Tag Archive | Writing

10 Thoughts on The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

Title: The Story Peddler

Author: Lindsay A. Franklin

  • Date read: May 8, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 330 (paperback)
  • Series: The Weaver Trilogy, #1
  • Fave character: Mor and Warmil, maybe?
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

10 Thoughts on The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

1. What an enjoyable tale! When I first heard about this book, I knew I needed to try it out. A fantasy novel about a story-weaver who sells stories? Um, yes, please! I think it could have been more of a top-favorite than it ended up being (for me), but on the whole I loved it! ^_^

2. Tanwen, our heroine, tells most of the story in her own charming village girl voice, though a few chapters are in third-person and follow Princess Braith, another very interesting character. There were a lot of characters, but I didn’t find it hard to keep track of them since they were all very unique. I did think that the amount of people in the story made it hard to have enough time for each of them, so I’d have liked if there was more time for a couple of them, like Mor and Aeron. Still, I ended up quite liking the band of weavers! And, as far as page-time, there’s always the sequel… which I need ASAP!

3. This tale of a fantasy land where the king has outlawed all stories except for the “crown-approved” ones, had some great things to say. I loved that. I don’t want to give anything away, but it was very thought-provoking how there are consequences to telling the false versions of stories. Tanwen needs to tell the truth in her stories, even if it’s not Crown Approved; especially if it’s not Crown Approved. As a writer myself, I loved the creative storyteller aspect of this book! It inspired me more than ever that it’s not good to “squish down” things—that storytellers must tell the truth and tell it like the story is supposed to be told, not how “rules” or the crown says. That’s so important, and I love when novels have compelling threads of truth like that woven through them, like The Story Peddler does.

4. The world was neat. I loved the idea of story weavers and… other such things, which I won’t give away. Who wouldn’t want to be able to make things appear from their told-aloud stories? I also thought the different names for animals were fun—fluffhoppers, painted-wings, grazers, etc.—which made it kind of fantasy-world-ish, but you could still tell what they were. 😀 Everything was well-written and vivid.

5. There were some great characters, too! Gentleman-pirate Mor (who has the snark aspect covered), tall and grim silver-haired Warmil (who surprised me by really working his way into my heart), fiercely loyal former-guardswoman Aeron, quietly dissenting Princess Braith with a heart of gold and somehow holding out beneath her father’s reign… I won’t go over all of the characters, due to time, but these are some of the literally revolutionary people Tanwen encounters, and I love them. 🙂

6. The banter was fantastic. There was a certain scene with romantic Tanwen and grouchy Warmil which had me positively in stitches. XD There were some great character dynamics and dialog which made things quite fun. And I do love a bit of fun. ^_^ Tanwen’s narration was often humorous too, and if a book’s going to be told in first-person, I’m all for that. 😀

7. It’s not too fast-paced at first, but on the whole, it was very exciting. There’s always some thread of tension or mystery or danger going on. It took me a little while to get into it; not sure why, because it was well-written and intriguing from the start. Part of it may have been the fact that I was busy and had to snatch reading time in bits and pieces. But after the first third, when Tanwen really got on her way on the adventure, it really picked up for me and pulled me in until the end. I couldn’t stop flipping those pages!

8. Also, the plot about “The One in the Dark” was so awesome and exciting! I guessed some things about it (yay!) but others were unexpected, and overall it was neat. 😀 Stakes got high, and the overall storyline was unique—I couldn’t usually guess where it was going! Tanwen definitely didn’t expect where things were going; I enjoyed following along with her from one surprising turn to the next.

9. As far as things I didn’t like as much… It’s totally unimportant, but all the characters said each other’s names all. the. time. which was kind of annoying. I don’t usually notice things like that, and I’m not real picky, but it got on my nerves. Just a little. XD There’s also a love-triangle-ish thing, which I’m not really a fan of in general, so I didn’t care for that. BUT I must say that there’s a twist or two which at least makes it different. XD And it wasn’t the main focus of the story, which was nice. There were some… er… interesting developments, so we’ll see where that goes in the sequels. 😛

10. Overall, The Story Peddler is a lovely adventuresome tale, full of heart. ^_^ I recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy yarn or has a spark of creativity in their soul. The book is a love-song to creativity and light and truth. Definitely check it out so that you can join me in anxiously awaiting The Story Raider, book 2! 🙂

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll

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Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

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5starrating

Title: Make Good Art

Author: Neil Gaiman

review

Small book, small review.

