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A Difficult Read

I’m currently reading a book which I hope to finish by the end of this week. Unfortunately, I’m having a tough time finishing it. I just wanna take a moment and talk about why this book has me dragging my feet.

So, I would like to exclude the title of this book for now because it might still blow my socks off. Although, you might already know the title if you read my reading list post previously. This book might yet turn things around and surprise me. Also, this book is by no means all bad. In fact, I first want to talk about what this book has right.

The World-building Is Great

The world building of the book is both curious and compelling. The book deals with an individual caught up in a coma dream. The world of dreams is explained in depth and seems to run alongside our own. Also, the ability to see or influence dreams is tied into real-world history for explanations. So, this books seems almost urban fantasy, but with a much younger protag than a YA book would be sporting. I am definitely curious to see what will happen and what impact the world of dreams can have.

The Stakes Are Set

It was relatively late for my taste, but the stakes were set clearly in around chapter 9 (I believe). The main issue is that the parent fears that the protags will die if they enter the world of dreams. So, the parent is doing their best to keep them out of the world of dreams. Motivations have been set.

The Issues

All that being said, I have 2 large issues with the text so far. Issue number one is that there are a lot of pieces of information given in the way of info-dumps. That wouldn’t be terrible if this was a book focused on adults. After all, as an adult myself, I can read through a well placed info-dump. However. It seems like the target audience is children, based on the ages of the protags, and there are just so many info dump scenes for that to be the case.

My second issue runs along with the first. The second beef I have with this book is that there is far too much telling and not nearly enough showing. Perhaps these are the same thing, but to me they are slightly different. You can have a dialogue-based info-dump and still have a lot of action prose surrounding those statements. However, in this book, not only do the dialogues take up paragraphs, the surrounding paragraphs don’t show me anything about the world. It feels empty. Like I’m expected to know exactly what the world looks like. There’s no sound descriptions, or smells, or other details. It feels bland.

Not Finished Yet

Like I said previously, this story could still wow me away. I’m nowhere near finished with it yet. However, if things continue as they have, this book is likely to be an amazing conceptual work that falls short on execution. I’m still enjoying it, though.

Have you ever read a book where you enjoyed the concept but felt the execution fell short?

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5 Books on My Reading List

Here are some books I’ll be reading/reviewing soon. These are in no particular order, so stay with me.

1. Warrior of the Wild

Warrior of the Wild by [Tricia Levenseller]

I read this one a night ago and will be doing a review of it on Youtube here soon. I didn’t put it down after I started it. Can’t wait to tell you all what I think. It was great, it was stellar. Simple, compelling, and easy to read.

2. Somnium

SOMNIUM Beyond the Darkness by [A.D. Sterling]

I saw this one on my twitter feed and I’m interested to see what’s in it. It looks like it might be dark fantasy? It really have no idea based on the book blurb. There’s no genre indicators there so it might be entirely mundane, horror, surreal, or fantasy. Not sure, but interested to find out.

3. Gideon The Ninth

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1) by [Tamsyn Muir]

I heard this one described to me as lesbian necromancers in space. I was of course like bring it on. So, I’m interested to see where this one will go. I’m a few chapters in at the moment and I’m dying to finish (pun intended).

4. Heart of Obsidian

Heart of Obsidian: A Psy-Changeling Novel by [Nalini Singh]

This one looks like it’s going to be thoroughly problematic. I’m excited to see if it proves to be just as troublesome as it looks. It’s supposedly a villain-falls-in-love-with-protag story and I’m expecting I’ll be disappointed, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. That’s half the fun, now isn’t it?

5. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You'll Ever Need by [Jessica Brody]

It’s the book that has everyone in the writing industry chatting like crazy. So, I guess I will succumb to their whims and partake in this event. But more seriously, I expect that I’ll read this one piecemeal and since it is a technical books I suspect that I’ll be reviewing it in chunks.

An Offer of Review

Are you a self-published or traditionally-published author that wants some more reviews? Message me on Twitter and I’ll put it on my next reading list. Trust me, it doesn’t take me long to read through something if I’m having fun.

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Book Review: Misty of the Chincoteague

I was in a secondhand bookstore and went a little crazy—as many of the book-enthused are prone to do—with my book buying. As I was rounding up the goods, something caught my eye. Before me, on the shelf, was one was one of my favorites: Misty of the Chincoteague. So, not only did I immediately snatch it off the shelf, but I also determined that I would re-read it and see if it was as good as I remembered it to be.

For my full review, watch the video below:

Basically, this book was good for me as a child. The author, Marguerite Henry, has a firm grasp of metaphor and simile. Also, they know what emotions will hit you hardest. By no means is this book any less deep because it is a children’s book.

