reviews for it, I read the graphic novel and... throughly liked it. The characters were interesting, likable, (gorgeous) and surprising- not to mention believably human- and when I was done I took a chance on the novel.
And I also throughly liked that.

I grew to *adore* June more, even, than I already did, and whilst I'm not so fond of Day he definitely benefitted from having a more detailed back-story and storytime. I feel like I'll probably grow to feel warmer for him. Probably. I was also very pleased to find I didn't find myself frustrated that I knew the storyline, since there were more details and elements that had been simplified or cut out of the gn. The characters were even more human than they already were for me (particularly on the vulnerability, making mistakes and taking time to come to decisions, realisations and the like) and their stories still caught ahold of my attention. Each passing page held me fast.

And that's remarkable. I raced through Legend and enjoyed every moment. It has a tight plot, characters with real depth, and I can feel the tendrils of potential for the next book. Also? I don't want to read the graphic novel or the book version of the Prodigy.

I want to read both.

There was, however, one thing that riled- riles, indeed- me. (Highlight for spoilers) June felt sad about leaving her beloved dog? The very last link she had to her brother and a complete sweetheart who appears throughout the book and is utterly DEAR and SUPPORTIVE and LOVING? And she didn't risk going back? I feel passionately teary about this. I feel let down.

Rating: Excellent.
This was simply throughly enjoyable. I was invested, I was intrigued, and I was a little bit in love with June. Rephrase: more than a little bit. She's a darling.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Plotting a takeover: Character Buys 9.

A not so regular feature in which I pick a book and then pick out things I think the character/s themselves would own/use or just really like. This week the featured book is...

One of my current WIPs, "B".
(I have never before done a Character Buys post on one of my own characters, so it's thrilling and bizarre and I am going to be giving away only little bits about the story and character. You can read a little about "B" on my About me + My stories page.)
Focusing on A. The protagonist.

Flowers are a reasonably large part of this dystopic-fantasy I've written, and A often takes the time to think about them, gaze at them. They have a larger meaning. Wild flowers are prevalent where ever they can thrive and flourish without being torn up. In the secret, unwatched places.

Photographs, memories, still frames of life- they're all very important to A. They are moments that can never be taken, never be stolen. This camera is practically perfect to what I imagined.

If A ever had the chance to get a tattoo, a chance that I think would be leapt at- whether it be in that world or this- it would be of a tree. Either along the forearm or on the shoulder blade.

Being set primarily in a forest, finding edible, non poisonous substances is rather important sub-element of this story. A mushroom chart would have been greatly appreciated by all. In a home (in a different time) A (and many of the other characters) would have loved this.

Trees would completely fill A's home, as you will continue to notice. Plants, sculptures, artwork. This print has that gorgeous, misty morning feel of walking through a forest that I feel certain A would treasure.

A doesn't know a whole lot about plants, herbs, edible things, so this (coupled with that mushroom print) would be so perfect. A guide to eating, cooking, and not being poisoned with the next bite.

I... won't say a whole lot about this one. Trees, books, paper, all of them are very important to A, both in the past and the present. Also this is lovely.

Particularly in the first book (which I've just finished an edit of) trust is an incredibly important element, both to the plot and to the characters (particularly A). It's something that is difficult- near impossible- to obtain, and yet sought. Something that is sought, yet almost impossible to feel.

Boots. Old, sturdy (and a little bit gorgeous, because of both those facts), well worn, are an absolute necessity. I can't quite decide which A would prefer, a short pair or a tall pair. Probably both, if the choice was offered up.

Both these and the above, they feel utterly perfect, as if I've seen something from my imagination come alive. I can imagine my whole little band of humans wearing these, wearing them every single day and being utterly perfect.

A good portion of the novel takes place in a forest, and thus I feel certain that A would have tree decals (in addition to everything else) as way of bringing nature into the home, of remembering the beauty of the wilderness even when it can't be seen.

The moon, like flowers, is a constant source of inspiration, beauty and wonder for A. Only, it can't be exterminated, at least not in this world.

That's it! I always have a marvellous time, compiling these posts, and I hope you enjoyed seeing into one of my characters (and possibly the one that has the most meaning to me) and their personality.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon...

Publish date- 2013
Publisher- Bloomsbury.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
In an unrecognisable London, Clairvoyant Paige Mahoney is pulled from the life she knew, a life of secrecy and friends that feel like family, of learning more about her talents and dodging the authorities, into an equally unrecognisable world. Oxford. Ruled by creatures that use their powers as a weapon.

What I thought:
The Bone Season was beautiful.

I admit, despite buying a copy after reading two gorgeous reviews last year, I was a bit hesitant. When the initial buzz for it took over many reviewers hearts, I didn't take a whole lot of notice. I wasn't, apparently, particularly... interested. Fast forward a couple of years and I was at the stage where I was about to (finally) start reading.

It isn't a massive book, so I wasn't daunted. But the font in my edition was tiny, so I absolutely was.

The initial question I had, that stayed with me for 20, 30 pages perhaps, was something along the lines of When will I comprehend, because Sicon London isn't like any form of London I have ever seen, read, or envisioned. There were terms I didn't understand (many) and the roles of the characters in Paige's group took a little getting used to, but then... my brief moments of confusion didn't matter.

I was in.

To put it poetically, the gates of this novel, gates that hid secrets and truths and utter majesty in writing, they opened up wide and let me in, and it was completely different after that. 
Less poetically, the book had finally won me over. I was captivated. I was interested. And I was continually surprised.

Surprise and interest are, I think, actually two of this book's greatest assets. It is so well developed a story and gives the reader time to start computing this new, slightly despotic and slightly fantasy-angled (and also throughly fantastic) world you are reading about before the plot takes over, which was so wonderful. I felt like I already knew Paige before everything started turning upside down, and that meant I cared about her.

Paige was a fairly likable character, and when she is pulled out of London and taken with a load of other clairvoyants by creatures that look like humans but are far more ethereal. She didn' give up. I don't think she stopped fighting once. Sometimes this caused trouble for the people she formed bonds with, and the way she didn't think about the danger her every action could cause others did frustrate me at times, but she was also very caring and invested in her own freedom and the freedom of everyone else, and for that I liked her.

Rating: Excellent.
This is a well, throughly crafted novel, and I was completely taken in by the world and the characters (there's a lovely, subtle romance involving an interested side party, who then becomes... a friend. It's lovely. I liked it so much) and I actually plan on reading the sequel in time for the next book. I enjoyed it so much.