I love this little book so much. I’m so very very glad that I picked it up at the library. Now I want to own a copy of my own so that I can read it whenever I like.

Every writer should read this. EVERY WRITER. Every artist of any kind. Read this.

Or, if you don’t, at least go watch the video of the author speaking (in a fabulous British accent) all of the words in this book and a few more, at the commencement address at which he presented this speech.

It’s 19 minutes long, and well worth every second. —-> https://vimeo.com/42372767

Four things:

  • Inspiring.
  • Funny.
  • Fraud police.
  • Make Good Art.

This has all of those, and I’m extremely glad I read and listened to it. 🙂

(I personally do better reading words than hearing them, but it was also splendid to hear them as well afterward.)

However you consume it, whether through reading the delightfully original and art-like arrangement of the words in this book, or listening to the author saying them online, I do hope that you will take 20 minutes out of your day to absorb these words.

Because they are inspiring and funny and just a little perfect, and it will be some of the best 20 minutes you’ve spent.

That’s what I think, anyway.

factoids

Book designed by Chip Kidd

Genre/Category: Non-fiction / Inspiring / on Writing and Art

Age Group: Anyone

Published: 2013 (speech from 2012)

Pages: (not numbered)

When Read: September 9, 2016

Source: Library

summary

From Goodreads:

In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged them to make good art.

The book Make Good Art, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman’s inspiring speech.

findbook

{Goodreads} {Amazon} {Video Speech}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (So Far)

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Since it is after all March Magics / Diana Wynne Jones month, I thought it would be fun to list all the books by that author that I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far, and a few thoughts on them and how I ended up reading them . . . I’m going to list them in order of when I read them, so they’ll be nicely organized by year, though not necessarily chronologically by series!

This may, I fear, be rather long, since I have now read 21 novels, a short story collection, an essay collection, and a smattering of other short stories, so far . . . making 23+ books… not to mention rereading a few… So if you don’t read the whole thing, there is no judgement. 😉 This is mostly for me, anyway . . . a pleasant reminiscence of looking back at my Diana Wynne Jones journey thus far. ^_^

(If I’d coordinated my time better at the START of the month, I suppose I could have divided it into several posts and posted them throughout the month . . . but oh well, better late than never!)

A note: I’m not bothering to put a star-rating on any of these. Diana Wynne Jones books get 5 stars. Period. (Well, that’s not entirely true, I suppose. I did rate one novel, Witch Week, 4 stars, because I was slightly disappointed in the ending; and I have been known to rate a few of the short stories 4 stars; and one short story I quite disliked. So you see, there are exceptions to every rule… but on the whole: 5 stars all the way!)

The titles all link to Goodreads.

2012

howl1Howl’s Moving Castle

Read: March 14 ’12

My very first book by Diana Wynne Jones, how fitting that it should have been this one — still my favorite of all — and that it should have been during March as well! I had several close calls and almost didn’t read it at all! I was recommended this book quite some time ago by a cousin who has superior taste in books, to whom I’m forever indebted for introducing me to this book which now ties for my favorite with The Lord of the Rings. I rather forgot about the recommendation for awhile . . . and then stumbled across Howl’s Moving Castle at a library sale. I remember I almost hadn’t gone, since I was definitely far too busy and had no business going. I remember that I saw the title, thought “ah! I remember being recommended this . . .!” and picked it up. I also remember, specifically, almost putting it back a couple times, because it looked so odd. I’m very glad I didn’t! At last the humorous-sounding back, with the high praise of a recommendation from my cousin, won me over in spite of the utterly weird cover. Never judge a book by its cover has never been a more apt phrase! This is still my top favorite DWJ book, Howl is still my favorite character, and I hold all the later ones to this standard of excellence. It’s simply a PERFECT book and I love everything about it. ^_^

houseways1House of Many Ways

Read: Nov 5 ’12

Remember, remember, the fifth of November… because that’s when I read my second Diana Wynne Jones book. 😉 I had no clue that Howl’s Moving Castle had any sequels — even as loose of “sequels” as it has — since this was before my time of Goodreads. But I remember somehow finding out there were sequels and getting excited. Then — oh joy! — I sighted this book at another library sale and snatched it up. So even though I was too busy to read due to NaNoWriMo, I read this book in a day all the same. I found it somewhat creepier than Howl’s Moving Castle, but a delight and so HILARIOUS, not to mention the best thing about it, namely Twinkle. Oh my goodness, TWINKLE. XD