I must admit, Marguerite obviously has their strengths and weaknesses. While she’s strong with her metaphors, she struggles with other writing concepts. Despite this, the book was still a fun read and I would absolutely read it again.

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3 Stunning YA Fantasy Covers

Covers are what draw me to books, for better or for worse. Despite the saying, people really do judge a book by its cover. So why are so many covers bleh? Well, in this article we’re going to look at 3 YA covers that most certainly aren’t bleh.

1. Apolar’s Harry Potter Covers

COVER ART BY APOLAR

This book cover from the Thai artist, Apolar, is nothing short of stunning. And all the covers they’ve done for the Harry Potter series are equally as stunning. The face shapes, the story elements, and the use of cover space are all excellently done. If a teen picks up this book they know exactly what type of story they’re in for. And, because this cover is so well designed, if someone picks it up and doesn’t buy it, it’s because either 1. they’ve already heard about the books and didn’t think it was for them or 2. they genuinely aren’t interested in the genre that is presented to them.

With cover there’s no doubt about the content and that’s what a good cover does. A book cover accurately represents the genre it contains.

2. Simon Prades’ Tess of the Road Cover

COVER ART BY SIMON PRADES

After poking around his website, it seems that Simon Prades has an excellent understanding of positive and negative space. This German illustrator certainly implemented his talents on Tess of the Road‘s cover as well. The concepts of the book are gently explored without over-cluttering the space given him. This is more of a personal preference but I prefer when a book cover is concise.

3. Jeff Langevin’s Anya and the Dragon Cover

COVER ART BY JEFF LANGEVIN

Again, an excellent use of positive and negative space from artist Jeff Langevin for the book Anya and the Dragon. The setting, and glimpses of the plot are visible through the frame of the main character. Similar to the last one, this cover presents information without overwhelming the viewer and there’s no mistaking the genre the reader’s getting. This cover feels clean and makes great use of color.

What’s your favorite book cover and why?

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Character Descriptions: Please Don’t Do This

While it’s true that clothing, facial features, and other physical qualities can help your character stand out from the crowd. Some of the most memorable characters stand out, not for their features, but for their quirky personalities. Obviously I’m not the quintessential writer, I’ve still got a long road ahead of me. However, as an avid reader, here are some things that novice writers do that kill their characters.

The Whole Face

The writer tells us everything. The hair, the eyes, the ears, oh don’t forget the earrings… it’s too much. In real life people don’t notice everything about a person’s face or figure. The average person will notice a couple to a handful of things. As such, if a writer wants their character to stand out, they’ve gotta stick to the most interesting stuff.
So, focus. What is most important or most unique about this character’s face? The scar on their chin? Their lack of eyebrows? Their earrings that drag their ears to their shoulders? The reader will not remember the character as well if they’re given everything all at once. Not only that, but the truly important details get lost in lengthy descriptions.

Exact Height

He’s five foot three, but she’s five foot two… they’re made for each other. Okay, unless it’s going to play a huge role in the plot. Please. Don’t. It’s awkward because most people don’t consider how tall a person is when they first meet them on the street. Well, if you’re a person like that, please comment below because this is a thought I’ve literally never had in my life. Generally when I look at people I think, very smol, small, about my height, tall, whoa tall. Never once have I been “huh, I bet that random guy is exactly six foot three” in my whole life.
Sure, saying they’re over seven foot or under three foot is fine. Why is this okay? Because at that point it’s a distinctive trait. If a person meets a fantasy creature that only comes up to their kneecaps, they’re going to notice that. But again, notice how I said “comes up to their kneecaps” because that is an adequate unit of measure in this scenario. Anyhow… just stop. We don’t need their exact height.

Descriptions Well Done

Obviously it’s not hard to find examples of well done descriptions. Here are some authors that I think do an excellent job of this.

Brandon Sanderson does an amazing job in Mistborn. The descriptions are gradual, as they become relevant, and remain enough to give us key features of the individuals. Also, some characters don’t get a description so much as a title that makes apparent their appearance. In the prologue, Lord Tresting isn’t described right away, but the title Lord already gives the reader some idea as to what he looks like. An image pops into their head. An image which is only clarified as it’s relevant to world building.

Another author who is sparse on upfront descriptions is Patrick Ness (at least in the book A Monster Calls). At first we know very little about Conor except he’s thirteen just a few months ago. This calls forth the image of a child. It isn’t until later on in the book that we get further descriptions.

If you can avoid clunky descriptions, that alone will do wonders for your writing. If you’ve read this far, don’t forget to follow the website for updates and until next time.