derkholm1Dark Lord of Derkholm

Read: Nov 14 – Dec 13 ’12

I found Dark Lord of Derkholm at the same library sale as House of Many Ways, and specifically remembered being recommended it alongside Howl’s Moving Castle… and once again I almost didn’t get it due to the cover. But I did anyway. I was so glad I did. I didn’t “get” it for a long time, but it was great fun to read and I hope to reread it soon. But the shenanigans — oh, I loved them! (Once I got used to them.) All the characters and insane happenings and fantasy creatures . . . it was glorious. I named my cat after one of the griffins, Callette.

2013

castleairCastle in the Air

Jan 7-8, ’13

It was only after I had read House of Many Ways that I found out that the other sequel, Castle in the Air, was actually chronologically BEFORE that one, after Howl’s Moving Castle. Oh well. I promptly got it from the library and devoured it and it was hilarious. The twists I for the most part did NOT see coming. It was so different but I loved it! Especially the relationship between Abdullah and the Soldier — so much humor!

mixedmagicsMixed Magics

Read: Feb 20 ’13

Also a library-sale find, I decided to eat this one next, but I’m afraid I didn’t really “get” this one at first either, since it’s a collection of short stories connected with the Chrestomanci series. I knew that they were fascinating stories, and that I was already addicted to the character Chrestomanci, even after only seeing him in a very few pages — his dressing gowns! — but this one left me a bit nonplussed at the time. I don’t think it’s a good introduction to the world(s) of Chrestomanci, but I didn’t know that then. Still, it was quite enjoyable; and I really loved it the second time I read it, once I’d read the rest of the series.

yeargriffin1Year of the Griffin

Read: Mar 12-13, ’13

I now own this one, but at the time, I found it from the library, completely excited there should be a sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm! It was great fun as well, though a mite hazy in my mind now… I loved the griffins though. And I hope to reread it soon too.

***

howl2At this point I reread Howl’s Moving Castle — starting it on May Day! How appropriate! — and it was even more glorious the second time! All the twists and things that you don’t get the first time . . . I think all Diana Wynne Jones books beg to be read at least twice… possibly more. 😉 Especially this one! ❤ Both because they are wonderful and need to be devoured more than once, and because they are so complex with so many twists and mind-rearranging necessary that it will be QUITE a different read the second time around! And it will probably take a third (at least) to fully appreciate.

2014

dalemarkvol1Cart and Cwidder

Read: Jan 31 ’14

At yet another library sale, I found a collection of the first two Dalemark books. I read this one in a day. It was utterly different from her other books I’d read — for one thing, it was an older one; for another, it was entirely set in another world with no connections to ours; and for a third, though it was funny from time to time, it wasn’t AS funny as often before. It was a new look at her books for me . . . and I realized that she could write amazing epic fantasy as well (with muskets!!).

ammetDrowned Ammet

Read: Feb 5 ’14

Needless to say, that same week I devoured the next one. It was utterly strange too and I had fun trying to piece together connections with the first one, since it was mostly off by itself. It was so strange but I loved it (which . . . kinda stands for all of her books. ;)).

dalemarkvol2The Spellcoats

Read: Feb 24 ’14

So then I had to rush out and find the next book in the series, from the library (except now I own it in a collection of its own! Oh joy!). This one was even stranger than Ammet, but I enjoyed it a ton. One of the things I like about her books is that they are all so DIFFERENT even in series. And this was the first time I really noticed the sibling relationship thing she had going (though thinking back, it was largely in Derkholm as well). It was wonderful, and I love how well she can juggle so many characters, especially in one family!

reflections1Reflections: On the Magic of Writing

Read: Aug 15-23 ’14

At this point, I had learned there was a collection of nonfiction essays on writing and other books and such lovely things, written by Diana Wynne Jones, and that my library had it, so I simply had to get it. It was SUCH a delight! I have a tendency to not read much in the way of nonfiction, but when I do, I often find it through liking an author’s fiction and therefore being rather assured that I’ll enjoy their nonfiction thoughts. So much wonderfulness in this book. ❤

crowndalemarkThe Crown of Dalemark

Read: Sept 6-11 ’14

I had tragically not had time to read this one when I read Spellcoats, so I got it from the library again and commenced on a truly fascinating journey. This was the first one that I read that was ENORMOUS. So I didn’t devour it in a day like I do with most. As usually, it started out being extremely odd, but I was so fascinated and excited with the goings-on in this one! For one thing, it started tying together the three previous books! Characters I had loved on their own were now starting to meet up with other ones, which was glorious. For another thing, it did the most brilliant thing I had ever seen: time travel. In a fantasy world. *flails* I. LOVED. THIS. It has some modern-type setting with trains and stuff, and then the almost-medieval-but-with-muskets time period the first two had, and then also linked in with the mythic pre-historic time that was like pre-medieval dalemarkwith more magical stuff. And it blended these all seamlessly, along with all the plots from the previous books, as well as its own plot, and so many rivalries and things between all the oodles of characters whom I loved, and just LKJLDKJALKDSJLFJ IT WAS AMAZING!!! It was really the ending that got me on this one. It was so flaily and unexpected and perfect and it left me an incoherent wreck of squealy awesomeness-overload. It was my favorite book I read in 2014 and became my favorite DWJ read after Howl’s Moving Castle.

charmedlife1Charmed Life

Read: Dec 11 ’14

Ah, classic Chrestomanci! This is what I hold as a standard for the later books in the series. I was instantly addicted. Loved this one! Cat Chant is a good hero and I want to live at Chrestomanci Castle (“I belong to Chrestomanci Castle!”) and Chrestomanci himself is awesome. This book is just… well, classic! I want to reread it… and the whole series…

The Lives of Christopher Chantchresvol1

Read: Dec 15 ’14

I was a bit surprised with this one. It was interesting to get Christopher’s backstory as a kid, though he wasn’t quite . . . himself, yet. But it was really good too. I loved all the different world things! And it was cool to get to find out where some of the things came from, like the cat and Milly of course, and Christopher/Chrestomanci himself. 🙂

2015

conradConrad’s Fate

Read: Jan 18 ’15

I knew that this one was later in the series (even though, chronologically, it was directly after The Lives of Christopher Chant and before Charmed Life) but I didn’t care. It was about Christopher Chant the future Chrestomanci who’s my FAVORITE, as a TEEN . . . and I simply had to read it right away! I think it’s my favorite in the series besides the last one… and the first one… But it was so FABULOUS!! I loved it to smithereens, especially young Christopher and Conrad’s relationship. I ADORE buddy stories! Especially when they annoy each other. XD

chresvol2The Magicians of Caprona

Read: Feb 18 ’15

So then I had to devour the second collection of Chrestomanci books which I owned, starting with this one. One of the few downsides to the series is that Chrestomanci himself isn’t in them all the time, since they each usually follow different heroes/heroines, and he usually only shows up later on for a bit. But still, they’re all delightful! This one was great fun, set in a magical Italian type of setting. I loved this one.

witchweekWitch Week

Read: Mar 4 ’15

This was the one, also in said collection, that I actually didn’t quite rate 5 stars; just for the ending. You’d think it would be for some other reason, like that it was set mostly at a school, which I normally don’t enjoy… And yet other than the end, this was actually one of my favorites of the Chrestomanci books! I found it to be great fun, trying to piece things together and keep track of the characters, and Chrestomanci himself when he (finally) arrives, is in top form as always! I just… was a little bit sad about the ending, and other people probably won’t mind and I won’t say what it WAS, but I wished there had been a little… something different. Still, it was great overall, and actually led to one of my favorite quotes. 🙂

chresvol3The Pinhoe Egg

Read: Mar 9 ’15

AAAHH THIS BOOK! ❤ It’s the only Chrestomanci book I don’t actually own, which is entirely TRAGIC since it’s my favorite of them all! We’re back to Cat in this one, and Chrestomanci Castle, so it feels all comfortable and you’re glad to be back and makes you think of the first book, but there’s still lots of other new things going on and just all of the messes, and Chrestomanci’s in it a bit more and there’s a GRIFFIN and just alksdjfldkj I love it so much and need to reread it. CHRESTOMANCI! ❤

***

At this point, I had a rereading stretch.

I reread Mixed Magics that March, since I had finally read all of the other Chrestomanci books, and I LOVED it this read-through.

Then I managed to get my lovely bookclub on Goodreads to read the Howl trilogy; hey, I’ll take any excuse to reread Howl. 😉 So I re-read Howl’s Moving Castle in March-April, Castle in the Air I devoured once again on a day in July, and House of Many Ways I read again in August.

***

enchantedglassEnchanted Glass

Read: Aug 22 ’15

Yet another library book, I have an oddly incomplete memory of reading this book… o.o But I know I enjoyed it muchly, that it was characteristically funny and odd and fantastical, and that I loved the characters of Aiden and Andrew and so on. Also, a minor thing, but one of my favorite proposal scenes. XD And I loved the furniture moving and the vegetables. *giggle* (For some reason it made me think of Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit… just a little.) Also it made me make some shortbread cookies. Diana Wynne Jones books usually make me want to eat things (usually cucumber sandwiches and other sandwiches…).

power1Power of Three

Read: Sept 23 ’15

I don’t know WHY it took me so long to read this one… I’d had it from one of my many library sales for a long time… I think the cover wasn’t appealing. 😛 Anyways I finally read it and loved it so much! It has SUCH an enormous twist like half-way through… I just loved the twists in this one… Half of it feels like a medieval fantasy sort of thing, and the other half . . . well, I don’t want to spoil it. 😉 Oh, and the family dynamic was fun to read too. She’s so good about writing amazing and realistic but hilarious families! The style of writing was more like the Dalemark books and less like her characteristic whimsical voice… but there was that ONE scene (you’ll know if you’ve read it) that suddenly the style switched to her more normal one, and it was the most hilarious part of the book and the characters were drunk and it was 100% classic DWJ writing and I loved it. XD Anyways, this book was, again, so DIFFERENT and I loved so many of the characters.

archer1Archer’s Goon

Read: Nov 10 ’15

I had positively no business reading anything during such a busy and insane NaNoWriMo as this year proved to be. But I had scored this one at a library sale at the beginning of the month, and simply could NOT resist reading it as soon as I could. Oh my GOODNESS, what a wild ride! O_O It was utterly HILARIOUS (surprise…?) and had such a number of plot twists I was just flabbergasted most of the time… The characters are splendid too, especially reading about the siblings that are all so different. And it seamlessly blends contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, and a bit of time travel both forward and back and just alskdjfldkj it’s AMAZING. It goes right up there with my favorites. MY BRAIN IS STILL REELING FROM PLOT TWISTS. Since my favorite is Howl’s Moving Castle, which can stand alone, and two of my other favorites happen to be the finale to their series (The Pinhoe Egg and The Crown of Dalemark) if you read just ONE Diana Wynne Jones book besides Howl’s Moving Castle, probably try to make it this once since it stands alone and is mind-blowing. 😛

2016 – so far

firehemlockFire and Hemlock

Read: Jan 1 ’16

*flailing softly* This book though! ❤ I wrote a long and rambly review-ish thing for it, so I will not reiterate all of it. But it was so awesome and I was so glad it was that big because I wanted to live in it forever and it was so worth staying up till past 3 a.m. to read it. I loved it so so much and Tom is one of my favorites and I’m slightly addicted to the idea of Tam Lin retellings now and need to go find several to read…

toughguideThe Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Read: Jan 28 – Feb 13 ’16

This one has the most exotic story about how I acquired it of any of the others… I found it at a Half-Price Books store in another state as a Christmas present of sorts from a wonderful uncle while I was on a roadtrip that memorable time when I was trying to do NaNo on the road… Since it’s organized as an A-Z guidebook, I had read most of it through randomly flipping through, but this year I finally sat down and read it cover to cover, and it was so funny to see all the tropes and cliches — but also ideas! Bwahaha — of my favorite genre… It’s half poking-fun, half homage to fantasy, and it’s fantastic. XD

deepsecretDeep Secret

Read: Mar 22-23 ’16

And here we have my latest! I snagged it at the library specifically for March Magics and I’m so glad I did! I fully hope/expect (maybe) to try to write a review for it this week… if I can… But for now, it was very . . . different. o.o (Surprise. XD) It was darker, I think, than any I’d read before, but I loved it (of course) and am very proud of myself for exercising restraint and only staying up till 2:30 a.m. reading it and finishing it the next day. Heehee. It’s rather dangerous to start a 400 page DWJ book late. 😛

zfirebirdsMisc. Short Stories

I have also, at various times, read three “random” (i.e. in other collections) short stories by Diana Wynne Jones. These are they. (Short story collections are notoriously hit-and-miss. I haven’t read all of these through yet. But I had to pick out the Diana Wynne Jones ones. ;))

  • JoBoy (in The Dragon Book edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois)2 stars. zdragonbookThis is the only thing by her I’ve specifically disliked that I’ve read so far. I didn’t quite get it, it was dark and depressing and ENTIRELY the wrong thing to read when I was ill one time. >.> Brilliant, yes, with some good bits, but too scary for my taste.
  • I’ll Give You My Word (in Firebirds Rising edited by Sharyn November)4 stars. This one was a lot of fun, with lots of strange and long words — loved a lot of it!
  • Little Dot (in Firebirds edited by Sharyn November) 5 stars. Oh my goodness, this story! It’s all from the point of view of a cat, and she refers to her owner, Henry, as if she’s the one who owns him, and they live on a farm in England and he’s a magician but nobody seems to know it, zfirebirds2and there are several other cats, and shenanigans ensue and it’s marvelous fun. Who know a cat’s POV could be such fun!

Tally:

2012: 3 books
2013: 3 books (+ 1 reread)
2014: 7 books
2015: 7 books (+ 4 rereads)
2016: 3 books . . . and counting!! 🙂
= 23 so far

So there you have my Diana Wynne Jones journey up to this point (there was also seeing the Howl’s Moving Castle movie, which is another story and which I also love, despite its enormous differences from the book, though I still like the book better).

I’m looking forward to continuing this journey, both rereading old friends and discovering new ones! Thank goodness she wrote a lot of books, so I’m not out quite yet. 😉

dianawynnejonesbook

Have you read any of these? Or any of DWJ’s books that I haven’t read yet? (Any recommendations??) If you HAVEN’T read any . . . well what are you waiting for?? No better time than the present. 😉

Thanks for reading! (*whistles innocently and pretends not to notice that this post is over 3K words long*)

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

Top Ten Tuesday: Books and Songs

TopTenTues

The theme of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (a weekly book/list linkup at The Broke and The Bookish) is Books and Music. There are various spins on it being done, and I’m going to do a mix of them.

This is going to be a mixed back of song-ish books I’ve read, want to read, and then some songs at the end which should be books.

On that note, I just know there are tons of awesome songs/ballads I’ve heard, mostly Celtic ones, that would make absolutely fabulous books. But I’m having a really hard time thinking of any just now.

The curious things about songs, though, is that they’re usually already perfect in song form.

And as much as it would be awesome to have some of them as books, it’s never going to equal the awesomeness of the song itself and may in fact take away from it in some ways. Songs and books are quite different forms…

Anyways, on with the varied list…

BOOKS I’VE READ

themap

1. The Map: A Jackaby Story by William Ritter

Oh my word, this story. It’s a shortish, novella-type adventure that goes with the Jackaby series (and it’s free on Kindle!) and I absolutely adored it. It’s not exactly based on a song, but it’s based around a song… which was so much fun. The premise basically is that they’re going after the treasure from the song Whiskey in the Jar. So much awesome. (Hopefully I’ll review the series sometime…)

orphanssong

2. Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams

This has a large music theme (obviously) and I loved it so so much. *hugs book* I’ve always thought that music could go really well with fantasy settings and magic and that sort of thing, and this author pulls that off brilliantly.

fhemlock

3. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Not only is it based on fairytales that were I believe originally ballads (Tam Lin, Thomas the Rhymer), but it also has a lot of music involved since Tom plays the cello and there’s a whole . . . band . . . thing . . . going on. Anyways it’s awesome (and I reviewed it at length so obviously I love it a lot).

BOOKS I’VE NOT READ

SONGKEEPER-FRONT-COVER

4. Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams

…Speaking of Orphan’s Song… I just heard that the sequel, Songkeeper, has a release date! April 15th! That’s definitely a date going on my calendar. I’ve been dying for this book to come out ever since I finished the last page of Orphan’s Song, and it’s coming sooooon!!! I’m so excited. (It will also be very songish, I’m sure.)

hwmn

5. The Highwayman’s Footsteps by Nicola Morgan

I… haven’t read this one yet, so I can speak as to its quality or exact plot, but I hear tell that it’s in some way based on The Highwayman, a fabulous/tragic poem by Alfred Noyes, immortalized, for me, by Loreena McKennitt’s brilliant, gorgeous, haunting sung version of it. I’ve always thought it would make a great book so I’m very much looking forward to this novel inspired by it.

SONGS THAT SHOULD BE BOOKS

(These are probably bad examples… I wish I could think of more…)

6. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Speaking of Loreena McKennitt… (Listen to parts of the songs I mention in this post, on her website.) She did a great, haunting version of this song. It’s a tragic song, and might better make a tragic backstory for a book than for a book itself? (I’m thinking like… a fantasy book based on it. I know it’s based on historical stuff but it would be funner this way. XD) But it feels like it needs to be involved in a book somehow… even if it would be rather grim.

7. Raglan Road

Again, Loreena sang a great version of this poem by Patrick Kavanagh. There’s just something intriguing about it. I don’t know how much of a story it could make in book form, but there’s an eerie feel to it and it could make a fabulous mystery/fantasy/romance type book similar to Tam Lin, perhaps?

8. Bold Jamie

This is a song by Cara Dillon (one of my favorite singers!) about a young man wrongfully accused of stealing many things, including a man’s daughter. I just think it could make an interesting book, or any of a hundred other fabulous Celtic ballads involving thieves or… things like that.

9. Stolen Child

I believe it was by William Butler Yeats but Loreena McKennitt did a fabulous version of it too. (Yes, she turned a LOT of great book-worth poems into songs, and has some great originals of her own as well. So much good material.)

10. The King of the Fairies (melody)

Aaand I’m just going to throw out there that there should be a book named after The King of the Fairies, which is a fabulous tune.

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Like I said, I’m having a hard time coming up with songs. I KNOW there are a ton of awesome ones! Oh well… that’s a start, anyhow. 🙂 (Basically LET’S HAVE BOOKS BASED ON ALL THE LOREENA MCKENNITT SONGS AND ALL THE AWESOME CELTIC BALLADS. This should be a genre. *nods seriously*)

…And now I have like half a dozen new plot bunnies that want me to write them. Fabulous. -_- Heehee… Writers lead perilous lives: anything can provide inspiration! 😉

Yes, I Like Character Descriptions!

characterdescriptions
Reaction post to Cait Grace’s question-raising post “Do You Even Like Character Descriptions?” over at Paper Fury (which, FYI, is my very favorite book blog and is hilarious and insightful).

Cait has a tendency to bring up interesting bookish topics, and I was writing out a comment there in response to this one, but decided to turn it into a post of my own, because I had no idea I had so many thoughts or thought so strongly on this topic! o.o (I’ve actually done this before with one of her posts…) Huzzah for bookish discussion starters! (Thanks, Cait! 😀 )

(This is in no way to bash her post or opinion, or anything! She raised some fabulous points, and I would just like to share some ramblings of my own on the topic, because this book blog is exactly for things like this when I would randomly like to talk about bookish things on a Saturday morning. 🙂 )

So go read her post first. Done? Okay. Here we go…

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Okay, so here is a case where I disagree. I want ALL the descriptions!! I’ve gotten SO frustrated with books these days where people DO think less is more and are afraid of “telling” and actually bothering to EXPLAIN what their characters look like to us poor readers, and have been told not to infodump. So they tell us nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. For like paaaages. And then suddenly they start to drop little hints… and then you realize you’ve been imagining the characters ENTIRELY WRONG. And you have to try to re-imagine them but… nope. It doesn’t work. THIS DRIVES ME INSANE.

And then you spend the rest of the book trying (unsuccessfully) to twist your already fully-created mental image of the character into the version the author is TELLING you (too late) that they look like. Even if you do eventually manage to see it right, it’s exhausting, and it’s not nice when it takes a ton of effort just to see what the author says. That’s not how books are supposed to be.

Honestly, this happened with me with Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which I’m going to use as en example. Don’t get me wrong. I ADORED that book (except for the creepiness being a bit much for this squeamish reader…). But honestly I was so annoyed that it didn’t come right out and describe the characters and have done with it right at the beginning so that we could move on. Like, is it so hard to just say “Kaz was seventeen and tall and thin as a musket and had gorgeous raven-black hair and an angular face and” etc. going on about his fabulous coat and black eyes and black gloves and his raven cane. Like, is that so hard??

Fabulous authors can pull these things off if they want to, if they’re not afraid of what they’ve been “told” to do… And there are some amazing and gorgeous descriptions in Six of Crows, too! So it’s not like there’s none… There just could have been enough to not leave me confused…

I’ll be honest, it took me like CHAPTERS to even begin to get the correct mental image of Kaz and the rest. Because Kaz had a cane and a raspy voice? At first, I thought he was like fifty or sixty. DON’T JUDGE. I DID. Like… an old man. And then something else happened (I think it mentioned his hair being black?) and I was like ohhh maybe he’s like thirty? AND THEN EVENTUALLY IT COMES OUT AND SAYS OH BY THE WAY HE’S SEVENTEEN. And I’m like ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Okay. He’s three years younger than me and he’s awesome and handsome and cool AND IT TOOK ME LIKE A CHAPTER OR THREE TO KNOW THIS. Ugh.

It’s partly my fault, because I should have known that it’s YA and hence he had to be 18 years or younger? But for those not aware of that thing OUTSIDE OF THE BOOK I MIGHT ADD, it’s just tragic to not even know what the character looks like.

I mean, giving little tidbits at a time instead of just outright saying things can be a good mode of suspense? I’m okay with that for most things in a book. But not what things LOOK like. We shouldn’t be in suspense over things that if we were actually THERE, we would SEE with our eyes!

Because books are not like movies. We cannot SEE the things unless the author TELLS us or IMPLIES to us.

I think authors have a responsibility to tell the reader things!! Leaving us in the dark is mean at worse, or neglectful at best… We authors can see the entire story in our head, but the reader only gets as much of it as we happen to write. (I remember I once sent my first NaNo story to someone to beta read, and at one point I said the characters ran to the corner. The reader wrote back and said “the corner of what?” Because I had entirely neglected to describe the fact that they were in this awesome broken down tower thing!! I saw it all in my head, and forgot to mention it.)

So yes, getting back to Six of Crows: because I was clueless and it didn’t occur to me that they would all be kids because it was YA, I literally did not realize, for like a chapter or three, that Kaz and all of his gang were young. I literally thought that they were just grown up people! Like… a regular gang! And then I figured it out and was like “ohhhhh. That’s so much cooler that they’re young!” This could have been avoided with a simple sentence or even word about it.

But like I’m saying, this happens with lots of books these days, not just Six of Crows, I’m just using it as an example (and I love the book!! I just… wish more things had been outright stated). Authors seem afraid of telling the reader things. And this bothers me.

When there’s a movie, you can imagine the characters because you SEE the faces and the whole person and what they look like. So that’s easy. But in a book, it’s just words, and words are powerful but they have to be the right ones. And I do just imagine characters a certain way unless it’s outright stated, so I’d like to have that, please and thank you… And I think this is largely why people do use over the top descriptions, like extravagant eye colors… I’m guilty of it myself. 😛 People can understand things like colors, but you can’t really fully describe a FACE. We’re drawn to things like eyes and hair of particular color/kinds because we can easily grasp what those look like.

Because of the imagination thing, building things out of words, that is why things ARE so open to interpretation, which is actually a wonderful thing about books, because readers can each have their own individual versions in their head, and that’s what makes it unique!

But unless there are specific things to pin these descriptions around (like vague age, hair color, curly hair, eye color, etc., even if they ARE unrealistic) then all the imaginations are going to vary so differently, and like Cait said, they are really good indications of the characters!

Like, getting away from faces, the way characters dress is a HUGE indication of their personality! Even just a choice mention of that particular red scarf with the sparkles, or that dark blue fedora, or that black leather jacket (yes, I know some people say it’s a cliche but I still love it and will not apologize).

And I’m not saying that there should be necessarily ALWAYS mounds of description every time a character comes in… I’m aware that some people don’t like lots (personally, I don’t mind). I’m just saying, give us the basics fairly soon after we meet them so that we can imagine them somewhat correctly! And yes, something visual that sets them aside as a quirk so that we remember them out of the hordes of other characters we read. People REMEMBER Holmes’ hat, Kaz’s crow-headed cane, Howl’s blue-and-silver suit, Katniss’s braid, and various unique eye- or hair-coloring etc., which, call it unrealistic if you will, but does a marvelous job of setting characters aside in your mind.

This is getting rather long and rambly and I feel like I had other things to say, but there you go. My bookish rambles of the day.

Long story short: I like description in books, particularly for characters, and I like it early enough to do some good. 🙂